Over the summer, I was a member of The Daily Californian’s senior editorial board. At our final meeting — affectionately referred to as desk signing — outgoing editors are expected to give goodbye speeches. I must’ve missed that announcement because I showed up completely unprepared.
What made things worse was when our esteemed editor in chief said something along the lines of:
“Kino, I know you’re going to have something great to say, so I’ll save you for last.”
I spent the entire evening thinking of something profound to say — something people will remember me by. I’d put in too much work to become another speck of dust in the wind. Seven sentimental speeches later, it was my turn:
“To be honest, I think I’ve said everything I want to say. I had a great time. Thank you for everything.”
Every week this semester, I’ve been expected to come up with something heartfelt or wise. Whether it be using cereal as a metaphor for trying new things or rust as a metaphor for family, people expect me to find importance in the seemingly asinine. I guess I did sign up for this.
I could never have anticipated the variety of people who would read my work and reach out to me. I was always curious about who read my column. I wonder if the people I wrote about know that I wrote about them. If they do, so be it.
Needless to say, it warms my heart. To name a few, my best friend from kindergarten, a girl in Croatia and Bob: a local Berkeley resident and reader of the physical newspaper who followed me on Instagram. Thanks, Bob, I’ll always remember you as my first fan.
For a long time, I would tailor my actions and feelings to accommodate those around me. Now, I want to continue to speak my truth and do what’s in my best interest — nobody else’s. I’ve gained a lot of closure advocating for myself. I’m going to do what I want, and people are welcome to join me.
Being approached by a stranger in person about my column was really weird. It was strange to be face to face with the fact that they had consumed the most vulnerable parts of my life like a product. Being a columnist was my job. Dissecting my past and presenting my vulnerabilities was my work. It was hard work.
I’ve always believed that the world is too serious to take seriously. I’m rarely vulnerable with people and, when I am, I soften the blow by telling jokes or minimizing the impact of what’s happened.
I could easily let all of these traumas and pains consume me, but that doesn’t seem very fun. It was either Robin Williams or the Joker who said something about the healing power of laughter. Life can be cruel, but I don’t see a point in being so doom and gloom all the time — things will get better, and we will heal with time. I’ll always have sad days, but I don’t have to let them keep me sad.
That was my original intent with this column. I just wanted to write fun pieces about cereal, not to relive trauma or confront core memories. Things don’t always go as planned, though.
Rather than continuing to avoid these feelings and memories, I opened up more and more every week, exposing myself and my vulnerabilities to hundreds of people — most of whom I haven’t spoken to in years or at all. I worry that people will feel like they know me just because I’ve written about such personal experiences.
Rather than calling my therapist back — relegating important introspection to one measly hour per week — I’ve chosen to analyze my life and experiences throughout the week every week to create some form of emotional and narrative conclusion.
I’ve never been introspective to this level in my life. Throughout the last 10 weeks, exposing my fears and traumas never got easier. The fear of being hurt or misunderstood hasn’t gone away, but the process has been nonetheless rewarding.
From Bob’s pat on the back to people thanking me for writing about suicide and abuse, exposing myself to the public and those closest to me has made me feel less lonely in such an isolating world — that I’m not alone in my emotions and experiences.
Not to sound cheesy, but it finally feels like you see me. And now it’s time for your last glimpse.
I’ve spent the entire semester thinking of something profound to say — something that people will remember me by. I’ve put in too much work for myself and my experiences to become just another column — just another set of stories. Now more than ever, I feel the weight of the words on my shoulders.
Nothing has changed since desk signing. I’m still unprepared. I still don’t have the words.
To be honest, I think I’ve said everything I want to say.
I had a great time. Thank you for everything.