Dear Diary

March 14, 2012

Stuff happened.


It was early afternoon. I was using my laptop, and I noticed the calender read April 24. Shit, it’s my birthday. But I usually unwrap my presents in the morning, and nobody has said “happy birthday.” I went into the sitting room and tried to explain to Mum and Dad that it was my 18th birthday, and that this is a big deal. But it was like there was a glass wall between us, and they couldn’t understand what I was saying. Eventually I was screaming and crying, but they ignored me. It was like I didn’t exist, and my 18th was ignored by everyone.

When I woke up I realised how scared I must be of my next birthday.

Why? A number of reasons:

    1. I feel like, after 18, you can never go back. It’s a milestone age. Here in England, I will be able to vote, drink, and get married. Though I am really looking forward to the freedom, I don’t think I want to be considered an adult just yet. I am far from being an adult.

    2. Birthdays and Christmases and important events always involve so much pressure. Is it just me? The need for them to be good or fun or whatever makes me anxious, because the only thing worse than not celebrating them at all would be having a bad time. It’s a downward spiral from there. Also, you can’t help but reflect and compare yourself to last year, which is all kinds of no good.

    3. What the hell do I do to celebrate? At the moment, I am not really a partying sort of person, yet I feel obliged to be one for this occasion. I want it to be special, but I don’t know how. I wish I could have a ’60s- or ’70s-themed dance party, where people would dress up and play some records, but I’d only have a few people to invite anyway.

    4. What the hell do I ask for? Now that I’m older, presents have started to feel different. What’s becoming more important is how happy I am, not what I have. (Wow. That sounds decidedly adult.)

    5. My 17th birthday was awful. I was so unhappy. I was so scared of turning 17 because time was just slipping through my fingers so fast, and I was crippled with fear. I didn’t feel ready to be 17, so I ended up doing nothing at all.

    6. I am scared of being scared. I know that doesn’t bode well. It isn’t good to be scared.

But I want to celebrate turning 18. When I was younger, I didn’t imagine myself being in the position that I am in now. I don’t know who I thought I’d be. Maybe someone carefree? I didn’t realise that adolescence is not carefree, at least not for people like me.

I am hoping my 20s will be. And then maybe I can have all the celebration I might want for my 18th on my 21st?

Either way, I need serious help with this year’s birthday. ♦


1 2 3 4 5


  • Dylan March 14th, 2012 7:17 PM

    The END


    • Naomi Morris March 14th, 2012 7:31 PM

      I AGREE. some of what you wrote katherine could have easily been me. i want a community! i want a gang! we should be given awards for our patience!
      luckily i have a couple of really great friends who keep me semi-sane.

      • Janelle March 15th, 2012 4:38 PM

        I have been to two different high schools and in the same boat in both places!! It’s like I will never have a proper group of amazing buddies like all these other girls. The few friends that I have assure me that I am amazing and sweet, although very shy… but have they moved to bring me into their inner circles? Invited me to slumber parties? NOPE. I really do hope I can find my way to Buddy Central sooner rather than later.

    • Yellie March 14th, 2012 7:36 PM


    • Kathryn March 19th, 2012 7:21 PM

      ME TOO ME TOO!
      I can totally relate to you, Katherine!

  • MissKnowItAll March 14th, 2012 7:19 PM

    Dylan, I really hope you’re feeling better. I live in New York and I also have to deal with major crap from random strangers. One day I was walking to the train platform when this random guy just started screaming at me and tried to grab my arms. Thankfully I was carrying a tennis racket with me and I was able to scare him off by swinging like a maniac. I hope you’re feeling better.
    Happy Birthday Naomi. I get what you mean. Before I used to wait in anticipation for each and every birthday. But after I turned 14 i sort of stopped caring. People still gave me presents and made a big deal out of it but to me it was just another year gone by.

  • Naomi Morris March 14th, 2012 7:21 PM

    dylan <3
    this was written so beautifully, you put things just right and i hope you are feeling better now and everything. and you worked that black eye so well!
    love you lots!!!

  • Adrienne March 14th, 2012 7:23 PM

    Oh my god Dylan! That’s so scary! I’ve been to Oakland numerous times before, but have only really been in Chinatown during the broad daylight. Thank heavens you’re okay. Man, Oakland is so sketchy… you’re so brave!

