Xeno Hemlock


The Insidious Horror in a Teenager's Life


There's something beautiful and poignant when you go see a movie and get something more than entertainment from it. Whether it be a lesson (What The Edge of Tomorrow Made Me Realize) or a sign (How to Attract Synchronicity into Your Life), it's those unexpected moments that add some magic in our lives. It's as if the universe went for a break from its busy schedule to personally say hello to us. 

A few weeks ago, I went to see Insidious: Chapter 3 in a theatre with a friend. I remembered Part 1 but didn't know Part 2 existed. That didn't matter. The movie turned out to be a prequel. That didn't matter too. What mattered was the special message inserted in the movie. I would probably rank Part 1 higher than Part 3 if we went by the scare scenes but I would put Part 3 above Part 1 because of the special message in the film. Who would've thought that in a horror movie I would find something to ponder about, something that touched my soul, and something that rang true for most people on Earth? Not me. Definitely not me.



We can find the special message in the first third of the movie. After trying out in an audition for a theatre academy, our movie's lead girl, teenager Quinn retold her audition story to her friend Maggie at the side of the street during the night. Quinn felt she had butchered her audition to join her dream academy in New York after stumbling her lines and expressed her fear to her friend. She feared not making it to the theatre academy which would propel her father's plan for her life - settling in their hometown to help him take care of her younger brother.

That scene hooked me, line and sinker included. While the scene also included another horror, when the malicious evil spirit distracted Quinn from crossing the street allowing her to get hit by a car which would put her in a wheelchair for the first of the film, the true horror involved no supernatural at all. The true horror, as expressed by Quinn to her friend Maggie, was the horror of not getting the chance to pursue you dream and instead following someone else's "dream" for you. Truly scary, right?

We could say that Quinn was being selfish. His father was a widower who had to work harder for his children. She taking care of her brother would alleviate some burden from him. She would not only be helping her father but also her brother as well. We could also say that Quinn's father was being selfish too. Quinn's preparation for the audition was not unbeknownst to him. He was well aware of how much it mattered to her. That kind of scenario is very common in most teenagers' lives during the time they have to pick a career or path they will pursue for the rest of their lives. How many teenagers are/were in the role of Quinn, standing in front of a fork between following their hearts or following someone else's plan for them? I bet you there's many.



Let us define the two words: insidious and horror.

Insidious = proceeding in a gradual subtle way with harmful effects.

Horror = an intense feeling of fear, shock, and disgust.


Now let's combine the two words and their definition.

Insidious horror = an intense feeling of fear, shock, and disgust proceeding in a gradual subtle way with harmful effects.


Now let's pick the keywords from the compound definition: gradual, fear, shock, and disgust.

How was Quinn's situation related to an insidious horror? If Quinn chose her father's life plan for her, she would be opening the palm of her hand to let the insidious horror land on it. Heeding someone else's plan instead of our inner voice regarding the career or path we want in life will result in an insidious horror. Once we make that mistake, we begin to live a life that is never ours in the first place. In the beginning we delude ourselves thinking that things will work out, that it is the best for us, but it is very, very far from the truth. As we carry on, we gradually die. Our spirit diminishes. Our energy depletes. Our face becomes strange. Our fire dies. The longer we march on the path chosen for us by others, the more the truth becomes apparent. Every now and then we are presented with another fork again. We must choose between acknowledging the horror and doing something about it or ignoring it and swimming deeper into the pit of the insidious horror. How many of the victims choose the former and untangle themselves free? And how many of the victims choose the latter?

A lot.

That's why despite the amount of money some people make, they are never really happy. That's why despite having a career, some people are never really happy and fulfilled. That's why no matter what clothes they wear, what places they go to, what kind of people they surround themselves with, some people will never be really happy and fulfilled. No matter what level of success they have attained in their lives that will never fix the true problem. The real problem is rooted from within. People settled into a life they didn't choose, that others chose for them, and have gone further and further into the insidious horror. 

My high school days were about to be over and I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my future. My mother suggested I pursue a degree in Fine Arts and follow the footsteps of my father. I listened, took an entrance exam into some university, and failed. I turned my eye next to computer studies as suggested by my mother again to follow to footsteps of some of my aunts. I listened, took an entrance exam into some college, and passed. Somebody handed me a life plan and told me to implement it and I did. 

When the time came for my youngest sister to choose a college degree to pursue, my mother and I suggested to her to study Physical Therapy. She had the gift of hands in the form of massage so we believed it was the wisest choices for her. She was young, inexperienced, and she listened. My mother and I had good intentions for her and wanted her to have a bright future. However , we didn't suggest to her. We told her what to do. We forced her what to do. And we were wrong.

After failing a class during her first year, my sister found herself in front of a fork. With tears streaming down her face, she flat out said to my mother and me she didn't want to study Physical Therapy anymore. She didn't want it. It made me furious. I paid for her tuition fee and felt I should have a lot of say in the matter which was her education. I cursed. I yelled. I screamed. I told her she was lucky someone was willing to send her to school. I told her she should be grateful. I told her she had no reason not to study. I wanted her to accept once more the life plan my mother and I wanted for her. I repeat the last three words. Wanted. For. Her.

After the anger left me, the truth sprung within me. I gave her what she wanted. I would not be paying for a tuition fee anymore. She wouldn't be studying in her school from that point onward. At that time, I couldn't explain it. Though I felt it, I didn't understand it but after looking back it made sense. I didn't want my sister to go through the same thing I had gone through, that of following a life plan handed by someone else. 

It took her a while to discover something she really liked but she eventually did. She's now working in a restaurant and while her career at its current stage is not something to brag about, it's fair to say she can brag that she picked it. She didn't have to go through the insidious horror most people go through and, sad to say, are still going through.



A horror doesn't need a supernatural evil spirit or a monster for it to be called horror. Going to work without any enthusiasm and love for it is a horror. Seeking external validation instead of building your own is another horror too. Living a life planned by others is a horror. Dying without getting a chance at living the life one truly wants is a horror on top of another horror. It's time we end it.

For you teenagers who are at a point in your life when you have to choose your path or career, listen to your inner voice, listen to your heart. Don't follow someone else's plan for your life. Only you truly knows what's your heart's desires. It's scary but you're not alone. There are people out there we will support, people who have escaped the insidious horror of their lives, people who are escaping their insidious horrors, and people who have been wise to never go into the insidious horror at all. You don't have to chase happiness and fulfilment. You can create it.

For you parents or guardians out there, we know you have good intentions. You want the best for your teenagers, for your kids, but remember that the BEST thing you can give to them is not a lucrative career you will shove down their throats. It's not the secure and well-traveled path either. The BEST thing that you can give them is to let them choose the path they want, let them follow their hearts. Let them create the life they so desire. It doesn't mean you have to abandon them or let them on their own. You're there to guide them, to keep them on the right moral track, to give them support, and to give them the liberty that every person deserves of owning. It's time we end the inflicting of insidious horror on what should be an authentic and beautiful life.

I repeat. It's time we end it.

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