Gratitude Challenge

What a week

Today, I’ve been attempting to find the best way to show my gratitude. Even when I’ve been at my most stressful, most challenging, and most blue points in Oklahoma, I’ve realized I always have something or someone for which I am grateful, thankful and full of gratitude.

To be fair, this has been a weird week. However, because I refuse to count my hours, I will simply focus on all the wonderful experiences I have had. I was able to see my Royals sweep the Angels (in-person) to advance to the ALCS. I spent an entire weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, and adorable nephew. I took Monday morning off. Had three meetings Tuesday evening and then caught the end of tech rehearsal for Miss OSU. Helped with and watch dress rehearsal for Miss OSU on Wednesday. And helped set up a program, welcome our guests, and run ballots for the Miss OSU judges this evening. Today, I had a full day of work and will soon be sleeping under my desk during my students’ lock in retreat.

So while it’s fair to say I’m more than a little smothered, covered, sauced, and fried, I still have so much gratitude to share this week.

And sharing that gratitude has been the most empowering, calming, and centering activity I have done.


Why this week?

While this week was jam packed with things to do, I was completely taken aback at how long it has taken me to find my gratitude. I spent much of the week frustrated with my situation, impatient with others, and generally not a happy person to be around. Meanwhile, throughout the week, great things were happening to me and all around me.

First, my dear friend Allison posted my #MyStoryIsBeautiful guest post to her blog, which was amazing. I had struggled with how to find the right voice for her blog without losing too much of my sense of self in the story, but I can see now by the response I have received that everything worked out just like it should. Last night, after a particularly long day, I laid on my couch in tears for about an hour because I was just so overwhelmed with the love I’d received. In case I haven’t expressed it, I am grateful to Allison for asking me to share my story and so thankful to call her a friend.

Much of that love came from friends and former teachers whose words were so touching and loving that I couldn’t hardly bear it. I was completely overwhelmed at the way these people responded. I don’t know if any/all of them have read my posts here or not, but the response to that post was just so bucket-filling. To know that these people I know, I love, and I call my friends were moved by that post or felt compelled to say something to me was just so astounding.

And then I realized that if they could express something like this at the exact right moment, then it’s time for me to begin expressing my love and gratitude to others as well.



A Challenge to Myself

So I decided. I refuse to let myself get bogged down in the challenges I face at work, in how distant I am from my family, or in how frustratingly slow of a process social justice is. Instead, I will use my time to recognize those who have brought some kind of joy into my life and express my gratitude for knowing them. Much like the “bros” in the video above, I realized that I really do not tell the people around me how much I care for them and that I love them. Whether that is some curse of the hegemony and patriarchy around me or simply a mental lapse, it is something I intend to correct.
But I want to be clear. This challenge is not about spreading something around like wildfire. I’m not trying to create a movement wherein millions of people across the globe post videos and give to a cause they know nothing about.
This is a challenge to myself. Whenever I’m struggling to find the happiness around me, I will take a step back and begin giving thanks and gratitude to those who have brought some lightness into my life.
I invite you to join me, but I won’t call you out and publicly shame you into participation. Instead, I ask you to help keep me accountable. See me posting something incredibly negative on Twitter? Empathize, but remind me to give gratitude to those around me. Did I post an entry focused on negativity? Empathize, but remind me about all the wonderful people who surround me.


#GratitudeChallenge

Let me start here: This week, I am struck by the knowledge of how much my teachers throughout my K-12 years have impacted me as an adult. From kindergarten with Mrs. Mesler through the most challenging days with Señora Ramsey as a senior, each and every teacher gave me part of themselves that I have taken with me into adulthood. The best part is that not all of my teachers were actually in my classrooms. Some of these folks didn’t start at one of my schools until I was well beyond that grade level. But I’ll never forget what they’ve all done for me.
Advertisements

Coming Out (Part 3)

Trying to figure out what to say

It’s been a little while since I posted more about my coming out and that’s really just because I didn’t know how to continue. Telling my story in this chronological order doesn’t really feel right at this point. There is so much more to it than just a sequence of events. There’s so much more feeling and struggle and joy and pain and happiness in it than just “I did this and then did that and then talked to this person…”

Plus, in my timeline of this story, I’ve already reached my college years. My internal struggle at this point was essentially over. Sure, I dealt with understanding how to exist in a heteronormative world, but I knew who I was and I no longer needed to deny it. I was dealing with so many other developmental tasks at this point that my sexuality really wasn’t that salient.

If you’ve read any of my thesis, then you’ve read about how difficult it can be for a gay person to exist in the hyper-masculine fields of the sciences. And yeah, it is, but I was so much more focused on my faith development, my studies, moving toward self-authorship, and changing my professional focus from meteorology to student affairs.

By the time I was a senior at KU, however, I’d settled in my faith development, my studies were quickly winding down, and I was well on my way to finding and getting accepted to a grad school. Suddenly, my sexuality was the most salient thing in my life. I finally took the plunge and really began my coming out process at KU’s Leadershape Institute.

For those who don’t know about Leadershape, the Institute is a week-long retreat for students that focuses on social justice, vision casting, and social change. The week is incredibly transformative so each participant is put into a family cluster. Your cluster is your home base and you become very close very quick. On the first or second night, I chose to come out to family cluster. I knew I couldn’t be anything other than 100% honest with them.

That really put the first crack in the door of my closet. Next, I confessed to my friend Sarah. Shortly after, I had that conversation with my friend Kathryn that I’ve detailed before. From there, I began to live more openly. When I arrived at Nebraska, I came out on the very first day of orientation.


