Ella and Leigh Grow Up

I went to Leigh’s this afternoon to hang out before she jetted off across the country to college. She’s lived far away for over a year and a half now, and I have to admit that it feels weird when we spend time together while we’re home. Not a bad weird, mind you, there’s just a stark difference in the people we were before she left and the people we are now.

Today, Leigh and I talked about Kony 2012, the World Bank, and diversity in STEM at her university. I don’t think that any of these subjects would have come up previously, even when we were finishing up high school. Then, conversation would be about the people we knew, performing arts, or school. And earlier while we were in middle school, we would have been running about with dolls or planning our “Knight School” (Perhaps I’ll write about Knight School in a coming post, as the whole idea and its execution was, in retrospect, equally hilarious and ridiculous.). We were so innocent and juvenile in middle school, fiercely holding on to childhood when everyone else was beginning to think about boys, clothes, and makeup. We vowed to wear black on our thirteenth birthdays to protest becoming a teenager and would loudly object if anyone used a swear word or was remotely crass within our earshot.

But over time and especially in the last two years, we’ve grown up. Our voices still sound the same, Leigh’s bedroom still has the same Gone with the Wind poster near the mirror, I still don’t swear, but we’ve lost the childish impulse to yell “llama” or blather on and on about American Girl (Leigh performed regularly in their musicals for close to three years, and I got to use her discount when purchasing stuff for my dolls—a friendship perk which I embraced wholeheartedly.). We’re calmer now, more mature, able to talk about meaningful things, and that makes me happy.

There was always that part of me that worried that as I grew up, I turn into someone younger me would have hated. Maybe I would be too rebellious (though to twelve-year-old me that meant swearing, staying up past midnight, and wearing too much black—and I’ve indulged in the second almost every night for years now) or too serious. Even worse, I might lose interest in all of the things I formerly loved. But none of that happened.

Younger me would admire older Ella and Leigh. They talk just like adults and really understand the implications of current events, but still burst out laughing if they catch each other’s eye when someone has unknowingly referenced some old inside joke or humors memory. We may no longer play with dolls, but we look back on those days fondly, and I don’t think a day will come when we won’t get over excited or obsessive about books. I really look forward to the coming years, as we continue to become real adults, with the security of knowing that the things that matter will never change.

In Which Ella Can Fit Both Feet Inside of Her Mouth

I was at a college interview this weekend and was asked what were three areas I need to work on. The first one that sprung to mind was my tendency to say too much, often without thinking any of it through.

It’s amazing how easy it is for me to just start spouting things that don’t make sense or that I don’t even mean. And while you can apologize and ask for a do-over when you’re with family and close friends, that isn’t exactly an option in most situations.

About a year ago, I was speaking at a Model Congress conference and somehow managed to suggest that unemployment rates were the fault of immigrants. Now, this is something that I absolutely do NOT believe. It’s xenophobic, hateful, and more than a little untrue. But it somehow managed to come out of my mouth while I was talking about problems with immigration. I don’t even remember doing it, but all of a sudden I was being asked questions about what I meant by it and how I would back it up, and I was trapped. It turned into one of those situations where I could lie or look like an idiot. I lied because it was a competition and somebody needed to be the devil’s advocate to make the debate more balanced, and later made it clear that I didn’t mean anything I had said following and including that remark.

It’s not that I can’t keep a secret–that’s never been a problem–I just have this inability to shut up when I’m nervous or excited. I know that I’m doing it, too. But the moment that I stop talking, I’m no longer somewhat controlling the situation, and on some level, I’m sure that I’m scared of what will happen. And if I’m very enthusiastic about the topic, I immediately become a little convinced that you too surely want to know every single detail about English rhotic accents around the world, no matter how disinterested you appear. But now that I’m eighteen, I do a fairly good job of catching myself before I go overboard, and I’m no longer the chatty and preconscious eight-year-old of yesteryear.

I only bring this up today, because I said something unintentionally mean, and I can’t take it back. The words seemed fine at the time, but it wasn’t until I walked away and thought about the interaction over an hour later that I realized how they were probably going to be interpreted. I feel terrible now.

So this is me, once again trying to come up with an adequate way of apologizing for saying something I didn’t mean.

In other news, I wrote well over 5,000 words today!

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I almost never put my foot in my mouth.