My Relationship With Solitude: Stockholm Solomania

It’s been a long time since I wrote about me, in an attempt to explain, reveal, or understand myself, my thoughts and my behavior. But the introspection disease has hit again. I can’t tell whether I am writing these explanations in order to understand myself, or so that others will understand me. I don’t know whether there is a difference, or if it matters.

I have a life theme. It may sound romantic and fantastic, like my life is a well-organized script, but honestly it’s just a bother: solitude. I have a ridiculously complex relationship with that phenomenon. Especially over the past 5-6 years, I’ve seen it crop up again and again and again in different forms, before I even understood the theme enough to name it. Probably no one pays as much attention to me as to note the sequence of my Twitter bios, but for a relatively long time, it read: “Solitude is the theme of my life.” Quite obviously, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. But that’s not, for me, something that I can accept, acknowledge and move on.

I’m followed by the theme of solitude like it’s a personal raincloud above my head. It never lets me forget. I feel like the word “solitary” is or should be permanently tattooed on my overlarge forehead. It’s an active thought that occurs to me at least twenty times in a day, and sometimes it gets too much, and begins to drive me crazy.

I don’t like people. I know a lot of people say that, but as far as I can see, they don’t actually mean it. The idea of group work of any kind does not appeal to me. If that means I’m not a “team player”, I am sorry; I don’t care though. Most of the time, when given the choice, I would rather be alone. When I am alone is when I am most comfortable, and when I am happiest. Especially when I have no obligations to other people. You know there are people who would, for example, base in their rooms but leave the door wide, as an open invitation for company? I’m the type of person that would opt for a single room, spend more time inside it than anywhere else, and essentially lock myself in it, so no one can find me. (The downside, of course, is that people always know where to find me.) I probably will not make an effort to strike up conversation with random people around me. I appreciate the silence. It would be so much better if I didn’t think the other person(s) thought it was awkward.

I have a social recharge system. When I attend a social gathering, or even generally just go out into the midst of people, I get drained. But I will perform my part to some extent, because a performer is what I am. When I get back, though, I feel a tiredness that is nearly entirely psychological. I develop an abhorrence of people when I’m in recharge mode, and an inertia to leave my house, or even my room. Like, I will internally groan if someone tries to enter my space. If I have a scheduled function when I’m recharging, it frays me. Obviously classes are not my favorite thing in the world.

Examining the reasons for why I’m like this is difficult. Although I do feel like there is something STRANGE about me naturally that nobody else in the world that I know of has, that I’m misunderstood or impossible to understand, these aren’t always the reason I seek solitude. I do it because it actually feels good.

Until it starts making me insane. At random times, my solitude can feel like a prison. My God, I have a madly hyperactive mind. And then, when thoughts are flowing through my head at rapid fire speed so that I reach a point that I’m thinking so much that I don’t know what I’m thinking, I feel like exploding. I feel like there is no one available to share it all with, and then I have to support my madness all by myself and it’s hard and there’s no escape. Except sleep, sometimes.

I am quite possibly one of the most independent people I know. I consider it a result of having spent so much time over the past 5-6 years existing in communities or among people that I cannot connect with. So, socially, I’m good with being alone. It doesn’t mean that I’m competent on doing stuff and figuring stuff out on my own though. It just means I am socially okay with being singular. I don’t understand people who can’t go and have a meal in a public spot without someone else with them. I don’t understand people who wouldn’t rather sit at an empty table. I can’t get it when people feel the compulsion to ask who wants to come with, when they’re going somewhere, and then actually wait for a positive response before they leave. But most of all, I can’t understand why the automatic conception of people who are alone is that they are sad, couldn’t possibly have chosen their condition, and would prefer people’s company at the particular time that they are alone.

I am quite possibly one of the clingiest people I know. And I know this goes in contrast to nearly all of the things I have just said, but I honestly have several ways to rationalize it. They may be invalid, but they may also be valid. The question is whether or not they’re true, and I can’t tell.

Possibility: Because I dislike people in general, it is rare and extra special when I find someone I really like and actually, voluntarily want to leave my solitary comfort zone for, in order to spend time with them. And so I get more or less addicted to them.

