Personal History

The Activist and the Skeptic: How Two Minds Grew Apart

In the popular mind, older generations are generally more conservative and younger ones more open-minded and willing to embrace change. It’s a dynamic often played out in popular culture — think of the conservative administrators in Dead Poets Society who don’t take well to an upstart professor with an unconventional approach to teaching young minds. The modern history of the United States is a primer in the tension between generational values. The baby-boomer generation (the hippies and protestors and activists) are widely seen as having broken free of the traditional ethos handed down by elders and as having applied idealism and passion in the name of promoting peace and building a better world. But the real picture is far more complex than the stereotypes. In some cases, members of the younger generation turned out to be more conservative than their elders. The following family history challenges generational stereotypes by describing how a mother, who lived in New York at a time of radical upheaval, found a very different political identity from that of her progressive mother.

Paralyzed

“Paralyzed” depicts a little girl’s first experience with sleep paralysis and how forced religion manifests in her hallucinations. The goal of this piece is to bring awareness to sleep paralysis and the odd ways it may reveal itself. Many who suffer from sleep paralysis are not even aware of the condition until they are well into adulthood, causing them to believe there could be something inherently wrong with their psyche.

Stand Up

How do we stand up for ourselves and overcome bullying? All human beings want to stand up for themselves, prove that their lives matter, and feel like they are repairing the world for others to feel pride or acceptance. How do standup comedy, storytelling, and performance serve as acts of defiance against the norm? How do certain events give us the power to fight back?

Frankincense and Myrrh: A Promise to Live Fully

September 11th shook a nation — it still haunts the USA today. This memoir piece marks an emotional journey, and the physical complication of flying a few days after the terrorist attack to a memorial service of someone killed in the second plane. It is a reminder that life is temporary, and to live fully despite this.

Meditations on Yugoslavia

What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.

From Another Opening Of A Windowless Room

Depression seems like an obvious flaw in the human condition. The symptoms of depression (everything from apathy, social isolation, and anhedonia to emptiness, sleeplessness, and ruminations) can make engaging in daily life absolutely impossible. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote: “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not.” Despite what seems like an obvious evolutionary handicap, research has shown depression has a variety of hidden benefits, such as encouraging attention to detail, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. By acknowledging depression’s hidden benefits, we can alter the way it impacts us individually and societally.