Growing Up | A Poem About Authenticity


Samantha Nagel


You will be taught that your voice

Is white noise,

That your thoughts are just dreams,

That your dreams are just fantasies;


You will be taught that your opinions

Are just irrelevant,

That your needs are just suggestions,

That your suggestions are just words;


You will be taught that happiness

Is fleeting,

That your joy is just a feeling,

That your feelings are just emotions;


You will be taught that your body

Is sinful,

That your desires are just prayers,

That your prayers are just cries;


You will be taught

To quiet your voice,

To be seen not heard,

To be grateful for what you do have,

And to never ask for anything else.

You will be taught

To love,

To understand,

To fear,

To shrink.

You will be taught

To shame

And to be shamed.

To the Girls,

I want to teach you

To be loud,

To shatter dishes

To sing birdsongs in the park

To kick dirt between your toes

I want you to be known.

To fight

For the life you want,

To enter the ring when you’ve been wronged,

For your knuckles to form small blisters,

Reminder of your winning battle.

I want you to know

That you deserve love,

That you deserve an abundance of love without having to work so hard for it,

You deserve warm coffee brought to you in bed

To taste soft cupcakes with frosting without guilt,

To have someone bathe the parts of your back you can’t reach,

Then later brush out your knots before kissing you goodnight.

You deserve sweet dreams.

I want unconditional love

To be a phrase that you can comprehend.

I want you to look in the mirror,

And embrace yourself with the grace of wearing your Sunday dress

Or your mom’s lipstick gently applied like a whisper,

That grace you so often give to others.

I want to teach you not to fear anyone or yourself.

To not be afraid of shadows,

To sleep with windows open,

To ride that bike down the hill by your friend’s house,

Hair down and your hands off the brakes.

I want to teach you to accept, not to hate.

I want to teach you that your tears are brave,

That being sensitive is not an insult.

To the Girls,

I love you.

I want to teach you to love yourselves too.

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