My Own World
By: Gabriel McSherry
I usually try to stay away from campus for everything I fear and despise lurks within, and paths through the darkness of the woods seem to calm me. A misunderstood land where creeps and criminals lay low after dark, but if they only knew the only foe you may find out here are your own wandering thoughts at times. Nature has always accepted me with open arms and wears no mask. It doesn’t need to worry about being something else and in that way, I find myself envious of its existence. When the rain hits the ground, it’s like an audience clapping just for me. When the wind blows it sounds more honest than words ever could. As much as I was relishing this walk through the woods, the lights and sounds of campus could be seen through the branches. Like a moth to a flame, I found myself walking through campus, after promising myself I wouldn’t.
It was around seven o’clock PM when I longed for bed, yet I had done nothing all day and it was a Friday. But bed was the enemy and tired I wasn’t, so why did bed look so inviting? I must admit the most accepting screen on my phone was the black one. It understands me more than any of the others. It doesn’t judge nor categorize me into a particular slot and it’s the one screen I can’t hide behind. Possibly I could pretend like everyone else does; comparing actual glory to snap streaks or Instagram followers. Not one of those brings me joy, only despair- sadness to look upon false identities who always seem to be better off than I. Suddenly I became too restless for bed and fancied an evening stroll.
I avoided the occasional hordes of drunken loud students flocking in groups of five or more. When I walk by, I sometimes gather the strength to look up into their faces and there are always two expressions present: emptiness, and fear. The empty faces are usually the loud ones who put up a façade of drunken joy, and the very few ones who glance back at me for a moment are the ones who clearly don’t know why they are there in the first place; afraid of not finding a crowd to call their own so they settle with a crowd that isn’t. I didn’t find myself to ever be a part of any crowd and my mother says that’s a good thing and that’s what makes me special. But I thought college was the time to find people who you enjoy being around and who appreciate you for who you are?
As I walked along the brick path, lamps of orange light illuminated the nearby branches that gently pierced its circular glow. Then an invading light from a dormitory window captured my eye where inside I couldn’t help but recognize someone curled up on a couch. Their face was all bright from the television screen projecting it’s light. I couldn’t see what they were watching, but it didn’t matter because they looked lost. Maybe what they were watching was just that intriguing, but then I wondered what someone was doing inside all alone watching television on a Friday night. Maybe they also don’t have somewhere to go, or just choose to stay isolated in their own world. Do I choose isolation as well, or am I put here? It was 9 o’clock and I decided to call it a night before they saw me and labeled me a creeper of some sort. As I walked back to my dorm, I relished in the small amount of comfort that I was not completely alone and there could be someone else out there who enjoys their own worlds as I enjoy mine.
“My Own World” reflection
By: Gabriel McSherry
First off, thank you for reading my short excerpt! Unfortunately it didn’t keep the font I wanted. It was a bit of uncomfortable and challenging ground for me suffering from depression and anxiety myself, but everyone deals with these mental disorders differently. I think the first topic to discuss is recognition. A ‘mental disorder’ sounds a lot more insulting than it’s supposed to. Everyone struggles with something, and all kinds of mental disorders are completely common. Recognizing these can be half the battle and a lot of people refuse to do so for fear of reputation or status- or just fear in general. It can be annoying, terrifying, foggy, self-deteriorating, etc. but as soon as I recognized these dark mental states within myself, it was kind of liberating in a way. It’s a form of acceptance and letting go of someone you think everyone wants you to be. Instead, you become more human and a lot more in touch with yourself and who you really want to become.
Grendel from Beowulf partly inspired this reading due to him being an outsider. Grendel seen wandering the moors (swampy land) is seen as a negative, but maybe Grendel finds misunderstood beauty in that part of nature. Swamps can be beautiful! If you ever go down to Louisiana, not much beats a swamp at sunset in my opinion. Walking around after dark in certain areas is seen as unsafe, which granted it can be but maybe it is someone’s solace or place to escape? I used the woods idea because we associate it being dangerous and full of creeps after dark, but we forget about nature itself. Why put villains in such a beautiful house all the time?
Also, much inspiration was from Hoccleve’s Complaint obviously. Our speaker in My Own World isn’t really seeing blunt rejection because I wanted to keep it within his or her head. But we can learn through despair to be grateful, and it is not the end. A state of mind can be temporary and sometimes the only way to go is up. At the end of My Own World, our speaker is not out of darkness after a small night stroll, but a sliver of perspective changes things. There is recognition at the end of Complaint that acts as hope, and hope is sometimes impossible but can be the most powerful thing to find and hold onto.
This story is fiction along with all its characters; however, I was influenced by similar past experiences and just ideas I have always thought about. Stepping into the mind of an “outsider” or “loner” is not easy nor do I think I pulled it off in this project. This was just an interpretation of what it may feel like and felt like for me at times. I think everyone feels like an outsider for the most part especially in college. We are letting go of what we know and stepping off into uncharted territory where we all need to ultimately find our own path. Mental illness is an uphill battle, but the view at the top is worth every inch travelled.