Sunday, 20 September 2015

Connection Lost

I see a lot of people sharing memes and comments lately about how phones are dividing us. From humorous depictions of roaming teenagers with smartphones as modern-day zombies, to snarky, passive-aggressive remarks about how antisocial it is to keep your nose stuck in your phone at the dinner table. And I'll say it right now - that's quite true. There's a time for being online, and there's a time to unplug. When you have friends and family within eyeshot, try poking them, rather than your Facebook friends.

But at the same time, I think the demonization of technology has been fairly stereo since the stereo. People have always feared the coppery thin fingers of electrical assimilation. The thing is, advancement comes at a cost, and people sometimes forget that. Think how many people were laid off because of the steam engine? The computer? The auto-mobile? The concessions aren't just vocational, but social. Society had to be adapted around the building of roads, the wiring of homes, and that produces a lot of social anxiety. But TV doesn't rot brains, rock music doesn't summon the devil, video games don't incite violence, and phones don't REALLY disconnect us.

Photographic memories of our lives now given way to cameraphones, virtual post-it notes to remind us of our priorities, time-keepers to guide us through the day. These were all good things before phones replaced them, and they now remain good things. But the purpose of a phone has always remained the same. To call. To connect people. That's why we don't call them mobile calenders. Some people seem to resent phones, seeing them as a barrier to socialization. But my phone lets me talk to people on the other side of the planet - and I frequently do! My phone streams a live feed of information and education through my eyes, and allows me to share how it all makes me feel with friends that I might have drifted apart from years ago otherwise.

And it's not just phones that people are complaining about. We now have this mythical "internet/Facebook addiction", which I'm sure, in some very extreme cases, may be real, but let's be serious; barely, even then. The nature of the online world is such that it doesn't really impede your life in any way. No active work is required to be online 24/7, it's just... there. Like a new sense. We can tweet, socialize, listen to music, know where we are, look up information and even shop with relative ease because these things are all designed to be convenient. To say this is some sort of step backwards is to wrap your brain with the same logic that could easily send us careening back to the horse and cart.

ALL technology is designed around convenience, but this doesn't make it negative or make us weaker. Thanks to the ubiquitous access to information, we are more intelligent as a species than ever before. Better educated, better informed, and with better opportunities. I don't like people who belittle the poor by making snide remarks about how they have smartphones, etc, as that logic doesn't make sense, but I do admit that the reason WHY it doesn't make sense is simply because modern society has a different standard of underprivileged. Thanks to technology I can do things right now that people even a few years ago could only have dreamed about, even if I were homeless and starving. We should be appreciative, not resentful, of everything technology has given us.

Technology changes everything, acting as a conduit for the will of the people and often guiding, sometimes forcefully, the stagnant government to something approaching modernization. Sometimes it feels like we are living in times darker than ever before, but that's only really because technology has given us such awareness of the world that we now KNOW how much suffering is happening out there in order to care about it. And the fact that we care shows how these devices don't have to be our masters, but rather a tool for bringing out the best in us. I won't say that a person isn't poor just because they have clothes, good health, and a Tinder profile. But I will say that they are, in their own way, wealthier than they know. We all are. It's a good thing when the definition of "worst off" changes for the better.

Now, look, I freely admit, it annoys the crap out of me when one of my friends (one in particular)  decides to snub a conversation with me, often in mid-sentence, to text with someone else. It's rude and stupid. Prioritize the person you are PHYSICALLY WITH, at least until you get to the end of your fucking sentence. But at the same time, we all have to adjust our expectations. We have to realize that an invisible conversation with someone else is STILL a conversation. Turning from one friend to listen to another say something would not be considered incredibly rude. Not being able to see the other friend shouldn't REALLY change all that much. It's just a new age, and we have to develop a new etiquette around it.

But fear of change is as central to the human experience as kidneys. Having to adapt to an entirely new concept of socialization is going to take time. I understand why it would seem strange and jarring to be surrounded by people walking around staring into their hands, especially if you didn't grow up with anything remotely like that. But to call it antisocial? Nothing could be further from the truth. Generations past hardly had a notion of what it was to commune with someone across the globe. How many had pen pals in distant, exotic countries? How many could afford to phone their friends to stay in touch every night? How many people over the age of forty can claim to have had half as much of a social experience in their youth as I had in mine?

