While shopping with a friend recently, I found myself struggling to settle on a pair of shoes to buy. My go-to pair have seen their better days (and their worse days, and the days beyond those, even…), so it’s time to suck it up and get a new pair. The problem was (is) that I can’t seem to decide what type to get. Do I stick with simple and casual? Go for something more professional? Maybe something daring and edgy? The pressure got too high, and I ended up leaving empty-handed.

About halfway through the struggle, I realized that what I was dealing with ran much deeper than simply my choice in footwear. The shoe dilemma was merely a representation of the deeper question I’m facing right now—who am I, exactly, and where am I going? I’m not really the casually shod college student anymore, with some loose threads and holes and smudges. But I’m not exactly ready to be the high brow, polished-loafer professional either. Then there’s the daring option—throwing caution to the wind, taking a chance on a whim,  blazing my own trail. Which will it be?

By refusing to buy new shoes, I’m prolonging my limbo state and avoiding the decisions that are plaguing more than just my feet. I’m not sure how long I can keep toeing the line without throwing myself fully in one direction or another, but I’m just as unsure which path is right for me. So for now, I go barefoot…

TOG


You know that moment when everything is going wrong, and then one person shows you a small kindness and you want to hug them and cry and implode all at the same time? I’m sure this has happened to everyone at some point. You’re running late and hitting every red light and you have to stop at Target for God knows what, and the person with a cart of 50 items lets you go first at the checkout? Or you’re feeling crappy and didn’t have time to get ready, but a friend tells you you’re looking great anyways?

I had one of those moments this morning, after sleeping terribly and waking up tired and cranky and a facing series of other inconsequential but supremely frustrating events. I showed up at work (late) and found that one of my bosses had left me a gift for no reason—just because. I went to my office and nearly broke down. In that moment, it was the best thing anyone could ever have done for me.

It’s at these moments when we’re the most vulnerable that people’s actions can affect us the most. My boss, the stranger in line at Target, the person who smiles at you on the sidewalk—they all made a difference in someone’s shitty day and they probably didn’t even realize it. So thank you to the kind folks out there that have made life a little better. Hopefully I can be the same for you at some point. You never know when someone needs it the most.

TOG

 


You know that thing that happens when you floss your teeth after not having flossed for a long time? Your gums retaliate. When you wake up the next morning they’ve flared up, covering nearly half your teeth and making your whole mouth feel weird and uncomfortable all day long. Sometimes it takes even longer for them to go back to normal. I call this Revenge of the Gums.

The thing about Revenge of the Gums is that you know you’re doing the right thing for your teeth. Your parents, your dentist, and hundreds of TV commercials have told you over the years that you need to floss to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But then you don’t for a while, and then you’re resisting doing it because you don’t want to deal with their retaliation that will subsequently make your life miserable. It’s easier to live with knowing that you’re essentially destroying your teeth than to do what’s best for them and live with the consequences.

While dealing with a case of Revenge of the Gums today, I realized that this same principle applies to a lot of other areas of my life, especially when it comes to conflict or confrontation. I hate conflict and I hate having to confront people, so I avoid doing it regardless of how necessary it may be. Even when I know it’s the right thing in the end and will probably eventually make things better, I’m not ready to deal with the immediate consequences. Tempers flare up like angry gums, and it can take days or weeks for things to be comfortable again.

But with my teeth, I know that things will eventually go back to normal. In life, you never have that guarantee. Friendships, relationships, even the office environment can become tainted with conflict and never really get back to the place they were at before. Flossing pulls out a lot of shit that’s not really pleasant to look at or deal with, and confronting someone can stir up discussions and topics that are equally unpalatable. Is it worth it in the end? You never really know until it’s too late. Maybe the nasty gunk that’s stuck in your teeth/life will finally be released and you will move on to a healthier, happier mouth/life. Or maybe the consequences will end up making things worse than they were to begin with.

So. To floss or not to floss? That is the question.

TOG


In my relatively short expanse of a lifetime, I’ve come to understand that there are certain truths you will never understand until you’ve experienced them for yourself. People can tell them to you while you’re crying in their arms, you can read books about them or hear speakers talk about them, and you might even repeat them absentmindedly to others without really believing them yourself.

But then, it clicks.

At a certain point, it just hits you. You realize that the little nugget of wisdom you’d been told over and over was right all along, but you just had to figure it out for yourself.

For some reason, I feel like a lot of these truths relate to relationships and dating. And since I have several single friends right now who are struggling to come to terms with some of these facts, I thought I would share them with all of you (or the parts that I’ve come to understand, at least). Hopefully this will help it “click” for at least one person.

Truths:

• No one else will be able to love you until you love yourself.

This one seems especially difficult for some, including me in the past. You’re low on self-confidence, but you think that if only you could find that one guy or girl, he/she would make you feel pretty or smart or full of worth. The fact is, you have tons of great qualities already that you don’t need anyone else to realize for you. But others can sense when you’re not comfortable in your own skin. Until you would date you, how can you expect anyone else to? You have to love yourself—the good and bad parts—before you can expect anyone else to do the same. It’s not easy and you won’t always get there 100%, but you have to start making steps in the right direction and helping yourself. Only then will you truly be able to let someone else in.

• Being in a relationship won’t solve your problems.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: your problems won’t disappear when you get a girlfriend/boyfriend. This isn’t to say that relationships don’t have their perks, but your shitty job, your money problems, or your issues with your family won’t go away just because you finally found “the one.” Yes, you will have someone to stand beside you and hopefully help you through the hard times, but he or she won’t make the world disappear altogether. And that person will bring certain issues or frustrations of his/her own. This leads to truth number three:

• Relationships take work.

Cursed be the movies and books that end with the amorous couple finally coming together and sharing a beautiful kiss as the happy music grows louder and the credits begin to roll. That is not real life. Relationships are great, don’t get me wrong. But unless you’re dating Jesus or Mother Theresa, it’s not always going to be easy. People make mistakes. People have weird quirks. Other people come in and shake things up. These are all parts of a normal, healthy relationship. Sharing your life with someone else involves giving and taking, making compromises and concessions. You will laugh, and you will cry. Love can be a beautiful thing, but don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy.

Finally, one more truth that’s especially true to my heart:

• It gets better.

This probably deserves its own post and will likely get one at some time in the future, but for now I’ll keep it simple. All these truths can be painful on their own, but even worse when compounded with being, say, a lonely gay teen growing up in a tiny Midwestern town. Being alone sucks. Watching other people in relationships sucks. And having people resent you for who you are sucks, too. But you must, must, must remember that there are people who love you exactly how you are—be it gay, straight, fat, thin, white, black, or anywhere in between or around. Focus on those people, and let them show you how to love yourself. No heartache is forever, and someday you will be able to look back at even your worst moments and see how you have grown from them. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, there are thousands of others who will tell you the same at ItGetsBetter.org.

I love you, and even if I don’t know you, I am here for you.

TOG


Dear followers,

Thanks for hanging with me throughout these ridiculously busy weeks. I hope you have all been well. I know it’s been awhile, but I’m back here now to stay. Like what seems like 90% of Minneapolis, I have been in the process of moving to a new home. This process is always exciting and stressful all rolled into one. New views and nooks and crannies, new neighbors, and new quirks to get used to.

More space and light? Check. Tiny shower and nothing closeby? Check check. There are upsides and downsides. I like to think that I’m an adventurer at heart, and even if I can’t get out of the Midwest right now, I can at least keep myself on my toes. Change is a part of life, right?

The one thing that has proven especially interesting is going through boxes of old stuff. Birthday cards from years ago, things I haven’t touched since my freshman year of college, notes from friends, graded papers…. the list goes on and on. Thousands of split-second decisions—Is this trash? Does it still mean anything to me? Where am I going to put it?! It’s no surprise people pay others to do this for them.

As I grow older, I’m finding it both easier and harder to part with cherished relics of my past. On one hand, things like college notes and interesting handouts don’t really mean anything anymore and aren’t going to come in handy ever again. On the other hand, as grownup life sucks away all the charm and innocence of being a kid, I find nostalgia in the strangest of places. This is probably why my apartment is full of “stuff” boxes that I’m not entirely sure how to handle.

Anyone want to take a shift going through boxes? I think I need a vacation.

TOG


A Quick Note

11Aug11

Hello dear readers,

I just want to apologize for being so absent in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been overwhelmed with stressors (work, moving, etc.) that have left me virtually zero time to sit down and write anything. It’s not for lack of desire—trust me! As soon as things settle down a bit, I promise to have many more witty and carefully crafted insights to share with you ;)  Until then…. Wait For Me!

Love,

TOG


Lately I’ve been wishing I could take an economics class, if only to better understand our country’s budget/debt issues. With every major new outlet throwing out terms like “default” and “debt ceiling” and “potential global economic crisis,” one starts to think that perhaps this is a big deal—and perhaps he should know a bit more about it.

Though I feel I have a basic grip on the situation (we spend more than we take in yearly, we’re reaching the limit that’s been set on borrowing, we may not be able to make our payments on existing debt), there are so many more nuanced points that I get lost trying to read almost anything on the matter. I experienced the same sort of frustration about a month ago, when Minnesota’s leaders were unable to agree on a budget and our government was shut down for several weeks.

Why is it that we live in a country where, despite being considered one of the most developed in the world, the average citizen has no clue how things actually operate? Yes, we are drilled on the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) in high school or college and we vote for leaders from the political party (likely one of two) that most aligns to our general beliefs on how things should work. But in the end, many of us don’t really have a clue what’s going on in our government.

I consider myself a well-educated person. I have a bachelor’s degree, I try to keep up on current events, I can point to most countries on a map. But when it comes to these complicated political issues (especially regarding money and economics), I feel like a complete idiot.

Part of the problem in my mind is that there are so fews news organizations that are truly objective. Yes, some work harder than others to try to (at least appear to) present unbiased coverage, but no one is perfect—and no one can produce news coverage without money, which often comes from corporations that have their own political leanings. During the Minnesota budget crisis, Minnesota Public Radio produced a great video explaining the issues in a concise and educational manner. I wish that this kind of coverage were available for all of the complicated issues that so easily pass over our heads. I don’t like feeling as if a news story is trying to sway me to think one way or another.

Is it necessary that our country’s political system be so complicated that a common citizen doesn’t really understand it? I’m not sure. But here’s hoping that someday we can simplify things and work out our issues before it’s too late.

TOG




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