Grace Kim is a 24 year old restaurant owner in San Francisco. She is also the founder of the Best Day Project, a LGBTQIA youth suicide prevention web series and initiative and partner to Live Through This.
I grew up really, really religious. My parents sent me to church every week, like three days a week, and so I genuinely believed I was going to hell for most of my life. I also thought I wouldn’t be able to be happy in this life because I had this horrible secret that I couldn’t tell them because they were just so fucking religious, and I believed it... [Ed. note: Grace realized she was gay when she was 4.]
I just thought there was no hope in life. Like, I really thought I was going... my eternal soul was damned and that I couldn’t be happy in this life, so what was the point? So, probably from like 4 to 24, I was really depressed. I told myself I was gonna kill myself when I was 8 years old, but I chose a day. I chose after I graduated from college ‘cause of the whole Asian familial pressures of being a scientist or a doctor. I thought, 'I at least have to go to college and then end it,' for some odd reason. My logic doesn’t make any sense.
I lived my life really believing I had an expiration date, so I didn’t take care of myself at all. I smoked a ton, I drank, I did anything horrible I could do to myself, ‘cause I secretly hoped for death. I would wish for natural disasters... every time [one] happened or anything like that, I’d feel like, ‘Please let it be the end of the world. I don’t want to be the one to be the coward and take my own life and just kind of affect the people around me,' but I was just so miserable and so... I just didn’t give a fuck about myself. I would let anyone treat me the way they wanted to, take advantage of me. I also went silent.
I’m really talkative now, but I used to not talk at all and have no interaction with family members besides to iterate basic needs like food, like toys and water, ‘cause I was... I didn’t talk to anyone my whole life ‘cause I was so scared that... since I was 4, I was so scared that I would let my secret slip that I chose not to talk, so I was a complete loner for most of my life.
I was in this dark, dark pit for so long, and every day I just went to sleep hoping that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. And I just kind of went through my life really, really miserable and I did all the things I needed to do [at] the bare minimum. I went to school just enough to graduate, just enough to go to college, and I didn’t do shit in college, honestly. I was just counting down the days, really. I didn’t see the point of anything and it got worse and worse progressively.
I would find less of a reason to do basic things, like move my trash out of my room, like leave the house. It got so bad to the point that I was surrounded in a month’s worth of trash in my room without having left for two weeks, and I was just like, “What’s the point?” I was so close to ending it that day and I remember it really well. I felt like I just kind of hit bottom, like, "What is the point of this? If this is the point of life, just to be miserable and to be condemned by my God, what’s the point?" So, I was kind of just going through the options of how I would do it and I don’t know... I was ready to just give myself some peace.
I tried to think of the happiest day of my life and I really didn’t have anything to draw back on. It just seemed like I just lived this miserable life, and it was because I chose to... I just tried to remember the best day of my life, and since there was none, I just decided to give myself the best day of my life.
I didn’t do anything special. I just walked around San Francisco. It was more of like a goodbye to me. I had no inhibitions. I didn’t give a fuck at that point, I just wanted to enjoy my last day. So, I just went around. I kind of took the time to appreciate the little things in life. Everything around us is just a feat of human genius, even streetlights, and I just started realizing all these things in one epiphany. And I really did have the best day of my life. I talked to strangers for the first time, and that was a big deal for me...
After that day, I tried it again. I tried just enjoying life and just living for the day and my day was amazing again... After the second day, I decided I really needed to change my life. I challenged myself from that day to just be the exact kind of person I want to be and live the exact kind of life I want to, and it’s just–it was up to me to do it. So, I just started living for the day, just enjoying everything I could [and] really making good decisions. I started forcing myself to just be that person I had in my head that I thought I could be...
I have a life I’m proud of. It’s crazy to me, ‘cause I never thought I could reach this point. Putting in the time and the effort and the thought every day just changed my life. I’m now on the path to exactly what I want to do. I realize I wasted most of my life being miserable and now I just want to live the rest of it out taking advantage of it, ‘cause it really is a gift. Being here... it’s, like, a one in a forty million chance that you were born.
You can see more of Grace's story in an episode of the Mental Health Channel's series CRITICAL YEARS, below:
If you’re feeling suicidal, please talk to somebody. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you don't like the phone, check out Lifeline Crisis Chat or Crisis Text Line. If you're not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.
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