Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unicorns, Glitter and Rainbows: My Path to Destroying Society

Let us discuss a question that has weighed heavily on the minds of many of my heterosexual homies: Why do people turn gay? This is a difficult and sensitive topic for many gay folk. Allow me to clarify by sharing my own journey down the rainbow road of homosexuality.

You see, at a very young age I found myself plagued with a powerful biological urge to poop. No one sees anything peculiar about this urge, so nobody ever told me it was wicked, an urge for which I would be damned, so I very happily pooped whenever I saw fit. Sometimes I even took the time to enjoy the sweet relief that pooping provided.  

Upon the arrival of puberty I found myself plagued with new things: hair where no hair grew before, pimples where before there was only undefiled alabaster skin, and a mighty biological urge to rid myself of the enormous sperm armies my body produced on an hourly basis.  While those around me considered pooping—and even the enjoying thereof—perfectly acceptable, I was taught that masturbation was evil and the enjoying of it…well, that was evil cubed.

What does this have to do with being gay, you might ask? While I learned very early that masturbation was evil, no one informed me that it was so evil it would also turn me gay! Every time I evilly released the evil fruit of my evil loins into a sock, shower drain or banana peel, I not only grew in my evilness, but became a tiny bit gayer and gayer.

I suppose, however, that I cannot blame masturbation for all my gay. Try as I might, no matter how many torrents of loin fruit I released from my mighty scrotum, a little bit of straight still remained. There must have been something else…ah yes, I remember. One day I woke up and I thought to myself, "I want to be different from everyone around me, because being different is fun! People always make sure the different one is accepted, beloved, and showered with kindness. I also enjoy being told that I am an abomination to God! And hey, life wouldn't be a challenge if my country granted me the same rights under the law as straight people! Second-class citizenship worked so well for blacks and women that I'd be a fool not to want it for myself."  Upon reflecting upon how greatly the benefits outweighed the costs, I simply made the decision one day to be completely gay. I changed my sexual orientation with a mere thought, just like you could change yours if you chose. It's as easy as changing clothes!

There are many benefits to being gay. For example, I get to destroy the very fabric of society and the family!  Why, my daily planner for this very day reads as follows:
Destroy fabric of society
Quick lunch
Dance to Lady Gaga like little fairy boy
Ponder upon depth of own depravity
Sing songs about rainbows and butt sex
Sleep. GAY SLEEP, which is totally different from normal people sleep.

But how, precisely, does one go about destroying society?  First, I take the hope of a monogamous relationship, add to it my desire for a nice house and perfectly manicured lawn, and wrap it all up with the dream of adopting a child or two and saving them from the drastically overcrowded foster care system. It's a recipe for complete and utter disaster, I know!  It's dripping with so much evil that Hitler just had an orgasm. Doing this destroys the sanctity of marriage, of course, because…because it just does and I'm naughty like that.

There is another arrow in my engorged quiver of gayness-spreading. Did you know that just being around gays makes you a flaming homo? My gay aura is so immense that those around me often convert immediately to the way of the gay. Just last week at the mall I passed a group of teenage boys. As soon as my queer emanations washed over them, they broke out into a frenzy of gay!  Like lovely little pixies they pranced to the nearest Express store, shopped to their hearts content, giggled uncontrollably at cute boys walking by and held hands down the aisle. Justin Bieber himself could not have raised the flames any higher. Another day I was enjoying a dip in a public pool. Tragically, my gay aura preventer—a manly swimsuit with pictures of power tools and Chuck Norris—failed and all that gooey aura got into the water.  Children instantly turned gay, splashing each other with limp wrists and lisping happily, "I got you, you silly goose!"  An adult accidentally swallowed some water and soon doubled over on the pavement, puking up unicorns, glitter and episodes of Will & Grace. 'Twas madness!

There you have it.  I hope this very special educational blog will clear up all the nasty rumors and lies spread about us gays. Now if you'll excuse me, a new episode of Glee is on.

P.S. A very special thank you to my brother who proofread this post and made it extra funny!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Will You Please Just Listen?

I've had a problem with listening to people in the past. Well, actually, I would consider myself a very good listener; that is, at first. All sorts of different people have come up to me and started talking to me and tell me how comfortable they are talking to me. I think it's because I genuinely invest myself in their conversations. The problem I have is when people come to me with a problem--I jump in and start offering my opinion on things.

Now that might be good for people who are actively seeking an opinion from an outside source. But what about those people that just need someone to listen to them? They have a heart that is so heavy, and their burden so big that they most probably just want to be heard. I'm crying right now because that's exactly how I feel right now.

