Planning your future does not have to be a chore or dentist appointment that you dread going to. Oftentimes, in fact, tackling the road ahead is the easiest way to ease anxiety about walking forwards. You have your map, your compass, the north star in your back pocket — what’s stopping you from being definitive in your actions? Why are you so unwilling to believe that you’re capable of taking care of yourself? Look around you, look at the loved ones you’ve carried through flame. They have grown in your arms. You can grow within yourself.
It seems as though you’ve, once again, second-guessed yourself into a corner. Intimidated by past wrongdoings and aches, your heart has become an all-consuming mess of perpetually wet paint just waiting to mark your feet with its color. But there are much worse things to have to wash off of your skin. Permanence is subjective, and something that often fools us into thinking it’s more of a problem than it actually is. You will never be clean again if you don’t take a chance and walk out of what hurts.
What do you say to yourself when nobody is watching? Imagine sending it to somebody that you love. Imagine their reaction, the way surprise would take over their face and then make way for betrayal. How the hurt would plague them, make them reconsider their ideas of who they are and what your relationship is to you. I know that you know where this is going. But instead of a lecture, I want you to write a letter to your best friend and then read it to your mirror. Make eye contact when you can. Repeat it until you believe in it.
Changing your hair and your aesthetic every time something distresses you isn’t going to alter how you react to your environment. It just buries the root of the issue under hair dye and scissors and everything shiny. Just because things are beautiful on the surface, it doesn’t mean that everything underneath is beautiful too. Sometimes the most well-kept of us have the worst pain, and we don’t bother to ask them how they are because, well, they don’t look like they need it. Who are you in spite of your skin? Be it. Loudly.
Answer this question: what do you want? Now, answer this one: what do you really want? They aren’t always the same thing, are they? Modifying your desires for the sake of convenience or due to outside influences is something that affects you more than you realize. Someday you will look back on all of the comfortable paths you chose and regret ignoring the voice in your head saying “maybe we should reconsider this.” Your true aspirations are valid and achievable as long as you commit to them.
It isn’t your job to mask your emotions in order to keep the peace with loved ones, or make strangers feel at ease. I know that prioritizing others is the only thing you’ve ever known, but once in awhile, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. And sometimes I know that what you’re told are some ugly things — loneliness, dread, fear. Sugar coating that only makes it harder to confront, and isolates you from those that care. It’s okay to feel bad, and it’s okay to talk about it. Please, please talk about it.
You’ve previously been told that your impulsive nature is something to criticize rather than celebrate, but I want you to know that it’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to buy the plane ticket at three in the morning, to drive to a town you’ve never been to just to order a milkshake, to tell that person how you feel, loudly and without shaking. When you try and stifle the aspects of your personality that make you feel like yourself, it can only lead to problems and heartache. Embrace what makes you wild. Pursue it.
There are ticket stubs and birthday cards lining the walls of your memory and yet you still wonder why it’s been so long since you’ve felt at ease in your body. How can you expect yourself to move on if you don’t confront the reality of your situation, if you don’t acknowledge the faces you’ve crossed out of your photographs and the past you have had to burn to the ground? In the wake of your wreckage you do not have to rebuild from the ashes. You can find fresh materials. You can be brand new again.
Faith is a concept that has always seemed to trouble you, for good reason. It can be difficult to know exactly where to place it, and who to trust it with, and inevitably we have lapses in judgment. But just because you have handed your soft to the wrong pair of hands, that doesn’t mean you should discard it altogether. Faith is so much more than believing in something unknowable — it is, primarily, a belief in one’s self and our innate ability to thrive despite our own ignorance and faults. You do not have to be perfect in order to be worth listening to.
It is not your responsibility to fix people, no matter how much you care about them, and sometimes the best thing you can do for those that you love is give them the space to heal on their own terms. Your need to help those in pain is not a curse or reason to hide from the world, but you must remember that certain boundaries will always exist between bodies. There is a difference between being a shoulder to cry on and forcing yourself into a situation that may not ask for you. You are not abandoning anybody by taking a step back.
You tend to idolize the people you love, turn them into gods in a world where everybody is mortal and you are the most mortal of them all. There is a solid line that exists between the showering someone with affection and treating them as though they are more than human. Remember that the most solid relationships are the ones that strive to be a partnership, rather than an adoration that clogs your sense of individuality or prevents you from rising to your full potential. Take off the rosy glasses and polish up your reading ones.
Nobody can read your mind or know exactly what your intentions are unless you’re open to revealing them and explaining yourself. What you view as being a helpful suggestion can easily be seen as harsh criticism by somebody that you aren’t incredibly close to. Don’t get defensive when people tell you how you have upset them. Listen, explain where you were coming from, learn, and remind yourself that you are not difficult to be around or difficult to love because of how you express yourself. There is always tomorrow.