Hand me downs

When I was in the ninth grade

The school wanted us professional in how we dress and how we behave

A certain day of the week

Which they called a bit of a treat

From the normalcy of uniforms of khaki and navy

Let the boys play as men and us girls as ladies

Given a few options to choose from 

Took the most colorful dress for fun

Got a little older 

People got bolder

We had to start wearing our dressy apparel more

Not just things we pulled from drawers

More meetings were arranged to give our future a chance

Meetings to discuss majors and ways to pay college finances

I outgrew a lot of the things I wore before

So my mother took me to a spot behind her closet door

An old dress suit from her thinner days

On me the shirt was baggy and the sleeves I had to raise

To above my elbows just so I could use my hands

But I ignored it so I could meet my future's demands

Hung up my suit so I could work freely

Staining my hands with different colors of ink almost completely

Became a senior and started having more meetings

Had more people and chances to believe in

Put the suit back on and noticed something strange

The fabric did not fit the same

I had become more of a woman without my notice

Guess that's what I get for going out of focus

Straightening the fabrics I looked into the mirror

And for a moment saw the comparison much clearer

Gone were the chubby cheeks and the shiny eyes

Replaced by dark bags and skin defined by faint lines

Gone was the baby

Replaced by a lady

Who knows a little more than she used to 

Got plans of a path and tattoos

To remind her of the days 

Before the dreams of a little girl went astray

When she learned that one must pave their own path

To focus on the future not dwell on the past

"Learn from your mistakes," her father said

"Control those demons in your head

The ones that bring you down and make your heart heavy

Find your clarity, your path, so that you may become steady

Stand on your own two feet and walk 

Express ideas and not people when you talk

Become someone to depend on

Become kind but strong

Keep these lessons in your back pocket

Pull them out and keep them close when life reaches its darkest

Become the person the world needs not wants

Be the one the call needs to respond

Shed your selfish skin 

And become what is truly within

Wear your heart under your sleeve so that you won't be hurt

Be laid back but be alert

These are the lessons I wish someone would have taught me

Before I went overseas - before I became me

Don't repeat my mistakes child

Don't let this world make you become defiled

It's okay to be scared but don't back down

It's okay to cry but don't let yourself become drowned

That's what it means to be an adult

Now put those lessons to use and let's see the result." 

I've learned a lot

Haven't earned the cost

I'm still learning how to be older

But with my suit, at least I won't feel colder

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741