a friend to all is a friend to none.
by Nichelle Taylor
I am a whisper, an undercurrent of voices carried
over blaring beats and lyrics that extinguish light.
They dwindle me down until I am just a dot
on a tattered map left blank and unexplored.
I thought being small would make me nimble,
an acrobat midair, unable to be clasped
in rough, grubby hands that mold me, fold me
like a pile of unread and forgotten letters.
Instead, making myself slight conditioned me to step lightly,
tiptoe across crumbling earth, fall through gaping holes.
I fit perfectly in a corner, pocket-sized and agreeable.
I draw the shutters closed and wish for something,
anything to ease shame that leaks from the pools of my eyes,
a river down my cheeks. I dream of a day I can remove my mask,
allow the words to pour freely from my unrelenting mouth,
I will no longer be ignored; I have permission to take up space.
Nichelle Taylor (she/her) is an avid writer interested in writing YA Fantasy novels, memoir, creative nonfiction, and poetry. This piece showcases the struggles of being a recovering people-pleaser, working hard to lift the curse of being "too nice" per others' standards, and improving her sense of self-worth. Her work has been featured in UNC's The Crucible, Sad Girls Club Literary Magazine, The Publishing Room, and others. To check out more of her work, please visit nichelletaylor.com.