Friday, August 5, 2011

Advice (#2)

Jeremy's post inspired me to do the same--to answer the questions he asked, which are:

What would you say to your younger self? If you're a college student, what would you say to your sixteen-year-old self? What advice would you give? Any warnings?

Image source:

Dear Sal,

Have you read On the Road yet?  If not, you'll love it.  I think you read it next year.  Anyway, I made a small list of things I want you to know.

1.  You don't have to experience everything.  It's not necessarily worth it to know what drinking feels like or to know what sex feels like.  You don't have to go on a mission.  (This 25-year-old version of you went on a mission, and it was an incredibly positive experience--one of the best of your life--but it also threw some wrenches into your psyche.  There are other positive experiences you may have if you decide not to go on a mission.)  There is wisdom in knowing that you don't have to experience everything to understand what is important.

2.  Become friends with time.  The moments, hours, and months of pain you've felt (and will feel occasionally in the future--probably forever) will always pass.  You just have to wait them out.  But this will get better, I promise.  If you're in a rough spot, give it a few months.  Then you'll probably find a completely new you who feels better and knows better how to live well.  Don't be afraid to feel your pain though, either. In doing so, you'll work through it, and thus you will be able to move on.  Don't be afraid to get help working through it.

3.  Things get way better.  I write this from your 25-year-old self, and life is wonderful.  You are open about your sexuality, and you have helped to change people's perspectives on what it means to be gay--in a positive way.  Being open about this thing you don't control has made the world a better place.  You have lots of friends who love you for you, and you have plenty of gay friends--even gay Mormon friends!  And there have been a few guys.  Have you kissed that guy from junior year yet?  Yeah, that was gross.  Other kisses have been WAY better than that.  Look forward to it. :)

4.  Don't let yourself feel pressured into going to BYU.  In fact, as you, I'll advise you not to go to BYU.  It's not a good place for gays.  Your parents may pressure you into going, and even if you go, it will not appease their pressuring.  They will continue to pressure you in other ways.  Screw it.  Go somewhere else, even if it means you have to sit through a few months of your parents being disappointed.  Even if it means you have to take out some loans.  Live your life the best you know how--not the best others think they know how.  

5.  Trust in God.  But do it in a very personal way.  You don't have to live by external standards of perceived worthiness to receive personal revelation.  God will answer your prayers.  Whenever you feel ready to start praying again, give it a try.  Maybe you'll learn something.

6.  I know how stressed you are about telling your family.  I'm not sure if I should tell you how it goes.  But I guess I will.  I came out at 18--maybe you will, too.  Your siblings, they'll be good to you.  Mom--she will be really afraid at first, and will stress you out with a bunch of stuff about how deceased family members and God can help you overcome this--what she believes to be evil.  That language will hurt.  But she will change.  She will eventually warm up to your partnering up with a guy.  Dad--he'll freak out.  He will cry.  He will try to take you to a change therapist (don't go), and will continue to buy into that sort of psychological garbage for years.  Even now, your relationship with him is tenuous.  But nevertheless, it's probably better here (at 25) than it is there (16).  Don't worry about his crap, though.  If he chooses not to respect you and your experience, that's his problem.  But guess what?  You have wonderful, wonderful friends.  They help fill gaps in family acceptance.  They will want to meet the guy you're dating.  They encourage you to be good and to learn from yourself.

That's enough for now.  This list makes me laugh a bit, because most of it is wisdom for now, too.  So much to learn from myself.  You teach me too, you-16-year-old-me.  I continue to learn from how open you are about everything.

You're doing great, bud.  Just hang in there.



P.S.  Check out this book: My Name Is Asher Lev.  It's a good one.  So is The Chosen.  They're about learning to be brave and to reach into yourself for the confidence and answers you need.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I like this advice! I feel like I know you a tiny bit more! It's interesting to see where we are. What I love most about your letter is that you have accepted where you are now as well as feeling safe enough to offer advice to change that :) Plus, I know that I'm going to look up those books you told your younger self to check out! Justin, you are awesome!