The Cycle

Alarm goes off. I open my eyes to find my phone and shut it off, but I was awake. Groggy, head throbbing, eyes pursed shut…but awake.

I didn’t die in my sleep, so here we go again.

I get up. Go to the bathroom. Rub the crap out of my eyes. Get ready.

I’d thought myself to sleep again. It’s a lot like crying yourself to sleep, but instead, no tears. I’ve been here before.

Whoever came up with the saying “sleep it off” never had a mind like this. Lucky bastard.

I was thinking about me. Selfish, I know. That’s my problem, really. I am selfish. I’m horrible, thoughtless, rude, hurtful, vain, and rotten. I’m disgusting. There is not a thing about me that’s redeemable.

And the cycle continues. It didn’t stop with sleep. I walk out the door with the headache caused by being in the ring with my worst enemy- me.

The worst part about me? I do this to myself. I think these things about me, and the things I think make me miserable, and then I realize that the things I think make me miserable, and I hate myself for making me miserable, so I think about how awful a bully I am, so I get miserable thinking about how I’m terrible, and…

It doesn’t have an end or beginning, see? That’s what I mean when I say it’s a cycle.

You know those washing machines that don’t let you open the door once the cycle’s running? The ones you have to unplug to stop so you can save your idiot kid that climbed in? That’s my brain. I’m the idiot kid trapped in the washing machine that you can’t open.

The intense self-loathing and bitterness I feel for ME is in and of itself a problem, but it festers among ALL of my thoughts. The hideous thought crimes I commit and measure myself against. The judgments of others and cruelties I hold deep within my heart that I dare not share with others.

It’s worse than that…

I push the people who love me away and create barriers around me to stop them from getting close. I can feel the bomb in my chest ticking away, ready to hurt them.

No. That’s not why you do this.

Shut up.

Here it goes again.

You push them away so they abandon you.


When they abandon you, your misery is justified. They hate you. They think you’re awful. And you are.

God damn it stop.

And when they see your cries for help? When they reach out and tell you they love you? They’re lying. They’re just obligated to do that.

Fuck you.

But doesn’t their pity feel good? Doesn’t it bring you pleasure to know that people care?

Shut up.

No one can do anything. You’re creating the perfect storm so that you can do the unthinkable.

You’re sick.

I know…

And so on. And so forth.

The hours drag on in the day. I may move and breathe, but I stew in the cycle. The thoughts swell and wash over me. Again and again and again… It’s never over.

So do it.


The unthinkable. What’s the point of it all if this is all there is?

There is no point.


Why forgive you?


You’re unstoppable. You are an inescapable facet of myself. You are horrible, disgusting, rotten, selfish, and vain. You are all the things I hate. You’re a bully who I can’t forgive. And I have no reason to.

Because people love me? Fuck that. Because there are good things about me? Not how I see it. Because everyone deserves a chance to live? Not me. I have no reason to forgive you.


But what reason do I have not to?

I don’t understand.

Exactly. Why shouldn’t I forgive you? What logical reason do I have to hold this grudge? To hate you with the same hatred you hate me?


There is no logic. You don’t stop existing just because I let it go or forgive you. You don’t disappear when I suddenly decide to get help. You don’t die. Even if I kill you, you’re still me. You still happened. You are a part of my history, the legacy that I’d leave behind.

So I’ll be back.


I’ll get stronger.


You won’t be rid of me.

No. I won’t. That’s just the thing about cycles.

Just like sleep, if I died, I wouldn’t be done with it. With you. There’s no beginning or end to the cycle. It feeds in on itself. Over and over and over again. My history will live on the eternal repeat of your cycle, shouting into the void that the misery you made persisted. Even if I’m gone, you will remain. Your viciousness, your hatred, your wretched stench…

Just because I’m no longer doesn’t mean you won’t BE.

And so I sleep. A timed pause in the cycle. I’ll wake up. And I’ll be here again. And again. And again. And again. It’s tiring. It doesn’t feel worthwhile. There is no point.

