Sex and the Ivy

When I Was 20

Filed under: All About Elle, Blogging, Dating/Relationships, Depression, Harvard, Mental Health — Elle January 11, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

My friends have a tendency to categorize my college experience as pre- and post-Patrick (or pre- and post-domestication-of-formerly-unruly-sex-blogger), but I think the split really occurs not when I met the current roomie, but two Christmases ago. I’m referring to those infamous nude photos, whose surfacing and aftermath have been neatly summarized in a recent piece in a Canadian paper. It felt strange to comment on the incident for the article, given how much time has passed and how young I was then (not that I’m much older now). But though many things have changed since, I don’t know if I’d handle it any differently today, which is probably why I seemed “remarkably blase” in the interview. I think I did the best I could at the time.

In the winter of 2007, I was single and living alone in Currier House, still blogging primarily on Sex and the Ivy, and seriously considering writing a memoir (which has long been shelved in favor of my senior thesis). At 20 years old, I was completely unprepared to deal with such a deep invasion of privacy, though I wonder if that’s the sort of thing one is ever prepared to handle gracefully. It wasn’t about the fact that I was naked on the Internet nor was it about the sociopathic ex who I’d long written off. I was never ashamed of my body or of people seeing it, but rather, I felt victimized because I had been exposed without consent and doubly victimized by those who wrote salaciously about the incident. The initial IvyGate post was how most of my classmates found out about the photos, and the subsequent coverage on Fleshbot, Bostonist, who knows where else, informed the world beyond Cambridge.

In the weeks after, I encountered little sympathy and plenty of mockery. It was easy for strangers online to say that I was “asking for it” when they weren’t in my shoes, freaking the fuck out (quite literally, in the form of panic attacks), and very much certain that I didn’t ask for this shit. However, I was mostly appalled by the way I was treated by other Harvard students, who had no moral qualms about Googling the photos and sending them to one another. It wasn’t the first or last time I felt totally alienated, isolated, and violated by the campus at large, but it was easily the worst time because I was going at it alone. Unlike romantic troubles or an uncalled-for rude encounter, this was a situation that literally no one in my life could understand or empathize with.

So how did I get over it? By leaving Harvard. I made the best of finals and submitted multiple late papers thanks to a note from my therapist. I got a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication I never ended up taking. I went to Switzerland for nine days with two girlfriends, hiked uphill in snow to reach the peak of the world’s longest sled run, and had a lot of sex with someone who was not a sociopath. Thankfully, I emerged from my depressive haze without the least bit of generalized hatred toward men, since I met Patrick, a.k.a. “the Guy”, shortly thereafter. In the subsequent months of my junior year, I transitioned slowly away from my old blog and into this one. Mid-semester, sleuthing e-stalkers unmasked and defamed “the Guy”, pretty much cementing my belief that I could never return to writing openly about my own sex life. I also moved, for all intents and purposes, into Patrick’s then-apartment and never once looked back at the option of living on campus. By the time I got Ad Boarded for not turning in two final papers, I was just completely done with Harvard. Everyone was telling me to finish the damn papers — which were completely doable — and I was thinking, “What’s so bad about having to take a year off, anyway? I freaking hate this place.” When I left Harvard at the end of May, I had already long checked out emotionally. I hadn’t even slept in Currier for months and only showed up to move-out in order to shove things into boxes. Two months later, I turned 21 halfway around the world from Cambridge. I went back to Boston a few weeks later and moved in with Patrick, with whom I lived during my year off. Harvard has never felt like home again, not even after I returned as a student this fall.

This is all to say that even if I appeared “remarkably blase about the incident” in my interview for the aforementioned article, it was hardly an insignificant event in my life. I’ve said most, though not all, of the above before, and often, it feels like I’m repeating myself when I discuss this topic. Maybe that’s because I’m still grappling with what happened. The reaction to those photos simultaneously defined and epitomized my college experience, which often felt like a circus act performed before sadistic spectators. Someday, I’ll have to post the “reflective” essay I submitted to get readmitted to Harvard. It was more a condemnation of my classmates than it was an expression of remorse, and if the administration ever had doubts about how cruel Ivy League students can be … well, now they know. Back then, I was also very much of the mindset that the bloggers and reporters who wrote about the photos were simply doing their job: writing about the news. Only in the year afterward did I realize that having a sex blog hardly makes one newsworthy and that furthermore, gossip is not news. It would have saved my sanity had a few individuals simply thought twice about clicking “Post Entry”. In retrospect, I regret that I wasn’t more critical of the writers who exploited the source of my personal anguish for page views.