Possibility: Because I feel misunderstood so much of the time, I am constantly searching for someone with even the capacity to get what goes on in my mind. And when I do find them, it’s like my whole life is made, and then I develop an addiction.

Possibility: I’m painfully lonely and I want to feel like I matter to someone, and I want someone to hug me and listen to me and help me convince myself that I’m not raving mad. Even though I am.

I can’t “just talk to someone” when I’m in the moods where solitude feels like a prison. There are not a lot of people who (immediately) fit the criteria of people I feel like I can talk to. I will not and cannot be vulnerable to just anyone. Unless I’m blogging on the internet, where anyone with internet access can read. Which is ironic to ridiculous proportions. And if I don’t feel like you’re “that person”, I simply can’t talk to you no matter how much you try to coerce me or tell me to trust you. When I’m lonely, which is often, I will break down and cry. And it won’t be long until I have to perform being socially and emotionally fine again.

The bottom line is: I hate being alone. It feels like prison.

The bottom line is: I love being alone. It liberates me.

Do you see the problem? Stockholm Solomania. Solomania is a word I made up because I could not find a word that already meant what I wanted it to mean. Solomania is the term I give to a consistent, increasing or burning desire to be alone/ desire for solitude. Stockholm because you hate it, it can hurt you, you can feel imprisoned by solitude…but you love it. Kind of like Stockholm Syndrome.

In another sphere, I realize that this phenomenon has increased effects in my own depression. Surprisingly enough, one time I was on Twitter, #MyDepressionLooksLlike trended. And all these people with mental health issues let the truths of their experiences out, and the one thing/theme I saw repeating itself was how these depressed people deliberately isolated themselves and then felt like crap when it seemed like there was just no one around to help them, or be with them. Looking for solitude, and solitude being a problem? Well I could relate. Sounded like Stockholm Solomania to me.

The question is, how do I deal with this, or how do I want to deal with this? How I do deal with this is by my koala-like attachment to my best friend, whomever that may be at the moment. He turns into my on-call breakdown buddy. He turns into my official hug-provider. Best friendship for me means this. Lately, I have found myself in a foreign place. He is not here, and yes, it is hard, being a continent away, and internet connectivity problems for various reasons and time differences are not helping the situation at all. So now that he’s not here, how do I want to deal with it? The exact same way. I know that my mental health is not on ordinary levels. But it’s not, it’s never “professionals” I want. Ever. Nor people who are “trained for stuff like this”. It’s always friends. And not ordinary friends. Higher level friends, who connect with me intellectually and comprehend emotionally. They never need to think or feel like me, but they do need empathetic capacity. Friend. Not person-I-have-to-make-an-appointment-with-who-helps-me-because-it’s-their-job-and-they’ve-been-trained-to. I don’t freaking have time for that.

There is a conflict. Where and how to find friends. Higher level friends. When I can’t leave my room. When I don’t want to leave my room. It’s a miracle how I made the few of such friends that I already have, and have had.

I just want to travel the world, possibly alone, for the rest of my life. Although, with this condition, I don’t know how I’m ever going to get anything like that done.



The Spiritual Journey of Gallant (@SoGallant)

Disclaimer: Anything I say as part of my interpretations could possibly be partially to entirely wrong.

As I write this, I must admit I have known of Gallant, the RnB singer, for just about a month or so (note: I wrote this way earlier than I am posting this). But I haven’t fully fallen into obsession this fast since Jon Bellion. I legit spend a significant amount of time watching just about any Gallant interview or documentary I can find, and I memorize his lyrics and decode them at my leisure.

I am glad that, after watching some of those documentaries/interviews, I can say that Gallant is human. I had my doubts when I listened to his album Ology (the only body of work of his I have heard. He released an EP or something before these but I haven’t looked for it). I doubted he was human because he writes nearly exclusively in imagery and metaphor, and his trademark is a yellow sadface! I honestly started to fear that sadness and stone-facedness were his only emotions. (And yes, I will insist right now that the latter qualifies as an emotion. Don’t tell a lexivist what to do with words.) But in his interviews, I think I’ve seen him smile twice and laugh twice so I can sort of breathe now and let go of the fear that he’s going to kill himself any second.


