Tag Archives: weakness

It Takes a Village, Part 2

29 Jun

The past two weekends, two friends of mine have come back to New York City to visit. While my friend Ryan came down for his birthday, Daniel came back for this past weekend’s NYC Pride March. During the summer, my friends, like me, have gone on individual paths of self-actualization, working to improve their lives and try to make sense of what they want to do. With all of my friends on their own paths, it is rare that those paths intersect. But, when Ryan came back for the weekend, the tribe seemed to gather together as if nothing had happened at all.

Going at it alone is often a sign of strength. We don’t want people to know that we’re hurting, or that we missed our morning workout, or that we’re more insecure about ourselves that we put on. To get through our walls, our friends either have to hulk through them, or shimmy up the sides. Either ways, friends need a set of skills in order to relate to each other. We have to remember people’s favorite flavors of cake on their birthday, slow our pace if we walk too far ahead, and open up our couches to each other when they need a place to sleep. Sometimes, it may show a bigger sign of strength if we lean on our friends shoulders instead of putting all the pressure on our own two feet.

A Meeting of the Walls

Ironically, it takes a lot of strength to show others our weaknesses. I see strength in a lot of my friends. I see strength in my friends who are able to recover from unfairly losing their jobs, or able to confess that their relationships aren’t as perfect as an outsider might think. I see strength in the friend who can call me up any time of day to tell me that their insecurities are at an all-time high, and I see strength in the friends that put pride aside and ask me for help.

Speaking of pride, my other near and dear friend Daniel came in this weekend for the NYC Pride March. This was my first year attending the parade, as in past years the thought of attending caused me a bit of anxiety. Though I am a huge gay activist, and now work in-depth in the community, I have always felt a tenuous connection the gay community, a completely opposite feeling from my friend Dan, who has a tenuous connection to the heterosexual community. However, if the parade taught me anything this year, it’s something very similar to something I’ve already written today. The community is nothing but a collection of individuals, and the parade is the place to gather when the community chooses to deconstruct its own walls.

The gay community can be just as racist, transphobic, and ignorant as many other communities. We don’t talk about a lot of issues, we value whiteness, and we still fret over whether the “T” belongs at the end of the acronym “LGBT” (which is too short as it is). But at the parade, svelte twinks, bulging bears, and overly active clubbers come together to celebrate that which makes us the “other.”

So, did I finally feel a connection to the gay community on Sunday? Somewhere between the end of the parade and my return home, my friend Dan and I wandered through the winding streets of the West Village. Adding to its usual labyrinthine layout, police guards and yellow taped herded us around like cows, and getting out proved to be a time-consuming difficulty. The streets, like my feelings, can be very difficult to navigate. And yet, there is another common denominator between the two:  people. Everywhere I went on Sunday, I was always within about three centimeters of another sweaty, proud person. They may not be three centimeters away, and I may not be able to reach out and grab them, but I know I always have others in community with me. As much as I may go at it alone, my strength is buttressed not by confidence and attitude alone, but by the friends I have at my fingertips.

Suddenly, Last Summer

14 Jun

I went on a job interview this past Thursday. For the last question of the interview, the employer asked me, “What do you want from this job?” I answered that I wanted us both to come out differently at the end of the experience. It is my belief that no job is worth the experience if you don’t come out differently when you leave, especially the kind of job I was applying for—a one-on-one internship where I work exclusively with the director of About.com’s Gay Life Blog.  A job should not be meant only to utilize one’s skills, but to augment them, as well.

My philosophy on taking a job is also very similar to my experience with dating, or any friendship. Both relationships and friendships are based on compatibility. Like a screening process or an interview, any human relationship is built on met needs. Do you both have similar sense of humor? Do you both like the same things? Do you both want the same things for the future? A restaurant dinner table and an interview table bear many similarities—not the least of which is the stream of questions that fly over them when two people meet across them for the first time.

My answer to my own interview question got me thinking over the next day whether I came out changed from my last—my first and only—relationship. When the relationship failed, I was the first one to heap blame on the other party, which is one of the things I try not to do most in my life. I believe that in most arguments, or disagreements, or separations that there is blame to be parceled out. In the vain of Carrie Bradshaw, “Blame for everyone!” So, it was unusual, even if I was badly hurt when we broke up, for me to parcel him all the blame.

