1. There will be some days when you close your eyes while crossing the street, maybe because you want to see what fate has in store for you, or maybe because your depression is running rampant again and you don’t know how to calm her. It’s okay. I will still love you.
2. There will be a year, or a series of years when your birthday doesn’t feel special. Celebrate anyway. Because people spent time baking you a cake and buying you cards and even if they’re your family and they’re obligated to, they still love you. Cherish that love. Revel in it. It is the best gift you will ever receive.
3. You will learn that the saddest word in the English language is stay. Whether it’s your mother’s voice whispering it before you leave for college, or your ex-lover’s desperate screams as you walk out of the house, it will always be a hard word to hear. Sometimes you should listen to it, other times you shouldn’t. Trust yourself. Go with your gut.
4. Along with hearing the word stay, you will also hear the word why from every person who is remotely related to you. Why did you get that tattoo? Why did you try to kill yourself? Why aren’t you married yet? You don’t have to answer them. Be selfish. Keep somethings to yourself.
5. Some nights you won’t be able to sleep. You will lie awake at 2 am and contemplate existentialism and wonder if the French had a point. Get up. Get out of your bed. Do something. Because even if there is no God, what you do matters, who you are matters. You matter to me.
6. Some days you will want to run away and never return. So go. Drive to a small town in the Northwest, maybe Oregon, and settle down there for a while. Tell people your name is Elizabeth, because you loved Jane Austen as a child and because this a town full of strangers and who’s to know the difference? Don’t be selfish. Call your mother each night and remind her that you love her. Come back home when you find yourself seeing your sadness painted in the shadows, and when you feel more at home in the arms of a stranger than on your own.
7. There will be several nights when you lose yourself in the medicine cabinet, because liquor and morphine seem like a faster cure than time. It’s okay. I will still love you in the morning.
8. One day, in the midst of work, you will learn to forgive. It will start out with a simple reminder of the past, maybe a facebook notification from an old schoolmate or a wedding announcement from an ex-lover. In that moment you will learn that yearning for the past isn’t romantic, it’s stupid, and that if Gatsby had just let go of the green light he would’ve lived. So forgive your past, it didn’t know any better, and move on.
9. Leaving home will hurt, but soon you will learn that home isn’t a place but a feeling, and that there is a compass on your heart that points directly to that feeling. Follow that compass. Don’t get sidetracked by [girls] who don’t care or alcohol that doesn’t forgive. If you follow that compass, no matter how lost you get, you will always have a home.
10. The hardest lesson you will ever learn will be to love yourself. But you can do it. There will always be days when you hate yourself, days when you wish you had never been born. But darling you are beautiful, and if Shakespeare had met you you would’ve inspired his 18th sonnet, and if Monet had known you he would’ve given up painting water lilies and chosen to paint you instead. I know it’s hard to love yourself, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish with your love.
11. When you begin to feel worthless, remember that the stars died for you. You are made of elements that are thousands of years old, elements that make up every atom of your being. When you want to cut your wrists, remember that the souls of stars live in your veins. Don’t kill them. Don’t be selfish.
12. Some days will be beautiful. Live for those days. Live for the days when the sun shines on your soul and the smile on your face isn’t forced. Live for the days when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks because your scars are a part of your story and you don’t need someone else’s approval to wear them with pride.
Live for the life you always wanted but were too scared to pursue.
Live for you. Live for me. Live for every person who has ever loved you, for the people who have come before you so that you may be here today.
Live for the fire that burns in your soul, that tells you: keep going, you’re almost there, just a little farther. Because when Rome burned down the emperor didn’t run away, he stayed and he sang for his people. Stay. Sing for your people. Sing for us.
Are you listening? Because this is your life, singing a siren song to capture your attention and steer away from the rocks, to guide you back home."
An open letter to the ‘nice guy’ who tried to hit me because I stopped him from taking home a drunk girl who was begging him to leave her alone (or: why you should never ask a poet if she’s really an ugly cocksucker or if that’s just her day job):
The thing is, everyone assumes that by taking away our rights, you make us weak.
