Five years ago - three months after my college graduation - one of my closest friends was leaving to study abroad for a year. I was psyched for her, but also sad because I was going to miss her a lot. What also scared me was that when she left, I thought that I would be completely isolated, that my social circle would be gone. I didn't get along with anyone I went to college with, and I didn't have any classmates I could see at home. The few college friends I was still in touch with were not in my class year, so they were back at school and I couldn't see them very often. Most of my high school friends hadn't stayed in touch with me once we left high school. I had tried calling them to do things for the first few summers after high school, but most of them didn't answer and weren't interested in getting together with me. My only source of a social life was my close friend's group of college friends. Most of us got along well, and I felt welcome in the group, but I wasn't close enough that I'd ever get invited to events without my close friend inviting me. They were friends from college, and I didn't go to their college, so the amount of time I spent with them was just so small compared to the amount of time they'd spent with each other. I wasn't sure I knew anyone well enough to ask them if they wanted to hang out without my close friend being there. I was scared that when she left, I would have almost no one.
It was in the back of my mind somewhere that I needed to do something about this. I had two friends in the group that I felt close with, and I thought I should get up the courage to ask each of them to get together with me. I was hoping we might become friends, and they would invite me to events, and I could be part of the group and make friends with people without my original friend who introduced me to them needing to be there. I was very nervous about reaching out, but it was on my mind as something that I may eventually have to do.
Then my boyfriend asked me out, and I had a social life again. I had him. I met his friends, and I eventually invited the friends whom I had originally wanted to contact to group events with my boyfriend. But mostly, I was wrapped up in my relationship with him and didn't feel the need to reach out and form closer relationships with other people.
Now, this is NOT my boyfriend's fault at all. I take full responsibility for the fact that I was completely wrapped up with him to the point that I didn't reach out and try to make other friends. It was a choice I made on my own, and looking back now, I wish that I had reached out to other people back in 2011. But I always gave my boyfriend credit for the fact that I found such a great group of friends. I always told him that, because of the chain of events, I may not have made the friends I have now if it hadn't been for him. I thought that my social life would have ended back in 2010, when my friend left to study abroad, if it weren't for him pulling me back into the group. But I don't believe that's true anymore. I had in my mind that needed to reach out to people even though it made me nervous, we were in contact via Facebook, and I really believe that if I hadn't been dating my boyfriend, if it got be 2011 and I was still isolated with no one to talk to and nothing to do on the weekends, my loneliness would have gotten the better of me and I would have forced myself to reach out to those two people that I wanted to be friends with. The main reason I didn't do that was because I felt satisfied enough with my relationship with him. Again, I am not blaming my boyfriend for the choices I made, what I'm saying is that he does not get credit for the fact that I have great friends now, because I truly believe that I would have eventually reached out to them on my own if I had not been able to do it through group events with him, and I would have done it much sooner.
I feel trapped by my past. I feel like even though I'm 5 years out of school (I'm not counting grad school because it was mostly just studying), everyone still treats me like this good kid, not like the wild, untamable person that I truly want to be. It was not until my boyfriend broke his promise and said he wasn't getting the apartment with me that I started showing everyone my real untamable self - sharing links to my sex blog right on Facebook, telling everyone that I wanted to have wild nude beach parties (which I still plan to have btw!), letting the world know that I was NEVER a good, hardworking, productive citizen type and how much I despise that lifestyle and how much I desire being untamable and behaving as if I was never disciplined or punished and as if I had never set foot in a school. These things are all about me and not about my boyfriend. And yet, why did I suddenly decide to be honest when he broke his promise to live with me?
When I look at it more closely - at my writing both on Facebook and on this blog in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014-now - there is a direct negative correlation between how untamable I sound in my writing and how strong my relationship was with you at the time:
-In 2011, my blog writing was really held back. In 2011, we were also in the honeymoon stage of our relationship, and I really wasn't close with any friends other than him. I barely posted on Facebook at all that year.
