Special guest blogger: Kaley Mamo!
|Alecia Whitaker (Wildflower), Writopians Magda, Amanda, David Levithan, Writopians Kaley and Elizabeth at the Jefferson Market Library for Teen Author Reading Night!|
Good evening my turtledoves - you are in for a treat as this next post is written by one of my favorite people, high school freshman and Writopian, Kaley Mamo. She is a brilliant and insightful writer and blogs for her high school under her moniker: Confessions of a Teenage Existentialist. Last night a few of us went into the city to go to a Teen Author Reading event hosted by David Levithan down in the West Village at The Jefferson Market Library. Kaley is here to tell you how fabulous "breaking out of your comfort zone" is!
Going into the city is like watching movie trailers at the theater - the way there is just as exciting as the actual event, if not more so. There’s so much hype during the trip, especially when you’re on a train with your like-minded friends, feeling rebellious and alive because it’s a school night and you have that Global test the next day that you’re never going to study for. Then there’s the hot chocolate that you’ll grab from a deliciously sweet shop as you walk under the twinkling city lights, and you will be liberated by the steaming cup that nearly burns your hands. Suddenly you’re the star of your own teen TV show, be it The Carrie Diaries or Gossip Girl, as you saunter down the street, laughing too loudly and dodging passers-by. And you think of watching movie trailers, because you can feel it - millions of stories at the tips of your fingers, each a new pathway, a new setting and mood and character arc. It all depends on which way you choose to go.
Then you remember what you’re doing there in the first place - you remember you’re seeing a movie, not just the previews. Or in my case, you remember you’re going to a YA author panel to meet the very people that embody your aspirations. David Levithan (Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, Everyday, Boy Meets Boy), Kass Morgan (The 100, now a TV show on the CW), Alecia Whitaker (Wildflower) and more - they’ll all be there. And when you arrive, and you sit and listen and admire and become inspired, you’re overwhelmed in the best of ways. It’s a breathtaking night, and the honking of cars and roaring of sirens as you walk back to Grand Central fuels you. On the way home, you nearly drift to sleep - but the adrenaline (not to mention your friends) keeps you awake.
It’s nights like those that keep me alive. It’s not that I only live for adventures in the city, not that I hate doing anything but pretending I’m an elite, professional twenty-three year old writer who doesn’t have to go to three and a half more years of high school. It’s that to really, truly feel alive, I have to step outside of my comfort zone. My comfort zone being Katonah, or course. When I walk down the New York City streets with my writer friends on my way to an author reading or a poetry performance at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, I feel the deepest parts of my spirit shake off their early-November sleep. I am a writer of Manhattan, and there is never a time that I feel more like myself than when my friends and I are discussing our latest works and the struggles of writing and life and boys and family and trying, desperately, to live. But we are electrifying our souls as we absorb the arts of the city, the impromptu music underground in a grungy subway, the exquisite accent of our waiter at the diner, the dark mystery of the sky out the window and the way the train shakes with unknown quakes and tremors. (Side note - I’ve decided trains are the most magical form of transportation. Perhaps there will be a blog post about that one day.) And when we discuss the night, we think of movie trailers, because we saw so many snippets of what could-be. We basked in them, and almost forgot the main event. But the trailers have always been my favorite part of going to the movies.
It was an absolute awakening, to realize what made me feel alive - what made me realize that yes, I am a human being. I am a human being with a limited time on this earth, and I understand that I must find what I love, and I must spend every minute that I can doing whatever it is that makes me feel alive. It’s times like these that I don’t feel the overwhelming pointlessness of life that comes with being an Existentialist. I can, for the moment, flick off that pessimistic switch and think of doing the good things, rather than anxiously awaiting all the impending bad that will inevitably come. I listen to the inner clockwork of my mind, hear the ticking that picks up in pace when I write and walk through the city, feel the whirring and explosion of consciousness that comes when I finally feel alive. I am awake, completely awake and aware and I see those movie trailers all around, whispering in my ears that there are so many more stories out there, so many I have yet to discover. So many I will discover with another trip into the city.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is hard. Maybe you’re trapped in your town, or your family, or your friends or class or sports team or your own head. I know I’m trapped in school (see my previous post, Zombie Apocalypses and the Art of Wanting Something More), but there are fleeting moments when you will feel absolutely liberated. Take to the streets of Manhattan and start looking - because believe me, one day you will find them, whether they’re hiding in a cafe or a library or a stadium or concert venue. And even when you have found those moments, the search never really stops. There are always more movie trailers to watch.