When I visit a used bookstore, I always go to the young adult section. Maybe I should be embarrassed because I am usually the only one over 14 and I’ve been known to leave with at least three books in my arms. But then I think– to hell with it. This section has been good to me over the years. I’ll never give it up.

Before I left the country, one of my latest ventures into adolescent literature brought me to the book, Stargirl.

She was illusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.

I always heard it mentioned, but I had never brought myself around to actually reading it. I really needed to read it and I’m grateful that I did.

Recently, I’ve felt strangely self-aware–more so than usual. At first I thought it was because I was an aimless post-grad, unemployed and still adjusting to being stripped raw of my comfortable identity as a student. Then I thought it was because I was pointless and misplaced in my poorly scheduled corporate job. After that, I was certain that it was because I felt isolated and amazingly foreign in this bizarre new country.

But really, I think I just feel it when I’m by myself. All those situations give me far too much time to myself. It’s when I have the time to think. It just kind of rises to the surface once everything else is cleared away. When I’m focused or occupied, it shrinks back.

I don’t want to always have to be distracted to avoid being self-conscious. It’s not like there’s anything really wrong here. I guess it’s fine for the most part, but I’d like a little more stability in my own self-assurance.

I’d like to be like Stargirl Caraway. Or maybe I’d be okay with just being me, only with a little Stargirl swagger. She is who she is. She finds good in unfavorable circumstances and casts off the temptation to seek external acceptance. She embraces her own oddities and finds joy in her own flaws.

I want to stop questioning the things I do and the reasons I do them and the way it appears to others and what it says about me. I want to be strange and unapologetic. I want to be frighteningly confident. I want to let things go. I want to accept and move on. I want to be weird and uninhibited.

When I was reading this book, I just kept thinking– what a way to be.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone can be like that all the time. Even Stargirl had her moments of failing confidence. Everyone is self-involved and sensitive, even when they say they’re not. At least a little. So I guess I, too, am entitled to weak moments and wavering individualism every once in a while.

But even if that’s true and I’ll never fully get rid of this itching discomfort of the self, I guess unaffected self-assurance would still be something nice to work towards.