I am a walking contradiction.
At least, that’s how I’ve always felt. I know I’m not alone in that. I am my parents only daughter and yet, I’m a miserable failure in femininity. My three brothers likely had a hand in it, but even without them, I’d still eschew pink and heels for dark purple and boots. I’m five-foot-five of curves and softness but want to project the image of being able to kick ass.
My life has been equally divided in stark parallels. Home is both the South and the Midwest, a new construction McMansion and a rundown trailer built in the eighties, a large public high school and a tiny private prep school, metropolitan and bucolic. My hopeless romantic heart will fall in love with every handsome man I see with any hint of intelligence and creativity, but my asexual brain keeps me from pursuing anything. I hide myself away from friends and family for weeks at a time because my introverted self can’t operate on too much time socializing but my love language is quality time.
The name my father picked for me, Genevieve, often feels like one of the greatest contradictions of all. I asked my parents when I was in middle school why on earth they’d chosen it. In the throes of those awkward growing years, with bad haircuts and questionable choices in makeup (purple glitter eye shadow was big then, ok? Don’t judge), and my complete disinterest in looking beautiful, my name felt like an absolute waste on me. Genevieve conjures up images of a slender, nymph of a woman, her skin always perfect, her hair always laying perfectly or styled elegantly into submission, her clothes always stunning, even if simple. My father chose my name after seeing a film with actress Genevieve Bujold. Talk about a disappointment. Short and pudgy, with hair that frizzes out like Hermione Granger’s at the mere mention of rain, and a complexion that at thirty-one has yet to fully clear, I still feel like I could never live up to the ethereal potential of my name.
My Granny, bless her heart, always insisted I was born for great things.
“Your name was made for book covers,” she told me when I told her I wanted to be an author. My name may well have been, but my talents? And my face? Maybe not. Grandmothers are good for encouraging you when no one else has faith in you though, even you.
Even my writing is a contradiction. I proudly publish my novels, but I lack the confidence to publicize them. They are proof of my growth and dedication to my art. And at the same time, they’re a reminder that I’m only one tiny blip in a vast infinity of consumable media. I desperately want them to be read and loved, but am certain that the instant someone picks them up, they’ll think they’re dull and uninspired, so I tend to keep my mouth shut.
In my MFA program, my non-fiction professor once told me I had an exceptional voice to my writing. I have wanted to write memoir for ages, but do I really have anything innovative and revolutionary to say that hasn’t already been said? If even I don’t think what I have say is important, why would anyone else?
I’d be much more comfortable keeping all of this to myself, but I want to share because it feels important. So here I am, terrified but shouting into the void.