Through their eyes: Chicago

These are some of the moments captured by the Couchsurfers who hosted me and explored the city with me.

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The Pump Room

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Top of the John Hancock Observatory

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University of Chicago campus

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Obfuscation

Feb. 3, 2010 

There’s always something holding me back from acting how I want to act. I feel like an outcast on the inside, but I portray differently in front of other people. I barely ever say what’s on my mind. . . I don’t know if my friends could handle it. Or if they’d judge me. 

Should you pretend to be confident if you really don’t feel confident? I do that a lot. When I feel out of place or when I’m in uncomfortable situations. I pretend I’m confident. I pretend I’m having fun when I’m really not. I pretend I’m interested when I’m not. Is that bad? To fake happiness? Just so you don’t look petulant?

A new lens

Is there anything more excruciating than being disappointed in yourself? Is there a feeling that is equal in intensity and in duration? Anything else that can gnaw at your insides with such precision, with such force? Is there anything worse than failing when everyone has expected you to fail the entire time? Anything more draining than looking into the mirror and hating yourself?

Is there anything better than being proud of yourself for enduring life, despite your imperfections? Is there a feeling that is equal in intensity and duration? Is there anything that can support happiness with such precision, with such force? Is there a better feeling than forgiving yourself for your mistakes? Anything more peaceful than succeeding in your own eyes, despite what others think? Or more powerful than looking into the mirror and loving yourself, in complete awe of your existence in nature?

A hero

 8/15/11 

Today I am reminded that through the viscosity of selfishness, greed, and pure malice — in spite of this — there are simply nice people in this world with benign intentions. That, while the world may appear to be “out to get us” to make themselves feel better, there are some who carry inspiring compassion. These people see injustices, see the needy, and make humane choices because it is in the right to do so. Character like this is heroic.

You don’t need to save people from burning buildings or rescue a drowning victim to be a hero. The man who stayed with me on the side of the road for two and a half hours, helping me to fix my car, has extraordinary powers. Superhuman capabilities. He has offered me an outpouring of help without even knowing my name, without having seen me for a second of his life. Such concern, unfettered by ostentatious motives, is so rare…and so beautiful.

Motionless

Jan 24, 2011 

The hardest part of depression is knowing it is inexorable and yet I am incapable of altering my emotional default. I  keep waiting, dreading a relapse that I know is imminent. It’s a weighted feeling– I know it is coming because I can feel the incipient stages pulling on me, sinking into my vulnerability.  I’m scared that soon I’ll stop caring again..and my senses will become impenetrable..till I cease from feeling anything at all.

One Way

Sept 8, 2012

People cling to their assumptions. And it’s a shame that so many of us are scared of change, threatened by new ideas even if they are true and more accurate than our previous beliefs. This type of thinking used to dominate me, used to bridle my search for the truth. Sometimes it still does.

Backwards

Oct 25, 2009

I choose depression. I choose self-pity. I choose to view myself as both worthless and undeserving of love. Any kind of love. I am choosing this path every day. Every purposeless day that goes by. I have no other option. I have no one to fix anymore. I am forced to look at myself.

It didn’t used to bother me, but now it is more apparent than ever—that I am broken, that I am not good enough, that I have no genuine faith, that instead of choosing a path, I have chosen to go backwards. I cant be fixed. I cant be helped. I am unfixable and broken. I am incapable of choosing a path. Everyone has let me down without even knowing it. I am better alone. That way I don’t have to put my faith in people, and they wont be disappointing me.