Deadly Obsessions

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Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

The other day, I was watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince when I got to the scene when Ron Weasley eats some chocolates. What he didn’t know was that they that contained Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in the Harry Potter universe. As much as we see exactly how much Rupert Grint enjoyed filming this scene in the movie, it got me thinking about two powerful obsessions known as love and hate.

Going back to Half Blood Prince, Amortentia caused Ron to show that the strongest form of love the potion could create was obsession, in this case a strong crush. Actually, ‘strong crush’ is an understatement. The girl who planted the love potion in the boys’ dormitory was all that Ron could think about, and he wouldn’t listen to what anyone said unless it involved her name. Can you remember the first time you fell in love with someone, the things that were going through your head at the time? All you could see in that special someone was the good qualities that he or she possessed; you were blind to everything else. You didn’t know what would come of this first love, but you were in bliss. It feels so good that it must be good, and nothing could go horribly wrong, right?

In some cases, sure. But in others, it could turn out badly. If they do something wrong, you tend to ignore it or find a valid excuse so that you can continue to love them without feeling guilty about it. I think in some cases this is why some people have a tendency to stay in abusive relationships; they’re determined to focus on the good and ignore the bad. I’ve never been in a relationship, but I’ve crushed on a guy who…well, let’s just say he wasn’t as nice as I thought he was. By the time I realized how much he was hurting other people, I had already invested more than I thought I had into him. As for Ron…well, I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it does lead to an important yet negative plot point.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have hate. In many regards it’s quite different from love, but in many others it’s not that different at all. Can you remember a time (if any) when there was someone you just couldn’t stand to be anywhere around? When you hate someone so much, you’re determined to do so at all costs. It’s all you can think about. You keep watching them, criticizing everything they do, and finding reasons to hate them even more. When none come up, you make up an excuse and convince yourself to believe it.  You can’t help but rejoice when something bad happens to that person. If they do something good or kind to you, that doesn’t really change the way you feel about them, does it? It might actually strengthen that hate. Remember the story of David and Saul in 1st Samuel? There were at least two instances when David spared Saul’s life and put himself at the king’s mercy. But Saul’s hate was so strong, even though he returned the favor at both instances, that he couldn’t let it go. And in the end, it destroyed him.

So if it’s deadly to obsess about anything in either of those cases, it’d probably be best to do the exact opposite and be indifferent, right? That’s what I thought. So I was surprised to see exactly what the Bible had to say about indifference. Matthew 11:16-17 says “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘we played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” And Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Yikes. Talk about harsh.

Upon reflection, it makes sense that indifference could be worse than loving or hating anyone or anything too much. I mean, think about it. Would you rather have your parents smother you with love until you get sick of it, or would you rather they ignore you altogether? It kind of goes back to my blog post about whether gays/lesbians should have the right to marry (https://lgalfonso.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/gay-rights-in-a-weary-world/ ). Back then, I had said that I’d chosen not to worry about it because—as someone who isn’t LGBT—it wasn’t my issue to worry about. Looking back, that was a display of indifference, which isn’t quite biblically correct. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand by my argument that anyone should have the right to make their own decisions regardless of sexual orientation. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least look into what the Bible says about homosexuality. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t study the context of those verses again and again until we can come up with a sound conclusion.

Which brings me to my main question on this topic: it’s dangerous to care about something so much that it clouds your judgment. But it’s equally perilous to just ignore it like it doesn’t exist. So where’s the perfect balance? How can we tell if we’re veering too far in one direction or the other? I wracked my brains for three days trying to figure out how to answer that question. I was stumped, my roommate was stumped, and even the Bible didn’t have the answers I was looking for. I knew that there was a perfect balance; I just didn’t know what it was. But then three things happened.

First, I found an online article titled “All Great Achievement Lies Within the Gap Between Obsession and Indifference” by Kiaran Finn, and the writer brought this up:

“Motivation is the fuel that allows one person to run through a brick wall in the pursuit of a goal, indifference provides barely enough fuel to get out of bed…the problem with obsession is that the narrow focus and lack of peripheral insight repels rather than attracts the object of the obsession. It is an addictive and often self-centered pursuit of self-gratification.”

