When you want what everyone else wants, without discretion, you do what you see everyone else doing. When you believe that what you see, what's presented to you, is all there is, you try to choose a mold to squeeze into, even if it hurts, even if you can't breathe, even if you have to cut off parts of yourself to make it fit.
When you've been told, over and over, that you are too much or not enough, it echoes through your actions. Even if you don't consciously accept it, you're sensitive about it, you react to it, and there it has you. Tired from defending yourself, wilted from suppressing yourself, fighting inner and outer battles that will never bring you peace.
When you need someone's permission to feel how you feel, to be different, to be curved and slanted the way you are, you give them your power. You let them shade your light. Parts of you go missing. Gifts go unused. The ache inside of you screams and swells.
When you struggle to appreciate your life because you've lost yourself while living it, you start sliding and feeling unsteady. You're a spectacle, swollen with unsaid words, bleeding from walking on eggshells, crying out with a closed mouth, and no one pauses or notices, so full with their own lives. Looking in the mirror, you struggle to even see yourself.
When you think you're too far gone, living life as someone you don't want to be, seeing no feasible way out, you wonder what would happen if you just let it all go. If you threw up all the words, danced out all the pain, and unleashed all the light. If you stripped yourself down and walked through the streets singing amazing grace and born this way and who you are, who you are, who you are.
When you connect your voice to your survival and to your precious peace of mind, it no longer matters what anyone thinks because you know their approval can't save you. Freedom comes from the expression, not the praise. Courage comes from the choice, not the criticism. It's the doing that matters, the turning around, the falling down, the opening, the crying, the overcoming, for God's sake, the meaning. It's not for the shine or the glory.
When your shame becomes your story, you know you've turned a corner. When you clear your throat and stand on trembling legs and speak your truth, you sleep soundly at night. You look forward to tomorrow, as unruly and uncertain as it may be, and you have hope in what you hope for and you align your steps with your heartbeat, a rhythm that was once muted.
When you see yourself doing things you never thought you could do, becoming someone you only imagined you could be, you recognize yourself and you say there you are, I see you, I will create a beautiful life with you and I love you, regardless.
When you realize that everything you've been, everything you are and everything that you will be is on purpose, you stop apologizing and you start living: the truer, the braver, the better. You let the excess fall away. You know that no mistakes were made in your creation. Every step you've taken has been to get you here, to this moment, to this choice, to this voice that you've had inside of you all along.