I remember, many months ago, something or the other (I think it was Kanye West) triggered a social media rant from Andy Mineo, who made very valid points about the way the world, especially including Christians, don’t like to accept the spiritual status of someone who is searching, as “searching”. We like to limit ourselves to understandings of “Okay, they’re in. Or they’re out.” No in-between period. So what I love about Gallant’s Ology album is that the whole project feels like that in-between period, which so many people are scared to display, for fear of condemnation – presented marvelously in metaphor. And I love Gallant for it.

Ology means knowledge. Technically, science – and I choose to pronounce that as “shee-ence” as in omniscience and conscience. Ology seems to be an exploration of science – what “it” means. Where “it” is absolutely everything. I think it goes as far as the question of bare existence. And Gallant makes it clear that he and his mind are out of this world. A large percentage of Ology’s imagery is extra-terrestrial; that is, goes beyond earth, to the moon, other planets, the galaxy, the gods. The scope is as wide as he could help. And of course it only makes sense that in an exploration of science and meaning, spirituality will be a frequent stop – like a popular company that has gas stations planted every few kilometers.

My focus on what I assume to be his spiritual journey will focus on 3 songs that stood out to me. In chronological order as they appear on the album, they are: Bourbon (4), Bone + Tissue (5), and Chandra (15).

So we begin with Bourbon.

Imagine how shocked I was to find out Bourbon was an alcohol, as opposed to the supposedly innocent chocolate biscuits I know from Ghana. =(

Bourbon sounds to me like it’s by a speaker who struggles with his attachment to atheism/agnosticism/rejection of the faith. (Side note: if you try to cross-check my analyses using, you will probably find that they correspond…because I annotated this song. And a little bit of Bone + Tissue. And I think all that’s on Chandra so far is mine as well.) It’s like an addiction to unbelief. And for addiction, he uses bourbon, a metaphor for the metaphor of alcoholism; addiction in all its glorious absurdity. “Bourbon in my coffee cup”? As in, you have alcohol for breakfast? Or perhaps, does it also double as a vessel that contains something it shouldn’t? But let’s backtrack to the beginning.

“I’m a headless horseman

On quilted sand dunes

With my neck wide open

I pray for refuge”

Aside the tone of vulnerability, I see a slight allusion to the horsemen of the apocalypse. Aside that also, there is an imagery paradox. “Sand dunes” are symbols of isolation in a desert; but they are lyrically painted here with beauty, so much as to be “quilted”. There’s a consistent attempt to paint something ordinarily bad as attractive.

The pre-chorus for me put things into perspective:

“Cause since I’ve been found, I’ve been living a life in cages

Withering down to the champagne quicksand

Wrestling doubt I’ve been dragging around for ages

I tried to let it drain, but my veins are hopeless”

I think this speaks to his relationship with a faith, and I assume without basis that it is Christianity. I associate being “found” to symbolically speak of his integration into a/the church. So why does it feel like a cage to him? Are there too many religious restrictions he can’t handle? Is he so uncomfortable that he feels like a spectacle? Like an animal behind bars? Again, the paradox of an enjoyable danger in “champagne quicksand”. Curiously, even his integration into faith couldn’t cure him of his doubt. Maybe it’s because he feels pretentious that he feels like he’s been caged.

The 2 lines in the chorus that get to me are:

“Angels say trust the detox

But I’m shaking, I need it like bourbon in my coffee cup”

Whichever “angels” he has encountered keep trying to detoxify him of perhaps his agnosticism – but he can’t let go. He’s like an alcoholic; an addict experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Why is there bourbon, rather than coffee in his coffee cup?

The album takes us from one wrestle directly to another. Bone + Tissue comes right after this, and I personally feel like the lyrics are so wishy-washy that it’s nearly impossible to understand exactly what he’s saying. But I’m fine with the idea of finding more questions in other people’s art than answers.

