by Valentina Quiñonez


My life is not an easy one for just anyone to live. This is not just me grasping for attention; the same thing can be said about anyone else’s life. Each human has their struggles and hardships unique to themselves that should anyone that is not them try to conquer, they will fail. Our lives are meant for ourselves and ourselves alone. We can handle our problems because our lives train us to handle them by giving us personalities, like how one handles a bully—a problem solved by personality.

        But I digress. I write today because my difficult life dawns on me in waves. Let me try to explain. Sometimes when I lie down I pause and reflect on the things that I’ve done, or the things that I must soon do. And some nights, when I think, I feel the old beast of my anxiety grab hold. The pit in the stomach, the rabbit’s racing heart, the chill and the heat all at once. The mind just spins and spins and there is no control. You’re at the mercy of yourself. Sucks to be you when that happens. (And this is only my minor case).

        But on the nights that I don’t reflect, on nights like the other week when I was sick and I took some Nyquil and passed the hickity heck out, and in the days after when I act without having thought about what I’m doing, that’s when I feel nothing. That’s when I face writer’s block, too. That’s when I accept the vapid nature of my English curriculum and question nothing. But by George Lucas I do not suffer.

        And I pause to think today, I’m thinking right now in real time as I vomit these gross words for you to take the time out of your busy day to read (thank you for your time), that I lose so much without pain. That it’s because I’ve stopped thinking and just kept doing, just kept going, that lately I’ve been so miserable! Sure in the past month I have spoken in front of large crowds and sure I headed a crew for a musical and sure that’s all well and good. I did so much but I haven’t grown as a person at all.

Yes, I got everyone dressed on time for the show. But before my show, a friend and I had been talking backstage when out of nowhere this other guy comes up and gets in my face and talks about, well, not family-friendly content. Specifics don’t matter. But make me very uncomfortable it sure did. My friend did nothing. I, already in pre-show-hyper-stress-mode, simply froze. But I was numb. In my nerves I did not think. Into a submissive, give-up silence I did shrink. And I never told either of them off. Never thought to. If I had been thinking, I would have felt the betrayal of my friend. I would have corrected the harassment of the actor. But I did neither, and for my unfeeling the world turns on, ugly.

And then there was the speech. I’ve always been able to talk before a crowd. It’s just another day at the office for me. When I gave this speech, naturally I did not think about the thirty unique pairs of eyes attached to thirty unique personalities watching me. I did not realize that my words would stick in their ears–never even thought about the fact that people were willingly listening to my opinion. And in the end all I could do was scold myself for one tongue-tie. Chastise myself for getting mere third. When if I had paused, if I had thought about what was going on, that I held a room with my mere words, I would have grown so much. Yes, I would have been afraid, but I would have also been in awe of myself instead of hating myself for little nuances. Fear and awe are raw emotions that make humans, well, human. But I was a machine for speaking instead of a person feeling those things that should go along with speaking. I was so jaded. I was so mechanical.

       I’m not trying to say stop doing those wonderful things. I’m saying that for all those times where I could’ve been growing and feeling and being human I stifled it all out of fear. And I also think that I’m not the only one who does this. (Perhaps this is why Trump is so popular now). Yes, anxiety is awful, and facing your own mind and your own thoughts and reflections is one of the hardest things to do as a human. Some one in thirteen people around the world have to deal with the ugly beast daily. I feel for them in the heart of my heart. But it is far more important to be your own person than to move along, simply doing, in fear of yourself. Mindless work en masse is the stuff of dystopian pulp fiction. Feeling changes everything. It changes you, and in turn you change the world. Overcoming your fear will set you free. Free from hiding, free to change your life, free to do good and be good in turn.

Suppression is not the answer. Face yourself, as no one can live the life that you have. It is yours and yours alone. And I hope that you will embrace that with every fiber of your being.