In reality, just the opposite occurs. We are used to the sling of insults - there is nothing you can say that hasn’t already been said to me. We are used constantly being on the outlook for our aggressor - so yes, I can spot an asshole from across the room and it’s because I often have to.
The thing is: you are making our skins thicker and our spines stronger than anyone who doesn’t have to put up with the shit that we do. We are the same generation that can wear pretty dresses and cut up your corpse in the same moment: because trust me, we know how to get blood out of our clothing.
You think women are little helpless flowers but I know at least a quarter of my lady friends with self-defense classes under their belts, at least half who can fight their way out of a chokehold with nothing but their carkeys like daggers in their fists, at least three-fourths who are so used to any kind of slur you can throw at them that they have four witty comebacks just resting on their backburners, and all of them - all of them - are baptized in the fire of another person’s violation, whether verbal or otherwise. You are not making the submissive housewives or the shy secretaries of your wet dreams. You have made dragons.
You have made mothers with sharp teeth who can balance eight different tasks and still remember your favorite dinner. You have made CEOs who do better work because they’re used to being told they’re sub-par. You are making artists and poets and musicians who’ve seen the dark in the world. You are making social justice warriors - I use this not as a defamation but as a banner, as the way they brand themselves because it is a battle, isn’t it, and nobody’s come out without their share of scars - you are making a generation of caustically beautiful ladies who have seen more shit by six a.m. than you have all your life and they still walk better in heels than you do in your boat shoes.
We do not invite your ‘nice guy’ into our beds, you’re right, because the nice guys of our lives have been our fathers asking us if we ‘are really going out in that,’ have been our best friend telling us that his girlfriend should give up sex because he’s paid for dinner, have been our uncles and brothers and the great gentlemen who hang out of their cars and laugh when the thirteen-year-old they just honked at jumps and looks terrified (but should totally accept the compliment as if it was a gift instead of the moment she recognizes she’s never going to be safe) -
you wanna know why we don’t let nice men into our beds? Because we rarely find them.
They’re out there, I know it, but they’re not the ones wetting themselves when a woman asks ‘why do you think that?’ instead of sitting back and letting him laugh with his buddies about femi-nazis. They’re out there and they’re probably as pissed as we are that at least one third of their population has openly admitted there are times when they think it’s okay to force their significant other to have sex: they’re out there, and the sad thing is, if you’re a male, you’re statistically not one of them. As far as we know, you don’t exist. You are a white knight only you believe in.
Here’s the thing about forcing people down: eventually they’re going to get strong enough to push right on back, and when you’ve spent the whole time sitting on your ass sinking your teeth into your healthy wage gap, you’re not going to be ready for it.
You’ve hurt us, over and over. When the time comes for us to hurt back, do you know how many of us are going to ask ‘Where was the mercy when I was begging like he is now? Where was that mercy when I got pregnant? Where was that mercy when I was called selfish for being a single parent? Where was that mercy when he forced himself on me? Where was that mercy, in anything?’
The thing about oppression is that it can only last for so long. You are not making yourself dominant, you’re making yourself weak. I’ve seen men crumble because they feel uncomfortable when they get hit on by other men as if the stench of their own mistakes is strangling them. I’ve seen them get impassioned because a teacher preferred females and I’ve laughed because I had eight other classes where it was reversed and in all of those eight, it went uncontested. I have legitimately punched a boy who said that a show for girls was shameful because it tries to teach lessons instead of catering to his desire for sex - as if just by liking something, he owns it. I’ve seen boys growl about women’s history month and had to wonder if they’ve ever held a textbook where the only names of girls are tiny footnotes. I’ve seen fathers ask why the curriculum I use for my six-year-olds is carefully gender neutral, why I let his son play at cooking or his daughter be a doctor.
I have never heard a mother complain except to beg me to get her little girl to talk more, to do more, to succeed - do you see? Do you see?
Here’s the thing about stepping on us: we have learned to stop licking your boots
and now we want to ruin you.