I'm under a lot of stress. Obviously school is a hard time for everyone, and maybe this is just one of those run-of-the-mill times when I'm going to get stressed out and have to push through. But being the person I am, I need someone to listen to me. I want some empathy, not sympathy.

"I know exactly how you feel..." What an overused sentence. And what an incredible over-generalization. I mean really? You've had the exact same experiences as that person to know exactly how emotionally charged this situation is to them and why? You've formed the exact same emotional pathways for neurotransmitters to create the same brain chemistry? You come from the same culture, ethnic group, and gender? Well, I suppose if you answered yes to all of these, then you are either an exact clone of someone, or you're so naive as to think that you actually know exactly how someone feels.

I know that sounds harsh. And I know people have good intentions when they use that phrase. But I've made it a point to never say that. When my brother died, I never heard that phrase. It was one of the first instances in my life where people would tell me they didn't know what to say. It was a relief! It was nice to hear that they didn't understand--which I then assume is an opportunity to help them understand. Together we can create a mutual bonding, and empathic experience where an understanding is shared, even if it isn't *exactly* what the other person is feeling. where was I...? Oh yes. I need someone to listen to me right now. Some would call it whining. I would call it an adequate utilization of a technique to cope with stress. And since I am the counselor, I am right. So there.

Today has been a day of people not listening. More specifically, tonight has been one of those nights. I say something to the effect of, "I'm feeling really overwhelmed," and immediately I am expected to come forward with coping mechanisms and strategies so that being overwhelmed is no longer an issue.

We are in such a quick-fix society and it drives me crazy sometimes! Ya I'm overwhelmed, but don't you think that jumping on me and giving me advice on all these ways of not feeling overwhelmed is going to make me feel *more* overwhelmed?

Well, it does. So now I guess I'll get to what is actually bothering me instead of trying to critique all of my social interactions. I'll have plenty of time to do that as a therapist.

Therapist--what is that? I'm sure there's a different definition depending on the person you ask! I'm trying to figure out what that is myself, and that is what is overwhelming.

Some people think of being a therapist as a "soft" job. Something that really doesn't take too much time, effort, or skill to be good at. First of all, when I hear people who think that way I'm hurt. I wouldn't dedicate so many years of my life to something that's easy. I am in it to better myself and those around me.

Secondly, now that I'm actually studying counseling and how it all works, I am amazed at the complexity of it. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone in which you had to pay attention to the details of the message, get a clear picture of the emotions behind it, think of a theoretical orientation that applies to this situation, think of a follow-up question or response that takes into account that theoretical orientation, keep in mind the legal implications of the advice or response you give, make sure that you are showing enough empathy as to make that person feel accepted and safe, and being multiculturally in-tuned enough as to not create micro aggressions or prejudices? Ya, me neither...

But now I have to! It's absolutely exhausting! I find my brain spinning non-stop. I am encouraged to pick myself apart and analyze pretty much everything I do. I am expected to be open, honest, and secure enough with myself to bring forward my insecurities in front of PhD professors, and classmates, and change my deeply held beliefs and opinions. It is a lot to take in and I am just so tired.

It feels so much better to put this out there.

I would encourage everyone to take a little more time in their interactions with people. Of course there isn't enough time to have a full-blown therapy session with someone. But I'm sure you can make the time to hear them out. Maybe they don't even want your advice. It's time to put the ego aside and listen. That's something that I've struggled to do, but I would dare to say that it's greatly strengthened my relationships.

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'd Rather Stay In

Have you ever had one of those nights where you'd rather just not go out? I'm having one of them. I was planning on going clubbing and now I'm just not really in the mood. I know right? *gasp* Steven doesn't want to go dancing?! Oh the horror!

No but really, I'm in a perfectly fine mood, I'd just rather stay in than go out. But my boyfriend wanted to go dancing so off he went.

Honestly, I feel like we have a very good balance between us. We've spent every day for the past week together. We're not sick of each other at all. I know when to give him space so he can keep up with his friends and family, and he lets me have my family and friend time too. Neither of us wants to be "that guy" that falls off the face of the planet when they enter in a relationship!

So here I am. I've kinda been reflecting lately and thought I'd share with you what's been on my mind.

I am no longer working at the Oakley School. Actually, I was put on administrative leave. There were a couple people there that were very unprofessional. So when I filled out my exit survey, I gave them honest feedback about some of these individuals. The school said they'd like to look into it but that it might be awkward to have me there while they do so they paid me for my last two weeks of work and I didn't even have to go in!

Honestly it's been kinda nice! The only sad thing is that I couldn't say goodbye to my students. They said I could write a letter, which I did, but then when my coworkers read the letter to my kids, some administration said it wasn't okay anymore so not all of my kids got to hear it!

