Let’s Come to A Conclusion: Paths.

*Previously posted on Elite Daily.*

It’s an old tale about a fork in the road; honestly, that’s about as much as I can recall. I feel it has something to do with our decisions and how we have to commit to those decisions, even if we end up regretting them in the end. I could have also started with that poem by Robert Frost, but that’s too often misinterpreted, so I’d rather not bring it into the mix.  I could easily droll on about the impact of our decisions and the importance of thinking something through, but I feel that that issue is something so often represented in the decision-making trope that it rarely ever needs repeating. In fact, I firmly believe that the mere repetition of it makes it, not only redundant, but less impactful. There is a beginning, middle, and end to everything, and I want to discuss the middle; the path after the decision is made.

As of late, I have gone through a lot of different life changing experiences: I graduated college, I had a major break up, I came out as gay to the world, I cut all my hair off, and I moved back home. I admit, some are much more trivial than others, but life changing nonetheless. After having made these decisions, I started walking down this path; at times it was riddled with felled trees and moss and mud, while other times it had a beautiful cerulean ocean that stretched for miles into the sunset. But along this path I chose to make, there came the inevitability of unwanted scenery. What I mean by that is, I could still see everyone else around me on their own paths.

Some went at glacial speeds while others appeared as if they couldn’t stop moving. I started moving slower so I could compare my place to theirs. Was I moving faster than those behind me? Why wasn’t I catching up to those already miles ahead? That guy over there has a better view of the ocean, why didn’t I take that route? All of these questions never brought me answers. Before I knew it, I was on the side of my path, letting those behind me get in front and those in front disappear from my view. I was so aware of everything else, I lost sight of what I was doing. I cared way too damn much about the trivialities of people I wouldn’t ever see again.

If there’s one thing post-grad life can teach you, it’s that you can’t regret the major you chose in college. You can’t regret the decision you made four years prior, because a part of you, deep down, chose to commit to it and not one part of you ever let you give up on it for four years. Thing is, there will always be someone in front of you, someone behind you, and someone next to you. And if you keep comparing and contrasting and dwelling on pointless nuances, you’re not going to be happy. You’re not going to move.

Different choices bear different paths and the path that we choose to take may be more difficult than others. It may not reward us with the same kind of benefits and privileges and it may even add weights to our ankles as we forge our paths. As sad as it is, we are able to see those paths everywhere: on social media, in real life, or on television; and we are somehow inclined to exaggerate and emphasize these so-called success and compare it to ourselves. In essence, we never feel good enough.

Truth is, no one else matters. At that point, yes, it sucks. There’s no need to invalidate that feeling, but that moment isn’t forever. That moment of disappointment is not a defining moment, the defining moment is when you decide to get back up, put on some horse blinders and keep moving. So here I am to tell you to stop comparing your path, and to move forward dammit, because there’s a lot of ground to cover.

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Let’s Ask: Would You Go Back?

Take a second and turn back the clock. Your first day of college. Your last day of high school. Your kindergarten graduation. Your last relationship. If you could, would you go back to those moments with the full consciousness you now possess and attempt to notice what you couldn’t before?  If you could go back, would you?

There are specific moments, like prom or a breakup or graduation, where I’d think about seeing it all from a different perspective. Would I have enjoyed prom more if I had danced on a different side of the room, would I have been happier hugging different people at graduation, would I have seen the warning signs before it all blew up in my face? But what I’ve come to realize in all of this retrospection is that things are never what they were. In the moment, you’re greedy and self-righteous. You don’t think because there simply isn’t any time. You dance where you danced because there was free space, you hugged the people you did because they’re the ones that mattered at the time, you said he was an ass because at the time you couldn’t fathom to see it from a different perspective. Only in time do we realize that things begin to change, because we are changing. We’re growing up. Congratulations, you’re an adult. I suppose it then becomes the question of, is it worth going back?

