growing up

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New Old Soul

Published February 13, 2015 by auddity

I think I am very often mis-identified as an old soul. Contrary to what my high school social life may have indicated – my best friend’s parents very accurately called us “the grandmas” – I do not think I am an old soul. I know old souls, and I am not one of them. My good friend is decidedly and old soul, not just because she likes tea and is perpetually chilly, but because she always asks you about your life and manages to remember things you like or are interested in. She’s the kind of person who, after a few months of not talking, will call you up out of the blue because she saw a news story that reminded her of you and she wanted to get your opinion on it.

Another friend once told me he was an old soul, so I told him I was a young soul and that meant our internal ages canceled out, making for a perfectly balanced friendship. I’m not sure it works like that, but I think it was the first time I’d thought of myself that way, as a young soul. I’m still not convinced he’s an old soul, but he definitely has grandpa-like tendencies.

Alright, so I like to curl up with a mug of coffee and a good book. I prefer physical books to tablets. I am old-fashioned when it comes to romance. BUT. I am not old-fashioned when it comes to sexuality. I may not get married. Ever. I talk like a child. I say “false” and “def” in real-life conversation. I freak out whenever I see a dog or a baby. I am up on most social media platforms, with the exception of pinterest because it’s seems highly addictive, and why tempt fate? Plus pinterest exists for old people too, particularly those who like to do CRAFTS. Oh, and also snapchat. I don’t get it. Seems like a waste of time (okay I’m an old fart when it comes to snapchat (also my spell checker just made me make “snap chat” one word, so unsurprisingly Google knows more about snapchat than I do)). I am obsessed with staying up to date with the latest shows and movies. I think the face of television is changing and I’m really excited about it. I like to go to parks and just soak up the big open sky. I am still in awe of the night sky.

I think that thus far the majority of my life has been me trying act older than I feel, which is actually just me trying to act my age. While I am mature in a lot of ways, I’d say that I am a child at heart, which has its pros and cons. It makes working with kids really fun. I think that just like old souls can still be deliciously silly, young souls have a surprising propensity for seriousness. I mean, have you ever talked to a child? Everything is a matter of life and death; who they invite to their imaginary pony’s sleepover is no laughing matter. It is a serious thing. I think for me it’s that I’m a worrier, and I attribute this to feeling younger than I think I should. While one side of being a young soul is being care-free, the other part, for me at least, is being a worrier. Old souls don’t have to worry, they have faith everything will work out. Young souls lack the worldly experience (whether acquired or innate) that old souls possess to just chill the fuck out and let things unfold.

Old soul or not, I am pretty much convinced that everyone is walking around acting like they’ve got their shit together, when really we’re all just playing catch up.

The Language of Love (For Non-Native Speakers)

Published August 6, 2013 by auddity

I spend a large amount of my time trying not to let on to anybody how scared I am. I’m sure many people experience this, but to me it seems like everyone else at least has the capacity to suck it up and get their shit together when they’re afraid. Meanwhile I’m huddled in the corner obsessing about things that in all probability will work themselves out whether I obsess about them or not: I will meet new people. I will find a job. I will not be homeless. I will adjust and adapt because I have to. I just have to breathe and let things happen. Well, obviously I can’t just let the universe move around me and hope for the best; I have be proactive. But I have to have faith that my efforts will produce results and realize that stressing out to the point of not sleeping or not eating is not going to help anyone, least of all me.

I just wonder if other people get scared like this? Scared of the unknown, even though the unknown can be as breathtaking as it is terrifying. Scared of little things, like talking on the phone to people I don’t know, trying new restaurants, going to the post office, receptionist jobs (actually just all office jobs), asking for help, doctors’ offices, living with people I don’t know.

You could chalk it up to my recent move, getting used to new people in a new place with a new way of life. (Oh yeah ps, I moved to New York!) And I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. I’m actually hoping that this move makes me more independent and helps me to get over some of my ridiculous fears that seem to plague my every day recently. I’m also afraid of the big things though. Things that don’t have to do with the move, like sex and love and intimacy and family and having children and accidentally fucking them up. I used to know I wanted to have kids, in fact, one of the first things I assured my mom after I came out to her (the first time) is that she’d still have grandchildren. But now I’m not so sure. Maybe it was working at a daycare and seeing all the work that goes into raising a child. No, that’s not it. Because I know if I had a child the work would so be worth it. I think it’s more of the why, why do I want a child? Is it simply for the joy they’d bring me? And if so, isn’t that a little selfish? Or is it simply to continue my legacy? But what’s the point when my child will most likely not be the biological child of my partner? These are questions I had not thought to ask myself a year ago, but they are important things to consider.

