A Story by Ariana H

Hey guys! I haven't posted in years because I really don't write anymore. My attention has been all over the place. So here is a piece I wrote in college when I was feeling angsty.


One thing I know for sure is that it’s eight thirty in the morning, this headache doesn’t feel like it’s ever going away, my stomach won’t stop growling, I smoked my last cigarette last night, and I have two dollars in my bank account. My typography professor instructs the class to take out our projects for a critique; A project that I normally would have enjoyed, with multiple days to work on the details. I would worry about the perfect composition or if my margins and bleeds are set up correctly to page size. Maybe a sans serif typeface is perfect for this design, but which one; Helvetica or Avenir? I would debate in my head whether I wanted the logo to be a monogram or to display an icon with the type. My classmates would be surprised to find out that graphic design is actually one of many things I am passionate about, one of many things that I got so excited to do every day and the thing that caused my acceptance to this school a year ago. They would be even more surprised if I told them I used to love every aspect of school. But today, as Professor Cannan looks around the room, she notices my poster is missing from the table and I feel a blanket of disappointment from her and my classmates. They have seen my work from the periods of time I do actually sit down and press my fingers against the mouse pad, searching for swatches to make an effective color palette or google searching modern minimalistic designs for inspiration.

They start with the student on the other end of the table. My perfectionist personality as a designer is useful during these critiques. I instantly notice his margin is too large for an eleven by seventeen size paper. He used two similar sans serif typefaces and they don’t make enough contrast against each other to be successful. The color of the type is too dull in comparison to the background. The text is centered instead of left justified, which the class already learned makes it harder for the reader to follow along. I notice all of the flaws that I point out, all of the things I always get too frustrated about; This is why I never get my own work done. I worry too much about small things and I prefer not passing anything in over doing a design that isn’t at least decent.

The critique drags on forever and I can’t help but get lost in the troubles of my own head, brainstorming how I could ever get back the passion I previously encompassed.

Among six classes of homework, my failing long distance relationship, fighting with my parents, financial problems, and the thought of what I'm going to do when I get out of here; one thing I know for sure is; I don’t think I have the drive that everyone else has here. I like to pretend I do but there are things that keep dragging me down, things I don’t understand. I know I have it in me when I win a design contest or I am praised for my design by my peers and friends. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world when my hard work and knowledge constructs good design and I get noticed. But I have been in a constant mood of no motivation, a depressed feeling I get when I am so overwhelmed with work, annoyed about fighting with my boyfriend, even hearing from friends at lunch about who slept with who and who threw up in the apartment bathroom last night makes me mad.

Soon enough, I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, the sheet wrapped around me, resisting the task to step into the cold room and take my burning hot morning shower that leaves my skin red and blotchy. With barely any energy to wash my hair so I just condition it until the weekend arrives. It’s like the sheet clings to me and my depressed mind like a plague eating away at any energy or happiness I gained while asleep. Especially on days when my eyes open and the giant window next to my bed lacks the rays of sunshine it usually displays. The buildings are accompanied by a grey background and small beads of water rest on the screen of my window until the strong city wind carries them away. I stare until my alarm rings for the third time this morning.

“You guys can take a ten minute break. Be back here by ten twenty.”

My professor rolls back in her chair and walks to her desk to put more grades in. Tyler makes eye contact with Zack and I, making his daily “let’s smoke” hand gesture. We all grab our jackets and run down the three flights of stairs, Zack and Tyler pulling out the squished and dented American Spirit packs from their pockets. I stand there staring as they flick the lighter on and on, fighting what feels like hurricane wind whipping around the stone building.

“Do you need one, Ari?” I nod and hold my hand out for the cigarette, turning my finger along the top of the lighter until I feel smoke piercing my throat and lungs. We all stand there taking in deep breaths until we feel the lightness in our head. They question me about events over the weekend. Is there a party tomorrow? Is there one Saturday too? I heard it’s someone’s birthday this weekend. S**t, I really don’t want to do this project, we barely have any time to get anything done with all of our classes going on. I notice how ironic it is that we just talked about two parties over the weekend and still complain about the frame of time we have to finish the project. It’s like the party is mandatory to keep our sanity. It’s a solid part of our schedule to keep the social aspect in our class and work filled lives, as if we are physically incapable of saying no to a night out and doing work. It all makes sense. Everyone met the first weekend here, just by going to the hookah lounge with freshmen to break the awkward first day anxiety, then by walking together to an upper classmen’s first party of the year. That was when everyone was still good, when everyone screamed out that they had a new best friend. When no one slept with so and so, no one had said something stupid about someone while they were drunk, no one even knew anything deep enough to say about each other yet.

