Take a deep breath, and let it all go.
You do not need to rampage deep into the sleeping city — adrift with the demons who cast you down, chasing some mythical white elephant’s ivory, hunting to feed the insatiable village of voices inside your cranium who beg for bigger, better, badder, bolder.
You do not need that seventh whiskey — that fire-water set ablaze to drown the doubt that creeps into you as you saunter your way across the dimly-lit bar ready to ask that comely one to play the romantic lead in a play you’ve yet to write.
You do not need that Mercedes C-Class, what with its Tuscan leather heated seats and Kompressor turbo-boost engine to outrun the delusions of inadequacy that run parallel with growing up a working-class kid in a working-class city — as if your stature in society is dictated by your socioeconomic status.
You do not need to nod “yes” to everything, every time, to everyone. Never sacrifice the integrity of your soul to devote time, money, and energy beyond your means, sinking capital into causes you don’t believe in or people you don’t trust.
You do not need to snap that selfie at the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe, to prove to the world you’re worldly, or to share how you look and not what you see, or to show how you’ve conquered and not what you’ve battled.
You do not need to fret over feelings and thoughts, of would’ves and could’ves and should’ves and oughts. The path laid before you can only be walked in the shoes of the one who is wearing them. You cannot warp to the boulevard when you’re fighting your way through the forest.
You do not need to bring yourself down — or catch yourself when you fall — or listen to spiked insults lobbed in your vicinity. People, places, and things will hurt you — oftentimes without your consent. Helping them along attracts more of them, convincing the cruelty that your space is a safe haven for sadness and bile.
You do not need to sacrifice your dignity to sub-optimal people for the sake of feeling wanted and worthy, to go to sleep successful and satisfied. Cravings and ravings and the taste of the flesh, any flesh, are no substitute for love in the first degree.
You do not need to share every thought, every musing, to seek validation that your opinion is on-point. Accept your intrinsic dialogue. Speak kindly and boldly. Your cleverness, your brilliance, your wit, and your charm are best reserved for those who reciprocate.
You do not need to lie to yourself, about the adversities you face and create day-to-day. You need not be ashamed of the sloppy one-bedroom with the unopened door, or the beautiful struggle to make ends meet and put food on a kitchen table yet to be bought. We run our own races — no need to pretend like you’re somewhere you’re not.
You do not need to adorn yourself in trappings of taste, of fashion, and brand names and beauty. $200 on a sweater. $2,000 on a bag. The numbers mean nothing once the season changes. Feeling attractive and wealthy and powerful comes from within — from the name on your credit card, and not the name on what piece you bought with it.
You do not need to amass a fortune, a stockpile, an arsenal of wealth to be sprayed out like shells in stocks and securities — to do so conflates wealth and worth. Wealth creates joy, options, solutions, and safety for one’s self. Worth creates joy, options, solutions, and safety for others. All dollars beyond comfort are video game numbers, a high score that resets when the console’s turned off.
You do not need to PR yourself to death. You do not need to bravely manage your “brand.” You do not need to manipulate your image. You are not your portfolio or your resume. You are not what people whisper behind your back or scream in your face. You are not your job title, your home or your car, or your city. You are a citizen of the world, a human in the trenches of a battle called Earth which we all individually lose in death but collectively win as we make progress beyond our reptilian brains and into the spiritual realm.
You do not need saving, your church, or your god. You do not need to profess your holiness to be holy. You do not need to impart righteous wisdom on others to be righteous. You may simply be. True heaven is attained in the silence at the summit, the stillness of breath, and the disciplined mind that stays morally right and mentally clear.
Sleep well. Sip slowly. Drive safe. Say no. See this vast expanse of a world through the lens of your own eye. Stride with swagger. Stay strong. Love fully. Say what you mean. Be who you are. Wear yourself well. Give generously. Take a deep breath, and let it all go.
You do not need to be what’s expected, to be what’s required, or to be what you are not. You are enough as you are. You’re enough to ride around on this globe-shaped spaceship of infinite possibility, exquisite beauty, and impossible wonder.
You are enough. And the world needs more of you.