Too Late

is it too late?

the question I come back to

the fly I swat away

the hope I cache in the crevice of my mind

to live a life without yearning

to stay grounded in the ‘real world’

to keep the dreamer tucked away

under sheets of fear and denial—

because who knows what would happen 

if I let myself roam?


remember when we could

barely put one foot in front of the next

yet faced the world with a metric-ass-ton of unearned confidence?

remember when the grown-ups would ask,

“sweetie, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

and giggle as we shouted:





we thought they laughed because of the light and longing in our little eyes

but because they’d been in our shoes

they knew we’d grow up

            to give up on those dreams

we’d take the world’s advice

            to throw out our fantasies

watching our foolish balloons of delusion float off into space.


we went into university with starry-eyed glory

we watched our peers 

succumb to accounting majors

out of sheer preservation

leaving their passions to rot in adolescence’s gutter.

for those of us who refused to give in,

we spent our evenings

crying in empty classrooms

because we branded ourselves as eternally inferior,

we spent our family gatherings

dreading new faces

laughed out of living rooms

compared to doctor cousins and engineering brothers

wondering if we should have just played it safe—

and eventually,

we couldn’t stand it any longer.

            we let the pressure swallow us too.


because ‘try your best’ was a tagline with a time limit

why waste your time if you can’t be THE best?

why step up to the plate

            if you know you can’t guarantee first place?


for whatever happened to

            trying for the sake of trying?

                        fighting for the sake of fighting?

                                    getting back up even when our knees are trembling, bones heavy

                                                just to scrape ourselves an inch forward

before we’re sucker-punched by the fate of ‘reality’?


my faith, my hope, has truly faded.

but darling, who knows what glorious things the world would have seen

            if it wasn’t too late?

Why I Wrote this Poem

This piece was written during the “Write to Discover” program. I’ve always been frustrated that, at a certain point in our lives, the people around us stop encouraging us to give everything a shot. After being told throughout childhood that trying and dreaming (and failing) is the most rewarding thing we can do, we’re then told during adolescence and early adulthood that it’s “too late” — that we should stick to what we’re already good at, what we already know we won’t fail at. We learn to give up. We learn to trade our passions for practicality. This is a poem to let out those frustrations, to think about the “what-could-have-beens” in my life, had I’d taken those risks.


  • Sherry Shu

    Hedgehog lover, psych nerd, off-tune singer. In high school, with no idea where the future will take her...

Want to learn more about INKspire? Check out our organization's website.
This is default text for notification bar