I remember being someone different

I remember being someone different

“Do you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”

I hate to admit it, but I don’t feel like myself sometimes when I write.

In my mind, there are too many rules about formatting and technique. These rules become like roadblocks, checking to see if I am bringing illegal thoughts out into the world.

As if these thoughts were harmful.

Today, I don’t feel like walking along that road. You can call me a rebel but I don’t care about labels; I’m jumping into the bushes beside the road to go past every single one of the roadblocks, hoping they won’t notice me.

But who am I kidding?

These roadblocks aren’t real. I made them up, so I can tear them down too.

At the end of the day, we all die and compost into Earth. Do we really need to have lived perfectly?

We spend too much time trying to color within the lines, hoping that when we do, all the stars will align and our dreams will come true.

But we have we failed to ask: who drew these lines?

And… why?

And… did they need to be here?

Three people approached me in the last week about how life has broken their hearts.

After a few hours of conversation, they all left and said, Thank you. I feel so much better after talking to you.

I did nothing special, except give them the freedom to be themselves and to think for themselves.

You would want to believe that life is more complicated than that, but I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s not.

Life is hard enough, don’t make people feel bad.

“Love someone so they feel free” – Thich Naht Hanh

Since the day we are born, we are taught rules to live by:

Color within the lines. Use the right colors. Grey for elephant. White for doves and clouds. No, no purple whales.

Study hard in school. Don’t play around. Do your homework. Don’t rebel. Look up to class monitors. Your principal is always right.

Find a job. Accept the job with the handsome pay. 9am to 5pm is for working. Don’t goof around. Goof around after 6pm. Die on the weekdays. Live on the weekends.

Marry. Have kids, preferably at the right age.

Send your kids to school. Make sure you have enough money to retire.

It’s true. People made up these rules to help us.

But why do we feel sometimes helpless by them instead?

I am not a romantic person. At least, not now. Not anymore.

But I used to be. I used to write many love letters to someone I hoped to meet in the future.

Then, I met them and became disappointed with how they treated me.

I threw away every single love letter I wrote and replaced them with rules:

Don’t trust people easily.

When someone is nice to you, question them.

Give only half of yourself, never full, until they pass your test.

Guilty until proven innocent.

Most days, I think I have forgotten who I used to be. But today, I remember her fully.

She used to spend many days writing romance… until one day she realized that romance was fiction. So she started writing nonfiction.

She used to daydream a lot, never did her homework because she couldn’t less about failing in class… until one day she realized that the world needed to see her achieve something to respect her. So she abandoned her daydreams and did the serious work instead.

She loved music and spend a lot of time singing and composing… but then she somehow felt like music wouldn’t matter as much as science one day. So she stopped composing and studied her textbooks instead.

From romanticism, music, writing and arts… she switched to math and science.

Day by day, what matters to her most chipped away, replaced by something that the world wanted to see in her.

She began to be seen as someone really serious, when inside she wasn’t, really.

It saddened her to see herself different from the person she knew herself to be.

*

For many years, I felt like it was not OK to be myself. I felt lazy and unproductive.

But today, I think, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s okay to be a little lazy and unproductive sometimes.

It’s okay to not be performing at my peak. It’s okay.

One day I’ll die. I don’t have a choice in that.

I’m not afraid of dying.

But… I’m deathly afraid of not having lived.

I’ve lived too many days with too many rules. I’ll begin living with one less rule, starting from… today.


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