In a few short months, I’ll have a Harvard degree in addition to hundreds of unfavorable Google search results to show for all this trouble, yet I’ve never quite forgiven or forgotten the on- and off-line masses who judged, dissected, and mocked my younger self. In a coming-of-age film, the above drama might be characterized as the experience necessary for eventual personal growth or finding Mr. Right or whatever. Winding up with a bulldog-owning Yalie is kind of the perfect happy ending to the Ivy League version of Sex And The City. But outside of HBO world, no one needs to nearly get their life ruined in order to emerge triumphant. The reality is that people are often mean without justification, you may or may not learn from this stuff, and the guy you end up with in the aftermath is not necessarily the pay-off for putting up with bullshit. Though I survived my ordeal more or less intact, with a boyfriend and a puppy dog to boot, I have never regained my former faith in others’ inherent goodness. Which is good, because I was really just being naive. The crazy ex who posted those photos could have easily been written off as a psychotic exception to the generally sane population at large, but what happened in the aftermath demonstrated to me how thoughtless, judgmental, and unkind normal individuals can be and that this tends to be the rule, not the exception, and that Harvard kids with all their privilege are not exempt from moral failings despite being in a position where they should theoretically “know better”.

And that realization, not Patrick, is what really prompted some rather radical changes in my life. Harvard has a knack for fooling its students into becoming incredibly invested in their peers. The cult of the Ivy and all that. The belief that your success is mine and vice versa. Even at its rawest, my blog up until that point reflected a painful desire to be liked. I was well-aware that my subject matter was slightly edgy and my reputation slightly soiled, but hardly unsalvageable, nothing a book deal couldn’t fix. It wasn’t until the ugly aftermath of the photos that I started to question what I was trying to prove and who I was trying to prove it to. It was then that I stopped participating in superficial social interactions, ceased going to anonymous parties, and completely disengaged from communal college life. In other words, I no longer viewed my classmates as flawless individuals who I should be grateful to know.

Up until then, my go-to future plan had always been Move To New York, Write A Memoir, Become Carrie 2.0. Now that graduation is actually on the horizon, I don’t find any of the above particularly appealing. I will almost certainly stay in Boston, at least in the short-term, and perhaps I will still publish a book, but not because I feel the need to apologize for my sordid past by seeking redemption via commercial literary success. As for Carrie 2.0, I’d rather aspire to be Jessica Valenti. But the truth is that I don’t even have New Year’s resolutions, not to speak of a multi-year life plan. I don’t have any idea how 2010 will turn out, since I didn’t do corporate recruiting in the fall, haven’t looked for a job, failed to apply to grad schools or take the GRE, and have no real intention to think about post-graduation life until I actually graduate (or at least until I finish my thesis). Two years ago, this would’ve struck me as terribly complacent, perhaps even boring, but right now,it just feels liberating.

Reminiscence

Filed under: All About Elle, Blogging, Depression, Harvard, Mental Health, Uncategorized — Elle July 17, 2009 @ 4:17 pm

I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Right now, I want to disappear. I haven’t felt this in a long time, perhaps because in the past year, I more or less succeeded in doing precisely that. I traded in Sex and the Ivy for a far less personal tumblelog. I left school and then the country. When I returned, I moved to Beacon Hill and avoided campus, final clubs, and the Class of 2009. My already shrunken circle of friends shrank even more. Agents asked me if I still wanted to write a book, and I would say this really isn’t the right time, but it’s on my mind and I’ll get in touch on my own, thank you. I guess it was reassuring to know that I was, in fact, still relevant. But for once, that mattered less than the sliver of privacy I’d found. Public and private life finally seemed distinguishable, and I was happy. I am happy.

