How The Clothes Of My Youth Came Back To Haunt Me

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I’ve spent my entire adult life running from who I was as a teen. Not that she wasn’t cool. I always joke that she was much cooler than the current me. She’d find me boring and call me a yuppie: the biggest insult of the ’90s before “hipster” came into power and became the deadliest insult of all. But the truth is, I have fought hard to be boring. To contain myself. To keep my inner chaos in check. Because even though I was a lot more fun back then, I have also never been so unhappy. Like almost everyone on the planet, I was a miserable young adult. I felt ugly and awkward and loud at all the wrong moments. I would go home and think about all the stupid things I had said that day. I would pray to a god I didn’t believe in to change how I looked, how I sounded, to make me smarter and more interesting and care less. I lived in a mess with piles of clothes on the floor, my Salvation Army finds forming a mountainous terrain through my bedroom. I subsisted on fast food, smoked, drank, and did whatever drug was on offer. What’s ironic is that I apparently presented as just the opposite of how I felt. I remember running into a classmate after graduating and him saying he was envious of me, that I didn’t give two fucks what anyone thought of me. I remember smiling humbly. That was such a lie. I gave so many fucks. Way too many fucks. Look, I went to an arts high school in San Francisco, and I had plenty of friends; the “weirdos” in other schools were not ostracized where I come from. I just had normal teenage anxiety. But those teen years are when you feel things the most strongly; those first loves and heartbreaks are the highest highs and the lowest lows. Everything feels like life or death. Every social slight becomes confirmation of your own failings. When I think about that time, what I remember is how desperately I wanted out of my own body and mind.