email reply to young, bright, 19 year old:
Thanks for taking the time to email. Thanks for the honesty...to me and to yourself.
You're 18? Man, congrats on surviving the last few years. Anyone who tells you those are the best years of your life is disturbed and should be tagged for research purposes.
I was pessimistic at your age, too. I wore black and lived in an existentialist haze. But the older I got, the more I figured out who I was...
And somehow, that made all the difference.
Hang in there.
The world has been coating you with layer after layer of their shit.
“You should feel shame for X.”
“You should be proud about Y.”
“You should consider yourself a success if you do Z.”
It’s HARD to strip that stuff away. And some people will feel threatened by your attempts. But its worth it to try.
Feeling joy from within is infinitely different from the pleasant feeling of meeting societies approval.
Perhaps this is obvious to you. Or you’ve already figured parts of this out. I’m certainly still working on it. Stripping away the onion skin layers of outside influences, old patterns, and socialization is a life-long process. Heck, it IS Life.
The commercials on TV will make you think life is about a shiny new car. You’re smart, so you know that’s not true. But even though you KNOW its not true, the forces influencing us are strong. The dark side of the force is strong, Luke.
But not unstoppable. (Now, in case I’m not being clear…I’m not suggesting you blow up SUVs. Not yet, at least. “Stay on target, Gold Leader…”)
For me, the toughest part is looking at the sheer magnitude of fucked up shit in the world. It’s daunting. Paralyzing.
What helped me was shifting my focus from THE world to MY world. “My” world is the people I interact with. The people I pass in the street and say hello to. The people I exchange emails with. The people I share my house with.
With that perspective, I have the ability to make a HUGE difference in my world.
Here is where is gets cool:
Each one of those people in MY world has an overlapping world of their own. If I can bring light and love into MY world, I am bringing it into their world, too. That light then shines into the worlds that THAT person overlaps with.
The longer I am on the internet, the more people I meet that are working to improve their worlds. People welcoming light and love.
The internet makes the overlap of worlds into a…well, an interconnected web, I suppose. So theoretically, I can do nothing but focus on enjoying a healthy life and improving MY world…and in doing so, influence THE world.
It’s possible. I believe that.
Your world is your world. You control who gets to be there. You may have to make hard decisions. You may have to banish people that bring darkness into your world. You may have to take risks and have people on the outskirts ridicule you.
Ridicule is the warfare of the rigid. Many people lack the interest or courage to discover their true selves. They are perfectly content with the faux-joy of owning a shiny SUV.
Those people will see your path as an attack. In extreme cases, they may threaten you physically. But most will try to knock you down by mocking you.
REMEMBER: An insult is a thing that must be given and it must be received. It is YOUR CHOICE if you wish to accept the insult/shame/whatever.
One of the toughest lessons is learning how to mentally say, “no thank you. I choose not to accept the shame you are trying to bestow upon me.”
“Instead, why don’t YOU sit with it for a bit. Figure out what it is in me that is bothers you. What am I reflecting of you? What am I making you face that you haven’t the courage to address?”
An insult rarely has anything to do with the person it is directed at…but it says EVERYTHING about the person who is saying it. When someone yells, “Fag!” at me because of a flamboyant outfit I’m wearing, what are they saying?
Clearly they aren’t saying, “You appear to be a gay person!”
They’re saying, “My socialization has taught me that you have violated a rule of the status quo. You have crossed a boundary that I am not comfortable with. My world view of SUV’s and identical hair styles is disrupted by your very presence. By accepting you, I would be forced to take a look at MY world. Instead I will hurl a meaningless insult at you. Perhaps you will recoil from my mighty insult and get back in line with the rest of us.”
Ya just gotta ignore. When he sees you strut by with a smile on your face, unfazed by his arsenal of attacks, maybe next time his perspective will be different. Probably not. But nobody said this was gonna happen overnight.
But it happens every day. Every day is a chance to be grateful. Every day is a chance to spread light and love into YOUR world.
That’s all you gotta do. The rest will work itself out.