a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.


Similar: self-doubt, overthinking, the perfectionist’s mind, writer’s block, the effect of valuing someone else too much

See more translations and definitions below.


I am having a hard time writing about myself. It seems as though my well of symbols, metaphors, and imagery runs dry at the moment, and I am left to fend for myself without any foundation to build upon.

In grade 10, I embodied a tree: beautiful, but humble — nimble, but resilient.

In grade 11, I embodied a gladiator: powerful, rebellious, and a show-stopper.

In grade 12, I feel obliged to be truthful, rather than simply thrusting my personality onto some external object for fear of exposure and self-doubt. Under all of these symbols and metaphors — all of these artificially accentuated alliterations — all of these melodramatic and exaggerated spoken word poems, I am first and foremost a soul.

A soul who has rhino skin, so when bullets and arrows of insults slice past, they barely injure me. 

(No metaphors allowed – try again.)

I am not funny. I am sincere.

I am awkward. I don’t care.

I have bad timing — perfection-obsessed.

I embarrass myself — many flaws unaddressed.

I work hard. I love.

I pray for guidance from above.

I eat. I sleep. I brush my teeth.

And no matter how hard I try to suppress my mind,

rhymes escape my mouth even when I sleep.


How can someone who has relied on such a structure as a constant for eternity

— to maintain even a semblance of a morsel of sanity —

be suddenly thrust into,




majors and specialties,

from K-12,

to university


that judge credibility.

I can’t count out enough syllables per line to describe my heartbeat

that builds like a swelling bundle of muscle (simile?)

until I think I am about to have a heart attack and then

I relax.

It’s okay.

(Make your parents proud.)                                                                       (Think for yourself.)


It’s okay.


(Is the answer B?)                                                                                                (What about C?)


Don’t worry, you are okay.


(It has to be D then.)                                                                                   (The last 4 were D’s!)


Then why did we eliminate A?


(Why are you asking us?)                                                                                (This is your test.)


But I never wanted this.


(Hurry up, answer the question.)                                      (Put a star, and then return to it.)


I am going to run out of time. Please let me breathe.


(You can’t do two things at once.)                              (Some people fail and some succeed.)


I hope it isn’t just me

who sees this jouska

(literally) dripping in irony.


Don’t get me wrong — I love school,

but it’s funny how

I meticulously color-code my notes,

— ask the “right” questions and pursue the “right” hopes —

yet I still wait for

river walks

 where I sit by myself,

but this time I don’t have enough 

angst to tearfully write out (stop rhyming)

so I open my pink sharpie,

and begin dishing out advice to strangers

as if I know enough about life to preach words onto stones:

“If you are hurting, then know that everything happens for a reason.”

“If you heard some good news, then don’t forget to be humble.”

“If you don’t trust me, then here is my favorite quote from Oscar Wilde.”


All these wise words but

 if I try to speak I 


Behind a mic, 

bright white lights

— my heart flutters —

performing carefully crafted words in front of

wide eyes that are waiting 

and I can’t help but 


But I focus on the mic.

I can’t mess up like I did

the last time,

the whole grade was watching when I forgot my 

last rhyme (we know).

The pressure was mounting yet I was still counting 

syllables upon syllables — 

“Mathematics try and c-calculate me”

(Stop clenching your fists)

“I want to discuss philosophies,”

(No one can relate to this —)

It may look like I am crazy

but I know exactly what I am doing.

My shaking legs tell me that this path I am pursuing is 

beautiful like a tree and 

unstoppable like a gladiator (no similes allo—)

I may not be exactly like what I compare myself to but

this jouska is nothing but an 

amalgamation of calculated contradictions

coefficients of friction and Fnet equations 

that force my thoughts to the edges of sentences

until nothing is left to show.

Diction lost in the restriction of thoughts  

and predictions made by the voices 

I give the chance to run my life.


And this final about me was supposed to be about

how much I have grown since the beginning of my journey.

And, although I have,

I can’t lie to myself about how little progress I have made


when I am able to love something deeply my heart swells like a balloon, 

but I also struggle to love and show it.

I am put down by people who are close to me a lot, and my thick skin complains, 

but I ignore it.


I may be a contradiction, 

but all my words are true.

(A paradox?)


Yes, I am a paradox,

simile and metaphor too, 

my alterations and exaggerations

bleed into my words as  


(Cut out the nonsense.)

(A, B, C, or D?)                                                                           (You have one choice to make.)

My choices are as varied as the words I choose to say.

An amalgamation of poetry and prose,

A conversation of what if’s and who knows,

An about me that has proven that as time races past,

my jouska is chaotic, 

but it only ever helps me grow. 

I have never written anything nearly as structureless as this before. It was unnerving to have no specifics to rely upon — by forcing myself to speak truthfully, however, I believe I know myself a little better now.

The multiple-choice exam – although it could be taken literally – was representative of my struggle to choose. I have been talking about this with a lot of people right now, but I can’t seem to formulate the “right” answer. I hope one day my options are more than a scantron and the first four letters of the alphabet. 

Slam poetry is also a large part of my identity, and although I have not been able to perform due to Covid, I still cannot shake off the experience of being the only person on stage. I love the anticipation as much as I dread it – this is why I am the exact definition of a paradox.

I decided to play with the idea of a jouska in my about me because it is something I do almost every day. My inner voice is patronizing, loving, stubborn, persevering, meticulous, and humiliating all at the same time. These variable thoughts fuse into my personality, and I would be doing myself a disservice if I pretend they do not exist. I hope that I am able to reconcile the extremes in the years to come, but for now, I am okay with this chaos because it means that I am not stagnant in my mental growth (height is another story), but rather shifting and forming into a person I can be proud of one day.

Thank you for reading.

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