Second, I watched Disney’s Princess and the Frog. In the prologue, when Tiana’s parents are tucking her in for the night, her dad says “you can do anything you set your mind to. Just promise your Daddy one thing: That you’ll never, ever lose sight of what is really important.”

Third, I read JK Rowling’s notes on the Mirror of Erised, as found on the Pottermore website. When you look into the Mirror of Erised, you see your heart’s greatest desire. When Harry looked into it, he saw his family. This is her take on the words he exchanged with Professor Dumbledore on this artifact:

“Albus Dumbledore’s words of caution to Harry when discussing the Mirror of Erised express my own views. The advice to ‘hold on to your dreams’ is all well and good, but there comes a point when holding on to your dreams becomes unhelpful and even unhealthy. Dumbledore knows that life can pass you by while you are clinging on to a wish that can never be—or ought never to be—fulfilled. Harry’s deepest yearning is for something impossible: the return of his parents. Desperately sad though it is that he has been deprived of his family, Dumbledore knows that to sit gazing on a vision of what he can never have, will only damage Harry. The mirror is bewitching and tantalizing, but it does not necessarily bring happiness.”

So with all of those things said, here’s the answer I’ve come up with:

Life has a lot to take in, and no matter what point we may be at, there’s still so much that we haven’t seen yet. My dream is to be a published author, and I need to work hard and stay motivated if I want to see that dream become a reality. But at the same time, I can’t lose sight of the good things I do have. I can’t be so obsessed with my goal that I ignore everything else: my family, my friends, and—most importantly—my faith. We need to hope for a better future, but we also need to be realistic and know that some dreams (in Harry’s case, for example, the resurrection of his parents) can’t be. The points where we may be leaning too far in one direction or the other depends on how one would objectively look at it. On one side, too much obsession can turn to madness. But on the other side, indifference doesn’t lead anyone anywhere.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Sources used:

http://ezinearticles.com/?All-Great-Achievement-Lies-Within-the-Gap-Between-Obsession-and-Indifference&id=3149979

http://pottermore.wikia.com/wiki/Mirror_of_Erised

Questions about the Journey

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Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I spent last January taking part in an off-campus program called the New England Saints. During this trip, I along with over twenty other students traveled to Massachusetts to study American history and the authors of American history such as Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass, etc. I wasn’t planning to write a travel diary about our experiences, and–as tempting as it is to go into so much detail about our adventures–I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. And that’s for three reasons.

First of all, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience in writing travel diaries…actually, strike that. I have no experience in writing travel diaries. I realize that most writers would try something new and strive to be better, and if this were the only reason I would’ve brushed it aside and had a blog about my travels written and put up almost as soon as we came home. But it’s not.

Secondly, there’s just so much I could write about. I could write about the days we went sightseeing in Boston. I could write about the day we went to the Harvard Science Museum to see the glass flowers exhibit (yeah, we went to Harvard. No big deal.) I could write about the night we spent at Plimoth Plantation where we got a taste of what it would’ve been like to be one of the pilgrims in the early 1620s living in the New World. I could write about the night where I watched Cabin in the Woods with friends and felt proud of myself for only screaming once…hey, in my defense, there was a clown in that movie. I could write about the day we went to a Universalist Unitarian church and the discussion that followed. I could write about a revelation that I had when I was alone in Quincy Market that changed my perspective of America. I could write about the evening where we reenacted one of Louisa May Alcott’s plays and couldn’t stop laughing about it a week later. I could write about every tour we went on of the places where authors lived and did their work, the best being the Old Manse and the House of Seven Gables—seriously, how cool would it be to live in a house that was structured like a maze? And the list just keeps going. It was such an amazing experience, and if I had the opportunity I would gladly do it all over again. In fact, my only regret was not spending more time with the other students I traveled with.

That brings me to my final reason: I’m not sure if I can fully comprehend what the trip really did to us. I didn’t feel that much different when I came back; if anything changed about me, it seemed more cognitive than anything else. My understanding of the world and of myself improved. In addition, our time in Massachusetts stayed in my mind in the weeks that followed. There hasn’t been a single morning where I wake up without wishing that we could all be back at North Bridge Inn. Not a single day goes by where I don’t think of the friends that I’ve made and the memories we share.

