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Little more of you, please

May 8, 2022

“Smash it.” 

I had just snatched a cancer stick from my classmate as she fumbled and dropped it on the ground. The only thing on my mind was to throw it under my worn-out Airwalk’s and smash it into oblivion. 

And I did.

It was a late afternoon. The school was over for the day. The yellow summer sun was up and the shadows were short and blue. A dozen of us hung out in front of the corner store that housed the bus stop, waiting for our ride home. We were fifteen and rebels. 

I should’ve been hitting up that cigarette like everyone else and looking cool as hell doing it. 

But I didn’t.

What was wrong with me.

The sparkles flew from the end of the cigarette as my foot came down. She screamed. The adrenaline kick I got from that stomp was more fulfilling than anything I’d experienced before.

I lifted my eyes from the carnage to discover a giant ominously looming over me. It was my arch-nemesis, Jacob. He had just witnessed what had happened and rushed over to the scene. Jacob was six and a half inches tall, dark-haired, wore a black leather jacket covered in studs, and was built like a tank. 

Never good news. 

Jacob always had an angry look on his face and was geared up for a fight. And he loved cigarettes. And probably had a crush on the girl whose smoke I had just destroyed. 

I was so amped up about saving this girl from getting cancer and being true to my character that I told Jacob straight up to stop smoking or I’d mangle his cigarette too. He looked at me angry as hell but I could see a twitch in his eye. Then he turned around and muttered what an idiot I was.

I had just discovered how it felt to be true to myself no matter the consequences.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of going with the flow. Especially when you’re in the middle of the herd. You know what I’m talking about. The times when you do things because you are too scared to stand up or stand out. Fearing that you will not be liked, or respected. Fearing that you will be excluded from the group, left alone, and despised for disagreeing and having an opposing view.

But what I’ve discovered in my forty times around the sun is that being you doesn’t just get you more likes, respect, and admiration. It gets you and even more so the world an example of what being true to your values looks like.

Everyone, even that bully, that cocky athlete, and the bossy class favorite is afraid to be themselves. We’re all insecure about ourselves and that’s more normal than you think.

But what the world needs is you to be more you. For you to set your ground. To draw the line on the asphalt with a jackhammer and state your business.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beardJussi Tarvainen

Former pro snowboarder. Author at night. Multi(failed)-entrepreneur. And mostly an awesome designer (said, my five-year-old son).

plenty more loot in the vault

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