"Do Not Go Gentle."

Soundtrack to these words: "Intro" by M83

I've lived a lot of my life feeling small.

Like the kid on the outside, jumping to see beyond the bodies blocking me out, trying to squeeze in somehow. Isolated, standing on the fringes, against the wall, eyes looking straight through me, faces slowly turning away. Invisible, too afraid to ask for a place in the group, fearful I’d be turned away, ostracized, mocked.

Yet, I felt so full of… something. Of fire that needed to get out, of life that needed to be lived. But the real me looked a lot different from what I saw in the world and that felt like I was somehow flawed. I didn’t fit and that was grounds for social crucifixion.

When I finally found the courage to step into my identity, I surrounded myself with the wrong people, thieves at best, who laughed at my ideas and made me feel stupid for the things I said, who made me walk to the tune of their very high standard, their very thin line. I put value on the ones that suppressed me and not enough value on those who didn’t. I lived my life in this cocoon, locked up within myself.

Then I realized: Only I got to choose who was in my life. Those people that made me feel so small, the ones that belittled me, the ones that chose not to see me, the ones that shut me out, they didn’t get a place in my life anymore.

I didn’t want to share close quarters with those who made me feel less than I was. Enough was enough. No more hiding. No more being on the outside. I just wanted to be. To be allowed to feel, to love, to dream, to share. I wanted to break down a chunk of the wall so a sliver of me could get out into the sunshine. I wanted recklessness.

(A disclaimer here: Reckless living is going after what you want, unashamed of who you are and unconcerned with what the general population thinks. But it also has to be within the bounds of what is right and good. You can’t mess with God or the law. Make sure your purpose, your reason for recklessness, is noble. Make sure your drive comes from a desire to live out what God put in you, not a desire to justify your own questionable choices.)

When you do this, you expose yourself. You put little bits of you out there for the world to do with what it will. And sometimes the world isn’t going to like what you have to say. They’re not going to like the clothes you wear or the way you dream or how you speak your mind. They’re not going to approve of your recklessness, your utter disregard for their opinion.

Then, in your moment of vulnerability, they’re going to use your biggest weakness, your biggest fear, against you.

The things you released into the world, the things you let go of like the chains holding you back, someone will capture those things and hold onto them for your darkest day. They will string them into their bow and plunge them into your heart when it’s most open and exposed.

There will be parts of yourself that you’ll be proud of. You’ll be relieved to share the deep places that just got too heavy to carry by yourself. And there will be someone who will take those things that you thought were good and they will turn them into something terrible, something they use to beat you down.

It will happen.

Because that’s the cost of breaking down walls and being unashamed of who you are. That’s the cost of letting your soul float onto the wind. That’s the cost of leaving pieces of you everywhere you go.

Not everyone is going to like it. You’ll make enemies.

When that happens you’re going to be breathless. You’re going to flash back to the times you opened your heart and let dreams out. You’re going to remember the exact moments those words and thoughts and fears escaped into the open.

You’re going to wonder if it was worth it. You’re going to want to take it all back. You’re going to feel exposed, like a fortress in battle, the last man standing. You’re going to want to wave your white flag and start building up the bricks again, the safety that keeps the world out, the dam that holds all of you in.

You’ll start questioning your worth, your judgment, your credibility, whether or not you are even a good person.

You’re going to say, "no more." You’re going to tap out. One, two. Done.

And you could hold onto it. You could leave that arrow in your side and let it grow into who you are. You could believe the story it tells you about how you’re not actually as brave as you thought, that what you thought was an honorable tribute to being yourself was actually just a joke.

But you’re not going to do that.

You’re going to yank that arrow out of your heart and you are going to pound it into the ground. You're going to look straight into the face of your mockers and you are going to let them know that you will not be so easily defeated, that you will not go silently into the cell they’d like you to inhabit.

You were not born to be small. You were not born to be made small. You were not born to go with their flow. You were born to make waves. You were made for more than falling down when people hit you where it bleeds. You were made for more than playing it safe. You were made for more than grinning and bearing it. You were made for more than silence and looking pretty.

Reckless living makes you an easy target. Someone is going to find a flaw in the way you do things. But what you do is not for them. You’re going to stand your ground. It’s not perfect. It’s not absolute. But it is yours. And if you don’t defend it, no one else well. So all of those arrows they fling your way… let them be your stake in the ground.

Don’t let them tell you who you are. Don’t let them tell you where to stand. Don’t let them whittle away the courage you’ve built to simply live. Don’t let them slowly chip the paint away from your renovated peace of mind. Don’t let them push you into the corner because you’re too small, too young, too inexperienced. Don’t let them attach adjectives to you like letter decorations after your name.

Don’t let them put you on the bench of your own life.

You wanna play? Play. Even if you are the only one on the team. Even if your opponent has more guys than you. Even if you're scared. Even if you have to build your own court. Even when the stadium is empty. Even when you get bombarded with the worse insults. Especially when you know it's going to hurt.

Because someday there will be someone who needs your all. There will be someone you wants your all. And when that time comes, you don’t want to be beating against the walls of a cage you built. You don't want to be licking your wounds and burrowing into yourself.

We need you to be better than all of those who tried to steal your fire. We need you to be free, willing to pour out all of your love, ready to sprinkle those exquisite bits of yourself like pixie dust on souls that need to be seen, that need to know that they, too, can fly.