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My mom told me I looked disgusting. I was eating cereal. Reading a book. In a few minutes I would go to school.

She had just woken up. Walked into the kitchen. Saw me. Said her thing.

Not the worst thing in the world. Not something you can’t overcome.

I was maybe 16. I liked a girl. I liked many girls. I wanted them to like me.

One of my friends said, “why don’t you get contacts?”

Another said, “When are your braces coming off?”

Another said, “You just need to smile a lot. People like people who smile.”

One time I had a cyst so big it covered the entire area from my eye, down the left side of my face, to the bottom of my nose. A big purple bubble that made my face look like a burn.

Once a month my dad would take me into the city and a nurse would spend the morning draining the pus out of the cyst.

Then I would spend the day at the arcades across from where my dad worked. Me and a bunch of kids from god knows where skipping school.

My dad would tell me before, “go anywhere but that arcade. It’s dangerous in there.”

But where else was I going to go? And it was dark. And it was fun. I was living inside a dream where the admission was free.

One time I couldn’t comb my hair before school. The brush just wouldn’t go through my hair. I threw it at the mirror and told my dad I wasn’t going to school that day.

One friend of mine said, “just wait for college. Things get better in college.”

Ok.

Ok.

I’ll wait.

I started staying home every day. I never went out at night. I didn’t have that many friends.

My main friend I had in high school is now dead.

At least, I think he’s dead. Since nobody can find him on Facebook and google shows up with no results.

I’m really bad at keeping in touch with people. I wish I were better.

I wish I had a group of friends that we can sit around and laugh about our mistaken memories. Together those memories can form an ugly collage.

When I started college I was afraid to leave my dorm room. I was afraid what people would think when they saw me for the first time.
Gradually things got better. Things change.

I didn’t need braces anymore. Everything got a little better. I got a girlfriend although nobody could believe it.

But you never lose that feeling of being someone nobody wants.

The sort of person that girls whisper about. That guys come over to protect the girls. That girls run when you ask them out.

I say that not because I was that “sort of” person but because those things happened to me.

Does it get better? Yes. Yes it does. A lot better.

For some people. I guess, not for everyone.

When I lost all of my money (the first time) I felt the same way. Ostracized in the same way. Did it get better? Yes. Yes it did.

But it doesn’t always. Not for everyone.

If you threw me into the street and took away everything I ever had or hoped of ever having, I know I could survive because I’ve done it before. And then I did it before that.

There’s one secret.

The price of admission to a dream has not gone up. The cost of an illusion disappearing is still painful.

Your ideas, given freely every day, are the installment plan. Build up your ideas. Share them. Help people.

The secret:

When you are kind to yourself, your ideas get better, you become an idea machine – it’s like a super power- and the installment plan gets easier.

I know this because it took me a long time to be kind to myself. To be the water, the sunlight, the soil, the love, that feeds the baby flowers ready to bloom.