Reaching For Light

Sara Wass
5 min readJan 3, 2020
[FOLD Nightclub, London, December 2019; shot on iPhone]

As much as I’d love to say 2019 was the best year of my life, considering all the extraordinary places I saw and challenges I put both my mind and body through, I spent most of the year fighting off irritability and self-loathing. Maybe money and travel make a lot of people happy, and I think normally for myself that’s true, but what makes me the most happy is intimate relationships with others that meet my often fantastical expectations and sharing experiences with those people. And when those relationships all appeared to slowly crumble to the floor in front of me, because of my shitty attitude, it was difficult for me to focus on anything else. I felt like I wasn’t a good listener anymore — like I was so self-involved that no one else’s problems mattered enough for me to pay attention to them anymore. I felt like I wasn’t serving anyone but myself, so I decided to leave for a while, or at least for the longest extent of time I ever have in my 20’s. The ironic part about this was that most of my relationships were actually intact, and it was really my paranoia and overtly pessimistic perspective that made it seem like they were falling apart. I believe this is called a delusion.

[Scene from Mark Leckey’s “O’Magic, Power of Bleakness” at Tate Britain, December 2019; shot on iPhone]

This year was introspective for me…an understatement. I chose to (attempt to) advance my happiness instead of my career, which I saw as very selfish at the time, by quitting a well-paid job that I was overqualified for to independently explore a side of the world I hadn’t seen yet, because I was tired of waiting to find someone special enough to do it with. I pride myself in my ability to live in the moment without worrying about the consequences, and this was a surefire example of capitalizing on that personal quality. I learned to be confident that I’ll “figure it out” no matter what — that I’m smart, savvy, and I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t want to be comfortable, bored, wasting away by doing the same shit every day, just waiting for death. I’m not saying I’m trying to be completely reckless…although I did spend 4 days alone traversing through the northern Vietnamese mountains by motorbike. But whatever. Kids were doing it. I’m not special. I’m just saying I’m not done exploring yet, neither literally nor figuratively, and that’s what I know now.

So everyone’s different, and I’m not here to fault anyone for seeking contentment and security in life. I think I want that too, eventually, but not when I’m young, healthy, fun, hot, single...Constantly thriving at either end of the spectrum we all have of emotions (either always a 0 or a 10, there isn’t much in between for me) is exhausting, usually leaving me with no choice but to either schedule every second of the day with work and plans, or crawl into a hole for days at a time. People often tell me I live life in black and white. Anything to characterize this decade by, for me? It’s by getting off antidepressants and seeking the gray area, while accepting the black and white. I think it’s taken all 10 years.

[Scene from Spring Break Art Show; not art, just a hallway, March 2019; shot on iPhone]

I’m definitely not where I imagined myself to be at the end of this year, the decade, or at this age, but I really don’t care. I’ve done what I’ve felt was right in every moment of my life. What defines success, anyway? I saved the amount of money some of my friends make in a year, had the title of Director at a startup, collaborated with some of the “hippest” companies you’ve heard of, and had photos published on billboards, in the NYC subway and in a famous contemporary art museum’s history book…but I still can’t find a steady job. Do I even want one?

[Photo shot for Ambient Church, November 2019; shot on iPhone]

So fuck a 10-year plan, a 5-year plan, even a 3-year plan. As long as I can keep surviving doing things I like to do, I don’t really care where I’m at years from now, as long as I’m pursuing happiness, with honesty and integrity, and not (involuntarily) living on the streets. If anything, I plan to write more, say my feelings, make more art, be a good fucking person, and just document this chaotic life I’m trying to live and the wonderful people in it. I hope you do too, and I hope you do it without preaching blanket statements about how other people should be living their lives. It’s none of your business and I’d recommend logging off all the apps that start with the letter T and just talking to your friends instead, because they’re way more fun to talk to than internet strangers, and they love you.

[Photo taken in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, June 2019; shot on iPhone]

And they’ll be there for you throughout your 0’s and your 10’s. We’re all just reaching for the light. Thanks to all my friends who have been there for me. I love you so hard. Happy 2020.

[Photo taken at Nowadays, Brooklyn, at an ungodly early hour; shot on iPhone]