When I was 19 I packed up all my stuff and moved to Colorado.

Recently fired and single I needed a place to go.

Everything I owned fit in my ’98 Pontiac Grand Prix.

It took me all but 24 hours to make the decision.

As I was working my coworkers coined the nickname “Trouble” for me.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to be referenced as such.

I am 5’4 and 130 pounds of pure sass and rebellion.

Usually a rebellious kid is one reaching out for help.

That was me at one point too.

My apologies to every teacher i’ve ever had.

As my brain has developed I’ve come to understand I don’t rebel for the hell of it.

I do it for justice.

For peacekeeping.

For safety.

For change.

A young me knew the difference between right and wrong.

A lesson learned from circumstances and trauma that made me grow up faster than the average.

Unfortunately, my underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex made it seem as if every injustice was a matter of life and death.

My bed time being different than my older sister’s, while unfair in the moment, was not a hill to die on as it turns out.

Standing up to teachers that were clearly biased,

principals that didn’t have the full story,

youth ministers that chose rules over relationship,

those are hills I will still die on.

When I started realizing my heroes were not in history books, but in the shadows, I started feeling more at home in the world.

Angela Davis, the most incredible activist for equal rights of all time,

Sylvia Rivera, who is known to have thrown the first brick at Stonewall,

Miep Gies, who hid Anne Frank and her family.

As I became more curious to the “Why?” of history, I found more and more rebels.

I learned that the people we are taught to idolize were hated in their time (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

and the people we are taught to hate were idolized in their time (Hitler)

Until you start seeing history as leaders being overtaken by the overwhelming majority of rebels, you will never understand it.

The US didn’t just “free the slaves” because they felt like it.

It was fought for.

Shed for.

Killed for.

The Supreme Court didn’t just hand out marriage licenses to us because they decided June 26th 2015 was the year LQBTQIA persons deserved it.

Trans Women of color threw bricks at cops that incarcerated them for walking the streets of the Bronx.

We marched the streets every year since until they heard us.

The future is in the hands of those of us who raise our voices.

I hold my title as “Troublemaker” as a badge of honor now.

Learning what battles are worth it.

And being brave enough to speak out to injustice as often as I see it.

(I usually have no trouble speaking out, let’s be real)

if you are like me, and understand that dissonance is not always evil, and that some rules were meant to be broken,

I hope you are also brave enough to stand up, speak out.

This journey is not an easy one.

I’ve been ignored, banned from places, kicked out, and threatened.

I’ve lost friends by the dozens.

But i’ve found a home on the outside of those places.

Friends who can see that change needs to be made.

I’ve learned that if one place doesn’t accept me fully, it is not the place for me.

I’ve learned that people who don’t stand up for me are not the kind of friends I want.

Even if you don’t make the history books, or the headlines.

What you do makes a difference.

It matters.

If you can survive against all odds,

You are rebelling already.

If you are successful when statistics say you shouldn’t be,

you are protesting a broken system.

If you stand up when they tell you to sit down,

you are a part of the change.

If you’ve had to leave the comfort of a place you’ve once known because of who you are and who you love,

I promise the life you lead on the outside matters more than the one on the inside.

If you’ve coined the name “Troublemaker” too, I have a feeling we will get along swimmingly, my friend.

Carry on, Troublemakers.

This is for you.

This is for the wilder.

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