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By Katie Marshall
You will give yourself the freedom to hurt, the grace to mourn small, tangible things that your smarter, stronger, future self knows you will outgrow but your present weakness can’t let go of. As though you are on a life raft that’s on fire in the middle of what you believe is an endless lake, you will cling onto your current agony until your fingers burn, grasping at pain and screaming when nothing comes to save you. Only when you are willing to let this present moment die will you let go, flinging yourself backward into what you believe is the darkest deepest of lockers that only fate or your destiny or your story’s hero can save you from, or if nothing else, the sweet responsibility-less freedom of death can deliver you from. Yes, you fling yourself into the water with desperation. This is it; sweet relief. Then, in an instant, you realize that the hard foundation below you is not the end, but the ground. The lake was shallow enough to stand in all along. You get up. You stumble. You stand. Your own legs hold you. You saved yourself from a problem that you probably created for yourself, but that is an issue worthy of a metaphor on another day. Now is the time to laugh and splash about. You were never drowning, nothing was on fire. Or maybe you changed the water with your mind. Regardless, you’re here, breathing, ridiculous, stubborn, and alive. You’re okay. Now it’s time to go forward.
This is how you will redirect your path.
The path you were on led you to whatever nightmare you currently can’t wake from. You owe your past steps nothing. You will find a new path, or create one or create many and follow them each a little bit at a time. You’ll look at the horizon and realize that even though the sun is the most important star, she probably still needs affirmation from time to time. You will make a promise to wake up at sunrise every day this week to celebrate her, cheer her on as she paints your sky pink and sparkling. You’ll do it once and decide to love yourself even on the days that you wake up late, even when you’re dramatic, even when you exhaust yourself. You will love yourself through your worries, through your need to turn everything from grocery shopping to Tumblr poetry into epic narratives of your life.
Please know that you are not too much.
Remember when you used to pray to be beautiful one day? Remember when you used to fall asleep saying “please” over and over again in your head as you asked God to keep your family safe because the more times you asked nicely, the more God would know you meant it? Remember how proud you were to buy your father’s birthday dinner? You put it on a credit card that you’re still paying off, but all the things you should be better at, should have accomplished by now, well, they’re no match for that heart of yours that keeps pumping even when you’re bored, even when you can’t decide which wine to drink, even when you cry at your desk.
You are here. You are living. And there is no shame in growing.
This is how you will grow.
Messy, sticky, crossed out words on a brand new sheet of paper; growth is anything but neat. You are not your mistakes. You are the symphony that plays after months, years, days, of mistake-ridden practice. You are the musician’s bloody fingers after playing the same chords for an entire day. You are the inhale, shaky and quick, as the conductor mouths, “1, 2, and 3”. You are the dreaming child in the front row, observing the music in a way that makes you full and in love and brave enough to ask your parents for lessons. You are more than one day, one past, one goal. You are a kaleidoscope. You are music and poetry and magic in fucking motion, don’t you ever forget it.
The same vocal chords that amplify a lion’s roars dwell in you. The same magic in all of your favorite books circulates in your veins. Time is a human constraint and you are more than human. You are dreams. You are love. You are the crazy ambition of a recent college graduate without a couch at his parents’ house to fall back on. You are the bold rainbow over a traffic jam; beauty out of context. You are the acts of kindness, big and small, televised and unnoticed, that keep the world connected. You are everything and you are doing just fine and it is okay to ask for help, you’d give it to you if you weren’t you.
Be gentle with yourself. Listen to me, the soft call of your true self, beckoning, welcoming, daring you to jump without letting you know if it is 100% safe, if you’ll look cool, if people will love you or if you’ll win. Jump because you can, because you want to, because you were made to. Jump, and as you do, based on nothing more than sheer, honest trust in yourself, I promise you – you will come back to yourself.
Image: Alagich Katya