Like any respectable adult I used to be an avid reader of YA novels. I couldn’t think of a happier place to be than in one of those old, worn-out cushy chairs in a B&N (reading books for free..sorrryyy). I have a hard time remembering most of the moments from ages 10-15, but I do remember reading that fucker John Green’s book The Fault in our Stars. God, it ruined me. He spoon-fed us tumblr-level quotes like ‘maybe okay will be our always,’ and ' he lit up like a Christmas tree,' but I still can’t get ‘I was saving my 10’ out of my head. If you’re unfamiliar, this has to do with a reoccurring scene in which the main character (hazel?) describes her pain on a scale of 1 to 10. She always saves the 10 because she has a feeling something is going to hurt worse than cancer. She SAVES HER FUCKING 10. Who the hell let me read that because I have thought about it every year since. I was just minding my own damn business recently admiring tulips on my walk home when I conjured the thought “what will my 10 be?”. Ultimately, I feel extremely lucky to have saved my mine thus far, but If that book came out in 2012 then I’ve been thinking about this for about 10 years. In the book she uses the scale to rate physical pain, but I think it’s truly meant for the other kinds of hurt.
It’s really easy to feel 1’s and 3’s, the paper cuts of a friend not answering your calls, the jokes-that-were-actually-insults, or even your own insecurities getting the better of you. The 6’s and 7’s are harder— a fight with a friend, you said things you can’t take back. 8’s and 9’s into heartbreak, betrayal, abandonment. But 10? Somedays I think 10 is watching people you love experience an 8 or a 9, but sometimes it might be going through lower numbers alone. Fighting with yourself inside your mind and having no one around to shut off the voice. Because a 10 isn’t a fight you get over the next day, it’s a life-long trail of bread crumbs back to one of your lowest moments.
Luckily it’s just fiction and we’re not all cancerous teenagers– John Green wanted an NYT bestseller and he got it. But the danger of stepping into fantasy is that the feelings stay. You might not be in your world, but you're still in your head.