Youthful Decisions and the No Clue Blues: Part 3

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle

There comes a point in life when life itself becomes the classroom.  There are no classes, lectures or degrees one can attend or attain in order to by-pass the hard lessons that need to be learned.

As I move forward, I’ve decided to keep all the spiritual practices I’ve learned along the way and apply them into my daily routine.  There’s still a lingering temptation to go back to the one dimensional way I use to worship which feels more comfortable and familiar, but then I’d be going back to something that really wasn’t truly me.

There’s also something about walking the thin line between heathen and saint; when I walk the line of Mary Magdalene, I feel fully human, full of imperfections and mistakes.  When I walk the line of sainthood I feel the peace that not even the world can bring.

Love,

Ed

I spent most of the earlier parts of my 20s working hard to achieve goals. I was constantly working towards the next thing and trying to be better. Once I finished my Bachelors, it was on to my Masters and working hard at an internship to hopefully land a great job. Then, it was working on my credential and pursuing a more secure career. Once that was set, my attention turned to running and I started training for marathons, racking up miles and tearing up my knees. I strove to run faster and longer. I averaged running 3 marathons per year for about 3 years.

5188402583_f5a905f32a_o

I realized later that so much of the motivation behind all of the achieving and working was fear/anxiety based. I felt that I had to work hard so I had a secure future. I felt that I had to do something productive and impressive with my time. When I really stopped to think about it, I realized that I was dealing with anxiety for so many years and keeping myself busy was a way to keep my anxious thoughts at bay.

What was I anxious about? Everything and anything.

There was mostly this underlying fear I had that something bad would happen. There was no true basis for this fear, but I would create fearful scenarios in my head and lead myself into a full-fledged panic attack, thinking about all the bad things that could happen. My family could get in a horrible car accident. I could be struck with some terrible disease and die a slow, painful death. The list of horrible thoughts I put myself through goes on and on. As I reflect back, I realize it was fearfully clinging to everything I was attached to and afraid to lose.

I had been working on my anxiety and seeing small improvements. When I was 28 years old, my father was shot and killed. This event was a turning point in my life for so many reasons, but I bring it up here to explain how strangely enough, it freed me of my anxiety.

I was always so fearful of “something bad” happening, and then something very bad did happen. It was absolutely the worst and a difficult time for my family. However, it was how I death with this event that released me from my anxiety. I used yoga, meditation and lots of friend/family support to get me through. I realized that something very bad did happen…and, I got through it. I was able to live through the pain, fear, anger, sadness and grief. It is possible for bad things to happen and still come through the situations.

Although I still struggle with anxiety, it is much more manageable and identifiable. I recognize when it’s creeping in and use some of the coping mechanisms that have worked before to address it, before it gets out of control.

In love and peace,

~Ang

 

Youthful Decisions and the No Clue Blues: Part 2

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. William Shakespeare

When I was eighteen, and a recent graduate from high school, I had no clue about life. Not even the color green could justify my naivete.  I’ve often compared myself to a zygote just beginning the process of gestation.  The one thing I did have right was my religiosity.  I, as well as all the other clueless virgins in our young adult group thought we had it all figured out since our life reflected biblical virtues.  It’s no wonder that by the age of twenty – eight with my virginity still intact – at least with women – I got romantically involved with a priest.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself along the way is that I live life in extremes; if I’m going to take on a new project, I’ll suck the life out of it until there is nothing left over except the shell of its former self.  I can see why I was so extreme in my faith at such a young age, as well the choices I made while exploring the gay lifestyle.

By twenty – eight I was tired of hiding my sexuality and decided to live life the exact opposite way.  My life with the priest was exciting, filled with trips to Europe, Hawaii and other previously unexplored locations.  Although we had a great time together, I still carried that gnawing guilt associated with our forbidden relationship.  If anyone were to find out, I was certain to lose all the close friendships I had made in my former life.

But could I count my “Christian” friends as real friends?  At the time, was I really presenting my true self?  The answer is no, I wasn’t.  I had to do what I did in order to shed an old mentality that could have fooled me into believing that God could make me straight.

Peace,
Ed

In Part 1, we discussed how we thought we had the world figured out when we were 18 and were ready to conquer it. Like many new adults, I thought I knew it all and was ready to finally be on my own and live the life I wanted.

As I look back, I realize that I spent most of my 20s trying to fulfill expectations. These were mostly expectations I had put upon myself or expectations of others that I was interpreting, perhaps correctly, maybe incorrectly, but either way, I wanted to do everything just right and do what I was “supposed” to.

“Supposed” to and “have to” are two verbs that can really sum up my 20s. I spent most of the time out of touch with my true desires, thoughts and goals and more effort was put into what I thought I “should” be doing. Although I used to like to boast that I did not care what others thought of me, I realize that I did in fact care very much and based most of my decision making upon this.

