Jessica Anne Rose provides a thoughtful meditation on the scope of borders not in the political sense but in the intimate one; how we relate to one another.


“Borders”. A word teeming with beginnings of ideas and yet – I’ve got nothing. Two days before the deadline as the sun goes down, I ask my dog for advice. Her sad eyes dart across my face and back. I imagine her voice, today a deep and warm one. ‘Write from the heart’. That seems to be the general consensus when I ask for writing advice, yet I don’t think anyone would be interested in what my heart is saying. How does my writing fit into this world, and more specifically, this theme? “Borders”. Then, all at once inspiration hits me, so I turn to Dots, (my wise dog) tell her she is once again a bloody genius, and start to type.


When I imagine myself and the world, I am always hovering just outside of it, around where the ozone layer used to thrive. A little satellite, collecting intel from below and never fully interacting with the people I observe. In every way that exists, I have always been an outsider. My ‘border’ is humanity, because nothing about me or my experiences as a human have been typical. I often feel like my hands are that of a ghost’s, reaching out for people but never connecting. Merely passing through, searching for steady ground. I do not fully fit in anywhere. Yet I can abide this.


I read once that in Japanese culture, it is believed everyone has three faces. ‘The first face: you show to the world. The second face: you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face: you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. I believe in it. I feel myself switch between my faces daily. Yet it doesn’t make me feel fake, or confused about who I am. In Greek mythology, the goddess Persephone has two alter egos. One turns the world to winter and makes the earth die as she resides in hell, and one brings the world to life and makes the sun rise. Both so different but both intrinsically her. If the Greek and Japanese both understand the notion that you can be many things at once, why can’t the western world? Why can’t I? 


I spent the summer working in a hospital kitchen where I saw examples of invisible borders between people everyday. Between myself and colleagues, nurses and doctors, between patients. For a while I wore a fourth face and created a customer service voice, and forgot to retire both once my contract ended. College restarting has given me the opportunity to explore myself again, and the borders behind which I peer from. It is never too late to reinvent yourself. Changing and going through phases are completely natural. The earth does it with her seasons, the moon with her lunar calendar. All of the previous versions of yourself live within you, and the best and worst of them contribute to who you are now. Certain elements of ourselves we cannot change, but others we can. What ‘borders’ have I unnecessarily created for myself? And which one will I break down first? 


This college year, I am breaking the border that I hide my emotions behind. I want to tell my friends I love them out loud. I want to stand by my different opinions, unafraid of rejection. I want to learn to love my very emotional self who cries at dog Tiktoks. Because there is no reason to minimise or lessen myself, especially in an environment like college where there are thousands of different personalities. Why struggle to make myself palatable when I have no true desire to be digestible?  For this academic year, I will strive to live without my internal borders. To exist as fully as I can. What ‘borders’ do you live with? What ‘borders’ will you take down? I would love to hear.