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My name is Vashti & I’m not quite sure how to go about describing myself. I think a lot about someone can be inferred based off of their looks alone, so I’ll start with that. I’m a girl & a dyke. I say both of these, because “girl” & “dyke” probably evoke different images in your mind. I’d say both are somewhat true. You could also describe me as a young woman, one that people normally mistake for younger than she really is. Oftentimes people mistake me for still being in high school, even though I’m a twenty one year old college student with a job. I get mistaken for a boy sometimes, too. It’s not all the time, but it’s not unusual either. I don’t mind it, though. In fact, I actually really like it, even though no one believes me & it won’t stop whoever called me sir from apologizing profusely. Straight people often tell me I’m masculine, but I don’t see myself that way, nor do I see myself as particularly feminine. I wouldn’t know where to place myself between the two, because those words mean nothing to me. I think to define something can be inherently limiting, so I’m not going to define myself in those terms. I’m content with just being Vashti.

I have a distinct style, but not one that I have a word for. I thrift all of my clothes (one of my favorite pastimes) & normally wear my clothes several sizes “too big,” because their texture really bothers me otherwise. (I don’t think they’re too big personally, but people often make remarks about how baggy my clothes are). All of my clothes tend to be really gaudy or colorful; It’s just what I gravitate towards. I wear chunky shoes a lot of the time, making me look taller than I really am. The main focuses of my outfits outside of color combinations tend to be clashing patterns & layering. (With all of this being said, as unbelievable as it sounds, I cannot wear mismatched socks)! The closest thing that I could say is representative of my style is FRUiTS Magazine by Shoichi Aoki, which incidentally is my favorite fashion magazine. It felt amazing when I first found the magazine, because rather than taking inspiration from it, I opened it up & saw people who kind of dressed like me & I felt understood, even across time & place & paper. I really enjoy putting outfits together & it’s a great source of happiness for me. I think my outfits sometimes bring happiness to others too, because I’ve had people stop me to tell me that they wish they could dress like me. I always tell them they can. I’m not sure if I’m considered fashionable or not. My family certainly thinks that I’m not, but strangers tend to stop me to compliment my outfit.

Oh, my hair is always dyed, too. That’s probably my most notable feature. It’s normally purple, because purple is Vashti’s favorite color to wear. (I’m not content with picking just one favorite color, I have different favorite colors for different things. If I had to pick though, I’d pick green for its symbolism. Though as of late, as in for the past few months or so, I’ve really gravitated towards purple, deep purples, amethyst purples. It’s the color that others tend to associate with me). I also have a nose piercing that makes me look very rugged & handsome & hot. (Take my word for it).

Outside of my fashion choices, I guess you could describe my appearance as a bit strange. From a pretty young age, I realized that the other girls in school walked & stood differently from me, & that’s still the case. I’m normally hunched over, so people mistake me for being smaller than I am. My walk is probably most comparable to that of a bunny or a T-Rex, one that looks at its feet as it walks. When people talk to me, I don’t like to make eye contact. (When I do make eye contact, it’s normally for too long, because I’m never sure when to start or stop). When I talk to people, I speak in a monotone. Sometimes my voice will get louder or quieter, but the pitch doesn’t change. The same goes for my expression, too. It’s normally flat, like my voice. I get many remarks either telling me 1) I look unabatedly miserable or 2) I look exhausted, even after a full night of sleep. I used to consciously and constantly try to change these things about me to make myself seem more normal, but lately I’ve been trying to accept myself as I am. I think I have trouble with being too in my head, so I’m trying to get out of my head and into my body. This process of constant self surveillance made me feel so separate & so divorced from my own body. It was to the point where I didn’t even view my body as my body, more like a thing to be manipulated by my mind. Even alone, I would monitor how I held myself. & with all of this being said, I still couldn’t make myself look normal. It’s hard to explain to others, but what I’m trying to say is that I’m making an effort to be more comfortable with my natural self & I’m making an effort to not conform to the norms that others impose on me.

