"You can be anything you want,"
They sang to me on my eighth birthday.
You can be a doctor, a musician
Or a happy astronaut.
And I believed all that they said,
And that night in my bed
I thought of the talents in my possession.
And today, I remembered
The song from that day.
I remembered it after
A long conversation
In the car on the way
To an SAT test that’s designed to survey
All high-schoolers’ minds’ slow progression.
“But you can’t be like her,
That’s just an advertisement
So that every girl buys
Her exercise tapes
Thinking that she’ll look like those fit teens
If she does the model’s workout routines.
She’s a model – that’s her profession.”
Maybe I can’t be like her
Or like anyone else
Or perhaps I just can’t be at all.
They don’t like what I can, or maybe I can’t?
And so I try not to be,
Not to do, not to see
That my consciousness sinks in recession.
And so I do not do,
And I try not to think
That I never can be like I should.
But still I don’t know –
I do not understand
What it is that’s wrong with what I had planned
And why I can’t state my expression.
“Can’t you be more like her?
She can study and dance
She can also have friends, and play piano.”
“I’m not saying you’re bad – it’s just: isn’t it true?
You are not like her – you’re like… you.”
And so it goes on, and then it repeats,
Until it becomes an obsession.