“Let’s go inside. It’s cold” Zack opens the door but I hold the cigarette up in between my pointer and middle finger, displaying that I haven’t reached the filter yet. They go inside and I stay in my spot another minute to watch the cars drive by.

One thing I know for sure is I don't smoke cigarettes as a social activity anymore. They’re not just a purchase I make once every couple months or when I go to a party. It’s a funny thought in the first place because I used to lecture my parents about killing themselves every time they took a drag of smoke in. Now I feel like I need one for when I’m bored or stressed or want an excuse to take a break from my work. I need it for when I can't stop thinking about the last time I forced myself not to eat food for the fear of gaining weight.

I read online four years ago that cigarettes are appetite suppressants. Smoking became necessary when I emptied the bottle of diet pills that my mom once bought for my during my sophomore year of high school so I could lose weight for our trip to Florida. I had planned a trip to visit my ex boyfriend before we broke up and I wanted to look good when he saw me. The goal was to lose at least ten pounds before the week of the trip. I didn’t want to be known as the girlfriend that couldn’t get her life together after the breakup, I wanted to show I was better now.

Although the addiction started with that, now I also need them for when I can't stop crying and shaking and wanting to scream from the hole of work I dug myself into. The hole with stacks of unfinished english papers, design projects, and the most hated of all, self portraits. The most unwanted assignment for a girl recovering from EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), trying to forget about her Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and lacks talent when it comes to drawing anyway. Staring at my reflection for hours to produce a drawing, picking apart every blemish, every hair that falls out of place, every eyebrow hair I missed while plucking, the way my mouth curves at the ends or how my broad manly shoulders slump from exhaustion. So I try to think positive. At least it isn’t a self portrait for figure drawing class.

I drink on the weekends because I feel like I have to just to get away from the darkness of my dorm room for a night, to escape my usual responsibilities and worries. I drink because drunk me projects confidence. Most social anxiety is thrown out of my head and I’m not afraid to talk to anyone that approaches me. I drink to forget how disappointed my parents would be if I failed any classes this semester. And I know for sure that if I’m not failing, I’m close to it. They don’t understand the stress and the weight on my shoulders when I walk in after a long day of classes and stare at my filled planner thinking, well where the hell do I start? That thought just recently became accompanied by the degrading meeting I had with financial aid office last thursday, when a blonde haired woman with a suit and red lipstick warned me that I would have to pay seven hundred eighty dollars a month for a year to pay off next semester by myself. My heart raced and my eyes watered as I finally understood why she offered me a snickers bar from her pity candy tray before sitting me down to talk.

At the party while forcing down that shot of Jack Daniels, I forget that waking up in the morning will be a struggle and my stomach will turn, preventing me from eating or even getting up. I will have smoked almost a whole pack of cigarettes, told my friends too many secrets, and texted my boyfriend passive aggressive messages of jealousy. I will have fallen down too many times while dancing in a cramped living room to the same hit playlist they blast through those old speakers every Friday. But, it makes me forget for one night a week, right?

The next student up for critique isn’t done with their poster but they display it on their laptop, defending the unfinished work by stating that the lab was closed last night. This is a common issue regarding my graphic design class, studio hours don’t accommodate the odd sleeping schedules of college students. The high quality glossy paper required to print on for our assignments is difficult to get a hold of because it’s expensive and it takes an unbearable amount of time to get from Dick Blick Art Supplies to here. But my teacher doesn’t show any sympathy for the student because there is always a way to get it.

“You could borrow some paper from a classmate until you buy some of your own. I hear the availability for the lab in the French building is better. But alright then, any concerns you’d like to state before we critique you? And they ramble on again about the yellow to black gradient background looking tacky. My phone buzzes in my pocket and I hide it under the table to read from the dim lit screen. Good morning babe.

