We all battle feeling insecure, inadequate, and flawed. We all still strive to look good -- both in our appearance and in how our actions are perceived by others. We all work so hard to either blend in or stand out – depending on the areas where we feel weakest or strongest. But at the root of it all, we just want to feel loved and appreciated for being ourselves. I recently told a client, “It’s actually not about looking good…it’s about being authentic.” We can waste our energies on fixing our different-ness, or choose to honor and celebrate our unique voices and expressions as a gift.
I have a love-hate relationship with the show Glee. I have found it juvenile and clichéd at times; at others, I have found it to be an inspiring beacon of hope for people of all ages that rolls up High School Musical, the after school special, and Reese Witherspoon’s satirical Election all into one. Recently, I’ve been swinging back in the direction of loving the show because of the Kurt Hummel character -- an out gay teen (who’s only 20 in real life) that has traveled a very similar road of self-discovery that so many of us (gay and straight) have had to travel in discovering who we really are and whether we want to be true to that or not. And not compromising when it becomes difficult.
I came out in 1992 when I was in high school to my family and close friends. Back then, it was not as “easy” as it is today. We didn’t have Ellen, or Kurt Hummel, or clubs in middle school to provide us with positive messages that showed us we are not alone. What we did have was AIDS, gay characters that were the punching bag or murder victim, and the birth of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. Gays were not very visible, and society preferred it that way at the time. Everything was telling me to stay in the closet and hide my different-ness. But I couldn’t, and I didn’t.
Instead, I forewent the straight-to-college path that so many of my friends did. My journey of self-discovery has taken me around the globe, through undergrad and two graduate programs, and led me to the creation of a unique, pioneering business where I get to be all of me – without apology. In fact, every one of my life experiences to date has been essential to the work I do because my own introspection, growth, and healing contribute directly to the learning and success of my clients and the people in my life.
This blog post is not about gays or coming out. It’s about listening to your inner voice – that wiser self – that knows who you are and wants it to be expressed. It’s about recognizing that you have something unique and beautiful to bring to this life experience, to this planet, and it is your duty to live it fully. Being gay is only one slice of who I am. I am a violinist, a son and brother, a misfit (and “Gleek”), and a voice that guides and teaches. This world would not be the same without me, nor you. It is important for us all to realize how we make a significant and important impact through a diversity of roles, thoughts, experiences, and expressions.
Who are you? Are you a devoted and loyal friend? A loving Mom? A brilliant admin assistant? A painter or writer? An unapologetic lover of kitsch? A cancer survivor? Are you all of these things and more? You came to this life for a reason, and it is your job to discover what purpose you are here to fulfill. Dig in, do the work to discover who your authentic self is, and do us all a favor: Let your freak flag fly. Recognize that you are the same as everyone else… different… and that’s what makes us beautiful.