Friday, April 11, 2008

Memo to those of you breathing...

Yes, that would be all of you.

This is about each and every one of you. You all know deep down in the pits of your stomachs just how difficult it is to truly be alive, to interact with the world around you, to open yourself up completely, unprotected to the world. But what do you do instead? You try to cover it all up - "it" being who you truly are - no matter the cost or consequence. You project this badass image to the rest of the world, all cavalier and tough, yet the truth is, you're all no more than one sentence away from being brought to tears, provided it's worded right.

I chose a long time ago to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, so many of you still live your daily lives in ignorance, as if immune to this. That's why I'm writing. My point here is simple: Get your heads out of your collective asses and wake the hell up. The sooner you stop caring what other people think about you, the better off you'll be.

I say I chose to live my life that way "a long time ago". By "a long time ago" I mean at age 15. I was a freshman in high school when someone I thought was a good friend of mine "came out of the closet." You have to realize that in 1996 that term was relatively new, and not yet cliched. When he was all but crucified for it by his peers, he chose to try to take me down with him, spreading rumors and making accusations about me and my sexual preferences. Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with gay people. I had gay friends in college and still do today, but times are different now. You see, in 1996 being homosexual was not yet "cool", or "fabulous", as they say in 2008. There were no television shows dedicated solely to gay men teaching the rest of the male population how to dress. Needless to say I took it hard - really hard. Being accused of being homosexual in 2008 is still rather tough, but back then it was ten times worse. Factor in the fact that I was only 15, and what you had was a pubescent boy ready to leap from the nearest accessible rooftop. High school is awkward and confusing enough as it is.

Then one day I woke up and, as if by some stroke of genius, stopped caring. I'm not sure why exactly, but I never questioned myself. What I'm telling you here today is that yes, we're all self-concious to a point, but the less we are, the happier we'll be. That, friends, is absolute. From the time we're born we're told we're special in our own way. Those of you in my generation can recall the television show Romper Room, in which the host started every show by calling each of us by name, as if she could see us through the television. In reality she was just throwing out a handful of common names. But at 5 years of age, how can your first thought after hearing your name emanating from the television speakers not subconsciously make you think something equivalent to 'Damn, I'm special.'

As a child, every one of you reading this was told that you could be whatever you wanted to be, and do whatever you wanted to do, if only you believed it. Then one day we turned 18, left the nest, probably for college, and immediately found ourselves in a world where millions of other people were told the exact same thing. Well, newsflash - and I hope you're sitting down for this - it turns out none of us are really all that special. Beautifully unspectacular, to tell you the truth. Sooner or later that will catch up with all of us, and when it does, well, let's just say I hope you checked your ego at the door. You can run from it, but it will catch up to you. I promise.

So my advice to you is this: STOP CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. Enjoy who you are, both the good and the bad.

Embrace life, every day of it.

Be yourself, and be damned proud to do so.

Give more and expect the same from others (over time of course).

Act nervous when you're nervous. Act scared when you're scared; puzzled when you just don't know what to do. Cry when you feel like crying.

And when it goes your way? Smile about it, and don't ask questions.

And when it's all over - this completely bizzare, always unpredictable journey called life - you will stand a pretty good chance to be able to look back and, at the very least, be able to say that you had it good, and you made the most of it while you were able.

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