They always begin with a cheerful smile
Or an excessively sincere expression as though I
Had just asked them to confess their darkest secrets.
I don’t want their dark secrets; we all have those
And frankly the optimistic smile feels inane
Although not as inane as the answer
That I know is coming.
“Think outside the box,” they affirm as though handing me a precious gemstone.
This is an exaggeration:
sometimes I hear “Just be yourself,”
Or possibly “Be creative,”
Or, if I don’t look excited enough, “Follow your heart.”
Then I must use relentless self-control to prevent myself from
Pinching the bridge of my nose
Sighing heavily
Or Worst Of All, actually taking their advice.
It is rude, so they say, to apply logic to
The well-intentioned
Utterly useless
Proverbs one is handed when one asks
“How can I be successful?”

I know they’re trying their hardest.
I know they only want me to be happy.
Still, we all know that Thinking Outside the Box
And Being Creative
Are no guarantee of success;
If it were, every artist with a pencil would be a millionaire.
They are of little help in finding
Those things Success accompanies:
A loving family
A successful career
Personal fulfillment with God or gods or lack thereof.
No one is even kind enough to define Success;
I cannot tell if achieving such a quota defines me as successful
or whether successful people simply have them automatically.
They tell me to just be happy.
Another sweet thought that does me little good
when I must examine myself
My life
My choices
Through society’s lens
For I have seen what monsters are born
When one only judges based on
An internal standard
Without the input of those one’s actions affect.
I do not trust my heart to guide me true
For it has led me astray before.

I know they only mean to help,
These kind people who only mean me well.
Still, why can they not see
that when they say “Shape your own path,”
I will merrily trek on if they simply provide
A destination
And perhaps a compass.
Therefore, I sit in silence,
Finding something to do and while away the time
Until they tell me the rules
For being successful and
Thus happy,
Or at least happy and thereby successful.

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