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Dear People

A letter to my fellow humans from my 17-year-old self

By Prairie JohnsonPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
Runner-Up in Identity Challenge
Dear People
Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Dear people that I forget are people,

I want to trust you.

Dear humans that taste sunlight like lime juice, like earth, like my own limbs do,

I want to love you.

Dear bodies,

Your flesh is smooth and stubborn like mine, like the time we have taken to evolve, like the ways we have learned to solve problems and people.

But we can’t fix people as though they are problems.

I want to trust people. I want to look into the eyes of a person and think, oh they are wise, they are my friend.

I do not want to despise their lies, their heightened, layered disguises, their words that I don't buy.

I'd like to believe that you won't judge me.

I'd like to think that one day, everything will fall into place and I will finally erase all of the “bad” from me, so you will only see beauty.

I still think beauty is a tied tongue sometimes.

I still forget that my identity is shifting.

I still forget that sweet is honey: the bursting, untamable flavor that takes our breath away.

Not sweet: the force it takes to shove my fist in my mouth to muffle my speech, for fear of shattering the peace.

I’ll show you peace.

Growing up, I thought peace was a self-reconning a beckoning toward silence, toward self-sacrifice, toward being nice.

I’ll show you nice.

I thought nice meant swallowing my pride so other opinions might reside front and center—so that the world might be better from my never-ending silence.

I’ll show you silence.

Silence looks like miles and miles of catwalks, cartwheels over lava, broken heartstrings that I don’t get to scream or sing about.

I’ll show you a song.

Every day, a song emerges from me, whether or not I sing it, whether or not I try to fling it away, it is here to stay.

And when I greet the day, sometimes I want to break every face that betrayed me, every look that tried to dissuade me from being hungry for a different game to play.

But today, I wake remembering humanity.

I wake on rising tides of anger, on swelling seas of rage, to the memories of the cage I created for myself leading up to this day, when I finally say, “ok.”

That all happened.

“Ok, river of pain that I have turned into shame. Ok, shame. Ok, Prairie. This is your new name:” I will not shame, blame, or hate people, nor will I swoon and croon for them.

I will not eat my fist for people, but I will learn to listen. I will not pretend that the world is not trying to bend me into a “friendly” shape.

And I will not again make the mistake of forgetting that I am the only one who can turn this net into a web that will collect the people I need.

I am planting the seeds.

Holding onto anger allows externality to control me. I will not mistake poison for passion.

I will not maintain dis-ease because I have seen its reach in the people I meet.

I am learning that we must greet hatred with empathy, treat discomfort with curiosity.

My future frustration with you may not be discreet, but the confabulations I could spin to win this game will not invite a united victory.

When spite rolls the dice, we cripple our capacity for compassion. Yes, I am hungry for generosity, and yes, I crave to see self-responsibility.

Dear people,

I want to trust you. So, I am learning to trust me.

social commentaryinspirational

About the Creator

Prairie Johnson

If we are going to transform the world, we must begin with ourselves. I write what is inside of me so that you might find what is inside of you.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (4)

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  • Alison McBain5 months ago

    I enjoyed the struggle of being true to yourself but trying to listen, understand, and trust others without compromising who you are.

  • Kristen Balyeat6 months ago

    Beautiful piece! Congratulations on placing in the challenge!

  • Dana Crandell6 months ago

    Such a well written piece! Congratulations!

  • Andie Emerson6 months ago

    "I am learning that we must greet hatred with empathy, treat discomfort with curiosity." Things I've also been learning. This piece spoke to me, nicely done!!

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