For every person who closed the door in my face, thank you. For every person who told me I wasn't good enough, thank you. For every person who laughed and told me that I was wasting my time going to college, because I was going to fail, thank you. For every person who tried to break me, thank you. For every person who took my kindness for weakness, thank you. For every person who told me I was wasting time chasing my dreams because I would fail, thank you. It could of broke me. From the core of my heart, I thank you. I truly mean it, because if it weren't for each of you I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't of spend hours and loss sleep studying. I wouldn't developed tough skin. You pushed me to think about what I "really" want out of life. You pushed me to master my craft. You helped me develop the drive, passion and determination. You pushed me to not wait for someone to believe in my vision, but to find a way to make things happen. I know you didn't "intend" to, but I thank you for teaching me to believe in myself! AND you taught me to TRUST in God and lean on my faith, not man. Thank You!
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For every person who closed the door in my face, thank you. For every person who told me I wasn’t good enough, thank you. For every person who laughed and told me that I was wasting my time going to college, because I was going to fail, thank you. For every person who tried to break me, thank you. For every person who took my kindness for weakness, thank you. For every person who told me I was wasting time chasing my dreams because I would fail, thank you. It could of broke me. From the core of my heart, I thank you. I truly mean it, because if it weren’t for each of you I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t of spend hours and loss sleep studying. I wouldn’t developed tough skin. You pushed me to think about what I “really” want out of life. You pushed me to master my craft. You helped me develop the drive, passion and determination. You pushed me to not wait for someone to believe in my vision, but to find a way to make things happen. I know you didn’t “intend” to, but I thank you for teaching me to believe in myself! AND you taught me to TRUST in God and lean on my faith, not man. Thank You!

-Yvonne Pierre

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It wasn't only my friends who suffered from female rivalry. I remember when I was just sixteen years old, during spring vacation, being whisked off to an early lunch by my best friend's brother, only to discover, to my astonishment and hurt, that she was expecting some college boys to drop by and didn't want me there to compete with her. When I started college at Sarah Lawrence, I soon noticed that while some of my classmates were indeed true friends, others seemed to resent that I had a boyfriend. It didn't help that Sarah Lawrence, a former girls' school, included very few straight men among its student body--an early lesson in how competing for items in short supply often brings out the worst in women. In graduate school, the stakes got higher, and the competition got stiffer, a trend that continued when I went on to vie for a limited number of academic jobs. I always had friends and colleagues with whom I could have trusted my life--but I also found women who seemed to view not only me but all other female academics as their rivals. This sense of rivalry became more painful when I divorced my first husband. Many of my friends I depended on for comfort and support suddenly began to view me as a threat. Some took me out to lunch to get the dirt, then dropped me soon after. I think they found it disturbing that I left my unhappy marriage while they were still committed to theirs. For other women, the threat seemed more immediate--twice I was told in no uncertain terms that I had better stay away from someone's husband, despite my protests that I would no more go after a friend's husband than I would stay friends with a woman who went after mine. Thankfully, I also had some true friends who remained loyal and supportive during one of the most difficult times of my life. To this day I trust them implicitly, with the kind of faith you reserve for people who have proved themselves under fire. But I've also never forgotten the shock and disappointment of discovering how quickly those other friendships turned to rivalries.