When Harvard kicked me out of school last spring, I felt like the Ad Board didn’t believe or care about my story. Sure, I never did well in college, and hell, I admit that I was a pretty mediocre honors student in high school, but there’s a reason why I went from getting abysmal grades to simply not passing a class. That doesn’t just happen on its own. The problem is, I don’t know how I could have expected anyone at the time to believe me when even I thought my story was unbelievable. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that I called it a “story”. I thought of it as a book, perhaps because I was trying to write one, but also because there wasn’t any possible way that it was actually happening in real life. Yet it was.

I started Sex and the Ivy in the beginning of my sophomore year. At first, it was exhilarating to feel inspired enough to write everyday. It was the biggest high I’d ever felt and I still sometimes fear I’ll never replicate it again. But what I initially considered an incredible creative phase soon turned into the worst period of my life up to that point. Because I believed in the best in people, I wrote naively and with abandon. I wrote about my fears and my uncertainties and my insecurities. I always wrote the truth. Most of the feedback was positive but some people were critical, not in a constructive way, but in a purposely hurtful, malicious way. Judgments were made about my character based on the presumed number of sexual partners I’d had. Strangers felt justified in calling me a “slut”. Their IP addresses suggested they were posting from a computer connected to the campus network. For a period of about six months, I went through a series of highs and lows. Most of my blogging was done when I was in a slightly manic state. The rest of the time, I slept a lot, missed class frequently, and tried to extricate myself from most social activities. Someone, a professional, suggested I might be struggling with a high-functioning form of bipolar disorder. I met with a psychiatrist, decided I wasn’t that crazy (at least not yet), and promptly went back into hibernation mode until the spring. By then, I was doing better and just wanted to finish the school year so I could spend summer in New York. None of what I’m writing here is new. I’ve said it all before, so many times before that it doesn’t feel real now to look back on it.

Sometimes when I spoke to my junior year therapist about this, I felt like she didn’t believe me either. I felt like no one believed me, or at least they couldn’t feel what I felt. Back then, I thought I was going crazy, not crazy enough to take pills, but enough to question whether this constant feeling of being watched and judged was merely a mental affliction. I almost wanted to ask Sara if she thought I was actually making this all up in my head. In retrospect, what I considered unconfirmed paranoia at the time was pretty much confirmed by my junior year. I just didn’t want to believe it. But then you hear enough people whisper your name (or something that vaguely sounds like it) whenever you’re in the vicinity. You catch enough people looking at you. You catch pointing. And sometimes, you overhear something that no one intended for you to hear. What you used to wonder about, you come to expect. But I never learned the full extent of it and I never will, which is why I thought for so long that I was crazy in a very literal sense.

I want to point out that I have never, ever been harassed in person. None of these people who gossip and say or think or write terrible things about me would ever have the courage to publicly stand by their words. Every time anyone has approached me, they’ve been gracious and kind and polite; and though I am grateful for this, it also terrifies me, because I can’t put an identifiable face on my attackers. And yes, I do feel attacked.

It may have been an unhinged ex-boyfriend who put nude photos of me online two Christmases ago, but their dissemination was a collaborative effort between IvyGate and my peers. I know for a fact that people who personally knew me — as well as others who didn’t –  were sending those photos around while I was in hysterics at the end of fall term and struggling to finish papers just so I could finish them, just so I could leave the school and the country and all this inexplicable malice behind. When Patrick and I started dating last spring, I didn’t tell anyone but my closest friends about him. I actually kept my relationship a secret from the majority of my acquaintances. And yet, someone who knew the both of us, someone who must’ve seen us in public together or something, outed him on JuicyCampus. When it got picked up on AutoAdmit, online vigilantes decided to take matters into their own hands and send indignant emails to Harvard professors and administrators demanding that Patrick be kicked out of his Ph.D program for a breach of ethics that never occurred. Thank god he was in a five-year relationship during the entire time he taught me or people might’ve actually not believed us.

