I by D

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I by D
David Vallo, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Existential questions are pondered in this thought-provoking poem. We all play roles, but do those roles make us?

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David Vallo
David Vallo

Hey all, David here. I hail from the Department of Computing, taking Information Technology as my major. Telling my origin story is always a funny identity crisis moment, but if I must give an answer, I identify as a Hongkonger. You may be thinking, why is a computing student putting himself out there and dabbling in literature instead of hiding in his little computer cave? I know, I thought the same. But here I am, writing this bio and sharing my poem with all of you. Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

I am passionate and enthusiastic about a lot of things, from my love-hate relationship with Nintendo (Where is Pikmin 4?) to my admiration for practical filmmaking (Top Gun Maverick = cinematic perfection; please go see it!). But I think the most important thing that defines me is how much I care about and advocate for mental health, especially when, despite living in the 21st century with advancements in medicine and technology, we are yet to scratch the surface of the importance of mental health. Through this poem I hope to lead you, fellow reader, into a topic, no, a feeling that you may have just experienced yourself. I hope you enjoy my work. From your everyday, extroverted, poetry-writing computing student.   

Author’s Reflection

Modern society: a world defined by the fast pace of growth, development, and innovation. Working harder, thinking better, doing faster – these principles are encouraged in a bid to make us stand out, innovate, and contribute to this fast-paced world. But all this comes at a cost, one that we tend to overlook, one that we may not even realize. I’m pretty sure we all, at some point in our lives, have felt like an imposter. And despite the inspirational TED Talks telling us to “fake it till you make it”, or the more positive approach “fake it till you become it”, we still feel as though we are not who we are.  

A world that strives to develop, innovate, and compete at an ever-increasing pace is a world that forgets the importance of the very thing that keeps us uniquely us, our emotions. They are viewed as irrational, illogical, and even counter-productive. But the more we ignore the need to tend to our emotions, the more our mental health declines, and we lose parts of ourselves. Our feelings and emotions, our own reactions to and interpretations of the world and how we connect to it, are what make us unique; they’re what make up our personalities. When we neglect our feelings during times of emotional distress, we inadvertently invalidate our own experience, which in turn leads to us invalidating ourselves.  

This poem means a lot to me. I wrote this poem, not just to express myself, but to allow myself to feel my own emotions, to be in the moment and remind myself that my feelings, my experiences, are valid. An important lesson I’ve learnt from my psychologist is to let yourself feel – not process, but just feel. Our experiences and reactions are valid. How we act based on our emotions is the tricky part that usually leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms or habits. But by denying ourselves our right to our own experience, we invalidate ourselves, and leave a wound that never heals, because we haven’t found closure.

I emphasized this in my ending. The poem concludes on ambiguous note, one that doesn’t resolve the conflict, nor give it a positive or hopeful outlook. It’s a representation of the reality of human emotions and the uncertainty of life. I wanted to touch the hearts of others and let them know it’s okay to feel this way. We don’t have to invalidate our emotions because of how we might act afterwards; we can learn to cope in healthier ways. Never be ashamed of your emotions and mental health. Because at the end of the day, you are the only person that matters in your life, and because of that, your emotions and experience are valid.