Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

The following review will try to be as spoiler-free as possible about this book. Proceed with caution. Any major spoilers that may appear will be marked.

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Be the one you were made to be

I recently finished Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, and it got me thinking about a lot of things. Most importantly, how much I care, or not care, how others view me. Do I constantly act differently around certain people, making sure I’m always on a stage for them? Or am I proudly myself in all facets of my life?

Coming to college 3,000 miles from home has certainly taught me many things. And the lesson I struggle with is not being myself. I purposefully got tattoos on my arms to remind myself to be myself.

Maybe that’s a small portion of the problem. In about a year and a half of counseling, I’ve become a lot more confident (at least according to my counselor). There’s some things I can confidently do, but when it comes to a lot of things pertaining to my personal life, I had a tendency to fall off the wagon.

I don’t second-guess myself nearly as much. My wishy-washy tendencies only occur when I have to decide what to eat for dinner. I’ve started to make decisions about my life and I don’t have regrets about them. That’s been a slowly building habit ever since I moved to New Hampshire, and I haven’t regretted the choices I’ve made. There’s been more learning than train wrecks, so I’ll mark that in the books as a positive outcome.

A few weeks ago with a friend we discussed passing judgement on others and whether that immediate decision about someone was helpful or hurtful. Its impossible to deny that someone judges an acquaintance on their first encounter. We all do it. I’ll admit to doing that on multiple occasions.

But its whether or not you let those thoughts cloud your opinion of them later, that’s important.

I’ll admit to putting on an act. I could probably recount entire years of my life that were just a show. But that didn’t help me any. It hurt me more than anything.

I struggle with being myself. There’s moments where I’m a complete asshole, and others where I have this disgusting urge to show off (and occasions where I’ve followed that urge too). And I’m neither of those. Yeah, I’m snarky and lean closer to being an asshole sometimes, but I’m not a show off. I’ve always had a strong distaste for being flashy. A witty, potentially hurtful comment comes off my tongue, and I’m filled with guilt.

My friends know I’m a habitual apologizer. It’s raining out? I’ll apologize. They’re serving your least favorite food in the cafeteria? I’ll apologize. You lost your cat? I’ll apologize.

That’s who I am.

I’m a fiercely loyal friend who will stick up for anyone, and comes with a large extra plate of sarcasm, and a small side of geekery. I laugh when I shouldn’t; I dislike crying more than the average person dislikes the rain. And unfortunately I find myself to be a rather easy crier.

That’s the person I am. Not the one that I paraded around as through middle and high school. And who I occasionally bring out again at the worst times.

Its a terrible habit to slip in to. I’m mad at myself when that person makes a reappearance.

Maybe its time for another tattooed reminder.