I suppose the fact that I’m still blogging is a testament to my emotional strength or to my stupidity. To be honest, I’m terrified of returning to school this fall because I’m running out of the former. I’m tired of being strong and I’m tired of having to just put up with it and I’m worried that what’s happened thus far is the beginning, not the end. In retrospect, I’m surprised my 19-year-old self lasted as long as she did. I’m turning 22 next month and I’m getting too old for this. I used to get so many sexist or downright misogynistic comments that I became numb to them. I hit delete, delete, delete and moved on to the next entry. And now? When I read something terrible that a stranger has to say about me,  I stop and think about it. I think about them and the person they might be. I think about myself and what I’ve done to deserve this kind of scrutiny. I think about how a website could provoke concerted efforts by other human beings to make my life miserable.

Maybe blogging about my personal life means I’m “asking for it” but if my only crime is writing openly and honestly about sex and not having the decency to feel ashamed of myself, then yes, I suppose I asked for it. I realize now, two years late, that I was incredibly naive for expecting better out of people, out of humanity, as dramatic as that sounds. When I was 19, I didn’t think anyone understood me. Not my mother, who didn’t know about my blog. Not my therapist, who nodded at the right times and knew my secret resentments. Not my friends, who were often the ones I resented. And now I know there’s at least one person in the world who understands me, pretty completely, and I’m still miserable, just because a stranger decided to be shockingly inhumane tonight. How did I do it at 19? How can I ever write that candidly again if even a mere comment (or in this case, 15 of them in a span of minutes) conjures up all the unpleasant memories I’ve pushed to the recesses of my mind? I have never once regretted writing Sex and the Ivy, but it’s not until now that I’ve acknowledged the full extent of what I lost because of it. I spent most of college disassociating myself from my peers, physically running away (to New York, to Philadelphia, abroad), and questioning my own sanity. And sure, I was defiant, and more importantly, I was in the right. But what good is being right when you’re an unhappy, suspicious person? Now that I know the alternative, I could care less about my writing or what others see in it or what they see in me. I’d rather be happy than defiant on principle.

None of these people who have done me wrong will get their comeuppance. There’s no such thing as god or karma and even if there were, I’m not looking for justice. I’m looking for happiness, and thus far, I’ve only found it in a private life. I could wait endlessly for divine retribution, or I could try to be happy knowing what I know about human nature and what people are capable of. I could try to be happy the one way I know how. I could try to disappear.

Where It Stood, Where It Stands

Filed under: Depression, In Retrospect, Life, Morning Afters — Elle December 28, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

First off, check out this Sex and the Ivy-related point and counterpoint on Gadfly, a blog written by “a bunch of people who went to Harvard and now have many opinions.” Full disclosure: I am acquainted with both writers and the author of the defense is my very tall and Canadian hubby on Facebook, though I assure you there was no prodding on my part.

Second, I’m too busy with papers and writing projects to write a proper entry, so here is a piece I wrote a little over a year ago about the last time I came apart at the seams. It is very fitting for the current situation, but I dare say that I am doing better this time around than the last. (Well, at least I’m not completely ignoring my friends.)

“At a place where everyone delivers without fail, how do you tell people you just can’t deal?

On Thursday evening, I had my life under control. I went to office hours. I went to makeup sections. All my assignments were done. My TFs didn’t hate me. My iCal was organized. My email had under 100 messages. I changed into a cute outfit to kick off the weekend. I saw Vix for coffee. I made my dinner date with Nate. I met HN and Rody at the Fogg, followed by a gay mixer at the law school with CK. I boozed and schmoozed and met lovely people. Someone called me “fabulous.” Life, around 10pm, was pretty fabulous.

Flash forward several hours to Friday morning. I woke up hungover, topless, and missing a few crucial memories from the previous night — namely, the violent outburst that rocked Mather’s thin walls. By noon, I pulled myself together … mostly because I had to. I saw my therapist. I made it to mentoring. I met my committee at Toscanini. I had dinner with JB. I went to Death Cab. I came home to a party, drank generously, and then called it an early evening after the subject of my aforementioned tirade called it quits for the fifth time in as many weeks.