But the cycle isn’t all there is. There are days I’m happy. There are things I like. People I love. Things I want to do. The cycle doesn’t end or stop. There is no solution or perfect fix or cure. There’s just coping. There’s just help. There’s just the reminder that the pauses in the cycle are worthwhile not because that’s what makes life worth living or the empty platitudes that people tell me.

The pauses are worthwhile because they’re proof that it’s not EVERYTHING. The pauses remind me that this isn’t ALL there is. The good may not outweigh the bad, but it doesn’t mean the good isn’t there.

So one step forward where I can. Even if all I do is walk circles in the cycle.



It didn’t occur to me until halfway into last year that what I’d known as depression and anxiety for almost nine years could be something else. That they could actually be a symptom to something much more nuanced as opposed to an outright issue of their own.

I’ve always referred to my depressive episodes as cycles, to my anxiety as cyclical. It never retreats; it just circles about in a repetitive, almost predictable, pattern. It’s almost reliable.

The first time I ever experienced an anxiety attack, I was about five or six years old, faced with the first comprehension of mortality. I lay in bed after the death of someone I knew, thinking about how life ends and what that means for the soul. Overwhelmed by the thought of an afterlife, of an uncertain and abstract concept taught to me as “heaven” that my brain couldn’t wrap around, I couldn’t breathe. Everything felt like I was spiraling out control, and nothing could stop the noise in my mind as I tried to break the wave of questions and thoughts that screamed at me on loop.

These attacks became commonplace, and still are, even after coming to terms with my own atheism. Often times, I don’t sleep for hours because of uncontrollable and unrelenting “thought cycles.” As a kid, I would have to exert all of my energy into thinking of opposite topics in order to distract myself from the noise of the thing I didn’t want to think about. Whether it was the cause of my desire to be a writer or an inevitable outlet that became my coping mechanism, I can’t be sure, but the only thing I could distract myself with were the stories and characters I crafted in my head that I could make fare better in a dark world than I could myself.

But they don’t always work, and the more I relied on my stories, the more resistant my mind became. More often than not, the only real success would be crying myself into unconsciousness.

The truth is, I struggle to let go of the smallest of things. I hold grudges less out of bitterness and more out of my inability to stop running over the situations and words that hurt me into freshness as if they’d occurred merely hours ago. I can lose hours and days to something that happened twelve years ago.

Those who have argued with me in the past have pointed out how fixated I get on a turn of phrase or point I want to make, to where I become nothing but mindless repetition. It’s not intentional. It’s not meaningful. It’s obsession.

And it only occurred to me about half a year ago. It’s only ever talked about as perfectionism or hypochondria or germophobia… but in the midst of an oppressive episode, the thought occurred and made more sense to me than anything else I’d ever experienced.

I don’t have an official diagnosis… I’ve been too terrified of going back to a doctor for a long time. I’m afraid of being wrong, ashamed of this self-diagnosis by process of elimination, and overall just…scared of something different than what I’ve come to know. As much as I hate the cycles and waves of depression and anxiety that come and go, I can also take comfort in the reliability of a circle.

Tips to Not Undermine and Invalidate the Feelings of Another Person

(AKA: Tips on Not Doing What I’ve Had to Put up with All Week)

1. When a person complains to you, consider first the source of the complaint. For example, if they are talking about not being able to afford something, don’t instinctively assume that the desire for money is material in nature. Instead, question if lack of finances is actually a fear for lack of control or self-worth. Maybe it’s not about not getting to buy that PS4 but really about how their wealth reflects on their worth.

2. Never say it’s (going to be) okay. Of course it’s going to be okay. Of course they’re being irrational right now. They are experiencing feelings. Let them work it out emotionally before finding a solution to the problem. Consider feelings like a rollercoaster. It’s not safe to just jump off when it starts to speed up. Wait until the ride has ended before getting off and moving on.