    Rallies are the best, haha. The leadership committee in my high school isn’t all that great, so the rally people are kind of heavily clique based, and the cheerleaders always do some cringe-worthy, booty-shaking dance. Still, it’s kind of amusing how hard the leadership people try. And in the most recent rally we had, the school’s acapella’s group sang for so long that all of us were getting restless. So funny!

  • Lani March 14th, 2012 7:23 PM

    Katherine, you basically nailed everything I’m feeling right now. It’s a massive relief knowing I’m not the only one with this social predicament!

    • Marguerite March 14th, 2012 8:01 PM

      Same Here

    • Kathryn March 19th, 2012 7:23 PM

      loners unite!

      that sounded really sad

  • Yellie March 14th, 2012 7:34 PM

    Awww Katherine and Naomi I know how you feel! :)
    My seventeenth birthday sucked too, i only had three friends (one was the boy i was in love with -_-). This year him and my other friend left home and school, so Now i’m alone.
    most kids tell me I just look scarier than i am blah blah, blah. I too am trying to just grin and bare it, there is a bigger world out there, beyond high school.
    Not looking forward to my eighteenth birthday, too much pressure!
    but i’m sure it isn’t as frightening as it all feels, though knowing that doesn’t always help.
    My heart goes out to the both of you!
    tons of love too!!

  • starsinyourheart March 14th, 2012 7:39 PM

    Naomi – i feel like i could have written that myself! <3 i so feel the same way. i'm scared of being 18 because as weird as it sounds, i like being underage. i like having diminished responsibility, being a minor, not having to look after anybody. just being a kid. plus i have lolita issues! I always feel like i've 'wasted' 17…

    • jessejames March 15th, 2012 6:44 PM

      Lolita<3 I agree, although I didn't particularly like high school, I liked being a high schooler, if that makes any sense. I just know I'm not an adult even if I just turned eighteen. I'm still a teenager, that's why it's eighTEEN!

      • starsinyourheart March 21st, 2012 9:01 PM

        Oh yeah i like thinking about it that way.. we don’t have to grow up til we’re twenty right? I’m gonna do that haha! and lolita <3

  • Toria Crux March 14th, 2012 7:41 PM

    Dylan, sort ’bout the black eye! That guy sounds like a total a$$ hole!

  • Juniper March 14th, 2012 7:45 PM

    I’m so sorry Dylan!
    I used to live in a really rough town too, but we moved to this really nice quiet town nearby. Alot of kids hate it here, but I’m thankful everyday to be able to go outside and feel safe.
    I guess I miss my old home sometimes, but you safety is worth a lot.
    I’m really glad we ended up moving.

  • purplebabaushka March 14th, 2012 7:50 PM

    Dylan!!! That sounds horrible!! Whoever tries to turn the situation around and tell you that you could have prevented it if you were only faster shouldn’t be listened to! I alwyas love your journals and can’t wait to read your next entry!

  • Marguerite March 14th, 2012 8:00 PM

    Naomi- even though cool stuff happens when your 18, people don’t treat you like you are any older, it’s just another birthday, so don’t freak out

  • Tara March 14th, 2012 8:04 PM

    Naomi!!! I am you. okay so turning 18 was kind of weird. officially you aren’t a ‘kid’ anymore you’re an ‘adult.’ weird huh? and people start taking you more seriously sometimes (which can be either good or bad). so here’s what to do, think instead okay I’m a person and I should live the life I want to live. my parents are teenagers at heart, they’re pretty ageless. my father complains about friends who are weirded out by him going to blues clubs/parties/making films/etc because he’s conventionally/potentially ‘too old for that’ but he doesn’t want to sit around and reminisce about the past he wants to live his life!!

    have the birthday YOU want to have! I got together with a few friends in LA as a pre-birthday (since I wasn’t going to see them on my real one) and we had yummy food and ate. then in new york I did a similar thing. it was my ideal birthday. not a big party, with the friends I care about, good food/ambiance. don’t worry about traditions and what people do for birthdays, just do what you want!!

    • rhymeswithorange March 15th, 2012 10:15 PM

      I agree with Tara, Naomi! Birthdays are just an excuse for you to have fun, so do what YOU want to do. Even if you just have a few friends over or go to a park or something and eat cake it will probably be super fun!

