An Open Letter To Shame

An Open Letter To Shame

It's Time I Let You Go.

The weight of a boulder sinking from your tongue to your belly button.

The sound of a clock at the back of your brain; a feverish ticking that will never cease. Unspoken words sunk to the bottom a dark abyss like an abandoned ship- waterlogged and seasick.

Dear Shame,

When I was a child, you draped over me like an old quilt.

You placed your finger over my lips when my cries interrupted the peace of passengers on airplanes. You squeezed my shoulders tightly when I could not paint inside the lines. You were a library with no exit signs, an eternal home for silent speakers. With flushed cheeks, I learned to apologize for the sound of my voice.

You slowly climbed up my legs and down my throat like a malignant vine until you became a part of me. Now, when I inhale air into my asthmatic lungs, I exhale shame as carbon dioxide and poison from all the lives I have not lived.

You've devoured my insides and placed them carefully in a recycling bin- now I see them in plastic bottles and refurbished furniture. I hear my stories in the mouths of other girls who look nothing like me.

You are the sand I consumed on the preschool playground. Grit in my teeth, I did not tell anyone I had tried to swallow the beach. I did not want to be scolded for silly sunbathing. You are elementary school slivers, when I walked barefoot to feel the ground beneath my toes. You are school lunches I was hungry for, but was too afraid to eat. You are carrot sticks and celery, and pizza stains behind my bed.

You are ghost skin in middle school hallways and boys with cruel intentions. You are bottled sunshine and liquid gold that streaks my kneecaps. You are sports bras that I wear to make my breasts smaller. You are the two bras that I wore to make them look big.

You are olives on finger tips that I ate like blueberries. The scales I counted and the meals I skipped.

You are the tiles I measured in high school hallways.The skirts I held down when I walked up stairs. You are the shoulders I covered with two-finger straps. The fingertip lengths my dresses did not match. You are the ripped jeans I wore on weekends. The cigarettes I wanted to smoke. The friends I wanted to have, the friends that I lost.

You are the mountains on my skin that erupt like volcanos and craters that got left on the moon. The scars on my wrist that I covered in tar. You are fingerprints left on my bedroom mirror. You are roses left on my bedroom floor.

You are the nose that I pierced so that I would always smell metal instead of the perfume of my almost lover.

You are the shadows that I used to hide in my closet. The clothes that are too small and the clothes that are too big. You are the letters I wrote but never put a stamp on. You are my legs the moment before I trim off the hair. You are the sadness with which I play hide and go seek.

You are the boys that have looked at me like penny-candy, and the girls who have looked at me like gold. You are broken piano keys and a pas de deux where I always step on my partners feet.

You are in my throat, and do not let me speak.

Dear Shame,

You've fertilized flowers in my small intestine and bees sting my insides whenever you are near. It hurts, but God, how good it feels to grow daisies.

Dear Shame,

My acne scars are purple constellations dotting my pale skin. My sexuality is a map of bruises and self discovery that leads to glorious places. My sadness is low tide on the ocean, and oh God how I love to swim. My weight is measured by the meals and conversations I enjoy with friends.

My skirts are hiked up, you can see the creases of my skin. My legs are unshaved. My poems do not rhyme. My homework is unfinished on my unmade bed. My nails are chipped, my lips are chapped, I am undone.

I have mailed my letters. I have forgiven myself. When I sing off key, I write it into the song. I run naked on the pavement to feel the lives I live boiling inside of me. I paint outside the lines and strangers call it art. I tell my stories to strangers and recycle them into soda cans for the girl who is too thin.

The sand between my teeth has created beautiful scratches of enamel and beaches are blooming in my bleeding gums. I am a hot air balloon, I am a noisy airplane ride. I am a screaming child in the library in town. I am a torn flag waving in a summer parade. I am free.

Dear Shame,

You are a five letter word...but so is "pride".

