The Queen of Throwing Myself into Situations in Which I Do Not Belong

Alyssa Shteyn - India


September 4, 2018

I’m on the plane from St. Louis to Oakland. My mom is asleep with a Kindle in her lap, the matte screen still displaying a romance novel. I challenge myself to read the Russian words on the screen, and curse myself every time my steady reading pace slows. I swear to myself I won't forget how to read in Russian while in India, I pray I return still capable of communicating with my grandparents without a language barrier.

My mother is exhausted. Probably from work and from travel. Possibly because of some of the life choices I've made since I've become more independent over the years. I admit — it must be draining to have a queen for a daughter like me.

I like to call myself the Queen of Throwing Myself into Situations in Which I Do Not Belong. I’ve thrown myself into social circles of people infinitely more brilliant than me, I’ve thrown myself into applicant pools I was certainly too underqualified to to be swimming in, and now, I’ve thrown myself into 8 months of living away from home.

My friends refuse to latch onto the self-crowned nobility title but that’s alright because the Queen of Throwing Myself into Situations in Which I Do Not Belong is much more than a title. To me, The Queen of Throwing Herself into Situations in Which She Does Not Belong is a way I choose to lead my life – to avoid boredom, to attempt to satiate my curiosity, to be a fascinating person, and to live a fascinating life.

The Queen of Throwing Myself Into Situations in Which I Do Not Belong is also a look I occasionally receive. When I tell people I’m moving to India for eight months, the look that substitutes a verbal response is the look that reaffirms my queenhood: the slight neck extension, the perplexity of the eyebrows, the peel back of the eyelid, and ah, the enlarged eyeball circumference that makes me feel oh-so-royal. Some call “the look” terror, some call it a look of alarm, I call it the utmost satisfying response. Some call the life I lead “mania”, I consider it the most comforting condition of Imposter Syndrome to ever exist. I would never want to be in a place where I do belong, if I am, I’m not learning. If I explain to the layman my hopes for my future and I’m not met with “the look”, I know my goals are not aimed high enough.

And so, I aim them higher, to higher accomplishments, to deeper understandings, to further continents. And then I launch myself into them, not knowing what’s to come, and oftentimes, they launch themselves right back at me. And that, I must say is the best part about being the Queen of Throwing Myself into Situations I do Not Belong in, bar crowning myself queen of my own imaginary dynasty of personality traits.

Alyssa Shteyn