Photo by Dylan Delaney
If you’d like to know where I am, I‘ll most likely be in my car, on my way to see loved ones. Some months, I can be found in Northern California where my family resides, and some weeks, when I am not up north, you can find me further south, near Los Angeles, for time with my boyfriend. Take into account that I live somewhere in between these locations, and it’s clear that I also spend a reasonable time alone as I make my way towards either party. To the drivers who seldom drive more than an hour away from home, the driving I do might be somewhat shocking, maybe even exhausting to imagine, but for good reason. Over the past year I’ve covered three-fourths of this state enough times to have memorized the sections of the freeway that are riddled with potholes in areas where there are no landmarks to indicate when to switch over to the other, more level, lane.
In transit from one location to the next in what feels like perpetual rotation, music plays. Mazzy Star for the beginning of the drive, to compliment the speed of the car pre-freeway, Pavement to give me something to sing during the lull of the middle of the drive, and Sonic Youth to help rebuild my enthusiasm as I near my location.
Listening to music to keep yourself occupied and to provide yourself some pseudo-company while you drive alone is typically not something done to impress other people, yet every once in a while, a voice inside of me will ask myself, “Who are you trying to prove?” As if the things that I do when I am isolated from everybody else is an act I put on to seem cool. Cool to who exactly? I couldn’t tell you, I’m the only one ever in my car. It is a seemingly irrational self-critique but the voice inside me asks the question genuinely.
Growing up, I always held this idea about the girls who listen to Sonic Youth and Mazzy Star. I imagined that these girls read profusely and had good taste in films all while being intelligent and independent. I longed to one day be as effortlessly cool and interesting as them. Now, at nineteen, I am one of those girls who listen to Sonic Youth and Mazzy Star. I feel passionate towards books and film and I like to think that I am somewhat intelligent and independent. On paper, I am what I’ve always wanted to become, but at times, I feel unworthy of these labels.
It’s impostor syndrome, but for my interests, as if there is a criteria for being able to like and be interested in certain things. Maybe I have looked up to those girls for so long it’s hard for me to accept that maybe I have become the girl I have always wanted to be. Or maybe, I haven’t. I guess I couldn’t tell you right now, my perception of myself is incredibly biased, sometimes causing myself to believe that I am much cooler than I actually am, and at other times feeling that I am a flat out poser.
Days come and go in such a blur as of lately, but helplessly, I have fallen into a routine. Almost everyday I listen to music, I read a book, I watch a movie – I participate in my hobbies and indulge in my interests. There is as much evidence that could possibly be found to prove to myself that I don’t deserve such harsh self-critique for something as innocent as reading a book, alone, in my room, so I’m left to assume that this hyper-self-consciousness felt is a symptom of growing confident in myself. I exhaust myself with the way I gatekeep my own interests from myself but I imagine that one day I’ll allow myself the pleasure of doing what I love without judgement.
I will drive down the 101, with half the windows rolled down just enough to feel the air push gently against my skin but not any further than that to preserve the sound of the music. I will play “Bull in the Heather” by Sonic Youth and feel like the coolest girl in the world doing so, equally confident as I will be unapologetic.