Dear Shame,

I lived within your darkness for a while, but I had to see the light.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

Popular Right Now

The Stigma that Comes With Being an Arts and Humanities Major

Believe it or not, we want to be successful and change the world just as much as anyone else.

During my first week of college, my roommate and I made the foolish mistake of thinking we could walk to a store, about three plus miles there and back, from our dorm room in the blaring heat that still lingered from the summer. After finally getting to the store we both decided that instead of walking all the way back, we were going to call an Uber.

This was my first experience with an Uber so she ended up handling it, and even after being on the phone with our driver for about 5 minutes it still took him 10 more minutes to find our location. When he finally found us, we got into the car and he greeted us almost with an insult by saying you girls obviously don’t know your East from your West. So right from the start my first Uber experience was an interesting one.

A drive that should’ve taken 5 minutes max took about 10, so naturally, our driver started a conversation with us. “What are your majors?” My roommate went first and said Bio-Chem and the driver went on to say something to the effect of that’s good, we need more people like you in this world. Obviously, in my head I was thinking that sounds so impressive when she says it out loud to people, what a tough act to follow.

So when he asked me what mine was, I said Communication Studies and Creative Writing, already preparing myself for an outspoken opinion from a man who I’d probably never speak to again and had no influence on my life whatsoever. As expected, he replied with a sarcastic laugh and a good luck making money.

In my mind I just thought about how funny and ironic it was that an UBER driver of all people was telling me good luck making money, but I simply replied with a, “I do plan on making money” and was backed up with a positive statement from my roommate because she was just about as fed up with this guy as I was. This is the stigma that comes with being an Arts and Humanities major.

When we’re younger, as soon as we can talk and comprehend conversations, adults pose us with the question of, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought this was such a foolish question to ask a child so young that is alive but hasn’t actually begun to live yet. But our naive little minds usually answer with things like a doctor or a veterinarian- basically things that are practical and that our parents feed into our minds at a young age.

Once in a while, you get a “crazy” answer like an astronaut or a chef. I, like many children, always had my little play doctors kit and was always taking fake temperatures with my thermometer or listening to heart beats with my fake stethoscope. So naturally whenever my mom asked me that question I said I wanted to be a doctor over and over again.

So the day came where I was at the doctor’s office for an appointment and my mom said to me, “Tell the doctor what you want to be when you grow up.” expecting that I would say the answer I had rehearsed with her over and over again. To her surprise I said right to the doctor’s face, “I want to be a yellow kitty cat when I grow up.” and yup, the rest is history.

High school is the place that is supposed to educate you on various subjects and ultimately prepare you for the future. So, of course, our research paper topic in 9th grade was to pick three careers we were interested in pursuing in the future. An important point to make here is that it’s okay to not have your future planned out when you’re so young, for you still have so much to learn and so much time to grow. The three careers I picked were a dermatologist, a lawyer, and an engineer, all for different reasons.

A dermatologist seemed to be a reasonable choice because growing up I had very bad eczema flare-ups all over my legs and was so embarrassed to wear shorts anywhere. It was absolutely humiliating to have people ask me why my skin was bleeding or why I had band-aids all over my legs, and I wanted to help spare people from that humiliation. My whole life people told me I should be a lawyer because I knew how to argue, which was a stupid reason to be interested in a profession, but hey, it couldn’t hurt to look into.

I chose an engineer because a lot of my family members were in that career field and would always give me lots of information on what they had to do, which intrigued me. One thing all three of these professions had in common when I did the research was a pretty high pay scale, which is what most people strive to find. No one purposely doesn’t want to make money so I guess that’s why I kept such conventional and “safe” careers in mind for a big portion of my time in high school.

Much like the people who watch Grey’s Anatomy determine that they want to be a doctor after binge watching so many seasons, I was convinced I wanted to be an oncologist after reading the book and watching the movie The Fault in our Stars. It sounds so cliche (I hate cliches) but I absolutely loved both the book and the movie adaptation, like so many other teenagers at the time.