As of late, I get these flashbacks to the happy little moments. Sharing a joke with a friend in class, noticing the exact moment I felt love for this person, and the absolute joy of hearing my name as I accepted my diploma case (sorry to break it to you kids, when you graduate you just get the case and then wait four to six weeks for a diploma to come in the mail).

In a way, I would want to go back for those moments. The ones that made my heart flutter, my eyes water, and my hands twitch. Those are the ones worth it. If I could bottle those feelings up and save them for a bad day, life wouldn’t feel so bogged down. The other ones make me wonder why I would pose such a broad question. Who would want to subject themselves to a torturous moment? No one wants to see their heart break in front of them or see their friends drift off into nothingness. That’s just terrible. It may make for a great Oscar worthy scene in a movie, but there’s no space for such torment in the real world.

Everyday we should strive to be happier than we were the day before.

Let me ask you again, dear reader: Would you go back? Is it worth going back?

Let’s Decide: Leader or Follower.

For eighteen years, I was a follower.

I’m not sure if it was the way I looked, the way I acted, or the way I talked; as far back as I can remember, the people around me have made my decisions. Not in some executive assistant type of manner, rather in one of condescension, as if they know me better than me. I wasn’t awarded the stereotypical, coming-of-age story arc every “twenty-five year old actor playing a sixteen year old” character got. I was told what I should wear, what classes I should be taking, and even what girl to date.

Oh yes, I cannot give myself the much coveted title of “Gold Star Gay,” because I have dated women in the past (two of them, in fact). Even so, the latter of the two relationships almost ended in utter disaster, due to the fact that it was built upon the fact that my friends told me to date her. They wouldn’t shut up about it; day in and day out, they would say: “You two are always hanging out together and you’re both so cute. You’d make a cute couple. Go for it. Ask her out!” Lo and behold, young, impressionable Jason said “Okay!” and asked out his poor girl and wasted a few months of her life. Months where she could’ve dated someone that actively and independently thought about dating her and wasn’t egged on by his friends to date her.

Oh, and someone who wasn’t gay. Granted,  I didn’t really know at the time, so I think I should let that one go.

Even in the vein of my career (yes, I am going to touch on this top as frequently as possible until I am actually employed), family members and friends and ex-supervisors have told me what I should be doing with my life, just because I’m good at it. By such a logic, I should begin my career in the ever-affluent path of Netflix bingeing. Lord knows I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Here are several, aggregated commands I’ve received in the past months:

Relative: “You should teach English in another country! It has good pay and is what you should be doing.”

Immediate Family Member: “You were an RA, right? Here’s this student life coordinator position. You need your M.A. and ten years of experience, but it can’t hurt to apply!”

Ex-Supervisor: “You were a great RA. YOU SHOULD BE IN STUDENT AFFAIRS. IT WAS MEANT FOR YOU. GO TO GRAD SCHOOL AND JOIN STUDENT AFFAIRS. #RAFORLYFE #STUDENTAFFAIRS #jointhecult.”

It gets tiring every now and then, but you learn to put up with it and tune out the unsavory ones. Like most posts, there really isn’t an answer or reason for this being here. Mostly because I don’t know who I am.

I’m twenty-two for fucks sake. I shouldn’t know a lot of things. Above all else, I still have a lot more to discover before I ever have to ask myself that question. As for being a follower; well, I guess you can say that I’ve learned to take the lead.

Let’s Debunk: Normalcy & Dysfunction. 

When I went away from college, I decided to leave any problem or issue that happened at home, at home. For four years, I chose to focus on myself and what I was doing and where I was going. What I didn’t know at the time was that at the end of those four years, that was exactly where I’d end up: back at home. So imagine my surprise upon entering my old room and realizing that the place where I was at that moment, was no longer the same place I left.

There was an odd air of tension; not unlike those moments when you walk into a room and realize that the people in there were just talking about you. It wasn’t that I felt victimized, it was more like a huge battle had happened and I so happened to walk into the scattered remnants of bodies and cannon fodder. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like the home I once knew.

