By Hazel Agicha
Note: Even if you’re like me and prefer to read the ending first, surprise! There’s no ending and you’ll still be as curious as when you started.
When we hear the phrase “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” it brings us relief and hope that maybe if we keep pushing through the hardship and adversity we’ll find relief on the other side. We hope that if we work hard enough, grit our teeth, bear everything life throws at us, one day, a door to a magical world will open to reward us for our tenacity. It would be a world where we will never have to feel even one ounce of strain, it will taste exactly like eating that one dish that brings you back, it will feel precisely like touching your dreams and sleeping on a cloud for the rest of your life. But, when I hear the phrase, the magical world doesn’t exist because I don’t think about the light, I think about the tunnel.
I remember when I had a project for my seventh grade social studies class. It was within my capabilities but I left it to the last minute (predictable, duh, I was thirteen). I remember working on it until 1 a.m. and then brewing a pot of coffee, not for me, but for the project. I dipped papers in coffee, stepped on them, and burnt it to match the theme (World War II). I don’t remember the final result (except for the fact it was coffee-dipped) or the grade, I just remember making it. For me, it was more about the journey than the destination. I mean, I did care about finishing it, but when I think about it the journey is all I remember.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
Personally, it’s just the journey that matters, because it’s the journey that gets me through, it’s the journey that develops me as a character. It’s the journey I use to brag. It’s the journey that is more exciting to share because I can edit it to highlight my best parts, features, moments (without seeming like a total narcissist). It’s the journey that’s the story. It’s the journey that you get excited to tell children. It’s the journey that is used on dates to impress someone else. Joey from Friends didn’t get girls without his famous fake stories. “Yeah, I hitchhiked to Mexico and had to pee in a bottle because I couldn’t find a bathroom,” sounds way better than “I went to Mexico” and frankly, it’s a way better way to keep the conversation going.
There is light at the end of the tunnel . . .
But what about the tunnel? The struggle is what I look back on. You don’t magically wake up and know that you have reached the end of your tunnel (unless you just graduated from something, but even then, that ending is just the beginning of a new tunnel). And, when do I truly know that I know enough? How does one just leave their tunnel and reach the light? What happens when one is in their light? What if there is light in the tunnel but we all just see the brightness outside and overlook the light we have inside?
You can see who I am today, but if you knew how I started my journey, my today makes a lot more sense. It’s just like villains in movies. In the end, you see how they grew up to become what they were shown and suddenly it all falls into place. “Oh, no wonder he turned out that way!” Your journey isn’t always just positive or negative, you can’t sort them into bad or good like you’re sorting M&M’s. You have to look deep and find the result. That is why in therapy you always start by looking at your past and work from there because your past makes your present, and your present makes your future.
Do I know what the end result is? No. Who does? I mean, your best friend Sarah from sixth grade may have helped you realize that you trust people too easily and she probably won’t be a part of your light—or even seventh grade. I mean everyone has their own journey and I am an important part of theirs (hopefully), as they are to mine. I don’t know if they’ll be featured in the end result but whether you want it or not, they’re a part of your journey. Even the stranger that asked you for directions is a part of your journey, albeit a negligible one (whereas, you’re a more important part of theirs because you literally gave them directions).
The light and the tunnel are complex subjects, with many questions and little to no answers. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on the light to drive you to finish your “tunnel.” But just maybe, have you ever thought about where you are in the tunnel? How fast would you have to sprint to leave the tunnel? Why aren’t you looking to see what’s in your tunnel? You’re probably looking to see the answers to all the questions I proposed in this piece. Yet, you won’t find them, because just like me, this piece hasn’t reached the end of its tunnel.
This piece started from my bed at 3 a.m. I keep a note of topics that I can write about in my Notes app and this topic had been there for about a year; however, it was just poking at me that day. For some reason, I had to write it. It didn’t just all fall into place (like one would hope) and I was stuck between two sub-topics but if you saw the document, you would clearly be able to tell that this was my favorite.
Hazel Agicha is a sophomore who loves anything plants, cats and reading. Her goals are to get into a college where she can pursue business and finance. She moved to to America five years ago from India.