a manifesto: we don’t have to

We don’t have to follow in our mother and father’s footsteps.
We don’t have to treat our children the same way we were raised.
We don’t have to teach them how to fear, how to worry, how to dislike themselves, how to forget how to dream and play and imagine and live in the moment.

We don’t have to abuse ourselves, everyone we encounter, or the planet that provides us with a home.

We don’t have to believe that talent or skills or fulfillment or contentment lie outside of us in fancy equipment or expensive gadgets.
We don’t have to believe that happiness lies within the accumulation of material stuff. Or anything external at all.

We don’t have to follow the rules that someone else wrote out years ago, expecting us to obey without question.
We don’t have to listen to the shoulds or should nots.
We don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards.

We don’t have to mistreat the earth, pollute the sea with plastic, waste water, or waste our money.

We don’t have to hate ourselves, feel depressed or guilty, not take care of ourselves, feel terrible when things don’t go our way, punish ourselves, let the external dictate our emotions, think negative thoughts.
We don’t have to believe we’re weak, give up when things get tough, lose hope in life when it’s just trying to teach us something.
We don’t have to believe we can’t be happy just loving and being ourselves.

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We don’t have to judge others before we even get to know them, hate others because they’re not like us, hold grudges, blame others for our circumstances.
We don’t have to believe that people are either “good” or “bad”, or that “evil people” exist at all.
We don’t have to put ourselves in neat little boxes, give ourselves labels of what we are and what we aren’t, pigeonhole everyone else who we think is “different”, and distance “us” from “them”.
We don’t have to believe that there even is a “them” separate from “us” to begin with.

We don’t have to believe we’re not beautiful just because we have short legs, long legs, no butt, big butt, flabby arms, strong arms, short fingers, long necks, big ears, bushy eyebrows, no eyebrows, big feet, thick feet, wide feet, small hands, short hair, long hair, frizzy hair, straight hair, nappy hair, little hair, no hair, stretchmarks and cellulite.
We don’t have to believe we’re not beautiful because the movies and the magazines and the media tell us a terrible untruth.


We don’t have to believe we’re just a number on a scale, a shirt, or a driver’s license. We don’t have to define ourselves by the brands we wear, the color of our hair, or anything outside of our souls.

We don’t have to believe we’re not smart just because they told us we weren’t, because we don’t speak ten languages, didn’t do well on the SAT, don’t get straight As, never went to college, didn’t make the honor roll, completely tanked a class or test or two or three, refused to accept that a dogmatic professor was absolutely right, didn’t graduate middle school, would rather chase our dreams than sit at a desk.

We don’t have to deny our natural selves.
We don’t have to hold back our hunger, our laughter, our flatulence. Our sweat, our scent, our scars. Our sexiness, our sexuality, our sex drive. Our menstruation, our erections, our wet dreams, our fun dreams, our tears.

We don’t have to eat mindlessly just because advertisements and marketing aimed to make us unhealthy say so.
We don’t have to use self-harming addictions to numb ourselves or escape from our lives.

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We don’t have to be ashamed of our unshaved legs, unperfumed armpits, unpainted fingernails, untrimmed toenails, unstyled hair, unpainted faces.

We don’t have to hide our true beauty.
We don’t have to hide who we are.
We don’t have to wear the clothes, have the body, fit the size, look like the actor or the model.

We don’t have to be scared anymore. Of flying, of being wonderful, of being ourselves, of talking to new and exciting people, of going for what you thought impossible, of asking that cute sweetie out, of rejection, of acceptance, of trusting ourselves and others, of letting go, of healing, of moving on, of loving and living limitlessly.

We don’t have to listen to our brother, sister, mother, father, best friend, stranger, lover, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, teacher, mentor, therapist, cousin, who tells us we’re not good enough– no matter how much we love them.
We don’t have to believe a bar of “good enough” even exists.

We don’t have to suppress, deny, or otherwise squelch our awesomeness.

We don’t have to pretend anymore. Not for a single second longer.

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