For weeks after, I would go on mini rants about how this “new” home I somehow wandered back to was dysfunctional and “not normal.” The entirety of my college career, I could calculate that I went home no more than thirty times and the home I would come back to, was unchanged. A façade. Smoke and mirrors. If you would like more cliches, I’m sure I can fabricate some. The wools were pulled over my eyes (there you go). I’d walk through the garage door to happy faces and welcome back hugs, completely unaware that anything had happened or anyone had just fucked up big time.

This blissful ignorance kept me in check for four years. It held itself together in the form of a dam, keeping the waters of “dysfunction” at bay until I found myself in a semi-permanent position. At that point, the employees quit and the dam was demolished. The waters of truth overwhelmed me in one fell swoop and I had to learn how to swim in less than five seconds.

I’ve been home for a little over a month and what I realized was that the idea of a normal family is just what society wants us to believe a family is (I know i’ve written on social constructionism before, but at the time of this realization, it had decided to take a backseat). Every family has to be The Brady Bunch; no drama, no fuck ups, no bumps. Then you realize, no family is The Brady Bunch. I’m just upset that it took me so long to realize that not one family is really exempt from this. Everyone is affected. It doesn’t make my family any less of one than my neighbors and it doesn’t make me any happier that someone else out there probably has a much dire situation than my own. Fact of the matter is, in this world, normalcy is having dysfunction.

Anything functioning is simply a façade.

Let’s Have A Candid Conversation: Anxiety & Me.

It’s worse in the morning.

I’m not entirely sure why, all I know is that there’s this feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like you’ve disappointed someone without having done anything. I get up, almost reluctantly, and head downstairs for coffee in hopes that caffeine is the solution to whatever is digging itself deeper into the pit. A temporary relief flows over me, like a morning affirmation saying that everything is going to be okay and that I shouldn’t have to worry.

“This is all temporary.”

“You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”

“Something good is going to happen”

The same three statements are  repeated one right after the next until the words sound so distant and irrelevant that they’re almost foreign to my tongue. I go through the day mostly okay, attempting not to think about anything. In turn, I think about everything.

  • Jobs
  • Friends
  • Relationships
  • Jobs
  • Loans
  • Jobs
  • My lack of a social life compared to those around me who have the means to perpetuate the type of life I wish to lead one day but cannot seem to manage at the present time
  • Jobs

All of these things take the shape of a hanging, nagging finger of obligation that follows me around from day to day. I’d probably be insane if they hadn’t taken the weekends off.

Eventually, I feel the days become shorter and the amount of tasks that I had completed match in length.

Sometimes I never truly know what’s wrong; all I could pinpoint was that I felt like crying. It was like I was writing a book and decided to stop because I was at a loss for words and kept staring at a half empty page.

I’m never sure what clicks in me but, in spite of the emptiness of the page and the hollowness of my gut, I always continue writing.

-X-

As far back as I could remember, anxiety has always been my nemesis. Imagine that, being twenty-two years old with a nemesis. Especially one that isn’t corporeal or technically alive. You see, anxiety isn’t something that’s fun to deal with nor is it something that’s interesting to have. I feel like popular culture tends to portray characters with anxiety as “fidgety” and “dorky,” when in reality it’s something that’s crippling and debilitating. Some shows tends to get it right (and I thank the skies that they’re doing it justice) but there’s still so much left unsaid and unheard from the realities of it. I get it, it’s not exactly marketable, but when you’re in the business of telling the truth, not everything is going to be able to be presented in a nice little bow.

What helps me make it through is the thought that my anxiety is actually a piece of me. It’s a part of me that is controlling and annoying, but it doesn’t define me. It can hold me back, but I know I can make it through. I know I can because there’s still so much out there to see and I want to be able to seek it out.

I still want to grow.

Let’s Count: The Days When No One Else Mattered.

Day 1: You were annoying and creepy. My mother advised me against talking to strangers and that night I had wondered if I was right to defy such a directive.

