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but will mine?

starring Vien Santiago in a conversation with himself (and incidentally, the rest of the young world).

int. the physical embodiment of a teenager’s psyche (their room) - night

last night, vien santiago finished writing his first piece for dear asian youth literature: a letter to those longing for freedom across his ancestral region of southeast asia, and asia in general. he felt proud and passionate for his cause – but it wouldn’t last. today’s pressures of existing as  “different” in high school got to him and he contemplates on the floor of his room:


i know there isn’t anything wrong with me.

i know there isn’t anything wrong with my friends or my colleagues.

then why is there something wrong with how i feel interacting with them?


was it something i did? something i said? why are you all leaving me out? when

did we all decide to leave all of the hard work to me and then cast me out of

our conversations?


is it me?


can you even hear me?

no, of course you can’t.

but when you need something… pfft. you know the drill i guess.

vien gets up and retires to lying on his bed; though, not for long. he jolts up – a thought! no, a fact. a sad fact.

vien (cont’d)

oh. it’s because i’m different, huh?

he looks at the mirror then his computer, the room still aglow with his monitor displaying last night’s words of encouragement.

vien (cont’d)

too different.

too busy, too academic, too passionate, too gullible, too unorthodox, too

grown-up, too out-of-reach, too caring, too advanced, too far behind, too

foreign, too much into theatre, too loud, too “nice”, too “bad”, too WHATEVER.

the point is… i’m too different.


but i thought we agreed there was nothing wrong with one another.

i thought we agreed there was nothing wrong with me.

is there actually something wrong with me?

as vien contemplates all of this internal thought out loud, the viewer sees dozens of invisible cartoon traces of people fill the room – representing the crowd, the “community” that he feels excommunicated from.

and that problem isn’t only vien’s.

every day, millions of people around the world – young, old, rich, poor, educated, working – grapple with inner and outer voices that attempt to suppress their voices. in the last piece, we already dove into the unjust disenfranchisement of millions throughout asia, but we know that there are far more everyday forces keeping us from speaking our truth to ourselves and one another.

take the dozens upon dozens of students just like vien, sitting in their rooms and contemplating why a world that was previously colored in rainbow crayons and markers has become a world that shuts them out of rooms they were previously allowed into. every day, so many feel that they cannot share their voices because of forces like judgmental looks from peers and the fear of losing respect. to this day, many have to think about what is seen as “normal” and have to choose between conformity (which could be disguised as the second option:) or individuality (which could either sack them from the “group” or amplify their presence).

evidently, no one scenario could ever describe the complexity of these interpersonal issues, so there could never be one solution that we could share to help anyone reading this. but there was an ending that brought some sort of solace to vien:

vien gets up and sits down at his keyboard.

vien (cont’d)

well too bad for the powers at play, because i’m the only one who can dictate if 

something is wrong with me, the way i act, present, or brush my teeth.

and too bad for them, i’m not going anywhere.

my voice will be heard.

(at the viewer)

and yours will too.

whether whoever considers themselves to be in power over their fellow man,

be it governments or the facades of our friends, like it or not.

can you hear us now?


Editor(s): Alisha B., Blenda Y.

Photo Credits: Unsplash


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