3. In conjunction with number 2, do not normalize the situation and experience a person is complaining about. Telling a person in duress that everyone goes through this only causes the person to feel guilt for bringing attention to their experience. When someone is struggling in an uncomfortable situation and opening up to you about it, telling them that it’s okay because it’s a common experience distorts their perception of reality as they question whether their instincts are wrong.

4. Never assume that because you know what they’re going through that they should handle what they’re dealing with the same way you have. No two people are the same. Their individual reaction and following actions should not reflect yours. No matter how alike you are or how identical your feelings and situations may be, they are a different human being than you. Your solutions are not theirs. By suggesting they follow your footsteps, you neglect their personal identity and experience.

5. Just listen. It’s really, really not that hard. If you can’t think of something to say that would comfort them, let them know that you are listening with your body language or by simply saying so. Don’t feel like you have to say something right or encouraging or supportive. The words “I’m listening” and “I’m here with you” are enough to prevent the feeling of isolation. So just do that.

I Am Not My Mother

My mother is an admirable woman. My first inspiration, my first ever best friend. She is a constant in my life. The eternal confidant. The hardest worker I’ve ever known, the type of woman willing to sacrifice countless hours for the sake of another. She is selfless in her compassion, beautiful in her humility, and doting in the most important of ways. She taught me responsibility, and humanity, and love. She was, for the better part of my life, everything I wanted to be.

But I am not my mother.

The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is that phrase. Even though I could always say those words, knowing them very well to be true, there was an element of failure in the admittance. Was my mother not perfect? Was she not everything I should be? As a little girl, the thought of growing up to be just like her was a driving motivation, a valiant aspiration. But in holding onto that element of my childhood, I was holding myself back from growing up.

I say “is” that phrase because the thing is, I’m still learning it. It’s a constant struggle to accept those words. I am not my mother. I know that I’m not, yet somehow, in not being like her, I feel as if I am somehow something less.

I hold deep down an unhealthy idolization of my mother.

Growing up, I don’t remember a moment of my life where she was not working in some capacity. Helping out with the church or her parents, spending almost 50 hours a week at her job, cleaning the house, or raising my brother and me. It instilled in me my first value- always work at 110%.

She was the type of person who never let us see how tired she was. She did not cry in front of us for many, many years. As a child, it seemed as if she was the strongest person in the world. This instilled in me my second value- persevere.

These two things are critical to the building her up as the totem of my life. She seemed like a real superhero throughout every situation. If I wanted to be a good person, if I wanted to inspire people the way she inspired me, then I needed to emulate those critical details no matter the cost.

I’m willing to bet with just those two things, her faults are clear to anyone from an outside perspective, but it took my independence to realize that. There is this romantic nobility we seem to give to self-sacrifice, but we don’t often hear about the negative repercussions of it. Certainly not how it affects the child of a self-sacrificing parent.

Children already look up to their parents. It’s inevitable. At a young age, the parental figure is the only figure the child is dependent on. As they grow older, they start to shape perspective away from their dependency, but during their developmental period, children put all of their needs and faith into the figure that is meant to take care of them to survive. It’s instinct. It’s nature. So when a parent goes out of their way to continue to be that necessary figure in their child’s life, when they overextend themselves into something meant to be idolized… it distorts the perception of reality that the child is meant to develop independently.

I know. I’m being clinical. But it’s the only way I can produce the words that there is a fault in my idol. I literally cannot stomach giving her anything but credit. Blaming her, even indirectly, even allowing myself the room to say that it’s forgiven and human and not held against her, is a blasphemous act.

Yet, the more clinical I become, the more it appears as abuse. Perhaps in some form it is. But I’m digressing into territory that I’m not equipped for…

The only weakness my mother ever spoke of was her fear of public speaking. She confessed as I grew up that when she began working jobs that had her up in front of her superiors, she would be overcome with nausea and often vomit after meetings. The anxiety of speaking in front of a group was crippling.

