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—
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.