I also always thought I would get married, or at least have a committed, monogamous relationship if I couldn’t get married legally, but I find myself questioning that as well. I think part of it is that I’m at a point in my life where I really can’t picture who I’ll end up with. Like, I have no idea. And that scares me. It is extremely frustrating because I don’t even know what I’m looking for in this big wide vast-as-fuck world, and how will I ever find someone if I have to sort through everybody?!? And another part of it is that I don’t know if I want to be tied down to the same person for the rest of my life. In the past five years – that is not a lot of time – I have gone through several different transformations and how can I expect one person to weather all that and still like me at the end of everything? That’s just not realistic. Maybe I like the idea that if I wanted to, and I’m not saying I would necessarily, I could pick up and leave after having been in a seriously long-term relationship with someone without there being legal repercussions. And of course, if we were to have children then that would complicate things. Do you see my dilemma??

I’m also scared of being alone. But how stupid is that? I am simultaneously scared of being alone and not being alone. I claim that the thing I want most is to love and be loved by somebody, but the idea of being that close with someone terrifies me. Or, to be more exact, the idea of being that close with someone and losing them for whatever reason terrifies me. I think that’s what’s held me back thus far. I’ve been looking for that perfect someone, but if I ever found that person who was absolutely perfect for me I know I would be terrified of losing them. And until now I’ve struck out with just about everyone; either I knew they weren’t perfect or I thought they were and it turned out they weren’t. Maybe there is no perfect person. If I had wanted to be with someone it could’ve happened by now. But is it too much to ask to not want to settle for someone I’m not into? Or should I have just bit the bullet and at least gotten some experience under my belt (lol, punz)?

As I grow older, I’m feeling like romance is a foreign language that everyone else seems to have picked up besides me. Seriously, between school and work and friends and growing up, when did you guys find time to learn all this vocab??? Dating, hooking up, sex, love, all these are nonsensical to me. I must have missed those days in class. You know what, I’ve never been very good at languages anyway, so maybe it’s just me. Can someone find me a tutor??

How I Lost Faith In Religion But Not God

Published April 7, 2013 by auddity

I went to my Great Aunt’s funeral a few days ago; it was the second time I found myself at a mass in a week. The other time was last Sunday, when I went to Easter mass with my mom at the nursing home where my dad lives. Both masses were held on days when I normally would have been working, both were a little painful, but they also reminded me why I chose to leave the church and explore my faith outside the confines of religion.

Standing in the pew I was struck, as I was on Easter, by the tendency of Catholics to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. Why is that, when a lot of the faith is based on selfless love and sacrifice? Not all Catholics fall prey to this short-coming, I’m sure, but I certainly did. I thought being involved in the church made me better. Not a better person necessarily, but better than others. I think for me that was the danger in worshipping in a community – there was automatically pressure to compete. Who could be the most devote, the purest, the most selfless? But that kind of thinking is poisonous. My Aunt was not like that. My father certainly isn’t. And neither am I, after having removed myself from the church.

It wasn’t all bad however, growing up Catholic gave me a deep-rooted compassion for others and I would not give that up for anything. In fact, most of my moral decisions are influenced by lessons that I learned while staring up at a man on a cross. But Catholics, is it really necessary to change the call and response so often? I know I’ve been gone for a while, but when I do come back, it is extremely frustrating to be going about the mass, answering with the same words I’ve known by heart since childhood, and all of a sudden I’m fumbling over “And also with you,” when everyone else is saying “And with your spirit.” That doesn’t even make sense. Way to welcome your prodigal daughter. On Easter the priest went so far as to “fulfill his duty as a priest” by reminding us that those who have not attended church regularly or have fallen out with the faith should not receive communion unless they have confessed their sins to a priest. How about sheparding your sheep, buddy?! That is a bad example because he’s a joyless man who is obviously just going through the motions of the Catholic faith. He does it because he has to, and that has got to be such a wasted life. If he doesn’t love his congregation or his faith, what else does that man have to live for? And that brings me back to the holier-than-thou thing. To me it seems his priesthood is based solely on self glorification; when he says things like “when I was at the Vatican…” or “my Cardinal friend says…” to NURSING HOME residents, you know he is not doing it out of love and compassion. This is just one isolated example, but I mistrust a religion where that man can somehow wind up the mentor of souls that are sadly not too far from Heaven. That’s not what it’s about; it should never be a competition, because – newsflash – Jesus would win every time.

Before this week, I had not set foot in a place of worship in a long time. Since I came out a few years ago, I only go to church on special occasions – Easter Sunday, funerals, weddings, Christmas, etc. Growing up though religion was a big part of my life; I loved the feel of community, the singing, the way the light streamed through the stained glass windows early in the morning. My first crush went to my church. My dad sang in the choir. Everyone knew and loved him, and us. I went to Sunday school, I joined the choir, I administered communion, we were involved. I thought that all of that was in glorification of God, that being an active member of my church at such a young age would make me closer to Him, but it turned out that I was only promoting myself, my supposed holiness, and not God.

During the few years before I started college, my whole family had stopped regularly attending church; I think we had all fallen out with Catholicism, and maybe even with God at that point. My dad was sick and a lot of the people that loved and knew us and who called themselves Christians had turned their backs and passed judgment on us. And that was before I came out. If they had found out I was queer! Forget it. Anyway we stopped going so I was saved the pain of coming out to my fellow Catholics and finding out who among them would love their neighbor once she started spouting queer theory.

I came into college having already stopped regularly attending mass, so once I set foot on campus there seemed little reason to go at all. It wasn’t until my second semester when I was in the throngs of self-denial/acceptance that I found myself in the snow, alone, standing outside the chapel on campus. At the time I thought it was a need belong – which I later found through the queer community, not through the Catholic one – so I started attending mass every Saturday night. Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t a church I was seeking, or the community that comes with it, it was God. I was looking for guidance in a time when I had no clue who I was or what my future looked like. I was searching for some constant, and I returned to the church because it had been a source of comfort as a kid. By my sophomore year I became the vice president of the Catholic club. This coincided with the time I was trying to be out and visible on campus, so I am sad to say my involvement did not outlast that semester. The president was going abroad and they wanted me to step up, but I could not in good faith –ha! – represent a religion with which I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. So I emailed president of the club, who was also my friend, and explained to her that I was in the process of coming out, and even though the general attitude on campus and in the club was very liberal, I was going to leave the club and figure out my relationship with God on my own terms. As I grow older and am looking farther down the line, I am so torn because while I no longer practice the dogmatic side of the religion, I want my children to understand the compassion and the sacrifice that are so essential to the faith. How can I give my children the experience I had without also exposing them to a religion in which I no longer believe?

It was alienating, turning my back on the religion in which I had been raised because it no longer wanted me. Whether real or imagined it felt like all of a sudden I was tainted; something was fundamentally wrong with me, yet it had happened overnight. I don’t mean to imply that all Catholics are intolerant of queers, or that I couldn’t have found a more accepting church to join. I could have. And maybe no one would have batted an eye if I chose to come out while continuing in the church. But the threat of being rejected from a community I had been part of since birth (well, since baptism technically) was enough to make me lose faith in religion as an institution. It is too easily swayed by politics because religion is politics. But faith is love. Faith is guidance and acceptance and absolute certainty that there is nothing I can do to make God hate me. And that is how I lost faith in religion but not God. And I am so much happier for it.

Age Is Just A Number, A Perpetually Increasing Number

Published February 7, 2013 by auddity

I recently started reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants to, you know, get inspiration for my memoir. In it she recalls being asked during a workshop When Did You First Know You Were a Woman? Tina said that the majority of responses from the two hundred plus women at the workshop were moments “when some dude had done something nasty to them.” If I were to open that question up to all individuals, When Did You First Know You Were an Adult? I wonder what trends we would see. Not sure I’d actually want to find out because I think it would just make me sad. Men would probably have overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) positive experiences. Trans individuals would probably have very positive experiences as well, but that would not blot out a former lifetime of bad ones.

I think one of the first times I felt like an adult was when my mom came to my room after having met with a financial advisor or attorney or consultant or someone who told us we had no money and cried into my shoulder that we’d have to sell the house. There were other moments when time shifted a little around me, the day my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the day we put him in a nursing home, the day I felt my first heartbreak, the day a man I’d voted for became my president, but that day with my mom was different. It represented a loss of innocence and an increase in responsibility. One that I felt came too soon, but maybe that’s just the way life works. Maybe adulthood sneaks up on you and sets in when you’re not looking.

Then again, I am 22, I live with my mom, I enjoy Disney movies, dance breaks, ice cream, coloring books, and I work with kids. Today one of my students asked me a question, to which I responded, “This kid!” and she promptly told me “You’re not a kid!” The truth is I feel like one. And I am in many ways. I watched Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts (have you noticed most of my ideas come from pop culture?) and one of the lines that stuck with me was when Josh’s recently-retired professor/mentor confessed that “Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.” I think that’s probably true. Or at least that none of us feel as old as we thought we’d feel when we reached a certain age. When I was in high school, I thought I’d have everything figured out by the time I graduated college. I think when I’m thirty I’ll still feel like a novice in most things, when I’m forty I won’t feel over the hill, when I’m sixty I’ll still feel too young to retire, and when I’m eighty I’ll still want my mom to make me soup when I’m sick.

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