But she “got over it.” And by got over it, I mean she was forced time and again out of her comfort zone until the anxiety became something she was numb to. She shared this with me in an attempt to encourage me that my anxieties and fear of people and crowds was something temporary.

As an adult, I can’t guarantee that her overcoming her fears is one-hundred percent fact. But as a child, this ability to “get over” something so debilitating only built her up more. I was “shy,” after all, and so was she, apparently. So the fact that she overcame something that felt so impossible to me at the time was near-godlike.

We always said that we were cut from the same cloth, my mother and I. Genetically speaking, quite literally, and it is biologically, too, as many of my health concerns are directly passed down from her. We both demonstrate the same anxieties and neuroses and habits, though there is the question of nature or nurture, as much of that could have very well been learned. But again- I’m being clinical.

Point being, my mother and I have always been under the impression that we are very similar people. But where the similarities end, it becomes very difficult to distinguish where either of us begin. I spent so much of my life attempting to emulate her that I never got to know myself. And I use that childish perception of her to measure my own character, my own success.

My mother can raise two children. I cannot.

My mother can work 50-hour weeks. I cannot.

My mother can sacrifice her feelings. I cannot.

“I cannot.” Why is it that I can hear those words from anyone else and assure them that it’s okay but not do the same for myself? Those words produce such a disconnect, such a dissonance to me. “I cannot.” I bear no grudges or ill will to those who struggle and use those words, but when I produce them, I am overwhelmed with the sight of my failure.

I know that I am not my mother. I don’t have any real desire to be, and I suppose… that’s the biggest sin of all.

On Toxic Relationships

Today I woke up from a message from someone who I have been actively trying to leave out of my life for twelve years. On top of everything else that’s been on my mind lately, this message was one that I really, really didn’t need to be dealing with, and unfortunately, no matter how much I fought it, it set the tone for the rest of my day. So in an attempt to sort out my thoughts and hopefully wake up to a tomorrow that I don’t contemplate dying within the first hour of opening my eyes, I’m going to share what’s been on my mind.

Twelve years ago, I broke up with my very first boyfriend after about half a year of what was a very toxic relationship. It’s funny how I’ve never had any problem expressing my disgust for my first relationship, openly calling it toxic, but admitting publicly what happened suddenly chokes me up. But there’s no denying what it was. He threatened to kill himself on multiple occasions as a means to keep me around, flirted openly with my friends and claimed it was my fault since I didn’t put out, and ultimately violated my right to my own body.

So I broke up with him. When I finally had enough time away from him during the summer vacation, I was able to perceive the situation clearly and get out before it got worse. I tried hard to remain friends, but the clarity of the prior relationship became a trigger. I could force a smile and call him my friend, but even if he grew up and changed, the damage was done. The memory of him made him a monster.

My therapist told me something that I’ve kept with me for the twelve years since. “You have the right to choose the people that stay in your life.” And I acted on that right. I cut him out. He fought hard to stay in my life, utilizing our mutual friends against me, telling me he watched me walk to my classes in school. So my family changed our phone numbers so that he couldn’t call us. I altered my normal paths to class when I could. I spent a year of high school in fear of being cornered with this person I couldn’t avoid.

When he graduated, I thought I had nothing to worry about. But every few years, I would receive a message from him in an attempt to apologize and rekindle our lost friendship. At first, I just told him no. But eventually, I just had to continue blocking the accounts he created to get in touch with me. Because it never stopped.

Last year, when Kyrstin died, his friend came to apologize to me for some stuff that he had done in high school at her memorial. I was livid. He told me he wanted closure. But here I was, mourning my best friend, who I had not seen in over a year and failed to say goodbye to. Where was my closure? I snapped. I told him to leave me alone because I was there for Kyrstin and no one else, and he had no right to accost me when that day was supposed to be about her. He apologized again later, but I didn’t offer him forgiveness. I was blunt in telling him that it didn’t matter. I may understand, but I didn’t appreciate it.