-In 2012, my blog had improved in terms of being more about things that really mattered to me, although it still had the tone of a psychology major passively observing human behavior, rather than it really being about me. I still didn't post very much on Facebook, and for a while I had basically quit Facebook altogether. This year I also spent more time with my other friends, although it was mostly at group events where my boyfriend was also there. And this year was less honeymoonish than 2011, and we got into more arguments.
-By 2013, I started to write things that were a bit closer to my untamable self. I wrote The Unencrypted Truth and I started the sex blog. I was still holding back a lot - I purposely made the tone of the The Unencrypted Truth sound calm and trusting rather than angry and accusatory like it really should have been. I purposely kept my sex blog private and tried to emphasize that I was doing it to promote sexual diversity acceptance and communication about sex, rather than that it made me feel like the wild chick that I have always wanted to be, and that I got to be a porn star. 2013 was a major year for me in terms of meeting new friends. This was a year when I made very deep connections with friends, and was honestly the first time since my boyfriend and I had been dating that I had a social life separate from him and spent a lot of time with friends without him being involved. 2013 was also a year when things got rocky between my boyfriend and me, and we almost broke up several times.
-And of course, 2014 is when we broke up and when I finally started writing absolutely everything that I wanted to say, in the real tone that I wanted to say all of it, and I held absolutely nothing back. This is the way that I wanted to be writing all along.
So, when things were going smoothly with my boyfriend and me, I was really held back in what I was writing, and when things were more rocky between my boyfriend and me, I was writing much more of what I actually wanted to write, both in terms of the tone and content. Also, the more time I spent with friends other than my boyfriend, the more I was writing the way that I wanted to.
In September of 2010, I wrote a list of 100 notes about Colby, each posted individually so that I would dominate everyone's newsfeed. This was back when I was still Facebook friends with everyone from Colby, so a lot of people saw my list, including the people whom I was actually talking about. It was right up in their faces, and it was amazing. That was the way I wanted to write all the time. Then on November 8, 2010, my boyfriend wrote to me asking if I wanted to go on a hike since I was feeling bad. I said yes and that was our first date. But a funny thing happened after that first date - I calmed down a lot in my writing. I really slowed down my rate of posting stuff about Colby. Once we officially started dating in 2011, I practically stopped posting about Colby altogether. I told my boyfriend that he had made me feel better. I acted like he had saved me from what I was going through.
But he hadn't.
At least, not in the sense that I wanted to think. Granted, I was doing much better with him than I was before he came along because he and I were having fun together, and I really wasn't having much fun with anyone before that. But it I was "better" in the sense of "less bad than before." "Better" did not mean "okay." I was never going to be "okay" right after Colby. I guess I'd describe it as the same way that all of my awesome friends were there for me after the breakup - they made me feel a gazillion times better, and I definitely would have sunk into a very deep depression or possibly hurt myself if they weren't there for me, but I would never say that anyone made me "okay" right after the breakup because I am not the kind of person who would ever feel okay after a breakup and that is not something that anyone can change. There is nothing that anyone could have done to make me feel "okay" to the point that I would have stopped writing what I was writing at the time, or anything that I've been writing for the past few years.
But this is what's very strange. All the friends who were there for me after the breakup are very good, very close friends, whom I have deeper emotional connections with than I ever had with my boyfriend. In terms of being there for me after a crisis, they have all done soooooooooooooooo much more than my boyfriend did when I was straight out of Colby. He didn't do anything, really. I mean, he asked me on the hike because I felt sad, which is a nice thing to do, but he really did not talk to me about Colby or in anyway treat me like I was in a crisis. He just "saved" me by giving me something else to do, something else to be happy about and focus on rather than wallowing in my room thinking about Colby. He didn't actually help me in any way about Colby the way that my friends helped me through the breakup when they listened to me talk about my boyfriend for hours on end.
So that brings me to the difficult question: if my friends helped me through a crisis and my boyfriend didn't, then why did I continue to write about my feelings after the breakup, when my friends were there for me, but suddenly stop dead in what I was writing about Colby when my boyfriend asked me on the walk?
