All my life, I’ve been told I’m “too” something.

“Too intense”
“Too chaotic”
“Too idealistic”
“Too sensitive”
“Think too much”
“Talk too much”
“Read too much”

And today I realize that my desire to cling, my incessant questions regarding whether things can work, my tendency to hold myself back from fear they won’t, my constant seeking of assurances and commitments, my need to be understood, my attempts to fit in, my longing to belong—it all makes me small. It makes me forget who I am. Who I want to be.

I try to ration the number of quotes and poems I post on facebook, for fear I’ll seem obsessive.
I spend months digging for anything I can find on every new artist I fall in love with, but never, ever share more than a few excerpts in a row for the same reason.
Every time I’m faced with a blank page, I’m certain I have nothing left that’s meaningful to share.
Every time I’m faced with a blank canvas, I’m terrified today will be the day I have forgotten how to paint.
I’ve written entire books of unshared poetry and entire libraries of unshared chapters,
Certain none of it is worth reflecting the light in someone’s eyes.

Sometimes I worry what all that endless reading/writing will do to my body.
Am I going to become a shriveled old lady, bent at the neck and hunched at the shoulders from sitting like Schroeder all day at the keys?
Am I going to develop deep lines around my face, a permanent scowl, from studying and reasoning and researching (“I’m not angry, I promise!”)?
Will my hands always be the only parts of my body not flabby from lack of exercise, because I’d rather work my mind than work my abs?

I had a friend who once advised I stop reading “such depressing things,” not understanding it’s the darkness which often guides me to the light.
I had a friend who once suggested I stop “picking at scabs” in my journals, not understanding I’m not tearing wounds, I’m sewing them closed and the needle that hurts also heals.
I had a friend who once chastised me by shouting “Just be positive!”
Not seeing that I am.
But my dark is equal to my light
And no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell*
And I intend that every one of my branches be full and tall and wide enough to become the billion pages of all the books I’ll someday use to scale the sky.

We’re all growing, stretching, reaching for clouds, dropping our leaves with the fall of our faith and budding again with the spring of new hope; trying so damn desperately to belong that we haven’t yet learned how to stay evergreen.
But if the only place we ever belong is to ourselves, and the only peace we ever make is a peace we make within ourselves, it is enough.
It is as it should be.

“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
—Maya Angelou


*No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” –Carl Jung

(This piece was inspired by the poem Panic Button Collector by Andrea Gibson, the artist I’m currently obsessed with and trying to refrain from posting so much about. ;) )

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