You wake up, another year has gone, you’re twenty-one. You sit up in the darkness of the morning light that has yet to come, stretch bone and muscle and every doggone-tired limb in your body, wondering if you can stretch far enough that your soul will complain. You look around, blinking, remarking how much you have been sitting in darkness for the past three hundred and sixty-five days. You blink and forget to open your eyes, refuse to open them because it’s become comfortable to stay in this prison of fear you have built up in the cavities of your rib cage. You blink and sigh because you’re so, so tired.
You have been sitting in the dark for far too long. Give it a month or two, you said. You lose yourself in the what-ifs and plot lines of commercial fiction, consuming every bit of reality they had to offer in episode-sized emotional pieces. You read about what you could be, you write about what you want to be, but at the end of the day the sun sets and the moon rises and you are left in the dark with scenes dancing behind your eyelids of a hundred different people in a thousand, a million, an infinite number of possibilities. You wonder if you can have them too. Then you open the next book, watch the next movies. You are still sitting in the dark.
You want to scream, but the darkness has robbed you of your voice, your words. You don’t know how to scream for help, only throw your fists and glare at the world, challenging what may be the only allies you may have left.
The things you asked yourself since you graduated were a constant presence, growing three heads and poisoned-tip tails that stab at your heart with all your doubts and insecurities. They grew claws and clung to your heart, the guardians to the prison of the fear they have made a playground of, in the cavities in between the bars of your rib cage. You sit in the dark, not really quite alone but very, very lonely.
You welcomed the darkness, the alone-ness, reason that this was not quite the same thing as loneliness. You are still sitting in the dark. You watch movies seated in the middle of a nearly empty theater alone, you watch movies with people all around you and you are still sitting in the dark. You read books alone, you write alone. You are still sitting in the dark. You can’t find the light switch. You look for it. You are crawling around in the dark, fumbling at the floor. Your glasses get knocked off your face. You are still in the dark.
You are so tired.
You are so, so tired.
You blink. You stretch and wonder if your soul feels every pop of joint, every inhale and exhale, the way the blood rushes through your veins. Remember how you spent half of the year sitting in the darkness and the other half trying to crawl your way out. Step by step. More than a roller coaster, the year felt more like an Anchors Away, the lurch of the next failure just waiting to sucker-punch you in the stomach, knock the air out of your lungs. Let your heart free-fall and shatter to the ground. You experience the rush of light and the euphoria of life before you are greeted, once again, by darkness.
You wake up.
Another year has gone.
You don’t feel any different. You’re still the same person. But then, you are not.
I am not the same person as I was five seconds ago, nor was I the same person a sentence, ten words and a punctuation mark ago. We are all constantly changing—in the blink of an eye, the birth and death of stars millions of light years away. I am not who I used to be. I am not the person I thought I would already be—but I hope I am the person who is making her way in a road that would take her to be the person she wants to become. I am the person who knows the road is not easy, but the journey and the destination will make up for whatever flat tires and potholes I encounter.
I am still the girl with the hazy vision, the girl with eyes that squint in the dark and blink away the light. The girl with the hands that bleed if she holds on too tight. The girl with nothing to hold on to but the peeling skin of her palms and the half-moons her fingernails leave behind as a reminder that she is stuck between waxing and waning. The girl who is tired of the constant burden that her insecurities had become, finding purchase on that bittersweet spot right between her shoulder blades. The girl who dislikes looking at mirrors but likes catching her reflection while walking, to catch a moment of her existence unawares and keep it for later when the time comes that she can barely keep her joints from protesting against every move she tries to make.
