Dear Diary,

My name is Jamie, and Loneliness is inside of me. No matter how hard I try to shake him off of me, he always finds a way to crawl into my mind. With a shadow like body and a cold touch, he is the catalyst for most of my tears, yet he stands beside me to clean them up. Loneliness is a strange creature he is. He likes to help those who cry. With his ghastly voice and dark demeanor, he almost looks scary—but that doesn’t stop me from letting him in. Alone in my room, listening to the records of bands I can only dream of seeing, Loneliness remains. That’s the thing about him, is that he’s always there. Even during the pause between each song, I can hear him whispering. Loneliness likes to talk to his owners, me being one of them, and ask us questions about our day. He likes to tell people that we are alone. I however, know for a fact that I’m not literally alone in this world. I am physically surrounded by billions of people who breathe and live on this wonderful planet every day. Still, Loneliness has a funny way of reminding me that at the end of the day, I’ll always be me. I used to hide from Loneliness and ignore his whispers, but I welcome him now. Expressing my emotions when I’m happy and excited, or even sad, isn’t something I’m afraid of anymore. I feel unapologetically comfortable with myself and the things that make me me. My name is Jamie, and Loneliness is inside of me. I am not Loneliness however. I am me.

—By Alana M., 19, Los Angeles