The statement "it looks good on college applications" is hammered into me
until it becomes a branding,
programmed into my brain cells
until that's the only excuse my mind can come up with.
It is the only reasoning I have left inside of me that can impel me to take on
AP classes that do not interest me,
to join clubs that do not interest me,
to trade off my summer of 8 to 10 hours of healthy sleep recommendations
and self care time
for volunteer hours and programs
that do not interest me,
to do all the things I do regardless if it makes me happy.
My mother tells me the formula for success does not include one's happiness;
my own well being is not a sufficient enough reason to excuse my failure.
I am growing breathless trying to catch up with the rest of my peers,
trying not be left behind;
I struggle to keep up the pace in this competition I did not sign up for,
fighting to earn a place somewhere I do not belong.
Some days I do not believe that I'm suited for this world;
my armor is not strong enough to shield me from my own incrimination of inadequacy and disappointment.
No bulletproof vest can protect me from the impact of statistics, class rankings, GPAs, and test scores.
I feed myself teaspoons of contentment every time I do well on an assessment
only to allow my own incompetence to force every drop back up my esophagus.
The burning impression serves as a constant reminder that
I could've done better—
I should've done better,
I have to do better.
We are the cogs in the great machine;
all victims of a malicious and unforgiving system that teaches us the only way we'll make it in the "real world" is if we follow the rules,
if we stay in between the lines,
if we stick to the script,
if we sew our mouths shut and learn to follow obediently:
never becoming our own people,
never questioning why.
Who needs things like ambitions, dreams, creativity, and individuality
when you can sell yourself short settling for practicality and financial security?
Nothing matters anyways unless it is double spaced
and typed up in 12 point Times New Roman font.