they will tell you to be yourself & then they will punish you when you are. they will encourage you to pursue your dreams & then when you do they will call you selfish. they will create marketing campaigns, slogans, video reels that tell you to live your truth, but there will be no flowers when you do. there will be loneliness. there will be fear. there may even be violence. my entire life i was told to “express myself” & then when i did people couldn’t handle it. i was told that *coming out* would make me happy & then i got bashed & no one seemed to care. what i am getting at is that they are lying to us & what’s even more painful about it is they don’t even know that they are: when you repeat something over & over again you begin to think it’s real. what i have learned is they only want half truths — they only want you to live your best life (& still grovel to them), be yourself (but not too much!), shine bright (but tone it down!). they cannot handle real truth because real truth is a mirror & they cannot look at themselves (they prefer to look at you). there will be no camera crews or congratulations when you do that thing of excavating yourself from the graves we mistake as bodies, holding it out to the light. there will be no celebrations because chances are there will be no one else there. there is a direct correlation between giving birth to yourself & your relationships dying. the more you gain the more you lose. when you unearth her she will not be conventionally beautiful, she will not say the right things, but she will be dignified nonetheless. & it is that dignity — that ability to hold your head high say, “i am” & mean it, for once in your goddamn life mean something beyond what they told you to (be)lieve. in a world that tries its best to dispossess us of everything, there is something resistant about walking away with your dignity.

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