Today, I was organizing files on my computer and in my Google docs when I stumbled on upon a file marked “_PERSONAL SHIT.” A click revealed that it contained an entire email correspondence I had had with myself in autumn 2016, extending into the early winter. During that time, I was grappling with my rash decision to move to LA, a truly abysmal dead-end job in a Vernon electronic company, and a relatively new relationship with someone who had jetted across the country for two months. I was at odds with my newfound adulthood, but hadn’t quite crashed and burned yet. At that job in Vernon, I spent 9 hours a day behind a computer in a windowless, isolated room. Cell phone use wasn’t really allowed, so I kept up an email correspondence with myself.
Dear me, from me.
What a time capsule.
Reading it again transported me right back to that ugly linoleum floor, my old blue cardigan, scratched thermos, and ardently chewed fingernails. I can still taste the faintly sour filtered water and smell the asbestos.
Most of it was too personal to ever show anyone, but here’s an excerpt of some of the tamer passages:
Theatrical and overdramatic? Yes.
It didn’t stop when I left that position in December 2016, either. I unearthed a cornucopia of non-email clippings and pieces of writing that showed I still had plenty to fret over in the months that followed, a grown woman looking at her life with the mindset of a tempestuous 16-year-old. I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry.
I even found a hilariously bad poem I wrote, titled “Redemption_1/9/17.” I’m not totally sure of what event I wanted to be redeemed for, but I was certainly concerned about it.
All jokes aside, I did find an unexpected treasure: a document dated October 16, 2016 that marks the moment I decided to start writing again:
Requiem for a Gift
Hello writing, my old friend.
To be honest, this feels like an awkward, albeit emotional, reunion. As a child, I was blessed with an imagination so vast it consumed me. I spent the entirety of my childhood making up stories- on the playground, in my room, even in class. I devoured books as though they were my sole life force. Stories were my religion, my obsession, my one true love. I swore that writing was my calling. Teachers thought that I would be the next J.K. Rowling. My seventh-grade science teacher, notorious for her unyielding severity, remarked to my parents something along the lines of “whatever’s keeping her from paying attention, she is going to make so much of one day.”
Alas, when I was 16, school trouble drove me into a doctor’s office. The diagnosis came:Attention Deficit Disorder, nonverbal learning disability. Must be medicated.
My greatest gift had become my biggest curse. From that moment on, I had to untangle the coils of my creative mind and iron them straight. I had to destroy the part of my brain that seized every word, scenario, or idea, and spun it into a fiction. I didn’t quite realize it then, but the Adderall, and now the Vyvanse, slowly ate away at the imagination that had once been all I had. I learned to extinguish the flame of my inspiration.
Now, at 22 years old, away in a distant city with a college degree and a cheap office job, do I truly realize what I had- and what I lost. The words don’t flow as easily as they once did; the spark that once ignited my imagination is a distant memory- I can no longer see a concept and create a world. I would give anything to have that part of my soul back.
So it is with my tail between my legs that I attempt to return to the world I once ruled- to writing, to stories- if only to save my own sanity.
Like I said, what a time capsule. Jesus, I can even smell the body spray I wore. I was so strung-out and at odds with myself in those days. Past Me was so alone and afraid, thrust into the whirling gyre of the real world, clinging to any life raft I could. It was several months from my darkest hour, but somehow I seemed to know that the worst was yet to come. I was fresh out of college and didn’t know how to reconcile my emotionally stunted self with the new life I was taking on. I seemed to know I hadn’t done myself any favors, but I didn’t yet know what the consequences would do. I didn’t know how to ask for what I deserved or recognize when a situation was unhealthy, in all aspects of my life.
A year later, and I honestly can’t believe what I was willing to put up with. I’m far from perfect, but I’m a million times healthier now than I was then.