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I wasn't going to leave for my big adventure until I could stand on my own two feet, but what if I had done that today?

This wasn't how I pictured things would turn out, but here I was, doing something I didn't want to do, for fear of offending others. Somewhere along the way, it seems I forgot the real me, and now I was a patchwork of the outputs others wanted from me. Was there even much identity left to be had when everyone is pulling you in their own favorite direction? If there was something at my core, it had been covered by so many layers of expectations and assumptions that the inside and outside became shockingly different animals, and transformed into even more depending on the layer. Whatever animal was on the inside now risked being so shocking to those around me that it dared not show its face.

I wasn't going to tell them I didn't like how they lived until I had an escape, but what if I had done that today?

There were so many things I wanted to say, so many things I admired and so many things I cringed at, but couldn't let out of my mouth, for fear the words would set off the wrong chain reaction. So I stayed silent and went along with the program, swallowed the bitter and ignored the sweet, because it seemed so much safer to do at the time. Staying silent would at least have the security of yesterday, even if it cut off many possibilities from tomorrow. How would my life had been different if those possibilities had not been cut off? Ironic that the better paths I could imagine, the scarier it became to think about. So instead I learned to endure, probably a long list of things I didn't need to endure at all, but was too afraid to throw off the baggage and see the world beyond.

I wasn't going to reach out to my old friends until I left this place, but what if I had done that today?

There were so many good ones. Granted there was no guarantee they hadn't changed over the years, but I couldn't understand why I was so attached to not talking to them. Maybe it was fear of rejection, while I didn't have to fear that from those who were already in my life. Maybe they were stuck with me in the same way I was stuck with them. I imagine many of those friends were waiting to hear from one another too, but they all just looked at each other and did nothing. Someone needed to be the catalyst, but apparently that wasn't going to be me. How things could have been different if I did something earlier, but was it even worth it now? And so I would put it off some more.

I wasn't going to slow down and do my own thing until I had met some bar of security, but what if I had done that today?

It seemed those around me were always pressuring me to do one thing or another, and I worked for their approval rather than let myself rest. In the end it seemed they got what they wanted, and when I wouldn't or couldn't give them the same things anymore, they quickly and easily found a replacement. Life moved on for them, but where did mine go? Was it truly worth all those hours giving them what they wanted? Did I even know what I wanted? Maybe only vaguely. Serve a master long enough and you learn all their eccentricities intimately, but in exchange you become a tool.

I wasn't going to let myself be satisfied until I had everything just as I wanted, but what if I had done that today?

There would be a giant bed of roses at the end of this road I told myself, all the while passing by the smaller roses at the side of the road. I never could be quite sure if I was just chasing a mirage, but the vision was so vivid that I missed out on so many things that I thought at the time were beneath my notice. Things that maybe I didn't learn to appreciate until much later, but at the time, complacency was a bad word, and determination was the one I wanted, needed, to reach the next rung. I had to shake myself from self-satisfaction, tell myself it was bad, and that feeling like I was incomplete was good.

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