Joan Didion and Everything Else I Was Too Stupid to Understand at 17

College is wasted on young people, or maybe it was only wasted on me. Many of the great stories and essays I read then I admired only in their pretty phrasing, and it wasn't until years later that an understanding clicked into place.

Joan Didion's "On Self-Respect" I read, I think, when I was 17, and I probably did not understand until I was deep into my 20s. 

"It was once suggested to me, that as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound psychological reason, something to do with oxygen, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one's head in a Food Fair bag."