In the midst of missing the trip, however, it never occurred to me that I transformed too. Then I came across one of my other friends, and he said that something seemed different about me. I asked my roommate later if she thought I changed at all since I left for New England Saints, and she agreed with my other friend. Honestly, talking to both of them made me realize that I don’t know exactly what happened during that trip, and I really wish I did. How can I write about something like the New England Saints trip and do it justice? How can I explain it to someone who wasn’t there? How can I possibly tell people how the trip changed me when I’m still trying to understand it myself?

My fellow New Englanders, here’s my question for you: Do you think we’ve changed at all during the interim? And if we have, what do you think it was about New England Saints that changed us?

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

What Makes the Bad Boy Hot?

Image…okay, let me clarify the poor choice of title a little bit. My friends know that I have a particular hatred for Valentine’s Day, corniness and over-the-top romance and all. What they don’t know is that this is partially because of a ticking time bomb in my head that I’ve decided to name Zac. Around this time of year, I have to perform two unbelievably stupid actions of Zac’s choice, all of them having something to do with Valentine’s Day. Why? Because if Zac explodes, I turn into the female hulk on steroids and go on an angry rampage for one day. Last time that happened, I accidentally destroyed every house in the neighborhood. This year, in order to stay calm, I have to a) watch Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor in a room full of people that actually like it—which, believe it or not, actually exists—and b) give my VD blog the title above. Honestly, I can’t wait for life to finish me off so that I never have to interact with Valentine’s Day again.

But enough about my psychotic mood swings. I have the dark side of Prince Charming to dissect, don’t I?

The bad boy is a common cliché used in almost every love story, and whenever there’s a love triangle—another common trademark of chick flicks—the girl will almost always pick the guy who wouldn’t treat her well in a relationship. It’s just as common in reality as it is in fiction. For example, when I was a sophomore in high school, my brother Matt got the lead role in our fall musical, The King and I. And if you’re unfamiliar with the story, the male lead in the musical is a bald, self-absorbed, sexist pig who prayed to Buddha, didn’t keep his promise to Anna (the female lead), and at one point seriously considered teaching his son to “respect his wives and love his concubines.”

And yet, when we started performing the musical, the ladies were all over him. A group of girls in my graduating class approached me after one performance and asked me if Matt was single—thankfully, he was in a relationship by that time and I liked her well enough to say he was happily taken. When the actress for the female lead was getting her makeup done for the musical one night, the person working on her makeup actually gave her a little extra lipstick in case Anna and the King decided to add a kissing scene. I swear on the Holy Bible that is true. But here’s the really freaking out there thing: One of the girls in the cast had a sister who was in college by that point, and this same sister came to see the play one night. And even though both she and Matt were in a relationship with different people at the time, this sister said she was secretly swooning over Matt while watching the musical. Just four years after that, she married my brother and became my sister-in-law. Don’t get me wrong; my brother’s not a jerk, and I wouldn’t say that he’s bad looking. He’s just…my brother. It’s weird.

I heard someone say once that we’re all guilty of falling for a bad person at some point. I’d be lying if I said I never made such a mistake. But why is that? If there are so many sweet, caring people out there in the world, why do we ignore them and go for the villains? In the 2012 Avengers movie, why did Loki get all of the attention even though we had at least five other hot guys to choose from? What made Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter—for lack of a better word—attractive? When the first Hunger Games movie came out, why did girls go crazy writing fan fictions about Cato? Why did Stephenie Meyer think it was okay for her main character to marry a manipulative, selfish, psychotic nutcase like Edward Cullen?

