Film Chats: On Being Alone

By: Sophie Chen

Introducing a new series: Film Chats.

In quarantine, I picked up film photography as a new hobby. The slow process of developing film made me pause, slow down, and notice the little things in my surroundings. I became obsessed with how each photo felt like a postcard, an authentic snapshot of a distinct moment in time.

In these Film Chats, I’ll share my favorite film shots that I took recently and a honest stream-of-consciousness reflection of how it’s been lately.

January 2021

I’m getting more and more comfortable with being alone. Whereas I used to shudder at the thought of complete, sustained isolation, I now embrace it, like a new friend that slowly made their way into my comfort zone before I even realized.

Maybe it’s because I trained my brain with all these incantations of “it’s not so bad” and “it can’t get worse”, or maybe I simply just got accustomed to this new way of living. Either way, I feel content. I no longer feel suffocated by the thick silence in my empty apartment, or the vast space around me, not taken up by any living object except me. 

There is something so delightful about the minutes between 4:30 and 5 pm in which the space around me gets drenched in pink and purple, the soulful voice of Nina Simone floating from the corner of my room, and the way my apartment smells (like a bakery) when I make a new batch of maple coconut granola. 

These are the things that never changed - these sources of comfort were there to accompany me since March. The only difference was that back then, I was too deep in my own sink-hole of self-pity and indignance to notice them... until now.

Of course, there are still bad days. There are days when I harbor so much pent up anger against the state of the world and I have nowhere to vent. There are days when I feel,  ironically,  isolated and anxious even when rare opportunities of (socially-distanced) hangouts present themselves. There are days when the sight of others having fun triggers the toxic thought that I am, unfortunately, just not fun enough to be prioritized as a friend.

But folks, if our emotional state was a graph, then the key is its trajectory. Zooming out, its small fluctuations become invisible. Instead, what comes to view is a line moving slowly but surely upwards, always, towards bigger and better things. This year, I hope I can be more accepting of my day-to-day fluctuations, and shift my focus onto the bigger trajectory of wellbeing.

Haru Sukegawa

a thing about Lisa