How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel? For this average white guy, countless.

If I could go back, all those years, and stand next to twelve year old me, would I have the courage and strength to tell that nervous boy watching all the other children, swimming, laughing, and running—playing shirts v.s. skins—to quit worrying and join in, that it doesn’t matter how chubby you feel, or how different you look, that as long as you love and accept yourself, no words from another can harm you, or would I just sit back and watch, still the observer unable to join the party?

It’s funny how something so simple as taking your shirt off to swim can be so detrimental to a young child’s self esteem and yet as adults we often forget what that was like or rather what external forces beyond our control led us to believe ourselves unworthy of such a simple, yet harrowing task.

As in childhood, so as in adulthood, what we allow to harm us will.

Commercials show us long, slender, sleek models who seem to effortlessly fit in to their surroundings while being rewarded with warm smiles and admiration for seeming perfect.

Television shows and movies give us well manicured, quintessential versions of ourselves that often seem more like science fiction than what actually is.

Billboard ads and magazines are placed conveniently to fill all our psyche with blemish-less detail to promote this false sense of unattainable beauty that even when met, there’s ultimately an even whiter teeth formula, or wax to whisk away our imperfection.

It’s a cycle that even before the mind has time to develop, stunts it’s growth and like a cavity begins to decay all sense of self worth.

How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel?

For this average white guy, countless.

But it’s taken all those countless times to figure out that it doesn’t matter in the slightest, especially as a child who’s developing.

So would I tell that twelve year old me to take his shirt off and go swimming with the rest of the lot?

I don’t think there is a clear answer other than that instead of telling him what he should or shouldn’t do like all the rest of the world, I’d allow him the opportunity to listen to my story and decide for himself.

But I would say this. Chances are that boy or girl over there thinks there nose is too big or there ears are too small. Chances are that kid who cringes to put on his glasses everyday feels just like you do now, wondering what others will think of what makes him human.

Perhaps I’d reassure him that everybody has stretch marks, even the biggest, strongest athletes. Even his mother, and what could be more beautiful than sacrificing your physical form to grant another life?

But we all figure it out in our own time.

I know he did.

Clearwater Beach Florida

There’s this movie playing in my head

I never wanted to define you

Just wanted to walk calm beside you

But do I ever do a thing at all?

I never knew how to excite you

Just wanted to be like the fly who

Hung around loving your every move.

I never knew a second chance

As good as that first romance

A third time will only get you killed.

My palms are cold and sweaty now

It makes no difference any how

Like a has been actor thinking what’s the use?

I say it’s maybe

the way God made me

You say it’s crazy

that I’m this damn lazy

I’m addicted maybe

but it’s better this way

After awhile I’ll be all right

I’ll be alright, so.

I think I’ll watch the Super Bowl

Then re-runs of a TV show

Any distraction for two years will do.

I think I’ll start a private club

Then forget and invite everyone

Come one come all come make me feel good.

I never wanted to become

This ordinary silly chum

Up for hours feeling numb and blue.

There’s this movie playing in my head

There’s a plane a girl a detective

Who’s method acting’s got him nowhere new.

You say it’s maybe

the way God made me

And that hey baby

you’re a little lazy

but it’s better this way

this addiction’s crazy

After awhile you’ll be all right

You’ll be alright, so.

The thing that I am trying tell

The thing impossible to sell

A clear cut diamond people get confused.

I never wanted anymore

Than a reason to explore

The imperfections that I found in you.

Like that picture on the cellar door

A sad clown I just couldn’t ignore

His eyes were mine yes they were tried and true.

I wonder if no now I’m bored

I’ll take a couple then some more

Searching my pockets for my next excuse.

I mean anyone will do.