I hate to say this, but I think my real answer to that is, because I wanted things to work out between me and my boyfriend. I wanted to believe that he had saved me, and I wanted him to believe that too.
I know I tried to be super overt and I kept telling him that I was non-chill and he should read my 100 secrets, but I think I stopped posting them because of him. I think I drastically reduced how much I was writing about Colby because of him. Not because he made me feel well enough that I didn't need to do that anymore - I was in a crisis and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING could have made me not feel like talking about those things. But I stopped. I suppressed my feelings about Colby A LOT. He'll tell you that all I talked about was Colby, but that's not true. If I had actually talked about Colby as much as I wanted to, every single time that it was on my mind and I was upset about it (which, in 2010-2011 was every single day, so this would have been every time we saw each other), things would not have worked out between us. I dramatically toned down how much I talked about Colby, how much I let him know that I was still depressed because of Colby, and I let him think that I was doing okay. I was not okay. To reference this again:
After the breakup, I made it known to everyone that my situation was the burning building and I was not willing to stay friends with people who treated it like the wilted flower. But after Colby, when we were dating, I made him *think* that I was in more of a wilted flower scenario and that his watering can made it all better. I wanted to believe that so badly so that he and I could be together and I'd have friends and people would like me again. But it wasn't reality.
The problem is this: When I said that my writing was more suppressed when things were going better in our relationship, and that it got much better as our relationship got worse? That also applies to how much I was being my real self with other friends during those years. It's directly proportional to how much real stuff I was writing on my blog, and whether my blog posts were more raw or more suppressed.
I've said that I wasn't my real self in school because I didn't want to be there. I'm five years out of school now (I'm not counting grad school because, while it did absolutely suck to have to do all that work, I only went to classes a few times a week and my interactions with classmates were very limited. It didn't consume my life in the way that K-12 school and college did). But because of our relationship, I feel like I'm only two years out of school. Less than two years. I feel like I didn't start being my real, untamable self until my boyfriend broke his promise about the apartment, which was the beginning of March 2014. So that's only a year and five months that I feel like I have really not been pretending anything at all in order to have people like me.
A lot of the things you see in me probably seem like they came out of nowhere after the breakup. But they didn't. I just wasn't sharing them. For instance, I was a senior in college when I first started to read about unschooling, and I got very, very depressed about the fact that I could have had this wonderful lifestyle that would have been perfect for me, but I missed the opportunity. I couldn't even read some of the unschooling things I found because I was just so jealous of the kids who got to live that way. I knew I wanted to become an unschooler somehow, even though it was technically too late. I wanted to undo all the effects of schooling on my brain and just start over completely. I had this dream in 2010. I just didn't share it with anyone until after the breakup because my boyfriend's family was very traditional and I had to hide a lot of things from them, and I guess I just felt like I needed to get along with the group. I suppressed this dream lot and didn't pursue it for several years, even though it was what I wanted.
Then there is the concept of being untamable. Back in high school, I had seen these shows on TV called "Brat Camp" where a bunch of teenagers were trapped in this non-consentual wildness program where they were forced to do stuff so they'd some out behaving properly. It was absolutely horrible, and I'm really ashamed to say that I watched this for entertainment back then. I was able to distance myself from the show a lot. Being a National Honor Society student in the top ten of my class, I just felt so far away from the kids on the show. At some point in college, senior year if I remember right, I searched "Brat Camp" on youtube. I don't remember why I thought of the show again, but when I watched it again, I was absolutely disgusted and I could not believe that I had ever thought the show was okay. I identified with these kids so much and immediately went into survival mode for them, assessing the situation and trying to figure out how they could escape. I seriously thought about flying out to Utah or Arizona or wherever and breaking them out, but I had no idea how I'd do that. The longer I watched, the more I realized that the best solution was to simply be untamable - to go through the motions, do what you have to do to get out as fast as you can, but not actually believe anything they say and somehow manage to go home and drink and do drugs and party and have sex and not go to school or get a job - basically pick up whatever life you were living before without getting changed by the program. That was what I wanted to be - someone who could get through the system and come out unchanged, untamed, and having kept my own hedonistic values without picking up on any of the work ethic or good citizen values that were taught to me. See, I actually was untamable in that regard throughout most of my childhood - it was college that finally turned me into this well-behaved girl who stayed well behaved outside the classroom, since college was essentially a merger of school and personal life. I don't remember if I was using the word untamable back then, but my desire to become untamable goes back to 2009. (Although honestly, that's been a conscious goal throughout my entire life, long before I fully understood what it meant. As young as kindergarten, I do remember being consciously aware that I did not want school values to rub off and stick to me once I left that building. Yes, I understood this when I was five years old). The desire to be untamable is not new at all, it's just another thing I didn't emphasize very much about myself while my boyfriend and I were dating.