  • zomgitsmoi March 14th, 2012 8:06 PM

    Katherine, I’m pretty sure you raided my brain and used your findings for this article.

    • Ruby B. March 14th, 2012 8:23 PM

      totes my goats (IE: totally) (i’m a kewl teen yo)

  • Ruby B. March 14th, 2012 8:15 PM

    Aww, Dylan! I’m so sorry! What a jerk. I hope you’re feeling better now and everything.

  • ForgotIWasHere March 14th, 2012 8:22 PM

    I totally feel you girl! I used to be friends with “those” girls and even when we partied and hung out with “those boys” I always felt so excluded. I could leave a social situation with no one even noticing! Now I’m not friends with them (for a million reasons) and I have two lovely best friends and a wonderful boyfriend. I feel so unbelievably happy to find these beautiful people to talk to and spend time with.

    But I still feel completely alienated in school and by my classmates. I constantly feel those judging eyes and those nagging thoughts about what my ex-friends and their new friends think of me now. I have one friend who loves to give me second-hand info about what my old friends are saying about me. What I’ve had to learn is to just not care at all. Their opinion of me, no matter how harsh, holds no weight in my life. And i know I have these three people who I can see (usually) and spend time with and you might not, but i bet you’re going to have a bangin’ college experience! And in terms of if people find you annoying or not, they’re probably just too boring and narrow-minded to understand you!

  • DANNI March 14th, 2012 8:32 PM

    I remember when I was in Williamsburg with my friend (which is now like, Hipsterville) and these kids who obviously aren’t supporting the “hipsters taking over” grabbed at my crotch and thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world. It’s a weird mix of people…

  • meghang March 14th, 2012 8:53 PM

    “It’s one thing to be well-liked (if I am that) and another to be an active member of a group.”
    also, love to dylan<3
    and naomi, yessss. i feel so pressured to have FUN on important fun days that they're not fun anymore… ultimate irony.

  • tinklebot5000 March 14th, 2012 8:59 PM

    I am SOOO glad you wrote this post! I felt like the only person being all panicky about their 18′th birthday. I was totally depressed about becoming an adult (the end of my childhood! Boring adult responsibilities! Going to REAL jail if I was stupid enough to do something bad!)

    HOWEVER, my 18′th birthday came and went. My friends and family put together a totally kick-ass party without my knowledge, and you know what? Being 18 totally rocks. Why? Because it’s EXACTLY like being 17 except wayyyy awesomer :) Happy Early Birthday!!!

    • tinklebot5000 March 14th, 2012 9:04 PM

      This was for Naomi :)

  • moonchild March 14th, 2012 9:16 PM

    DYLAN! My mom’s friend told my family a story like this. She lived in NYC growing up, and when she was about 10, she made the She made the mistake of walking alone in central park (This was back when that was really dangerous) a group of older guys came up to her and started hassling her, but she didn’t have pepper spray or anything, so what she did was super smart: she started acting like a psychotic maniac! She was waving her hands and was like “How’s the weather today??? HOW about it! I just love this SUNSHINE! I am a BIRDIE! How I love to FLY in the SUNshine!” And they just left her alone!

    But yeah. I’m really sorry about what happened, and don’t let anyone tell you how to react.


  • Abby March 14th, 2012 9:24 PM

    Naomi, I feel you. My 17th birthday was terrible, because my older sister was leaving for college in another country the next day. My mom cried the WHOLE DAY. We were eating my cake. And she cried. It was terrible. But I know that your 18th was worse… I’m sorry. And I wish I could make your relationship with your parents better. But it does get better (… well… you’re older than me, so I guess I shouldn’t say that haha). But I know it will for you. :)

    • Naomi Morris March 15th, 2012 5:36 AM

      disclaimer: that first bit was a nightmare i had last week!

  • Abby March 14th, 2012 9:28 PM

    And OHMYGODDYLAN you just seriously described exactly my relationship with my best friend. We’re such good friends, and I can tell her anything… but we don’t do “friend stuff.” She’s always hanging out with her other friends but not me. And I don’t have friends that I hang out with instead of her. I feel so needy by saying that I wish she would hang out with me more… but I do.

  • Katherine March 14th, 2012 10:15 PM

    Wowch Dylan. I would give you a band-aid, a glove/ice pack thing, and a giant bodyguard/ part time male model, if I had the means. ALSO, SHOW ME THE WAY TO BUDDY CENTRAL.

  • Jenn March 14th, 2012 10:45 PM

    “What is this, a popularity contest? (Yes.)”
    That will probably be my senior quote holy shit

    • Jenn March 14th, 2012 10:58 PM

      PS Dear Katherine, we are the same people. Can we be friends please (even though it’s just on the incredible inedible interwebs)

      • Dylan March 15th, 2012 2:50 AM


  • Steph March 14th, 2012 10:51 PM

    Katherine your situation exactly describes mine right now! I have been moping around in a muddle of mope because I feel like everybody has a “group” while I am a floater. And it isn’t that people don’t like me either! I just hope things get better…

  • missblack March 14th, 2012 11:01 PM

    Oh, Katherine, we are so in-the-same-boat it’s like we’re on the rowing team.
    Well, at least now when I’m sitting on my bed feeling all alone I will know that I am…Not Alone. so thanks for that :D


  • liljess55 March 14th, 2012 11:50 PM

    I know how you feel and it sucks. I actually felt the EXACT same way in high school. My “friends” seemed to only want to be my “friends” when it was convenient, and always excluded me on the weekends. I felt so lonely and forgotten, it sucked.

    You probably don’t want to hear this, but I have realized it more and more as I’ve gotten older (I’m now 22). If they don’t seem to value your friendship, then it’s probably not worth it. If someone isn’t responding to your phone calls, text messages, etc, don’t be persistent, because it’s not worth your time. Instead, and I know it’s not easy and it takes time, find friends that appreciate and don’t “forget” about you.

  • Hannah. March 15th, 2012 2:19 AM

    Wow Katherine, guys, me too. Maybe none of us have friends. Maybe your ‘bestie’ feels the same way.

  • diny March 15th, 2012 4:42 AM

    girl friendship is kind of weird for me. so, i stop trying so hard to get friends. and now, i call myself independent person, which is good. plus, it makes me creative. not to be at the same ‘hole’ like them.

    by the way, Naomi, my birthday is at April 21! i always excited to meet people who have birthday not far from mine. have you heard that people at the same horoscope (taurus, yay!) have kind of the same attitude? my friends really proves it. it is true! (i’m 19 and freaking afraid that i’ll going to be 20 next month).

  • TinaBallerina March 15th, 2012 6:10 AM

    Katherine, I totally know how you feel. In junior high I was being bullied by basiacally everyone in my whole class. Even my two best friends ditched me and started excluding me. I was never invited to parties or anything. When we had so-called class trips to cabins, I begged my parents to let me stay home. Now though, I’m really happy in my new high school. It’s a really good school, with a lot of nice and cool and smart people. I don’t have a specific best friend, but I have people to hang out with who I think like me.

    P.S: We could be friends.

  • Maryse89 March 15th, 2012 8:23 AM

    Katherine–I swear to God I wrote almost that exact same diary entry four or five years ago when I was in high school. I know everyone’s saying it, but I PROMISE friendships get so much better in college for people like us who are/were high school semi-loners. At my school, I had a group of super cool/artsy/nerdy/hipster ‘friends’ who pretty much wouldn’t give me the time of day outside of lunch and class. I spent a lot of time agonizing over the WHYYYY of it all? Was it because I didn’t smoke and drink at the time, and they all did? Or was I somehow too boring/too normal/annoying/not cool enough, blah, blah, blah…to hang out with?

    Then I went to college and almost immediately made the best friends of my life, and I realized there had never been anything wrong with ME, the problem had always been my friends…

    So in summation, you are actually awesome, and in college you will finally meet people who are awesome enough for you to be BEST friends with them!

  • purrr March 15th, 2012 9:18 AM

    I turned 17 yesterday. I feel the same. Good to know I’m not alone

  • fizzingwhizbees March 15th, 2012 10:46 AM

    OH MY GOD KATHERINE YOU KNOW MY SOUL. That is exactly, EXACTLY what my best friend in high school was like, and it took me 3 and 1/2 years to realize how shitty she was. Legitimately everything you wrote about has happened to me. I’m in college now and unfortunately things aren’t much better…but I’m working on it.

