“She was a wild, wicked slip of a girl. She burned too brightly for this world.” – Emily Brontë
Unlike those who feels completely moved by the epigrams of Oscar Wilde, or the profound scientific beliefs of Mary Shelley, I feel as though my heart resides with perhaps only one author in particular: Emily Brontë. A female author who published under the name of a person she was not. An author who was more so interested in the words she felt the world needed to hear, rather than the name of (she) who was speaking them. Brontë; an author of simplicity.
I feel as though I am one of the few in the class who actually seemed to enjoy the novel Wuthering Heights (click here to read my last post about Wuthering Heights). While others found the writing mundane and difficult understand, I was completely hooked. Last year, I wrote a blog that compared myself to the character of Heathcliff. It was after a semester of challenges. I succumbed to the pressures of school, found myself struggling to find joy in the things I loved most just because I didn’t believe I could do them well enough. I lost my grandmother.
It was in these moments that I found comfort in my companion of Heathcliff. We were both angry. We were so angry that I thought that one day I would cease to angry entirely, only because I’d have no fire left inside of me. I blamed people, I blamed the opportunities I was given because I thought it was the stress of those gifts that put me in that place – that dark place. I didn’t burn bright for the world to see my light, I swallowed hot embers of anger and let the steam of resentment rise from my skin. Oh, how I complained. How I pitied myself as well. In all honestly, I thought it was attractive.
I often reread that blog post of mine, and to be honest, I smile as I do so. I smile because despite the fact that that post was written while I was in a dark place, it was probably the most truthful post I’ve written. I was angry, unapologetic, wild, and raw, and yet in that post I claimed that those were things I never could be. I smile because I know that was a lie.
Sometimes when I reread that post, I feel as though I am burning again. I feel as though I am like Emily Brontë in the sense that I did not feel as though my feelings would be accurately understood as just Yasmeen. For you see, there has been a facade that I, along with others, have created for myself that depicts me as a girl who is flamboyant, loud, and pretty, and a lot of the things that deemed me unfit to be anything else but that. Like Brontë, the way I was perceived to be by society and the ones around me made the ideas I had, the words I wanted to say less credible. How taboo it was to see a female writer such as Brontë herself; how puzzling it was to see Yasee as anything other than “loud”. It was a spectacle to most. And so I did what Emily did; I hid behind the name of a man so that I may be understood better. She took the persona of Ellis Bell, and I Heathcliff, and it was as if the world made sense. Hiding behind his character worked. I was convinced that the world wasn’t ready for me, just as they weren’t ready for her, and I compared myself to someone I felt was just like me just so that I wouldn’t blind myself with the glow of my own self worth. I lived the for the quote,“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” (Brontë). It made sense at the time to say that Heathcliff and I were the same, and I claimed that this was all a part of the crusade of perspective I had embarked on in order to find my true self. But now I realize that it was not, because how can one find themselves when they hide in the shadow of someone else?
I shall forever keep that character in my heart – Heathcliff will always be a part of me, and I swear I’ll love him until the day I die, but it is time I let him go. He was there in a time where I absolutely needed him most, and his hurt made mine feel relevant, but I am not him, and he is not me. The pain Heathcliff felt was not the same as my own. He is not me because a character (no matter how dynamic) will remain as they are, where as people will not not. I think it possible to connect to a character, and it becomes easier the more one wants to convince themselves that they are. I am no one other than myself, and I won’t pretend that I am proud of all I have to give, but that is the truth. I used Heathcliff’s character as means to divy up the parts of myself I didn’t know how to handle and give them to someone else entirely, but where is the responsibility in that? Where is the truth?
I’ve come to realize that I am a simple girl, and a year ago I was angry and overwhelmed and sad, and that’s really all there is to it. I may have felt as though he and I were the same last year, but now I know that that is not the case. I’ll forever love that man, however I know that a part of myself has left my love for him in the Moors, drifting in to the night. I’m in a different place now – I feel less on fire. If anything I feel lost at the moment, almost conflicted between a few versions of who I want to be next year, once I walk out of those these high school doors. I’m burning too brightly for me to see the direction I’m meant to head in. I know not where to place my loyalty; where to plant my seed in this world. I no longer feel angry and misunderstood. I have people in my life who want me, who see me now. I am loved by a boy who promises to spend the rest of his life convincing me to love myself as much as he does. I love him just the same. I am no longer angry, I am no longer Heathcliff. As of now, I’m just trying to figure out who I want to be.
I guess you could say I am more of a Catherine now.