And my ex was there, too. I spent my best friend’s memorial on edge in turmoil, between grief and fear, jumping at any single person who tried to offer me condolences. His friend’s failure to speak with me was enough example, though, to keep him away. And I thought that was enough to maybe be the end of this nonsense.

It was not. A year later, I wake up to a message on instagram from him as he once again tries to make amends. And he had the audacity to bring up Kyrstin. And so I have spent all day angry and frustrated and grieving all over again.

There’s so much on my mind. There’s a small voice wondering if I’m being irrational. After twelve years, of course this person is different. After all, I’m not the same person I was then. The person he dated was a meek little Christian girl who was incapable of thinking for herself.

There’s another voice reminding me that my perception of that relationship is skewed by time and emotional, unhealthy co-dependence that I was experiencing at the time. My perspective and my memories are now biased and distorted.

But then there’s that other voice. “You have the right to choose the people that stay in your life.” And no matter how much I may want to be adult, or rational, or mature… that doesn’t change that fact.

Because the memories of that person made him a monster. And I have the right to my safety. While that person is no longer the person of my memories, the memories are still what they are. And if those memories make me uncomfortable or unsafe, if his presence causes those memories to surface in my mind and overwhelm me, then I have the right to choose that he not be in my life anymore.

I guess… what I want to say is, for those who find themselves in toxic relationships… you have that same right. You are not obligated to anyone but yourself. At the end of the day, you and your mind and your body are what you will take with you to the grave. Do right by you and you alone. Your peace of mind is your responsibility, and if letting go of people is what gives you that, you absolutely have that right.

And to those seeking forgiveness and closure for wrongdoings in your past. To Larry. And those like you. Sometimes, we don’t get closure. Sometimes, people die in your life and you don’t get to say goodbye. Sometimes, you aren’t forgiven. Sometimes, not being forgiven isn’t your fault. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time and needing to accept that your sins are your own, and the only person who can ever forgive you so that you can live with yourself is you.

The person you wronged is no more. So forgive yourself. And move on. I am not obligated to your peace of mind.

But You Were Mine

You came into my life like a rolling storm. Quiet and subtle, testing me with little rains and tiny thunders to see if I would flinch. And then all at once, a constant and surefire presence too important to be ignored. And you left just the same, all at once with no hesitation.

What do I say after a year? What do I begin to describe? The pain of absence? Or the precious few memories?

I don’t have many pictures of us. I can probably count on my hands the number of what I do. I was always the one behind the camera. That is Regret Number One.

I didn’t message you enough. The last correspondence I had with you was asking where I could send you mail. Telling you not to end up back in the hospital. But you did. And I never told you happy birthday because of it. You wrote me on Facebook, telling me you loved me weeks before, and I didn’t say it back. That is Regret Number Two.

I didn’t tell you I was coming. I didn’t let you know I was damned determined to say goodbye. I doubt it would have changed things. But I wonder every day if you would have held on for that. If maybe at least the promise of seeing each other would have been worth knowing in your final moments. That is Regret Number Three.

The truth is, though. I don’t think I’m that valuable. Hell, I know I’m not. I fucked up. Big time. Because I called you my best friend and never did a goddamn thing to prove it.

When you came into my life, it was like you knew me from the start. Because you approached me exactly how I needed you. You did everything you feasibly could to reach me… because when I met you, I was lonely. A freshman in an art class isolated from her friends. Friends who, as I got closer to you, grew jealous of how I found new friends of my own. And you watched as the loneliness swept over me in an instant, and you swept in faster to shield me from it.

The falling out with one friend was commonplace for me. It’s why you could see the loneliness from a mile away. Time and again, I had friends and lost them for the simple fact that “You can’t have more than one best friend.” In a circle of friends, if you liked one person another didn’t like, you had to choose which one you stuck by. And I never wanted to do that. So when I was forced to make a choice, I turned away from the person who put me up to it. And when I met you, it happened all over again. But you became different.

