I rarely shout from a soapbox, but certain things deserve to be said because, quite honestly, they’re not said enough.

Judgment is a dangerous game. We base our criticisms on emotions, beliefs, traditions, fears, insecurities, etc., and more often than not, we’re blinded by those same criteria.

I’ve had another unfortunate encounter with someone who condemned his/her fellow human beings for being ugly, being fat, being less than perfect.

Are you truly better than someone else because you were born with what the world considers “good looks”? Are you that simple-minded, that naive, that superficial to think you had something to do with it? Grow up.

You believe you’re setting yourself apart by pointing out other’s flaws, and you absolutely are. You’ve made yourself look like a fool because you’ve wasted your valuable time degrading others and plastering that BIGOT sign across your forehead.

When you judge, I don’t have to.

We’re all the same, all beautiful in our own ways, and I pity you. You’ll spend your life watching your back because you’ve burned so many bridges, and watching your front because you haven’t the slightest idea who you are.

I should be thankful, in a way. People like you give me the strength to change the world. I may not be beautiful. I may not be skinny. I may not be brilliant. But I can write, and through writing, I’ll give a voice to all the people being judged.

We’re louder than your hate.


I’m an emotional person. I’m quick to cry, quick to anger, quick to love. When I fly, I fly high and never look down and when I fall, I hit bottom, writhing in an agony of my own design, refusing to part with defeat. My emotions are for me. I cherish them and because I’m selfish, I rarely show you my tears, my hate, my love.

It’s easy to cry, to howl into the sky about all the times you betrayed me, beat me, lied and laughed and left me for something better, but if I cry in your arms, I take away the one thing that keeps me living and I fade into stone.

I hate you. I’m not proud of my thoughts, but that won’t stop me from holding them close until the end takes my final breath. If I call God as my witness, cursing your name to the world around me, filling the air with my disgust, I lose the one thing that keeps me living and I fade into stone.

I fall for you, in love and lust, desperate for your touch, desperate for your sex, my hands on your skin, my tongue against yours, choking back I-Love-Yous, knowing with a single kiss I fall away from emotion, letting go of the one thing that keeps me living and I fade into stone.

Despite my resolve, I cry to you, hoping my tears might bring you home. I share my hate, hoping to change what you’ve done. Still I say I love you, falling again and again and again, chasing the high of new love, letting go of the one thing that keeps me living and I fade into stone.

My wings harden and I watch the city from the edge of emotions just out of reach, unable to fly, unable to fall, trapped in the limbo of my thoughts, cold and alone, terrified tomorrow will never come.

I’m 26

I’m 26

My peers use their age as an excuse, “I’m only 26.” They convince themselves it’s the reason for their failure to know the things they should, to better themselves, to pursue the dreams they think are impossible. They sleep in peace, whispering, “I’m only 26.”

Others use that arbitrary number as validation for their success, “And I’m only 26.” They’ve worked hard for careers and families and respect. They want the world to know they’ve conquered the hardest challenges in life and are on the fast track to comfort. They fall asleep with smiles, whispering, “And I’m only 26.”

I look back and see 26 years I’ll never get back, for better or worse, with no guarantee I’ll reach 27. I see 26 missed opportunities, 26 lessons ignored, 26 friends I’ll never see again. I see all the times I listened and listened and listened when I should have spoken, all the times I should have walked away from the people who wronged me instead of letting the stress tear me apart.

I look back and I see the best years of my life behind me. I see nights filled with peaceful sleep, nights when my eyes only opened at sunrise. I see 26 years when I felt my strongest, fastest, and most agile before pain became a part of my daily routine. I see warm summer days when I swam in the ocean. I hear laughter and stories and birthday parties. I smell fresh baked pie in my grandma’s kitchen and know I’ll never taste that pie again because she’s too old to undertake the task.

I see 26 ambitions in my future. I see 26 kisses and hugs and I love yous I want to experience before I die. I see 26 breaths I want to consume at the highest mountain top, 26 years with my daughter, 26 years with my husband. I long for 26 places I’ve yet to see. I lie awake at night because I know the future is not enough.

I want to live every day to the fullest. I want to prove myself wrong. I want to be stronger and faster and more agile than every day before. I want to grow wise and recognize the skies are not my limit; I have no limits. I want my words to tell my story when I’m gone. I want to cry when I’m sad and not feel ashamed. I want to kiss when I’m in love and not feel embarrassed. I want to live forever in every moment past, present and future. I’m Stephanie Clare Vichinsky, and I’m 26.