The best thing I did in 2016 is to stop living my life for my parents, my sister, my ancestors, and everyone else who had an opinion on what I should do to fucking make them happy and begin living my life for myself. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past three years running. Running on treadmills. Beaches. City Streets. Off the beaten path, sandy pathways. Always away from the burden of pleasing everyone and in the end sitting there by myself, alone and unsatisfied. Sweating, hurting, crying, trying. Eventually I decided I would quit and learn to stand my ground.
There’s a lot of freedom when you quit. It feels like stepping over the side of a bridge to say no. I feel the swirling energy of power around me, telling me, say yes. Just say yes. But I say no. No. Then I wait for the world to crumble. For buildings to fall in on themselves, the streets to open up and be swallowed whole by the earth. Trees hurtling themselves into the ocean. But the strangest thing is, it never does. No such calamities occur and no one dies because I say no. No one suffers irreparable harm. I don’t die when I say no. There is no impending anvil hanging over my head waiting for me to just say “no” so it can be released. Death’s scythe is not standing nearby just waiting to destroy me for that forthcoming irreverent “no.” There is no darkness and foreboding in no. No death. No punishment. No harm.
Each time I say no I get a little stronger. Each time I say no I protect that fragile beam of happiness inside myself. It’s taken me so long to find it. So many risks, so much work, so much sacrifice. Doing all the things I did not want to do. But here we are. And I have that little beam and I will fight you for it. I’ll stand my ground. I won’t run. You can judge me. Hate me. Hit me. Hurt me. Try to take away from me. You can try those things. But my answer is pretty simple and straightforward.