Written by Catherina Chowdhury. 
Graphic by Quynhmai Tran.

I haven’t met anyone who picked “dare” in years. 

Over time, my friends and I started calling the game “truth or truth” just because it was more to the point. Then it became “hot seat,” because it wasn’t like anyone wasn’t going to answer the questions. As young people, all we could give each other were parts of ourselves. Our currency was information; our only intimacy: information about your life, honest answers about your religious beliefs, your relationship with your dad, whom you’re kissing and who you wish you were kissing. Someone to say “here are my secrets, take care of them, and I’ll do the same.” I crave that intimacy. But as I’ve gotten older, as I’ve entered college and social currency has taken on different forms—power, money, sex—the people around me share less and less of themselves. In a world where we’re so connected, so many of us are So. Lonely.

I really do think that there exists a higher level of emotional intimacy between young people and especially among young women. The intimacy I shared with my highschool friends was not an anomaly. But at some point, vulnerability becomes distasteful. There’s a certain coolness that comes with keeping your distance. It’s not that we stop craving it, it’s just that it’s not so readily available. Everyone wants someone to be best friends with but having someone over for a sleepover or telling them about your crush just won’t cut it anymore. Connection means exposure and we have too much to lose to risk it.

As the holidays approach, I find myself torn. I know there’s a lot to love: the desserts, the lights, the second-best Hugh Grant movie. But I also know that I’ve spent every December since I was 11 feeling empty. Holiday media, and certain Mariah Carey songs especially, emphasize this idea of a grand romantic love that we’re all supposed to have in December. Someone to get cozy and warm to decorate trees with before you inevitably make out underneath said trees. I know, it’s not a big deal that I don’t have that person, but it always feels like a big deal in December. It’s a reminder that yet another year went by and I still haven’t made that connection. I know it’s my fault in a lot of ways. I’m so scared to be vulnerable! I’ll occasionally end jokes with “penis” or let something slip that is maybe taboo or brave to talk about to make people secretly think that I’m a very open and honest person, but it’s my own way of deflecting intimacy about the topics that I really don’t want to talk about. Are those conversations the price I have to pay for a holiday beau? Do I have to tell someone about my deepest and darkest to experience the connection I so crave?

I want to be 15 again, staying up all night in rooms where no question is “too much.” I want to feel safe under the sworn secrecy of friends. More than anything, I want someone to kiss me when it’s cold outside, and I want to feel warm in a way that’s validated by the holidays. I just don’t know how.

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