Yeah, me too.

Have you ever looked down and noticed a loose thread? You decided it would be wise to pull and so you did. But as you pulled, the weight of your decision grew in the pit of your stomach because everything was unraveling and there was no way to undo it. The loose thread was loose no more and all you had was a clump of yarn to justify your decision.

 

 

au revoir

26 minutes ago, I finished my last final. It wasn’t like my first year of college when I walked (or possibly even strutted) out with a giant grin and plopped down on the grass. I trudged out of the building, bid adieu to my horrendous 8 o’clock class, and returned my textbooks. There was no relief, satisfaction, or sense of achievement.

I just wanted to go home.

But before I leave, I’ll share a few (or a dozen) lessons learned this semester.

  1. Spending time by yourself can recharge you, but loneliness will drain you.
  2. Sometimes, your friends might be too busy to stop and check up on you so do it yourself.
  3. But don’t turn them away either.
  4. There’s such a thing as “soul sadness.”
  5. As often as you critique yourself, do you ever take the time to appreciate yourself?
  6. You can’t always be in control.
  7. Mourn the loss of magical mochas.
  8. Cancer is scary.
  9. Always take out your laptop when going through security at the airport or else the cranky TSA people will bark at you.
  10. I’m sure your mom loves you, but calling her three times in a single day while walking somewhere is excessive.
  11. Shout out to moms who we can always count on to pick up the phone.
  12. Respond to texts as soon as possible. In other words, it’s not cool to ignore your phone for days at a time.
  13. When someone asks “how are you?” it’s okay to say more than “fine,” but don’t consider it an impromptu therapy session.
  14. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness.
  15. It gets better.

Dear professor of POLI 490:

I am shaking with anger and frustration right now. I cannot believe what just happened. Five minutes ago, I walked out of class because my professor blatantly disregarded my friend’s opinion.

Insaaf spoke brilliantly and eloquently about how white people need to show up because people of color and other oppressed groups in the US are tired of not only meeting them halfway, but getting down on their knees and practically begging for acknowledgement, awareness, and basic human dignity. She said it perfectly and in response, my professor immediately turned to the student who had spoken before, a white male, and asked something along the line of, “so what were you saying?”

The professor disregarded what her student had to say. She ignored her. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever. I didn’t expect her to agree, but I did expect some kind of response to show that she was listening.

It took Insaaf courage to speak up like that. She was not obliged to speak up. But she did and I am so proud of what she said. I wish I backed her up. I wish I called the professor out. But I didn’t.

And I will own up to that. I had the capacity to (as Insaaf puts it) be a disruption, but all I did was gather up my belongings and leave the space. I escaped.

I’m sorry.

Insaaf, I hope I can become braver like you. And professor-whose-name-I-will-leave-out, I hope I never become like you.

Sincerely,

The disgruntled student in the bright fluorescent jacket

 

Dear white girl in my POLI 490 class:

Yesterday in my “Immigration and the 2016 Election” class, the professor asked “Why do [non-US born] mothers want to give birth in the US?”

A girl raised her hand and nonchalantly answered, “because they’re essentially like a meal ticket for them.”

I felt my ears burning, but I didn’t turn around to face her nor did I speak up. I sat there silently fuming. No one responded and the discussion continued. Her comment was forgotten.

But I remember it and cannot forget it.

She compared my existence to a meal ticket. She dehumanized my mother into a gold-digger as if the US were her wealthy husband.

If only she knew that my mother never struck gold. Rather, she spent over thirty years digging and digging until she found herself in her own shallow grave. Unemployed, bankrupt, debt-ridden, and just a high school graduate, my mother was powerless.

 

The births of my sister and me did not grant her food in her mouth, clothes on her back, or a roof over her house. The births of my sister and me granted her an unbreakable vow to always place the needs of her children over herself. Our existence did not improve her life.

Our existence caused her to dig even harder. She worked tirelessly and missed out on our childhoods because she foolishly believed that the American dream could be found if she just worked hard enough.

She dug and dug with the earnest hope that a glimmer of gold would appear, but it never did.

So in the end, she laid down the shovel and kneeled on the floor. She folded herself like an acrobat until she became a foot stool. Her back became the first step out of the grave. She was no ladder, but she had faith that even a tiny boost could propel us to the top.

My mother did not conceive us with the hope of exploiting us. We are not her meal tickets. We are her precious gold and you can’t take that away from us.

 

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When I was home for fall break, I slept over at my aunt’s place with my mom. It had been a while since we shared a bed, but it didn’t feel strange. In fact, I was reminded of when I was a child.

She would tuck me in and then lie next to me. I remember dutifully repeating our home phone and address. I didn’t know why I had to recite these numbers and letters, but I did it without asking. Then the time would come for me to close my eyes and fall asleep. I would grab her hand and hold on for dear life. I always had the same wish, “stay with me through the night.”

But every morning, I woke up to an empty bed.

Gradually, she stopped tucking me in. As she worked later and later into the night, I would tuck myself in.

So when we were lying side by side for the first time in a long time, I couldn’t help but cry. I had to turn away from her so she wouldn’t see because I couldn’t stop.

It hurt to realize that we don’t live together anymore

to know that this is probably the last time we’re so physically close to each other

to know that no matter how tightly I held on to her, she would leave.

I wasn’t surprised when I woke up to an empty bed, but my heavy heart skipped a beat when I heard her voice in the next room.

That’s probably the last time I’ll wake up to her voice too.

I wish you never let go of my hand, but stayed by my side the whole night. I wish you were there for the nightmares and when I woke up screaming. I wish you were here to stroke my hair and to tell me a story about how a tiger was knocking on the door…

 

 

 

 

Scared

Today I discovered the feeling wheel and something clicked inside of me. As my advisor traced her finger from overwhelmed to anxious to scared, I began to understand. I almost cried right there and then because all I could think was “I’m scared and I don’t know why. I’m scared and I want to be comforted. But I don’t know why.”

I may not know who, why, or what I am scared of, but at least I know

I am scared

I am anxious.

I am overwhelmed.

And my feelings are valid and real and heavy to carry and easy to tuck away.

Tomorrow I pray to God that I am one step closer towards the opposite feeling of overwhelmed– relaxed, content, peaceful

Where is my peace?

Afterwards

“I miss you” is hard to say because you have to admit two things.

  1. You are important enough to me that I feel your absence.
  2. You make me feel whole when you’re present.

I don’t like to say “I miss you” because I become vulnerable. I have to admit how important you are to me. You learn that I care about you.

And that’s terrifying because what if you don’t feel the same way? It’s just me missing you and my absence goes unnoticed because my presence was never noted.

When anxiety creeps up on me, I hide. I avoid it. I withdraw. I run away into myself. I become this empty shell and it takes me a while to return…

I don’t know if I want to come back anymore.