The need for good appearances really manifested itself in how much make-up I used to wear. As I was looking back on old pictures, I was shocked to remember how much time I used to take to get ready and how much gunk I had caked upon my face.

3166058210_3aca2291a1_o I spent my early 20s working hard on my education. My 21, I had my Bachelors degree, by 23, I had my Masters and my counseling credential when I was 24. I plowed through it with such tenacity because this was after all, what you were “supposed” to do. I hardly stopped to think if this was truly what I wanted. Was I studying the correct topics? Was I applying to the right schools? Was I headed towards the right career?

I definitely do not regret finishing my education early in life, but I do wish I had been more methodical in my choices and allowed myself more time to grow as an adult, before diving into a career.

I had the same boyfriend most of the way through college and when I was 22, he proposed. I definitely did not want to break up and he was a nice enough guy, so I said yes. I already had my Bachelors degree and was half-way done with my Masters. I decided to finish my Masters degree then marry him. It made sense in the natural progression of my life and fit in with what I thought was “supposed” to happen. It made sense that this would be the next step in my progression towards the American dream.

Here I am with tons of make-up on, the morning of my wedding. I don’t even recognize that person anymore.

3202144465_61e866a037_o

What a huuuuuge lesson that turned into. I try not to dwell on regret or things I cannot change. But, this was undoubtedly a big mistake. I was not mature enough to make such a big decision, nor was he. He was definitely not the right person for me and just a few months into our marriage, I realized it had been a big mistake and things were going horribly wrong. I tried. Man, did I try. I tried to be someone I wasn’t. I tried to ignore those thoughts and feelings that my life was making no sense anymore. I tried to make it work. But, three years in, we both realized it was time to move on.

At 26, I found myself headed for divorce. I was embarrassed, shattered, broken and vulnerable. But, I at last felt authentic. I never wanted to be a divorcee and there is still a part of me that is very embarrassed by this, but it also showed the world that I was not perfect and I was done living up to anyone else’s expectations. It gave me the freedom to begin to cultivate my true essence and make peace with my flaws. It let me face my imperfect self and embrace my bad decisions.

From here, I was able to grow. I have worked hard these past few years to know the real me and make decisions that have been for myself and my true identity. I feel now that I live more authentically and have a deeper connection to my soul, the earth, my fellow beings and God.

I am sure when I am 40, I will look back at 30 and realize I had noooooo clue, but I am at peace with that. I am at peace with knowing I have not arrived anywhere. I am content to realize how little I know about anything and I am excited about all there is to learn.

Most days, the only thing I wear on my face is my nose ring. I face the world bare, vulnerable and open to new experiences.

15143012923_7ef3958960_o

In love and openness,

~Ang

Youthful Decisions and the No Clue Blues: Part 1

“You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated.” Maya Angelou

Angelina and I have a ten year age difference between the both of us but one of the things we share in common is the understanding that we both didn’t have a clue about life when we were eighteen.  Although we both reached legal status at separate times, we agree that our decision making abilities were very limited.

In those vulnerable teenage years, life’s hopes and dreams are as big and innocent as Ariana Grande’s budding music career:

Nickelodeon's 27th Annual Kids' Choice Awards - Arrivals

But if the wrong decisions are made, either by ourselves or others, we can find that life will eventually have the last laugh:

tumblr_ljm23b2H2U1qek5gz

In the next couple of blogs, Angelina and I are going to discuss both the good and the bad decisions we’ve made in the past and how they’ve shaped us today.

Peace,

Ed

Last month, I attended a conference held at the university I attended from the ages of 17-21. I walked onto the campus as a 30 year old, and no longer a student, but a high school counselor, present for professional purposes.

As I walked around the campus and looked at familiar spots with different eyes, I realized at that time, I had NO CLUE.

I remember texting Ed that day and telling him how weird it was to be back there and remember how smart I thought I was, at the time. I thought I had life allllll figured out and planned. I thought I had finally arrived. I was finally out of provincial high school and in a university surrounded by others who actually wanted to be there. I knew I wanted to get my degree, get into graduate school, get married, start a career and start a family.

I thought because I had planned so well and worked so hard that life would work out exactly how I wanted. I thought because I had done what I was “supposed to” I would be rewarded, because this is after all, America.

Looking back now, I am glad my life did not go the way I thought I had wanted. I had some BIG, no HUUUUUGE lessons to learn along the way and I am quite content to know that I still have so much to learn.

I started off my 20s like this:

HTRA208 VV054 And ended more like this:

britney-confused Please check back for our NO CLUE series, to read about some of the ups and downs we have had on this crazy road!

In love and sisterhood,

~Ang

What were some of your impressions of the world at 18?