You aren’t the number on the scale
Or the letter on your report
You aren’t the way they stop and stare
For better or for worse
You are the way you smile
When your dimples deepen
You are the way you laugh out loud
When your soul is broken and beaten
The way you help others
And the way you choose to dance
Mean more than insults coming in droves
And when they don’t give you a chance
You are the way you speak your mind
When everyone else conforms
You are the hearts you find
When you heal the broken and torn
Sometimes you find a path
And two options are for certain
Do you choose an open road?
Or do you choose resistance?
Our decisions define our futures.
We encounter new obstacles every day. Whether they be facing the wrath of the wind-stricken morning or whether they be deciding whether to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch versus a ham and cheese sandwich, we make decisions every day and these decisions team up in order to mold us into who we become.
Care too much. Smile too big. Laugh too hard. Cry when it’s needed. Straighten up when you find your strength. Never back down.
Something I’ve come to realize, and something I think I’ve tried to adopt, but haven’t quite taken the initiative yet, is how important our own attitudes are when it comes to facing a divided road. We can choose to either dance among the sunflowers or we can choose to camp underneath a weeping willow. We can choose to either seek happiness or we can choose to stand still and wonder why we never see the outcomes we so desperately hope to greet. Every decision we make affects our lives, and, in turn, affects our states of mind.
When we opt for the careful, traditional ways of not speaking unless spoken to, we reject our souls’ thirsts for adventure and expression, and we lose the opportunity to find our self-fulfilling prophecies. We shelter our greatness in order to make someone else feel mighty or dominant.
As stated earlier, we need to live recklessly.
When something seems as though it may be a bad idea–but we still desire it–then why not take the daring leap? More often than not, we get endearing and magnificent ideas, but we do not follow through with them. We say to ourselves, “Why should I do this? It isn’t the right thing to do.”
Well, then ask yourself this: “What is right?”
Does the right thing to do involve hiding your own happiness because you don’t think it’s what society wants from you? Does the right thing involve not following through with what you wish to do or with what God may have called upon you to do? By making the decisions to ignore steps in positive directions, we may, perhaps, take two steps back in our own lives.
“So if you wake up with the sunrise, and all your dreams are still as new,
And happiness is what you need so bad, girl, the answer lies with you.”
- "What Is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin
If you wake up in the morning craving happiness and craving something new, then treat yourself and hunt your prey, your ambition, your objective.
If you wake up in the morning craving something bittersweet, then hope for sweetness. Sink your teeth into and run with it.
The answer lies with you.
Don’t be so loud.
Don’t chew your food like that.
Stop acting immature.
Get your head out of the clouds.
Why don’t you ever take anything seriously?
Suddenly, after the criticism of the world, you begin to feel inferior. You think, Maybe, if I act a little more normal, then I will have more friends. Maybe, I’ll become more successful.
Stop. Stop right there. Don’t let your thoughts spiral down the whirlwind of obeying those around you in order to conform to everyone else’s idea of normal. Too often, we try to feel validated by those around us. We want everyone to accept us so, rather than behaving like ourselves, we mold ourselves into these false, plastic versions of pretentious and copied people who act as though they were created on an assembly line. If everyone is too busy behaving how he or she thinks everyone else wants him or her to behave, then, really, nobody is original. Everyone is a copied and pasted version of someone else.
If everyone has the same likes and dislikes, interests and biases, then the world is gray, bleak, and it lacks originality.
Be atypical. Be the one who revolts against the norm. Be someone who speaks out against oppression, conformity, and an ill-formed society.
When you try to form your life around another person’s, your opinions become minute and your ambition is belittled for the sake of the other person’s well-being and state-of-mind. Why? Why must we feel the need to build up another person to keep him or her in our lives? If we must shave our own destinies in order to find other people in our futures, must we remain on the same track of the broken spirit and the belittled mind?
More than once, I’ve seen this happen in the lives of other people. We must build each other up rather than tear each other down, and we must do this by showing compassion and support. Rather being the people thirsting for the validation of others when we do not receive it, we need to allow others to feel validated in their most rare and pure forms. The movies they love, the hobbies they pick up, the ways they encounter struggles, and the ways they find ambition for their callings are the ways we influence our world. We bring light to the darkness and we bring splashes red and yellow to the gray canvas.
You may see the world in purple. Someone else may see it in violet. Then someone on the other side of the world may see through cerulean spectacles. We need to embrace change, embrace differences, and pick others up when they seek everlasting validation.
Sometimes, it’s as though it takes a beaten spirit to realize what you want.
We all want to be successful, but some people have different perspectives on what it means to be truly successful. For example, does your job include a high salary? Do you get vacation time? Is it boring for the sake of having a substantial living?
These questions seem monotonous–AmIRight?
This is for my weirdos, my dreamers, my brilliant minds, my insane intellectuals:
Go after everything you want.
As I sat here thinking about where I want to be tomorrow, next year, five years from now, I began wondering what I even want to do with my life. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “What else is new? You’re a twenty-year-old college student.” Okay, true. Between starting out as a journalism major who wanted to take on the world as the next generation Carrie Bradshaw, to becoming an English Education major who wanted to talk about literature on the daily, and now to an English Studies major who has absolutely no idea what she wants–but she still wants to be the next generation Carrie Bradshaw–I have zero credibility when it comes to knowing what my future should entail.
I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know who I’m taking. I don’t know where I even want to live. I do know one thing, though: give me life. Let me see it all, do it all, and breathe it all in because this planet is huge and I want to soak up everything it has to offer.
Another thought: school. Why? Why is it monotonous and why does it feel as though I am wasting my time? Is it the scenery? Sometimes I just want to pack a bag and go on an adventure. Give me some caffeine, a group of people who simply want to laugh and breathe in the fresh air, and I’ll be good to go. We can go to Los Angeles, Miami, Wilmington, London, Santorini, Paris, and anywhere we feel brings us a calling.
After our adventure, give me a real-world experience in a field. I don’t want to read about what other people have done. I want to experience it. How am I supposed to train for a career if I do not have experience or training in said career? I’ll fetch coffee for someone who is one rung ahead of me on the rope. I’ll interview some poor shmuck with my less-than-average interviewing skills. I’ll learn how to sew so I can write a fashion piece. Let me do it. Let me try.
Maybe this is just a rant. Maybe it was a waste of your time. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong.
But I’m going somewhere.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.