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We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident
Happiness is joy. It is when you’ve left your class late because you had to talk to your teacher about something and you’re left in a whirlwind of people rushing from one place to another. You think that there will be no seats left in the cafeteria for you to sit in, and you start to feel disappointed again. But then wait, no, miraculously you see an open seat. And surrounding it are the smiling faces of your friends as they wave you over, laughing about you being late again and leaving them lonely. They say that they almost gave your seat, the one they so lovingly saved, up to someone else, but you shake your head, smiling fondly as you knew they would never do that.
Happiness is when you realize that the small headache you had the other day had escalated into something worse and you have to spend the day in bed so you don’t faint or vomit in the middle of a class. It’s when through the misty haze of sleep, you see the dim glow of your phone and the quiet jingle of your ringtone. It’s when you finally wake up enough to unlock your phone to see your missed texts, and you see one from your friend. It’s when you see the words she wrote, the message she sent asking if you were all right. It’s the feeling you get when you understand that she somehow found out that you weren’t feeling well, and she texted you in the middle of class with the looming threat of a teacher, just to ask if you were okay because you weren’t there with her.
Happiness is when you’ve missed a day of school because you were out sick, and you’re busy worrying about the piles of homework and notes you would have to make up. It’s when you endure your entire day without your friends because, dang it, we don’t have the same classes again this year! You’d swear left and right that the counselors were doing it on purpose this time. But you enter your last period and you do see a familiar face or two. A small smile shyly peeks out on your face and you take a seat, slowly pulling out your materials. And then your friend, in the seat next to you, mutters under his breath so the teacher doesn’t hear as he lectures, “We missed you yesterday”.
It’s the inside jokes, the snide comments, and the teasing words exchanged in hushed voices. It’s the long car rides together, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. It is wistfulness when you are alone, but grinning anyway when you understand that you aren’t alone, not really. It is like seeing the sun, the stars, and the moon after a lifetime of being blind, or hearing a sweet lullaby, a soft melody, after an eternity of silence. It’s the feeling of a million butterflies lifting up and carrying you away to your small corner of heaven. It’s when you realize that they did notice you, and they cared about you, and they actually missed you. It’s when you finally see that these people, the ones who have broken down whatever walls you had built up, the ones who have somehow wormed their way into your heart, love you. And you feel the same way. It is pure, unfiltered bliss.
Anger is ire. It is when you’re causally walking, not really listening to all of the chatter around you in the hallway. Everything blends together into white noise, and you don’t really care for the incessant talking. It’s when you finally tune into a couple of girls talking together, attempting, and failing, to whisper. You figure they were just gossiping about the latest thing on the news, but when you catch a wisp of the phonetics of your friend’s name, you couldn’t help yourself. It’s when you hear the lies slipping from their lips, lies about your friend. The same person who’d never hurt a fly, the same person who had always been there for you. It’s the deep spark of rage that ignites through your body, the furious feeling that pools up in your heart. It’s when your lungs tighten and your chest compresses as you try to keep your composure, but you feel yourself slipping. It’s listening to each insult, and feeling as though each sentence physically pained you.
Anger is when you watch the news on TV in your living room, reclining leisurely until you see that one thing to get your mind racing, just a single glimpse of something that causes heat to crawl up your neck. It’s when you see the headlines, the stories, and hearing each and every day from your teachers, your parents, and other classmates about what exactly is occurring in the world right this moment. It’s when you see the number of deaths rising, day by day. It’s when you begin to loathe the people who did this, who ruined the little peace that had once settled over everyone. It’s when you begin to understand the pain, the despair making a nest in people’s hearts. It’s when you want to take action, to just do whatever it would take to obliterate the people causing this. It’s when you feel the pressure building up inside of you, and finally breaking open as you scoff to yourself, “What a cruel world it is.”
Anger is hot. It is flames, burning you as you scream and let loose the fury inside. It is hard and dry and absolutely terrifying, and it is no more tears, but rather an endless sight of something hard building up inside of you as you feel hate, feel vindictive, and get the urge to punch something. Anger is also cold. It is silent wrath and completely empty. It is no longer caring, but still feeling too much to let it go wholly. It is icy glares, shattering looks that cause a wave of paralysis to wash over everyone in its path. It is destruction.
Fear is terror. It is when you’re walking home alone at night because you thought it would be all right, that nothing could happen, but now you deeply regret it. It is watching lamplights flicker, and seeing ghosts of shadows come and go, and clutching yourself as you mentally curse yourself. It is the spike of anxiousness stabbing you, the pounding of your heart the only sound in the silence washing over the area. It’s when you tell yourself you’re just being silly, that this stuff only occurs in stories and cliché movies. It’s when you get that feeling you’re being followed, but you brush it off since you’re obviously just psyching yourself out. It’s the shaky breaths you release as you try not to collapse, or just burst into a run. It’s when you realize you’ve still got a while to go and all you can see coming up is a continuous flow of panic.
Fear is helplessness. It is being cornered and lonely, and dreading the future. It is being flat out frightened of the unknown, of the vast area left unexplored. It is trembling and tiny droplets of tears leaking out of the corners of your wide eyes. It’s your heart pounding, thudding so loud you’re positive the opposite side of the world could hear it. It is suffocating in yourself, hearing the blood rush to your head. It’s feeling faint but not utterly pushed to the edge yet. It is hanging off a cliff, where you can see the drop, where you can already experience the feeling of falling, but not being quite able to see the bottom. It is the feeling of foreboding creeping up on you, the apprehension eating you alive.
