Reflections of the Past

Alina Chisti, 17, she/her/hers

We were a functional unit that would occasionally encounter a few hurdles

We were a dysfunctional entity that could only occasionally and temporarily synchronize

We grew up peeking behind door hinges
Accidentally stepping on shards of glass jammed into kitchen tile crevices Nervously looking out our bedroom windows to red and blue flashing lights Constantly fearing a broken home

Our current self-expression is a distorted reflection of what we’ve witnessed We act on momentary selfish impulses
We let empathy become our unyielding nemesis
We no longer reign in the perilous burning fire within but instead light up barrels and let the world burn with us
We let rage become our obsession
Permitting it to strip us bare to our most dreaded selves
We kill our logic when it starts to stifle our perception of being on the moral high ground
We don’t mind dismantling everything we’ve established over the years for a second of satisfaction
We don’t mind screaming mindlessly until our temples burst just to project our pain onto one another
We take note of each other’s biggest insecurities, vices, and trauma to throw it at each other
conveniently like scraps to feed a flame

You’re a failure.

You’ve lost everyone.

You’re nothing.

If our pain and rage are flames,
It won’t be long before the flames burn our house to the ground

After the flames of indignation lick every corner,
What did we gain other than a satiated ego?

While standing amongst the ashes and the smoke
We’ll justify our unrestrained fury on our past
Forgetting that we’re our own individuals,

Who consciously make our own decisions,
And are capable of self control.

“Reflections”

Alicia Shao, 17, she/her/hers

Artist’s Statement: In this piece titled “Reflection,” I wanted to represent my personal struggle with self-perception and identity. After brainstorming ideas, I drew this painting digitally on Procreate. I experimented with the use of vivid coloring and loose brush strokes to illustrate how my view of myself is far from reality. I never feel beautiful enough, and I spend too much of my time picking myself apart in the mirror, comparing myself to others. No matter how much my family or friends tell me that I am good enough, I am never satisfied with myself, and I am unable to view myself objectively.

Find Alicia on Instagram @aliliws and @aliciaaaart