Ten Years

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I grew up in Merced for the majority of my life surrounded by a loving family and a conservative community. My parents have taught me some of the most important fundamentals of being an adult without even realizing it. Persistence and hard work pay off even when the situation may be bad, but trying to make the best of things will aide in a happier life. Things pass over time whether it be a day or years to come, because somewhere along that road is a sign to your destination. Success is not how others perceive it, but how you want it to be defined for yourself. Don’t settle for what is handed to you, and be sure to ask the right questions even if it’s not the best time.

The community has taught me that ignorance is everywhere and running away from your problems hardly ever solves anything.

High school was probably one of the most brutal moments in my life. Starting at 14, I came out to my immediate family. That was a challenge but a tremendous relief. It was only a feather compared to what I was about to go through in school. I transferred to numerous campuses because of my lack of comfort and mental stability. The schools failed to provide me with a safe learning environment. Homophobic remarks and physical violence made me go from an energetic, high spirited, gay kid to an empty depressed being. I no longer had a joyous teenage life. Four years of my life felt wasted. I entered a stage of depression and thoughts of suicide lingered. Deep inside I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I woke up each day and fought with myself to endure the struggle.

High school had passed and I was just entering the early adult life. Dating was a new thing to me. And let me just explain how awful my first boyfriend was. I mean just a piece of shit person. I was always afraid to explain in depth about how I was feeling about myself and all these bottled up scary emotions I didn’t know how to express. Only because being sad was normal to me. So the one time I opened up, he made himself a victim of the relationship. Made me feel as if I was bringing him and us down. I was the destroyer of love. And so my reputation kicked off. Just kidding. But I can admit that my depression did interfere with my following relationships. Some just a bit, and the longest lasting one very much so.

This 4 year excursion of a relationship helped me become a better person through some really bittersweet moments. I started to become more open with myself. I had a boyfriend I could hold hands with in public from time to time. Go explore different cities, have a great time with friends and learned how to make my own friends again. At one point we were the President and Vice President of an LGBT club at our local college! This is when I came out to the rest of my family. I was interviewed by the local newspaper about what it is like being gay in Merced. It was during our “Spirit Event” at college to bring awareness to the recent string of suicides of people who are of the LGBT community. It wasn’t the most heartfelt story ever published, but it got a point across. I mean it was on the front page of the newspaper. I remember waking up early just to get the first copies at a local gas station. Only hours later is when relatives began calling up my mom asking about it. Some with concerns and some with words of encouragement. This was one of the moments when you sigh with relief that all ended well. My family still loved me and accepted me. I had it easy. At that point, I truly started to accept myself even more. It took me a while to actually say “I’m gay” to people. Before, I’d find ways to rephrase it because it was so uncomfortable. Or I was afraid I’d make someone else feel uncomfortable. This is where another turning point kicked in. I started to become even more selfish and ruthless.

After several “on and off” moments with my boyfriend at the time, I just had this “the hell with you” kind of attitude. I was now more open with my feelings and turned into this awful ignorant person. Just didn’t care about anyone. I neglected my family and friends a lot. My depression came back just as bad as it was in high school. I eventually went on anti-depressants which helped to some degree. I turned to art to help me cope with things. Self portraits were a way I could express how I felt at times without saying anything. Feeling tied down and empty. Using black and white helped me portray the darkness that I felt, and life was looking gray. My best friend was always my beacon of hope. She gave me strength when I needed it the most and helped me cope with my rollercoaster of emotions. Stood by my side even when I made poor choices, reminding me that people make mistakes but it doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person. We had our own adventures whether it was local or in San Francisco. It was often the silliest of things that would bring tremendous amounts of happiness and laughter to the days when the sun just couldn’t shine bright enough.

Now in the final year of our relationship after getting things together with ourselves, we decided that we would save up money and move out together. At one point things seemed as if they were getting better for us. In a state of calmness. Or so I thought. Time passed and our move out date was fast approaching. Here came August of 2013 and only two weeks left. Rushing my final moments with some friends and family before the big departure. The final hours were spent with my family as those long hilarious chats became quieter and more frightening. And then the goodbyes came. Oh now that was pain I hadn’t felt before. Next to his family, the final night and goodbyes were just as heartbreaking. And before you knew it, we were off into the night. Ready to start our new life together in Portland, OR.

After two weeks of him hunting endlessly for apartments, we finally found one. September began and quickly November came. Five days later, I moved out. Alone.

It took me about a year to finally realize that after moving out and getting over the annoyance, it wasn’t worth being upset about anymore. I had to put meaning into my life. Whatever that is. Months prior to the year mark, I had researched and questioned people about endless topics. Career options, travel locations, and so on. I became so open minded about things. I became less ignorant and more understanding. I let my mind wander in safe and unsafe places. I experimented and got lost. I got to feel what it was like to be alone with a sense of freedom and half-ass sense of self guidance. Nature helped rid me of my mental funk. So did the spectacular food here. I tried new things, such as drugs, food, and even people. Letting things go was a huge step and I’ve learned how to do it, although I have my moments, I’m able to bounce back and return to a stable state. I established goals and met quite a few of them. Long term goals are still in progress with years of hard work ahead of me. The primary goal I have set is to open a restaurant in my 30’s. When I’m more established and funded. I finally became happy with who I have become and who I am yet to be.

I look back at all the experiences I’ve written about and some I’ve omitted, and it has shaped me to what I am today at 24 years old. In ten years I’ve been able to define my own success and work with the best and worst of situations. That hard work of being alone for a year has been paying off. Never giving up on the struggle that leads to an uphill fight. Continuing to push yourself to new levels that you didn’t imagine you could reach. I allow myself to think more freely and accept things as they come. I question the biggest of egos that walk around me and even the smallest of ones. If you wait too long, it will turn time into time wasted.