  • Bebe March 15th, 2012 12:27 PM

    i really liked your piece. There’s certainly this grey area where as someone middle-class, white we have to be hyper aware of our identities in situations,where frankly, maybe we’re taking advantage. I think you were eloquent and honest though and voiced a lot of the same concerns I’ve felt living in poorer neighborhoods in the U.S.,Europe and Turkey.

    Also..feel better!

  • mouse March 15th, 2012 1:47 PM

    Naomi- Greetings from the north-west of England!
    I swear if there is a 60′s birthday party somwhere in the UK I will happily attend, and as I have been regularly stalking your diary this feel perfectly acceptable :)

  • saltwater March 15th, 2012 2:15 PM

    Wow, Katherine’s entry resonates with me a lot. The “three more lonely months and a summer of solitude” describe my current situation, and the ambiguous friendship was me a couple of years ago.
    The situation with my friend did not end well. It, in fact, was incredibly jarring because- after four years of being BFFL- I was dropped. There were no words exchanged. One summer, they simply stopped speaking to me.
    It was horrible at the time, but as the summer progressed I realised that it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I realised that I had become less and less comfortable with that friend anyway, and the experience exposed who my real friends were. Being liberated from such an insular friendship gave me the confidence to socialise with new people. It gave me confidence in becoming the kind of person I had always wanted to be, and that I knew who I was and what I wanted meant that trivial dramas no longer upset me. It all meant that I was no longer living up to someone else’s idea of me.
    This past year I have found myself in a really lovely group of friends, and we have a lot of fun. My feminist boyfriend is a total doll. But making friends has never been something that’s come naturally to me and I’m still- for the most part- isolated in my interests and I’m really anxious to make friends with some awesome feminists with a penchant for angry grrl music of the indie rock persuasion when I start university in September.
    That was really long-winded and stuff but anyway GOOD LUCK KATHERINE AND IT GETS BETTER I PROMISE.

  • violetlilies March 15th, 2012 2:42 PM

    Except I’ll be 14…..

  • katycruel March 15th, 2012 3:43 PM

    Dylan – it sounds like you had symptoms of a concussion. You might want to go to the doctor anyway?

  • erin March 15th, 2012 5:46 PM

    naomi, I’m having trouble with my birthday too! I’ve just turned 17 and I’m kind of freaking out about it. Like, I’m almost legally adult in a year. I can no longer be a youthful sixteen year old. It’s hard.
    and pep rallies are the worst, ruby! No one at my school is really that in to them though, for the most part. We are quite lacking in school spirit I suppose.

  • annna March 15th, 2012 6:15 PM

    dear katherine,

    i know. I tried to have a spring break party tonight, and one person is coming. I’m a senior too. I’ve never really found the right people, you know? Also I have a friend like yours. it’s weird because when I stop trying to hang out with her she’s desperate to spend time with me. so maybe that would work? people are weird.

    you are not alone. internet friends?
    also, thank you for telling your story, it’s hard to tell the truth but it does so much good.

    <3 Anna

  • Imogen-Rose March 15th, 2012 6:54 PM

    I really relate to this post, as I also feel really lonely all the time and also have this friend – who I used to be really close to – who has become more ‘popular’ this year and I feel she’s leaving me behind. And none of friends really invite me out with them, I always have to be the one to ask. This is partly my fault, as I’m a social hermit and would rather lie in bed than see my friends.

  • Airbear March 16th, 2012 4:24 AM

    Dylan that really fucking sucks and I’m so sorry it had to happen to you! I also commute through downtown Oakland to get to school in Berkeley from Alameda. I take AC Transit but only up until 6 at night. If I can make a small suggestion: save up for a bike! There a ton of used bike stores in the bay, and you can take it on BART as long as it’s not during rush hour. If you take MUNI in the city I know that there are bike rails on the buses but unfortunately I don’t think you can bring it on the trains. But I mean think about it: if you rode a bike, then you could fly past those suckas!

  • Asha March 16th, 2012 8:17 AM

    Katherine darling, I am living faar away from you but we share the same thing. One thing is different though, I did belong to a ‘community/gang’ before. I dropped out because I made a mistake and they won’t accept my apologies. Since then, I’ve become an easy target to talk about (negatively!) anyway, I just want to say be careful with choosing your gang. They can make you or break you and don’t let them change who you are. because for all I know, You’re awesome :) CHEERS!

