The Year I Was About It

by Jenna Wortham


This morning, I got an email quoting from the foreword from Near to the Wild Heart, the sensational first novel written by Clarice Lispector, an elusive Jewish-Brazilian author who published the book at twenty-three and then all but disappeared, sending the Brazilian literary world into a frenzy. Near to the Wild Heart is a deep-water submarine, exploring cavernous interior lives, and the raw and unfiltered power that comes from reflecting on how we perceive life and how we live.

In the foreward, her biographer, Benjamin Moser, writes that Lispector had a fundamentally different conception of art. It was less of an intellectual, or even artistic pursuit. It was spiritual. “The possibility of uniting a thing and its symbol, of reconnecting language to reality, and vice versa, is not an intellectual or artistic endeavor,” he writes. “It is instead intimately connected to the sacred realms of sexuality and creation. A word does not describe a pre-existing thing but actually is that thing, or a word that creates the thing it describes: the search for that mystic word, the ‘word that has its own light,’ is the search of a lifetime.”

As 2014 wound down, I took stock of myself, took note of the relationships and imbalances that were making me unhappy, and then started to strategize about how to color-correct them. I stopped whining about what I wanted my life to be like, and started to investigate why I wanted what I did, and then began the process of figuring out how to make my life mirror those desires. 2015 was the year I forced myself into an entirely different conception of life.

Put another way — like Trina does on her guest verse on Pitbull’s “Go Girl”: “Don’t talk about it boy / Be about it boy” — 2015 was the year that I created space to figure out what “it” meant for me, and then started to understand what it meant to be about “it.” All of this is a very long way of saying that I didn’t have many regrets this year. To get closer to your true self means spending a lot of time interrogating your current self, looking at the parts you don’t like under extremely sterile lighting, acknowledging them, then making peace with them. It was not pleasant, and although I didn’t find the process of self-excavation tremendously unpleasant, it wasn’t painless, or easy. Not to get all Chani Nichols about it, but altering how I move through the world means living with my eyes facing forward, honoring the past, but leaving it behind.

That said, there is a very short list of things I do regret about this year, and they are listed below, in no particular order:

1. Minutes (hours?) spent in the particular kind of speechless white-hot rage that only the Internet can induce

2. Learning about the dab too late to do anything clever with it :/

3. My continued hyperdependency on Amazon Prime, Seamless and Uber

4. Sleeping on the Rihanna Anti-World tour pre-sale

5. Not dating women sooner. Like whoa.

Giph from “A Message

Save Yourself is the Awl’s farewell to 2015.