A lot has happened in the past few weeks.

Perhaps that is an understatement, but somehow, I’m okay.

One of the worst things, for me, is feeling like I am obligated to do something. If it’s school or work related, fine. I can deal with that. I understand that responsibilities and obligations come with work and school. But if you’re a friend or family member, don’t you dare act like that automatically means you get some of my time. It is my time and mine alone, and I will spend it with whomever I wish.

Recently, the ones who made me feel that way—as if I owed them my time—have left, and the rest of my time as a senior at Belhaven has been dedicated to making new friends, hanging out with people because I want to, getting all of my work done, and finishing up the year with a bang.

This weekend is Easter break; we have Friday and Monday off, and I am planning on playing loads of Overwatch, re-coloring my hair, and getting stuff done because I can. I have tentative plans to hang out with a few people, but they’re all people I dedicated time to because I wanted to. I was in no way obligated to hang out with them, and that is why I feel better, why I feel okay despite everything.

I’m reading this book by Haruki Murakami right now. It’s called The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, and it depicts a fever dream-like situation in where the main character, Toru Okada, goes out looking for his lost cat only to find out his wife has also disappeared. Toru is determined to get his life back in order even though the odds are against him, and reading his story instills the Itch within me once again.

For those who don’t know, “the Itch” is this odd feeling I get in the pit of my stomach. It’s a sense of directionless purpose, of determination, that is constantly pushing me to go and be productive and accomplish all my dreams. It’s a vague, salty taste on the back of my tongue, a rushing of exhilaration through my veins. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Most of the time it helps me to throw off my dissociative tendencies and live in the moment. I used to hate it; now, when I forget why I’m doing what I’m doing, the Itch returns and reminds me what—or should I say Who—I am living for.

Multiple things can set off the Itch: certain movies, haunting music (I am currently listening to the soundtrack for the Horizon Zero Dawn video game, and wow is it amazing), books, running until I get an adrenaline high, adventures in the woods, road trips, flights, new experiences, writing, and too many other things to count. When the Itch abounds, words flow from me like a spring. I am ungathered, I used to say, and I describe the Itch like fire in the back of my throat, a burning in my gut that is forceful and calming all at once. It is strangely comforting despite its need for purpose, a constant in an ever-changing world.

I started calling it “the Itch” when I was fifteen, around the time I realized it wasn’t something everyone experienced. For the longest time, I thought it was normal. Only when I casually mentioned it to someone and they stared at me blankly did I realize it was not.

The Itch has been trembling in my fingers all morning. I can feel it growing, and I know that Easter break is going to be an impetus for it. When I am busy with school and work and my social life, the Itch often fades into the background. It is when I am at rest that it returns and urges me to go, go, go. I used to think part of it was anchored in my anxiety, but it is there despite my medication. It is there even when I am not anxious, so I realize that while the Itch may have some anxiety inherently woven into it, that is not its whole being.

I have the Itch for a reason, I know I do, and I am determined to figure it out.

I suppose that is the best way to describe my emotions these days. Determined. So much has happened among all the changes in my life and the people who have left, yet I am determined. That word forever makes me think of the game Undertale. “You are filled with Determination” is its most popular quote, and I think that now every day as I get up and feel the Itch settle in my stomach.

I am filled with Determination.


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