If you believe it is okay for the state to tear children away from their families, If you believe that it is a sin if you are not heterosexual and do not present as the same gender you were born as, If your interpretation of religion is too narrow to include women's leadership and sheer existence, If you support the criminalization of breathing while Black, If you think it's categorically your fault if you're poor, If you think that children are to be seen and not heard, If you do not actively speak out about the sale of weapons used to slaughter children in schools, If you do not believe that mental illness is something physical and real, If you have ever called any group of people by a name that diminishes their humanity, If you are not outraged by the systematic erasure of Black history, If you support Donald Trump still, If you are complicit in the systematic oppression of immigrants, LGBTQ peoples, women, African Americans, youth, the mentally ill, Muslims, or any other group that has been systematically oppressed, I cannot be your friend anymore. I cannot support your platform or what you are about. I cannot be about what you are about. Enough.
There is nothing quite like having a good mentor. Your mentor is your safety net. She's the one you vent to when the whole world explodes. She's not quite like a parent, so it's easier to tell her about the dangerous things you've done to yourself, but she's not a peer either, so she takes you seriously, takes her responsibility as a mentor seriously. She checks in. She schedules brunches near your college and makes sure you're back in time for Human Rights. She sees the good in you and says it. She's available. She never says you are crazy, even when you act a little crazy. You'll question it every day, but she freakin' loves you.
If I want to heal and start really living again--and I do--I've got to start sitting with discomfort and pain without looking for the easy button that can transport me immediately away. I've got to be whole again. Every time I whisper that I need to die, I think a part of me is cut away. I start to disappear. The chaos of life has to be better than the silence of death. As I wade deeper and deeper into the pain packed down inside me, surely life will get easier. No more calling hotlines. No more staying up until 4am crying. No more hospitals. I am tired of being scared.
And then slowly we give in to our magnificent, beautifully earned love informed by two souls that are exhausted but sated and certain in the knowledge that yes, while there is so much hell on this earth, so much pain, there is also this. A love we could not have predicted but always imagined. A love that rocks us and a love that holds us. A love not ordinary.
"'What if I don't give a shit about the world?' "That would be fucking sad.' "'Why?' "'Because the world is beautiful.'"
You might notice her hair is big and colorful and fractured and even a little bit crazy--well, so am I. So are all of us. What scares my dad more than anything, I think, is that I am 100% uncontrollable and unpredictable. And so I hide myself from him emotionally and by physically cramming myself into my closet and dark bathrooms when I have to protect myself from my every move being scrutinized and criticized. I try to physically destroy myself to protect myself from getting hurt, but when I am whole and real and big and colorful and broken, I can move mountains. As for him, I would rather he break me over and over again than for me to numb up and emotionally or literally disappear from the world. Who I am is beautiful and I unconditionally belong here and I cannot, will not make myself smaller for anyone.
I repeat this to myself when it feels like my world is in a state of constant ending. Right now, staying alive is my top priority. When the weight of expectations and labels and boxes threatens to crush me, I try to congratulate myself for the small wins: I published a video yesterday. I haven't hurt myself in 15 days. I gave Daisy a bath. I got outside and played cricket with my brother this morning.
When the negativity hits you, throw back your arms. Let it lift and carry you. Know that it will never destroy you. Understand. Pain is temporary. You are eternal. You are the light that melts into the dawn. Your parents’ true love and all the hopes they traced into the stars of your birth. You are not your pain nor your mistakes.
Joy is a choice, you know, and I want that to be what I choose to work for just like Sal. Joy is work but it's just about choosing to see all the things that I have to be joyful about. I want my theme for this Ramadan to be joy. And every day I can devote my readings, meditations, and actions, towards one component of joy. Life is so short, you know? And I will not wait until something terrible or terrifying happens to start realizing that and be intentional about living my life. I want to be like Sal. I want to take my life into my own hands. I want to love without being afraid and find purpose in my Option B.
Google calls us severely disordered. I prefer quirky. Our kindergarten teachers say we’re isolated, But really they should be proud that at 5, we have already reached the emotional maturity of a 100-year-old Buddhist hermit. Our parents say we’ll grow out of it, but personality isn’t a shirt size and who we are fits just fine.