I am still the girl with the penchant for melancholy and melodrama, the girl with the weird faces and uncontrollable laughter. The romantic cynical girl who does not know how to deal with people in general but keeps a picture of a tarot card reading about her possible love life next to pictures of her favorite group and the delivery numbers of different fast food chains tacked onto a cork board. The girl with the annoyingly tiny handwriting and sometimes big words and oftentimes confusing trains of thought, too big for her hands and her head and heart, so she lets them spill onto paper, explode into speech, than let them implode and expire at the back of her throat and at the tip of her tongue. She tears out the words from the Azkaban that fear and self-doubt has made of the bones of her rib cage, scared that if she doesn't do so she would end up as a routine adult who lives for the sake of existing.
But I am still also the girl who faces the world with open palms. Bleeding as they may be, they are open to catch the words that the world throws at me. I may have always had my head down, but I do so in constant search of the dandelions growing in between the cracks in the pavement. I have learned not to force the dandelions to be roses, because dandelions are flowers of their own kind as well. No one can be groomed to be something we are not.
We can all be thorned, or be a weed in someone else’s life, but never believe that you are anything less precious than a flower. We are all ephemeral, a fleeting existence in this universe, but all of us possess the beauty of life and the ability to make someone else realize that with us.
I would like to see myself as a wild flower bush—relatively unknown but uniquely a flower all the same, untamed but for the dictates of nature, beautiful in its own right without forgetting how both roses and dandelions are equally important and beautiful.
You wake up. Another year has gone, and now you’re twenty-one.
I am the girl who sat in darkness, now reaching towards the dusty but still very present light switch.
I want to be the girl who exists for the sake of living. I want to be the gentle wish behind every single paper crane. I want to grow out of the plant boxes that society had so often stereotyped people of my generation to be. I want to be the flower that despite its bent and imperfect stem still has its face seeking the sunlight it so truly deserved.
I want to constantly hold on to the idea of dawn.
The night is ending, and the sun has begun to peek through the curtains that the clouds and the stars and the moon has made over its face. I blink, and stretch, and marvel how I am both different and the same.
The words I hold in my hands are still too big for me. There are still a lot of things to life I have yet to experience outside the safe fiction of books and film and TV. I still have a lot to learn.
But now I have learned that I do not have to do everything in darkness. There is no person that is not necessary, is not important, because all life is woven together and connected by invisible dots and strings. One person’s darkness can be another person’s darkness as well. It’s the matter of finding the way out of the tunnel, finding the light switch, in all the same and different ways.
The moments of doubt will always come. But I have to remember that I can hold on to other things than just my notebooks with words bursting from its seams or the skin peeling from my palms. There are people willing to hold my scarred hands, wrap them and let them heal, accept the words and carry them with me when they become too heavy for me to handle. People willing to shine a light into my darkness and help me find my way.
Life is not always the dead of night. It can be twilight, sunset, the fading rainbow after a summer shower. The darkness I have been sitting in only tells of the coming crack of dawn. The first light and colors of the day will come and greet my darkness like an old friend, as they are, and I can only imagine what their conversations would sound like. Maybe the crack of dawn will say to the dead of night that it can finally bury it corpses, finally, finally lay its head to rest in its arms. Maybe the crack of dawn can show the dead of night that it does not always need to be nightmares, and dreams could have more colors than pitch black and stormy shades of gray.
I blink, smile at the messages of the people who were willing to sit with me through my darkness and greet the first light of day with me as the day changed, from the seventh to the eighth day of the fifth month of the year.
You wake up. Another year has gone. You’re twenty-one.
I hope you remember that you are allowed to be alone, but never for a moment think that you are lonely. Your darkness can fade—just always remember to turn on the light. If you can’t find your way to the switch, let the people you love and people who love you light candles until you find that switch, because turning on that switch is something only you can do. Life is a roller coaster, times where you want to laugh and times you feel like crying bunched up into the time you had on your ticket. Darkness and light coexist to prove the other’s existence, and remember you exist to find your way through that maze. There’s no person that does not get lost or make mistakes, and the best we can do is enjoy the ride.
You wake up.
Another year has gone.
You are both different and the same.
Time does fly when you’re having fun.