Slowing Down

After a hectic day yesterday, running around, getting work done, and putting on the fall festival, I woke up to a chilly morning and damp snow. Today, although less busy, has been just as exhausting. I guess the exertion I put into yesterday overflowed into today, but I’ve perked up since lunch, so maybe some Deece food was just what I needed.

But I’ve been stressed lately because I submitted my application for study abroad in Japan yesterday, and while I should be excited, I’m actually terrified of going away for a whole year. While I’ll be a junior, a majority of my friends will be seniors. If I go abroad for a year, I’ll return to an empty campus. If I go abroad for a year, I’ll have to say goodbye to my friends in May. If I go abroad for a year, how much will I miss?

I’ll probably end up changing the amount of time I go to just a semester. To do so though, I’ll need to go into the Study Abroad Office and ask them to alter the application for me. I guess I got too excited and submitted it before I was really ready, especially with so much time left in the application period. I’ve been acting on impulse more and more lately (I bought a camera yesterday simply because it was available). I try to get everything done so quickly; it keeps me ahead of my school work, but I lose track of when actual due dates are.

This post feels pretty shallow. I’m not very good at writing about myself or being honest about how I feel. Maybe I’m used to writing as a persona. Maybe it’s because I feel both very happy, very overwhelmed, and very neutral all at the same time. I’m glad because my life is swell; I have good friends, regular food, classes I enjoy on the whole. I’m sad because I’m tired right now; I’m worried about study abroad, worried about my life after college, and worried that my writing isn’t good, isn’t improving, isn’t innovative. I could take comfort in the fact that even Virginia Woolf lacked confidence in her writing, but I can’t flatter myself by comparing my words with hers.

My ideas and feelings about myself have also fluctuated constantly over the past year, especially as I position myself in a grand social context. In Oklahoma, my hometown, being a woman means you have the freedom to be what you want but don’t necessarily have the agency to achieve your goals. Now that I’m out of that context, I’m suddenly able to see and compare my old situation to my new. But do I like the new one just because I dislike the old one? What does it mean to be a “woman” in college? A “woman” writer? A “women” DM and role-player? There are still sects of popular culture where being a “woman” makes you different. Even writing about what it means to be a “woman” shrinks the actual, enormous feeling of “womanhood.”

I’m still tackling this idea, but I think this process is another reason I’ve connected with Virginia Woolf. She also grappled with the idea of persona: her true person versus the person everyone knew on the page. Who was Virginia Woolf? Who is Candace Osterhout? If I can’t know who I am, then nothing I write will ever reliably convey me to you.

As an author, a writer, a narrator, there is always the possibility that I’m lying. Who is qualified to write reliably? I can list out the details of my day like I did above, but I can also write that I left out information. I started this blog because I wanted to write purely about myself. Yet I’m failing.

Maybe one day my writing will be read like Virginia Woolf’s letters and diary entries. Until then, I’ll do my best to convey Candace.


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