Turns out, being gay in a heteronormative culture is difficult.
I spent years fretting over what the right course of action would be and how I would ever bring this ideal course of action about. The few voices I heeded for advice were telling me my feelings were wrong, bad, and evil. I did almost everything I thought necessary to be good enough to make up for it or change it. I was trying to push my way through law school and was living far from most of my friends and family.
A Flight of the Conchords lyric seems fitting for this time in my life:
“Lives are like retractable pencils, if you push ’em too hard they’re gonna break. And people are like paper dolls… paper dolls and people, they’re a similar shape.”
At times, this treadmill of trying and failing to be “good” made me convinced I was broken and would never be whole.
I convinced myself that if I quit law school that would be the solution to my depression and anxiety.
It helped for a while to have such a demanding burden out of the way, but depression, insomnia, loneliness… they went right on clouding up my life. Trapping me in a box. Usually shaped like my bedroom—wherever it was at the time. I moved a lot… thinking that might help. I increasingly closed myself off from other people.
I descended further into depression and even had suicidal thoughts.
Nothing changed until I realized I didn’t need to follow other peoples’ “good life” models to be happy, confident, and enjoy my life. I no longer felt that I needed to change my sexuality to be a good person. I no longer felt that not following all my many years’ worth of life plans made me a renewed failure at every unfulfilled bullet point. I no longer felt worthless.
Ultimately law school was just tough schooling which I found less interesting and fitting for me than I had previously thought it was. The moving to new apartments every few months was just taking my problems with me from one place to another.
I only healed and started experiencing conspicuous progress after changing my perspective on what makes a good life.
Accepting a change in perspective did not come without risks and costs. I departed from the norm around me. I knew this would make some of the most important people in my life very sad. I know it seems selfish. I also just hope these people can see why I have made the changes I have made to my world view, and know that I spent so much time agonizing over the impact my actions would have on them.
The lesson for all of you that you did not ask for?
Don’t tie all of your happiness to your execution of your “perfect life” plans. Plans are great, but they aren’t everything.
Well, thanks for the brutally tough times, 25th through 27th years of my life… I’m all the happier for having overcome them.