All the verses scream entirely of dissatisfaction. I actually recognize Gallant’s writing pattern from listening and turning over in my mind so much. He has a formula where both verses and sometimes bridge say the same thing with different imagery.

He wants “more than God in a courtroom”; is the concept of God as a judge of man not acceptable for some reason? And what’s up with all the pain and destruction imagery? “broken glass in my house shoes”; “rocks in a windshield”; “kerosene in a minefield” etc. Is faith painful? I don’t know what it was about it that essentially sets him off.

And as for the people who are apparently giving him all these things, and making him experience all this pain, they seem to be doing pretty illogical, self-deluding things to themselves as well, like “spending all your days making days feel shorter” – a comment on the belief in eternity, perhaps? – and “taking your time making time feel better” – which sounds like a similar thing but maybe this alludes more to the idea of convincing ourselves there is a purpose to the life/time we spend on earth, an opinion that Gallant in this song doesn’t seem to share.

But then it all goes back to apparent feelings of (Gallant’s) worthlessness and obvious skepticism. The entire chorus sounds like sarcastic snark with an undertone of desperation.

“Sell me something I can use to catapult my value

Treat me like the cardinal anointed in my vessels

And anytime I bite the hand that feeds

Won’t you lie through your teeth and

Tell me I’m a monument to more than bone and tissue”

I can’t understand how anyone would readily believe that their soul and spirit are lies, that there is nothing more to them than the physical. But maybe this is a way for Gallant to present our fallible humanness in a raw but exaggerated form. And again, the sarcastic emphasis on humanity and our flaws, somehow trying to prove we are also (connected to) divine beings.

“If I falter on my oaths, will it prove I’m more than skin and bone?”

I don’t think so. =(

But then, the possibility…maybe it isn’t to be entirely ruled out. Chandra. Chandra is the “maybe” song. It’s the closes thing you’re going to get to an “I believe” on the album. It’s also the last song.

When he opens with “Are the chemicals controlled?”, I’m hearing two things. One is a question of depression; the kind which can be clinically defined as chemical imbalances in the brain. The second is a question of whether there is a force behind the physical world of natural science/phenomena. AKA – is there a transcendental being controlling all this?

The computer science imagery kind of stumped me for a while, really.

“Are they written in my native tongue

Open-ended cosmic code”

So, if the universe is programmed, does it run on an open-source software, whose code is accessible and comprehensible to us? For example, if the Designer/Programmer is God (tell me you didn’t just start singing either Panda or Tiimmy Turner and I won’t believe you), who made the cosmic universe, has he truly given us the “code” to this creation of His in the Bible?

When he says he has “felt vibrations across a burgundy sea”, I can’t imagine what the sea could be, other than his own blood. An instinctual feeling from within, from everywhere. To have “bent my head on a mission I couldn’t lead” seems like an acknowledgement of one’s lack of complete autocracy. I think it begs the question of who is leading, then, if not oneself.

Then comes a string of more mystical, hopeful, possibly begrudging “maybe”s.

“Maybe there’s a moon behind these lines

Habitable and chosen

Maybe there’s a home behind these eyes

Waiting until my logic falters and I’m losing hope

Who knows?”

The part about hope appearing when the senses and one’s own logic fail, is probably my favorite thing about the whole album. It echoes of something transcendental, past all the qualities of mankind, past the limits of our knowledge, our “Ology”.

As inconclusive a journey as this is, I don’t think an album of “searching” could have ended any better. Christopher Gallant, I am waiting with bated breath for your next album. =)

Also, I love you. Let’s be besties. ❤


The Nature of the Poet?

Before you read this poem, I think you should read Czeslaw Milosz’ Ars Poetica?, given that I drew inspiration directly from it and consciously mirrored its format to minor details. His Ars Poetica? with its significant question mark was a deliberation on (literally translated) the art or nature of poetry. I decided to write a counterpart, also with a titular question mark, about the nature of the poet.

The Nature of the Poet?

I have always aspired to a more flexible description

that would be free from the labels of poet or artist

and would allow the world to understand us as people without assuming

we are by nature more confounding than it.


In the very nature of poets, there is something incomprehensible:

we discover ourselves to be people we didn’t think we were

so we read our own words like they were written by a stranger

who has so erroneously attempted to put our own thoughts to words.


This is why the perception of a poet is said to be governed by an entirely Other force:

our senses perceive the world as poetry, as it already is –

and while others would deign to call us creators,

to ourselves, we are merely observers; introspective anthropologists.


What kind of reasonable person would gladly suffer through the seizure of inspiration

which causes one to halt all daily activities no matter at which point,

and deny one rest until the cursed words were finally written,

to produce an end result which no one but its author truly understands?


It’s true that the tortured artist is highly romanticized today,

and so you may think I am performing an act in futility

by attempting, with irony, to explain the rationality

of those who cannot be explained.


On our part, it causes us to wonder, somewhat blasphemously, whether God,

in His determination to make us such unique and individual beings,

declined to consider that no soul would ever comprehend us to the point of total empathy-

thereby confining us to self-puzzling solitude.


And yet, somehow, the poetry of others means more to us than it should;

those strange moments when words double as mirrors –

occasionally frozen into final portraits of ourselves and serving as reminders that

somewhere on the planet, at some point in time, someone who never knew us understood us.


The purpose of being poets is to remind the world

how impossible it is for our words to be applicable only to one person;

for we strengthen the interconnectedness of humankind

and generations of people see themselves through our fabrications at unpredictable times.


I am not, I agree, a poet,

as every word out of a poet’s pen leaks with fabulous elegance and music.

As we deny but consistently conform to the world’s stereotypes of our kind,

we can only hope that the good traits and not the destructive ones follow us to our graves.



My Thoughts: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven


After finishing this book, I am distraught. And highly upset. My review could end here.

But it won’t.

Wow, what a beautiful book. What beautiful writing. Maybe I am biased because I am an absolute sucker for American YA fiction but I don’t care. I have met yet another character, by name of Theodore Finch, who has made a room for himself in my heart and moved in comfortably without my permission. What can I say about him? He’s the hottest male YA character since Augustus Waters. Even crazier. And I love, love crazy.

When @Chelsea_AO entered my Whatsapp to tell me to read this book, alarms went off immediately – because her recommendation was accompanied by smiley faces as well as a broken-heart emoji. The alarms only rang louder when I went on Goodreads to find a synopsis that called it a cross between The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) and Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell). Neither of these books ended well, in my opinion. The alarms in my head became earth-shattering when I caught the gist of the book and its characters: suicidal teens. And what did I do? I went ahead and read it anyway.

To tell you the truth, this book was the most exhilarating book I have read in a very long time. Quite a paradox to be affected so positively by a book about suicidal teens. And I know it is because I read it partially through one of the most exhilarating characters in my memory, possibly ever: Theodore Finch.

The story is told through alternating perspectives of 2 characters: Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. Jennifer Niven possibly did an even better job of thoroughly being both characters than Veronica Roth did with Allegiant. Nevertheless, for reasons that I think should be obvious when you read the book, it is Finch that hooked me and dragged me down with him into the depths of his very-far-from-normal mind.

What I liked a lot about how Jennifer Niven handled the issues of suicide, bereavement, guilt, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder is how she was so intimate with the way characters dealt with them, but more importantly, descriptive, not prescriptive. Or rather, shall I say descriptive before prescriptive. This is important because it is not sensible for the world to jump into trying to solve things they don’t understand. (Even if sometimes, understanding something could mean getting rid of the delusion that you understand it.)

I have to say that as ridiculously exciting as reading Finch was, it was also creepily eerie, the way he poured out suicide facts and quotes as casually as if he was describing ingredients of his favorite recipes – how suicide attempts were frequent and nearly mindless, and the battle between wanting to live versus being hauled in the opposite direction by his own brain. I have probably never read a character so dangerous. (Okay, dangerous to himself. As for dangerous to other people, Drake Merwin of Michael Grant’s Gone series takes the cake. Voldemort is not evil next to that boy.)

