"Take up space!"

You shouldn’t touch my knee until you know why there are five scars on it, four screws in it. 

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I keep reading books that are in a structure and tone of voice I’d like to write in. I don’t know if it’s teaching me or stunting my work. I fear it is keeping me from developing on my own. But when I read it I feel inspired and encouraged. Like they’re showing me possibilities of what I can work toward.

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We always want confirmation that what we think is happening, whats in our head, is real. A confirmation we’re not crazy. We’re not making this up. Its fact. If we get that confirmation, does it make us better or worse? Would you rather be haunted by never knowing, or accept the truth no matter how ugly and painful? 

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Last week, Cate text me for the first time in years. We talked like we always have since freshman year when we became best friends instantly. That night, feeling nostalgic, I plugged in my hard drive and looked through my 2010 photos. I even opened up iTunes to play my top tracks playlist; my iTunes is a time capsule for roughly 2006-2011. I realized I carried two or three cameras with me at all times then—my 35 mm, my point-and-shoot, and my iPhone 4. 

I snapped photos of friends—friends in my dorm bed against the two giant windows I loved, friends in the snowstorm we had in January that cancelled class for a week but we were all stuck on campus anyway, the football game the boys had in their underwear in the snow between the boys and girls dorms, the rugby team I hung around with, and later drank with and made-out with. There were photos of my college boyfriend looking up to me with a purple and blue bruised eye; he had a concussion during the first two weeks we were together. I wonder if he’s high in any of these photos. I wasn’t good at noticing when he was high. There were photo shoots in wild sunflower fields, train tracks, and browning parks with tiny river-like streams. Several photos from our “camping trip.” About six of my closest guy friends, a group of three girls who the guys had crushes on, and I stayed about thirty minutes east of our college town near some lake. After the campfire died, the three girls slept in their tent. Ian and I stayed up late talking in his Jeep about his parents maybe separating. Eventually, we both went into the boys tent to get a few hours of sleep. I didn’t think anything of sleeping in the boys tent; I’d slept in their company before. I’d rather sleep in the woods next to friends than girls I barely knew. There were photos of snow-covered trees from my three day stay in the mountains in Colorado. Photos of the boy I was staying with—the man, now father of two, who’s been texting me lately. I want nothing to do with him. 

Most of the photos are probably not technically good, but they are important to me. They give me an accurate look into this past life of mine. I know the life I’m living now is equally important, and I’ll want to look at what is documented now in ten years. I want to get back into the habit of carrying my film camera, regardless of how hipster girl it makes me look, and taking shitty photos that are just for me. 

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The phrase “take up space” is sitting with me. One of my Barre3 instructors started saying it during the warm-up section as a way to encourage the women in class to move bigger, “take up space!” And I would. I’d squat lower. Reach my fingertips farther to the corners of the room. 

I think about how I’m taking up space in conversations too. Am I speaking when I should be listening? Am I listening when what I think could be important to speak out loud? 

My body takes up space too. I try to not judge it, but I’m aware of what my body feels like on a day-to-day basis. I note how it feels in a space, how it feels in my clothes. I consider if I like how it feels, or not. All answers are ok. 

A person’s energy takes up space too. 

When I write and publish it on the internet, I consider what kind of space I’m taking up. I overthink if my voice belongs. I have to constantly give myself permission. I have to keep feeding myself the line, “your story matters,” even if it’s untrue. My friend Zach reminds me to flip my internal line that, “nothing matters (so why do I do it)” into a positive “nothing matters (so do it anyway)!”

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I haven’t been showing up to this project the way I intended to. I set out for it to be weekly. I needed to force myself into the discipline of finishing a piece of work and putting it out into the world. The last two weeks have felt like a failure. I didn’t send anything, and even though I *want* this project to be imperfect, my inner perfectionist has been screaming at me to do better. I have to keep reminding myself that sending weekly isn’t the most important thing. Writing is the most important thing. 

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It is common for most people to fear being alone. It might be because they’re afraid that once they’re alone they will hate the person they are with. That isn’t why I’ve hated being alone. I’ve previously hated being alone because I was being left, someone was removing themselves from me. That’s what caused hurt and discomfort. If I’m alone to start, I’m just fine. It gives me a lot of time and space to notice myself more. I learn more when I’m not focused on anything external. 

I fear if I commit myself too much to solitude people will forget me. I’ll pass on building deep relationships, and one day I’ll die.

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I winked at you, but I don’t remember when. I just remember doing it. You think you’re special, but I do this often. I promise I’m not attempting to make you think that I’m more special or interesting than I am. 

*“I’m not going anywhere, so I’m on board with waiting as long as I have to. I’m happy we met and I’m excited to get to know you.”*