My roommates are giggling as they look up palm reading on the glowing Apple notebook. We’re all excited for the party we’re throwing that night. It’s become an annual event with my one roommate and myself. We’ve been preparing all day; searching out D.I. costumes, fun foods, and all the right ghostly trimmings that are required for a memorable Halloween party. I put down the polyester cobwebs and plop in between the two sitting on the sofa and offer my left hand.
“Tell me my future, Madam Drusilla.” I say in a mock awestruck voice. We take this thing very seriously.
Kjirstin grasps my hand and leans over it. She begins her newly learned mysticism in a thick accent. “You vill meet a maun.” She says slowly and mysteriously. We all burst into laughter. “Okay, okay! It says the shape of your palm means you do things quietly and intuitively. You have shallow lines which means…” She turns away and scrolls up on the web page. “Shallow lines mean you are easily manipulated by others.”
We continued looking at each other’s palms and making up fake fortunes since none of us really believed in it. Though, even days after, I would look at my palm when my mind wandered in class or at church, or when I was just taking a moment to myself. I would trace those lines with my fingertips and will them to be deeper.
I grew up having a close relationship with my brother. Being barely two years younger than him I always sought his attentions. Everything he did was cool and exciting. It wasn’t uncommon to be pulled away from my recreation by him to listen to his ideas, to a story that he came up with that went along perfectly with about thirty different popular songs at the time; each one having to be listened to in order and with lengthy explanations to follow and precede each.
When I was beginning to pick something in my life to write about for a personal essay I continued to be influenced by this idea of my feeling manipulated by those around me. My third draft I began listing off experiences with people where I’ve felt manipulated. Of course, there was my brother; my friend Deb, she was a professional, had her own apartment, her own car… and she took it upon herself to help me find a wardrobe that wasn’t combat boots and hippie skirts. I thought about my parents and how they would remember details about my childhood and I’d play into those memories.
I thought of past relationships, how I would tire of trying to become what I thought they wanted in a girlfriend. How around my roommates I listen to the kind of music they listen to and forget about my favorite artists because I know they don’t appreciate that.
As I’m writing this draft I look back trying to discover why I was allowing myself to be treated like this I didn’t see any manipulation coming from these people. I wasn’t being manipulated into altering my musical tastes. I was listening to their music because I wanted to have something in common with them. I realized that the feeling of manipulation was coming just from myself. I was manipulating myself into thinking that if I changed, or did what I thought they wanted me to do, I would be accepted by them. I’m seeking their approval.
Even with this paper. Through five drafts and three different topics I know I was just trying to write something that would impress the other people who would read it. I’ve sat in seminar and listened to the honesty that fills Brit’s writing as she opens her relationship with her father out in front of everyone. I’ve sat there while Matty got up and bore his soul. As I went through sessions I would take input and opinion and write it as fact. This is what they want; betrayal, disappointed expectations. If this is what I write, I can become their equal.
Now as I look at the lines on my palm I wonder what decisions I made to make others happy. I consider every little moment in my life that could possibly have been affected by this. I didn’t even know about BYU-Idaho until I met Deb and heard her stories of the two semesters she spent here. I never would have met my boss, Sister Morgan, without knowing Ivor who used to work where I do now. It scares me, this need to please those around me. What else in my life will it affect if I don’t find a way to please myself?