Now, because of this technology people insist is so socially numbing, my most treasured friends live in places I would certainly have never found myself alone. Even AS a person who isn't very social by nature, I find that technology grants me a window out of my shell that lets me interact with people even more than I normally would. I laugh and chatter and connect with people, my family included, every single day. In many ways I get to be more myself online than I would be inclined to in real life. I *AM* social. Even if, to an outside observer, it looks like I just have my nose in my phone.

Different types of connections do not undermine or cancel each other out. They just add new ways in which we can be all be closer. If you want the attention of someone on their phone, reach out and touch them. Speak their name. No technology will ever rob us of the power and intimacy of those things. Connections aren't lost in the information highway, they're lost because we stop trying to reach out to one another. And if a phone can get in the way of a family - there's something wrong with the family, not the phone.

We should never blame our own short-falls on that which elevates us to the very same heights from which we fear falling. In a generation or two, I doubt anyone will care. It'll be my generation complaining about how cybernetic brain communicators are disconnecting us. :P And quite frankly, I don't like the "music" kids are listening to these days, either.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

This may seem like a slightly jarring change of pace to the four people who have ever read my blog before. Normally I reserve tl;dr for rambly informative type posts and rants, few and far between though they are. I tried the "journal" thing before in past blogs, and it never went well. I suppose I'm just not good at talking about myself. But... well. I honestly don't have anyone else in my life to talk to. Those I would talk to, I can't, because they're either gone or just not interested.

That kind of thing doesn't normally bother me. I am absolutely not the "lonely" type. But I'm going through some changes that I might process better if I can articulate them in some way. I'm a healthy pessimist by nature, and therefore naturally expect the worst to happen. But I am not always prepared for the breadth of that worst case scenario. I am just now coming out of the very end of a complicated and somewhat emotionally devastating couple of... well, decades.

It's a strange thing, to ride through an inferno you know will obliterate you, and find yourself trundling back out the other side. The white-knuckle ride you thought would never end, suddenly you're stepping out of the rollercoaster and that consistent, persistent present has become the past. You know how when you watch a really engrossing movie? You get super into it, invested in that world, and then the movie ends and for a moment you have to kind of reacquaint yourself with your own life? It's kind of like that... only there was no pre-existing life to begin with.

I've always been obsessively self-aware, feeling like there was a camera trained on me every waking moment - but suddenly I'm conscious of feeling like the world is painted around me in some surreal Truman show-esque bad trip. Nothing feels quite real. I've been battered to the point of losing any cohesive understanding of my reality, resigning me to the role of a baby in a cot surrounded by strange shapes and sounds I have no thoughts about. I'm trying to figure everything out, trying to understand everything like an alien with no understanding of human ways or emotions.

It's difficult to express how I've experienced this change and just how drastic it is. There's this "how am I still here" question permeating my every thought with the insistence of a body that has been mutilated, broken, pulled open and reduced to a pile of bloodied meat - yet STILL remains somehow alive. To have come so completely apart at the seams, and still be staggering through the wilderness. How much more broken can you get? Everything is confusing to me because I'm viewing every experience through the lens of that giant question mark.

I suppose what's really confusing me is not having the convenient narrative of a single, unending emotion being the defining character trait around which I can base my life. Being able to wake up every day and know that "I'm the sad guy" has a certain stability to it. It took falling through a few extra cinderblock floors of anguish to really finish off what remained of that identity. Being brought so far past your capacity to contain said emotions that your whole world just sort of unravels into a naked, quivering ball of consciousness - and then you don't understand anything.

The final step was the hardest. Letting go. The Salvador Dali painting that had become my life in the wake of this trauma was already an endless nightmare. But those final dying convulsions of severing away the past, I can only compare to... well, I once had a tooth abscess. If you don't know what that is - be glad. My dentist screwed me over, and due to a complicated series of events, I ended up riding it out without any pain killers. The nerve in my tooth was infected. I had to wait for it to literally die before the agony would stop. It was like being electrocuted, bolts of lightning constantly streaming into my jaw, shattering it apart. My pulse became my enemy, squeezing cold flashes of concentrated scream into my skull every second.