I was determined that I would be a doctor who would help continue the stories of real-life people with cancer, unlike the tragic fate of Augustus Waters. My whole high school career I was a straight-A student in every subject, so it seemed like something in that field would be achievable as long as I worked hard. This way I would really make a difference in the world. But as time went on, I found myself watching more and more movies and reading more and more books and changing my future profession based on what fictional character’s job I was captivated with that week.

That’s when I first realized I didn’t actually want to pursue any of the jobs I saw on the screen or the page but rather wanted to be the one making up these stories for others to see. I had always also been the person to sit back and watch how people interact and interpret things symbolically, rather than scientifically.

No matter where you’re from or where you go, you’re bound to hear most of the success stories and the people that make money are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors. I’ve always been fascinated by science and the way things work and have appreciated math and can see why people enjoy it, that’s why I consistently tried hard to understand every subject in school.

I finally decided after a year of thinking about it that while I can appreciate these majors that are typically the ones that make lots of money, I could never truly love doing any of them. It breaks my heart when all the people around me constantly shove ideas into my brain that I’m not ever going to amount to anything because it’s not conventional and it’s going to be hard to make money. We already live in a world full of people pretending to be something they’re not, so why should I just be one more contributor to overflowing pile of unhappiness and fakeness?

The area I grew up in is full of a bunch of washed up townees who will never stop trying to relive their high school years either through their memories or now vicariously through their children. The closest anyone has ever come to achieving an unrealistic dream or a mild amount of celebrity is through collegiate or sometimes major league sports. It sometimes seems impossible for me to ever truly pursue my unrealistic dreams of someday writing a novel because of all of the figurative disease and decay of the dead dreams of people that will never leave our small town.

So believe it or not, a lot of Arts and Humanities majors already know that the odds are against them. With me pursuing Communication Studies and Creative Writing degrees, there’s a lot of built-in stigma already. But chances are, if you talk to any of us within the Arts and Humanities majors without discouraging us, you’ll find that we are some of the most passionate people when it comes to discussing how exactly we want to change the world.

Some people may think I’m foolish for having a future that may be uncertain, but I know now that someday I want to change the world with my thoughts and ideas, the way the thoughts and ideas of others have changed the world for me.

Cover Image Credit: Ian Schneider

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

To Myself, I Forgive You

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

For the times I felt hopeless due to a mistake, big or small. For the moments that I couldn't handle staring back at my reflection in the mirror because of something I did to upset myself. For the countless hours of being so hard on myself for being so different. For treating others like gold, and treating myself like paper. So easily crumbled into tiny pieces.

To myself, I forgive you.

I forgive you for the times that you believe what the world says about you, rather than God's truth about you. I forgive you for the daily moments of self doubt and curses towards something physical that you can't change. I forgive you for the times that you cannot get everything on your to-do list done in time. No matter how many workouts you skip, or times that you feel anxious instead of hopeful. For every goal unaccomplished. For every time your fear of germs takes over your thinking. I forgive you, I forgive you, I forgive you. Yes, even for that.

I forgive you for your future mistakes. I know that you are going to mess up over and over again. You are going to hurt others without knowing, and it is going to sting so badly watching them turn away. You are going to yell at yourself for letting somebody slip away because you pushed them away with all your might. These mistakes that you have been making your whole life will happen again and again. You can do what you can to prevent hurting yourself and others, but you are imperfect. That's all there is to it. Forgive yourself by remembering that you are going to fail every single day.

So here is to the times of talking yourself into tears. Here is to every second you spend disappointed in yourself over a simple mistake. You are doing what you can. You do not need to have all the answers, and you won't. You don't need to worry so much. You don't need to be so concerned about who society wants you to be. But if you do or you are, I forgive you.

For your past, present, and future. I forgive you.

It's time to spend every second loving who I am and accepting my mistakes. I want to continue growing, and I will. He already took all of my mistakes and sin for me at the cross. I just have to live. I am forgiven. By Him and by me.

Cover Image Credit: Google Images

Related Content

Facebook Comments