Dear BUSTies, times are tough for humans, and especially for humans who have been socialized from birth to be sweet and accommodating at any cost, to never make trouble of any kind, to focus all our angst and anxieties inward and turn every negative emotion into fuel for the endless work of being prettier, thinner, nicer, etc.
But guess what? You're actually allowed to live your life outside of that narrow, suffocating channel. And while I know that you already know all this, sometimes it's nice to have a little reminder handy as you walk the halls of this brutal, dystopian, nightmare junior high school that we call life. So print this Hall Pass out, sign it, put it in your wallet, stick it on your fridge, tape it to your desk at work. Doodle middle fingers or mermaids — or whatever you want — on it.
By the authority vested in me, a perfect stranger and fellow human who was — okay, yes — technically "let go" from my Hall Monitor position due to "chronic tardiness" and some light "disrespect for authority", I hereby proclaim that no matter what men/parents/friends/various Op-Ed pieces may say or imply, the following is 100% true at all times:
It's okay if your voice is loud.
It's okay if your body takes up a lot of space.
It's okay if you don't smile.
It's okay if you're angry. It's okay if you're hurt. It's okay to need people. It's okay to complain.
It's okay to eat another one, even if nobody else is.
It's okay if you don't feel like drinking when everyone else is.
It's okay not to laugh when it's not funny.
It's okay to tell someone to stop.
It's okay if you're not being "fun.'
It's okay to go home early.
It's okay not to go at all.
It's okay if you don't want to talk about it. It's okay if you do.
It's okay to set a limit, make a rule, or draw a boundary, even if nobody else understands it.
It's okay to look "ugly.'
It's okay to accept a compliment.
It's okay if you can't afford it.
It's okay if you don't know what your plan is yet.
It's okay if you don't know how you feel about it.
Top photo: Beyonce, 'Formation'
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Hannah Matthews is an organizer, activist, and writer based in Portland, Maine. Her work has appeared in Time, Inc., SELF, and BUST Magazines, and online at McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Ravishly.com. She can be reached at email@example.com