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Life no longer fazes me, thanks to the dexterity that comes with maturity. But what does that matter, when I only seem to be what society thinks I am? I see no end to the me I used to be because even within me, I am never free of my past. 

What is the point of all that I have been through if I just continue doing what I used to do, expecting different results? 

Is the guy who tries to make me less than I intend really me? Or am I the person that stands tall and no longer falls to the whim of a man, who is not in his right state of mind? Does it matter in the end, as I sit in this cell from hell enveloped by the smell of another person who is just as oblivious as I am? I’m all grown up from trying to be something I wasn’t meant to be, but I’m still where I am not meant to be. 

It is the individual who must decide if it is right, wrong or worth the effort to rise above the underworld that steals the soul, kills all hope and diminishes the quality of life we are meant to possess. 

What is the point of going through it all, just to be in the same place? We still seem to know about nothing while we proclaim to know everything, just like the seemingly all-knowing teen we all used to be. 

It is on a deep and personal level where one must decide what is worth their time and effort. We must decide which things we want to do, and who we want to become, no matter the hardships and obstacles. 

No matter where we come from, everyone is gauged by the actions of their past — and no matter how hard we try, there is always some adversity. It is how you decide to tackle the mountain that determines the character of the man. 

There will come a time when the question is asked: what will it mean in the end of time, when my life is defined by something which was done so many years ago? When my time is done, when the sentence of “life in prison” has come to term, will anything good be said about me? Or will all my good deeds be undone by the things from my past I held onto for too long? 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Jeffery Shockley is a writer incarcerated in Pennsylvania.