Last year, you worked in a mail room. Everyday, you would walk up and down aisles and fill small bags with important things like envelopes, letters, flyers, or memos from corporate. You were corporate. And this bothered you. But you lived with it for months.
You hated working here. But you continued to do it. You started to forget who you were. You started to get trapped in the same trap that some of your co-workers got trapped in. You'd make small-talk simply because it's what was expected of you. The way you would dress started to change. You finally figured out how to tuck in your shirt and how to stop cutting the sleeves off them.
You thought this was living. And anytime you questioned whether or not it actually was living (you know now that it wasn't) the thought would get beat out of your head by some of the people you worked with. You told them you wanted to be a writer. They said good luck and laughed. They looked down on you and you started to believe them.
You lived a stagnant life. A comfortable, sad life.
It didn't help that you still lived in your hometown (which you still do and you're still trying to deal with it). It was a place where so much had gone wrong. You think about it every day. The friends that you've lost and the ones that left you. The relationships that escaped down the drain. The decisions you made. You thought you'd be stuck there forever.
You'd go to the bars every other weekend and see the same people. You'd tell the same stories and the same jokes. "If this is life" you thought, "then I don't want to live". But you did (you're alive right now, don't worry). They'd reinforce the idea that you were currently at your best, working with your hands all day, making the same dumb "I guess I don't have to work out today" joke every time you lifted a heavy box.
You wanted to quit (you eventually did) and everyone told you that you shouldn't. But something inside you was urging you to stop. It burned in your belly, it was a constant scream inside your head, it told you that you were worth more. But you thought it was crazy because everything was telling you that you weren't.
You like thinking about those times. When no one you knew believed in you. You think about how far you've made it. How you went from being a kid that would chain-smoke cigarettes in parking garages (you keep a picture of yourself when you were 18 smoking a cigarette on your computer to remind of this), to someone who hated their existence, to a twenty-something that finally has a life worth living.
You've made something of yourself and you're happy. You're happy most days, anyway. There's always that little voice that tells you to do the things you used to do to pass the time. But you don't listen to it anymore. You try and tune it out. You think of the friends you made and how you care about them. You fear that you love them (sorry, you do) because you've always thought of yourself as tough, cold, and uncaring.
You remember you're important and you're doing important things. So smile, you deserve it.