poetry

12 Things That Are Okay (Contrary To Popular Belief).

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I recently closed a very chubby chapter in my life’s book.

I don’t remember what it was called, and I can’t go back to check because I’m terrified that I’ll get stuck on its pages, again. So, can we open up another book? There’s a really dusty one in the corner called Learning to Love Yourself.

I can never quite get through that one. In fact, I’ve only ever made it a couple pages into the preface. It’s on my list of things to read, and I’ll get to it eventually. But it’s just too thick, and it might be too dense, and I’m just not into that sort of thing right now, you know?

There is no pretty romantic prose to get me through it, and I’m not one for narrative dribble unless there is something juicy and ripening that I can sink my teeth into. This is why Hemingway rarely does it for me (I know I just lost major writer points for admitting that).

So how do other people seem to have its pages memorized and stuck onto their bones? Where did they find the time and the commitment? It’s also on my list to track these people down and learn from them. To drink from their proverbial well of knowledge, if you will.

But for now, I decided to write my own entirely condensed version of a chapter of this book. It’s called Things that are Okay, and I encourage you to add to it or scratch out all my ramblings and use your own:

1. It’s okay to remove yourself from anywhere, anything and anyone that makes you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, bored and not yourself. You can leave. You can always leave. If it isn’t helping you or growing you, move. There are few things we are actually chained to.

Rid yourself of unhealthy extras.

2. It’s okay to say No and then change your mind later, and vice versa. It’s okay to not always know the answer and to demand more time of yourself to figure it out. Where’s the clock? Who’s counting down for you? Take. Your. Time.

3. It’s okay to Just Be. If you are sad, let yourself be sad. Your happiness isn’t owed or guaranteed to anyone. When the words come, don’t stuff them back in. Let them out. Let them bleed and scream and put their hands around your throat. Let them kill you. Let them bring you back.

4. It’s okay to ask questions. Repeatedly. Sometimes people will try to make you feel small for not knowing. Don’t ask them. There are people who will want to help you grow and learn. Curiosity is healthy and people will value it. Find them, they’re out there.

5. It’s okay to be content with yourself today. You are every constellation in every sky in every universe. You are. Not tomorrow, not right after your promotion or your bestseller. Right now. Let’s celebrate that, shall we?

6. It’s okay to pick your people. Decide who you want and don’t worry about the rest.You were breathing before you met all the people who you now love. You will be breathing if/when they exit your life. This is fact. This won’t change.

What matters is whether you are going to be okay with the air if it’s not filled with them. I personally have a handful of people I wouldn’t want to live without. My inhalations would be unsteady and the air would just feel thinner and unsafe.

7. It’s okay to save yourself. Damsels aren’t real to me. That is not the model of femininity that I choose to subscribe to. It’s okay to use whatever mechanisms you have available at the time.

Whatever tools you have are the right tools, and no one else’s are going to be shinier, brighter or more useful than yours. You are not a damsel, and the distress can be managed by you alone.

8. It’s okay to say what you want to say. It’s okay to not hold back. There are no words that need to be muttered softly behind cupped hands. There are no words that must be whispered or coughed, squeezed out or slipped in.

Everything you say has flight, has worth, has something in it that you will find useful to you.

9. It’s okay to hold some things back. To keep them in the secret, sacred spaces that you wedge between your ribs. Keep the murmurs that come to you in the darkness. Savor the secrets that creep up in the dead of day.

Hold them in and breathe them — a slow and steady internal inhalation only for your lungs to feel. Keep whatever you need to for yourself. Discard nothing if it soothes you.

10. It’s okay to go backwards. Sometimes your veins are so coated with thick ghosts that your blood doesn’t know where to go. So it leaks out, making your skin porous, making your bones weak. This is what happens when we go backwards. But we can’t stop the ghosts that drape our nightmares.

So we let them in and we hope that they don’t stay too long.

11. It’s okay to repeat your mistakes. We are wild hearts and chaos-struck limbs and bandages that cover bruises we don’t remember getting and we are our own two small, human hands that don’t know how to hold the world through cramped little fingers.

We are errors, sometimes stuck on repeat. It’s okay to vow to never do it again, only to proceed to do it once more and then another.

Tough love, self-help, New Year’s resolutions — they are all riddled with good intentions. But sometimes you can’t stop hurting yourself until you decide that you are ready to feel good again.

12. It’s okay to tether yourself to your bed or bedroom floor until you feel sure that the ground isn’t actually falling out from under you. Pain doesn’t make us eloquent or graceful. But it gives us heaps of boundless bravery, it expands our threshold for everything.

When the world is spinning, incessantly, as if unstoppable, sometimes we are forced to slow down. To sink into ourselves. Don’t fight it.

We summon so much strength to get through each day. We do this more on some days than others. This is okay.


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