One thing I know for sure is that every time I have to see my boyfriend Ian’s face through a dirty laptop screen instead of right next to me, I feel even more lonely than the last. A long distance relationship has been one of the worst experiences I have ever been a part of. It’s such a helpless interaction every time we speak. We make small talk over skype two times a week; he talks about putting sheet metal together all day at work and I talk about my school work. Then we lay there until we are bored and tired, Ian starting to scroll through car parts on Amazon as I scroll through animal rights articles on facebook. I want to hug and kiss him, feel his warmth slow the sad paralysis that controls me. But I can’t. It makes me feel like collapsing down into myself because living on my own is not the kind of thing I like to do. When I love someone, I give them everything that I have, all of my time, all of my energy. I will stay up until five in the morning talking to them or build up all the energy I have and give it to them, even when I am depressed. But Ian isn’t the same way as me; he goes to bed at nine to start his seven to four job the next day, leaving me staring out the window until two in the morning. It’s my weakness to be away from the person I love. Even on my lowest days, I have just enough energy for my boyfriend and he gives me energy in return most of the time. So when I don’t have that, I slowly feel more and more uncharged.

The critique is finally done and we all roll in our chairs back to our desks. My phone buzzes again. And then again for a second time. I pull it out and notice my dad is calling. I walk out to the hallway, answer the phone and greet him. My mom told him I was in a bad mood and didn’t want to talk last night so he called to make sure I was okay. He wanted to hear what the financial aid office told me and how Ian and I are doing. He tells me to call him tonight if I have a late class “because it’ll be dark and I get worried about you sometimes”. He makes sure I am aware that everything will be okay, just to keep looking for scholarships. Don’t worry about not going to school next year just yet because you have all summer to work for money. Maybe Mom and I can help you out a little if we end up with some extra money and it comes down to that. I tell him I have to get back to class. I’m behind as it is but I don’t tell him that in fear of his disappointment.

“Bye Dad, I love you!”

Love you too, Stay warm, it’s supposed to be really cold later. Bye.

One thing I know for sure is even with all the people supporting me, with my parents always telling me to keep going, my successful business driven close relatives that tell me art school is okay despite their high expectations for the rest of the family, my boyfriend, my creative friends here, and my hardworking friends back home, I don’t ever know if I can do it. There is always that doubt in me that I think about daily, making me question, is this all worth it? I really am happy here but with the workload that I can’t ever concentrate on and drama surrounding my friends, with my boyfriend working and living back at home on that pathetic peninsula Cape Cod that he told me he never plans on leaving; it’s hard sometimes. I know I should feel lucky to wake up every morning and be surrounded by creative, wonderful individuals that complain just like me but know deep down that they want to be here. Because they wouldn’t be dealing with all of this stress and heartbreak in their own personal lives if they didn’t. My friends here have become my inspiration to find time for things that are important to me. So do I want to be here? Am I happy? Do I want to continue my relationship? Do I want to stop worrying about the financial and homework stress? Go home and work a regular job? Do I want to keep drinking and smoking? Do I think I will be successful later in life if I deal with all of this now and just get through it despite this depressed state of mind? Should I leave everything I worked so hard for only a year ago to return home, add on another nineteen years of residency on the Cape? One thing  I absolutely know for sure is that I can’t know unless I try.

I place another image in Adobe Illustrator to make a style board for the next assignment and my professor walks next to me.

“Ariana, can I depend on you to get that poster done for next class? It’s better to pass it in than to get a zero. Your grade will lower a lot if you don’t.”

“Yeah, definitely. I’ll work on it tonight.”

© 2017 Ariana H

Author's Note

Ariana H
I don't write often anymore so this probably sucks. Sorry. Please leave reviews! :)

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Added on February 23, 2017
Last Updated on February 23, 2017
Tags: college, love, friends, partying, essay, eating disorder, drugs, alcohol, heartbreak, graphic design


Ariana H
Ariana H


Hey! My name is Ariana. I am 16 years old; A Sophomore in high school. Reading is probably my biggest hobby. I LOVE to read. I like writing stories & poetry, but I'm a bit of an amateur. I also pl.. more..