By Avalon Nicole Hendricks

All we ever allowed ourselves to be were shadows on a wall, seeing one another, but never initiating to come out from darkness and exposing ourselves into the half-dimmed light. We have become comfortable with deceiving the souls that hold authenticity, betraying the ones who carry well-intentions, and carelessly leaving bits and pieces of ourselves in people who invested their most purest and authentic love into us. Sadly, this has caused us to lose recognition in ourselves. Our most truest version of ourselves have now become the steam on the bathroom mirror – unable to see ourselves clearly and entirely. Yet, this is what we’ve become.

We have become elite runners in a marathon. The distressing pressure of our lungs collapsing and reforming itself with oxygen, the numbness in our calves and the breath of our past we couldn’t care to catch – are all means of trying to disappear in the moments where our presence is needed most. We have become too familiar with new beginnings, freshly painted start lines and new company awaiting for our arrival at the finish line. We excel at packing up our lives in the trunk of our cars, breaking leases, breaching work contracts, buying plane tickets we cannot afford – only because we are assured that new beginnings will eventually conceal half-healed wounds and renovate a damaged past.

Who were you before the intimate spaces you shared were invaded? Who were you when your security became non-existent? Who were you before you built up barricades that your mind cannot even keep count of? How do you express yourself to a universe that continues to circulate without you? Do you choose to live with a soft heart in a cold world? Who told you that being strong was mandated of you? When did being weak become less of an option? When did you start to live half empty?

And, this is who we’ve become: petrified and paralyzed shadows on the wall -scared to expose our heartbeats. Afraid to give the heat of the sun the chance to unstitch our half-healed wounds. We are intimidated to take a leap into the world of vulnerability, to willingly show up for ourselves. To bring our half truths about ourselves, into whole truths. We are terrified to step back into the arena to lose to yet another bloody fight with the universe. But, this is the time where we must reveal ourselves to one another – to stop being shadows on the wall. To begin feeling what it feels like to be human, to experience what humans are conditioned to feel: pain, loss, anger, resentment, happiness, defeat, gratification, contentment, pleasure, and what it genuinely feels like to actively exist…

This is the moment where we must apprehend that the only clarity and transparency we will ever see, is through the lenses we choose to see out of. And, most importantly, through the individuals who love us unreservedly. This is the point in time where we must stop midway in the marathon, kick off our shoes and give ourselves back to the universe.

As human beings, this is what we need to acknowledge: that we are fragmented individuals who sincerely understand that the world can be an unconcerned, brutal and a barbarous place to open our souls to. However, it is also a sensational place to be. It is a beautiful place to belong. The next time you lose your faith in humanity and you begin to hide in the midnight shadows; remember all of the times where you were once shook by utter compassion and touched by solicitude. Commemorate back to the moments when humanity unconditionally nurtured you when you were shattered by false beliefs, mutilated by misleading affection, and striving to survive with a ruptured heart.

Nonetheless, this is who we’ve become: hopeless and displeased in a place where there is so much more room to see the goodness through our lifelong run into the woods. We have to move on and remember that each of us have a vision. This may include shoving through miles worth of weeds and shrubs, but, we must keep running until all we see is the green fields in front of us. Until we are enveloped by the nature and the beauty of being free – by breathing in the simplicity of offering humanity a second chance. Through this, we will lessen our fear of humanity. We can adjust who we are and what we see by being free. Exempt your boundaries to society and think with a spacious mind, stop covering yourself up and hiding within the depths of the shadows. Be open and cautiously peel back your layers – the atrocious ones and the satisfying ones. Open yourself up to your bewilderment, the marks on your body and wear-and-tear of your soul – let them all pay their price. Let them leave lines around the corners of your eyes, like maps that lead to a life well lived. Let the lines lead strangers to your undefended life. Start feeling from inside, from the core of your stomach. You will beam a feeling most humans thought died along the way with their purity and delicateness. Connect yourself again with the disbelievers. Teach them that shadows are illusions. Yes, just illusions.

I believe in you. You should, too.

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