I was piss drunk and pissed off. By 4 a.m. I was also awake, answering the first text message I paid attention to all night since passing out. I should’ve slept past it, not called back, not answered the door, or for that matter not done a whole series of things leading to a monumental error in judgment.

Since then, I’ve been dropping the ball on basically everything. I have not really left my dorm room at all — not for work or class or meetings. Cumulative time spent outside of Mather since Saturday night? Four hours. Four non-Mather hours in four freaking days.

My goal is to get my life back on track by tomorrow evening. Starting with class today.”

– “Day Four” November 8, 2006

Several of my friends have expressed pretty serious concerns about my, uh, mental state, so here’s an update: I wrote my therapist Anna a very lengthy email last night, basically saying that I only have about a week left at home and I need to stop fixating on everything that’s arisen and concentrate on my work (plenty that I’m behind on) and actually go out with my friends. I think even my mother is a bit alarmed by the fact that I’ve more or less stayed in bed for a week. It’s not crippling depression; I think I’m just really … tired. It takes a lot out of you to get angry at someone, to get over being angry, to get angry all over again at someone else, and then to get over that. And that doesn’t even take into account the horrendous bureaucratic maze I’ve had to make my way through in terms of police and lawyers, etc. All in all, the past few days have been altogether draining (additionally so because of another unexpected, unneeded crisis that erupted on Christmas night).

It’s also really frustrating because the people who best understand the insanity that’s been going on are my friends from school, specifically my blockmates, who are all over the place. I’ve been calling Tiffanie nonstop because we’re in the same time zone (she lives in Irvine) and this isn’t really healthy. Even my ex-boyfriend from high school told me the other night to shift my mindset and pay attention to what’s in front of me, not what’s thousands of miles away. “When you’re home, you should leave everything you have going on in the East Coast on the East Coast,” he told me. And that’s fair, though I feel in this situation, it’s an impossible request to ask of me, since I can’t reasonably divorce my thoughts from the people or the events or the relationships that have all changed quite dramatically over the holidays. The timing sucks. I’m not coming home again until June at the soonest and I can’t even devote myself completely to California.

In any case, I lack the emotional and mental energy to really be productive. On the bright side, I finally have time again, which is nice so I guess I just need to get my mind somewhere peaceful. I am finishing crucial forms at the moment, trying to concentrate on papers, and embarking on a first step toward a potentially great project. I am only beginning now to return all the emails I received last weekend, so if I have yet to get to yours, my apologies.

I don’t know when or if I’ll blog again about anything significant until mid-January nor do I really want to write about any of my current romantic interests. There are a couple guys I’m casually seeing (or like five, haha, depending on who you ask and whether you count non-Bostonians) but I haven’t discussed the blog extensively with any of them nor do I care enough to write about them or even ask if I could write about them. I’ve been going at a snail’s pace with guys lately and been altogether reserved (sexually and definitely emotionally). I’m really excited about one person in particular , but … I don’t know. I don’t think I’m opening up very well for someone who plans on making a career out of introspection. I guess I’m just really caught up in being me and dealing with my issues without anyone’s help. Even writing to my therapist was a HUGE leap and her job is to help. Relationships require that you let the other person in. In a way, having a ton of drama that none of my friends or family can fix for me has made me more determined to forge ahead on my own and it is very hard to revert back to my old mindset. I guess we’ll see.

Shifts

Filed under: Celebrity, Depression — Elle May 3, 2007 @ 2:35 am

I was going through my phone the other night and I determined that my entire life can be summed up as one long series of text messages from Adia. This is completely unrelated to what this entry is about.

I wrote on my private blog yesterday (yes, I do have another) that I’ve had to make a series of changes this year in order to adjust to the unexpected consequences of Sex and the Ivy: “It’s not even about the public scrutiny and recognition and inability to make new friends or meet new people. It is about old friends and their scrutiny and my attempts to make a space for myself that is my own. The past semester has been about drawing the line between public and private, narrowing the list of people in my life to a handful I want to invest in, and separating my professional endeavors from my college existence.”

