Making the Choice, Part 1: Being Happy

*Part 1 of a short series of posts on how I improved my life and outlook on the world simply by making a few choices, and why you should, too*

The Choice: Being Happy

There’s this kid at my school I used to hate. He mostly fulfilled the stereotype that comes with being openly gay; he was flamboyant, would always dress nicely, and absolutely adored theatre. I didn’t hate him because he was gay. In fact, my negative feelings towards him showed up only when I began to question my own sexuality (more on that later). I didn’t know where my dislike for him came from, especially if I was thinking I might be able to relate to him in a way most people couldn’t. After a few weeks I finally figured it out: He was happy.

See, it wasn’t even him or anything he was doing that upset me. He was a happy, confident go-getter that knew what he wanted, and, for whatever reason, I hated him for it. It didn’t matter what his sexuality was or what he wore. Disgusted with my feelings (How could I hate this boy? There was nothing wrong with him!), I tried to explain them. I ruled out jealousy, and came to a conclusion I didn’t want to admit. I couldn’t like him because I couldn’t like myself.

It all seemed so stupid. What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t make myself happy? The surprisingly simple answer was nothing. There was nothing inherently wrong with me; the only problem was that I allowed myself to inhibit my own happiness.

Wow.

This shocked me. I thought I did everything right: I got great grades, took care of myself, and spent an awful lot of time trying to please people. But what are good grades if you don’t celebrate them? How can you take care of yourself without taking time to make sure you’re happy and enjoying your life? Why can’t you be pleased, too? I asked myself these questions and realized that I could do what others expected of me, thought was “right,” and make others happy, or I could do what I wanted for myself and make myself happy. The choice was that simple.

I vowed to make my own happiness a priority. Once I started making small changes I noticed that I began to hate this boy less, and the less I hated him the more like him I became. No, I didn’t dress like him or act like him, but I was similar to him in that I was more confident in myself, more aware of myself, and excited to be myself. Simply put, I was happy, and I’m getting happier all the time. No more do I see someone joyful and lash out––I share the happiness, get inspired by it.

For anyone out there who feels like I did, please realize that a big part of happiness is making a choice. Don’t wait for reasons to be happy. Find them in yourself. A part of growing up is finding your identity, something I thought I had to have clearly defined in my head before I could be happy. There is a magic about the process, though, the journey. Celebrate it. You may find it brings you closer to your goal, or you might realize you were there all along.

Stay happy. 🙂

What is Gender?

Recently, I took my final exams for the semester.  Because of exams, I got to leave school earlier than usual.  I went home, ate lunch, and walked back to school for track practice.  I had rehearsal for a play afterward, so I brought along a bag for my shoes, water bottle, script, and other miscellaneous items. It wasn’t a sling bag or backpack, but a special “tote”-type bag some friends brought back for me from their trip to Boston.  Some kids I encountered on the way to school decided to laugh at the bag because it looked really feminine.  That got my gears turning…

Gender isn't an exact science.

I am male.  I was born male, and will always be male.  But what does being male really mean?  The first things that come to my mind are physical traits: longer limbs, broader shoulders, a deeper voice, and all that.  With some further thought I realized that besides physical traits, the only things people use to distinguish between male and female are materialistic.  Makeup is for girls.  Baseball caps are for boys.  Statements like those aren’t only false, they’re judgmental and limiting.  Some girls totally rock the baseball look, and many boys have discovered they like the way they look with a bit of makeup.  Society has drawn a borderline separating the sexes, a line that neither gender is “supposed” to cross.  Why not?  People are judged by society-generated stereotypes and are told how to be a man or how to be a lady.  It’s not natural.  Doctors don’t tell the sex of a baby based on whether it pops out of the womb wearing a skirt or a jockstrap.

I don’t see why it’s bad for someone to express bits of both masculinity and femininity.  I’m am definitely not transgendered; I am perfectly comfortable being male.  I do, however, have a feminine side that I am equally comfortable expressing.  I just cannot wrap my head around why that’s such a problem.  I’ve observed that people are even harder on boys (that might be because I am a boy…what do you think about this, girls?) when it comes to stepping over the gender line.  Boys seem to do it less, so when one does it’s seen as a huge deal.  It really shouldn’t be.  If you ask me, it’s worse when one chooses not to express oneself out of fear than when one does so in a “controversial” way.

In my eyes gender is a physical thing.  I don’t think stupid things like makeup, clothes, mannerisms, and tastes can force the soul into a gender mold.  People may try, but it’s wasted effort.  Expressing yourself in ways more commonly associated with the opposite sex doesn’t make you homosexual, transgendered, or weird, it makes you a multifaceted, true-to-yourself person.  Be yourself.