“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself” and so begins her day of planning a party. The rest of the novel follows that one day and weaves between Mrs. Dalloway’s ideas and actions suited for traditional women’s domesticity and for independent feminist ideals. Even just in that sentence she is both fulfilling her role as a wife and mother by creating a social atmosphere in her domestic sphere, while also refusing to rely on her servants or anyone else to accomplish her goal.

I thought a lot about this line today while picking up party supplies for S’s birthday tomorrow evening. I have never been much of a party planner. I will greedily grab random decorations from all corners of a store, haphazardly place it together and hope for the best. My aesthetic is far from Pintrest-worthy and the colors I have chosen often clash. For a cheese platter I picked up brie, goat cheese and the first blue cheese I saw. I almost forgot the crackers.

I grew up at an all-girls school and in a home with a mom who had a full time job. So in my priorities, party planning fell way below school, family, grades, friends or even athletics. I never grew up practicing for domesticity. It wouldn’t have suited me and for that I am very grateful that my energies were not spent slaving over dishes and laundry and sewing and the like.

And yet…

Reading about Mrs. Dalloway’s almost spiritual relationship with her flower arrangements and Mrs. Ramsay’s impeccable, harmonious dinner party makes me think that maybe I should have spent some more time honing some party planning skills.

I have come to realize that in college I tend to forget the days I have spent with my nose buried so deep in a book that when I come back up for air the sun has set and my room has darkened. The tests I ace fill me with pride, but only momentarily before I shift my attention back to the next paper I have to revise, the next email I have to send, the next book I have to read.

I, however, have been lucky enough to share some memories with my friends that will stay with me for a long time. There are days where we are all happy, joyous, smiling and talking about the mundane to the philosophical and I take a step back and everything has come together and I am filled with a sort of feeling that makes me laugh too loud and occasionally tear up and I feel almost tipsy on company and companionship and belonging.

And if party planning – if setting up candles like Mrs. Ramsay or running all of the errands like Mrs. Dalloway – creates the space which invite these sublime moments to fill them, then perhaps I should start practicing.

I’ll start tomorrow in my black velvet dress with only three cheeses on the cheese plate and light blue and royal purple streamers wrapped around the room. It’s no passage out of a Woolf novel, but it’s a start. And isn’t that the point of being a twentyteen?



This semester at school I’ve been struggling. My grades have been fine just like last year, but I think the sophomore slump has hit and it’s hit hard. In short, I’ve stopped believing that what I have to say is worth hearing.

I came from a small high school with lots of rah-rah feminist spirit. In a classroom of 9-18 other girls that I had known for years, my opinion counted. I rarely had a doubt. I was never the loudest in the room, but when I had something to share I didn’t hesitate. I’m immensely grateful that in the fragile years of my middle school and high school experience I was given a space where I felt (at least for 70 min, 4x a day) that my words had weight.

And yet…

Now, as a small fish in a big pond, I fret.

Last year it wasn’t nearly as bad. My one discussion section had a great, enthusiastic teacher and the books we were reading were well in my comfort zone. Now, however, I’m stuck in a class where philosophy is debated and I sit there with my head moving back and forth as if I’m watching a ping-pong match that I am completely removed from. I am almost always silent.

I don’t know what to contribute because I don’t believe I have the capacity of my peers to think the way they do.

Half of me knows that this insecurity is bs. I am smart, I am capable, I take vigorous notes and do well on my essays.

The other half of me, however, is more convincing. Maybe my whole education up to this year has been sheltering. Maybe now for the first time I’m in the real world where, tbh, your opinion isn’t all that relevant/important/groundbreaking. Maybe everyone else here knows what’s up and you just need to take a seat and listen. Maybe all you have to contribute in this classroom and in the world is nods and quizzical looks. Maybe that’s just about all you’re capable of.

Almost everyday I leave this 2hr class completely disheartened, upset and even at times holding back tears.

Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas and Locke – you have stolen my voice, smashed a decent portion of my self worth.

I still can’t tell if this was a much needed wake-up call or a cruel thing to do to a girl exiting her teenage years with trepidation.

Regardless, I think this blog will be a way to slowly take back some of my voice on a platform where I am more comfortable voicing my ideas/thoughts/self.

And while I’m still unsure about how private/public this blog will become, I hope you – the other insecure, sentimental, inquisitive, disoriented twentyteen – will come along for the ride.