My philosophy professor has a thing for quotes. Walk into her office, and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by words inscribed on her desk, walls, and mugs. She believes, passionately, in the influence of a phrase, and as a person who quotes her favorite authors in the margins of her class notes, I can’t say I don’t believe this too.
My professor also defines herself as a fan of the beautiful, brilliant Sylvia Plath. I had scheduled a meeting recently, eager to understand which bonus questions she intended to add to the final exam, and of course, fill my mind and soul with more words. As she pressed the tip of her pen to my notebook, marking each set of notes that would be good to study, I gazed upon a stunning quote by Plath, carefully written by my professor’s daughter at the bottom of a picture frame: “I act and react, and suddenly I wonder, ‘Where is the girl that I was last year? Two years ago? What would she think of me now?’” My heart dropped and eyes widened.
What would she think of me now? Now I’m here, in college, writing and studying and meeting both infectious and toxic people. New Orleans – as crazy and big as the city first seemed – has since defined itself as my home; my younger self had never fathomed my drastic move from the Northeast. Returning to Boston for winter break reminded me how quickly time passes; sitting in the bleachers at my high school’s football game no longer felt like my life. It had become that of someone else, my younger self.
Moving on from the people and places that have shaped my fears and dreams and passions over 18 years will probably always prove to be a strange and overwhelming task, but I have a feeling that the girl I used to be two years ago would want me to embark on such an endeavor. She’d revel in my excitement in going to my first frat party, however sweaty and uncomfortable it may be. She’d encourage me to join every organization that ignites my passions for art and social justice, as well as remind me to stay confident in the wake of daunting setbacks. She’d want me to move forward, onward from the first chapter of my life; she already wrote that quite beautifully.
I thank her for paving the way for my explorations of such a terrifying and thrilling world. And although I am now writing a new chapter, I will always remain tied to her beginning.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.