If we taught bike riding like we prep for careers, you’d spend twenty years reading about bikes without riding, until you graduate, at which point you’d be dropped off in the middle of the highway and be told, “Good luck!”
It wasn’t quite a choice, it was a realization. I was 28 and I had a job as a market researcher. One day I told my psychiatrist that what I really wanted to do was quit my job and just write poetry. And the psychiatrist said, ‘Why not?’ And I said, ‘What would the American Psychoanalytic Association say?’ And he said, ‘There’s no party line.’
Don’t tell me I’m beautiful. I have already heard the word rubbed raw across the flesh of so many girls before me. Thrown at them like rocks that beat the skin of those we do not understand.
“You are beautiful,” we yell with such contempt. “God dammit, why won’t you just believe me, you’re beautiful!” It is not a compliment. It is a victory march of your own self sacrifice. “You’re beautiful,” we say through gritted teeth. “You’re beautiful,” we spit out through tears, looking at a reflection we hate. “You’re beautiful,” we say, holding a body that has never felt the arms of another. “You’re beautiful.”
Don’t tell me I’m beautiful. A word like that floats on the surface, give me something with depth. Tell me I’m intelligent. Tell me I’m courageous. Tell me that when I laugh the whole world smiles. Tell me that my voice is sweeter than strawberries. Remind me that my hands have helped flowers grow, painted the ocean, and captured the sky in my phone. Assure me that with a mind like mine, I can change the world.
Don’t tell me I’m beautiful. I don’t really care if it’s true. I’ve spent years trying to convince myself that beauty goes through and through. Don’t tell me I’m beautiful. I’ve felt the word splatter against me enough for a lifetime. I am better than the “beautiful” that slips from your lips. I am the ocean, 36,000 feet deep. There are parts of me you have never seen. I am outer space, infinite in your search. I am not simply “beautiful.” I’m a fucking masterpiece.