When did you Give Up?

Do you remember the exact moment you chose to be …soft? Maybe your resolve to speak up like a picket-line force of nature dwindled over the years, or maybe it was extinguished in a second watching someone you admired shrug their shoulders and sigh “Oh well, we are just the little guys, we can’t make a difference”.
Can you remember the day when your spark died out?
Were you told that “Nobody likes a complainer”, or “your tone is very unbecoming” and inevitably you squeezed your body, your thoughts, and your being into an uncomfortable new uniform that somehow you resigned to accept, even with how hard it is to breathe? I bet your gut screamed at your thoughts “This costume does not fit, this is not who you are, take it off!” Yet you forced the zipper up, and wore it hoping someday it would feel a little less stifling. I bet even today you still yank at the collar to stop it from completely choking you out.
Science class taught me at a very young age that energy never gets used up. What exactly are you doing with all those pent up feelings that well up inside you? When you watch the news, or see your country corrupt your politics, when big corporations kill our fragile ecosystems, and when the ones who we trust to be protecting us, only profit from us instead; where do you hide your true self in those moments?
How do you shove, and elbow that energy back down inside your itchy, hot, and restrictive society-accepted attire? Somehow, you do, and maybe you have done it for more years than you can remember now.
You are quiet, allowing others to gobble up everything you held near and dear to you, while you shrug in hopelessness. You have learned to swallow your opinions now, stretching the fabric tighter and tighter around you.
Seriously, who dressed you? Because you look ridiculous.
Your children will only learn from you when they see injustice, that they need to be the voice of change, or to blend into the walls. Your helpless coworkers, neighbors, friends and enemies need you too. They need you to tell them their society-imposed, opinion-muffling costumes are outrageously outdated now, just like I am telling you.
Growing up, I had the mother who loudly demanded the advertised fifty-cent discount on a loaf of bread at the checkout line, while my sisters and I hid from all of those eyes, glaring with impatience. My mother taught me that standing up for what’s right (no matter how trivial I thought it was) might be uncomfortable to others, but no one ever dared try to choose her wardrobe.
I love her so much.
But, back to you. Did my post offend you just now? Did it make you…. Feel something? Good.
Maybe you can take off that foolish ensemble, put on a pair of sweat pants and help me kick some ass, because I need you too.
Jennifer Smith


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