I watch my followers drop when I post about the darker sides of life, but I've always been drawn to the peculiar. I've always wanted to pave a path outside the norm. I love the wild, the dreamy, the idealistic, the romantic, the bohemian. 

I remember first learning about 1960's and 1970's counterculture in literature. I yearned to live like Ginsberg, Kerouac, Vonnegut and Bukowski. Even Hunter S. Thompson, Doctor Gonzo, sauntering through Las Vegas in Saigon shades and a white bucket hat, shitting dust from the cylindrical ass of a fire-apple red Shark.

I turn to these literary idols and their stories whenever I question myself and I am reminded that my heart beats for me. I cannot trick it into following someone else's path. I do not have to water myself down to fit inside the lines. There are no lines, no rules, no standards. I refuse to die of perfectionist seizures and comparison comas.

When you take a self-portrait, do you take it for yourself? If not, you're competing with a world of self-portraits. You are 1 out of 7.215 billion self-portraits. Your chances of winning are slim to none.

Take a portrait of yourself for yourself and you win every time. Easy as that, if you can resist the urge to succumb to the scum telling you that you're not enough.

Never soften yourself for others, never make plans for others, never dilute your soul no matter how confused and crazy it seems at times. Never write light stories when you feel like writing dark ones, or paint pretty pictures when you feel like painting ugly ones.

Take the reigns. This is your game. This is your self-portrait.