Life wants to persist, even the smallest part of it. That's why we fight tooth and nail to survive, why a cornered animal is most dangerous. It is when the darkness of oblivion closes around us that we panic and cling hardest to life, and in that moment we learn to value it as we never did before. Even our bodies, the product of an evolution based on fear, respond the same way. That nerve tortured me with a desperate struggle to resist as it slowly withered into a twitching husk. I felt it turn necrotic, I felt it slowly die, trying to take me with it. So, too, was it that way with this trauma.

Letting it go was like pulling out my entire nervous system. Tugging against a bramble of heartstrings to escape, snapping them one at a time. I left so much of myself behind it felt like there was more of the person I once called me in the rotting meat slopping to the floor than in what staggered away. But, strangely, like the dying nerve, only the diseased parts of me had been cut away. It was the important parts that survived. There was that same odd relief in finding the pain had dulled to a quiet ache.

I honestly didn't think I would survive what I went through. I didn't even want to. But I did survive, somehow. And now, for the first time in years, I've gotten to a place where I don't feel like dying every time I wake up. But what's confusing me is I don't understand what I DO feel. Other than confusion, as I just said. And kind of hungry. Other than confusion and hunger I don't know what I feel. The pain has been my reality for so long I'm kind of tripping without it. Well, it's still there, but now it's just part of the furniture of my life. I'm learning that there's more.

It's kind of like someone switched off my life-support machine, and I just didn't die. There's nothing but a cold silence and a lot of confused staring. Maybe some awkward small talk. What happens now? The last few years have broken my psyche into so many pieces I no longer have any concept of where in all the debris "I" actually am. And yet, somehow... I am. It turns out you can't just stop existing as a consequence of having your sanity crumpled up into a ball of paper and thrown away. 

Soooo.... what now?

I feel kind of like the broom that's had both its head and its handle changed several dozen times. I'm so far removed from what I started out as that there's really nothing left in me of that person anymore. I've become this Frankensteinian patchwork of different ideas and personality traits. This has always largely been the case, and I've traditionally been okay with that. Exchanging different swatches of personality with new ones, designing myself how I want to be. But I suppose the key difference is what lies at the core of it all. The raw engine beneath the chassis. That's what has been destroyed.

And now I'm hovering around, this confused, embodied spirit awaiting a bright light, or a sign post, or hell I'd take a cryptic candybar wrapper. Not really sure where to go, or who to be. But here's the strange bit... there's almost a burden lifted from realising... I don't have to be the sad guy anymore. Yes it's bewildering, kinda scary and uncomfortable. But, I'm kind of... okay? Is that a thing? Is there a word for not-crushing-depression-despondence? Is there a word for kind of wanting the bungee rope to bounce you back up?

I've spent so long building this elaborate mansion around myself out of the very stuff of my pain. My masterpiece and home, where I can at least find safety in consistency. And then when it finally reached its critical mass, it all just kind of collapsed around me, and the sun broke through, and I'm like "Holy fuck what is that?", and then some guy, I assume he's a neighbour living in a slightly less-impressive pain mansion nearby, is like "Uhh, dude, that's the sun", and I'm like "Well I don't like it. Make it go away." But actually I kind of *do* like it? You know. That old chestnut.

So, what is this even? Am I complaining because of the complete implosion of my mind and subsequent annihilation of my self-understanding? Or am I expressing a cautious optimism about coming out of the other end of a very long, dark tunnel? I don't know that I'm there yet. Just to get to this point I had to sink to the very rockiest part of rock bottom. I mean, I thought I was broken already, but there was a time, VERY recently when I honestly couldn't take another second of life. Breathing was a poison to me. My heart was beating splinters.

I don't know that I'm all the way out of that, yet. As I said, that pain is still there, still very much a part of me. And I've been tormented for so long it's like my default state. Every time I think I am doing better, something sets off a chain of thoughts that leads me back into that darkness, and boom. Just like that, I'm back there, right on the brink. Right on the absolute edge. Hanging over, my stomach jumping with that weightless feeling that just precedes the fall, when the ground is no longer quite supporting you and you already know you're past the point of no return. That close to the edge.

My vagueries are probably annoying, as I'm obviously not comfortable revealing the gory details of just what my journey to this point has involved. Partly because it's not just my story to tell, but also because the details aren't the important bit. Suffice to say, I can sum it up with one sentiment. I haven't cried since I was a kid. Maybe once or twice, and a couple of sniffles here and there. But I've always held back from letting the tears escape my eyes. There was a reason for this. A reason I never shared with anyone. I honestly believed that if I ever let myself start... I will never stop.