I’ve explained this to several people already but I think it’s important to get it down into words: I don’t want to make new friends, I don’t like strangers, and I never want to date another guy who knows about my blog. It almost sounds cold but the handful of people (and I really do mean handful) who I have become better acquainted with this year are almost all friends of existing friends. It’s hard to trust people’s intentions unless you have others vouching for them. Frankly, I’m not interested in befriending or dating someone who finds me intriguing merely because I write a controversial sex blog. Obviously, it’s a different story with fellow writers and bloggers, but when it comes to typical peer interaction, “What’s Kyle’s real identity?” should not be on the top of the get-to-know-you list. It almost makes me wonder if I was considered at all interesting before I started writing this thing.

Along the same lines, I’ve found myself becoming much more private even with my close friends. It doesn’t mean that I’m shutting off in the slightest. But for someone with such little privacy as it is, it’s not asking much to be left alone when I want to be. I’m tired of being interrogated every time a new male figure emerges in my life or someone comes over to hang out. Sometimes, it’s not even about my privacy but the other party’s. Living in such close quarters with five other girls last semester was extremely stifling. Between my blockmates, friends, and readers, I had almost nothing that was left to myself. My romantic turmoil, depression, insecurities — all of it played out in the public sphere. I felt anxious all the time, could barely focus on my work, and finally, pulled away violently from everyone. Months later, the solution, as it turns out, is to actually not tell everyone everything. Surprise surprise.

Another change: I’m less patient nowadays. I’m remarkably blessed to have such solid friends in my life and I’m not exactly in need of extra company. This isn’t the first day of freshman year. I have no patience for dealing with shitty personalities. Being thrust into the spotlight has made it spectacularly clear that it’s quality, not quantity, I should be looking for in terms of friends and that in order to get to the few good ones, there’s a lot of judgmental, superficial assholes to weed through. I spent the better part of freshman year putting up with undeserved criticism and general bitchiness. I get enough of that bullshit from Sex and the Ivy critics; I don’t need it in my day-to-day life. Quite honestly, if you’re not going to get with the program, then get the fuck out.

I forgave two people recently. One simply disappeared from my life after an unexpected personal crisis; the other drifted away slowly but deliberately. I felt rejected by both at the time and never really understood what happened. But once I heard their respective explanations, I felt compelled to forgive them. The former was someone who treated me with respect right up until disappearing without a trace. The latter was responsible for my making it through the college transition. There is something to be said for being human, making mistakes, owning up to them, and apologizing. Sometimes, “sorry” is just about enough. I’m still waiting for a “sorry” from more than one party.

In sex-related news, I have been off of birth control for two weeks and I’m seriously considering just going without it indefinitely. I am having such a difficult time with the mere conception of a hookup, much more sex, that I don’t see the purpose in taking the Pill. Of course, I can’t foresee the future and who knows what a summer in New York will hold. Besides, prior history (i.e. Summer Guy) has demonstrated that relationships occur when least expected. Nonetheless, I am determined to stay abstinent and I know that I won’t have sex using only a condom. I have only had bad experiences with relying on one form of protection (had to resort to Plan B with both Summer Guy and Aidan) so third time is definitely not the charm. If I’m not popping the pill, no one’s popping the regrown cherry.

Putting It All Into Perspective

Filed under: Depression, Life — Elle April 27, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

Life isn’t really as terrible as it seems. I have to remind myself of that constantly, but trite as it is, it’s true. Everything happens for a reason, and even if it’s difficult to make sense of it at the moment, events that later unfold eventually elucidate the past.

April is Mental Health Awareness Month. After my entry on depression hit the Internet, I felt like I had become the poster child for mental health at Harvard. It was a role I was unprepared for, but I’m glad it landed on my lap. I wrote way back in November, “Sex blogs and dating columns are entertaining endeavors, but what I have wanted most is to make a difference by putting into words what some people are unable or afraid to express for themselves.”

I didn’t think at the time that I was doing precisely that by posting about my own experience with alienation and sadness on this campus. In the weeks immediately after my entry went up, countless readers reached out via comments, emails, instant messages, just about any medium you could think of. Some of them were speaking from an older and wiser perspective, many were current or former Harvard students who understood disillusionment well, and others were just young people elsewhere in the world who shared the same struggle. Even today, months after having written that post, I still get the occasional email every couple weeks from someone who is trying to make sense of what is going on in their lives and empathized with me enough to put their feelings down into words. This is the single most resonating piece of writing I have ever produced.

