Diary of a Teenage Girl: Sofia
Every month we pick one of our readers to share a week’s worth of diary entries, detailing everything they’re doing and feeling. Kicking off the series is 17-year-old Sofia Wolfson from Los Angeles, California.
In the heart of junior year, upperclassmen try to convince you that senior year is so much better, but it’s hard to believe that when you’re drowning in test prep and homework and talk of college. That said, I am enjoying senior year, surprisingly. I’m taking classes I really look forward to, the homework load is close to none, and I have time to focus on things I care about, like music and writing. But applying to college can sometimes carry the amount of stress that was supposed to remain in junior year. I do truly enjoy filling out supplemental college app essays: After all, my whole high school career has been focused on writing about books and concepts chosen by teachers. But the supplements have given me the opportunity to write about myself, something I haven’t really gotten to do in an academic setting. Naturally, I am crazily overwhelmed, but I’m trying my best to just breathe and get all of the work done.
Though I feel like I’m constantly in work mode, I often worry I’m not doing enough: that I’m not writing enough, playing music enough, going out enough. It often feels like there is just not enough time in the day to do everything I want to. I wish I could just be more present and prioritize the things that mean the most to me.
Right now I’m listening to Margaret Glaspy’s Emotions and Math and getting frustrated that I can’t write songs as well as her. I don’t know how she makes her tunes so musically unique, yet so catchy at the same time. It’s musicians like her that push me to discover new tones and new ways around a verse or a chorus.
Tonight I flew from LA to Northern California to visit family for the weekend. Traveling only reminded me of how different life is going to be in college, as planes will be the sole connector between school and home. Crazy thought.
On the flight here, some of my own music starting playing on shuffle. I usually just skip over it but tonight I took a listen to a few tracks I haven’t heard in months. I’m stubbornly hard on myself and train myself to think I’m not good enough, so listening back was partly a revelation. I didn’t hate what I was hearing, so why do I spend so much time and effort hating myself?
Being away from home is stressful because I feel like the to-do list is never ending but I’m gonna try my best to enjoy aspects of this weekend, focus on some photography, read Joan Didion’s The White Album, and spend time with the family.
The idea of the perfect Common App essay is still preying on me. There is this pressure to be equal parts quirky and revolutionary. I just can’t seem to find a topic that sticks and it’s making me nervous.
I’m listening to Amanda Shires’s new album that came out today, which has me loving folk all over again. I have a really exciting week ahead of me, filled with shows and an upcoming film festival, so I’m happy I’ve got things to look forward to. It keeps me moving.
Tonight when I was at the Oakland airport headed homeward, my gate faced a plane waiting to take off for London, and I fantasized about how awesome it would be to just go on an adventure. Instead, I boarded a plane to take me right to school the next day. Even though I am enjoying my classes, it would be such a relief to leave all of the stress behind and travel.
I was really thankful that we had a poetry assignment due for literature class. There hasn’t been a lot of room for creative writing in a formal academic setting these last few years. We read a great Elizabeth Bishop poem and then were tasked with writing our own in the same, concrete structure. Oddly enough, I struggled with the assignment more than usual homework because I put this pressure on myself to make it perfect, considering I don’t know the next time I’ll get to write like this for class. I struggled with focusing myself on a subject (much like my fight to find the perfect college essay topic), and wasn’t pleased until I wrote about something so real to me, that the words just came out.
I’ve been having a lot of regrets lately, especially pertaining to wishing I had more time. Even though I’m a theatre major, I didn’t audition for any of the season shows in order to give myself more time to work on my literary magazine, to apply to college, to start recording my next album, etc. But in some ways, I miss that feeling of being in a show, the rush that comes as the audience enters and the lights dim. I’m working to prioritize my projects this year before college but I often second-guess the things I am giving up.
Today I’m listening to Wilco’s newest album that came out a few weeks ago. I went to their show at the Ace Hotel last week; there’s something really special about seeing a band you idolize live, playing records you worship. Wilco is a band that keeps me going, as they inspire me to write more and try out new styles.
Had a really cathartic conversation tonight; reflected upon a lot of things from this past year. Reflected upon losing friends, gaining friends, upon love and loss. Reflected upon what in my life is a through line of happiness and what I sacrifice my happiness for. It’s really insane to think that I’ll be in college by next year, with a whole set of new people. I don’t exactly know where I stand with the people I love now: we say we are going to stick together, but I fear we can’t maintain that contact. From experience, I know that relationships fade, and I’m frightened about losing ones I love after this year.
And the odd thing is that I wasn’t sad talking about this stuff, I’ve seemed to accept it as the inevitable. Friends moving apart: that is inevitable. I’m allowing myself to be scared, but I’m also accepting that it’s simply natural.
Tomorrow my ACT scores come out and that is making me really anxious. I don’t really understand how a standardized test is meant to define us and evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. I don’t want to take it again but I’m worried I’ll drive myself crazy if I don’t. I try to stay calm and remind myself that some of this testing is completely out of my hands but sometimes it feels like I could’ve done more to prepare. I just wish I didn’t care as much about something small like a test score.
Tonight I drove home blasting Ron Sexsmith’s “Disappearing Act” and Sam Phillips’s “Baby I Can’t Please You,” which both felt very real to the whole situation. “Disappearing Act” tapping into the idea of being lost, confused, unsure; “Baby I Can’t Please You” relating to the idea of trying my best but not getting the results I perceive. It’s pretty crazy how much music can reflect life, life can reflect music, and so on.
Relieved to end this series on a happy note: I bumped my score up on the ACT and won’t have to take it again. I couldn’t be happier because even though I control my own study schedule, the test itself started to feel like this beast that was completely out of my hands. I’ve got a lot to think about in preparation for applying to college and I can’t believe I can check testing off of the list. Even as much as I don’t believe in the notion of standardized testing, it is a little affirmation that I’m doing something right.
So naturally I celebrated with my friend Tula after school and came home to jam out for a little bit. I needed a break from anything school/college related. I came up with a pretty good song I’m proud of, which got me thinking more about making a second album. I’m going to have time to myself second semester of this year, which I am very much looking forward to.
On another note, I’ve been ruminating a lot on the topic of body image lately. I’ve never been a super confident person and in truth, I hate that about myself. I spend so much of my time beating myself up over things that I only see, I only point out in the mirror. One part of me understands that going great lengths to dislike myself is such a waste of time; the other part actively reminds me that I’m not good enough. The media really pushes this idea on teenage girls and I’m not a fan of it. I’m really working towards the day that I can just accept certain parts of me and feel happiness.
Today I’m listening to some Bowie tracks from live shows, specifically songs like “Diamond Dogs” and “I’m Afraid of Americans.” I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s harder to accept a person with so much life is gone. He pioneered so many musical movements and will continue to be such a strong source of inspiration for so many people.
I’ll end with this: Journaling is extremely therapeutic and is a perfect way to decompress and reflect. I recommend it to anyone who finds themselves being told their feelings aren’t valid and that they should just move on and focus on more important things. That’s not true. If you are feeling something, write it down. It can be so much of a relief to see a situation laid out on paper, to then figure out a way to move on or confront it. Write out your thoughts, it will help, I promise.
By Sofia Wolfson, 17