Then something finally tipped me over the edge, and I started. And it went on... and on... and on. Did it stop? I don't know... but it did kind of abate over time. And now I guess I'm discovering that I needed that push. Many years of wrongness have been crystallised into this one symbolic act that I can wrangle and kind of subdue in a clean, tidy exchange of fluids and mental energy. I suppose, logically, that's the point of crying. But sometimes it feels less like a purge and more like being locked in an echo chamber, magnifying what I don't want to look at until it dominates everything.

Put simply, it took being finally and completely shattered to realise that maybe there's a chance that I can reforge myself into something new. And now, that's what I'm trying to discover. How to do that. Part of the dilemma surfaced in my first paragraph. I'm going through this strange paradigm-shift, this relayering of my persona, and I don't know who to talk to about it. In some ways this is tangentially related to how I got in this mess to begin with, but now I find myself with a burning need to sit someone down and ask them a bunch of questions about how life and stuff works... and I don't have anyone.

I've never needed friends. I find them needy and annoying. And they make you do stuff and go to things like parties, and talk to people. I mean, what's up with that? But now I... want to talk? Oh god, I just threw up in my mouth a little. Am I that guy now? I'm finding myself approach people whose company I can tolerate and initiating conversation. I mean I still lack any ability to talk about myself, but still. I talk TO them for some reason. I guess companionship is part of being one of those human things I'm supposed to be. I don't like it. It's too bright and sunny... I miss the clouds.

Joking aside - the hard part is that I know that even as I explore this spectrum of long-suppressed emotions, there are some I can never have. Maybe I don't have to be the sad guy. But I can never be the happy guy, either, and failing that I am predisposed to the sadness. I was better off not knowing that happiness could exist. Joy is something I have learned to fear, and fear is something I have to learn to deal with. Not least of which being the fear of what happens the next time that darkness takes me, and I find myself back at that edge, inexplicably incapable of handling another second of sentient existence.

There is one small silver lining, however. I can listen to music again. I haven't been able to for a long time now, not for very long anyway. Anything that can elicit an emotional response in me started to vibrate in my soul uncontrollably ripping apart the staples and duct tape that were holding me together. Now, I'm slowly finding that there are some songs I can listen to without feeling the cracks widening, and I'm obsessively gathering them all up. I'm also getting back into writing again, which I've had on temporary hold for the foreseeable... lifetime. I guess that's a good sign?

The bottom line is, I am becoming something new. This is the chrysalis of my next life. Part of that entails burning away what remains of the scar tissue wedged in my bones from the life that destroyed me. Part of it seems to entail learning how these emotion things work and what to do with myself now. I have to make some important decisions about who I really want to waste my energy on. Some people have become nothing but sources of negativity to me, and I don't need that in my life. There is a chance that I am on a positive course. Bruised and scarred though I am, and always will be, I can forswear the illusion of happiness and maybe begin to pursue something approaching contentment.

You know... my life was a lot less complicated when I was a godamned robot.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

¡Cállate, Mateo!

To make up for my frequent bouts of inactivity, here is a short, introspective story I wrote some time ago. Not very tl;dr, I know. It's just something to keep my blog warm while I continue cooking up new posts.

¡Cállate, Mateo!

On the first day of class, I felt immediately relieved for having selected Spanish over French. I was in the minority; some unexplained force seemed to draw everyone towards French classes. I didn’t get why. It smelled of a bandwagon and that always repels me. I never really cared much for French stuff. To me it always felt distant and sterile, somehow lacking in anything I could connect myself to. Spain, well... I knew absolutely nothing about Spain. It had that totally alien, yet exotically interesting vibe to it.

As soon as I saw my teacher, Ms Royale, I knew I would enjoy this new cultural experience. She had long, oversized sculptures dangling from her ears, her dress was flamboyant with a hundred dark shades of a hundred different colours I had never quite pictured side-by-side before. She had decorated the classroom in a similar style. Lush with foreign posters, pictures, tapestries, and all the peculiar knickknacks you would expect to see from a souvenir stall beside some sun-baked road in the middle of nowhere.

She had that exaggerated warmth and welcoming demeanour that you might expect from a cultural stereotype, carrying herself as if she was everyone’s great aunt, and similarly starved for attention since the last Christmas you spent reluctantly indulging her in some boring hour-long conversation. You half expected her to grab your cheek and jiggle it about making kissy-faces. Almost too energetic. Every action she took was somehow emphatic and dance-like. Mature and yet full of life, the class was her spotlight and she virulently held everyone’s attention.

