Here I am, in December of what I can only call the most chaotic year I have ever lived through. Yet, I have noticed that I am not as eager to move into the new year as others and to leave 2020 in my wake. I don’t want to simply forget about all of the time I have spent coping with the loss of the things I never did, nor do I want to leave behind all of the lessons I’ve learned spending so much time with myself. And more importantly, I don’t want to assume that the nature of the reality I’m living in will simply cease as the ball drops in Times Square. Instead, I want to reflect on the surprising growth that I’ve made in a time that has so easily allowed the world to wither. I am drawn to look inside my home and its walls; walls that have kept me safe from the danger outside, and recognize the things I have done to push myself into a productive mindset amidst my stagnant circumstances.
I think back to March. Oh, what a month March was. I was beginning to face the burnout of the last semester of senior year, and spring break was calling my name. I can remember all of the fear and anxiety, mixed with feelings of relief and clarity. I thought, sure, the world was coming to an end, but at least I had a pause; at least I had a chance to breathe.
That breath of fresh air soon turned its back, suffocating me. Days turned into weeks, into months, and before I knew it, I was banging my head on desks. Online school was sporadic, I had cooked just about everything I knew how to (and more), and I had binged Tiger King, The Walking Dead, and Gossip Girl three times over. And in my desperation, I glanced at my bookcase. Reading over the years has always been a solace, a comfort I could always run back to. But unlike anytime before, my books have served a much bigger role in my life during quarantine. They have given me endless realities to distract me from the horror of my own.
As I ran through novel after novel though, I started to notice that the morals of each story I absorbed may in fact be underlying themes in this chapter of my own life. I had never considered that the pages I dove head-first into to escape could serve to ground me and change my perspective on my own story. I took another look at one of my favorites, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. It is a wild ride from start to finish. It follows a fictional, yet realistic historical narrative of the evolution of counterculture in the 60’s and 70’s. It is easy to get lost in the exciting thematic elements of the story, yet beyond the action lies an important message about cult mentalities and the power of the suppression of ideas that go against the status-quo.
“Beautiful people blossomed forth from out of the polyglot, people who really had a lot to them, only it had been smothered by all the eternal social games that had been set up. Suddenly they found each other.”
― Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
In the same way, I have noticed that the distance we have endured has encouraged a reformation of the society we live in. Our physical absence in each other’s lives has exacerbated the need to speak louder for the changes we believe in. And among the noise, we find people who are shouting the same things. I realized that my muteness behind my own door, my safety in the option to be quiet, was doing nothing to acknowledge how I may be able to contribute to solve problems that affect us all.
So now, while my nose may still be buried in books, I have taken the initiative to use my voice and my hands to put into productive projects that mean something; to me, to my community, and to the people I seek to help. I encourage you to reflect on your year, to be introspective in your own experience. And then, I will you to look past your walls, your barriers, and use your passions and strengths to make a difference.
You define who you are and who can be in the actions that you take, and your individual perspective is so much more valuable to others than you believe.
For now, take a look at a few other excerpts that have inspired me throughout my journey this year. And perhaps, they will strike you too.
“They are very young. And on their earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve about all alone in space."
"Oh," the thin beast said. "Aren't they lonely?”
― Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
“And I think now that fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention. But somehow, when you lose something you love, faith takes over.
― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
― Anne Frank
“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
“I have not wanted syllables where actions have spoken so plainly.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Abigail Royster is a freshman attending College of the Canyons. She is currently majoring in English with a concentration on Pre-Law Studies, and plans to transfer to a UC school to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree. Royster excels in creative writing, which has helped her greatly in her extracurricular activities. In the past year, she has been involved in theatre arts, and served as Editor in Chief of her senior yearbook. These have inspired her to develop her passion for networking and managing. Royster enjoys being involved in her campus community , and is excited to use her exuberant personality and leadership skills to make connections with her peers.