Three Pages Left: The Story of 2014

Time has passed in funny ways this year. Writing most of this on the 25th, last Thursday feels like a month ago, the beginning of December three months ago, and the rest of the year a blur that can only be categorized as “It happened that recently?”. But, in a way, that’s the mark of a good period of time, so full with events and memories that it has to grow in scope. And I can safely say that the past week has been the most hectic and crazy one at least in this half of the year, if not the whole year.

So here’s a rundown of the week:

  • Thursday, 18 December: Moves home unassisted after an interesting semester of art school.
  • Friday, 19 December: Go to a huge basketball game.
  • Saturday, 20 December: Decide to come out.
  • Sunday, 21 December: Comes out. Also my anniversary for being part of the ESC family.
  • Monday, 22 December: Goes back in.
  • Tuesday, 23 December: The annual family Christmas party!
  • Wednesday, 24 December: Christmas night and present opening

Pretty intense, right? Especially the taxing, suffice it to say, three day stretch where I came out with a huge statement and then went back on it with another long statement within 24 hours. For anyone who had the privilege of following that event live, congratulations! You saw exactly how powerful, for better or worse, labels can be when it comes to self-image.

(This is the last I have to say on the matter, I promise)

What drove me to come out initially was the dream I had on the night between the 17th and 18th. But nothing in that dream was a surprise to me; in fact, a similar one happened on the 23rd, but I didn’t give it any more thought. The mistake of mislabeling myself like that in such a public way became very apparent, especially when I reread the note I wrote to myself. After doing that, I realized that, despite recognizing the half of my orientation in the note that I forgot when I came out, I’d totally jumped into this new situation that wasn’t actually right for me, and it wasn’t going to be made right by the efforts of myself or anyone else. So, about 19 hours after coming out and sending links to the announcement to so many people, I broke down and posted the most awfully self-loathing and depressing post saying “Uh, no, that’s not right,” basically. While I talk about how much better I am with my self-image in 2014, I still need work, especially when it comes to making mistakes.

Also, in retrospect, the thing that bugs me the most about this isn’t that I fucked up with the label, it’s that now so many people know so much stuff about me that I never wanted them to know and I can’t take it back. Like now, my brother has asked me about my orientation every day since the 21st and so has my mother. After struggling with this for six years on and off and non-stop for three whole days without finding an answer except the one that I had when I started the week, it’s the most uncomfortable thing ever. So, on the 31st, I’m deleting both posts from the blog and Facebook. I’ll still have the drafts on my laptop, which I’ll pull out whenever I need a reminder to slow down and really think about something.

The whole three days were an emotional roller coaster and I still don’t know where the fuel came from. Probably a combination of leaving Santa Fe and all my friends there to come back home and live with my newly grown family (my sister came back to town for a while too!), but I’m still not sure. However, the one shining positive from this whole mess is that my community of friends and family has shown itself to be full of support for anything I could ever do. And I realize now that I have a luxury that not enough people have, which is probably why I felt so bad when I had to admit publicly that I was wrong. Anyway, everyone’s messages of support have been and will be cherished by me, even if they are deleted with the posts (unless they were really moving to me, in which case, I’m saving them).

Finally, to move on from that (something I can’t wait to do in real life)! It’s time to talk about Christmas, and even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, there’s a certain buzz around mid to late December that, for me, is worth talking about. Especially after Christmas 2013, where I finally became part of the Eurofamily that I should’ve been a part of at least two years earlier, the final few days before the end of the year have a special mood to them. Now is the perfect time to sit on the past 358 days and reflect on what went well and what didn’t. For a lot of people I know, 2014 hasn’t been kind to them. This list includes friends, acquaintances, and family members alike, especially my parents, who’ve been tried by the same issues in different ways. Normally, those negatives would rub off on me and, had 2014 taken place without the last 10 days of 2013 taking place, cause me to totally cast off the year. But I did have a magical experience on the morning of 21 December 2013, and I took a new path that, for once, had my own interests over the interests of others.

For as long as I can remember, people drilled into my head the idea that I had to be a virtuous member of society and a hold the needs of others above my own. And I did that, but I was fatally flawed in two ways. First, I didn’t care about their actual needs, more like their emotions, which I took on as my own and fed off of. This is something I still do, which is why I get really uncomfortable with people crying or getting angry in front of me. Secondly, I hadn’t learned how to positively view myself, and even though I tried to do that, the needs of other people always seemed to be more important than my needs. I guess that I reached a very subtle breaking point after nearly 18 years of nonsensical self-hatred and cast aside some toxic habits in favor of finally fixing myself. So I tweeted, and wrote, and listened to music, and did it all without shame, because I needed to repair my battered and broken psyche.

There’s no need to rehash that story in full, so let’s move on with the knowledge that I did and that things got a lot better as the year went on. But why? What act of fate, luck, or deity caused me to have such an amazing 2014 that was shaped by such memorable events and people? I obviously wasn’t selfless, nor am I really anything else too virtuous. I carry unnecessary amounts of anger, I can be intensely sassy, I come off as uninterested very easily, and I’m a good liar. So what was it then? I guess it wasn’t a divine act, then, it was my own doing. For the first time, I was the one that changed things about myself for myself. And the results were astonishing.

First, I had a soundtrack to it all. When I can tie a song or a picture or a movie or a drawing or a sound to an event, I remember it far more vividly than I otherwise would. So when I gained tons of NF and ESC songs in my library, I was also adding to a memory catalog that’s now filled with memories and emotions that are attached to some of my favorite songs.

Talking of, the only reason I ended up with so many songs to love is that I finally began to cast aside all of my outward-facing mirrors where I just spouted out what sounded right to the person asking questions. Am I around people who like quality? Well then, let’s spend two paragraphs talking about one lyric in a song from 45 years ago! Now that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy that, but it’s just not something I feel I need to do anymore for validation. Basically what I did was turn the mirrors around so I could see them and then practiced loving the person I saw. So now, I didn’t care if I liked a beautifully heartfelt native-language ballad in one show and a noisy pop track sung in English in another. Or that I preferred having the front seat in the car, certain restaurants, and getting off to men instead of women. I had self-confidence, which actually really came from the last big thing I received.

I got friends! I get a lot of flack from people I know in real life about not sharing “myself” with them, whatever that means. But the truth is that I’ve shared more and feel closer to some people I’ve never met than people I’ve spent my entire life around. And I’m fine with that, because this was the very first time I was able to turn somewhere that wasn’t within myself or my family for help. Even if it was just me saying “Feeling a little blue today,” there was a chance someone would want to chat about it. As minuscule as it was, the little talks throughout the day with people were what got me through the worst parts of the year.

It really has been my friends that jumpstarted everything else good in 2014, and I don’t think I can thank them enough for it. I mean, I can make cards and stuff and talk about them until my fingers fall off from typing so much, but I don’t think feel like it’ll ever be enough. When I was offline, I just thought “I miss my friends,” despite never having met a single one of you. Hopefully that’ll change in 2015, though. I’ll do my best to facilitate that and already have (hello ESC 2015 and Finland!).

But for now, I guess I just need to be happy with doing as much as possible, which I feel like I do, so I’m good. And I really just want to say, from the depths of my overflowing heart, thank you for being there when I needed you, even if if was the silliest thing ever. The most perfect instance of this I can remember is when I was watching the Icelandic NF on an emotional day, and I tweeted out “I hope my face (I meant fave) wins in Iceland. I really need it today.” And within a few minutes, a conversation was going that pushed me away from my personal shit and into a happier place. That’s kind of a microcosm for 2014 itself, a chance event led me away from falling further into myself and instead, I was in a new place.

Travel’s also been a pretty big part of the story of 2014. My family scraped together a lot of trips this year, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have had those experiences and to have shared them with all of you. The ability to travel that I had this year was just the icing on the cake, and it produced amazing moments like walking on the beach, having my whole family together for the first time in two years, riding in the car, sitting next to the ocean, seeing the first game of the World Champion San Francisco Giants’ season, planning and going on my first trip alone, leaking red hair dye, going to theme parks, and just growing in general.

So as 2014’s time ticks down and we look to 2015 to start fresh, I can’t help but dwell on this past, because it’s been damn good. But since time doesn’t stop, it’s better to finish the story of this year and get the next 365 blank pages ready, so they can be filled with memories just as amazing as the ones before it. Here’s to the future.

– Nick

Posted in Personal Stuff, Writings

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