I wear almost exclusively black, for many reasons. The foremost being it makes me feel comfortable. My black clothes and my leather jacket make me feel like me. Clothes are an opportunity for expression. When I wear my favorite band shirt or wear a dress by a brand I am in love with, I feel as though I’m showing the world a part of me. Giving them a glimpse into who I am.
I want to connect. Hell, I’m a biologist. I love life. I revere it. I dedicated years of my life in classes studying it, falling more and more in love as I understood its intricacies. Yet people look at me and make a decision that I am incapable of that connection because of the hue of my fashion choices. Instead of seeing my Kourt K by Kylie Jenner lipstick as something that might make me feel beautiful, I get labeled a miserable bitch. My dark make up is war paint, showing I’m ready for whatever battle lies ahead that day.
How strange that we overlook everything connecting us as people and search for reasons to push people away.
I also wear it for practical uses. I have a digestive disorder. Sometimes, more often than I care to admit, I do not possess the strength to move my head so I do not throw up on myself. There are days I wake up choking on my own puke. Days I get dizzy and fall so hard from trying to stay up I knock myself out. There are times nurses hold me hand as I shake and sob in pain, praying there is relief in medicine. But even on the days that I have moments I cannot hold my head up enough to keep the public toilet water from splashing into my face after I’ve violently vomited into it, when I get to lift my head again I have hope.
It is proof it will end. Proof I will not always feel the way I feel when my disease is at its worst. Proof there is more to my story than my worst days. Proof I am still strong enough to get up, even when it hurts. Proof the possibility for good days are ahead. As long as I have that proof, as long as I find the strength to stand, I will never give up. I have this one thing on my side : hope. Hope is a powerful thing. This disease did not pick someone who would not fight back.
For the record, I always find a way to stand. Always.
But not everyone sees me that way. They do not see me as a girl who fights, who stands. These are the people who have not seen my face light up with joy when I take a stage with my band. They have not seen the beauty in the connections I make with the crowd – in my church. Music is my religion. These are the people who do not know the rush I feel on a film set. The excitement I feel with each opportunity to create a new character and share a story with the world. It is just one more way I connect. They do not see the girl in who fights like hell for a life I know for a fact will hurt. They do not see the girl who cracks jokes with nurses who poke and prod me. I am labeled sarcastic and snarky by those who do not understand I am trying to deflect pain with humor. They do not know the girl who knows one good day is worth all the bad ones. They do not know the people around me who love me, hold my hair back, hold my hand in the hospital, who hold me up when I cannot stand on my own and who help me fight back. And God, I am so loved. Partners in crime. Beyond what I could have dreamed to ask for.
Judgemental people do not understand that I feel a moral obligation to leave this world a better place than the one I found. I forgive them for their judgement. They do not know me enough to have an informed opinion. I forgive them for their close mindedness. I have space in my heart for that.
I’m am artist. Sad and horrible things have happened to me. The world is not always a kind and easy place. But I take that energy and I make it beautiful. I write a song, an article, I paint, I photograph, I act. I once had a musician who shaped my career say, “Girl, you write beautiful songs about such sad stories. That is no small gift.” If I could put incredible pain to art turn around time on my resume I would. It is the law of conservation of energy. Energy can not be created or destroyed. But it can be transformed. I am a goddamn transformer. I take bad energy and I turn it into something beautiful I can give the world. I return it to the universe as good. It is the first law of thermodynamics and my heart’s on fire. I can sculpt masterpieces from ashes. It is what you do when you are a survivor. No matter what you lose, as long as you have hope, you can build again.
I refuse to allow a bad ending. I refuse. Suicide is not the answer for me. When I face things that seem daunting, terrifying, unbeatable – it only makes me push harder. To fight for a better ending. I write my story. I may not be in control of everything around me but my actions and reactions? I author those chapters. I get to choose. I choose to work towards an incredible life. If I get to write that chapter, my ending will be beautiful. I would never end the story I worked so hard to create. Why destroy the foundation I built? The foundation that calloused, wore, and weathered my hands? I dug deep to build the foundation upon which I would construct my story, to make my masterpiece. I made myself a promise: work as hard as is necessary to reach the happy ending. I intend to write, breathing easy, safe and sound, old and in my rocker, still grounded in my determination to make this life a beautiful one.
And this boy I love? I would die to save him from pain. If I died it would hurt him. I could never. I do not have it in me to inflict pain on him. When you love someone you protect them. Protecting myself means protecting someone precious to the person I love. I am too lucky to be loved to beautifully and unconditionally to ever want to leave it. Yes, one can wear all black and be capable of love. I have experienced love beyond what has been captured through centuries of poems, songs, and art. Who could ever want to leave such a wonderful rarity?
To be frank, I like myself a lot. I worked hard and I get to live my dream. It is not a bad life to grow up to become the person you truly wanted to be. Yes, there are bad days. But there are beautiful and good days too. I choose to live for them. I am so much more than moments of pain. We all are. That I am labeled as someone who would end my life over pain based on my appearance would be shattered once people talked to me. Wearing black does not mean that I can not handle the problems the world throws my way. In my case, the pitcher for the universe has one hell of an arm. But I am developing one hell of a swing.
You learn to adapt. You come out stronger. You survive. It is biology 101, adapt or perish. You rebuild with whatever you have left. In my mind there is no other choice, if you chase your happy ending. It will build you. You will be an innovator, a creative. It will make you so much stronger than you should have to be. It will make you a survivor not a victim. Rest, cry, lick your wounds if you need too. Then you dust yourself off. You keep moving. Run, walk – crawl if you have to. No matter what, you do not stop moving. You do not let them take your fight from you. As a great philosopher once said “just keep swimming!”
Everything will be okay. I tell myself that everyday. And someday it will come true.
Hate is heavy and I have no place in my heart for it. The wavelengths of light my clothing reflect onto your optic nerve does not equate to hate. I have love and light, I focus on that. No matter what I see in this world, I see the good more. I see the people who notice, who heal, who help. My view of the world and its beauty is not tainted by my tastes in clothes or decision to add permanent artwork to my body.
Judge me if you must. But know my heart is always open to you. We are one humanity. That you have preconceived notions of me based on how I dress or my tattoos, I bear you no ill will. If you ever need me, I am here. We were created to connect. To help create and heal one another. If you choose to look past my fashion choices, you would find a heart that does not quit. I think the world is in need of hearts on fire. My heart is open to yours, should you give it the chance.