You were 6, maybe 7, years old when your parents took you to watch the first Toy Story movie. You sat in the seat, frozen, eyes glued to the screen. You were enamored with everything that you saw. You felt like you were watching a video game and you believe everything in the movie to be true.
You remember asking your father, "Does that really happen? With toys?". And now, you feel stupid for having asked a ridiculous question but you think you would react the same way your father did (if you had a kid asking you that) by saying, "yes, that is what happens".
You spent the next couple of nights hiding in your closet with your toys laid all along your bedroom floor. You watched patiently, hoping one of your toys would move (spoiler alert: none of them did). But that didn't make you stop believing in something greater.
You got older, as all young boys do, and slowly packed your toys away into floral boxes in the living room. You didn't want your friends to know that you had toys because, well, you were a teenager and you wanted to be cool.
So you stashed some of them away, gave some to your nephews when they came over, or just threw them out. You always felt bad about doing this though, like something inside of you was pressing a button that sounded the "guilt trip" alarm. The siren would crash against your ribs, up your spine, and into your brain. You did not like feeling guilty.
But it wasn't enough to stop you from dropping them into the trash. You wanted to be "cool" remember? You spent more time trying to convince other people you were something you were not and, in the process, you forgot who you were.
Recently, you went through all the little knick-knacks in your room to see what you could throw out or give away. You came across an old toy -- you weren't sure what it used to be, most of the paint had chipped off -- and it reminded you of your youth.
You remembered how easy it was to be yourself when you were young. The way you'd run in circles or skateboard up and down the block until you couldn't breathe got replaced with dragging your feet to an uninviting office building and chain-smoking cigarettes until breathing is impossible.
You stared at the toy in your hands for a minute. You smiled into your palm, then at the Toy Story tattoo on your calf. You started to think about the way you are finally trying to be yourself instead of what people expect of you. You put the toy into your bag and left your childhood bedroom for the final time with an awkward sideways-smile plastered to your face.