Campus Life sixpence

belonging, home, and me

“your old house, it feels smaller/will it fade out if we wait longer?” - sadie jean, “16”

i’ve never really known what it meant to have a “home.” when most people talk about their homes, they refer to their childhood house, the team that they’ve been through unspeakable horrors with, or the four friends that they never stop spending time with.

but for whatever reason, home to me is  a feeling that i can’t ever seem to grasp for more than a second. fleeting, fleeing, gone, as are most things in the world.

you see, ever since middle school, i’ve had this growing dread in my stomach, spurred by the realization that i’ve never really “belonged” anywhere no matter how much i tried. i’ve always been just too offputting, just too weird, and always, always too much. but whenever i tried to be any less than what i currently was, it made me feel horrible — an imposter ඞ, almost.

it seems that i’m doomed to be this way.

it’s akin to the way void termina is the version of kirby that was never exposed to friendship and love — destined to wander the universe alone, with only the ability to destroy things.

sounds like average teenage angst, right?

since i am not in fact an almighty god of destruction, i opted to wallow in my sadness instead, which was only slightly less disastrous. even during cpw, pre-orientation, and the first month of the semester, i still felt the presence of this gnawing hole in my heart.

what if you never find anywhere that accepts you? what if everyone was right, and you, at your core, are unworthy of companionship and love?

i was terrified for a while, horrified that my fate would be like that of rain slipping in between concrete cracks, seeping into a mixture of gravel and dirt where i’d forever remain unseen. an outsider to the world passing by, left to spend the rest of my time watching people come and go.

thankfully, i was horribly wrong. in mid-to-late september, i started going to mit esp meetings, which was possibly one of the best decisions i’ve ever made.

esp, which stands for the educational studies program, runs many educational programs for middle and high school students, the most notable one being splash. i joined esp because my host for cpw remembered who i was when i came up to them whilst they were boothing for esp, and i thought that was the sweetest thing ever. on top of that, they sent me a dm on insta telling me to go to one of esp’s meetings and i was like “oh my god, they want me here?????”

yeah, i know that it’s not really the highest of standards.

still, i’m so glad that i joined — i love them so, so very much. as i got assimilated into esp, the little voice in my head got buried under all of these warm feelings and stopped shouting “you’re not really one of them,” but now pleads “can you stay a little longer?”

of course, i oblige with a grin on my face.

for the first week of cascade, a six-week program for underserved students in the Boston area, i carted laptops all the way from faraway maseeh hall over to building 56, which got me a chewing-out because it was dangerous for me to do so. afterwards, we sang happy birthday for an admin who forgot it was their birthday (they only remembered because i jokingly told them happy birthday).

at splash, a two-day educational program for high schoolers, i ran around lobby 13 setting up and participating in different walk-in classes taught by esp admin and other teachers, went to the bush room to take a break and check in on other people, and accidentally overslept sunday morning (although everyone else had me covered).

in the office, i lean on a friend’s shoulder during weekly meetings while the data czar presents the data graph of the week and chairs present internal fuzzies (an external vocalization of esp members’ appreciation for one another). in the weeks leading up to a program, i read emails and schedule classes while listening to some random banter across the room.

part of the reason that i’ve gotten so attached to the people at esp is that they’ve accepted every facet of my existence. they’ve helped me get through my queer anguish, let me pet and bite and hug them, and have supported me through my academic endeavors. often, my pursuits are quite reasonable, but sometimes they are not — turns out trying to take six classes freshman spring is not advisable. despite that sporadic irrationality, they continue to show me that i’m not too much — not tolerable, like i used to aim for, but wanted, even in all of my intensity.

the other part of it is that they’re all such wonderful, admirable people to be around. not only are they all so excited to learn more about their passions, but also to teach others how to do things (sometimes for the purpose of making their lives easier, but hey, learning how to use a power drill is pretty fun). perhaps the joy of teaching and learning is embedded into all of our hearts…

well, at least mine — enough so to call esp home. as i write this, my eyes are currently bloodshot from crying all day wednesday before thanksgiving break. i used to cry because i had to see my parents again, who are very icky, but i wasn’t feeling particularly upset that i had to see them again — rather, i was absolutely destroyed at the fact that i had to leave my newfound home for a few days.

leaving behind a place where i can be a little more “me” always hurts. i pick back up an incorrect name, an outdated idea of who i am, and a false persona, and then take a deep breath.

trusting that i can internalize all the affirmations and confidence that i’ve gathered over these past few months, i’ll make sure to carry all the love they’ve given me. 

it’s the least i can do.

also hi! this is a bit of a late introduction, but you might be wondering “who on earth is this kid writing an article?”

my name is vi (pronounced like the letter) and i’m a freshman. i’m starting this column cause i wanna write more and share my unhinged thoughts with the world!

if you want to talk to me, you can always email me at tvi@ or message me on discord (@pikaolive)

hope y’all enjoy \(>u<)/