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don’t text first,

don’t text last,

don’t get left on read,

and don’t leave others on read.

stop capitalizing “i” because

you’re not that important.

stop going after the quiet ones

and thinking you are the one

who can get them to open up,

because you can, they will,

but wikipedia says out of three tons

only three or four oysters will

produce perfect pearls

and sometimes you should listen to the odds.

odd one out is often self-prescribed and you should

run far, far away from those who think

they’re quirky enough to use it.

don’t cry over friends who don’t love you

as much as you love them

because you knew they wouldn’t,

don’t tell people you cried over them

because no one likes a guilt trip

and it’s not like things will change.

not everything is

black and white

some are mother-of-pearl,

a silver lining.

actually listen to everyone telling you

you deserve better.

simply agreeing is not enough.

stop being all talk,

start being actions,

measurable and memorable.

keep the promises you make to yourself

because you know the shouldn’ts

and the mustn'ts better than anyone:

you aren’t dumb and everyone knows it,

so stop saying it.

it’s okay to spend some time

in your shell.

you’ve hardened for a reason,

to keep the tender skin inside

safe from incisive beaks.

smile with teeth and

be all bite and no bark.

and if nothing else, for the love of God,

stop scrabbling at oysters

and trying to fit your fingers in the seams.

stop picking the empty shells to pry open.

you will break a nail,

or slice a finger on a

deceptively smooth edge

and watch red bloom

into cloudy waters.

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