2020 has been tumultuous; marked by a global pandemic and many polarizing ideas, the year has been airless — yet personally liberating. I graduated high school and started university during what feels like the most uncertain time in my generation. Living during this great unknown has made me question myself to great lengths: what does love look like in the midst of darkness?
This is a personal journal entry written after my first two weeks of freshman year in university. As much as it is me expressing my existential confusion about love, I hope it helps others through this challenging time. Love is not singular or linear, but complex and bewildering — embrace it.
The powder-blue sky had spray paint streaks of white. What twinkled in the sky was a full moon. She lit the city like her partner, but he was not awake. He liked to take his time. He liked to circle the room and say his final goodbyes before leaving. But make no mistake—his presence would be known, forcing the city out of its slumber. However, I was already awake and aware.
Ribbons of strawberry sorbet swirled into the periwinkle atmosphere as the moon began to fade. I saw this masterpiece from my dorm room. I was new to the city, so I was slightly on edge. I grew up near Washington D.C. so I knew the core of city life; its piercing eyes fixed on the clumsy by observing every misstep and mistake. America’s capital carves humans into carbon steel swords, ready to slice and sharpen the imperfect. What many watched on their televisions, others lived: the politically-driven scrutiny, scandal and satire was intense. Such brisk winds will whip you into shape. The weak walk in the opposite direction and the senseless crash against the current.
Now I live in Atlanta — would it be the same? I moved here for college, where everyone seems to find themselves. It’s where everyone experiments with the wonders of life. After four long years of secondary school, the late-night parties and early classes of university felt like the exciting prize. Yet due to COVID-19, what was supposed to be the best time of our lives turned into an anticlimactic flick; the social threads that weave the fabric of college have been gutted. Transformed into less appealing activities, the traditions that make college glittery and shiny now look different. It’s lost its lustre.
What I thought university would be is not what it is. I feel like I’m in purgatory and falling into a place I don’t want to be. The fall is slow and treacherous. I wish it weren’t. If I’m going to lose my innocence, I’d rather lose it in one swift motion like a guillotine. Instead, pieces of tethered nerve remain attached to an outdated version of myself — the version that chooses pragmatism over possibility, fact over faith and reality over romance. The illusions within this mix-up have built me, but no longer serve me. For a long time I clung onto the labels projected onto me; I dreamt the dreams of others. Carefully, I clutched onto words that were all but my own. What am I to do with this? I wanted adulthood, independence and autonomy but not like this; not if it means breathing in confusion and questioning myself.
But maybe poking, dialing and tuning is the point of being — constantly reinventing the wheel and seeing what works. Truthfully, my moment of doubt was a moment of fear; I was scared to let go of my preconceived notions. Those ideas and illusions wrapped me like a warm blanket. My world of insanity — repeating the same habits and expecting different results — blocked my curiosity. However, curiosity is the essence of life. It is what brings love and gratitude by creating an appreciation for the otherwise unknown. Love is the glitch in the matrix.
Love brings me solace and peace. It is a nuanced feeling. Love looks like my friends and I dancing to an obscure section of a song. Sometimes, love is acknowledging what is uncomfortable then growing from it. I left my home-cooked meals, family and comfort for these minute moments of meaning. These moments are like glimmers of sunlight in a well forested land; it requires no explanation, because it innately warms the heart and feeds the soul. These moments reflect joy and the joy within me. It reminds me that sometimes we leave in search of something — only to find ourselves. Although life isn’t what I imagined it would be, measures of love remind me of who I am.