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hazing ritual for the socially misunderstood

Imagine, for a moment, that you could rename yourself. Guide yourself down an alley smeared with parables and potholes with a hand on the surface to keep upright, for you are but a waiflike mirage until you settle on your namesake. After you smear dried patches of blood along your left cheek, your name will become a martyr for all those who have sought you and scarred themselves on a mantle. A brick mantle, an unforeseeable mantle consigning change and you use the mechanism to float yourself down a rigid path. Its barbed wire, perhaps electrical, fences. You passed the job interview by signing a few papers and answering a few questions diluted (or perhaps enhanced) by fate and circumstance, but your job remains unclear.

You are employed by the mundane and your task is to define all that cannot be understood. Of course, you signed up for the job because you were eager to take a pickaxe to the wall of ice comprising your identity. Of course, you signed up for the position behind a desk to hide your knees whenever they trembled as you awaited your reckoning. Of course, you live in a three-walled apartment room, the falling tower of social interaction assaulted with bricks and scraped cement.

It is your first day. Your manager entrusts you with a stack of files sealed off in a small tin crate and orders you to strike them down to a sentence or less, that a new batch will fall from an unidentifiable hole in the ceiling above your bare metal desk on the next day. Rows and rows of those like you sit tethered to a sea of desks, foreheads pressed to cool metal, palms sweating with shame as concise language defines them. You believe you will crack the code and you grit your teeth to face your new foe, and everyone in the room can comprehend your nature enough to assume you are the new hire.

However, they do not have the time to observe or comment on the intricacies of your behavior, let alone your work ethic. You crack your knuckles and the sandy-haired man beside you grumbles under his breath. You smile, wide as the ocean that once distanced you from the cavalcades of the world as you festered behind a thin wall. Around you, metaphorical drywall crumbles between your fingers. Every phase of your life is accompanied by a new wall, though there are three in your home. There are three walls and oftentimes no door.

The first item on your assigned metal desk is a single phrase in Serif print on a blank sheet of paper and you look about the room, eyebrows touching. The room begins to smell like ammonia. Define yourself as you would your anxiety. The query was submitted by a hole in the ceiling and delivered to you by an unnamed manager, and the prompt fractures your will. Your knees begin to tremble.

Anxiety is powerful fragility, you begin to write, drawing inspiration from the sandy-haired man quaking beside you and the resilient individual across from you, their legs also shaking as they continue condensing scripts. Stability is a facade, but a necessary one for when localized individuals think about concepts distanced from themselves, emotions beyond their capabilities to understand. They hand-deliver these concepts in wire-strung boxes labeled ‘sympathy.’ Sometimes, it is easier to scorn yourself than understand; it remains easier to chalk up bad writing and flowery language as a decoration instead of a perfume to mask rot.

Anxiety is powerful fragility, and you will always be chronically misunderstood.

Anshi is a high schooler from MD who spends her time eating dark chocolate & listening to music.

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