This letter is to you, Toxicity. You are my past, present and future friends who help me as a person. I know it may confuse you severely as to how Toxicity, yourself, can be considered helpful. Your purpose in life is to be the exact opposite. Well, with Toxicity in life, how does a person ever grow, become stronger, learn to love and appreciate themselves?
Keep this thought in mind as I go on to thank you for everything you have done for me over the course of my 20 years of life. And, trust me, I have grown––grown into a woman you probably hoped I would never have become, probably feared me becoming.
Years ago, I would never have used the words “confident” or “independent” to describe myself. I had absolutely no self-esteem for the longest time.
I allowed you, Toxicity, to turn me into a clown for a good portion of my life. Not necessarily a class clown, because I wasn’t gutsy enough to act stupid out in public, but a clown for your amusement. It might have been catching Swedish fish in my mouth and barking like a seal, licking a bowl entirely clean or playing out characters who were brainless with the dumbest voices (since I have absolutely no voice-acting ability to make my voice sound anything but stupid).
I believed that, no matter how objectified or humiliated I felt, as long as I was putting a smile onto your face, it was all worth it.
I admit this was not the best mentality since you replaced me a lot with new friends who you preferred since they could keep your attention for longer than a quick laugh. However, no matter how much it hurt being left behind, with each passing Toxicity, I picked up characteristics that I learned I liked myself for having or tossed away those I hated. I also started noticing the characteristics I could and couldn’t stand in others.
Admittedly, as much as I did feel replaced, I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t also replacing you either. Then again, it felt like I was constantly trading one of you for another, but those are life lessons that were worth learning.
Every one of you, Toxicity, who I encountered were drastically different from one another. Since I was a very impressionable person growing up, each Toxicity played a different part in changing my life. It might have been indirectly telling me that I was unable to attract anyone of the opposite gender, belittling me for anything potentially stupid that left my mouth or constantly challenging me in almost every aspect of my life (mostly friends and school). I consistently found one Toxicity after another who made me feel inadequate, self-conscious, not worthy of existence. Like I was nothing.
Hate to break it to you, Toxicity: I know I am worth it. It being everything you reminded me I supposedly wasn’t.
I have reached the point where I don’t need the approval of others to function. I am not fidgety if people are not at my beck and call every moment of every day (mostly since I accept the fact that they all have lives of their own that honestly don’t revolve around you). I understand when is the right time to stay quiet and to speak up against you, especially when everyone else is too terrified to.
The biggest lesson you have taught me, Toxicity, is when to walk away. By this point in my life, my morals––and my moral radar––are fully established and I know my limits and boundaries.
Although it may not seem like my moral radar is working, I admittedly have a terrible habit of giving you many chances, Toxicity. I stick around a little longer than I should, wasting both your time and mine (especially mine) since I’d rather give you the many opportunities for you to grow and change into a remotely decent human being.
No person is a lost cause in my eyes, but it is significantly easier to change yourself than it is to change others.
At least now, compared to when I was younger, I can let go without giving a shit (excuse my language). I don’t need Toxicity in my life anymore, because what is the point of all that meaningless, middle-school drama when I am graduating early and starting an actual career path?
Regardless, Toxicity, I thank you with all my might. I have learned to love and value myself, despite my imperfections. I have learned to value others as human beings and not objects for my own amusement. I have learned how to live on my own and adjust accordingly when faced with really screwed-up situations. I have learned how to not be pushed around, stand my ground and know how to say “no.”
Because of you, Toxicity, I am able to label myself as not only “confident” but also “independent.” Let’s not forget about “beautiful” and “smart” and “versatile” and “reliable”––and, most of all, “a decent human being.”
Thank you once again. I hope we can reach the same playing field someday.
P.S. I want to add a disclaimer that I did not power through these life situations by myself. I had and still have amazing people sprinkled throughout my life who have encouraged me to reach for my best self since they (somehow) always knew it was there. Whenever I felt down or discouraged or worthless, they would remind me how great of a person, friend or girlfriend, I am. They constantly boost my confidence and keep me smiling. My amazing life is thanks to them.
For those who have helped me along my journey and are reading this now, my thanks to you significantly outweigh my thanks to Toxicity (since you all are amazing human beings who deserve a lot of love and hugs). I love you guys!