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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 09.14.2021

On soft launches, secret pleasures, and letting yourself be happy


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Photo: Jackie Lou

Here’s a secret: I have a hard time writing these letters when I’m happy. 

And another: I’m having an extra hard time writing this one. 

I don’t know why, but I’ve always viewed good things like birthday wishes—they disappear once you start blabbing. Everything I cherish exists in half–kept secrets. I soft launched both my ex–boyfriends in a series of subtle Instagram stories, and my best friend and I seldom take photos together. There’s little evidence that I exist in my favorite places—the coffee shop on the corner of Locust and 20th Street, Fitler Square, the Schuylkill River Trail dog park—and I like to keep it this way. As silly as it sounds, people can’t ruin things if they don’t know they exist.

My therapist says all this secrecy is about an unabating need for continuity and control, two things life isn’t really known for giving in spades. Can you really enjoy something if you’re white–knuckling it the entire time, waiting for the exact second a perfect moment becomes yet another unremarkable one? Are you truly happy if you’re anticipating feeling sad tomorrow? My therapist would probably say no, and I’m working on agreeing with her. So in the spirit of self–improvement, I’m going to tell you the brighter side of everything.

I’m the happiest I’ve been since September of my first year, where Penn was shiny and I didn’t know it was possible to feel regret in real time. I spent the weekend in New York City, visiting friends who are careening headfirst into adulthood. One just landed a job she never expected to want, and the other is investing in cryptocurrency companies he used to read about instead of going to class. They’re both doing the things we used to whisper about under bed sheets and after long production nights, and I left feeling grateful—about the future, about the present, and the fact that I have people who call me to celebrate.

I’m going to end this on a piece of counterintuitive advice: Don’t waste your college years living in perpetual fear, even if it worked out for me when it mattered. Superstition wastes energy. And I’d argue that if you spend all your time hiding your pleasure, you’re sitting a whole lot closer to shame than joy. After all, happiness isn’t like nearly every other tangible thing experiencing a shortage right now. It’s a naturally occurring resource. It ebbs and flows but never disappears. So stop insulating the good in your life. The need to do so makes it feel less good.


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