Safer This Way

Spiraling through a panic attack, an emotionally-isolated Chinese-American woman confronts her inner demons in a fight for her own safety.

Engrained with expectations of perfection, VIRGINIA’s thought patterns take a brutalist approach. But instead of enabling her, her inner-critic (V) entraps her. Any risk presents opportunity for failure. Vulnerability is out of the question. Virginia emotionally isolates herself in order to stay safe. Most recently, letting a novel romantic relationship wither away. Now she is all alone to fend off her destructive thoughts. She doesn’t know how much longer she can hold on, waiting for the world to present the circumstances in which she feels safe.

In order to fighting off an onslaught of self beratement, Virginia returns to the happy memories of when she and her lost love interest could have still have become “us”. Together they could have conquered anything, even her fears and anxieties. This distraction does not last, as she pulls herself back down reality. She ruined any chances they had. She is the reason she is unhappy and all alone. Virginia deflects her guilt. She reaffirms her choices. She was acting out of self perseverance. She kept herself safe. Safe from having anything to lose. In the process, depriving herself of anything to live for. V strikes. Hammering her with critique, she brings Virginia to the depths of despair. Virginia takes a stand. “No. It will get better.”

Fueled by her new found power, Virginia’s mind runs off into an idilic fantasy of what their romance could have been, and… will still become. She reminds herself that all she needs to do is wait. But isn’t that what she has been doing all along? She is back where she started. If she continues waiting, she will never be happy.

“Fuck that. Fuck safe.” She refuses to wait any longer, to live in fear any longer. Virginia realizes “safe” is an illusion. V reveals her true intentions as she leads Virginia through a mantra re-affirming her realized beliefs.

But Virginia is still afraid. The gravity of her decision sets in. To move forward she must truly let go of the past. She can no longer comfort herself by what could have been, she must accept she is alone in this battle.

As her breath stabilizes, she accepts her true reality and for the first time. She knows she will be okay, but understands that her most difficult task will be saving herself from, herself.

Directed by Danny Erb (USA)

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