Breathe, Just Breathe

These questions couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. While Thursday saw me at a Date with Destiny, Friday saw me on a Date with the Past. As fate would have it, my ex-boyfriend and I spoke with each other Thursday night, and we agreed to hang out that Friday morning so I could bring him to the video game shop that I discovered by Union Square. This would be the first time that we would hang out alone and have to get along amicably. Not that that would be a problem for me. I had most definitely moved on, and I was no longer angry with him. I think the part I have to take blame for is that I wanted more from him than he was ready to give. The only way I knew how to get what I wanted from him was through incessant nagging and bickering. In a way, I wasn’t a very fun person to date, because I didn’t want to date him as he was—I wanted to mold him into someone that I wanted to date.

Between my constant questioning of myself, my questions about my last relationship, and my thrusting into the dating scene, last summer was creeping up on me steadily.  And, I didn’t like where I was when last summer ended. I was experiencing growing pains. After being thrust out of a relationship, rediscovering writing, and being dumped by two rebounds guys, I wasn’t in a best place. I was doing a lot of growing really fast because of my circumstances, and I didn’t get all the time to reflect on it. That’s why this summer, I’m documenting my growth through these tiny reflections. ST. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that an experience is only half an experience without reflection. I want this summer to be the fullest experience possible, which is why this blog exists. Because this is my reflection, and it’s the other half of what I need to keep my experiences full and fresh—steady reflection.

Leaving the Body

1 Jun

Today,  I saw two friends walk into the gym together and begin working out. One was clearly fit, a small mousey man with spiked hair, and the other was a bearded man with glasses, who was, frankly, the more attractive one. The man with glasses, who was of average weight, was being trained by the mousey man as to the correct way to do pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. While on his pushups, the man in red almost stopped until Mega Mouse told him “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” What kind of messed up mantra is that? Do pain and weakness have a hot and cold relationship where the presence of one (cold) is merely the absence of another? Does one have to endure pain simply to live a life free from weakness?

I’m not saying that some pain isn’t necessary in order to push through certain parts of our lives. While I was with my Global Outreach trip in Nicaragua, my leader said that “Crying is our body healing,” meaning that our body uses crying as a way to heal itself—to grow stronger. If crying and pain are ways to toughen up, then pain is necessary to all humans for improvement.

I felt some pains today. I went working out as usual today, and I realized I’m able to bike longer and faster everyday, which is making me feel much better. If I’m feeling less and less pain, does that mean I’m toughening up? Though I may be toughening up in my workout, psychologically, I’m still weak. Food-wise, temptation is everywhere. Today, I had a program for the entire building, and I shouldn’t have eaten anything, but I had chicken alfredo, hummus, and a cupcake. I felt guilty, because I really shouldn’t have eaten it, especially after I had such a good day food-wise. I had eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast, nuts and berries for snacks throughout the day, chicken salad on whole wheat for lunch, and then whole-wheat pasta with turkey meat for dinner. Then I had to go mess it up all at the end. If temptation is everywhere, and I’m weak to it, how do I toughen up? Does the pain come from the guilt I feel after eating the cupcake or the jealousy I feel that everyone else gets to enjoy the food? Will the weakness of temptation ever truly leave my body?

Sometimes, I think I’m a hypocrite. One of my main criticisms of the gay community, especially the New York City gay community, is their inability to welcome those of us with meat on our bones. Though part of my weight loss goals is to be healthy, I can’t deny that part of it is to fit into a community which I feel has huge problems. However, I truly believe that someone can’t change a system if they don’t work within it. So, if I am ever part of the healthy, skinny gay community, I won’t hesitate to be an advocate for those chubs like me who, though skinny may never be a word that describes us, attractive may not be far away. Though it will take a lot of pain to change my body, and if weakness takes an exit cue along with my gut, then maybe what will be left will be someone who has the strength to stick up for others like me, the ones who literally and figuratively don’t always seem to fit in.