I didn't think I'd miss my kids as much as I do. Honestly, they were a great example to me of love, patience and understanding. There were times when I didn't think anyone cared about me and one of them would do something for me that would just make me smile. It was wonderful!

My boyfriend and I went on a little trip to Vegas together this past week. We only spent two nights at the New York New York, but it was absolutely wonderful! We went clubbing, walked the strip, went shopping, saw two amazing shows, had great food, and most importantly, just enjoyed being with each other. The more time I spend with him, the more I fall in love.

It seems like every relationship goes on a vacation. It's almost like testing the waters to see if two people are really compatible. In my past relationships, there have always been some really serious discussions and some arguments too. But not this one! There have been times when I've been upset, but he just talks me through it. And there are times when I can tell he's a little off, and I'm very understanding.

My theory about true and everlasting love is that you always put the other person first. I've been doing that a lot more lately and it's helped me from getting in my depression cycle where I focus too much on me and getting what *I* want. When my boyfriend comes first, I am honestly happier than when I put myself first.

It has been a little tough lately. He has some really close friends who haven't been all that supportive when it came to him coming out to them. He and I talk about it and he feels better after. What really troubles me is the kind of people these people claim to be.

They're LDS (Mormon), and are supposedly kind, understanding, loving and accepting. But this doesn't seem to be the case withs one of them. I see rejection, pain, suffering, and pride. Pride in the fact that they refuse to associate with someone who isn't exactly like them.

And what a boring life that would be if we were all the same. I mean, Christ himself was friends with everyone. I don't ever remember reading in the Bible him going up to someone, finding out that they were this way or that, and saying, "I'm sorry, you're against my religion and I'm going to shun you now..."

No way! He was never like that! But then some of these friends act just like that! They can be so hypocritical and hyper sensitive. And there is no way to reason with them. They are black and white thinkers and won't be brought out of it.

It just bugs me, and honestly makes me sad. If I were that way towards a certain ethnic, religious, or any other group, I would be so much more lonely and less happy than I am now. If I look at my group of friends, I have friends from all sorts of different backgrounds! They make me who I am today. I am so much more understanding, loving, patient, and generous with those from different backgrounds. No one deserves to be discriminated against just because of how they were made. God made them beautiful, just the way they are.

My father once told me something after I came out, and honestly it made me cry. He said, "You know Steven, maybe you being gay isn't a test for you to overcome. Maybe it's a test for everyone else to see if they will love you like God commands us to love everyone."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Be The Change

For some reason I can't seem to get the lyrics, "Do you know what it feels like for a girl, in this world?" out of my head. It's definitely an interesting way to wake up! Especially considering that I am not a girl. Although I am close. My mother, after all, was hoping that I'd be a girl. So this is what happened! So the moral of the story is, be careful what you wish for.

And no that is not the end of my blog post. Although I do think it would be funny to write a blog post that was so short, sweet, and utterly profound. Maybe after this one.

I changed my passwords last night. Have you ever stopped to think about how many accounts you have online that require a password? Not to mention computers, work computers, and even phones! It took me about an hour, and I don't think I have changed all my passwords yet. I went from using 17 characters and cut it down to 12 seriously ridiculous characters. But let me tell you why.

I feel like I've made a discovery lately. Perhaps not anything profound or nobel-prize worthy, although I think my life in general is worth a nobel-prize, but more of just simple satisfaction with what my life could one day be.

I'm not sure who said the quote, or something similar to this, "Be the change you wish to see in others". But it has really inspired me lately. Oh! And a quick google search turned up that Ghandi said it. Well, I am glad that one of my new mantras comes from such an incredible man.

A while ago, I wrote a post about work, where the kids wouldn't swear as much around me as they usually do, just because I didn't swear. But I've come to realize that this example setting reaches far beyond clean language.

I have a lot of friends. And some are closer than others. However, I am fiercely loyal with my friends. Even those who I have only recently met know that I will do my best to help them in whatever way I can. In return, they are just as fiercely loyal with me and will come to my aid with cupcakes, hugs, and listening ears. Ya that's right, I'm a big softy and all I need is that to survive.

So what of it? Why is it so important that I change first? Well, think about it. Have you ever, and I know you have, had that one friend or psuedo-friend that was always trying to change and/or fix you? They may have done it in very loving, or sometimes very not-so-loving ways. But they wanted you to be happy (the mom from Tangled singing, "Mother Knows Best" comes to mind).

But it didn't work did it...? They're nagging words and scornful gaze, or even loving intrigues and hope and prayers weren't enough. Well, we do have this instinct to fight change. What's the first thing you want to do when someone tells you to do something? Say no! Or maybe I'm just speaking from personal experience here and I'm way more of a heathen than I thought.

