Note: I don’t own any pictures.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was me against them, and they had won. I had been captured, tied up, and locked in a tiny metal box that lacked even a single hole for air. And so there I existed—not sitting, nor laying down—just existing, just being there, waiting for the day when I would be set free. Surely soon, they would have decided they had kept me locked up for long enough; perhaps they would get bored and let me go.
But they didn’t. Instead, the walls began to close on me even further, and they demanded more and more and more from me. There were all those voices shouting for me to do better, to be better. And they not only expected me to achieve their standards, but to surpass them by a grand margin as well. I was suffocating.
The pressure grew—the pressure in my mind, on my heart, in my thoughts—it just kept growing and expanding until I wanted to scream. But there was no air for screaming. I had no choice but to give into their demands. But I also think that a part of me wanted to give in to their demands, to prove to them that I was not weak, that I could do anything and everything they required of me.
Nevertheless, it was too late; I was almost completely crushed by the walls; how would I ever be able to fix myself again? And I was scared: scared to try and break free of the chains that had bound me for so long, scared that I would anger them with my resistance, scared of the possibility that I might fail, and end up in a situation even more dire than the this. So I continued to exist there, quiet, obedient, and feeling completely and utterly helpless.
Until the day someone poked the hole into my tiny metal box.
The wisp of air that swept in was great enough to revive my entire heart. I thought, Perhaps there really is a way out.
I wanted more of that air. I wanted it to fill my chest and mind and being, and to take me far up high, and far, far away. I wanted to be free, free like I used to be, before they caught me and tied me up. And so I began fighting.
First I tried piecing myself back together, taking all the crushed parts and fixing them anew. That was the hardest part. There was always the voice, always the lingering thought, What if I fail? Some days it grew to be so much that I almost let myself crumble again. But the air that trickled in from that tiny little hole kept me going. And finally, finally, I made myself whole again.
The next task was to escape from the chains, break free from the box. Before I had no air, but now I could breathe, and I used each breath to build myself stronger, all the while watching that little air hole. What did it matter if I no longer tried to please them? What did it matter if they caught me? I would just try again. And my thoughts of failure all but dissipated. I could do this.
When I first got out, though, my worst fears were confirmed. They were so angry—they were angry, and mocking, and disdainful, and condescending. Who did I think I was, trying to defy them? I ran anyways, and they came chasing after me. But I ran harder this time, pushed farther, because I could do this. They didn’t matter. It was all me. It always had been. I had just been too scared to know.
I let the air seep in through my heart and soul, let it sink deep into the depths of everything that was me. It lifted me higher and higher, and soon, I was free at last.
And I swore that I’d never let myself be walled in by them again