-Susan Shapiro

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There was nothing you could be sure about, it was all lies, and it was all done to mess with minds because the control and the power trip was so important to them, as well as it being necessary in terms of screwing up anything you might remember from an evidential perspective.They would also build up your hopes, in terms of any tiny thing you did like or were less scared of, so I'd be told that it would be a nice night because Uncle Andrew would be coming, but then it wouldn't be him. There would be someone else There would be someone else who I was told was my Uncle Andrew as he was raping me. Sometimes, this other person would have a mask on but I would know that it wasn't really him. They would be the wrong height or the wrong weight or, sometimes, even obviously a woman. There were occasions when I would be told to call the person Uncle Andrew and then when I did, they would ask me why I was doing that. Sometimes he would be there, too, but that was rare.Was it Satanic? I don't know. Personally I don't believe in God or Satan or any of those things, but abusers use whatever they can to silence children because if you go to the police and say something about Satan, you are so much less likely to be believed. I personally think they were just a group of likeminded people who had no beliefs other than that they wanted to get satisfaction out of abusing children and it's as simple and horrible as that. My uncle certainly doesn't have any satanic beliefs — he just thinks that he loves children and is allowed to get sexual satisfaction from them. Why is there sex involved if it is just about Satan? Why does it always come down to them getting off? No matter what they do that's all it is, whether masturbation or penetration or humiliation, that's what it's about. I encountered people who just liked to humiliate — they wouldn't allow you to go to the bathroom, you would be given drink after drink, fizzy drinks, whatever, so you ended up absolutely desperate and that's where they got off — that's when they started to masturbate themselves, as you stood there peeing yourself. That was just awful, so humiliating. Where is God or Satan in that?(her Uncle was convicted for abusing her and jailed)

-Laurie Matthew

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I was in the winter of my life- and the men I met along the road were my only summer. At night I fell sleep with vision of myself dancing and laughing and crying with them. Three year down the line of being on an endless world tour and memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times. I was a singer, not very popular one, who once has dreams of becoming a beautiful poet- but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again- sparkling and broken. But I really didn’t mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is.When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I had been living- they asked me why. But there’s no use in talking to people who have a home, they have no idea what its like to seek safety in other people, for home to be wherever you lied you head.I was always an unusual girl, my mother told me that I had a chameleon soul. No moral compass pointing me due north, no fixed personality. Just an inner indecisiviness that was as wide as wavering as the ocean. And if I said that I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying- because I was born to be the other woman. I belonged to no one- who belonged to everyone, who had nothing- who wanted everything with a fire for every experience and an obssesion for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about- and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzlez and dizzied me.Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people- and finally I did- on the open road. We have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore- except to make our lives into a work of art.LIVE FAST. DIE YOUNG. BE WILD. AND HAVE FUN.I believe in the country America used to be. I belive in the person I want to become, I believe in the freedom of the open road. And my motto is the same as ever- *I believe in the kindness of strangers. And when I’m at war with myself- I Ride. I Just Ride.*Who are you? Are you in touch with all your darkest fantasies?Have you created a life for yourself where you’re free to experience them?I Have.I Am Fucking Crazy. But I Am Free.

-Lana Del

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The next morning I told Mom I couldn't go to school again, She asked what was wrong. I told her, "The same thing that’s always wrong." "You're sick?" "I'm sad." "About Dad?" "About everything.." She sat down on the bed next to me, even though I knew she was in a hurry. "What's everything?" I started counting on my fingers: "The meat and dairy products in our refrigerator, fistfights, car accidents, Larry-" "Who's Larry?" "The homeless guy in front of the Museum of Natural History who always says ‘I promise it’s for food’ after he asks for money." She turned around and I zipped her dress while I kept counting. "How you don’t know who Larry is, even though you probably see him all the time, how Buckminster just sleeps and eats and goes to the bathroom and has no ‘raison d’etre’, the short ugly guy with no neck who takes tickets at the IMAX theater, how the sun is going to explode one day, how every birthday I always get at least one thing I already have, poor people who get fat because they eat junk food because it’s cheaper…" That was when I ran out of fingers, but my list was just getting started, and I wanted it to be long, because I knew she wouldn't leave while I was still going. "... domesticated animals, how I have a domesticated animal, nightmares, Microsoft Windows, old people who sit around all day because no one remembers to spend time with them and they’re embarrassed to ask people to spend time with them, secrets, dial phones, how Chinese waitresses smile even when there’s nothing funny or happy, and also how Chinese people own Mexican restaurants but Mexican people never own Chinese restaurants, mirrors, tape decks, my unpopularity in school, Grandma’s coupons, storage facilities, people who don’t know what the Internet is, bad handwriting, beautiful songs, how there won’t be humans in fifty years-" "Who said there won't be humans in fifty years?" I asked her, "Are you an optimist or a pessimist?" She looked at her watch and said, "I'm optimistic." "Then I have some bed news for you, because humans are going to destroy each other as soon as it becomes easy enough to, which will be very soon.” "Why do beautiful songs make you sad?" "Because they aren't true." "Never?" "Nothing is beautiful and true.