I guess I’m not the right person to answer those questions because Peeta, Neville, and Hawkeye won’t let me stop squealing every time they pop up on my TV screen. So I did some online research and asked some of my friends about this issue, and here are the answers I got that stood out the most:

  1. ExcitementThe bad boy—both in fiction and in reality—adds a little bit of spice and unpredictability to life. And let’s face it: We love the villains of stories, don’t we? As much as I like to make fun of Loki in Avengers, I have to admit that he’s a ton of fun to watch. Tom Hiddleston is having the time of his life playing the role, and as a result, we as viewers have fun too. And there are tons of other entertaining villains—both in books and in movies—to watch, read about, and talk about. Bellatrix Lestrange? Awesome. The Grinch? Awesome. Maleficent? Awesome. In the realm of reality, you could make that same argument. The bad boy tends to be rebellious and reckless. You never know what he’s going to do next, and as a result he keeps you on your toes.
  2. Challenge & RewardIt’s a challenge to win him over and make him commit—a challenge that, when you think about it, would pay off under just the right circumstances. If a certain lady could work her way into his heart and be the one to see the good in him, then he’d be grateful to her for doing it, and being the only one who could do it. And if he’s powerful and intelligent, he could use his power and intelligence for that special lady rather than against her in order to protect her. Kinda silly, huh?
  3. SympathySometimes you can’t help but feel sorry for the bad boy. In stories, the good guy is usually a bland, underwritten character because there’s hardly any juicy material to work with. With a bad boy, it’s a different story. Most people aren’t necessarily born evil; sometimes they just come out that way due to difficult circumstances in their past. Loki, for example, was adopted, and has lived under his brother’s shadow for years. And for someone who’s really intelligent, Loki had his backside handed to him by at least seven different characters at different points in the movie. And I think the small obsession with Cato in The Hunger Games was the fact that readers don’t know if he was born a bloodthirsty killer. He was definitely raised that way, but some people wonder what kind of person he’d be if he hadn’t been trained to be a murderer. As for Malfoy, as the series progresses, we see that he’s not completely evil; he was just born in a biased family and raised to be a spoiled rich bully. And Edward Cullen…well, okay, he’s still a poster child for bad boyfriends and psychotic nutcases who desperately needs a personality. Next.
  4. SafetyAs I mentioned a little earlier, there’s a lot of excitement that comes from the bad guy, both in fiction and in real life. What makes the two types different is that, in fiction, we don’t put ourselves in physical danger by investing our time in the villains. When I touched on this subject with my nonfiction professor last November, she said that the safety aspect plays an important role in loving fictional villains. I wrote a social critique about the bad boy fascination for the class, and this is what she told me when I got it back:

    “If bad boys are certifiably attractive in real life, how much more so in fiction! Where we can indulge the fascination with no actual risk…even though women know better than to imagine that a bad boy is a trustworthy life partner, and will say so, they are still attracted to them. In fiction, we want excitement! Drama! Trouble! Tension! This is why fiction is usually about the romance part, but not so much about the long haul of a stable relationship. In fiction we can explore a risky attraction but still have our safely boring real life.”

    And I have to admit that it’s hard to refute that argument. Even though a story can come to life and set our imaginations on fire, we have to remember that—most of the time—it’s still a story. Whether they’re in a book, on the television scene, or performing onstage, they can neither see nor hear us. Are they capable of haunting our nightmares? If they’re scary enough, sure. Could they be bad influences? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make them any less fascinating…which brings me to my fifth and final factor in the bad boy attraction:

  5. The Dark TriadThe three personality traits known as the “dark triad,” according to psychologists, enhance a person’s level of attractiveness. These three traits are narcissism (entitled, pompous, and self-spoiled), Machiavellianism (manipulative), and psychopathy (reckless, selfish and uncaring; not necessarily violent). Now, I know what you’re thinking. Those three traits don’t exactly sound captivating. So what is it about them that make the bad boy swoon-worthy?

    For one, narcissistic people display a very high level of self-esteem. To make a bad pop culture reference, they’re sexy and they know it. With high self-esteem comes a high level of confidence, and many can agree that confidence is attractive. Such people know who they are, and they don’t care what other people think of them.

    But narcissism doesn’t go anywhere on its own. Even the bad boy needs to be able to convince people to give him what he wants, and this is where Machiavellianism comes in. Manipulation is a terrifying skill. People with the ability to manipulate know how to charm people, get inside their heads, and get what they want. They know how to act and look a certain way that makes us trust them and want to interact with them.

