Now Reading: Fictional Identity: A Poem About Finding The Real, Flawed Me


Fictional Identity: A Poem About Finding The Real, Flawed Me

December 18, 20173 min read

Recently, I’ve been seeing the discussion about the classic trope of a “manic pixie dream girl”: a quirky female character used solely to develop another character. They usually have no backstory and are presented as an object by the (usually male) protagonist. Growing up reading a lot, I saw these girls everywhere and always saw myself in them, because they were considered different. I found myself trying to make myself into one of them, only to realize that those characters are only the way they are because they are empty. And I don’t want to be empty.

Strangely enough, I’ve grown up in a generation where “uncool” is glamorized.

Everyone suddenly wants to be quirky.

I’ve grown up seeing those “quirky” girls in books and in movies; I felt immediately connected to them.

I felt different, and so did they.

And suddenly, in whatever story they were in, their differences made them cool or made them fall in love.

And that’s what I wanted too.

So I made myself into a collage of their tendencies and their style and their thoughts.

All in an attempt to be that girl.

The girl with the laugh that softens the air.

The girl whose movement makes the whole world dance.

That girl whose fictional identity somehow made me feel hopeful.

But I could never manage to be that girl.

I was more of a version of her.

I could never manage to be that particular brand of uncool that’s soft enough that it’s still charming and endearing.

Nor could I pretend to have that effortless, nonchalant attitude that just screams “I couldn’t care less.”

I couldn’t mask the fact that I care too much and try too hard and somehow still come up short.

I’ve always just been a girl — not that girl.

I’ve been a girl who couldn’t care more.

A girl who reads too many books and writes too many poems and either smiles too much, or not enough.

So I need to accept that… because living a fictional identity would be living a lie.

I’ll never be a character in a world that is perfectly flawed.

I’m real.

I’m not empty.

I’m not here just to further the plot.

I’m here for real.

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Deanna Whitlow

An internet enthusiast and book hoarder, Deanna is a passionate intersectional feminist who's always either writing or watching a movie. You'll find her with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other.