Finding ways to certainty in a time of shambles

My first call with Jen was in July of 2020 while I was on a road trip in Utah with one of my best friends from college. I was matched with her a few weeks after my orientation with Social Call, an organization I found on Google on a Sunday afternoon, when I decided that I needed to expand my perspective beyond the Silicon Valley millennials. I felt lost, trapped, locked in the box of my San Franciscan three bedroom in the middle of a pandemic. Four months into the pandemic, and I started to feel like a hamster, running in place on a wheel. …


You know the feeling well. The hollowness, emptiness, the void you want to escape. The seat next to you, indented with the shape of their body. The calendar filling up, every second packed to drown out the darkness harrowing the pit of your stomach. The night they walked away, how it consumed you. The memories flashed by — a life of you when you were a union, alive together. A dark hole takes their place in the sheets, swallowed you with the nights.

You don’t remember what it was like to be happy. Was it ever possible?

It was like swallowing the devil himself. Your body tries to detoxicate, expel him from the system. But it can’t be cleansed, the devil lives in darkness, and your stomach has become his home. …


“A girl like you”

In the first few weeks of college, I was spending a lot of time with a boy that I met in zero week. He was about twice my height and ten times as sweet as any of the boys that I had met in the summer before. He treated me well — sent me morning and evening greetings and walked me back to the dorms almost every day of the first week. It was pretty obvious to me that he wanted something from me. I assumed it was the same “something” that most boys wanted.

Not long after, I found myself on the carpet of his dorm room, with his lips pressed against mine. I was expecting it to roll out again, that same way it had rolled out the entire summer before. At that point I had almost accepted it. I had almost accepted that what most boys wanted was the physique that I carried — not the mind I had spent years molding, not skills I had spent endless hours building, and not the spirit I had spent countless nights cultivating. I had almost accepted it because accepting it was a lot simpler than questioning why. …


On a Thursday afternoon, while sitting awkwardly between my volunteer buddies and the chit-chatting of Medical Assistants around me, my caffeine-driven brain searched desperately for an entry point for conversation.

“Are those shoes new?” I glanced at Ryan’s white converse. And here goes another time-killer topic.

“Uh. Yeah?” He looked at his shoes, turning them side to side. He was on auto-drive. His eyes gazed blankly at the floor space, scanning for something interesting to join my efforts to kill time. His eyes landed on my feet and for a second, real Ryan kicked out auto-drive Ryan. …


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This is a short one for my piano teacher, my history teacher, my Latin teacher; my uncles, my aunts, my grandparents; my brother, my sister; my best friends and my “more than friends.” This one is to all of you — in however small or great amount — have blessed me, loved me, and watched me grow from “this big” to “this big.”

When I turned 18, my dad took his hand and put them about 8 inches apart. He said to me, “I watched you grow from this big,” then he put his hands to about 5 feet apart, “to this big!” he joked. He then proceeded to chuckling at himself for a minute or two while I rolled my eyes at him jokingly —one of those, ah you, what a dad joke moments. …


In the summer of 2017, the plan was to be on track for my lifelong goal to apply for medical school. But I decided to toss that blueprint into the back burner. It was time for some soul searching. And so I dropped my MCAT classes, packed the first $1400 I made and bought a one way ticket to a little old town in Eastern Europe, the continent that I felt for the first time, for as long as I can remember since I was a little kid — joy. …


“I don’t know if I want to go to med school anymore.”

I held the phone inches away from my face the way I did when I was young, expecting my parents to scream through the phone to lecture me. That was always something I could appreciate about growing up away from my parents. The few times that I got scared of their yelling, I just had to hold the phone far away, imagining that they were only talking to me.

It was my fault, I haven’t been talking to my parents too much since college started. So many things have been happening in my life and I have only been giving them small glimpses of my thoughts. …


I love reading quotes, the kinds that are like little inspirational life lessons. Often, I would jot these quotes down on my notebooks or put them into a pretty little collage. In the second year of college, I looked for a lot of self help books. I have printed them out and written little schedules for myself to follow. …


So I’ve been hearing about this a lot lately. It seems to have become a growing trend on social media. It’s something pretty personal to me and maybe it’s worth a try for me to write about this.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a very loving father. I know fully well how much he loves me and wants the best for me. He used to read stories to me every night. He used to sit by my bedside until I fell asleep, when he’s had a full day of work. I remember that mom used to wake him up to bring him back to his room. He told me I was a princess. He played house with me. He let me dress him up like a Barbie doll. He tutored me. He supported my artistic skills. He did everything from being a stuffed animal to being my pretend prince to being my tutor. As I grew up and he knows that he can’t provide as much as he used to, he continued to mentor me and support me in my passions. …

Charisse Yeh

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