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Brecken’s breakdown

Getting down with your true self

By Brecken Mumford | Contributor

Welcome, readers, to the second installation of “Brecken’s Breakdown.” This week I’m going familial; I’m going to talk about my youngest brother.

Cash is a funky, jean-hating, video-loving 11-year-old. I mean, with a name like Cash, how can he not be awesome?

He’s always been crazy and effervescent. Most of my family’s funny one-liners and memories are from things Cash has said or done. He’s not afraid to ask questions, to tell you what he’s thinking or dance around a parking lot with his crazy older sister. I hope he stays like that. I need to know there’s someone out there who’s almost as bad at dancing as I am.

I know he’s only 11, but sometimes I wonder what he’ll be like when he’s my age. Will he stop asking creative questions? Will he still like weird food? Will he still hate jeans? Will he refuse to let other people dictate who he’ll be?

There’s a lot of maturing, growth and life he’ll experience between now and then; change is unavoidable and usually a good thing. (I can’t wait for the day that Cash stops saying “I know you are but what am I?” for good.) But I ask myself these questions because I know what it’s like to conform to the expectations of others.

So many of my 20 trips around the sun have been spent constantly chasing after the affirmation and validation of others: squishing myself into the mold they set for their version of “normal,” of “intelligent,” of “authentic.”

I’ve felt hopelessly lost, confused and alone, striving for the approval and time of these people. Let me tell you something, in case you didn’t know: it’s exhausting to continually chase after the affections of people while also trying to stifle yourself.

I’m finally at a point in my life when I realize how much time I’ve wasted trying to be someone I’m not. I’m still figuring it out, but this is a lot easier than trying to limit myself to others’ image.

Oh good, another ‘self-love’ article. Darn right, but hang in there.

I’ve seen too many people in my life shift and conform to the expectations of others. I’ve done it, and sometimes I see Cash doing it—and he’s only 11.

That’s why I’m writing this article: you need to know it’s okay that you don’t fit into a box. Life is messy; people are messy. The world is painful and ugly, but it is also amazing. Your existence is too short to mold yourself into something you’re not meant to be.

Cash got braces on Monday. He sent me a picture from my mom’s phone with an arbitrary quote from the musical “Hamilton.” He’s a weird kid, and he doesn’t fit neatly into categories. Neither do I, and neither do you. So go out and live your life messily and if you see me dancing in the hallway, you are more than welcome to join in.

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