Day 3: Rebellion reaps rewards. The texts good night and good morning had begun and there wasn’t a part of me that wanted them to stop.

Day 6: I fear that something new and scary may be happening. I’m unaware of where it’ll take me but for once in my life: I don’t give a fuck.

Day 7: One week later and I still don’t believe it. The conversations, the jokes, the flirting. Is this what ‘dating’ is supposed to feel like?

Day 7.5: Does it count as dating if the distance between the two is roughly 2,500 miles? Society says no, but I couldn’t care less.

Day 10: The texts become less frequent and I fear the repercussions of such a short-lived “romance.” I feel the quotes are necessary because even I am unsure of its validity at this point.

Day 15: I’m in over my head. This was stupid. I should stop texting. I should stop checking my phone. Why did I just check my phone? Stop it, Jason, put your phone in a drawer.

Day 15.2: Phone has been put in a different drawer, in a different room, on a different level of the house. The psychosis continues.

Day 17: Move on. This was never, ever meant to work out.

Day 20: Admit feelings in a long, essay length text. Hit send. Regret immediately follows.

Day 21: I never thought I’d get to the point where you were the only one I saw, the only one I thought I would care for, the only one that mattered. I can’t stop smiling, nor do I ever want to stop.

Day 50: I hate you.

Day 80: A month of abstinence. I feel good; Clean…free.

Day 80.5: Why you chose today to text me, I’ll never know…but I can feel myself falling back in. Hands reach out to help me but I refuse. I blindly and gladly accept this fate and am awash in my decision.

Day 95: I’m drowning.

Day 110: I reach the surface for air and breathe in nothingness. It’s lonely in the middle of the ocean; it’s even worse when you can see your ship sailing away without you.

Day ‘Who Gives a Fuck?’: It’s Christmas, I shouldn’t even think about you. I shouldn’t be wondering what your family wrapped for you under the tree, or if your dog is taking sips of eggnog, or how I should be running to your door with a mistletoe in hand. I shouldn’t be thinking that…I shouldn’t be thinking.

The Day A New Years Kiss Should Happen: It never happens.

Day 1v.2: Hello again.

Day 14v.2: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Day 20v.2: A pointless pep talk that leads up to a large, three-worded bomb is the last thing I expected today. But I love it.

Day 25v.2: You called me tonight and I wish I had never hung up. I wished it lasted hours longer. I wished we would fall asleep on the line and act like there isn’t some rift separating us. You said you called because “[you] thought it’d make me happy.” You were right. I was. I am. Very happy.

Day 30v.2: I can feel myself becoming that much closer to saying something so big and life changing that I can’t even begin to fathom the “right” way to start.

Day 45v.2: College is over. RIP Undergrad.

Day 50v.2: I don’t think I’ve cried so hard, yelled so loud, or hurt so deeply. It amazes me how one person can lift you up so high and let you fall so easily and with so much grace. Sadly, I was finally able to say the words I had longed to profess. If only it were under better circumstances.

A New Day: Today, I vow that I will not let something encompass me so deeply. I won’t let someone cloud my judgement. I won’t let someone control me. Yet as I type this, I feel that today is also the day that I vow to break that vow, because I seldom keep the promises I make to myself. In the moment nothing is constant, nothing is set. You were the person with whom I thought I had IT. The person who wouldn’t fail or falter or fuck me over. The use of past tense has never been more appropriate. I want to say that I, in no way, regret anything. This was the best experience, the worst experience, the most fulfilling experience I could have ever hoped to have. But, I felt the need to write this because I can’t even begin to move on without acknowledging where I’ve been. I want to be able to close this chapter of my life and start on a new one. A chapter where you don’t matter as much to me as you once did. I sat here and counted the days where you made an impact on me and those days were plentiful, but they are not inclusive. There will come a day where no one else will matter and I have come to admit that you won’t be the last man standing; I will.

