Sometimes I think I know what I’m doing


Saskia M

A super cute photo of a sunset at a location that I cannot remember.

By Saskia McDonogh Mooney

Each year of my life, particularly during my time at Lane, I’ve been convinced I know everything there is to know about life and myself. And each year I proved myself wrong. 

At thirteen, just after I had entered LTAC and experienced the upsetting symptoms of my first bouts of puberty, I was convinced studying for countless hours, working my brain to dust, and putting extreme pressure on myself to succeed was the best path. 

At fourteen, I was a vetted Lane attendee, an eighth grader learning to navigate difficulty at home but certain that pouring buckets of love and effort into everyone would be enough to make things better.

At fifteen, I thought that trying to make myself smaller to fit beauty ideals would make me happy, that starving myself of love and turning all my pain inward could help. It didn’t. 

At sixteen, at last I decided to feed myself, not just food, but self love, though I didn’t realize that trying to uproot such deeply held ideas would be so terrifying and debilitating. I didn’t realize how much I had to grow. 

At seventeen, I tried to carry my newly held positive feelings about myself back to in-person school, and realized that I had not done as good of a job as I had thought. It turns out that during times of change and difficulty, my brain likes to fall back on old patterns of thinking. It turns out that just because you’re doing well, you shouldn’t stop doing the things that brought you to that place of peace. 

At eighteen, I think, but really who knows at this point, I came to terms with the fact that life is chaotic and bad things happen and really the only thing that can see you through is believing you can. And when it’s hard to believe that, talk to those who care about you. Cliches are very annoying when you read them on posters, but when you come to that conclusion within yourself it’s very satisfying (I have an eternal respect for irony).

And the truth is, laid bare, my story is much the same as others. Older sisters, daughters, overachievers, teenage girls, friends, people. The details of my story are unnecessary, because like many people, in each stage so far I always thought I knew what I was doing, even when my actions and thoughts were hurting me. I thought I was smart enough to overcome myself. I thought I could snap my fingers and be fine. I think I think too much. I can talk about my feelings, and that’s wonderful, but actually experiencing, embracing, and living them is essential too.

Nothing is more fulfilling than choosing to just be. I think.

I once read a poem where the poet compared her heart to a bruised peach, and I was convinced that was me. I convinced myself I was damaged goods, at once commodifying and reducing myself to a broken thing. Please don’t do that. Please don’t “know” yourself to the point where you deny the good and beautiful. Because I really feel that the lens through which you look at yourself and others is always going to be distorted. You know nothing, and I know nothing, and I’m asking you to trust my words, I suppose, by being honest. I’m writing what I feel right now, the thoughts that are dancing through my head today, and I mean that with complete sincerity. 

I won’t deny that I wrote this for myself as a testament to the changeability of life and myself and as a record of things I will probably need to tell myself later. I did write this for myself, for the self I was last year, and every year before that, but I also wrote this to say to you, that I don’t know what I’m doing, and there is absolutely no way you do either. And that’s OK.