-Jonathan Safran

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But what I would like to know," says Albert, "is whether there would not have been a war if the Kaiser had said No.""I'm sure there would," I interject, "he was against it from the first.""Well, if not him alone, then perhaps if twenty or thirty people in the world had said No.""That's probable," I agree, "but they damned well said Yes.""It's queer, when one thinks about it," goes on Kropp, "we are here to protect our fatherland. And the French are over there to protect their fatherland. Now who's in the right?""Perhaps both," say I without believing it."Yes, well now," pursues Albert, and I see that he means to drive me into a corner, "but our professors and parsons and newspapers say that we are the only ones that are right, and let's hope so;--but the French professors and parsons and newspapers say that the right is on their side, now what about that?""That I don't know," I say, "but whichever way it is there's war all the same and every month more countries coming in."Tjaden reappears. He is still quite excited and again joins the conversation, wondering just how a war gets started."Mostly by one country badly offending another," answers Albert with a slight air of superiority.Then Tjaden pretends to be obtuse. "A country? I don't follow. A mountain in Germany cannot offend a mountain in France. Or a river, or a wood, or a field of wheat.""Are you really as stupid as that, or are you just pulling my leg?" growls Kropp, "I don't mean that at all. One people offends the other--""Then I haven't any business here at all," replies Tjaden, "I don't feel myself offended.""Well, let me tell you," says Albert sourly, "it doesn't apply to tramps like you.""Then I can be going home right away," retorts Tjaden, and we all laugh, "Ach, man! he means the people as a whole, the State--" exclaims Mller."State, State"--Tjaden snaps his fingers contemptuously, "Gendarmes, police, taxes, that's your State;--if that's what you are talking about, no, thank you.""That's right," says Kat, "you've said something for once, Tjaden. State and home-country, there's a big difference.""But they go together," insists Kropp, "without the State there wouldn't be any home-country.""True, but just you consider, almost all of us are simple folk. And in France, too, the majority of men are labourers, workmen, or poor clerks. Now just why would a French blacksmith or a French shoemaker want to attack us? No, it is merely the rulers. I had never seen a Frenchman before I came here, and it will be just the same with the majority of Frenchmen as regards us. They weren't asked about it any more than we were.""Then what exactly is the war for?" asks Tjaden.Kat shrugs his shoulders. "There must be some people to whom the war is useful.""Well, I'm not one of them," grins Tjaden."Not you, nor anybody else here.""Who are they then?" persists Tjaden. "It isn't any use to the Kaiser either. He has everything he can want already.""I'm not so sure about that," contradicts Kat, "he has not had a war up till now. And every full-grown emperor requires at least one war, otherwise he would not become famous. You look in your school books.""And generals too," adds Detering, "they become famous through war.""Even more famous than emperors," adds Kat."There are other people back behind there who profit by the war, that's certain," growls Detering."I think it is more of a kind of fever," says Albert. "No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is. We didn't want the war, the others say the same thing--and yet half the world is in it all the same.

-Erich Maria

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To my babies,Merry Christmas. I'm sorry if these letters have caught you both by surprise. There is just so much more I have to say. I know you thought I was done giving advice, but I couldn't leave without reiterating a few things in writing. You may not relate to these things now, but someday you will. I wasn't able to be around forever, but I hope that my words can be.-Don't stop making basagna. Basagna is good. Wait until a day when there is no bad news, and bake a damn basagna.-Find a balance between head and heart. Hopefully you've found that Lake, and you can help Kel sort it out when he gets to that point.-Push your boundaries, that's what they're there for.-I'm stealing this snippet from your favorite band, Lake. "Always remember there is nothing worth sharing, like the love that let us share our name."-Don't take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.-And Laugh a lot. Never go a day without laughing at least once.-Never judge others. You both know good and well how unexpected events can change who a person is. Always keep that in mind. You never know what someone else is experiencing within their own life.-Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passions. If you don't have questions, you'll never find answers.-Be accepting. Of everything. People's differences, their similarities, their choices, their personalities. Sometimes it takes a variety to make a good collection. The same goes for people.-Choose your battles, but don't choose very many.-Keep an open mind; it's the only way new things can get in.-And last but not least, not the tiniest bit least. Never regret.Thank you both for giving me the best years of my life.Especially the last one.Love,Mom

-Colleen Hoover

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If I'm a bad person, you don't like meWell I guess I'll make my own wayIt's a circleA mean cycleI can't excite you anymoreWhere's your gavel? Your jury?What's my offense this time?You're not a judge but if you're gonna judge meWell sentence me to another lifeDon't wanna hear your sad songsI don't wanna feel your painWhen you swear it's all my faultCause you know we're not the same (no)We're not the same (no)Oh we're not the sameYeah the friends who stuck togetherWe wrote our names in bloodBut I guess you can't accept that the change is good (hey)It's good (hey)It's goodWell you treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way outYou treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way outIgnorance is your new best friendIgnorance is your new best friendThis is the best thing that could've happenedAny longer and I wouldn't have made itIt's not a war no, it's not a raptureI'm just a person but you can't take itThe same tricks that, that once fooled meThey won't get you anywhereI'm not the same kid from your memoryWell now I can fend for myselfDon't wanna hear your sad songsI don't wanna feel your painWhen you swear it's all my faultCause you know we're not the same (no)We're not the same (no)Oh we're not the sameYeah we used to stick togetherWe wrote our names in bloodBut I guess you can't accept that the change is good (hey)It's good (hey)It's goodWell you treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way outYou treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way outIgnorance is your new best friendIgnorance is your new best friendIgnorance is your new best friendIgnorance is your new best friendWell you treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way outYou treat me just like another strangerWell it's nice to meet you sirI guess I'll goI best be on my way out

-Hayley Williams

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Close your eyes and stare into the dark. My father's advice when I couldn't sleep as a little girl. He wouldn't want me to do that now but I've set my mind to the task regardless. I'm staring beyond my closed eyelids. Though I lie still on the ground, I feel perched at the highest point I could possibly be; clutching at a star in the night sky with my legs dangling above cold black nothingness. I take one last look at my fingers wrapped around the light and let go. Down I go, falling, then floating, and, falling again, I wait for the land of my life. I know now, as I knew as that little girl fighting sleep, that behind her gauzed screen of shut-eye, lies colour. It taunts me, dares me to open my eyes and lose sleep. Flashes of red and amber, yellow and white speckle my darkness. I refuse to open them. I rebel and I squeeze my eyelids together tighter to block out the grains of light, mere distractions that keep us awake but a sign that there's life beyond.But there's no life in me. None that I can feel, from where I lie at the bottom of the staircase. My heart beats quicker now, the lone fighter left standing in the ring, a red boxing glove pumping victoriously into the air, refusing to give up. It's the only part of me that cares, the only part that ever cared. It fights to pump the blood around to heal, to replace what I'm losing. But it's all leaving my body as quickly as it's sent; forming a deep black ocean of its own around me where I've fallen.Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Never have enough time here, always trying to make our way there. Need to have left here five minutes ago, need to be there now. The phone rings again and I acknowledge the irony. I could have taken my time and answered it now. Now, not then. I could have taken all the time in the world on each of those steps. But we're always rushing. All, but my heart. That slows now. I don't mind so much. I place my hand on my belly. If my child is gone, and I suspect this is so, I'll join it there. There.....where? Wherever. It; a heartless word. He or she so young; who it was to become, still a question. But there, I will mother it. There, not here. I'll tell it; I'm sorry, sweetheart, I'm sorry I ruined your chances - our chances of a life together.But close your eyes and stare into the darkness now, like Mummy is doing, and we'll find our way together. There's a noise in the room and I feel a presence. 'Oh God, Joyce, oh God. Can you hear me, love? Oh God. Oh God, please no, Hold on love, I'm here. Dad is here.'I don't want to hold on and I feel like telling him so. I hear myself groan, an animal-like whimper and it shocks me, scares me. I have a plan, I want to tell him. I want to go, only then can I be with my baby. Then, not now. He's stopped me from falling but I haven't landed yet. Instead he helps me balance on nothing, hover while I'm forced to make the decision. I want to keep falling but he's calling the ambulance and he's gripping my hand with such ferocity it's as though I'm all he has. He's brushing the hair from my forehead and weeping loudly. I've never heard him weep. Not even when Mum died. He clings to my hand with all of his strength I never knew his old body had and I remember that I am all he has and that he, once again just like before, is my whole world. The blood continues to rush through me. Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Maybe I'm rushing again. Maybe it's not my time to go. I feel the rough skin of old hands squeezing mine, and their intensity and their familiarity force me to open my eyes. Lights fills them and I glimpse his face, a look I never want to see again. He clings to his baby. I know I lost mind; I can't let him lose his. In making my decision I already begin to grieve. I've landed now, the land of my life. And still my heart pumps on. Even when broken it still works.

-Cecelia Ahern

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I landed on my side, my hip taking the brunt of the fall. It burned and stung from the hit, but I ignored it and struggled to sit up quickly. There really was no point in hurrying so no one would see. Everyone already sawA pair of jean-clad legs appeared before me, and my suitcase and all my other stuff was dropped nearby. "Whatcha doing down there?" Romeo drawled, his hands on his hips as he stared down at me with dancing blue eyes."Making a snow angel," I quipped. I glanced down at my hands, which were covered with wet snow and bits of salt (to keep the pavement from getting icy).Clearly, ice wasn't required for me to fall.A small group of girls just "happened by", and by that I mean they'd been staring at Romeo with puppy dog eyes and giving me the stink eye. When I fell, they took it as an opportunity to descend like buzzards stalking the dead. Their leader was the girl who approached me the very first day I'd worn Romeo's hoodie around campus and told me he'd get bored. As they stalked closer, looking like clones from the movie Mean Girls, I caught the calculating look in her eyes. This wasn't going to be good.I pushed up off the ground so I wouldn't feel so vulnerable, but the new snow was slick and my hand slid right out from under me and I fell back again. Romeo was there immediately, the teasing light in his eyes gone as he slid his hand around my back and started to pull me up. "Careful, babe." he said gently.The girls were behind him so I knew he hadn't seen them approach. They stopped as one unit, and I braced myself for whatever their leader was about to say.She was wearing painted-on skinny jeans (I mean, really, how did she sit down and still breathe?) and some designer coat with a monogrammed scarf draped fashionably around her neck. Her boots were high-heeled, made of suede and laced up the back with contrasting ribbon. "Wow," she said, opening her perfectly painted pink lips. "I saw that from way over there. That sure looked like it hurt." She said it fairly amicably, but anyone who could see the twist to her mouth as she said it would know better. Romeo paused in lifting me to my feet. I felt his eyes on me. Then his lips thinned as he turned and looked over his shoulder. "Ladies," he said like he was greeting a group of welcomed friends. Annoyance prickled my stomach like tiny needles stabbing me. It's not that I wanted him to be rude, but did he have to sound so welcoming?"Romeo," Cruella DeBarbie (I don't know her real name, but this one fit) purred. "Haven't you grown bored of this clumsy mule yet?"Unable to stop myself, I gasped and jumped up to my feet. If she wanted to call me a mule, I'd show her just how much of an ass I could be.Romeo brought his arm out and stopped me from marching past. I collided into him, and if his fingers hadn't knowingly grabbed hold to steady me, I'd have fallen again."Actually," Romeo said, his voice calm, "I am pretty bored."Three smirks were sent my way. What a bunch of idiots."The view from where I'm standing sure leaves a lot to be desired."One by one, their eyes rounded when they realized the view he referenced was them. Without another word, he pivoted around and looked down at me, his gaze going soft. "No need to make snow angels, baby," he said loud enough for the slack-jawed buzzards to hear. "You already look like one standing here with all that snow in your hair."Before I could say a word, he picked me up and fastened his mouth to mine. My legs wound around his waist without thought, and I kissed him back as gentle snow fell against our faces.

-Cambria Hebert

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