29 March 2011

THT: New Directions

Okay, so I stole this title from Glee. So what. I love it. However, this post isn't about Glee, or even about singing or dancing, or Sue Sylvester (whom I love). It is about us. All of us really. I feel like everyone comes to points in their lives where they are so overwhelmed by all the different paths presented, and are so concerned about choosing the right one, that they really don't know which direction to choose. I have some thoughts for you if you find yourself in such a dilemma.

Now, what I have to say comes from my own experience... it is not gold... or science... or even necessarily true, it is just what I think. For probably a few years of my life, I was stuck. I didn't realize I was stuck until I accepted my sexuality. Here are the reasons I was stuck:

I was gay, but refused to accept it. Dating girls wasn't working and it wasn't something I even enjoyed. However, having a family was the next step in life and I didn't see any way to get there. At that point I didn't really know what to believe as far as religion went, and I didn't really know what to do to change that because I already had tried the thing that I thought was the answer... Pray. All the time. It didn't work. On top of that, I was a perfectionist, and didn't want to do anything wrong.

When I went through the painful process of accepting my gayness, the fact that I was stuck was even more apparent. I knew I was gay and that nothing I could do would change it (I'd spent my life trying). But then what? I wasn't sure what that would mean for my life. I had all these options in front of me, unsure of which was the best one. Being a perfectionist kept me planted in my spot in front of signs pointing every possible direction. Worse though, was that it was more like I was on the beach and my feet had become buried by the sand washed up by the waves. I stood there for awhile, even after I realized that I was slowly being buried in my place... If I waited long enough, it would have become my grave.

But I moved from that spot, completely unsure about whether the direction I was headed was the right one. Why? Why did you start heading a direction when you didn't know where it lead Jonathan? Especially if you are a perfectionist? Good question. Here is what I realized. I wasn't progressing where I was at. Sure, I wasn't making any decisions that I could possibly regret later, but I also wasn't making any good ones either.

I finally realized that moving in any direction would be better than standing in a place that gave no sign of progress or learning. Even if I were headed in the wrong direction, at least I'd be moving. And if I was moving, I'd be able to learn whether or not my path was good or bad. Here is what I mean:

Say I was standing in the middle of an empty parking lot so large I couldn't see where it ended. In the middle was a post with signs pointing every direction. I could stand there and read all the signs and worry about which one was right, or I could get in my car, and start driving. So I start driving. I am headed west. After an hour or so, the pavement starts deteriorating and turning into rock and sand. It is barren dessert. No shade. No water. No sign of life or civilization. I choose the wrong direction. Damn. But guess what? I learned something. I learned that West is not the direction I want to go. If I had spent that hour deliberating in front of that sign, I would still not know anything about heading west. I'd be clueless. So even in going the wrong direction, I gained valuable knowledge.

So I head East. About an hour out, trees start coming out of the pavement. The pavement ends and I start driving through this forest. There are animals and life, but it is still the wilderness. Definitely better than the dessert. I stop and get out of the car and hear the sound of running water north of where I am. I figure people are likely to thrive near water. So I make a little correction and start driving northwest.... This could go on forever, but I will stop there.

What I am saying is that going any direction is better than standing still because along the way, if you are paying any attention to your surroundings, you will learn when you need to make a correction. Eventually, you will get on the right road to town.

So if you are stuck and you don't know what path to choose, make an educated guess and start on it. Nothing says you can't change your mind a few miles down the road.


Maike said...

so where are you in life right now?

Alex said...

I think that's a pretty good metaphor. I'd say in general that it's alright to take some time looking at the map, or ever asking directions. But I'm a lot like you. There have been times in my life (especially recently) that I was so afraid of making a mistake that I wasn't able to go anywhere or do anything. It's much better to head down a road and see where it takes you than to be stuck in limbo forever.
I'd say it's important to be careful, to drive safely so to speak whichever way you go. But to not move because you are afraid of making the wrong decision is no way to live.

Ty said...

Wow. This is really similar to the things I've been thinking about lately. You said it beautifully, btw.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jonathan. I sent you an e-mail. I hope you will read it. :)

Hope you all better from the flu you had a while ago.

Happy day!

Trev said...

Ha, yeah, well said. I am at the point of being buried in the sand. It's obnoxious. Intellectually I know the truth of what you're saying but I just can't seem to move past that stupid perfectionism yet.

I really admire your attitude and approach to life, and thank you for sharing and encouraging people like me.

Anonymous said...

I feel very stuck right now. The other thing I feel is overwhelmed. But I don't feel overwhelmed by choices. I feel overwhelmed by everything that needs doin' to get where I want to go. I also suffer from perfectionism. It leaves me paralyzed at the foot of a mountain that I don't know how to climb.

north24 said...

I know personally that this is so true. I got home from my mission a year ago and I felt like I was stuck because I wanted progress, but was completely unsure about which direction would do that. I began making educated guesses at the beginning of the fall semester( I study at BYU) and over time I have begun to see that my spirituality and my ability to accept who I am has grown. Moving feels much better than being stuck.

Boris said...

Hello again Jonathan,

Great post! (Yes, I still check out your blog from time to time, and will continue to do so as long as you continue posting.)

I spent far too long in the limbo of going nowhere: too afraid to take even the first step toward a gay lifestyle, and too afraid to leave behind the dogmatic “certainty” of what I now know to be a cultic religion--one that is not all that different from the Moonies or the Branch Davidian when it comes to demanding absolute control over its members’ activities, associations, and even their very thoughts.

I believe you are on the right road, and I rejoice you found it so early in life. I hope you will continue to question so-called “Priesthood Authority,” and insist on your right to find your own answers for yourself. May you persevere in whatever is to come your way,


Boris said...

By the way, I think every contributing member of the LDS Church should see the following court record from the United States Federal Court, Northern District of California, in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. It provides a very detailed summary of the evidence submitted by both proponents and opponents in re. to the California constitutional amendment known as “Prop 8.” Clearly, the Prop 8 proponents, who were financed and immensely aided by both the Roman Catholic and LDS churches, relied more on innuendo, prejudice and outright falsehoods than on any factual basis to support their claim of “defending traditional marriage.” Those who wish can access the file at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/files/09cv2292-ORDER.pdf.

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