Sometime during my first two years in college, Ani DiFranco’s “Wish I May” became one of my favorite songs. There was something about it that spoke to me, and I just felt a connection to the lyrics — something about that combination of anger and longing, defiance and exhaustion, that seemed to be echoing what I was feeling.
do you ever have that dream
where you open your mouth
and you try to scream
but you can’t make a sound
that’s every day starting now
I just remember feeling really exhausted. Obviously, some of it was the actual lack of sleep (I was in college, after all), but it was more than that. A little burnt out from sixteen years of schooling, perhaps. Mostly, though, I was tired of feeling silent, tired of following the rules and feeling as though I was just conforming to societal expectations. There were times when I literally wanted to scream, but I somehow couldn’t make myself do so. Looking back, the fact that I was in the closet for half of my college career most likely had a big impact on how stifled and frustrated I was feeling.
i am spinning with longing
faster then a roulette wheel
this is not who i meant to be
this is not how i meant to feel
As much as I adored Bryn Mawr (and I truly did and still do), I had this feeling that something wasn’t right, something wasn’t enough — some kind of unnamed longing. And those two lines “this is not who i meant to be / this is not how i meant to feel” summed up everything I was feeling. Before Facebook changed once again, that quote was prominently placed on my profile page in lieu of a self-description.
i don’t think i am strong enough
to do this much longer
god, i wish i was stronger
this song could never be long enough
to express every longing
god, i wish it was longer…
I feel like I was often emotionally exhausted and confused, and everything just seemed so complicated and out of control. And I never felt like I was strong enough — I rarely felt as though I were truly being who I wanted to be or standing up for what I believed in. I was mostly just muddling along. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have a fabulous time in college because I did. I just didn’t feel as though I were doing, or being, enough.
As I listened to “Wish I May” just a few days ago, I realized that — while I still love the song — I’ve somehow stopped connecting with it as much since moving to Chicago. Though I certainly feel at times as though I have no clue what’s going on, and I don’t always feel that I am strong enough, I have come to realize that I am definitely in a differently place, mentally, than I was in college. It’s now even a little startling to realize now that “Wish I May” was absolutely the song I would have picked to describe my life (or rather, how I felt about it) because it now seems such a stark, exhausted song.
So much has changed in the past year. New name, new city, new communities, new outlook on life. New sense of self. Now, I feel a little more “Raise Your Glass” than “Wish I May,” and life is good. Better than good, even — fantastic. And even though I honestly am heartbroken about leaving Chicago, I’m also excited about moving to Minneapolis and seeing what my next year will bring.