Not that kind of girl.

Today I’m having a particularly “Lena” type struggle, so I figured it would be a good day to share my favorite quotes from Lena Dunham’s FANTASTIC book, Not That Kind of Girl.


I know there is a lot here and I don’t expect you to read through them all, but each quote has a significance to me that’s worth keeping and cataloging for future reference when I need some eloquent words to describe my momentary disposition or I need reassurance on a particularly dark day.

On being an ‘adult’ and growing up:

  • “I always reminded myself this wasn’t exactly where I was meant to be, but pit stops are ok on the road of life; aren’t they?”
  • “The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.”
  • “I didn’t drink in the essence of the classroom. I didn’t take legible notes or dance all night. I thought I would marry my boyfriend and grow old and sick of him. I thought I would keep my friends, and we’d make different, new memories. None of that happened. Better things happened. Then why am I so sad?”

On self respect

  • “When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.”
  • “There is a common superstition that “self-respect” is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation. —JOAN DIDION, “On Self-Respect”

On past relationships:

  • “I’ve always been attracted to jerks. They range from sassy weirdos who are ultimately pretty good guys to sociopathic sex addicts, but the common denominator is a bad attitude upon first meeting and a desire to teach me a lesson.”
  • “I always run in to strong women who are looking for weak men to dominate them”- Andy Warhol
  • “What had initially seemed like a deep well of pain caused by unattainable women was actually a Philip Rothian disdain for the fairer sex. It’s become horribly and offensively popular to say that someone is on the autism spectrum, so all I’ll say is his inability to notice when I was crying had to be some kind of pathology.”
  • “You will find,” she says, “that there’s a certain grace to having your heart broken.”
  • “After what felt like months, he sat across from me, one foot still on the floor, and looked at me a long moment, like he was preparing to eat something he wasn’t sure he would like. I wasn’t offended. I wasn’t even sure I was real.”
  • “But I also think when we embark on intimate relationships, we make a basic human promise to be decent, to hold a flattering mirror up to each other, to be respectful as we explore each other.”
  • “It made me feel silenced, lonely, and far away from myself, a feeling that I believe, next to extreme nausea sans vomiting, is the depth of human misery.”
  • “The way I saw it, I was fully capable of being treated with indifference that bordered on disdain while maintaining a strong sense of self-respect. I obeyed his commands, sure that I could fulfill this role while still protecting the sacred place inside of me that I knew deserved more. Different. Better. But that isn’t how it works.”
  • “This is what it could have been like. This is what it had never been like. And so I was angry.”
  • “We spent torturous weekends attempting to share brunches and movie dates like people who knew each other. But he wasn’t impressed enough by how funny my dad is, and I didn’t understand what was so cool about his friend Leo the puppeteer. I attempted to break up with him on no fewer than seven occasions, and each time he would cry, beg, and show more emotion than he ever had during our silent sexual encounters or our mornings drinking tea in bed. “You care about me,” he’d tell me. “You’ve never felt like this before.” And who was I to object?”
  • “I did love Ben, in a sense. Because he cooked for me. Because he told me that my body was beautiful, like a Renaissance painting, something I badly needed to hear.”

On body image:

  • Barbie’s disfigured. it’s OK to play with her just as long as you keep that in mind.”
  • “Weak eyebrows = weak presentation. It’s like having a bad handshake, but worse because it’s right on your face.”
  • “A friend once told me that when you’ve been in AA, drinking is never fun again. And that’s how I feel about having seen a nutritionist—I will never again approach food in an unbridled, guilt-free way.”

On anxiety and learning to how to heal:

  • “I’ve started translating poems from languages I don’t speak, some kind of Surrealist exercise meant to inspire me but also prevent me from thinking the perverse, looping thoughts that come unbidden: I am hideous. I am going to be living in a mental hospital by the time I am twenty-nine. I will never amount to anything. You wouldn’t know it to see me at a party. In a crowd I am recklessly cheerful, dressed to the nines in thrift-shop gowns and press-on fingernails, fighting the sleepiness that comes from the 350 milligrams of medication I take every night. I dance the hardest, laugh the hardest at my own jokes, and make casual reference to my vagina, like it’s a car or a chest of drawers.”
  • “The anxiety that has followed me through my life like a bad friend had reappeared with a vengeance and taken a brand-new form… I didn’t know why this was happening. The cruel reality of anxiety is that you never quite do. At the moments it should logically strike, I am fit as a fiddle. On a lazy afternoon, I am seized by a cold dread.”
  • “The most terrifying aspect of human health is our refusal to take steps to help ourselves and the fact that we are so often responsible for our own demise through lack of positive action. It makes me want to take a nap.”
  • “I have only the vaguest memory of a life before fear. Every morning when I wake up there is one blissful second before I took around the room and remember my daily terrors.”
  • “And then I made myself sick to my stomach waiting for an apology that never came.”
  • “And when I emerged, fifteen pounds lighter but too shaken to enjoy it, I thought, I could spend the next eight years just getting to know myself and that would be fine. The idea of sex right now sounds about as appealing as putting a live lobster up there.”
  • “Sometimes that old feeling slips back in. Of being invaded and misunderstood. Of being outside your body but still in the room, like what you imagine a spirit does immediately after death. You used to own the night and put it to good use, during that sweet spot after your father could no longer tell you when to go to sleep and before you shared an apartment with someone else. Is togetherness killing your productivity? When’s the last time you stayed up until 4:00 A.M. testing the boundaries of your consciousness and Googling serial killers?”

On career and passion

  • “But ambition is a funny thing: it creeps in when you least expect it and keeps you moving, even when you think you want to stay put.”

On the struggles of being a female:

  • “the gynecologist prescribed birth control, which has helped with regularity, but nothing can help the mood that still descends a few days before my period begins, like a black cloud rolling in. I am uncharacteristically dark and nihilistic. Everyone is out to get me, to hurt me, to uninvite me from their tea parties, to judge my body and destroy my family. I am like a character on Dallas, obsessed with subterfuge and revenge, convinced I have discovered unlikely yet real-seeming plots against me.”
  • “As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter.”
  • “My friend, a woman whom I admire for her independent spirit, told me she had a similar experience. “I made my first movie and all these men crawled out of the woodwork, looking for … something.” She was once a punk. The real kind, not the kind who buys her clothes at the mall. “But they didn’t get it: I’m not here to make friends with you. I’m here to destroy you.””

Words you desperately need your best friends and family to tell you:

  • “What a goon. He’s lucky to know you, but too stupid to ever realize it.”
  • “If you have a bad feeling about someone, don’t worry about offending them. Just run. Being polite is how you get your purse stolen or your ‘purse stolen’.”

On falling in love:

  • “Then he appeared. Gap toothed, Sculpey faced, glasses like a cartoon, so earnest I was suspicious, and so witty I was scared. I saw him standing there, yellow cardigan and hunched shoulders, and thought: Look, there is my friend. The next months were a lesson in opening up, letting go, being kind and brave. I have written all sorts of paragraphs recounting those months together: first kiss, first Mister Softee, first time I noticed that he won’t touch a doorknob without covering his hand with his sweatshirt. I have written sentences about how the first time we made love it felt like dropping my keys on the table after a long trip, and about wearing his sneakers as we ran across the park toward my house, which would someday be our house. About the way he gathered me up after a long terrible day and put me to bed. About the fact that he is my family now. I wrote it down, found the words that evoked the exact feeling of the edge of the park at 11:00 P.M. on a hot Tuesday with the man I was starting to love. But surveying those words I realized they are mine. He is mine to protect. There is so much I’ve shared, and so much that’s been crushed by the sharing. I never mourned it, because it never mattered.”

On hope for the future

  • “Deep in her soul, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out over the solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far-off horizon. She did not know what this chance event would be, what wind would drive it to her, what shore it would carry her to, whether it was a longboat or a three-decked vessel, loaded with anguish or filled with happiness up to the portholes. But each morning, when she awoke, she hoped it would arrive that day.… —GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, Madame Bovary”
  • Life is long, people change, I would never be foolish enough to think otherwise. But no matter what, nothing can ever be as it was. Everything has changed in a way that sounds trite and borderline offensive when recounted over coffee. I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.
  • “You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from. But when you run, run back to yourself, like that bunny in ‘Runaway Bunny’ runs to its mother, but you are the mother, and you’ll see that later and be very, very proud.”

as always,

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole