We are the roses. This is the concrete. And these are my damaged petals.

We are the roses. I can’t help but give an honorable mention to my early influences, most especially Tupac Shakur. There is probably no better way to do so than to share this poem of his, celebrating the beauty of survival and perseverance. “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” is an original poem by Tupac Amaru Shakur, and definitely his most well-known one. I was positively surprised when I heard how many people actually knew it from high school. Something pretty much unimaginable by my educational experiences, which makes it so incredibly refreshing to hear. Its words resonate with many of us, as it not only represents the struggle, but mirrors the too often conflicting relationship between society and survivors. 

While society sees the beauty of perseverance in objects and non-human living beings with ease, large parts of humanity require to see certain events unfold through the eyes of a protagonist in a story in order to recognize it, and feel empathy and goodwill towards it. While we may cry in front of our screens when things start to get difficult for a barely likable character, many of us lack the ability or understanding to feel anything near the same amount of empathy for the person next to us, facing and having faced far greater obstacles, and being a far more likable human being than the fictional character we cried for. Society tends to push survivors away, instead of embracing them. While survivors already feel disconnected, this social push may completely push them over the age or shut them off, when all we really crave is real connection. Acceptance, instead of continuous victim blaming. We need society, but society is often exhibiting hurtful or alienating behavior towards us, be it out of ignorance or sheer carelessness. Mending these bridges effectively is difficult, as they differ on an individual level. In truth, the main issue probably lies within simple consideration. Society usually doesn’t consider the possible struggles of others, instead, when struggle is visible, tends to assume they’re simply due to the individual’s own short-comings. Which, of course, is a textbook example of projection of our own self-blame and the unhappiness with our selves, yet is also a reflection of the human mind itself. We are very negative and judgmental people, by nature. 80% of our daily thoughts are negative according to the US National Science Foundation. Let that sink in for a moment.

See, you wouldn't ask why a rose that grew from a crack in the concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity, we would all love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are the roses. This is the concrete. These are my damaged petals. Don't ask me why, ask me how.

– Tupac Amaru Shakur

We are the roses. We grew through adversity, despite the worst conditions for it. We didn’t just grow as weeds, but as beautiful roses, each offering its individual beauty to the world. Each inspiring an immense amount of hope to anyone encountering them. Each happy for every smile we draw on another’s face, and every frown we prevent.

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