I love reading things that make me want to read more things! And All the Bright Places definitely made me want to read about, and the works of, Virginia Woolf. And I cannot deny the very present allusion to Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar. I haven’t read it yet, but The Bell Jar is definitely moving upwards in my “to read next” list. Plath and Woolf. Some of the world’s most famous literature suicides. What a book All the Bright Places was, honestly.

Yes, of course I want people to read this book. But not without knowing that if your heart and mind are not prepared, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

Quotes I liked from actual authors, which I learned through this book:

“Writing is so difficult that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.” – Jessamyn West


“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?” – Virginia Woolf



Evacuation OA

I am not an exciting person. But perhaps exciting things happen to me. Or around me. Which is great, because I can write about them.

As part of its first year orientation program, Pomona College organizes these trips – more often than not, camping trips – divides the freshmen into various groups of their choice (but sometimes not) and sends them off for 4 days. It’s called Orientation Adventure (OA).

I happened to be part of the River OA this year, along with more or less 30 other people. Our 5 total leaders were also (older) students; no faculty involved. The plan was to camp at the banks of the Kern River. We’d spend one of the days rafting, another day paddle-boarding and doing community service, and another day rock-climbing. (In actuality, we climbed a wall, not a rock.)

Photo courtesy of Brittany Chen. See me in the back with the shades on? 🙂

Let me tell you something, okay? We left like 4 days after I arrived in America, and I was freaking jetlagged for the first few days, waking up between 3am and 4am.  Just when I was adjusting to the schedule and beginning to wake up at 7, I was told that the bus for my OA was supposed to leave at 4am…so I better wake up at 3am to make the bus. Go figure. The trip was 3 hours long, though, so it made sense.

Rafting was super fun, though. And in the middle of it, we jumped off a very tall rock and it was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

Photo courtesy of Brittany Chen. Behold, the climbing wall

Note: When I first arrived in California, a family friend who came to pick my mum and I up from the airport told us, on the drive back to her house, that forest fires were a regular occurrence, that they could get pretty bad, and that one had broken out recently. I didn’t see any way how this could have directly affected me, but this world is full of the most amazing surprises.

Our OA leaders told us that the people at Pomona’s Outdoor Education Centre (with whom they were in contact), had told them that the forest fire was spreading away from us. Never mind the fact that it was still spreading. But I, in my fantastic hopeful pessimism, after a fun day of rafting and jumping off a very high rock, was repeating, by the end of the day to my new friends, Brittany, Karla and Devin, the sentence: “I hope we get evacuated!” Of course, at the time, it didn’t seem likely, given that we still believed (the lie) that the fire was going in the opposite direction from us.

Before I continue with the fire saga, there is one thing I believe to be more than worthy of mention. If you say these two words to anyone who went on River OA, the chances are they might break into either a smile or a laugh: “Peach Cobbler.”

Some people, like me, did not know what this food was, beyond its name, and had never tasted it. I am quite sad (not really) to say that we did not have the best first experience of what I am sure must be a delicacy, when prepared the way it’s meant to be prepared, with adequate resources. We did not have adequate resources. What we did have was a small Dutch oven, an inadequate number of fire coals, and a handbook with very shady instructions. Long story short, something that was supposed to take 40 minutes to make took 2 hours. And it came out spectacularly, such that the “peach cobbler” in truth had very few peaches (we thought we had only 4 cans of peaches and used what we had. Well after we’d emptied its contents into the tiny oven, some resourceful person happened to find more peach cans – but by then, it was too late), some parts large clumps of butter, and other parts large clumps of flour. Shout-out to master chef and OA leader, Adam! J That day was not your day, but I’d love to try making peach cobbler with you in an actual kitchen.

Back to the fire chronicles. The next day, after I’d gone through a morning of rock-climbing (read: wall climbing) and taken a trip to the river-beach, I decided to take a nap. I can’t remember how long I was asleep for, but I woke up and there was smoke everywhere. The sky was turning gray at like 3pm, and the sun had itself hidden behind clouds of smoke. It was absolutely fascinating. About an hour later, we saw a beautiful blazing sunset just on the horizon beyond the mountains. But it was 4pm. And then we saw the sun…somewhere else. That “sunset” was a freaking fire that was so clearly not moving away from us.