You included me in everything you could. You introduced me to your circle and brought me along whenever it was possible. You taught me that it’s possible to have more than one best friend. Because you had so many.

But, Kyrstin, I can’t call myself your best friend. I don’t- and I never have- deserved or earned that right. I should have been better to you. I should have tried harder. I should have done so much to repay how you saved me. I am not- I never was- a best friend.

But you were mine.

People, Power, and Politics, I Guess

What is it about people in power that makes them think they can get away with skeezy bullshit? I’ve always believed that a person acts on things because they believe they’re in the right, but lately, I’m seeing more and more “powerful” people and groups act out in such underhanded ways that it’s hard to believe a person genuinely believes the wrongdoing they’re committing is justified. It’s getting harder to say that no one sets out to do “evil” when I’m a firsthand witness to a person of power thinking it okay to do something they clearly believed to be wrong for no other reason than they simply could.

I’m pretty evidently referring to the DNC leaks, but it’s in tandem with this thing I’ve been sitting on for a couple months. I’m still hesitant to come out and say what happened because it could potentially put me out of a job, or at least make it that much more difficult to work in this environment as is… It’s left me at a loss for how to handle anything lately, and it continues to exhaust me when coupled with the extended hours I’m working.

But I genuinely want to know why there are people who act unethically under the impression that they’re above the consequences. I simply cannot fathom the arrogance that a person has to have in order to do such a thing. Is it truly the thrill of acting out of line with your own morality? Does the high of rebelling against one’s true nature sustain these people? Is it an addiction not unlike the substances and vices? Or is it honestly the arrogance that it appears to be? The belief that not all are created equal and the maintenance of power through immoral action is what it takes to survive?

These are the thoughts that are weighing me down as I try to continue living my life without judgment… to continue my avoidance of black and white, binary thinking that villifies individuals and groups in an “us vs. them” mentality. It is increasingly difficult to keep those values in check when I’m feeling the way I have been.

There is so much I want to get off my chest and put out there, but I’m torn over whether or not it would help or make my life a waking nightmare until I’m able to get out of this situation. My own morals feel skewed, and I feel as if I’ve abandoned my values… How do people do this?

No One Wants a Writer

The only reason I’ve been working as a photographer these past two years is that sad fact. Truth is, no one wants a writer. Most, generally speaking, fancy themselves as one. Everyone had to take English Comp in college, and in the age of the Internet, we pretty much compose our lives on social media through written word. Hell, editors and publishing agencies could inevitably become a thing of the past thanks to self-publishing. So when all you have to do is write a coherent enough blurb for this or that, why hire a writer who should be paid? Why pay an editor to check your work when spell-check can be installed practically anywhere? While the same can be said of photography, there is a visual skill involved that at least warrants someone with a measurable ability or experience. But writing… it’s often just “grab a thesaurus and use some fancy quotes.” … Or memes.

If someone were to hold a gun to my head and make me choose the kind of work I want to spend the rest of my life doing, I wouldn’t hesitate to decide on writing. But they’d be better off shooting me anyway because there’s a lot of truth to what I’m saying. No one wants a writer. It’s the art form that people hesitate to call art.

Writers don’t often get called artists. It’s a word reserved for those that can visibly demonstrate their craft. Drawing, painting, photography, acting, directing, cinematography, even music… No one ever pauses to question their merit as “Art,” but place a piece of text before someone and suddenly, the question becomes “What is it?”

I’ve been applying for writing and editing jobs ever since I moved to Austin, but I’ve never even gotten an interview for the most entry level position. I have little “professional” experience as a writer despite a hefty portfolio that comes from over half my lifetime writing, so I can’t get the work. Because no one really wants a writer, and the writers that people do want come less from unique voices and more from the right face or the visual art that accompanies it. Comic artists, vloggers, animators… those are the writers that will still be called artists. But those of us that shy behind text? No. Not as much.

