She wakes up an hour earlier now. Her alarm rings on and off for a few minutes before she finally gets up, showers, and ties her hair into a damp towel. Classes don’t start for a while and she’s not a morning person. She spends time sitting in front of her mirror trying to make herself look prettier – painting her face and blow-drying her hair. It takes effort, but it makes her feel better walking around campus, scurrying from class to class, meeting to meeting. She smiles. She waves. She small talks. She’s less self-conscious now, because she feels prettier. And if she feels prettier, she likes herself better. She can hide her flaws and imperfections. She can fix herself. She says it’s for her, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s because she’s tired. She sleeps for only a few hours every night. Worries and anxieties clutter in her head until she finally flicks off the light. Sleep is surrender. Sleep is relief. Darkness floods her open window. The quiet intensifies every chirp, every sound.
She likes to be in control.
Control is how she looks, what she says, how she sounds, what she does.
She likes to be in control, because control is a sigh, a much-needed pause.
Control is safe.
She wants control.
There’s always something on her mind, hiding there, waiting to be checked off – done, completed, next. She doesn’t know how to hide those sharp bursts of angst. She looks nervous and uncertain. She knows it’s a show. She says the right things on cue, but struggles to improvise. She stumbles and blushes. She loses control.
She sends off a few emails, reads essay after essay, reaches for more coffee, and sips it too fast. She ‘likes’ this and ‘favorites’ that. Drained to the last drop, now the coffee’s gone and she’s still so tired. She feels consumed and exhausted. She nervously checks the time. It’s time to go. Here she comes, here she goes. Her friends say all she does is work. Maybe they’re right. She says the work won’t last forever even though she cannot promise that. She’s supposed to have fun, be young and make mistakes. Throw back drinks and gossip – not be so intense. All she wants to do is be something and do something, but until she does she feels empty and inadequate. She wants to make an impact on the world, change some minds, raise some hell. She thinks she has a purpose, because she has things to say. These things speak boldly and fearlessly in her mind, but when she opens her mouth, the words are tangled on her tongue. She thinks she’s scared. She is insecure.
She splashes water on her face. Grey smears of mascara travel the lengths of her cheeks and she buries her face in her towel. The cool wind stings and burns. Her face is clean and bare. She feels vulnerable, like a child. She needs to grow up. She has to take the next step.
She wants to let herself fall in love. She needs to know that someone will love her, that she deserves to be loved. She needs to learn how to be more open, more trusting. She doesn’t want to be alone or so incomplete. But she tells herself alone can be nice too. Her thoughts run quite free when she’s alone. She writes. She reads. She explores. She becomes her own personal project, always tweaking herself and adjusting here and there. She is becoming better, even better than new.
She says being in control is her way of overcoming how imperfect she feels in a world where perfection seems almost attainable. She knows it’s a lie, a carefully constructed twist on what’s real and what’s not. She knows she can’t be perfect, but she’s going to try.
Control is wanting.
Control is longing.
Control is trying.
Control is losing and gaining it back again, grasping it in your open hand and holding on tight.