Glamor, and other lies Hollywood taught me
On aspiring to become an adult, have it all together and look like Natalie Portman
This is the dream: to have Jessica Alba’s body, Kate Middleton’s poise, Jennifer Lawrence’s cool factor and no quality remotely traceable to Michael Cera.
I fell into a pile of mud crossing the train tracks by Rugby Road last week and had to shower in a frat house bathroom because it actually looked like I was covered in human feces. It was 4 p.m.
Glamor — even in its quirkiest forms — seems to have bypassed me. If I wore Zooey Deschanel glasses around, people would just think I was weird. Trust me, I’ve tried — the clerk at the eyeglass store, in a thick accent, just kept saying something about them “not matching my pupils.” Her intent was either lost in translation, or she enjoyed crafting terribly transparent white lies.
This awkwardness has all been very confusing for me. I have been told, day in and day out, that these are my glory years. They say my body will never again look this good and my mind will soon cease to be this sharp. So why do I feel as if I’ve stalled?
By age 19, I was strictly under the impression I would have the looks and brains of Rory Gilmore. To only now find out life isn’t a 22-minute sitcom is a bit jarring, especially since my career plans entirely consisted of moving to New York, finding a day job that may or may not exist and throwing around one-liners in a coffee shop named the Central Perk.
We come to school, I suppose, to channel that numbing dose of reality into some sort of productivity. Yet sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if college isn’t all a big charade. We champion our alleged freedom though we don’t pay our own rent. We flaunt our academic prowess by parroting theses someone else wrote. One moment I think I’m mature, and the next I’m remembering I legitimately woke up in a closet one morning. Are we all just kidding ourselves?
As a sixth grader, I thought, “Middle school. That will be when I finally have it all together.” Two years later, as I sat burning all photographic evidence of Hollister, braces and punk rock fandom, I determinedly decided on high school. That would be my time to shine. Jump to graduation and a few unrequited loves later, when I was sure — no, certain — that in college, I would be all grace without a hint of ungainliness.
Fast-forward to last weekend, when I left a party, smiled and excitedly said, “Oh! It smells like fall!” Everyone stopped and turned around. Apparently, I need to work on my late-night enunciation, because my new friends all heard, “Oh! It smells like balls!”
They haven’t texted me yet for plans, but I’m still hopeful.
Along this vein, college hardly feels like progress toward composure. Oftentimes, it feels more like a regression.
But maybe that’s just life. Maybe “having it together” is an illusion, a conspiracy created by the liberal media or the federal government or Tom Cruise or any of those other groups and people who always seem to be fashioning grand conspiracies. Maybe we’re our own worst critics, and “togetherness” is really only visible from the outside looking in.
I’m sure somewhere, in an industrial park wholly sustaining a small rural town, there’s a HomeGoods manufacturing an embroidered throw pillow that says something about how perfection is relative, etc. And, you know what? There’s probably a lot of truth in that statement.
But for one day — just one day — can’t I feel like a young Natalie Portman?
Julia’s column runs biweekly Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.