Coming out to family is harder than it looks

But there’s a reason that coming out to your friends and acquaintances is separate from coming out to your family in the sexual orientation identity development models. Coming out to your family is so much more incredibly challenging. With friends, you know you can always find others, that people will always come into and out of your life; that is a family you can choose.

That’s the thing about irrational fears. They cannot be rationalized…suddenly every single fear you’ve ever had about coming out that you thought you’d already worked through comes flooding back and you can. not. stop. them. 

Your actual family, on the other hand, is not something that can be changed. But they could cut off all connection. Your relationship could change. And really, what’s worse than making already awkward gatherings even more awkward. I sweat enough as it is…I don’t need the extra pressure of an awkward conversation. (To be fair, I now welcome these conversations because they make all of us better. And my immediate and extended family has been the most amazing.)

When you’re in that moment, though, where you’re trying to figure out how and when to come out to them all, there’s suddenly this irrational fear that you’ll be asked to leave that family Christmas celebration. Or that you’ll suddenly be cut off. That you’ll no longer have anywhere to call home. That you’ll no longer be welcome.

That’s the thing about irrational fears. They cannot be rationalized. I never had any doubt that my parents would be anything but supportive and loving, but I was terrified of having that conversation. Because suddenly every single fear you’ve ever had about coming out that you thought you’d already worked through comes flooding back and you can. not. stop. them. 

The reason I cried when I came out to my sister over the phone in April 2014 wasn’t because I was suddenly so relieved. It was because I knew she could finally understand me. Because I no longer had to adopt some pretense for my actions and beliefs. And because those irrational fears were finally erased. It was the same feeling as when I cried after getting into a car accident. I was quite literally in shock. I shook. I cried. I sweated through three layers of shirt. I couldn’t breathe. I felt extremely nauseated. I had to hang up and focus on finishing the last two blocks of my drive home.


Coming out really never stops

This series could literally go on forever. Unfortunately, it would start to look a lot like “Well, today I had to come out to the mail delivery person. Huzzah.”

I think that’s partially why I chose this venue to “complete” my coming out. I was tired of having to tell people. My sexual and affectional orientation is extremely important to me and sits at the very core of my being, but those conversations are exhausting. I would much rather have that 437th conversation about why I left meteorology, or explain for the 9,663,234th time that calling heavy rain a “monsoon” is outright wrong, or explain for the umpteen-trillionth time what it is that I do than have to come out one more time.

But the thing is, I know I will have to come out forever unless I’m fortunate enough to become some major worldwide celebrity…which really doesn’t seem likely. I’ll have to come out to everyone at the doctor’s office once I finally select a new primary physician, I’ll have to come out anytime someone asks me to donate blood, I’ll have to come out to my future partner (which you would think wouldn’t be necessary but, believe me, it is). But this is all ok. 

WeRise

It’s ok if for no other reason than that I was able to tell my story myself. I didn’t have to deal with people spreading rumors and secrets behind my back (that I know of). I didn’t have to deal with the threat of physical, emotional, or psychological violence related to my orientation or perceived orientation. I didn’t have to deal with the questions, the disapproving looks, and the rejection.

It’s ok if for no other reason than I know that I will never be denied healthcare because of who I am. I will never be accused to just being too greedy and deemed untrustworthy by a potential partner because of my orientation. I will never have to fight for the right to exist in the first place.

It’s ok if for no other reason than because now I am able to focus the conversation on educating others about the coming out process. I am able to speak up about my experiences with the hope of encouraging or supporting someone else. I am able to speak up without fear of losing my job, my home, or my insurance.

In the future, I am hopeful that I will be a little more consistent with posting. I am also hopeful that I can at least temporarily leave this conversation behind and move to using this blog to discuss the issues that are important to me as a first-year professional, as a social justice journeyer, and as a person.

Coming Out (Part: Thank You)

First, I want to thank each and every person who took the time to read Coming Out (Part 1.5). I hadn’t intended for the post to be some kind of announcement, but the support I received (including people from whom I had vigorously hidden my sexuality) was overwhelming. And it has further proven to me that it is incredibly important for people to understand their identity, live it, and share it when necessary.

When I created this blog, I specifically wanted it to be more than just a place where I talk about my identity. I wanted to share the experience of being a first-year student affairs professional. I wanted to talk about my successes and struggles as I navigate an entirely new system and bureaucracy. I wanted to discuss my ever-evolving search for a PhD program.

But I also want to continue sharing my story. Because I know there are people around me who are still hiding a part of themselves. I want others to know there is nothing wrong with them, there is nothing to hide, and there is always someone they can talk to. 

So anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. I’m so happy you all were here and I hope you’ll stick around. 

Sorry for my Absence

10176036_10202669071906369_84613848245153986_nWhen I started this blog, I was an undergraduate student doing what he thought was the “right” thing to do to get a job. I was a News Media Forecasting student taking both science and journalism classes. I was looking forward to starting graduate school and a career in higher education. I thought having my own website identity was important in that.

SPOILER ALERT: It really wasn’t. Unless you’re looking for a job in the media, no one really cares what you have on your website (as long as it’s not, you know, dumb as hell).

I also really had no need for a blog at the time. I had nothing of real import to say and, simultaneously, I was too afraid of revealing too much of myself to the wrong people.

Now, almost three years after my last post, I’ve got a different view. I’ve got a lot to say and Twitter or Facebook aren’t necessarily the best places to do that. I don’t honestly care if anyone reads what I write here. For the most part, this will be a place for me to get things off my chest and into the world. Sometimes, this will be a way for me to say the things I want to say on Twitter but will require more than 140 characters.

So if you’ve stuck around, thanks. I’m going to try to start posting more regularly and really getting some substance on here.