When I wrote it, I was beginning therapy just as my life was beginning to unravel. The blog had become overwhelming, stifling, much more than I could handle on my own. My personal life had all but imploded. Things with Aidan ended, my friends didn’t understand anything, my best friend just started a new relationship, and I couldn’t tell my mother the truth about a single aspect of my life. I was, for all intents and purposes, alone.

I wrote the entry partially because I was miserable, partially because I needed to articulate what my day-to-day struggle felt like, but mostly because I resented everyone for regarding me as some sort of sex-crazed freakshow when really I was just a girl who couldn’t quite get a grip on life at Harvard. At the time, all I could think about was running away, whether it meant from Mather to the Quad, from Boston to New York, or from Harvard to Penn. On campus, I lived in a constant state of panic and anxiety. I was too paranoid about being recognized to leave my room. I stopped eating. I couldn’t talk to my friends without having difficulty breathing. I told more to Kyle, someone I had casual sex with, than I did to my roommates. I had no idea how to make it to the next day.

It wasn’t until January, when I had gained perspective from a weekend in New York and a trip back home, that I finally reached a leveling off point. Somehow, through the tumultuous holidays and a few therapy sessions, I had learned to keep my emotions under control, to deal with the unexpected consequences of celebrity, to pick and choose who I wanted to have in my life. I also came to learn that even though a lot of my problems stemmed from my blog, what I went through (and am still going through) was both a unique and a common experience. Expressing that experience and sharing my journey with a public audience has been more gratifying than almost anything else I’ve done.

I am better now. I am in a better place today than I could’ve imagined six months ago, than I could’ve ever thought possible as a freshman. And despite the unfortunate events that have transpired in the past few weeks, despite the multiple conversations I wish I never had to engage in, despite frustrations and disappointments, I am more capable of managing life on my own than I have ever been. I did not ask a lot out of therapy. Happiness was never a request of mine. Today, I simply can function. And that is a blessing that I cannot even begin to explain.

I write this now because I spent the past two months becoming invested in someone who turned out to not be who I thought. I spent the past week getting to know someone else who was just as deceitful. In four months, I have met more distraught ex-girlfriends than I care to meet for the rest of my life. Perhaps this is karmic; perhaps it is bad fortune. Whatever the case, it’s hard for anyone in this position to not begin thinking that they’re cursed.

Which brings me back to my point. Putting it all into perspective, this website is one of the best things that has happened to me despite my having to change the way I live in order to cope with its consequences. Depression was one of the best things that has happened to me because I needed to feel that low in order to get the help I’ve always needed. I understand that now. Months and months later, it has all been worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I fell hard for someone recently and he made me believe in things I never thought I would. He told me that I was beautiful, that I was much more than a sexual object. He appreciated my intelligence, my ambition, my devotion to those important in my life. He wanted me to realize my own worth, to not give myself away emotionally or physically so easily to others, to respect myself. Not too long after I actually began to take his words to heart, I found out that he had been lying to me for weeks about his involvement with another girl. He had been lying to both of us. I haven’t spoken to him since.

But I still believe every word he said to me.

Such a large part of our relationship was a fabrication that it would be easy to discount what we had altogether, but I would never take it back if only because he taught me such valuable lessons. He is the reason why I only want to sleep with someone I really care about. Given some perspective, being with him served a very important function, one I could’ve never predicted and one I value despite the way things played out.

I’m writing this entry to someone specific, someone who I think understands precisely where I am coming from, who knows what it means to hurt and to need. Perhaps this is just me being romantic, but I think that there must’ve been something that you could’ve taken away from the two of you that was vital and important. There must’ve been something he made you feel, something he added to your notion of self. Whatever it was, I don’t want you to lose that. Months from now, I hope whatever happened between you still matters and has some impact no matter how vague.

People speak of regrets far too often. I am too drained to regret what has already been done. Take it. Change it. Be better for it.

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