You're On Your Own, Kid (3am Edition)

It seems like all I do is disappoint lately. Breaking down in front of a close friend at 6 am on a Monday morning. Spam-calling everyone possible in my contact list for some emotional support. Spending my first Eucharist at the Episcopal Center sitting on the restroom floor, tears dripping like a leaky pipe from the cracks of my fingers. 

And somehow here I am, writing an article about that one Taylor Swift song (stream Midnights!) and God. But I don’t want to get too preachy here about the “rights and wrongs” or the “truthfulness and falsehood” of things, because I believe we all find spirituality, and God, in our own ways. 

Recently, I’ve been carrying faith like a friend with a broken leg, like how a parent carries a sleeping child from the backseat to their fluorescent star-studded bedroom. I love them. I feel their pain through the palms of my hands. I wish I could tell them that they can wake up the next morning and feel better, but time passes the same. I wish I could tell them “time cures all”, but I also need to be honest about the splinter of doubt in the soles of my feet.

“33 “GOD”” by Bon Iver (phenomenal song for anyone currently struggling with their own beliefs, wherever the journey might take you) ends with the beginning verse from Psalm 22, A Psalm of David: “Why are you so FAR from saving me”, a plea to God that’s never answered directly.

Job, in the book of the same name, has nearly everything he has taken away from him: his ten children, his livestock, even his clothes, despite his “uprightness” and endless devotion to God, and Jacob, in the book of Genesis, quite literally gets in a physical wrestling match with God from night to dawn. 

So, what’s the takeaway? I’ll be honest, I don’t know. The Problem of Evil is a problem as long as time: how could any just and omnipotent God allow for all this suffering in the world? I’ve gotten myself into some pretty horrible situations over the past few months, and it almost feels like I’ve abandoned myself, those around me, and even God. I cry, punch and scream at the sky to no avail. 

Yet, somehow, I’ve found my own solution in a Taylor Swift song, aptly named “You’re Own Your Own, Kid”. Quite honestly, we’re all just fairly old kids who are trying our best to navigate life. Don’t guilt yourself for the past, and don’t be afraid of the future. I know it’s easier said than done, but it will come with practice. 

Marcus Aurelius, one of the greatest Stoic philosophers, puts this best: “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” You may not be able to control the things that come your way.

However, you, and that inner child within you, can find the strength to grow resilience towards this pain. Perhaps it doesn’t answer every question, but Aurelius puts it best in that we can only control what we can. The pain we feel is normal, but with time, we can find a different, and better, perspective on our suffering. 

Swift expresses how she’s able to look back at her past self, particularly herself as a child, and realize she has been “on her own” all along. That inner child within her always had the potential to transform whatever situation she gets herself in. Sometimes we mess up, and sometimes we mess up really really badly. But we always find a way back.

To say “you’re on your own” is not to say that you’re alone, because you never are, despite how much that mess of serotonin in your brain tries to tell you. Rather, it’s to say you have the power to claw yourself out of that grave, to love that child within you as any caring parent would, to taste the evening rain and feel the water flood your shoes like that momentary love for life. 

And I know it’s a scary process, because I am experiencing it at this very moment. It’s like that one Tame Impala song: Yes, I'm changing, yes, I'm gone Yes, I'm older, yes, I'm moving on.

So don’t strive for perfection, strive for mistakes, and strive to let that inner kid know how proud they are of you, because they know all the trauma and pain you’ve suffered, and how every mistake has brought you closer to what you could be.

There are people who love you more than you can ever imagine, and if you’re ever feeling the way I am right now. Reach out, and I’m more than honored to be one of those people if you need.

Love that kid within you. Honk them with kindness. Scream to “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo in your car at 4 a.m. Blast the bass until the dorm beds two blocks away are trembling with passion. (well don’t actually) 

You have the right to be angry; you have the right to grieve; you have the right to every emotion you can possibly feel, so feel every little single sparkle of them. When you suffer, whether physically or mentally, there are people there to support you. 

But you, and you alone, are the only person who understands that pain in its full capacity. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, can tell you how you should feel. There are people surrounded by friends, but who can’t help but feel anything but lonely, and that’s only one of the many examples.

I forgot who told me this—but truly, the best friend you can be is to yourself. You’re on your own, kid, you always have been–but know you are never alone. You can do it.

Spencer Chang is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Spencer Chang profile
Spencer Chang | Opinion Managing Editor

Spencer Chang is a Trinity sophomore and an opinion managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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