☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 

Getting Sober in College    

Getting Sober in College

Art by FISK

By Emily Stillman 

In my senior year of college, I got sober. It was a long time coming, and I hadn’t even really realized that until after the fact. Truthfully, I tried absolutely everything I could think of to keep drinking and still live the life I wanted for myself. I studied on weeknights, stayed active, joined the newspaper. I went to therapy. I gathered a great group of friends around me who I loved and trusted. From the outside, I was killing it.  

Alcohol abuse can be insidious. It’s hard for me to explain the way it snuck up on me, particularly because in hindsight it’s clear to me how destructive I was when I drank. 

There’s a well-known David Foster Wallace commencement speech that begins like this: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’” Foster Wallace has said himself that the point of this story is “merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” 

I studied this speech in my freshman English class and, five years later, still think about it often. With nearly two years of sobriety under my belt, I can look back now on the water in which I had positioned myself, and the ways it perpetuated substance abuse both externally in my social life and internally in my own brain and body.  

Here’s the thing: headed into college, I had a vision of who I wanted to be. I’d be chill, carefree, effortlessly sure of herself. I’d be graceful and the life of the party. But the party sucked the life out of me. I had stepped into a world of absolute excess, with alcohol, with drugs, with sex, with stress. Bars were packed past capacity and the music was turned all the way up. We got “fucked up” and “blacked out” and “ripped shots” and for someone like me an introvert, an overthinker, anxious, eager to please — going out was overwhelming and unpleasant. 

So I drank. I drank because I didn’t know what to say to guys or do with myself in a crowd. I drank because everyone was drinking and I didn’t feel like myself and I didn’t really want to. School was always stressful and sometimes boring, so we drank. I was lonely and tired of my own thoughts, so I drank. 

I think my personal struggle with alcohol is layered — I know that addictive tendencies run in my family, that my own mental health issues — anxiety, depression, bulimia — collide poorly with alcohol’s physiological effects on the body. I know I take shame really hard and am slow to forgive myself. I know I imagined a life in which I was effortlessly confident and desirable and easy to love. 

The first weekend of my sophomore year, I woke up in a hospital room with no idea of how I’d gotten there. Even then, as embarrassed and ashamed as I was, I was determined to be the life of the party I had wished to be. Two years later, I woke up in a hospital again, and I realized I was going to have to save myself from drowning. 

A common thread throughout all of this has been loneliness — the shame that I was lonely. The crowded bars were lonely and so were pregames and parties and sex. I was constantly surrounded by people and still somehow felt invisible. I blamed myself for failing to become the girl I wanted. I know now that she was a fantasy, and every step I took to become her just led me farther away from myself.

At the same time that I was quitting drinking, I was assigned a 10-page investigative journalism paper in my final college English class. We were asked to immerse ourselves in our research — as my professor put it,  “getting the story would be the story.”

So I examined the water I was swimming in. I went out sober and I looked around. I quietly retreated from the world I had wished for, and I was okay. It was one of the most isolating moves I’ve ever made, and still, I was okay. I was better than okay – I was, for the first time in a long time, proud of myself.  

In my final paper, I concluded this:

“We pull back our hair and face our greatest fantasies and harshest truths. I step out of the music and into a world that is lonelier than I would wish it, a world where getting the story means going out and writing it for yourself, wide-eyed and sober and alone.”

The water is lonelier than I would wish it. But I wish I could go back to my past self and tell her that it’s okay to be alone. I would tell her she was capable of saving herself, of being herself, as flawed and fallible as she is.  As I am. 

I’m still out here getting the story. I’ve learned how to be less lonely with myself. I’ve learned to reconnect with the world in ways that I once feared. I write about it because I know I’m not alone. Whatever the hell the water is, we aren’t swimming in it alone.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414 and subscribing to our bi-monthly newsletter here.