Deciding not to grow up was something that happened when I turned 26, so I think that timing would have stayed the same. (Prior to 26, I just didn't feel like I was growing up, so there was really nothing to consider). But I think a lot of that did come from the pressure from my boyfriend and his family to act more like an adult - if I hadn't been with him, I may not have felt so much of a desire to not grow up because if I'd been getting an apartment of my own all along, I would have assumed that I'd keep it the way I wanted and never clean up, and that my life would be all about fun, so there might not have been so much to fight against. But I'll never be sure of that. It might just be a turning 26 thing.
Then there's the sex blog. Obviously the sex blog would not have existed if we hadn't been together, and since he was the first person I did sexual stuff with, having a sex blog was obviously not on my mind before we met. However, rejecting my academic upbringing was always on my mind. I never wanted to go to Catholic school and wear uniforms and recite prepositions. I never wanted to be in National Honor Society or be in the top ten of class or be a good student. I never wanted an academic career and I never wanted to go to college. I never wanted ANY of those things, I just wanted to do fun things and be known for having lots of fun and being super rebellious and telling people to fuck off. While a sex blog didn't enter my mind until 2013, I always wanted to do something wild that was as far away from my educational upbringing as possible. And coming from a Catholic school that doesn't even let you wear nail polish, what could be farther away from that than being a sex blogger? Seriously, when you think of all the things that I could do that would be the total opposite of where I was expected to end up in this life, and if you consider that I don't actually like drinking or drugs, and eliminate stuff I might get arrested for, having a sex blog is absolutely perfect. And I decided to take that a step further and call myself a porn star because my written erotica stories do technically count as porn. I asked a friend and they agreed that it's totally fine to say I've been in porn.
So, all this untamable stuff seems new to everyone. It seems like it just started after the breakup and it might even be a phase that will go away someday. It's not. This is the real Nikki. I did not mention these things while I was dating my boyfriend because I was suppressing myself a lot. When I wrote The Unecrypted Truth, I used the tone of trust partially because I wanted to trust people again, but also partially because I was pretending not to be an angry person so that people would like me. When I started the sex blog, I talked about it being good for educational purposes, and while I did want to put the resource out there, I didn't emphasize just how thrilled I was to finally get to be the wild, untamable person that I wanted to be on the blog. The name I chose was very real to me. It wasn't just a joke of "Let's see if he can tame me. Teeheehee..." although I probably made it sound that way.
For the longest time, I thought that if my boyfriend and I hadn't started dating, I would not have had the friends I have now and I would have sunk into a very deep depression because I would have had no one to talk to and nothing to do. But I don't believe that's true. While it's a possibility, I know that reaching out to certain friends was on my mind when my friend went abroad, and I think that by some point in 2011, I would have done that on my own, and we would have been friends even sooner. And you know what else I think would have happened? I think I would have kept writing stuff about Colby nonstop, the way that I write now, and the friends I met would know this about me and would only be my friends if they were okay with that. I would not have suppressed that to make friends think that they had saved me. I also would have confronted the people I wanted to confront back then. When I was writing my list of 100 notes, my best friends at the time would not talk to me. They were ignoring me completely. And I don't just mean ignoring the Facebook notes, which would have been bad enough - I mean that while I was writing these notes, I was still writing to my friends separately, asking how they were doing and commenting on their posts and stuff like that, and they would not answer me. They literally just stopped talking and ignored me while I was writing the Facebook notes. One person even had the nerve to ask me when was I going up to Colby to visit them, without any regard to the fact that I was making it very clear that I never wanted to set foot there again. I was not okay with this at all and I wanted to send messages to my friends asking what the deal was, and saying that this was every bit as serious as I said it was and it was not okay with me if they didn't take it seriously. I wanted to, but I was very scared and when I saw the opportunity to be like, "Never mind, I feel better now, I'll disregard the fact that you're only talking to me because I stopped posting the notes," I seized it. I have a feeling that if we hadn't been dating, I would have gotten the courage to send those messages, and I would have dealt with what needed to be dealt with five years ago instead of bringing it up for the first time now.
