Words Wednesday is a column where I share whatever quote I’m most in love with this week in the hopes that it will make both of us better writers. Whether it be from a blog, a movie, or a book made up almost entirely of early 2000s pop culture references, these words rocked me emotionally and I want them to inspire you too.

When Jill Gutowitz announced her debut book, Girls Can Kiss Now, I was probably more excited than the average person. The book was practically tailor made for me- as an (admittedly late) 90s kid who’s always been obsessed with pop culture and also gay, her book of essays about her life was incredibly relatable. Plus, I’d been following her on Twitter for years and knew we shared a similar sense of humor. A few months later, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading the book and I loved it just as much as I thought I would.

I was such an empty canvas that it scared me

Jill Gutowitz, girls can kiss now

When Gutowitz was writing about her early teen years, she used this quote to describe the sensation of wanting to conform to what everyone around her was doing. She was desperate to be liked by the older girls in a way that’s all too common for teenagers everywhere. However, her desire to be a part of the group didn’t manifest itself on doing whatever people asked of her, as it is so often portrayed in movies. Gutowitz’s assimilation was more subtle, because there wasn’t that much to write over to begin with.

Gutowitz described her own personality as a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled in as she took cues from others on how to behave and what to like doing. It wasn’t that she was compromising herself, it was that she didn’t know what to feel until someone else told her. This quote stood out to me when I read it because it’s something I’ve talked about with friends a lot lately.

We all just moved to new cities and were forced to make new friends, bringing (some of) us to the starting realization that our personalities were dependent on the people we were hanging out with. As we made new friends, we changed our personalities to better fit the new friends. But what if we liked our old selves better? Who are we really?

It can be terrifying to feel like you don’t have a strong enough personality to be the same in any situation. But maybe it helps to know that you’re not alone.

Like what you read? Consider helping us fund the site and pay our writers