i used to fantasize about "finding" my true self, as if she was the box of toys that's been in the attic for years now, or the worn out blue cardigan that rested at the bottom of my closet. there would be a great journey i'd have to go through, something out of a fairy tale; i'd be the knight in shining armor, defeating the dragon, or all my fears and insecurities in this case, and finally getting to cross paths with her, my so called true self. oh, dear god, what would she be like? the thought of being the best version of myself seemed like a far off fantasy, felt like i'd woken up in the morning after a wild dream, but couldn't exactly remember what had happened, or what it was even about. as the grogginess of a deep sleep eventually subsided, i realized that i couldn't find her, because she was never lost. she's always been here, buried under societal expectations, everyone's opinion of who she should be, and cultural conditions. in order to to truly "find" and embrace who i believe is me, i must learn to unlearn, to forget what i've been told, and stop looking so hard, because she's here—she never left. -— who were you before the world got its hands on you?