Wholly and Completely Me

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Sitting in this cafe, reading a book that’s giving me insight into Life After 30, while the radio argues with the literature, giving me a tour of the Best Hits From My Adolescence. With each song, I’m transported back to different – very distinct – eras if my life.

Maroon 5, and I’m 14, beautiful and naive, sneaking out the window of my second-story window, getting ready to jump to the lawn below and run down the street to meet my friends, all of whom were three years my senior. Smoking cigarettes, talking about high school parties, and whisking away on an adventure to the SF beach.

Blink 182, and I’m 11, lying about the explicitly of the lyrics, standing in line for their album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, singing the vulgar songs with pride, top of my lungs, with my friend Tara Covert – a wonderful friendship that ended terribly. Some house mix I can’t, for the life of me, recall the name of, and I’m 15, surrounded by cheerleaders, practicing our routine, cursing, panting, frustrated, and hurting, but in it together. Another alliance I never thought I’d find solace in. Nobody – NOBODY – who knew me growing up would ever have pegged ME as a cheerleader. Especially now that I say it was some of e best tImes of my life. And hardest, but what isn’t hard she. You’re surrounded by teenage girls?

What strikes me most about this is how sad it makes me. This music strongly evokes such happy memories, but it fills me with a deep-rooted sadness that echoes throughout the pits of my everything. It calls upon my tears and wrenches my heart, makes me ache with longing.

I long for the days when I had all the confidence and none of the cares. I was so sure of myself. I knew who I was, loved who I was, and damn you, if you didn’t. What changed?

The pressure on myself didn’t change. The pressure others put on me has changed. Before, everyone minded their own business. Now, everyone feels like its their place to tell me how I should act, dress, live, love, breathe… Which is funny to me because I have never been without purpose, drive, or focus. I have always known exactly where I wanted to be and how I wanted to get there, and if I ever needed help, I asked for it. So, I don’t understand why, suddenly it’s everyone’s business to butt in. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that I no longer have that, that I’ve lost it somewhere along the way. I’m too polite to tell everyone to butt out and leave some alone, and I find myself nodding, smiling emptily, saying “yes, of course, you’re right, I will.” When the truth is, “no, shut up, you know nothing, butt out, I’m fine.”

I’m scared, I’m lonely, I’m tired, I’m depressed, I’m anxious, I’m vulnerable. But I’m also 26 in a month. Working where I want to work, with whom I want to work. I eat well, I live with my cats, I’m curious, adventurous, and ambitious. I have 25 different dreams, and I’m pursuing all of the at once, and succeeding. I have friends who care about me; I even have non-friends who care about me. I have community, passion, and vision. So next time any of you, for a second, think that you need to weigh in your opinions about. Y life, take a step back first. Accept my gratitude, and kindly butt out.

I hold no sincere apologies for who I am,I never have and I absolutely never ever will. I love me. And if you don’t, to hell with you.

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