Through my project, Being, I aim to explore the human experience and challenge our notions of otherness through ordinary ideas, thoughts, beliefs, stories, and philosophies of strangers. I visually present diverse voices through the medium of design.

To do this, I passed out anonymous surveys to collect accounts of individuals' experiences. These surveys contained a list of 45 prompts, including questions such as: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?” and “How do you deal with anger?” After the surveys were returned, I created an image from each response. The design of the image corresponds with something from the response that I felt defined the character of the respondent. Through presenting these images to the public, I hope that people may discover meaningful connections with total strangers and build a greater sense of empathy. I want people to realize that these stories could very well belong to strangers sitting next to them, or the acquaintances that they see every day but do not know much about. Ultimately we are all human and we have a lot more in common than we think. I believe that by sharing these accounts of the human experience, I can help people become more aware of the connections we inherently hold as humans. Hopefully this understanding will help people find the motivation to treat all others with kindness and respect.

This blog consists of nine images followed by the written responses that served as their inspiration. Passages or phrases that particularly stood out to me are colored light yellow.

Thanks for your interest!

-Masami Chin

Caged Off

10. How has your life been different from what you’d imagined?

I thought we were going to be together for a lot longer, maybe even forever. I’m still not quite sure why we broke up. I don’t know if I will ever be 100% sure. He told me that he can’t be in a relationship with someone who is not at LMU, and since I was going to graduate in three months (even if I was still in LA), our relationship would have to end. He said he still loved me, but it just wouldn’t work. I asked him why he stayed so long if he knew it wasn’t going to work out. He said he used to think that we would last, or at least try, after I graduated but now he changed his mind. And he kept emphasizing that he still loved me, a lot.

This didn’t make sense, because it seems to me that people who really love each other try to make it work until it doesn’t. We don’t give up just because it might not work out in the end.

So then I thought maybe he was scared. Maybe he was scared of trying to work at a relationship where we would sometimes be separated by space larger than a college campus. I thought maybe he didn’t want to try and fail, so he just cut it off while he was still in control. I proposed this to him, and he said no. I don’t know why I even asked this, because even if it were true, he would not be the type to admit it. He insisted that it was because I wasn’t going to be at LMU anymore, but he made sure to mention he still loved me. Since I still was not satisfied with this reason, I also asked if it was because he wanted to be a carefree single college senior, one of the guys, and not have to worry about a girlfriend. He said no to this too. Despite my many attempts to try to find a sensible reason for our breakup, he stuck with: we are breaking up because we will not both be at LMU…but he still loved me. I still don’t get it.

A few weeks have passed since it ended and I’m starting to feel okay again. I don’t cry every time I think about him. Still, I just wish I could know why it ended. Without a clear answer, I am left to make up one for myself. 

After a ton of brainstorming, I have decided to go with: he doesn’t love as much as he used to and maybe he only said that he loved me to try to make the breakup easier for both of us. Evidence for this hypothesis is in the fact that when you are really in love, even when the situation gives you obstacles, you still want to make it work. When you are really in love, you want to spend as much time as possible with the other, even when we see a bump down the road. Even with real love, sometimes the situation wins, but not without a fight. I do believe that he might have still loved me, but just not enough.

When pondering why his love faded I came up with a few ideas. I know that I can be emotionally needy, so maybe he was getting tired of being my main support. Maybe I was relying on him too much. Or maybe I was becoming too controlling. Or maybe my condescending tone of voice was coming out too often. Or maybe it wasn’t me at all and the honeymoon phase excitement was just wearing off and he realized he didn’t really love me as much as he thought. I wish he had told me. It would give me closure, and thus make the moving on bit a lot easier. It would also make me a better person, because I would have something to work on.

But then again—if my hypothesis is right and his love faded—probably even he would not be able to say why, because his emotions were so caged off from the rest of his being. When we were together I thought that his lack of emotional expression balanced our relationship and showed that petty things didn’t bother him. I thought that we were perfect for each other because I was always too sensitive, but he could ground me. This turned out to be false. I found out that he is actually a stuffer, and the reason he doesn’t show much emotion is because he stuffs them away—never really confronting them. I don’t think he ever truly lets himself truly experience the emotions he doesn’t like; he is always on guard against them. Whenever they approach, he pushes them away. For the entire length of our relationship, he never really got angry or enraged. He never really got sad (or let the sadness permeate). He was great at pretending that everything was fine. In fact, he was able to pretend everything was fine and that our relationship was going well up until the moment he broke up with me. 

Despite some current angriness and a tad bit of betrayal (that I’m starting to wonder if I will ever overcome), I still love him and I always will. I don’t believe that it is possible to fall out of love, because even if the person changes, we will still love the old version that exists in our memories. I am thankful for memories of him and all the moments we shared when we were stupendously in love. I know that it is a blessing to have experienced such deep feelings for another; and I know that I will eventually find those feelings again with someone else. 

I made the realization about a year ago that at this point in my life, with any guy I date, we are either going to break up or be together forever. I guess with this relationship, we broke up. But I’m okay with that because I also realized that we are going to break up until one time we just don’t. So this breakup brings me closer to that one time when we stay together forever. I can’t wait for that time.