    But at the end of the day, psychopathy is what makes him the bad boy. Now, there’s a spectrum of psychopathy to keep in mind, the highest point being a serial killer, while the mildest sociopath just doesn’t care. Either way, it’s impossible to forge a strong connection with a psychopath because, no matter where they fall on the scale of one to ten in psychopathy, they don’t care about other people. Power is the only thing they want, and they’ll find any means necessary to get it. In addition, psychopaths have a sixth sense for reading people; they can read you like a book, get into your head, and know everything they need to know about you. This ability is necessary for anyone who wants to manipulate others for their own narcissistic purposes.

    So people with the dark triad make a deadly first impression that draws others to them. They’re confident, and they know what they want. They look and act like the kind of people we want to be around. And they’re willing to do anything to get what they want. Do they make for healthy, committed relationships? Hate to break it to you, people, but no. Unless you’re addicted to drama and you like it when people use and abuse you, they don’t. But if we’re looking for a general law of initial attraction, at least we can now better understand what the deal is with the bad boy.

Until next time—against personal vendetta, better judgment, and all laws of sanity maintenance—this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Sources used:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl30aEahlIU

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201301/shedding-light-psychology-s-dark-triad

Photo source: http://www.businessinsider.com/loki-movie-petition-2013-9

From Insultingly Disgusting to Disgustingly Insulting

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Many of us watched the Super Bowl last weekend. And boy, was that a brutal game. I stopped watching at the beginning of the third quarter because I thought “well, if that’s how they’re going to start the second half, it’s basically over. The Broncos have no hope” (I apologize if I offend any Broncos fans). But something that caught the attention of America during the game was one of the commercials—more specifically, the Coke commercial.

If you didn’t watch the game, the commercial was made up of people living their everyday lives—swimming, camping, drinking coke, etc.—while “America the Beautiful” played in the background, being sung in seven different languages including English, Spanish, and Tagalog. All of the people shown in the commercial came from different ethnic backgrounds. It was a beautiful commercial, easily popular among people that I talked to about it. And if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. The only downside is that I’m not sure if the Native Americans were included in the representation of the different cultures that made America what it is today—and that’s kind of important, seeing as they were in the US of A first, and they were here thousands of years before anyone even knew the land existed.

People either loved or hated this commercial, and the hate came for two different reasons. First, at one point viewers saw a gay couple roller skating with their daughter, which of course sparked a lot of controversy. It’s ironic because the woman who wrote the song was a lesbian. And the second reason for the hate—the one that really caught me off guard and ruined any potential of me having a good Monday—was this:

http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2014/02/an-inoffensive-coke-commercial-has-sparked-an-offensive-trending-topic/

You know, many Americans like to advertise Amendment 1 in the constitution. Why? Because it says, and I quote, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What does this mean? To put it simply, if you’re an American citizen then you can say whatever you want. You can publicly and proudly thank God for dead soldiers and advertise that God hates everything he’s ever created, as Westboro Baptist Church loves to do. You can talk shit about people you’ve never met, behind their backs and to their faces. You can demonize and dehumanize other human beings with your words. You can make up the truth about a person, place, item, or idea that you’ve never interacted with. Why? Because we have a freedom of speech, and by golly we can’t exist for a single day without abusing that freedom in any way, shape, or form.

With freedom comes a lot of responsibility. You wouldn’t leave your kids at home alone unless you were absolutely sure that they could adequately take care of themselves. You wouldn’t allow convicts out of jail for any reason unless you were convinced that a) said convicts would abide by the law, or b) if they broke parole or did anything else to warrant arrest, you’d be able to catch them immediately. And just because the people in the link had the right to express their racist opinions, it didn’t mean that they should have.

Look, I’m not an expert on the subject of racism. I’m just a twenty-two year old college student who’s still in the middle of creating her own mindset about life. I realize that racism isn’t as big a problem as it used to be. But it’s still out there. It’s still painful. And it still hurts a lot of people. It just manifests itself in different ways. And I refuse to take this lying down. Why? As a friend put it, America “was built from scratch on the backs of immigrants.” Think about it, people. The first white man to ever set foot on the land of North America didn’t even get here until the late fifteenth century. And white men didn’t even start living here until at least a hundred years later. But once we got to the industrial age, our ancestors started to see that the companies didn’t have enough workers to keep the economy going. So what did we do to fix the problem? We invited people of other countries to come here and work for a living. And the rest is history.

