I wouldn’t say I’m in the midst of an existential crisis (well, not too much of one, anyway). But I’ve had some stuff clogging my mind, and I think the unraveling has passed.

When I was asking the other day if this — the right here-and-now — is all there is to life, it came to me that I was thinking about my family. It pains me to admit that, while I absolutely adore my family and owe them lifetimes of gratitude for everything they sacrified for me, it’s difficult to call and hear about everybody’s deteriorating health. I’ve watched — and continue to watch — people I love suffer and wither away.

Oh, sure, they had dreams in their vital days — big ones. But that’s where it ended. I watched these truly incredible, selfless, deserving people live lives of quiet desperation, only to end up decrepit and eventually dead, after having nothing of any significance ever happen for them. And it terrifies me that I could carry on the family tradition.

I know it won’t be the case — I have too much passion, too much fire, too much faith that my happiest days haven’t even begun happening yet. I have too much to give to this world, and damn it, I deserve everything good that I want and 10 times more, for that matter. When it comes, nobody will be more ready or more grateful than me.

Awhile back, when I had reached my lowest low, a friend who’s known me for years had pointed out to me that I wasn’t meant for an “OK” life — she said I always took chances and I always had the highest highs while she chose to make “safe” choices that she believes, in retrospect, were “boring.” And even though the lows knocked me off my feet now and again, she reminded me that never used to faze me — she told me how she’d always envied my perseverance, my resilience, my conviction that living a forgettable life wasn’t living at all. And if it pisses off the detractors, all the better.

I think we all spend more time than we’d like to admit in trying to blend in and conform to what society wants us to be — we’ve all been told everything the all-important “they” don’t like about us and what they believe is “wrong” with us. Such unwanted input has a corroding effect on our psyches. But like my computer programmer friends say, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” When you’re told you can’t do something — or you’re never shown that you even can, you don’t know to want what you haven’t got because you never thought it could be meant for you. But look back on your childhood idealism — before you were ever aware of whatever invisible boundaries you would eventually encounter — you realize that all you ever wanted was everything that could ever possibly be yours. We shouldn’t ever stop wanting that for ourselves — because if we don’t think we deserve the best and then some, well, neither will anybody else.

And I will NEVER settle for less.

And neither should you.

On iTunes: Shawn Colvin, “You and the Mona Lisa”

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