Fear is when everything suddenly smacks you in the face. It’s when it dawns on you everything you have to lose. It’s when you understand disappointment, failure, and anything else you could possibly regret. It’s when you realize exactly what is at stake. It’s being confident at first, all ready to gamble and roll the dice, but when it’s finally your turn to try your luck and shake it onto the board, you pause. It is seeing the faces of everyone who is placing their trust in you right at that moment and, for a split second, thinking that it was a big mistake. That it was all for nothing. It’s that horrible, nasty sentiment that shoves you around when you try to forget about it for even a brief moment. It’s trying again and again, but failing miserably each and every time. And then you’re scared to try again. It is trepidation.
Pride is delight. It is when you come back from your big competition, tired and shaky when you’ve just realized how badly you screwed up. It is feeling a twinge of disappointment and worry when you notice that your chances of winning were even less now. It is seeing your friends coming up to you, beaming. It’s when you admit to them the mistakes you made, and they still encourage you. It’s when you’re mood begins to lift, and you feel just a teeny, tiny bit better. It’s when you get home and tell your parents about the silly blunders you made, but they still gaze at you with that look in their eyes, the same one that makes everything better. It’s when you sit down after a long day, and they tell you how pleased they are to have you as their child, how overjoyed they are to see you doing so well and eventually, your heart leaps up from the small set back it had. It’s the feeling of satisfaction wrapping around you, enveloping you in a warm hug.
Pride is when you’re absolutely elated. It’s when you’ve just finished talking with your teacher, when you’ve finally got the scores you’ve been waiting for, for what seemed like an eternity and a half. It’s when you’re practically leaping out of your skin with excitement. It’s when you tell everyone, and they shower you with the same feeling you have. It’s the smiles, the delight, the feeling of being absolutely thrilled. It’s when he finally comes up to you, and pats you on the back. It’s when the words, “That’s my girl” cross his mouth and suddenly you feel as though the hours of late nights were worth it. It’s when you’re content and gratified, and appreciative of what you’ve done.
Pride is accomplishment. It is every incredible thing you’ve ever done rushing back to you all at once. It is remembering exactly how you felt when you had won that one competition, how you felt when your parents said they were glad to have you as their child. It’s staying up in the chilly hands of night, sad. It’s feeling as though you ruined something, that you’re so imperfect and that’s not okay with you. It’s perceiving that wait, no, maybe that’s not true. It’s when you think back to everything you’ve ever done. It’s reminiscing those awards you’ve won way back in elementary school. It’s thinking back to when your teacher chose you to do that big project because she secretly told you that you were the only one in the class in which she had full confidence in to do. It’s when you remember that moment when your teammates hugged you as you all collectively went up to receive that prize you all worked so, so hard for. But it’s recalling the losses as well. It’s the crushing, horrible feeling you get once you comprehend that you didn’t win, and all of that time spent practicing was for nothing. It’s recognizing the fact that you failed, and you wished that you could have stayed up a bit later, that there was something more you could have done, there had to be. It’s when they all come up to you anyway, and gently lift your chin up. It’s the soft smile they give you when they recount all of your other wins, and tell you, “No matter what, you will never be a disappointment.” It is fulfillment.
Sadness is despair. It is when you’re hanging out with all of your friends, everyone laughing and having a wonderful time. It’s when the subject changes frequently and everyone gets a say. It’s when you have a sudden thought, and you decide to voice it. It’s when you try to get everyone’s attention, but fail. It’s when someone actually does pay attention to you, and you smile, speaking. When you abruptly stop your sentence, and no one even notices. It’s when the smile fades off your face, and you think to yourself, do I even matter? Does anyone even care? It’s when you realize that you are nobody. That you are just there, no one important. It’s when you work out that you are nothing.
Sadness is misery. It’s when there’s only thirty minutes left of practice, and the teachers decide to give everyone a break and let fun commence. It’s when everyone gets the idea of having a competition, and spend twenty minutes practicing and ten performing. It’s when people split up into groups, and you are left alone yet again. It’s when you awkwardly insert yourself into one of the groups, and no one notices or cares. It’s when everyone but you is assigned roles, and they all get together and talk. It’s when the room fills with inside jokes you aren’t a part of, giggling you aren’t producing, and utter happiness you’ve never been included in. It’s when you leave without telling anyone, to go outside and get some fresh air. It is when you blink furiously to push the tears out of your eyes, to try to shove the hard lump in your throat down. It’s when no one comes after you, and as you look back at them, you see how happy they all are without you.
Sadness is desolation. It is hearing every goodbye ever said all at once. It’s seeing the light fade from a loved one’s eyes, and knowing that you could have done nothing to save them. It’s loving, and losing, and feeling full only to have that torn away from you and be replaced with emptiness. It’s a combination of every negative emotion ravaging your body in the worst way possible. It is grief and heartache, the exact moment when your soul shatters into pieces. It is a blanket of endless gloom, settling over you and you can never find a way out. It is sorrow in its raw form.