Unfortunately my first day in class carried a very different feel. Far from exotic and different, it ended up being just as confusing as every other class. The words being explained to me were like white noise, the letters on the bland droning textbooks seemed to be obfuscated by thousands of tiny blind-spots in my eyes simply refusing to let me read them. Spain no longer seemed like some distant adventure, suddenly it was just foreign, and me, stranded there, unable to even ask for directions.

In those first few weeks I did my best. I asked for help but was told to shut up, in Spanish of course. Though I tried to listen hard and learn, I quickly found my brain shutting down and my internal fantasy software powering up. The more I tried to focus the more hypnotized I became by the unchanging, meaningless static until my fantasy world closed in around me and enveloped it all like a rising tide. Before I knew what was happening, a biting Spanish voice struck me like a whip, and a hundred eyes now staring at me melted through whatever adventure I had conjured for myself.

A humiliation I was not unaccustomed to, being escorted to the door by a pointed finger and a disdainful look. Marched in implicit handcuffs to be punished for my crime. I was accustomed to it, and lacking the vocabulary to express myself, I had long given up on protestations of unfairness. I gathered up the crumbling remnants of my pride and carried them wherever I was sent. Understanding why had become a thing of myth, no more real to me than tribesmen dancing around a totem pole to make it rain.

Over the years I began to act out. As boys do. I clowned around for attention; I roused the rabble and pushed at the boundaries of what I could get away with. My attention on a knife-edge between hunger for knowledge and apathy, the tipping balance of that toxic classroom had rendered me just bored enough to be desperate for some kind of interaction, and just hated enough for my boredom to be an excuse not to teach, rather than taken as an invitation to do so. My antics went over with the godly Ms Royale even worse than the other teachers.

When you really think about it, if you take the actual learning out of a classroom, what you’re left with is a lot like solitary confinement. Sure, you’re not alone... but you may as well be. Everyone else seems to be in this parallel universe where everything makes sense. Rapidly scrawling at their textbooks with complete understanding, as if possessed. You’re in the same place as them, but you’re... absent. What you’re left with is a room that is empty of all but potential sources of embarrassment, and a single glaring entity at the other end of the room. The watchful camera making sure you don’t try to escape.

Of course, escape is impossible. The class becomes an endurance round. How long can a child of 13 sit perfectly still, pretending to be interested, while having absolutely nothing to engage him? Among the many thoughts that swim around in this sensory deprivation tank of an experience are the ponderings on why we use this format to teach children at all? Clearly it doesn’t work for everyone. Is the purpose merely to force the child to learn? Or is it more about breaking their spirit? Was this my labour, my community service? I can’t say if it was tough love or punishment, but I can say what it felt like. Especially when my effort to participate was sincere.

Inability to learn is so easily confused with some kind of stubborn refusal. Struggle, conflated with mischief, and soon enough, the wardens are sent in to give you a few knocks and ensure that you go back to pretending you understand. Eyes ahead. Hands still. Make no movements. Now write something, but pray we don’t check what we wrote, because we know you don’t know what to actually write. My poor handwriting was a useful tool in such situations, one look at the scribbled mess on my page and their slack-jawed confoundedness got me out of trouble. You can’t accuse me of not taking the right notes if you don’t know what I wrote, can you?

Ms Royal, however, was strangely immune to my survival mechanisms. She didn’t care about punishment or teaching, she simply didn’t care. After the seventeenth or so instance of my misbehaviour, whether rightly or wrongly classified as such, she found the solution. I was to be given my own desk! Outside the classroom. Where I would sit, in the hall, every single lesson for the ensuing 4 years. I was close enough to the door to hear them chanting their lingual lessons over and over; able to feel the energy of their minds assimilating that information, but it was too muffled for me to learn along with them.

The desk became a home away from home for me. I added to its ingrained album of graffiti with my own personal touches. I practised my drawing in whatever paper I had handy. My fantasies left the shores of pretend worlds and now were of my being in the class with them. But the desk was still my cage. I lived there, outside the class, outside of everything, and I listened to the other children learning. This was my labour. This was my punishment for not being able to understand.

