I’ve been sitting at my computer, staring at a blank Word document for fifteen minutes. Thinking. The acidic white is beginning to make my vision blur, rolling out over the computer monitor and across the desk, and I can’t seem to choose an uncomfortable memory. And not from lack of experience—as far as awkward situations go, I’ve faced the tempest. I could talk about the time I spent an evening with a couple that bickered nonstop, careening toward a massive breakup. Or the time I was babysitting and the four-year-old decided to play Tag and made me chase her three blocks while she screamed for help. I could talk about a lot of things. But very few were handled with grace or strength of will, and fewer still involved a learning experience aside from, “Well, never doing that again.” So what can I talk about? What pushes me beyond the edge of comfort? The computer screen staring back at me is a little less blank, smudged by the thin stalks of type, but still daunting. I don’t like looking at it. What makes me uncomfortable?
This essay, in which we’re told to poke twigs into the anthills of past humiliations, past heartaches, past discomforts, makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I almost loathe it.
It isn’t the writing that bothers me—my heartbeat pulses in my fingertips, anxious and ready to turn thoughts into words. It’s the me part. The introspection part. The part where I throw all sense of modesty to a reckless abandon and bellow my praises till my throat’s bloody raw. I dislike the idea of this essay, because I dislike the idea of taking a magnifying glass to my insides. It’s self analysis—peeling back the paper-thin layer of my skin and prodding at the sticky insides, examining myself like a wide-open cadaver laid out on the table. It makes me uncomfortable.
Some people embrace the idea of self analysis like a brother. It’s easy for them. They like it. But I’m like the parents that turn their heads, deaf to the words of the children they no...