Photo by Alex Zavala
Growing up, Summers in the suburbs felt like the beginning of some sad story sitting carelessly in my Notes app where every story sounded the same. I’d wake up, fight the Summer heat by staying inside all day, pace around aimlessly, watch reruns of Spongebob, fall asleep, rinse, repeat. At least, if you were on the outside looking in, that’s all you’d see. But, being a sad boy with a sad brain is a full-time job with no benefits, sick days, paid time off, or, like, any compensation at all, so Summer break didn’t really feel like a break ever.
When the days would end and blend into the days before and after, my dreams at night would fill the void of my lack of cerebral stimulation throughout the daytime. Dreams were kind of an escape from the monotony of everyday life, and it was where the normal could evolve into the absurd with little to no consequences. I really liked dreaming.
Though, I’d be lying if I said I was only dreaming after I fell asleep.
Growing up, I have always had this really weird propensity to put on some headphones, pace around aimlessly, and daydream about people I haven’t met, situations I’ve never felt, conversations I’ve never had, and worlds I’ve never seen.
Some called it an over-active imagination. Others called it literal delusion. Me? Well, I’ve called it several things throughout my life: “my space to contemplate,” “my vivid escape,” or simply just “my daydreams”. After talking with a therapist for a little while, I think I’ve settled on a term—it’s my superpower.
Because my brain has always confused people, I’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers because I’m cute like that:
Q: Wait. Doesn’t everyone daydream? Isn’t that literally just something humans do? Why are you making this a big deal in Kindergarten Magazine?
A: Thank you for your questions. Yes, everyone daydreams, but I don’t think everyone daydreams like I do. My daydreams have a continuous storyline and characters that have shifted around for over a decade. I could spend literally hours inside my head, constructing realities that would take too long for me to break down for you. Kindergarten Magazine seemed like a good place to explain the kind of process I’ve made a part of my life for years.
Q: Alright bro. You sound insane. Like, are you a schizophrenic?
A: Thanks for your question bro. I do manage and treat some weird things with my brain, but I wouldn’t call me insane. In order to fight the stigma of mental illnesses in our collective society, we need to stop conflating people’s identities with illnesses they have. We shouldn’t call people bipolar or schizophrenic. People have illnesses.
I don’t have schizophrenia. I know my daydreams aren’t real—even if I wish they were sometimes.
Every summer day I spent stimulating my brain, not only walking but thinking in circles, could be a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or ADHD, but the science hasn’t really caught up. An article from the British Psychological Society cited a study of around 80 people that have something in their brain that makes them really, really want to daydream–deemed Maladaptive Daydreaming. They spent on average four hours a day lost in their heads.
Even with the research out there and the opportunity to learn more looming, mental health professionals I have talked to in the past have literally made me feel crazy or too normal—or have ignored my daydreams, altogether.
Q: Hey man…are you okay?
A: Yeah man, I think I’m okay. Thanks for asking. If you were to ask me maybe last month, I’d tell you there was something extremely wrong with me—because no one I’ve ever talked to has ever expressed that they deal with this. I felt alone, and because I felt alone, I would use my daydreams to continue to cope with my loneliness.
But, I’ve learned that just because my brain might work a little harder for no real reason doesn’t make me a freak. It makes me feel powerful.
Q: Uh, right, okay. I’ve kind of checked out of this article—who’s your favorite Queer Eye cast member?
A: Oh, it’s fine. Thanks for your honesty.
And, Antoni. By far.
My Summer days growing up felt monotonous sometimes but completely magical at others, and that’s because of my superpower.
I could listen to Melodrama by Lorde and be transported to a completely different place. It would help me conceptualize love, loss, and everything in between through having a mental workout from the privacy of my own brain. I could take early morning walks around my neighborhood and pick up my stories where they left off. I could finally finish the poems I was stuck on or the essay I really wanted to write for Kindergarten Magazine. I could take a break from the anxieties brought on by life and simply be the person I wanted to be or wanted to become.
I think that’s a superpower.
Like every great superhero, there are times where I don’t know how to use my powers, where I feel like my powers are not even powerful enough to make any difference or make meaning. Then, I write. Or communicate with others. Or overcome obstacles that I wouldn’t even be able to explain here and now.
I think about those Summer days with all of that duress and sadness every now and then, and I realize that while my summers weren’t perfect, my brain really was looking out for me. Instead of being stuck inside anxiety and depression, my brain created new worlds to explore.
So, let me correct my introduction. Summer break was never a break, but an opportunity to grow and learn more about myself and my creative outlets. Summers in the suburbs were always more super than anyone could have ever imagined.