Needless to say; this did not help with my acting out. The best way to make a criminal out of someone is to brand and treat them as a criminal. School gave up on me, so I gave up on school. I pushed the envelope further than ever. Though not all my classes had taken to emulating Ms Royale’s solution for miscreancy, detention came a close second. So my Spanish classes were spent outside of the classroom, and my evenings were spent doing “lines” in detention. I stopped remembering what it was like to feel anything but resent for my teachers, or to walk home when it wasn’t already dark.

Those days were my purgatory. Without a sense of meaningful feedback on your actions, you can no longer differentiate between punishment for the sake of teaching you a wrong, and punishment coming from out of nowhere. You’re damned if you don’t and more damned if you do. Every action or inaction ends up being wrong, and you can’t even ask why without screwing it up somehow. Mind-shatteringly resigned to stepping about without aim in this psychological minefield, you eventually retreat into a stunted trance like a traumatized lab-rat.

They say school lasts as long as it does because that is precisely how long it takes to break a child, but whatever my indulgence in self-pity, I am nothing if not a fighter, and I wasn’t giving up without one. I tried several times to sneak into the classroom at the start of Spanish class. Keeping my head low. Trying to steal moments of education before my theft of what didn’t belong to me became noticed. Despite my insistence to stay, I was directed out of the class every time.

Of course, none of this really had much impact on what grades, coursework or homework would be expected of me. The obligation to succeed rested on no one but me, but to actually present me with the knowledge I required was nobody’s job. Towards the end of school, I actually started to care about that. I became conscious of how much time I had lost, how much information had never reached my ears. I wanted to do WELL, to know I at least tried before resigning myself to the failure everyone knew I would be for the rest of my life. I had to know it wasn’t JUST me.

So I battled Ms Royale to let me into the class, and didn’t let up. I didn’t comprehend this at the time, because I thought it had all been completely just and entirely my own fault, but of course she could hardly call my bluff and send me to the principal. What would he say, “How dare you try to learn?”? So she acquiesced and allowed me into the classroom. I beamed with joy at the thought of learning – an odd experience for me to say the least. Of course, with that came a new conundrum; everyone was much further along than me. Everyone knew the basics, even the advanced stuff. I still couldn’t even say my name.

I put my hand up several times in the first fifteen minutes, asking what this meant and that, asking for clarifications on everything. Eventually she got sick of answering me and started telling me to shut up in Spanish. “Cállate, Mateo”... shut up, Matthew. I didn’t shut up. I kept asking questions. I kept raising my hand. When she ignored me, I blurted them out. I refused to let her beat me. And she didn’t. Not alone. She enlisted the help of the class, teaching them all to chant “Cállate, Mateo. ¡Cállate, Mateo!” She conducted this orchestra to rise in volume the more I tried to participate, until I was beat down to silence.

It didn’t stop with my submission, however. “Cállate, Mateo. Cállate, Mateo. Cállate, Mateo.” I escorted myself out of the class. Back to my desk, my home, where I at least understood the rules. I could attempt to explain the quivering ball of emotion that swelled inside my chest, the collection of all the moisture in my body into a single well behind my eyes, but I could never do it justice. Suffice to say; knowing that you are the one that everyone unanimously agrees shouldn’t be here is a very specific brand of loneliness. I was the bad guy. No point in disagreeing.

After this happened several more times, I gave up. I lost the will to participate. I lost the care to complain that she (and many others) were insistent on interpreting my difficulties in keeping up with the class as trouble-making, stubbornness, the malicious behaviour of someone who isn’t interested in learning. They saw me as the enemy, not as a child, and I was held to the standards of a belligerent adult, when all I had done was try, and sometimes fail, to learn.

It can hurt more than you expect, to see someone you in some way look up to, a teacher, a mentor, the custodian of your enlightenment turn on you out of pettiness, insecurity or impatience. The people you depend on, the gatekeepers of knowledge, you expect fairness from them. You expect to, in some way, matter to them. School does, indeed, last just long enough to break a child. But I still never gave in. I still attended, I still at least TRIED to learn, and I still completed my exams, and passed with flying “meh”. I got beaten, but I didn’t give up. I proved that it wasn’t just me.

So go ahead, tell me to shut up. Judge me. But I’ve never needed a choir backing me up to make my own case, and when I fail, it’s never permanent. Because I Don’t. Give. Up.