Eventually, we had to make dinner. Out in the open, of course, because it’s a camping trip, and we had nowhere else to be. There noor, ash started falling from the skies, into our hair, clothes and food. Did we still eat it? Heck yes.

So by this time, our OA leaders had realized that there was a problem that needed to be solved; they called Pomona and then they sent a bus for us. As we were packing up our tents and bags, a few of us suddenly noticed deer running in the opposite direction of the mountains. I made a comment about how, whenever you see wildlife fleeing, it’s probably wise to flee too. Someone told me I probably shouldn’t have pointed that out, out loud. LOL

Photo courtesy of Brittany Chen. Don’t we look super cool wearing masks because our lives and lungs are in danger? 🙂

So yeah, we were evacuated. The only OA group that was evacuated. And we ended up reaching Pomona at 1:30am. To compensate for having a half-trip, we had a pool day, movie night, and an entire day of riding roller coasters at Knotts Berry Farm nearby.

Needless to say, my OA was the best (and most adventurous) OA.



A Message to Myself in College

I know that the thing you fear most is a repetition of the last few years – the ones you call and truly believe were the absolute worst years of your life. That time, it seemed to have started out great. That’s what made it all the more painful, I suppose, when it all came down in shambles. This time, it seems to have started off on a less energetic, less optimistic, but still good note. Perhaps your lack of hope and enthusiasm in your defense mechanism. To fall in love with life again scares you, because then it has the power to break your heart yet again.

I need you to remember that you are a bad actress. Please do not try to pretend. Please do not try to pretend you aren’t horrible at pretending. Honesty. Honesty. Honesty. Live by it. When you feel happy, do not pretend melancholy. When you crave solitude, take it; do not lead people on by making them believe you are enjoying their company. Explain that the problem is not inherently them, without offense. However, when people insist on offending themselves because they are unable or refuse to understand you, do not harbor guilt over it.

Breathe, every single moment of every single day. You used to alternate between hyperventilation and suffocation. Now, be free. Be comfortable Be alive. Thrive in whichever way is best for you at that moment. Do not feel obligated to speak when you have nothing to say. Do not laugh at the things you do not find funny. When speech is necessary, leave nothing unsaid. Do not try inserting yourself forcefully in pictures you don’t belong in; someone will retain a copy of you, a square peg, begging to be granted entry into a round hole.

Do not strive for strangeness. Aim for authenticity and make sure you strike it in the bullseye. There will be people who find you weird. Make no attempt to prove them wrong or right. There will be people weirder than you. Make no attempt to normalize yourself, nor to outdo them. If ever you find yourself beginning to compare, take a step out of your body. Draw a circle around your spirit. Drag your body into it. Take heart in the isolation and renew your mind. Commune with God. Remind yourself it is not a race.

It is not your only goal in life to be the best. Not in class, not in elections, not in likeability, not anywhere else. If ever you are the best in any situation, refuse to dwell on this fact. Being the worst is never the end of the world. As much as possible though, try not to aim for either. Instead, try to learn from every situation.

Let relationships happen naturally. The more you pretend and force, the harder it becomes to find the people you are actually meant to be with. While keeping an open mind and heart, realize that sometimes the people you are meant to be with may never arrive because you may be meant to be alone. And if by now you do not know how to be alone, I worry for you.

Allow yourself the license to change. To rest yourself in the person you are now leaves no room for improvement. And you, you may acquire new flaws along the way, but you may also lose old ones. You will gain knowledge. It is as impossible for you to become stupider, as it is by definition impossible for anyone to “grow” smaller. Take every paradox with a grain of salt, including the one(s) in the previous sentence. Acknowledge their unique power to be both true and false.

I hope I will never have to remind you about this, but: create. In any form. You live, therefore you create. You were created, therefore you are art, therefore, make art. You can’t stop writing; people will die – and “people” here could be anyone, be fictional, be you.