In which Hamilton lyrics provide a framework for personal reflection.
I started this blog only in March of this year, but it’s already brought me so much comfort. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to create a space for myself on the internet — I’ve tried Blogspot, Tumblr, I’ve participated in many forums and discussion threads, and of course, I currently maintain my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts — but this blog has already been the most satisfying so far. I’ve always been one to process things externally, to talk my feelings out with my friends, or to let my emotions out through music and writing and art. But this blog brings a certain comfort to me unlike anything else, which is bizarre when I consider the fact that hardly anyone has read it. And that’s when I realized that I haven’t been maintaining my blog for anyone else — I’ve been maintaining it for me. (Which means it is all the more meaningful when people do read my blog, so thank you, dear reader.)
This summer, I’ve been so infatuated with the musical Hamilton. I adore it not only for its brilliant music, writing, and talent, but also because I identify with the characters so much. I admire Eliza for her kindness, I feel for Angelica and how she will never be satisfied, and I find myself wrapping my heart around the entirety of Alexander Hamilton’s character — his ambition, his obsession with his legacy and with time, his very real human mistakes, everything.
Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
Writing has always been an important medium of expression to me. I’ve always loved words. I’ve always loved grammar, journaling, and creative writing. I used to compete in spelling bees. English, reading, and composition were always my favorite subjects in school. I don’t claim to be a stellar writer by any means, but I’m certainly proud of the communication skills I do have. It’s rewarding to me to be able to express what I feel and exercise this love I have for writing. As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve (which probably isn’t always a good thing, actually), this passion for communicating and emotional transparency is a combination that produces a lot of external processing.
This comes in handy when I’m also so addicted to personal growth and change. I am not the same person who I was yesterday or the day before that or the day before that. That’s not an exaggeration. In everything I do, in every interaction I have with every individual I meet, I am constantly discovering new ways to articulate my emotions and new insights with which to perceive the world around me. There’s nothing more thrilling to me than this constant learning. I write to explore this hunger for growth. I write to preserve who I was in one moment so I can look back when I am no longer that person the next.
You and your words, obsessed with your legacy…
I’m obsessed with what I leave behind. I think that also has to do with the curiosity I have about others’ lives. I love seeing people’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram updates, reveling in the intricacy of the world I live in. I think, somewhere in my head, I imagine that there are others who might have the same curiosity as I do to just surf the internet and explore the spaces others have created for themselves. It might sound silly or shallow, but I write to provide my own contribution to feeding that curiosity.
I know that these words I write might not reach many eyes, but I long to put my thoughts out in the world nonetheless. I created this space as a haven for me to express myself in case anyone does stumble upon it. Maybe a distant family member or peer will come across my blog and even if they don’t know me well personally, they can get a peek inside my head just for a little while. I put myself out here on this blog ultimately because I am proud of myself and the journey I’m on, and I want to share that with the world in a way that doesn’t shove it down people’s throats. This blog is a good way to passively send my thoughts out into the universe, knowing it just might reach someone, someday.
And you are paranoid in every paragraph, how they perceive you…
I have accumulated a diverse and far-reaching social circle from the activities in which I’ve been involved throughout my whole life, from moving houses to moving schools to participating in many music ensembles or school activities or leadership conferences, so on and so forth. Even though it’s difficult to keep up with every single person with whom I’ve ever crossed paths, each connection I’ve made has meant so much to me. I think that goes back to being a people person. I form emotional attachments easily, and I have a good memory. Those two traits, plus my curiosity in people in general, are a boon for satiating and perpetuating that curiosity. When I see someone whom I haven’t spoken with in ages on my Facebook timeline, I think back to the time when our paths did cross, and I often wonder if they even remember me at all. I certainly remember them. (In the case that I don’t, that’s usually when I clean up my friends list a bit.)
I can’t help but wonder if others perceive me the way I perceive them or perceive myself, with such curiosity or such criticism, respectively. With regards to the latter, I write to defend myself against my own worst critic: my own self. I have a hard time gauging how others perceive me as I’m constantly fighting against my own self-perception; I wonder if others perceive me in the same critical way I perceive myself. So perhaps that’s another reason why I adore writing and why this blog is so rewarding to me. In defending myself against my own criticisms, maybe I’m able to address criticisms others may have of me.
You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.
Though dark as it may be, that line epitomizes the huge theme of legacies in Hamilton, and it’s certainly something I’ve thought about my whole life. My parents immigrated here from the Philippines. They have preserved their culture, their old friends and family, and their experiences by telling me about their life “back home.” I eat these stories up, hungry to learn more about who my parents were before I knew them, craving more information about this land and these people who are literally foreign to me. My parents’ stories about their old lives and their old friends have enriched the way I perceive them and the world around me. And I can’t wait to pass those stories along to my future children.
Indeed, I frequently wonder about the stories I’ll tell my own future children someday of who their mother was before they knew me. I wonder about the stories my children will tell theirs. The recurring lyric of “You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story” fascinates and terrifies me. Perhaps I write because I have some desire to control, if only a little bit, how my story might be told. Of course, I know that I ultimately won’t be able to control it, and if anything, my writing won’t control a story that might get told, but rather will only be part of that story. (How arrogant of me it is to wonder if a story will get told at all.)
With only twenty years under my belt, it’s probably too early for me to be thinking about “who lives, who dies, who tells my story.” I have my whole life ahead of me. I have so many goals and dreams and I’m writing them all down as they do or don’t come to fruition. So with that said, I’ll end one more Hamilton lyric, an ambitious and fulfilling line: There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.