Manic Pixie Dream Girl
I once made a fashion blog that was utterly humiliating called Vogue by Vivian where I wore jumpsuits and weird hats because I thought I had good style. (I’m embarrassed.)
My friend and I used to think we were model material, and we made her mom take pictures of us dramatically looking at each other. (Why???)
We also took this picture of books we didn’t read and coffee we didn’t drink—again, for the social media clout. (I did not read paper towns.)
I once actually set up a self timer and took a picture of myself looking out the window for melodramatic effect, then put it in black and white just to make it 10x more ridiculous. (This is humiliating.)
My sophomore year, I cut off all my hair and started wearing ribbons. (This was kinda fun actually, kinda quirky.)
The next year, I cut my own bangs. (Sometimes miss this, sometimes DON’T.)
All of this I would love to hide in a top secret folder that self destructs when someone tries to open it. Also, all of this, I realize, is a very important part of who I am—and who I’m not.
My whole life I’ve taken drastic measures to prove I am special. I’ve made blogs, I’ve posted obnoxious pictures, I’ve cut my hair—all to be different. Quirky, if you will. I don’t even know if it was me—but I just wanted to stand out. I hate when people use their enneagram to decipher everything in their lives because I think identity is much more than a number, but this is a four thing. I feel like I have to be unique to be loved, to be worth it, to be special. Everybody always talks about ‘fitting in’, but after the millionth movie telling me it’s ok not to—I’ve felt like I shouldn’t. Because if I did fit in, I’m just one of them. If I did fit in, I wouldn’t be the protagonist; I’d be the supporting role. Even worse, I’d be the extra. I wanted to be the manic pixie dream girl.
I wore ribbons in my hair because I thought I had to have a thing. Like Margot Tenenbaum's red clip, like Clementine’s changing hair color in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I claimed those things as mine, and if anyone else did them, they were copying me. I was the girl who thought my music taste was above everyone else’s because it was less mainstream. I watch weird movies, and I looked down on people who didn’t. I wanted to be different so badly, I went so far as to put everyone else down.
It even got to the point where I thought I shouldn’t have friends. Everybody in the movies didn’t have real friends—they didn’t understand them. I thought I should be the same way, so I pushed everyone away. I thought because the girls at my school didn’t share every single one of my interests we couldn’t really be friends—only acquaintances.
Basically, I thought I had to be the manic pixie dream girl—the exact definition being a type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky, whose main purpose within the narrative is to inspire a greater appreciation for life in a male protagonist. In relationships, I couldn’t except anything less than spectacular. I thought a guy had to go completely out of his way to even catch my attention. When anyone would pursue me, I’d turn them straight around because I thought they weren’t enough. I thought about how I would tell my kids about the relationships in my life, and I refused to start the story with he added me on snapchat. It had to be more than that. It had to be like the movies.
I’ve lived my life like this for years. I expected so much out of myself and everyone else that it became unhealthy, and I was constantly unhappy. I daydreamed every situation out in my head, and real life would knock me down every time. I always said I have to train my brain not to fantasize and my heart not to want to. Because disappointment was getting the best of me.
I started to let real life take over around a year ago. I stopped thinking about things and began to just let them happen. I got happier and things got easier. I quit putting pressure on myself and I just lived. I let my hair grow out, I let myself do teenager things. I read less, I wrote less. I stopped watching weird old films and watched box-office movies with my friends. I stopped wearing crazy outfits and settled for simple. I began to fit in.
I was truly happier, and things truly were easier.
I was myself in the most pure and simple way. I let myself be Texas-17-year-old Vivian. But I’m looking back now and wonder if that’s really who I’m supposed to be.
I’m wondering if maybe ‘being myself’ isn’t just settling into what I’m supposed to be—what I have been. Maybe ‘being myself’ is pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Maybe ‘being myself’ is wearing stupid clothes just to see what it would look like. Maybe ‘being myself’ is fantasizing and reading and writing about the things I want. Maybe ‘being myself’ is switching up my hair every few months because I need something new. Maybe ‘being myself’ is growing and changing and doing what I feel like I’m meant to do.
And my friends aren’t supposed to understand every single thing I’m going through. They’re just supposed to be there for me as I go through them. They won’t solve my problems but they’ll be right behind me as I solve them myself. I put so much pressure on everyone to be exactly who I wanted them to be—who I thought I needed them to be. But really I just need them. Not my perfect version of them.
And people find happiness from different things. I don’t feel anything listening to the top pop music, but maybe someone does. And there’s no reason for that not to be ok—I was just being self-involved. Box-office movies make me cry just as much as a Wes Anderson of Jean-Luc Godard film does. How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days makes me just as happy as Harold and Maude.
And about modern love: It’s the twenty first century and guys aren’t going to randomly fall in love with you and ask you out in the record store you work in (thank you John Hughes and Pretty In Pink for that false hope). They’re not going to be listening to The Smiths in the elevator and fall in love when you sing to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die (thank you 500 Days of Summer). They are not going to sing ‘I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ with the school band playing while you’re at soccer practice (thank you 10 Things I Hate About You). OH and they are definitely not going to run off the football field mid game and kiss you in the rain on the bleachers during a drought in front of everyone after saying “It’s not my dream dad. It’s yours” (THANK YOU A Cinderella Story for THAT). But I won’t settle for a midnight come over text either. It won’t be like the movies, but someone might take you on a really sweet date and kiss you at the end of the night, and that’s enough.
I’m learning that I’m not meant to be the manic pixie dream girl. NOBODY is meant to be the manic pixie dream girl. But I don’t think settling for what I think I already am is the answer. I think I’m supposed to keep trying things to figure it out. I’m going to test things and try things and learn things.
Last weekend I cut four inches off my hair. And I don’t even feel ‘more myself,’ but I feel more like myself in this moment. This world and this society and this city and this social thing is so much. And there’s so much pressure to be all of these things, and there’s so much pressure not to be all of these things. But I have the freedom to decide what I want to be and work for it. I know what road I’m on, and I know my destination. But there’s a lot of time and room in between to change and learn and grow. I’m going to do as much as I can. Life is so short, and there are so many different haircuts to try—what’s next, a new color maybe?