I’m currently sitting in a building that was described to me as space for youth to “express their creative and entrepreneurial spirit”. I stumbled upon this place on accident on the way home from work and decided to stay. The inside layout is modern, full of long wooden tables, multi-colored plastic chairs, leather couches and overstuffed yet neatly organized bookshelves. The room is full of young twenty-something Tel Avivians sitting silently in front of their Mac Books, energies deeply rooted in the novels they’re probably writing. It’s similar to a library, but a library intended exclusively for models and people who work at Google. The room is silent, and I fear that my typing is the loudest noise in the room.
I walked in and took a seat, trying to keep an eye on everyone else while also giving the impression that I’m just a regular here. I loudly drag a chair over and adjust my skirt before sitting down. I fidget with my hair and anxiously observe the sea of hipsters surrounding me. I wonder what I’m going to have for dinner later. I cringe at the thought of being the least successful person in this room. I think that there are an oddly high number of people with man buns sitting at my table. In this moment, I feel like Lena Dunham.
Being Lena Dunham is something I’ve aspired towards since her television show, Girls premiered several years go. Yes, we are talking about the same girl- the one who controversially and regularly shows her boobs on camera, who shamelessly eats cupcakes at every opportunity, and who has boldly opened herself up in the defense of young women everywhere. I look up to Lena, and recently reading her book “Not That Kind of Girl” has only reaffirmed my admiration.
Her book touches on so many topics- her fierce revulsion for school, her knowingly nonsensical obsession with calorie counting, her inability to date stable men, her deeply heartfelt stories of her childhood growing up with a sister- all things that I relate to on a profound level. Lena’s life up until she graduated from college was as messy, emotional, unpredictable and disorganized as mine. She didn’t know what she wanted in life, but she knew when she figured it out, she would get it. She knew she had ambition and she sought self-actualization. That’s another thing Lena and I have in common: our obsession with the term self-actualization. And by utilizing and empowering that deep sense of self, she was able to become who she is now: a hilariously brilliant, "the voice of my generation" feminist superstar.
I spend many days in this country wondering what the hell I’m really doing here. I question if I’m good at my job. I fear that I’ll never be stable in this country and might fail as an Israeli. I dream of the day I could possibly speak fluent Hebrew. I speculate if my life would be vastly different if I went to the gym six days a week instead of five. I especially get stressed about my grocery buying abilities. Am I buying the right brand of tachina? Who knows? Someone would tell me, right?
Once I’m done having an internal panic about these things as I lay in bed at night and frantically text my sister all of my life concerns, I think of Lena Dunham. I remember that she too had these fears. I know that just as much as me, she allowed anxiety to take over full phases of her young life. But I think that I too have her ambition. I also have a fierce drive to attain self-actualization, to accomplish true success. I’m a very young new immigrant sitting alone in this Tel Aviv hipster haven, surrounded by women with blue hair and oversized pea coats, and I tell myself: I’m a part of this. This is for me. I know myself, and nothing, not even countless techina brands and gym days can stop me when I have that.