Tag Archives: courage

Please, Live.

When I was in the eighth grade, I hated my chorus teacher. He was a very kind man who loved his job and possessed an acute sensitivity to the progress and success of his students. That wasn’t why I hated him. He was gay. His high pitch voice, the curl of his pinky fingers, and feminine gait assaulted my thirteen-year-old sensibilities of how a “real” man should behave. My religious upbringing taught me people like him were an abomination. So naturally I joined a band of vicious kids intent on torturing the poor man. I turned my lips up at him in disgust, refused to cooperate in class, and dismissed anything he had to say with a hard roll of my eyes. Even my father thought I was out of control when in a row of A’s, he saw a glaring C for chorus. I didn’t care. I saw my chorus teacher as unworthy of my time or effort. I moved up to the ninth grade, but stayed in the same building because the eighth graders shared the same space with the high school crowd. I didn’t take chorus in the ninth grade. Instead, I developed a hard crush on a girl and my whole world exploded in a perplexing mess.

I confused her for a boy at first. And switched to believing she was a girl. And back to thinking she was a boy again. The confusion elicited by her gender presentation delighted me in unexpected ways; I wanted to talk to her and hear her story. When I entered the girls’ bathroom and found her there, the logical part of my brain declared, “Well, there you have it. She’s a girl so you can’t like her anymore.” But knowing she was a girl made me fall harder. So I semi-stalked her because I didn’t have an ounce of courage to approach her. I don’t think she knew I existed. Or if she did, never acknowledged it. I found out she had a girlfriend; they were the only lesbian couple in the school. Whenever I saw them holding hands, pangs of jealously stabbed my chest, but I also loved seeing them together: the times they kissed, argued, and hugged. I ached for what they had. With a girl. My brows furrowed whenever these thoughts zipped across my head. What was wrong with me? I would ask over and over again. I should like boys not girls.

It hit me later in the year that I didn’t completely like boys. I wanted more to be their friends, to be part of their inner circle, to be them even. I envied their fucking freedom. I paid more attention to my choice of clothes and realized, horrified, that I dressed more like a guy: collar shirts, baggy pants, sneakers and army boots, and vests. I loved vests. I saw them as my armor against the big, bad world. I wore my hair in a ponytail most of the time, wearing it down only for picture days. And dresses and heels were for church. The thought of wearing such an outfit to school never crossed my mind, even something slightly feminine. I had to laugh at myself. Here I was, a homophobe who happened to be the most obvious queer in the school. But I wore make-up so maybe it wasn’t quite so plain to see. I wouldn’t know the word for how I presented until the end of college: tomboy femme.

I took chorus in the tenth grade and made a conscious effort to know my chorus teacher better. That’s why I know he was a kind man who cared deeply about his students. Such qualities about him flew over my head in the eighth grade because I refused to see his humanity, refused to see him beyond his sexuality. I laughed with him, talked to him about things in my life, listened to stories about his, and did my best to excel in class, paying close attention to his instructions to perform better in upcoming competitions. I can only imagine his confusion about the 180 in my behavior. But I never apologized for how I treated him two years ago. And that was a mistake because he left the school the year after. When I asked why, the answer broke my heart. The bullying had been too much for him so he quit. Moved to Provincetown. It was my first time hearing about this place that some students’ referred to as a gay Mecca. The sadness over not being able to apologize followed me through the rest of high school, the rest of life really, all while I secretly pined for a gorgeous, highly unavailable girl.

Whenever hateful conversations about gays and lesbians came up at home, I stayed quiet instead of joining in on the homophobic rant as I used to when my mind was different. My silence was a scream in the middle of it all. A scream for the hate to stop. A scream to let them know that I was gay too. That those conversations crushed the most delicate parts of my soul and fed my fear of coming out. Religion, Haitian culture, community and family ties, honor, keeping up appearances, and being normal–I was too afraid to stand up against such a superbly trained army of manufactured soldiers. I was only one person after all.