We’re allowed to have our own opinions, certainly. But you have to be able to back it up if you want anyone to take it seriously. And if you want a smart opinion, you need to do two things. One: research, research, research. Go through every shred of evidence you can get your hands on, and make sure you have the whole picture, not just a piece of it. Assess both sides of the argument and draw your own conclusions. Two: Grow up and be an adult.

Seriously, America. How long are we going to ignore the fact that immigration helped us to survive as a country? How long are we going to pretend that America’s culture isn’t made up of dozens of different other cultures? How long are we going to make up the truth about people we understand nothing about? Let’s face it, guys. Maybe it’s time to put aside our differences and take a long, hard look at the reality of diversity.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Mistakes Aren’t Embarrassing…wait, what?

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

As much as I love writing, I have to admit that the path I’ve taken hasn’t been easy so far—and I’m not even out of school yet. To be honest, I didn’t even start calling myself a writer until last year when I started taking writing classes. And since then, I’ve had to learn exactly how far I need to go in order to follow my dream.

It started with my craft of writing class in the fall. I thought I was good at poetry until then, and I stopped when I realized that I didn’t understand it as well as I thought I did. In the spring semester of that year, I found myself in a fiction writing class. In addition to writing three short stories, we also had to construct scenes based on an aspect of storytelling like description, dialogue, etc. While I left the class feeling a little encouraged, I spent the three months before that point feeling frustrated with my work no matter how good or bad it was. I started to question my abilities as a writer and my sense of belonging in the career I had chosen.

Cut forward a bit to last fall semester when I took a journalism class and a nonfiction writing class, both of which—once again—made me question my value as a writer. One of the assignments I had for nonfiction was a book review…and I hated it almost as soon as I finished it. I hadn’t assessed the source as well as I thought I had, and as a result the final draft of it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it (in fact, note to self: reevaluate The Social Code).

Journalism class, in comparison, was seven levels of hell that I don’t think Dante ever took into consideration. We had to write seven articles for the school newspaper, and for nearly every article I wrote, something went horribly wrong. Six of them were published online, four of them in print, one of them never got published at all, and only one of them doesn’t leave me feeling unclean just thinking about it. After that, I was done with journalism and decided to stick to fiction and blogging.

Or…so I thought.

Midway through January, I received an email from one of the campus news editors inviting me to be a staff writer for the spring semester. I felt so outraged and confused, and I almost emailed back to say no. But then the next morning, I remembered a moment with my family during Christmas break, when we talked about the only time my brother Matt ever played goalie on the little league soccer team. The story is that he accidentally scored a point for the other team. My dad said he thought Matt would’ve been a good goalie regardless of his mistake because—unlike the other kids on the team—Matt stayed focused the whole time. Instead of sitting on the ground picking at the grass when he had nothing to do, Matt kept his eyes on the ball, preparing himself for when he had to prevent the other team from scoring. Regardless, Matt was so embarrassed that he stuck to the field from then on. He never played goalie again.

That was when it hit me: I had a habit of giving up when the going got tough. I sat down and I thought “What the hell am I doing? How am I supposed to improve if I keep running away like this?” Then I started to seriously consider the offer I was being given. While there were definitely moments where I questioned my need for mental rehabilitation, there were also moments where I felt genuinely excited about the assignments I got for the newspaper. Each assignment gave me the opportunity to connect with people individually and as a community. Every question I asked and every person I talked to gave me another understanding of the way things are and the way they could be. And even if my work is the worst, that doesn’t mean I can’t improve.

Adulthood is going to be tough, no doubt about it. Working a job or two, paying bills, maintaining stable relationships, and keeping your sanity in check? They say life is no picnic no matter what you choose to do with it, and honestly, I wouldn’t doubt it. But there’ve been billions of people throughout history who didn’t give up on living life and following their dreams, no matter how bad the storm raged. So what gives me the right to throw in the towel? A lot of people get criticized doing something they like. Everyone makes mistakes at some point. And chances are, you probably will too. The key is in learning how to handle it. You can run from it or learn from it. The choice is yours.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”