Too Many Diet Cokes


There is a scene toward the end of Reality Bites where Winona Ryder proclaims that she was really going to be something by the age of twenty-three. When I was 23, I attempted karaoke for the first time. I was doing tequila shots like they were a part of my final exams and obsessed with wearing an old school NBA sweatband.

Ethan Hawke walks over to her as she’s opening a can of diet coke to tell her that at the age of 23 all she needs to be is herself. She says she doesn’t know who that is anymore, and then they have sex.

In six months I will be turning thirty. I’m still not quite sure what that means, only that I have become more self-realized in the last year than I would have thought possible. Most importantly, I know the kind of woman I am and the kind of woman I am not.

I only identify with Winona in the way (I’m assuming) most twenty-something women can. We undervalue ourselves because it’s taking too long to get to the place where we want to be. Our former classmates are married with babies and we still don’t know who we want to be.

My point of view for relationships and boys has been skewed for as long as I can remember. In seventh grade, I made my parents buy me a skateboard because none of the other girls had one. I assumed taking an interest in what the boys liked would make them want to look at me longingly. This did not work.

Here I am sixteen years later, finally understanding where I went wrong. I realize the significance of the things my parents forgot to tell me, if even that someone would want to hold my hand some day. The kind of woman I am and still hope to become, should not involve trying to impress a member of the opposite sex while sacrificing the person I actually am.

I can recount many situations where I was too shy to express any familiar emotion, instead searching for the words I think he wants to hear. This is upsetting to me now because it means ‘they’ were right. I care too much about how I think other people see me, especially men.

I can’t speak for Winona, and maybe I’ve had too many diet cokes, but I like the woman I am becoming. I don’t expect to go through a high-end shoplifting spree anytime soon, but I can’t wait to find out who I’m going to be.

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