  • meghan. March 16th, 2012 1:21 PM

    Naomi – happy birthday (for whenever it actually is)!

    I fully appreciate the birthday woes: I was freaked out before my 18th, because I wanted it to be the Funnest Thing Ever but I had to get to London straight from school and I was rushing around and I didn’t have time to do my hair and WHAT was I WEARING and before I knew it I was having a melt down in the car. Mascara everywhere, the dress I was changing into halfway falling off, my head through an armhole, my tights halfway down my legs, just falling to pieces. Which wasn’t pretty. But once I actually got to London and decided to have a GOOD time (even if I wasn’t out with a massive group of friends but only two) it was brilliant. Way better than I thought it could be.

    So the moral of this story (and hey, why not, it’s long enough for a moral) is that you just shouldn’t worry too much. It is kind of scary – growing up – but birthdays and maturity do not go hand in hand.


    Besides, I think it’s so easy to feel like you’re just wasting time and Not Fully Enjoying Your Teenage Experience but a birthday is a birthday. It’s fun, because it’s a day all about you (does that make me sound egotistical or what?). And because the day is about you, you can do what you want – whatever that is – without feeling guilty. If that’s just bumming around the house, screw it, do that. It’s your day.

    Anyway, sorry for being so preachy. Thanks for writing (I love to read all of it so that goes to everyone else out there too).

    Much love and good luck

  • Audrey March 16th, 2012 2:26 PM

    Hey Dylan~ may I ask what CB’s band is called?

    • Dylan March 16th, 2012 3:08 PM

      you can ask but I wont teeeelll youuuu!

  • Audrey March 16th, 2012 3:54 PM

    haha oh, alriiiight!

  • boringbrick March 16th, 2012 8:51 PM

    If I were in your situation, I’d be like… lying to myself. I would act if I don’t care about this girl/ friendship because outside school I have SO MANY FRIENDS WHOSE I HANG OUT WITH. And that’s about it. Maybe you can forget/ get used to this whole situation of “school exclusive friendship”, acting like you don’t care. At least in front of her.
    It’s really hard to say that but some people kind of like to be ignored. That’s how you make yourself valuable, when they think they don’t mean THAT MUCH to you. Maybe it’s her case. You could stop inviting her for ANYTHING, and when you hang out with your other friends, you should comment with her HOW FUN IT ALL WAS.
    Or maybe I’m saying bullshit.

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes March 16th, 2012 11:40 PM

    Isn’t that last line what everyone wants? I think that basically sums up how to be happy and peaceful.

    • Kaleidoscopeeyes March 16th, 2012 11:40 PM

      Last line of Katherine’s, I mean.

  • phiely March 17th, 2012 12:38 PM

    Naomi, this is just what I feel like about my 16th birthday. All this “time’s slipping through my fingers”-stuff – it’s exactly what I feel! Thanks for this terrific post!

  • falkor4eva March 17th, 2012 7:15 PM

    hey dylan, I also walk through the same area you do at night, and I wish we weren’t alone doing it! I know some schools around here offer guards or people who can assist and walk with you at night, but I’m not sure if that’s only on campus. Maybe that’s something we should look in to, because I too hold my pepper spray in my pocket but I’m tiny and feel defenseless. I should start considering taking self defense lessons, but besides that and making sure I’m walking in a group, I really wouldn’t know what to do if this same thing happened to me. Thanks for sharing your experience, I feel a bit more prepared, and please update if you do find some answers to living in this area and feeling a bit safer… feel better soon!

  • db March 19th, 2012 5:32 PM

    dylan, i used to live in downtown oakland. i am small white girl. it was beyond sketchy at times. i understand what you mean about some kids thinking of their neighborhood as a badge of honor. i have known people like that, it always drove me crazy. stupid hipster pride. jesus. i always carried sharp knitting needles or a knife or scissors or something with me. use your intuition. avoid streets that feel bad, or shortcuts through seemingly harmless residential areas. shit happens, but next time use the pepper spray first and ask questions later! when i moved and lived closer to campus, i would make the guard walk me home. i don’t care what anyone else thought about it, i wasn’t about to get raped or mugged or anything else. i know its impossible to avoid walking home late most of the time, but even keeping a jar for emergency cab fare is a better idea than walking home alone from west o (example) at 3am. so screw it, be safe above all else!