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The Big Tall Wish – and the Incurable Pessimist

Rejection is a weight I carry constantly. At first, I welcomed the feeling as one that served to vindicate the pessimism that prevails in my heart of hearts — despite how staunchly I’d rage against it in hoping for the best. 

But eventually, the weight began to drag me down, while the world outside ridiculed whatever the weight failed to overshadow. The very same group who muse against the mainstream are also those who swear by its optimism and fairy tales. 

Glossy veneers cover the harsh realities of this world, offering visions of happiness and success that are too often unattainable. This paltry, albeit comforting narrative promises hard work and determination will ensure prosperity and happiness — while ignoring the systemic injustices and inequities that often hold people back. 

So, anyone can achieve their dreams if they just “work hard enough.” Success is “a matter of personal willpower” rather than an ignoble contingency. 

In this sense, the mainstream sells us a kind of idealized version of reality that is more aspirational than realistic. We are encouraged to pursue impossible, impractical dreams which cede to harsh realities.

Yet, everything and everyone now speaks to this even as I push onward, with an open heart. I find myself increasingly inclined to trust unkind voices, regardless of whether they’re within earshot or in my head because they afford some purpose to my life — a life that I realize has been — and remains — lonesome and unremarkable. 

The purpose, I reason, is that I was meant to be alone. 

This world beats down the gentle soul. Survival demands a hardened heart, therefore I am memorable for my tenacity. Softness is a weakness to overcome. The imperative for efficacy drives me. Always has. Always will. 

But the truth is, I’m not strong. I’m just headstrong. I’m here because I have to be. I’m too proud to let the cruelties of this life keep me down for the count. I refuse to be a victim of fate or circumstance.

But I was. 

I am. 

I have all A’s in school. 

Now, I have an ex. 

Timeless, yet cyclic, disparity already defined the world as a cold, uncaring place. Interpersonality undermines my own agency and control. It resigns me to the whims of a world that is incredibly cruel, when not indifferent.

It’s a world where family proves to be our harshest critics as the people who know us best, but seldom hold us in love. Instead, they hold us to ingrained expectations of who we are and what we should be. These expectations are difficult, often impossible to escape. 

It’s a world where friends are shown to be transient as their priorities change. They leave to chase others which leaves us less. They aspire for their own success — keener to begrudge our successes than celebrate them. When we grow up, we grow apart because the friendships we indulged in our youth are no longer as enduring as they once seemed. 

It’s a world where intimate connections can be severed without warning or explanation. This is where all my hard-won strength and resilience come from — all characterized by catharsis. Romantic love was not an opportunity to grow and become stronger. It was a bitter reminder of the harsh and unforgiving nature of the world. Because the love I shared will always be a love I ultimately lost. Moreover, this loss was entirely my doing—and may one day be my own undoing. 

I didn’t lose because I stopped fighting. I lost because I wasn’t worth fighting for. 

This is what hurts most. This haunting realization underscores a hushed, piecemeal tenacity that hinges on stoicism. 

We’re still friends, but the connection is far away. 

The weight is excruciating. Not just rejection, but my own inadequacy — heavy like a stone, holding me down, convincing me that I’m not, wasn’t, never will be enough to keep anyone by my side. 

I want to rise like the phoenix everyone thinks I am. Just once, can’t I be the victor of my story? Why can’t I recede and summon a lone warrior to emerge?

Like Adele, I think it’s just all about “Chasing Pavements.” Pavements never end. That’s how I’ve always felt, feel, and will continue to feel. I’ll just keep on walking because my heart has nowhere to go. My heart is shattered. I gave it to him only to have it returned in pieces. All sums have been reduced to splinters.

There’s no point in opening my heart to someone new. My Fahr’s disease will have calcified too much by the time anything could be substantive. The unlikely odds are also just not worth the risk. Plus no one could come close. Even if I deluded myself into forcing something, this love loss proves I’m neither worth fighting for nor the best judge of character. I mistook the love I had for a garden when it was really a hole: a murky, tender aperture whose depth sprawls evermore.

COVER PHOTO: Fallen Matthews

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