In What I Lacked…

It’s been nearly three years since I graduated college. And it’s only been recently that I’ve come to grips with the fact that I regret it.

I don’t regret all of it, obviously. I learned plenty of things, made a handful of pleasant memories, and had a good few opportunities along the way. But I don’t think I made the right choice.

I, like many people my age, went to college immediately out of high school. I tried one university that didn’t fit for a semester before finishing my degree elsewhere. While my alma mater was absolutely a better fit for me, in the end, it was my choice to stay when I started getting “the feeling” that served as my real mistake.

I studied Theatre, which I almost always proudly announce when asked. I still see it as a bit of a medal because I studied it knowing it wouldn’t get me work. I knew it was a “useless degree” and that I was taking a huge risk not studying something else. But I was proud of that, of going against the mold…of pursuing my passion as opposed to a profession.

But about two years into my college experience, I started to get that “feeling.” That instinct that wells up in your gut when something’s not working anymore. That passion I had decided to pursue left me, and I was lost. I had no idea what to do, where it had gone, or what had caused it… Nothing I could logically see was wrong, so ultimately, I ended up blaming my depression – because when logic can’t be found, it’s usually that irrational part of your brain that changes things…right?

After three years being away from it, I’m able to see that assumption was wrong. The depression only started hitting me when the passion was lost. When I started forcing myself through “the feeling” when it was telling me I didn’t want to. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and being away from it all has made everything clear for me.

I loved to act. The art of telling a story before an audience was one of the most moving experiences I had ever had both growing up and as a young adult. I honestly, genuinely lived and breathed for the story and the art. And from what I understand, if I’m to take the word of my loved ones and my peers, it was evident. On stage, I was a different person. No longer the meek, dead-eyed little bookworm that sat in the back of class… On stage, I was alive.

And I could feel it. I relish in the memory of it all. Of feeling everything in the moment, of exposing my soul and simply living it all. I was never aware of the set, or the audience, or the lights… As I stood on stage, all that I knew was the story being told, and everything in my body told me to tell it.

But for the first time ever… I could see the stage. For the first time ever, I’d look at my partner or my cast mates, and I’d see it all. The pages of script, the warm-ups backstage, the gears in their heads all turning in an attempt to maintain the techniques we’d been taught. Each new page would be met with some note that they tried to remember from the night before, or the forced conjuring of a memory that elicited the right emotion. I looked into their eyes and stopped seeing our story…

Where there had once been raw experience was now cold practice. The discussions had were clinical. There was no reverence or joy. Classes were bad, but backstage was worse. The conversations from our classes would trickle into our dialogue backstage, and worse than that… we would tire of the story.

I graduated in hopes that I’d find my passion again. I thought a change of scenery, a new group of people, a different environment…any of it would change things for me. But when I got back into the acting scene some year or two later…nothing had changed. In the end, I could still see the stage. I’d been trained to tear things apart to learn from them, but instead, I just broke the thing that I loved.

It’s not that what I learned was wrong or invaluable. No, I’m not saying that. In any way. I just… I need to accept that it didn’t work for me.

The problem is, even after writing this, I’m still having trouble saying it. There’s a shame in admitting it. I feel like I’m letting people down. Perhaps my teachers, who worked so hard and encouraged me so much. Perhaps my parents, who are still paying off my debt. Perhaps my peers, who struggled alongside me but never experienced it the way I did. Or perhaps myself because I invested so much into something that I’m trying to accept now that I didn’t exactly want…

It’s a lot of all of it, I’m sure…but I think more than anything, it’s admitting that I didn’t want what I said I did. It’s like being at the ice cream bar and seeing all the different flavors. I looked at my two favorite flavors of chocolate and decided on one because I thought I really wanted the one with mint chocolate chips… and only after taking a bite did I realize that I never want mint, and I should know better because I like mint in cookies but not ice cream.