In grad school, after suffering from depression in college and nearly killing myself over my sexual orientation, I asked myself this one question: are you willing to destroy your world for the truth? I didn’t have an answer then, but I do now. With destruction comes the opportunity for rebirth. I will build a new world, a world supported by truth. I will continue loving myself and telling myself one thing: Please, live.

freedom

The Story of Teeny and Babby: The Shelf

There once was a doll, lovely, short, and pink. She called herself Teeny and lived on a shelf. Teeny always sat on the shelf and looked through her big blue eyes at the world around her—a world so familiar that it had grown weary and gray. Teeny sighed often and wished she could get off that shelf and see a whole new world. But it was impossible for Teeny. The shelf was very high and the new world was so far far away. Teeny believe she would never leave and this made her cry tears so big that her whole face became pinker and wet. Someone heard Teeny cry. It was the miniature picnic basket that contained four sweets, making this basket, called Babby, the sweetest thing on Teeny’s shelf, maybe her whole world. Babby asked Teeny why she was crying.

Teeny said, “I want to leave this world, but it’s impossible.”

Babby looked down. “It’s true. It’s a big jump down and an even longer way out the door toward the new world. But I want to go too. So let’s go!”

“How?” Teeny asked.

Babby came close to Teeny and rubbed its square head on her arm. “We jump of course.”

“But we’ll break!”

“Don’t worry, we won’t break. Believe.”

Teen looked down and felt very afraid, but she wanted to go. She nodded her head. “We jump.”

So Teeny and Babby jumped off the shelf, way down to the ground. Teeny was okay, but Babby was broken open and all the sweets spilled out of him.

“Babby! Babby! Are you okay?”

Babby groaned. “Of course I’m not okay, you fool! Don’t you see I’m broken? This is all your fault. Get away from me you ugly, stupid doll! I’ll never be whole again.”

Babby’s words hurt Teeny’s heart, but she didn’t cry. She knew it was because he had lost all his sweetness. Teeny picked up the sweets and put them back in Babby’s basket. She shut him close.

“Babby, are you okay now?”

Babby turned left and turned right, then he looked down at his sweets. “You put them all wrong inside of me, but that’s okay. Let’s go see the new world!”

Teeny smiled. “Yes, let’s go.”

So Teeny and Babby ventured out of the room toward the new world. They stopped at the stairs.

Teeny sighed. “How far can we go?”

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‘The end?

My Parents Don’t/Won’t Support My Dreams. Now What? Here are Ten Tips.

We were all afraid of our parents at one some point or another. Some of us still are. And if you’re one of the millennials who lately have been the object of mystique and scorn from news outlets, then you probably have one of those helicopter parents they all keep talking about. You know, the parents who call your professor and dean if you get an A- in a class or who attend job interviews with you. I can’t believe this is a real thing or rather that it’s being portrayed as something normal. And here I thought my parents were very strict. They used to be. Now they’re just strict. Maybe that’s what happens when you grow up (I’m still considered one of those “strange”, “unmotivated”, and “super narcissistic” millennials though thanks to my birthdate.). I hope you’re picking up on how fed up I am on articles that like to over generalize my generation, but it happens to each generation I gather.

You darn millennials are so lazy, acting entitled and all!

Anyway, my story isn’t so much that I couldn’t tell my parents what my dreams were, but rather I had a hard time telling them that I didn’t want to follow their specific dreams for me, which was to become a medical doctor or lawyer or politician. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I knew what I wanted to do as opposed to what I didn’t want to do, which is just as important.

I get it. We want to make our parents proud and have them acknowledge their pride in words or actions. However, we might actually be doing a great disservice to society, our parents, and ourselves if we don’t pursue our dreams and become the individuals we truly believe we can be.

So, if you’re in a predicament where you’re having a hard time communicating to your parents about your dreams or you’re afraid to even start a conversation because you’re thinking the worse possible outcome for such a talk, here are ten tips that I hope might help. Now, these tips are based on the premise that your parents are reasonable human beings. If you don’t think so, still read on. You might be surprised.

1.)  Answer this question: Do you REALLY believe in your dream?

Before you can convince your parents that your dream matters, you first need to make sure that this dream actually matters to you. Evaluate your desires, inner motivation, and yourself holistically. Why is this dream important to you? Are you willing to sacrifice some comfort for this dream? Willing to endure pain, failure, and possibly ridicule? If you’re spiritually, mentally, and physically invested in your dream, then it makes it that much easier to communicate that dream to others, especially your parents. So, number one priority is to truly love and embrace your dream. Don’t pursue an endeavor because you think it’ll make your parents mad or you want to rebel or do whatever bs stupid kids do these days for parental payback. No, this needs to be real. 

via learningkaleidoscope.pbworks.com

2.)  See your parents as real people.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our parents are actually real people instead of these demi-gods or monsters that want to control and make our lives miserable. Parents, like everyone else, have their fears, hopes, weaknesses, and strengths. They too were young with dreams of their own, so hopefully they can dig deep and remember that. Meet your parents halfway by understanding and acknowledging whatever fears and worries they may have for your future. Let them know you appreciate and care about their concerns. Take some time to observe their faces and body movements, the extra lines on their faces, the signs of aging, and the points of vulnerability.  Go deeper and look into their souls. Something will happen. You’ll see them. This will help create a real connection—not just between parent and child—but also between two people who have to live in this harsh, unpredictable world of ours.

