Proving Ground

This morning, the Daily Post’s writing prompt is “Kick the Bucket.” They’re asking: what’s on your anti-bucket list? What don’t you want to do in the new year? I sat down to answer that question, and found my strength.

I don’t want to feel small.

I don’t want to be boxed up by anyone’s expectations. I don’t want to be colorless, a series of outlines that people can fill in as they may. I don’t want to let people assume that I am whomever I imagine they might like me to be.

Not anymore.

I don’t want to do things out of fear, but since I’m a person who will always have fear inside of her, patient, urgent, waiting, I want to be bigger than it is. I want to draw myself up to full height and tell fear to fuck off and feel it, feel it deep in my bones when, just for a minute, fear listens.

I don’t want to weigh myself.

I don’t want to be…accommodating. But I want to open to all of you. There’s a difference.

I don’t want to look in on the big wide world with all its many fabulous people and reject their friendship because they’re the wrong ones, because we’re not soulmates or they’re too literal or they shouldn’t be wearing that sweater. I want to open my arms to humanity. If you are a good person, I want you on my team.

But if you’re a little bit of an asshole, stop right there. Back right up. I don’t want to date you.

If you don’t like texting back. If you decide I’m good enough for now. If you’re in love with your married best friend or your ex or your neighbor or your barista: I don’t want to date you.

If you court drama, or if you burn through girlfriends hard and fast, if you’ve got the loyalties of a stray cat who’ll come over for dinner but never, ever stay the night — don’t call me.

I don’t want to judge myself.

There is this narrative that as women we are meant to be compassionate, we are meant to accommodate others, we are meant to always make space. I sit on a public bus and I try so hard to make myself smaller, as though it is my personal responsibility, always, to make space for the people around me. Literally and figuratively. Mine and mine alone. But that is false, and it has hurt us.

How can I learn to be, above all other things: unapologetic?

I want fire that simmers under my ass, fire that keeps me creating, fire that keeps me searching for the art and food and friends and girlfriends and philosophies who will inspire me, who will keep me moving, and I no longer want to feel in my bones that the best and most coveted thing that people could think about me is “she’s so nice.”

If you are a person who would make me smaller, if you are a person whose worldview requires, even a little bit, even completely subconsciously, that I be your mother or your secretary or your footstool, then you are my anti-bucket list. You, you, you and you: it is no longer my job to waste headspace on what you might think of me. You can’t fire me. I quit.

But here, look at the sweet little queer girl writer, she’s still doing it. Add in a paragraph about compassion, she thinks. People are going to think you’ve got a chip on your shoulder. People are going to think that you want to be a bitch.

A year ago almost exactly, my therapist dragged me to a Christmas party at the local LGBT center. It was only the second time I had walked through those doors, and the people I met scared me more than a little. The strident lesbian with the spiked hair, loud voice, loud red fanny pack, yelling into her cell phone about party favors for her wedding. The guy with long blonde hair and perfectly manicured pink fingernails, like a hand model, who kept making the same joke about his lack of creativity. The woman who worked there, short, round, smiling, with the T-shirt that read I’ve got a big lesbian crush on you. I didn’t know where to look, what to say, what to think. “So how was that for you?” My therapist asked later. I considered the people I’d met.

“Everyone…seemed like they had something to prove,” I said.

She smiled, just a little. “Maybe they do.”

What’s on my anti-bucket list for this next year, you ask? Hiding; shame; above all, being a passenger. The girl who thought the worst thing in the world would be looking like you had something to prove: She’s out, she’s gone. In 2015, I don’t want to be a helpful. I don’t want to be palatable to anyone who comes along. I want to stand up and be counted, to drive myself forward, to color in my personality all by myself, and make those colors known to everyone.

In 2015, I want to be someone with something to prove.

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