I have thought frequently about this notion of writing.
Do people care?
Is what I want to say and showcase valuable?
Has it already been said?
The narrative…what’s the narrative?
Mostly, I wonder if people feel a lengthy piece of writing is even worth the read.
I had begun to ask mySelf too many questions. Coddling–because it was more comfortable to lead with doubt and be silent, than it was to try something new and risk failure.
I used this as an excuse for a long time to not try writing at all.
The problem is, that I have so much to say.
So many realms I want to explore and so many different things that excite me. Yet, I’ve been told that I need to choose a voice that is my own. This leads me to spiral because I remember being 12 and having goals that seemed endless, no reason to choose. So who am I at 12, that I seem to lose when I turn 19?….20?
I still wonder about my future, and I dream of all the many things I can become. I am thankful because my parents fostered this growth, giving me a sort of allowance for exploration into mySelf.
Though not everyone has been given that space for exploration, and sadly not everyone will.
In creating space for my voice, I address my privilege. Among many other things, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a safe neighborhood. I went to good public schools. I had birthday parties. My own car. I even get the privilege of attending one of the top Universities in the nation, where I will graduate with a degree that offers me more opportunity and privilege than most. I never wondered where my meals were coming, or if they would come at all. I will never know what it’s like to watch my parents fall out of love. I will never not know what family is or question its importance. I have never been sucked of my value with words that sting. I have never not known a home.
Such trauma, if you will grant me the privilege of addressing it as such, creates chains.
These chains become ideas. Then just like that, seeds are planted before we even know we are growing. A life full of “no’s” creates a mind that tells you just the same. Society and the itch it creates for success doesn’t help. Instead, this pressure to be successful leads many to suppress the dreams and desires that they had at 12, to sustain a life they need at 30.
I blame us, because we too often make people choose.
They tell you when you’re younger that you can be anything you want. Anyone you want. Then you grow up and the options seem to dwindle. Those dreams, those desires, those passions that once fueled so many with ambition so severe it could kill–it drowns.
We kill it with choice: with boxes, molds, and mostly expectation.
They say: You shouldn’t go into the arts because you’ll be poor. You might not want to try law because the government is corrupt. You can’t leave that job because it’s feeding your kids. Don’t move that far, because then you will be alone. That major is too easy. That major is too hard. You won’t succeed with that idea. This list extends further, as I’m sure you know…
These statements, and the many others similar then leave you and yourSelf nowhere to grow.
No, before you ask…I don’t want you to drop everything right now and do exactly everything you want. You will one day need a job to pay the bills. Or maybe you already have one that does. Or possibly you are young and don’t yet factor in the job element.
The reality is you do need to make money in this life, our society demands it…
However, work in any form is not an excuse to ignore the part of you that craves attention. That part of you that came around more when you were younger…that part.
You feel this lack of Self after a bad day because it isn’t there to cheer you up. You heard it when you missed that payment and had nowhere to reach. You felt it’s emptiness when you touched beside you, despite your partner who is just asleep. You feel it every day at lunch, that loneliness that creeps. In crowds. Around friends. At home. It doesn’t matter where you are, if you are ignoring yourSelf, you will forever be alone.
To build then, who am I?
Though I don’t perform on stage, I am a musician. Though my art supplies are limited and cheap, I am an artist. Though I do not know the full anatomy of a camera, I am a photographer. I run, I write, I sing, I dance, I act, I read, I edit, I pose, I strum, I strut, I paint, I advocate…I learn. And the theme of this movie that I play the lead role in is growth.
Yet to grow you must explore and you must fail. Then you fight, kick, scratch, and plead for forgiveness to the Self when something wasn’t quite right. But there is no other way to arrive at growth than to sit in it, that failure. To be very uncomfortable and unsettled in it.
In doing so, you will toy with that sort of sadness that grows and knots in the back of the throat when you have let down the only individual on the planet that matters–you.
Deciding now then, to open myself up to something I do not fully understand is my first step into a world without comfortability. I reject it, to be frank, the notion of comfort. Now I gladly open my arms to hugs, accept kind words from those I love, and advocate for remaining in close contact with those who understand me–but that is simply not the kind of comfort in reference.
I reject being quiet because of the possibility that I may offend. I reject the idea that I must submit myself to a standard that was first created to silence my voice. I reject not sharing my ideas and my thoughts because I fear not having anything valuable to offer. I reject this notion that being comfortable is a good thing. It isn’t. I want growth, I want to inspire growth, and most of all I want to highlight individuals who have pushed these boundaries and broken free from the cages that seem so systematically in place.
I want to highlight you.
So…I leave being comfortable alone. It just isn’t for me, it’s not for any of us.
Visuals by Rachel Marsh