And most importantly, if I had made friends with people on my own in 2011 and there was no boyfriend involved, I think that I would have been my real untamable self from the start. With my old friend abroad, I would have been able to start fresh with people who had never seen me in a school environment. I would have continued posting Colby stuff online very aggressively, and I would have informed people that I wanted to be a wild, untamable chick who didn't act college-educated, and who behaved as if I had never been punished or disciplined in any way. That would have been the Nikki that everyone met from the start. There would be no "old Nikki" who used to be well-behaved, whom you could have bonded with over being good kids.
If you observed one person tell another person, "I'm going to do something very bad to you if you don't jump rope," and the other person jumps rope, you can logically reason out that the person may have done this to avoid the bad thing, not because they like to jump rope. The problem is that on a subconscious level, we can't always reason this out. We just see the person jumping rope and subconsciously, we assume that's what they want to do. And if we see other people choose not to jump rope and have the really bad thing happen to them instead, that makes us more likely to assume that the people who choose to jump rope must like it, rather than assuming that the bad consequence may simply hurt some people more than others, which is why they may choose to jump rope despite hating it.
I wish I knew more people who had just never seen me jump rope.
If you only knew me in a school environment, you didn't see the real me. Even at lunch or after-school activities, even at college when we weren't in class. If we were in a school, I was not being my untamable self. And I really, really hate to have to say this, but I was also suppressing very important things while I was dating my boyfriend. 2011 was very suppressed. 2012 was better, but I was still being very careful about what I shared. 2013 was the first time I was really unsuppressed. And March 2014 to the present is 100 percent unsuppressed. Outside of work, I have not tried to impress anyone or get anyone to like me since the breakup. I don't have a goal of getting people to like me. I have a goal of being untamable, and of having other people recognize that I'm untamable and treat me that way.
Very soon, I'm going to be meeting up with people I haven't seen since before the breakup. People who know me as "Nicole" instead of "Nikki" (I do NOT want to be called Nicole ever again!). People who know me as a good girl who got good grades and was in National Honor Society and was in the top ten of my class. It's so hard to shatter people's illusions and get them to believe that the real Nikki is the one who's an untamble unschooler porn star who rejects college and is super clingy and writes lots of bad things about people who've betrayed her. The real Nikki is NOW. (The real Nikki also existed in the past when she was a kid, but she only existed at home with her family, so you wouldn't have met her).
I don't know what to do about this. But I'm gonna have my spiky gloves on this time. I'm gonna correct people if they introduce me as "Nicole" and I'm gonna talk normally with everyone the way I am NOW and not revert back to the good girl I was last time we saw each other.
From now on, when I meet new people, I'm not going to have the goal of getting them to like me. I'm going to approach things the way I would if I were trying a new recipe combo. If I wanted to try, say, peanut butter on blueberries, I wouldn't approach it thinking that this would be my new favorite food or that I needed to find a way to make it work. I would just try and see if I liked it. That's what I'm gonna do when I meet new people - I'm not gonna have a goal that we need to get along or that anything needs to work between us. I'm just gonna be myself and we'll both see if we like the combo. Because if I start trying to make it work, I usually end up altering the ingredient that I'm contributing, and the other person is in for a nasty surprise when they find out that I'm made out of coriander instead of Cool Whip.