Let’s Change: The Title.

Since it’s creation back in April, this blog was, has been, and always will be dedicated to taking a different perspective on the world and the situations that occur within it.

However, I feel that my posts have shifted on the weekly from looking at certain societal aspects to personal problems back to societal aspects and then an awkward foray into cutting my own hair. All of that being said I feel that this blog deserves a new title.

*drumroll*

“Let’s Discover”

Isn’t it clever and only slightly different than its original title? It’s brilliant, it’s lazy, it’s perfect. In keeping with the ‘let’s’ aspect of the blog, I feel that making it an active journey of discovery (whether it be discovering more about the world or more about myself) is not only accurate, but much more fun. It also has an added benefit of bringing you, the reader, along for the ride. I hope that my writing and experiences continue to evolve and I hope you all enjoy the ride as it goes on!

Let’s go, we have a lot of ground to cover!

Let’s Explore: Thoughts While Buzzing My Head.

It starts with a whim.

I suppose it just stems from an inability to care and a want to do something so relatively nuts that you, yourself, isn’t sure what the next step is. A piece of you realizes you have the tools and the means to do it, but you sense something is holding you back, a latent fear or the idea that it can all turn out so terribly wrong.

“It’s just hair” was something that went through my mind and to most, cutting your own hair isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a chore and nothing more. But, I typically care about my looks to a certain extent, definitely more than the person sitting next to me in a movie theater, so this was a plunge. The idea that was stopping me, was sight. I saw myself hesitating and saw myself thinking about how bad it’ll turn out.

I say it starts with a whim because it did. A piece of me wanted to do something drastic by myself, in a space that was all my own while I still had it. I guess this was the act that won above all else. So I did what anyone else would do in the event that sight got in the way.

I closed my eyes and pushed.

I opened my eyes and realized how easy it was and that, well, I can’t stop now lest I want to look like someone who should belong in prison. It’s funny though, you never realize how much hair you actually had on top of your head until it’s at your feet on the floor (there was a lot). But as I kept going, the more fun it got. It became a game for the obsessive compulsive, making sure that every bit is neat and every strand is cut. Granted, I’m not the best barber and will have to get fixed tomorrow morning, so I can’t do it all alone.

But, in some awkward attempt to pull out some life lesson from this impulsive, yet mundane act, I will say this: you never really know the outcome of something until you go for it. It all begins with a whim and you just have to let it overtake you and run with it.

Never in the subsequent twenty-two years of living did I ever think I would do this (let alone do this of my own volition and means) and yet I did. While I’m not the biggest fan of this particular result, I do think it’s becoming of me. As a matter of fact, I look pretty damn good. I’ve had worst cuts and hey, it’s just hair. And I’m not regretting one tiny bit of it. Why would I? It’s only temporary.

It’ll grow back.

the face that doesn't regret his decision.

the face that doesn’t regret his decision.

Let’s Endure: The Job Hunt

The Job Hunt: It’s as inevitable as growing old, as necessary as breathing, and as annoying as the kid who always raised his hand in class with the right answer. In my experience (which has so far been three months in “the hunt”), I typically receive the same three responses from relatives:

1) Where have you been applying?

2) I’m sure something will come up.

3) You know, it took me ‘X’ months and ‘X’ job applications to get my first job. It’ll work out.

My responses, all held dry underneath the umbrella of politeness are as follows:

1) Literally everywhere, but I’m sure something will happen in time.

2) Oh, most definitely! It’s just a matter of patience.

3) Well, I’m only on month three. I suppose I have a long way to go.

In my family, politeness is probably of the utmost importance, perched up in the ranks next to cleanliness and dental hygiene. It’s sufficient to say that “talking back” won’t only result in complete, familial shame, but also an immediate removal from the family newsletter that exists only through tacit consent and word of mouth.

What they don’t know and will soon find out, is that i’m screaming in my head for everybody to stay quiet and let me do what four years and $65,000 taught me to do: work under the stress of society. As of right now, I am seventy-two applications deep, have accrued eight rejections, and sixty-four non replies.