3.)  Choose to be honest with your parents and yourself.

Have you ever had to deliver difficult news so you added white lies here and there to lessen the blow? When it comes to your dream, it’s best to be honest completely. Don’t sugarcoat the delivery or say things that will please your parents because it avoids conflict or delays a difficult conversation. However, if your parents are really sensitive to big news, deliver it piece by piece in honest chunks. And if your parents inquire the whole truth, let them know.

4.)  Write a letter to your parents if conversations are too hard or unbearable.

When I discovered that my father refused to let me get a meaningful word in our conversations, I decided to write him letters. I clearly communicated my thoughts, feelings, and views on a certain situation whether it involved my moving to Korea or deciding not to attend a medical school. I was able to outline my reasons without any interruptions. Best part? I got my point across and it hit home, making sense to my father. When writing these letters, try not to be confrontational or defensive, but be honest about your feeling if your parents have hurt you with their words or lack of support.  Just speak your mind  without hiding anything or using indirect speech.

via tx.english-ch.com

5.)  Don’t wait until you get your parents’ approval to start your working on your dream. You should’ve started yesterday.

Begin now in whatever way or capacity you can to build your dream—even if it’s something simple. Everyone knows that action speaks louder than words. Parents might soften a staunch stance against your dream if they see you sincerely working hard at it. Be active. Don’t be wishy-washy—starting, and then stopping for four months, starting, and then stopping again.

6.)  Which brings me to this: make your dreams a constant and visible part of your life.

Let whatever you’re working have a constant presence. Talk about the activities for your dream during dinner or on a drive. Mention milestones you’ve accomplished. Mention even the difficulties. Keep your parents updated on your dream even if they show or feign disinterest. Humans can get used to just about anything. Your parents are humans remember? Get them acclimated to your dream.

7.)  Get outside support.

Everyone knows the kid with the really crazy parents—the ones who actually do mean it when they threaten to disown you for not doing and being A, B, or C. If you feel that your parents hover in this vicinity, make an effort to find outside support whether it’s close friends, cousins, other supporting family members, godparents, co-workers, mentors, etc. You can’t build your dream alone, although you can try. However, having some sort of support can provide that extra push you need to get where you want to be.

via listdose.com

8.)  Don’t give up even it’s hard. Finish.

You’ve decided to become an author, start your own online company, travel the world through woofing, become a musician, and on and on and on. Oh, how great it would be if it were easy to make our dreams come true. But, it’s not. The best things in life are never easy to come by unless you’re ridiculously lucky. So yes, it takes hard work, suffering, discomfort, failure, discouragement, and so forth to make something of value happen. BUT, it is worth it so never ever give up. Show your parents that you’re really into this. More importantly, show yourself that you’re really into this and willing to see it to the end.

9.)  This is your life.

No matter how much we may want to please our parents and make them happy according to their terms, at the end of the day, at the end of your years, it is your life. You and you alone can make the decisions to bring your life where it should be. You have to be unyielding in this area. Nobody can force you to do something unless you allow him or her to. If your parents have given you a script to follow blindly, edit that script, or even better, throw it away and write your own. Always remember you have a choice.

10.) Think about the big picture of your dreams.

What is the grand picture for your dream? What is its higher purpose? Will this dream become bigger than yourself, bigger than your parents and their expectations, bigger than all you’ve known till now? How will you be changing the world if this dream comes true? Who beside yourself will benefit when you make it? Asking and dwelling on these questions will help you stay on task and bolster your inner motivation. Thinking about the big picture might open your eyes to the fact that it’s okay to allow your parent to experience some discomfort and disagreement as you pursue a path they don’t believe in. Also, your parents won’t die if you pursue this dream. You might be surprised at how they can become your biggest cheerleaders when you make your dream come true.

So, what do you think? What advice do you have for anyone out there with unsupportive parents? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy