Well-meant Discouragement

Summers filled with

Easy-Mac, hot dogs, and Kool-Aid,

playing with cousins,

darting through alleyways,

searching for craw-dads in the canal,

letting our dirtied feet dangle 

off the sun-baked concrete

and into the cool, forbidden, waters.


Later, running back home,

barefoot, just before dark,

when mom and dad got home.


These were the days

when we were invincible

and the world was ours.


But year after year

fall would settle in

and school would resume

to teach us the way of the world.


In school we learned;

learned to behave

to be quiet

to walk! on the sidewalk


But year after year

we came back to summer,

a little less hopeful

and a little more grown up.


We learned other kids had more than us,

and somehow more was better,

but we were poor

and “that was that”.

Simply the way of the world.


Some things were available to us

and some things weren’t

and that was that

“the way of the world”.


Everyone was equal

but somehow we weren’t

and That. Was that.

Just the way of the world.

School days filled with
crumpled papers, broken pencils, and old books,

boredom, reading, writing, arithmetic,

and an overwhelming feeling,

that we’d never be good enough.


College prep for everyone else,

but not for us.


We’d learned to be a little less hopeful,

and a little more grown up.


We entered preschool as inventors,

artists, adventurers, and engineers.


And at first they told us we could do it,

that we could reach for the stars,

that we too could go far…


We were invincible

and the world was ours.


But year after year,

we were politely discouraged,

in the name of being more grown up.


We may have entered preschool as inventors,

artists, adventures, and engineers.

but we left high school as grocery baggers,

burger flippers, bellhops, and cashiers.


We asked for help.

We asked to go to college.

But the help was for our classmates.

The halfway friends we almost had;

until their parents saw our house.


Under the pressure of well-meant discouragement

some of us somehow succeeded.

And so can you, and so can they.

But it’s hard. Really hard.

So many of us didn’t, don’t, and won’t.

And that is what I would change.


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741