And they wonder why the job hunt is stressful?

I am finding myself in the most peculiar and perhaps most common situation in regards to this hunt; I am stuck in the phase where I have begun asking myself even more unanswerable questions: What if the first job I’m offered is that one I pounce at, thus shutting out all other possibilities out there? What if there are better ones? How do you know? Will someone please tell me, because I am scared. The answers are out there, but they’re hiding. Hiding beneat the doubt and uncertainty and the unknown. A part of me understands; I understand why it’s selective and why it is the way it is, but at the same time I want to dismantle it bit by bit just so I can get an inch through the door. Yes, my cover letter is a template and no, that doesn’t mean I care any less about the job.

Between the onslaught of questions from family burrowing into the dura over my temporal lobe and my imposed narcissism on behalf of these unknown employers, I’m at my wits end. I can say that it’ll get better and that something will work itself out in due time, and it will, i’m sure of it; but those same responses get tired, tired to the point of ineffectiveness and redundancy. It’s so overdone that I can play backwards and forwards the exact mannerisms associated with the responses:

A tilt of the head, a gentle touch on the hand, *cue subtle sigh*:

Friend/Family Member

“It’ll work out. I know it will. You just have to give it time. Life will out, my friend. Life will out.”

I understand this initial response to it, I do. But despite all of the reassurances, let’s not pretend that you didn’t just steal that phrase from Grey’s Anatomy. From someone who is a fellow hunter, I will start my stating the obvious: the hunt is hard.

It’s harder than a Rubix Cube and rarely yields the same “satisfying” results. But, there’s a reason why the cliches are cliches and the phrases are redundant; it’s because they’re true.

So, I’ll say this with a tilt of my head, a gentle touch on the hand, and I’ll *commence the subtle sigh*:

It’s a tough world out there. But I’m tougher. You’re tougher.

And it’s hunting season, so gear up.

Let’s Redefine: The Villain. 

Once upon a time, a small child grew up thinking that life was simple. Life was merely saving the damsel, slaying the dragon, and living happily ever after. It was black and white, right and wrong, heroes and villains.

Of course, we all know that life is anything but an odd mixture of varying dualities. We realize that a middle ground does exist; some may say that there are an even number of shades of gray. There is always room for reason. That being said, we can’t judge the small child for being disillusioned or misled. Mostly because it’s only a child and very much fictitious. But it really does get you thinking: Who really are the heroes and villains in our lives? Are heroes always draped with capes and are villains always distinguished by the horns protruding from their foreheads?

Short answer? There are no clear, tell-tale signs for either.

Real-life answer? You never truly know until you get to know someone. That’s where life deviates from the fairytales. Figuring out the villains isn’t as easy as The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen made it out to be. As much as we hate it, it is only through becoming vulnerable that we realize who will hurt us. The only thing “right” with the idea of the villain is that they’re someone who hurts others regardless of reason.

This is where I feel that the entire concept of fairytales, albeit traditional and clean-cut, shouldn’t be the monolith for all relationships. We all see villains as something or someone different. Just because someone is complicated and vindictive doesn’t mean they deserve the title of villain. A person plagued by circumstance and poor life decisions shouldn’t be held down by that.

Maybe we do so because we find it so much easier to hate someone, as opposed to understanding their situation? It certainly makes logical sense. To hate someone, all you have to do is delete their number and walk away; but to understand is to become vulnerable again, this time in a situation in which that vulnerability can be exploited.

I feel that’s a risk worth taking.

Vulnerability, in this sense, can be a good and powerful force. It can almost act as a sixth sense, being able to let you know who is going to hurt you. It’s scary, sure, almost like being naked in public. But that also makes it liberating, in that you don’t have to hide beneath anything.

Think it over and realize that there are other possibilities. Close the storybook and open your mind; welcome to reality, we’ve been waiting for you.