I (Unironically) Love It Here
AKA the episode where Asaka goes to college
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? My mental health is the best it’s ever been and I feel stronger than ever; simultaneously I have been grappling with grueling personal challenges that I won’t get into now. But when all is said and done, I’m doing great. I’ve had plenty of opportunities make my own choices, and I’ve had the blessing of experiencing a full range of human emotions.
A few months ago I unpacked my bags into a suite apartment 70 miles away from home and started real college life. New faces, new places, a new home… I watched all the things that had only existed in my imagination come to life. All the blanks were being filled in and I, like many others, welcomed the sense of stability, however superficial, after living through the armageddon that was 2020.
I’m not sure whether to marvel that it’s already been nearly 3 months since I’ve got here, or if it’s only been a little under 3 months. Somehow, both of these cliches speak to my glowing, fluttering heart. Everything has been surreal, not in a way that casts me out from my own body and makes me doubt my existence, but rather, in a way that makes me look around and marvel at how far I have come.
Before moving out, I said that my biggest priority was to become more present. On August, I wrote:
You know, the past year I worked my ass off to build the foundation of a fulfilling life — a life I won’t feel the need to constantly escape from.
I’m happy to let all you guys and my past selves know that my life has been nothing short of fulfilling. I haven’t been able to write as much as I’d wanted to, but man, do I have a lot to write about! I took advantage of the endless social activities happening around campus, put out more stuff on the Internet, and met amazing, supportive people that I am lucky to call my friends. They give me a reason to stay present, even when it’s tempting to detach.
Honestly, I’m not used to having this sort of footing. For a long time, my support network has consisted of authority figures, including a rotating team of therapists, and two or three friends. I didn’t have a lot of people to hang out with or fuck around with, and I felt stricken by ennui. My isolation was a product of multiple factors — yes, my disability and the stigma surrounding it, but also, just… teenage inanity. I made a lot of stupid choices that pushed people away. For all the navel-gazing I did, I had no idea who I was and what I stood for, because I was always the one being helped, never given the chance to do the helping. I wondered if going to college would give me a clean slate, another chance — and it did.
Within the first day of being on campus, I had more human interactions than I did in a week in high school. Obviously, I barely knew anyone at that point, but simply being perceived awakened something in me. I could see the glass wall of dissociation began to fracture. My anxiety virtually disappeared, which is just incredible. I felt at home in my own body, and at the same time, I was a part of something bigger. I felt whole again.
Though this new way of life has transformed my psyche in the most fundamental sense, I am only human, and I still have my hang-ups and insecurities. Appreciation for the present is something I intentionally practice every day. As of late, I’ve been trying to find inspiration and novelty in my everyday life, so my brain won’t go looking for it elsewhere, tempting me to over-plan and pin my happiness onto ever-moving goalposts. I have only recently mustered the courage to dismantle and rebuild my deepest, darkest core beliefs. It’s a lifelong journey, and it’s worth all the sacrifices.
As to keep myself on my toes (but firmly on the ground), I plan to become more active on Substack in the coming months. I’d love to capture a more magnified view of my life, and maybe establish regular serieses, apart from the monthly newsletter thing that I’ve been doing. Of course, that’s only a sliver of what I want to put out there this year. And to all my friends at TCNJ: I owe you another thank you (and a million more) for making this new chapter of my life bangin’.
Until next time,
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