think outside the box

i am six years old with big brown eyes and bobbed hair, my shoes are sloppily tied and there’s a probability they’re on the wrong feet and you kneel down to be on my level and ask me
“When you grow up, what do you want to be?”
and i probably said something silly like a princess, a singer, an astronaut, or perhaps i said doctor because that to me meant greatness.
at six years old, it never occurred to me that i wanted to just be me.
you see, for now i am eight and i have learned how to tie my shoes and which one is left and which one is right. i am wearing stockings that definitely don’t match my top and crazy colorful beads around my neck.
i like to write when i am eight. i like to write about falling in love and growing up in a castle. i like to write about foods that come to life at night in the supermarket.
in my classroom you ask me to write about what job i would like to have when i grow up.
and i probably wrote something about being an actress, a ballerina, a race car driver.
and you say to me ‘these are nice. now write something realistic.”
i am twelve years old now and i have entered middle school. in my first year we are learning math suitable for architects because one of us in the whole class may use it some day. in our second year, we are already having college fairs. when a child is thirteen and doesn’t even know who they are, how do you expect them to know what they want to be?
i am a freshman in high school. we barely have time to get oriented in before college searches begin.
“you need this class and this class, they aren’t required for graduation but colleges will look for them.”
24 credits, PSATS, SATS, exams, Shakespeare, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, seven hours at square desks, in rows, in circles, individuality sparing and if you do not speak in squares you are out of the norm.
still, you ask me, ‘what do you want to be?’.

it has now occurred to me that i want to be me.
it has occurred to me that i want to simply be.
it has occurred to me that i want to live and not just exist.

and you look at me with a face of disbelief.

for your dream is not a dream without a degree.

they don’t tell you that you have magic inside your veins. your heart pumps creativity that is eventually dumbed down. your eyes sparkle with a love for the world that turns dim every hour spent in a brick wall. they don’t tell you that a dream is a dream no matter what and you can make success whatever you’d like to it to be.

they don’t tell you that you can truly be free.

what makes your heart race and what makes butterflies swarm around your belly? what brings that sparkle back to your eye and that ember to your fire? do it.
whatever it is, do it. it does not need to be in the social confines that have boxed us in over the years. it does not have to be neatly folded and tucked onto a shelf; it can be crazy and chaotic, it can define the lines of the box.

you are beautiful and wild.

do not let that soul be tamed.

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