Don't Settle for This

daje morris

When I was younger, there something in me that just knew that I was wired for good and healthy things. 

I craved things like fruits and veggies, music, joy-filled relationships with my family. I loved going to school and learning about the world. 

I loved rainy days. Making messes in the mud. I loved my broken crayons and the way the tv flickered on scratched VHS cassettes. What a privelege it was to have access to those experiences without question.

At first, as a very young and innocent child, I didn't question whether or not I deserved my friendships with my besties, or deserved to be listened to in the school talent show when I absolutely couldn't sing. 

I just showed up and allowed myself to have a chance to be human.

Somewhere along the line, I listened to someone tell me that I wasn't allowed to do this. If I made a mistake, I wasn't allowed to show my face or access love and be affirmed in the same ways. I didn't know it then, but this was shame working its way into my world, making me aware that there are systems outside of myself that determine who gets to be treated well. These systems are of oppression and sadness born from other people's insecurities and struggles with power.

Many of us have listened deeply to the voices that have tried to convince us that we don't deserve the chance to show up and be human. Some people would say that this is part of growing--that as we grow, shame teaches us cultural boundaries. Some would argue that in order to survive, we have to learn skills in self-diminishment as preservation mechanisms that keep us balanced in our societies. 

The truth is, that the way we see ourselves should never become a barrier to our survival. In fact, it should encourage our survival beyond our base needs. That means that thinking less of ourselves will not make us a better people. It will not make us more or less worthy of affection or love or economic resources. 

The way we see ourselves and negotiate our worth is directly connected to how we will thrive. For instance, if you see yourself as not worthy of the chance to show up and just be human, then you will perform and behave and love as someone who is "not worthy" of the chance to show up and be human. 

And that is a crippling way to survive.

But I know that so many of us share stories like this.

Some person, some interaction convinced you that your access to common grace and freedom should be limited because of who you are, where you from, or the skin your born into.

Maybe it was skin color.
Or being a woman.
Or transgender. Queer. Non-binary.
Maybe they said it because you're a black man,
Or a thoroughly sensitive softly cisgendered white man.
Maybe it was your being in love with technology
that caused them to shame you.
They called you a "nerd" because you were navigating the world
with that sweet piece of tape on your glasses,
the smudges on your jeans.
your hair texture.
the neighborhood.
the lack of food in the kitchen cupboard.
or the abudance in the pantry
difference in diction
freckles
sensitive, empath

Perhaps someone shamed you, spoke down to you, and made you feel less-than because they didn't like how beautiful you were to them.

And at some point you believed them.
At some point you thought you deserved it.
But the truth is that you didn't deserve that.
You don't deserve less just because of the package you come wrapped in.

No matter who you are or where you've been, do not settle for less just because someone told you to. The sensation you feel in your chest about all the good and healthy things you want access to but feel you can't have is an indication that maybe you've been told a lie. 

That lie?
That that your worth is defined by (fill in the blank) .
The truth is that your human worth is indefinable, non-negotiable, and limitless.

You deserve to have access to good and healthy things that nourish your human body and encourage your innate joy because you are human. And you deserve a chance to show up and be human, just because you exist.

Don't settle for what the naysayers said when they were angry, jealous, mad.
Be shameless. Let yourself breathe.
Go pursue the good and healthy things that bring you joy.