I knew when I sat down to write about guilty pleasures that it might be one of the more challenging journal responses for me. I don’t have many guilt-inducing vices, and I rarely let myself feel guilty about a particular small pleasure I choose to indulge in. In the time I have typed this initial paragraph, I have asked my husband which guilty pleasures he thinks I have at least three times.
“Potato chips!” He declared.
“You know we’re not the same person, right?” I retorted.
He looked momentarily deflated.
After staring at the blank screen for several more minutes, I asked him again.
“I don’t know!”
“C’mon!” I wheedled.
“Well, you used to sometimes have chocolate as treats, but you don’t do that as much anymore.”
“Hmm.” Was all I said. Not very helpful. I don’t really have as many treats. More importantly, I didn’t really feel guilty about the occasional treat. That’s what makes it a treat.
I ambushed him a third time. “You must have an idea about my guilty pleasures…”
“Buying ethically sourced clothes…” he hedged.
“Err, I don’t feel guilty about that.”
He fled into the kitchen. I was still stuck at square one: a blank page.
I remember feeling a sense of dread when Alexandra suggested writing about guilty pleasures during a brainstorming session. What on earth would I write about? Sure, I like chocolate and cake (God, do I love chocolate cake), but because I don’t overindulge, I allow myself to enjoy the pleasure.
Such few things come to mind as a guilty pleasure that I solicited help from Alexandra, lamenting the difficulty of the journaling prompt for me. She had a good way of knocking me down a peg and making me laugh hysterically about it.
“What about reading young adult literature?”
“I do not,” I emphatically stated, “feel guilty about reading young adult literature.”
“Not even Twilight?” (I kid you not: you could practically hear the laughter in her eyes—yes, hear laughter from her eyes!)
“That was over ten years ago!” I hissed, scandalized at the suggestion of revealing reading habits from over ten years ago. Some things are meant to die and live in the past, like sparkly undead vampires.
“Well, I distinctly recall you telling me to never tell anyone you had read it.”
I was stumped there. I also probably laughed. After all, it’s true. I would never have readily admitted to a broad audience of people that ten years ago I read the Twilight books. I’m way too sophisticated for that kind of nonsense now. (#TeamJacob). At the time, reading Twilight certainly wasn’t a guilty pleasure; I most definitely had long literary-based conversations about the allusions that Stephanie Meyer used. I didn’t hide it, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. In all honesty, I may have also squealed a few squees that were far more fangirl than English graduate student who studied Old English.
Maybe the better term is that I am embarrassed now that I used to be someone who could fangirl about Twilight. I’m not interested in rereading the books or much returning to my life as it was then. I have changed and grown so much as a person since then even as I still remain friends with wonderful women I met in graduate school (and with whom I may have discussed Twilight).
Maybe ten years from now, I’ll look back to this period in my life and feel embarrassed about how I always have dirt under my nails no matter how hard I try. Or I might feel embarrassed about that “gratitude phase” I went through (I doubt it). Perhaps I might even feel embarrassed by how many dang eggs I eat every week. Ah! I know! I will finally feel the proper embarrassment that I went to go see Frozen by myself the day after it opened and the ticket taker gave me some serious side eye! Or, maybe not. I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll look back ten years from now and find something that screams “thou shalt not mention I read Twilight!” to future acquaintances.
However, this is the life I’m living now, this very moment. I don’t want to feel embarrassed or guilty about the things I love to do or that make me happy. I’m not sure when it happened, but I clearly gave myself permission to love what I love and just embrace it. Life is short. It’s far too short to feel guilty about what I love right now. It’s even too short for me to feel embarrassed that at 24 years old I was unabashedly Team Jacob. I can work on that. Err… not reading Twilight again. You know: embracing the embarrassing parts of my identity, especially the parts I’d rather forget.