I liked my theatre when it was about what I felt as opposed to how I felt it. I liked it raw and inexperienced and clumsy. Not because I didn’t appreciate quality or experience or finesse, but because imperfection made me feel alive.

Because in what I lacked, I gained everything.

Why I #FeeltheBern

Today is Super Tuesday, and I’ll be casting my vote in Texas for the primaries. While I’ve not been vocal in my political opinions, I have made it somewhat apparent who my preferred candidate is.

I never used to be political. I wanted to avoid it altogether because I hated everything about it. I saw the flaws in the system and saw the way it polarized even the most rational of people, and I decided that, for the sake of my mental health, I wanted no part in something that seemed irreparable. So what changed for me?

Simply put, I discovered Bernie Sanders. Suddenly, I heard a candidate talking about the things I believed in with a campaign that focused less on fixing the world and first on fixing ourselves. And that candidate was a distinct possibility because despite the man’s age, he has reached out to the generations that hold this country’s future by simply showing us that he’s “with the times,” as it were. I mean, basically crowdfunding an entire presidential campaign? More than that, he’s simply proven himself with candid honesty and unwavering stances on the issues he cares about.

Is he flawed? Of course. No candidate is ever perfect, but there are so many reasons why I desperately want this man representing my country and not Hilary Clinton. And what is it about Hilary that turns me off again when she’s saying almost all the same things? Aside from the fact that I’m offended by part of her campaign actually shaming women into voting for her, aside from the fact that she spends more time talking about her presidency as an extension of Bill’s and not something progressive, aside from the loads of big money being thrown at her and controlling her voice, I just don’t trust her. While we’re all allowed to change our opinions as we grow, the way in which her opinions have shifted, as if to manipulate the masses into her following, is vile to me. And that shaming women thing for not supporting a woman is really offensive.

It’s also terrifying to think that there are a large number of people that will not be voting in the election if Bernie does not get the nomination, which would mean the possibility of a Trump or GOP presidency, because so many people also don’t trust Hilary. In my eyes, Bernie needs to be the candidate for the Democratic party. He needs to be the president.

I don’t really care who anyone else votes for, in the end. We are all welcome to our own opinions, and we have the right to support the candidate we believe in. But allow me to finish making the case for Bernie, and if you’re voting today, keep in mind why you’ll be choosing the candidate you do.

One complaint against him I see is his lacking stance on foreign policy. For some reason, America is really caught up on this idea that, at any given moment, the world is going to turn against us and blow us up. I can’t imagine why that is, really (note: sarcasm,) but back when I was a Christian, there was a bible verse that appealed to me, and it’s one I still see value in today. It was Matthew 7:5, and it read “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” I can’t help but see this as the very nature of Bernie’s campaign. Our government is flawed, our country and economy are broken, and it’s time for us to stop piddling overseas and start fixing what needs our attention here. The world will always be out there, doing its own thing, but we never know how much longer we have. If we’re convinced the world hates us, then it’s better to die trying to fix ourselves and grow than die as this target of everyone’s ire.

The other argument against Bernie I’ve seen is that his ideas are too radical and impossible to achieve. Again, I’m just going to quote something that I took from childhood and continue to try and live by today. There was this ginger woman with a bus that I think my entire generation knows by name, and that woman had a catchphrase to encourage children to learn. Do you remember it? “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” Sure, Bernie’s ideas sound crazy, but how are we supposed to know they don’t work without just fucking trying? I’m tired of our approach to change being timid and cautious. We might as well try something new and crazy just on the slight possibility that something will change than looking like cowards with our baby steps. We shouldn’t even call them baby steps anymore because once kids learn to stand, they’re ready to fall flat on their faces to learn to run.

Today, if you’re voting, vote for who you choose, but make sure you’re doing it for reasons you truly believe and not because you feel obligated to one candidate or another. Forget party, forget sex, forget gender, forget race. Forget all of that, and choose the candidate that makes you believe in America’s future.