I think another thing that says a lot about a person is what they carry with them in their purse. My purse is a swollen, denim one that I found at the thrift store. Every once in a while, I feel the need to switch bags. I think it gives me the same feeling as getting a new haircut. I found this one at the thrift store while I’d been in between bags for a few weeks. It’s an ugly purse, but also cute. People ask me if it’s handmade & I think it is, but not by me. It had these two patches sewn on that really resonated with me somehow. The first reads,”Love is not a feeling- Love is an action.” The second one reads, “Life is that dance we do in the space between ‘making it happen’ & ‘letting it happen.’” I like things like this, happy things, happy things that are sincere, so I got the purse. My bag is covered in pins & keychains, both of which I collect. (And when I say covered, I am not being hyperbolic. The only space that I tried to leave free were the patches, so that they'd still be visible). My favorite pin was one that said “Dip me in honey & throw me to the lesbians,” but that one unfortunately fell off some time ago & I haven’t yet found a replacement. The bag itself is pretty large, and almost always full, because I’m almost always carrying a lot with me: wallet (which has a fortune cookie paper reading: Enjoy yourself while you can & some photos of my little brother), laptop, laptop charger, phone charger, DSi (in its sticker covered case), DSi charger, a small sachet of lucky charms (a few two dollar bills, a clover, a wooden angel, a small plastic dog, among other things), a reusable bag (a Keroppi Baggu that my mom gifted me), a small planner, a (sticker covered) pencil case, sketchbook, deodorant, some snacks, Altoids, & then most days, school materials. Others who don’t know me well often see me as overly laid back, maybe even lackadaisical about things, but I’m always well prepared. I always carry something fun to do with me too, because boredom is one of the worst feelings in the world to me.

If we got a little less literal & a little more creative with things, I think if I were a video game character rather than a real life girl, these are the things I’d carry with me, that would be in my inventory, that I would drop as loot if you killed me: noise canceling headphones (basic drop, Vashti always has these), to-do list (I can’t function without one, even if it’s just a mental list & even if I have nothing to do that day, I always need some sort of routine or schedule), coffee or some type of sweet drink, one of my favorite poems or books, one of the double venus earrings that I often wear, a lucky charm, something to represent one of my many collections: maybe a Calico Critter (probably called “Sylvanian Families” in your country) or a postal stamp, one of my many pins (completionists playing this imaginary video game would try to collect all gazillion of them), my beloved Build-A-Bear frog (complete with one of his outfits), or a tarot card (I’m partial to the Ten of Cups or the Knight of Swords, but in most of my readings, unstatistically so, I pull the Tower card).

I’ve described myself from a stranger’s perspective, things that almost anyone could gather about me just by looking hard enough, so now I’ll describe myself from Vashti’s perspective. I think that I’m someone who values self expression above most other things. I see everything I do as a manifestation of this. Sometimes it’s a tangible thing, like my outfits or my collections or how I choose to carry myself, but it goes deeper than that. I think it’s reflected in my writing. Not even necessarily the content of my writing, just my need to write. I genuinely do enjoy writing & it brings me joy & fulfillment in a way that nothing else has, but sometimes it feels like a compulsion almost. Or it’s as though I’m just wired to do it. When I’m not writing, my internal thoughts tend to be a narration of some sort. And honestly, there really is no difference between my writing & my thoughts. Sometimes I’ll cut things out, but what you read here is exactly what’s on my mind. With this in consideration, I’d say that the concepts of self expression and authenticity have significant overlap in my mind. When I say that I value self expression, what I really mean is that I value the idea of expressing myself, my true & authentic self, without shame. I’m a very capricious person, prone to misery & to sadness & to mental anguish, but I accept all of these feelings for what they are. The only feeling that I cannot accept is shame, because shame is antithetical to self expression, to authenticity, and to writing.

I’d also consider myself to be a very pensive person. My writing is definitely a part of this, (Yeah, it always comes back to me & my writing, I know), but I do also tend to spend a lot of time just thinking. I spend a lot of time going on walks, just talking to myself. I do have a tendency to get too introspective, but I think that I’ve finally learned to ease off and to see the difference between introspection & treating myself like a case study. Or introspection & rumination. I’m an idealist at heart, too, and maybe even an optimist. I truly believe that the world is a good place & that the people in it are good. I think that I really value justice, even if it’s unattainable at times & I think that even if the world isn’t fair, then it should be. We can be fair & we are part of the world. And despite being a capricious person & one prone to mood swings & depressive episodes, I still see myself as a lucky person, one that’s happy to be alive. I see myself as passionate, which is probably what feeds into my idealism. I’m passionate in the sense that I tend to get obsessed with the things I enjoy, but also in the sense that I’m very opinionated.

I think I’d just like to say that I’m working on being a happier person. Lately I’ve been trying to appreciate the smaller things in my life, because how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. I’m also making efforts to be kinder to myself, to treat myself the way I would a friend. And lastly, I’m learning to accept myself for who I am, even the parts of myself that I instinctively want to bury. And I think it’s working, too. I’m changing for the better, every day. I look forward to each and every day, even the bad ones, & I’m excited for my future self to look back at this page & see how I’ve changed & how I haven’t. Thank you for reading.

Before you go, I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite poems. It’s a simple poem, but it’s very special to me. It's called The Orange, by Wendy Cope: