(Yay for Death Cab for Cutie allusions.)
Wow, a new year; a fresh start. Maybe. This year has been a never-ending assault of trials and tribulations, and I don't know if I'm ready yet to completely leave them - and 2008 - completely behind.
2008 was a disappointment from the start. I was still reeling from having the guy that I loved more than anything treating me like less than nothing. When a new, perfectly perfect guy arrived on the scene, I thought that things would be looking up. Of course I was wrong. He wasn't interested. So I struggled on, moving from the romantic arena to the political one. The gay? fine by me t-shirt project was a success against all the odds, and I'm very proud of what I accomplished. The gruesome amount of stress and marginalization that I experienced left yet another dent in my flagging optimism, but it was worth it.
And then came summer. Just a few days after school let out, I was sitting on a school bus, on my way to Eastern for Boys' State. I thought I was going to gain so much from the experience - political knowhow, oratorical skills, a chance to become just "one of the guys" and see that straight guys deep down are really just like I am, and maybe even a shot at meeting some new gay guys. Unfortunately, the theme of disappointment that had slithered through 2008 rose to the surface once again. I learned almost nothing. The guys were complete jackasses. I didn't meet anyone interesting - straight or gay. All the camp served to do was to make me bitter.
However, there was consolation in the fact that at least I was going to go to the Iowa Young Writers' Studio following my dreadful Boys' State experience. I knew that there I would be able to learn useful skills and to meet interesting people who could accept me for who I am. Well, that was until I received an email that said the camp was cancelled due to flooding in Iowa City. 2008 was sliding further and further downhill.
Ah, well, even with Boys' State and IYWS down the drain, I had band camp to look forward to. Band has always been my family and has meant more to me than just about anything. Until this year, that is. I was miserable all throughout band camp and the fall marching season. The program was strict, severe, and not in the least bit fun. I felt like an island, unable to talk to or connect with anyone around me. I think when I realized that even band had become a disappointment was when my last scrap of optimism floated away in the wind.
The beginning of the school year was terrible. On top of the macabre marching band experience, I also had to contend with classes that were simply ridiculous. After a month of doing almost nothing but AP Biology, I was simply miserable, and I had to drop my first class ever. My AP English class, which I had been looking forward to all throughout high school, was dull and uninspiring. For the first time in my life, I didn't want to go to school. School, like band, has always been a lifeline for me. I knew that something was seriously wrong with my life when I could no longer enjoy the finest gift that has ever been given to me - my education.
I had felt a general feeling of sadness and isolation ever since band camp, but I thought I was just stuck in a rut. As my emotional state deteriorated, and I found myself wondering more and more frequently why I even wanted to live, I should have given my situation more credence; I really should have. But I didn't. Not until I was holding a phone and speaking with a counselor from a suicide prevention line did I realize that I even had a real problem.
The things that led me to rock bottom were more than just a serious of disappointing events, though. I've had to contend with so much more this year. Being gay in high school is something awfully tough for a teenager to go through. It's basically thousands of years of hate and oppression vs. ...you. Because it's seldom that you'll have other gay friends to confide in. I'm the only openly gay guy in my grade, and I have been for four years. It's also hard being a Buddhist when there's no temple or spiritual leader around to bolster your faith. And of course my parents have always been a problem, but things have spiraled out of control this year. It's rare that my father will be sober any night of the week now. And it seems that all my mother knows how to do is berate me and make me feel like a terrible, insignificant person. These things too add up and have a way of hurting you when you least expect them to.
So here I am at the beginning of 2009 - broken, hurting, and not even trying yet to pick up the pieces because I can't even find them all yet. I don't know who I am or where I'm headed. My greatest dream is to get into USC and somehow be able to pay for it, head out to LA, and become one of the damn best screenwriters this world has ever known. Okay, I lied - it's not a dream. It's an obsession. I will stop at nothing to get to LA and achieve my dreams. Yet so many variables hang in the balance...I don't even want to think of them all (although most of them revolve around cost). I promise you this, though - I'm going to get there. It's foolish of me to say this, especially when so much is uncertain, but this is my new year's resolution: to do whatever it takes to pay for USC. I have a dream, and no one can take that away.
No matter how lost or hurt I might feel in this world, there is always something beyond. There is always something hiding beneath the surface or hovering up above, waiting to appear. Truth, beauty, hope, power, intrigue, love...whatever you want to call it - it's never gone. Sometimes it can be hidden; so hidden that we forget it exists. But if we have faith, both in ourselves and in the intricate workings of this mysterious world, we can meet it once again and remember that it was within us the whole time.