A Label, by Jocelyn Saunders

I hate being alone.

Well I guess

           that’s not entirely true.

It’s not like I constantly need attention

                        or even like hanging out with people.

It’s being alone with nothing to do

                                                              to distract,

being alone as in sitting in bed

                              when everything’s dark

                                        breathing heavily as you think of all the things you’ve done.

Being alone as in that horrible moment between darkness and sleep

                                those moments when you fall down

                                                                                                          and down

                                                                                                                             yet never truly fall asleep,

thinking of all the things you should’ve done

                                  should’ve said

                                  all the things you will do

                                                                  will say

                                                                         the disappointment

the sinking abyss in your stomach

the moment between darkness

                         between sleep

the moment when you try desperately to claw yourself out –

                                                                                                      out of the spiraling self-doubt

                                                                                                                         that keeps edging at your mind.

The reason you can’t stay silent

because the voices grow louder

                                 and louder,

the voices you can’t drown out

       the ones that say you’re selfish

                                          not worthy,

the voices you pretend aren’t there

        but are reasons you’d give your life for someone


                                                                                              because anyone’s worth more than you.

The voice that goads the blood slipping down your leg,

                  scolding you for how selfish you are to adhere to

                                                  the razor in your hand,

                                                    the burden,

the voice that keeps telling you

                                   that you don’t matter

                 that other people have it worse

                 you’re being dramatic



                                            for thinking you are the only one with problems.

Everyone has that voice,

                          at least I hope they do.

Mine gets deafening


Maybe mine’s not as bad as others,

                                       I can handle it

                                       I can talk it around.

But it’s there,

       it’s why I cry at night

       it’s why I type

                        and retype

                                messages to people

       that I never send.

                                                               Is it normal?

                                                                      Why does no one talk about it?

None of my friends know.

               Of course they wouldn’t,

                                   I’m not the label stereotype.

Often people look at me

                         they think I’m carefree.

 I shouldn’t be judging or think I

   know what they’re thinking,

                 sometimes I just feel it,

                                                      their expectations.

I learned a while ago that if I acted on how I felt, it made people uncomfortable

                                                                      so I started faking it.

                                   It’s not that hard.

                                                 People prefer to think about themselves

                                                                as long as not paying attention to others doesn’t make them feel bad

                                                                                                                                                               or guilty.

That’s why conversations amuse me,

                    they’re not conversations at all

                                   only shouting matches.

Of course I’m no different,

                   I’ve been talking about myself this whole time without asking how you are.

                                                                      How are you?

                                                                      Are you well?

                                                                      How much of this is relatable to you?

                                                                                        Please tell me,

                                                                                                     no one ever speaks about feeling this way –   

                                                                                                                      Maybe another time then?

I should probably mention the label

                                just to get it out of the way.

                                It seems people find things easier to understand when something is labeled.

                                                                               But at the same time

                                                                                           labels can be dangerous,

                                                                                                                 used as shortcuts to

                                                                                                                 fake understanding.

They don’t always work.

                           There’s a difference between understanding a label

                                                                                 and knowing a person.

                                             After all, labels are just words,

                                                                                      a form of communication,


 People are more than labels

they are experiences


Not just a single tag attached to a single individual,

               not just an all or nothing.

Perhaps I’ll just leave it to you.

                what are you going to call me?

Jocelyn Saunders is an emerging writer whose work has been published in Okay Cool Magazine. A video poetry piece of her’s has also been presented at the Victoria’s Arts Learning Festival. Saunders is a student living in Warburton, Australia (aka the middle of nowhere) with her family and incredibly cute Jack Russel, Merida.