ok so confession: i got my start on this whole internet kid thing when i was 13 and started a xanga called "emoiconsxx" where i made social media graphics with senses fail and taking back sunday lyrics (complete with exploding hearts!) by the age of 15 i was one of the most downloaded AOL buddy icon makers in the world -- my creations included inspirational love quotes, rip my heart out because i love you-esque lyrics, and broken hearts...lots and lots of broken hearts. i started writing poetry when i was 13 in this creative moment in darkness in the corner of my room listening to the likes of dashboard confessional and death cab for cutie (still do tbh). growing up in small town texas meant the only alternative (read: queer) culture that i had access to was (white) emo. it was emo that facilitated my girlfriend giving me girls jeans to wear on my 16th birthday, it was emo that gave me permission to write and feel, it was emo that allowed me to experiment with my gender. picture this: the one indian kid shoegazing at the one screamo show every month in bryan texas like my life depended on it (it probably did.) so fastforward to today in manila when my wonderful gender non-conforming hair dresser asked me if i had ever straightened my bangs and I thought about being that emo kid wearing black khaki pants with band tees and black knit sweaters (my parents forbade me from upping my antics further) and i am all about poetic justice so i said yes let's do it. and we did it and i just screamed -- kind of like a raspy chortle like when my friend seth & i used to when looking up "how to sing screamo music on wiki how" like the inner angsty teenager inside of me (ok nvm still am this lol) hears a bright eyes song. been thinking about the ways we get "here" and what i am realizing more and more is that the embarrassing & contradictory #tbts are so crucial in making who we are now and that's okay. we are complex and weird and often trying our best in a world that gives us few opportunities to figure out who we are. so here's to all of our journeys in all of their ridiculousness i am glad you took them because i am glad you are here now xo

support the author