Introspection


Who Are the Impostors Among Us?

Amidst the frenzy on GroupMe to impress each other with our sophisticated opinions on obscure topics, I was struck by how frequently I saw mentions of the infamous ~impostor syndrome~, frequently written exactly that way, in the cutesy tilde that deliberately suggests a demure air of self-deprecation.


Disordered

"If you scroll deep down through the Notes app on my phone, you’ll find a document titled 'Food Tracker.' It begins July 1, 2020. Breakfast: overnight oats (400 calories). Lunch: toast (130), ½ avocado (90), olive oil (25). And it continues like that for days and weeks, a meticulous mathematical inventory of everything I had consumed."


The Most Dramatic Religion Yet

The Bachelor is morphing into something its producers apparently did not foresee when they created the show: A fame factory. Contestants go on the show, leaving behind their jobs, phones, and families, and, in return, gain massive social media followings that they can turn into lucrative professions.


A Reel in Gray

I tell myself that film photography, through its materiality and delayed gratification, connects me more meaningfully to other people than digital communication can — as if I’m subversive because I can hold a moment in time in my hand, rather than degrade it on a screen.


What Cannot Be Said in English

My salangai, red anklets with three rows of bells, chimed through our apartment as I danced Bharatanatyam, anIndian classical dance. Nearly every day for the past 16 years, I practiced rhythmic tattu mettus until my feet became calloused and our downstairs neighbors filed a complaint about the “incessant basketball thumping.”


Vision: “Under the Sea”

A digital illustration, “Under the Sea” by Vicki Xu.


Sunset

Digital illustration, 1080 x 1350 pixels. A study of color and mood.


Kitchen Table

Exhales, but not his own, even and mechanical, as if from inside a spacesuit as he hurdled alone through the vast expanse of black. Sedated. Intubated. Alone. Only the beeping intervals of his heart monitor for company.


The South from the Outside

It is a privilege to write about the South the way I do, as a mythical world of wise old ladies and muddy creeks and velvet-antlered deer. Yet I try to complicate this world: I write about struggling with spirituality amid devout Christians and growing up with three sisters in a society permeated by patriarchy. Still, there are topics I’m afraid to touch.


The Lines We Will Not Cross

It was strange to experience this grief thousands of miles away from my mother or my uncles or my grandmother. There were no cousins to hug, no uncles who stood outside my door to guard me, no mothers to wipe my tears, no aunts to crack a joke to cheer me up. Truthfully, I didn’t really process much of that day. That’s another part of grief. Still, when I look back, I remember one thing clearly — my mother’s question to me before she hung up the phone. Did I have someone here?


Another Vampire, Please

This wasn’t how I expected to spend my 21st birthday. But it was October, and given the lockdowns, pickings for a venue were slim. I’ve never been good at making decisions, and I certainly wasn’t going to start now — so I searched “restaurants near me” on Google and chose the closest one. My friends and I loaded into the car and drove off into the night. We got on I-195 and pulled up to our destination. Masks covering our faces, we entered Applebee’s.


Half-Asleep

Repression doesn’t take away just the bad memories — it snatches the good from my grasp, too. I don’t remember first meeting my friends; I don’t remember how we got so close. I don’t even remember most of the time we have spent together.


No Really, Let's Grab a Meal Sometime

“Let’s grab a meal sometime.” How many times did I hear this phrase last year? A benevolent proposition anywhere else, at Harvard, it’s become a nicety at best, and a symbol of everything wrong with social life on campus at worst.


The Price of Independence

As much as I’d like to call myself innocent, I benefited from the housing crisis that has — and will — cause thousands of people grief. I realized that I had tried so hard to see only the parts of the community that might make people stay — and ignored the ones that might push them out.


Breaking Up with My Google Calendar

When my parents suggested we take daily walks together as a family early in the morning, I leapt at the opportunity — here was another chance to fill up my day. But as the walks swung unpredictably from 20 minutes to a full hour, as we wandered from one end of the neighborhood to the next, baking under the hot Jersey sun, the walks became more than just another invite in the Calendar. Life was expanded to include the routes between.


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