I Will Not Conform

I Will Not Conform

You know those moments, when reality reveals itself to you so bluntly you nearly collapse under the truth of it, under the weight of the realization that you can no longer remain ignorant to its presence? I can count on one hand the times reality has done that, has broken me, or simply given me new perspective as to the impact of the choices I’ve made, and am making. This morning, and the truth I found in a moment of stillness, was one of those occasions. One of those occasions in which I was not me, but rather seeing myself; watching myself.

It was early. I was standing before my mirror, mindlessly following the flow of routine; the only thing anyone can possibly rely on in the hours before 8AM, when anything is possible, and the world seems impossibly large. Midst the sound of water running down the drain, a door slamming, and the hum of the refrigerator, I paused. One hand wrapped around a bottle of mascara, the other curling my eyelashes before reaching for an eyebrow pencil—all within the span of a minute—but I paused for a moment. I looked up, and met the eyes of my reflection; eyes rimmed with black and edged with a shadow meant to age me 10 years because if a girl doesn’t wear makeup, than how can she possibly call herself a woman? If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, she doesn’t put enough effort into her appearance. If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, she looks a child. If a girl doesn’t wear makeup, ‘something looks different about her today.’ If a girl doesn’t wear makeup ‘she’s not ok,’ ‘she’s not feeling well,’ ‘doesn’t look like herself,’ or maybe, maybe, if a girl isn’t wearing makeup, she just isn’t wearing makeup.

Because girls who don’t believe themselves to be beautiful should not have to MAKE UP for what they believe themselves to lack in shades of lipstick and contour palettes. But who we are is not defined by our abilities hide the shadows beneath our eyes and the spots on our chins. Bodies are just bodies, and maybe you think that your skin is too pale and your eyes too close together, but you’re living, you are alive. Why isn’t that enough?

‘The average woman spends two years of her life applying make up.’

Upon reading that I felt empty, and ashamed, because losing 2 years of my life is losing 730 tomorrows; 730 chances to start again. Being confronted with this truth, and having seen, really seen, myself for the first time this morning, with my cheeks painted and all of the me drained out of myself, I chose to make a change. I chose to fear not the world’s thoughts on the appearance of my face beneath the mask I thought I had to wear to be considered beautiful, but the danger of conformity. The danger of being so consumed by the opinions of others that you forget to love yourself. They do not have to love you, but you do. You have to love you, because in that embracing of yourself you will find beauty for what it truly is.

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Between You And Yourself

Between You And Yourself

And, when you stand before yourself with nothing left to come between the reality of life as the sound of your heart beating in your chest, and the reflection in the mirror staring back at your soul wrapped in skin, who are you? It’s alright, if you’ve searched for the answer to that question in all the right places, still coming up short of the reason for your existence, it’s alright. It’s alright because the state of mind that is simply being cannot be labelled, breathing is only breathing, and the pursuit of anything is a pursuit of nothing if you cannot come back to yourself without fear of living beyond definition of the things you search for and the person you are. You can make a list, sure, of words that make me seem worthy of love, of life itself, I make lists obsessively; lists that organize, lists that explain, lists that lessen the noise of the mess in my mind, lists of the things I wish I was and think I am. Lists like this:

I am…

I am strong, and kind, and compassionate, and always laughing, I am intelligent, and creative, brave, and adventurous, I am…

What am I? Human, perhaps, but if I am something, than I must be that thing also, and even the dictionary knows that to be, is to simply exist, though I’ve spent my life running from the blank wide open space that comes like a wave when I’m left alone with the weight of that single word; exist. For when I do, find myself alone with it, when I search for consciousness in corners of myself I can hardly bring myself to peer into, I’m left with a nothingness that I don’t know how to live with; so I don’t, live with it, with that silence. And to escape it, the hollowness its presence leaves me with, I’ve trained my brain to even subconsciously, set itself on fire and endure the pain of the flames because thought is like that, like fire that never turns to ash, feeding on itself, making smoke out of dreams, until it all becomes too much and thinking becomes a disease, a disorder, undiagnosed because how can we diagnose the human condition as being a danger to humanity itself? How can we diagnose what we cannot see, what we cannot understand? Because if we understand being, than we are not embracing what it implies: an absence of understanding, an absence of the need to know, to imagine, to find, to learn. We can’t, even begin to interpret it, but the first step to embracing the beauty of being, is being conscious of the thoughts we do have, which is difficult, yes, and living with depression I understand the fear of nothingness as what once drove me to attempting suicide. I understand the fear of nothingness as being parallel in your mind to the emptiness you’ve grown tired of seeking relief from in dopamine, and prozac, and the list of prescriptions you continue to fill, knowing that without their promise of emotion, of peace, as a cure for the darkness clinging to your mind and your soul like a cancer you will not survive. But stillness, stillness, is the answer, my cure. Stronger than what you’ve come to accept as your reality, as the bane of your existence, because yes, the pain will return, over and over again, but silence will no longer be a condition, no, it will become your solace, your saviour.

So, be.

Just.

Be.

Don’t be afraid of emptiness, don’t be afraid of the present, of this moment, because right now, there is nothing to come and nothing having come before, there is only life. There is only you, and all that you are not defined by, all that being is, wrapped up in who you are.