If you yourself are changing, people pick up on that. This allows them to choose for themselves whether or not they want to change. For the most part, it seems that humanity is on a quest to better themselves and their lives. So if you provide the example of how they *could* change, you are giving them new ideas, inspiration, and conviction to make changes for themselves. And, as I'm sure you are aware, the psychological benefits of internal conviction and motivation far outweigh outside rewards and punishments.

I have been a lot happier lately. I've worked on avoiding passive-aggressive facebook statuses, whiny poetry, sulking moods, and other negative stuff. Wow I just realized how much of a handful I am! Kudos to those of you who can handle this mess of emotions with the name Steven!

These are things that I've worked on for a while. As I've mentioned in a lot of posts, I struggle with a lot of shame-based behaviors, reactions, and motivations. But I am getting better! I find that really sticking to my convictions and being confident in who I am as a person helps greatly. And I've began to notice a change in people's reactions towards me.

I come off as friendlier, kinder, more gentle, fun, humorous, stable and confident. I've noticed more friends come into my life, past acquaintances re-emerge, and my current relationships become more strong and fulfilling. All these are good things!

And it's because I've had the internal motivation to change. I've pushed myself further than I'm used to and it's been fantastic!

But what gave me the motivation? Well, it was the example of someone very close to me.

He is the change he wishes to see in others. He does nothing but love and support his friends and loved-ones. He is an incredible example to me of someone who has true and pure love. He inspires me daily to be a little better, to push a little harder, and to try just *one* more time. He is one of many. There are tons of people in my life who really inspire me. He's just the one that I can't get out of my head!

So I am passing this message a long to you. Oh, and why did I change all my passwords? To give me a phrase to remind myself every day of my desire to be the change I wish to see in others.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Two Years Later

Holy crapola!  Yesterday was the two year anniversary of me coming out publicly. But I guess if you've been living under a rock for two years, surprise! I'm gay!  In honor of that day, I re-read my coming out post and wrote this blog entry.

I stand by my statement saying that I still do not prowl the streets looking for unsuspecting gays to pounce on.  I'm much too charming to need to do a thing like that.

I did notice, however, that in my initial blog post, I had made the decision not to date.  This might sound shocking to some because as most of you know, I do date.  I think the thing that has changed the most in me since coming out publicly that first time, is my stance on my feelings of homosexuality.

All my life I have been ingrained with the idea that anything that is good comes from God, and anything that is evil comes from Satan.  And I still believe that to be true.  Some may think that my up-coming reasoning is wrong because I've been brainwashed, or I'm just justifying myself, but I believe it to be true.  During my dating experience, I have upheld my standards as best I could.  I have tried my best to be a good date, to be chivalrous, to be polite, respectful, honest, and kind.  I have dated the way I would hope that any upstanding person would date.

I have had some incredible experiences.  I've had some incredible dates, and others that I feel so uncomfortable, I want to throw myself out the nearest window.  But that just comes with dating and it has been an experience for the betterment of myself.  

During my dates, I have never felt evil, sadistic, brainwashed or simply wrong.  I have felt comfort, peace, at one with myself, and a greater love for myself and the person I'm with.  I think these feelings are good, and thus come from God.  How could something that makes me so happy, and makes me feel so good, be wrong (insert some comments from skeptics about how I've been mislead)?

My last two years have been interesting for sure.  The first year was mostly me working on myself, and accepting myself for who I was in the moment, so that I wouldn't be a total basket-case when I started dating.

Then I got my first boyfriend.  He taught me a lot and we had great times for sure.  He taught me how to be honest about my feelings, how to compromise, and many other wonderful lessons.  Since it was my first breakup, it was definitely difficult, but I'm glad that he felt honest enough with me to end things when he wasn't comfortable anymore.  I would never want to force anyone into something they weren't comfortable with.

Then I was single for a while.  After a while, and after I had adjusted to just dating for fun, I got involved in my second relationship.  We also had great times.  We did activities together that I didn't have the opportunity to with other guys.  He liked plays, the symphony, dances, ballet, and lots of other things that I love.  After three months, I broke up with him.  I dedicated a blog post just to him, and I think about, and worry about him a lot.  He seems happy, and I truly hope he is.  I felt like breaking up with him was the right thing to do.  And it was his first real breakup so I know I really hurt him--which hurts me too.

Here I am, two years later.  I would say overall I'm a much happier and healthier person.  I am more myself, feel more comfortable in my own skin, and have grown more understanding and accepting of other people.  I respect people more and appreciate their hardships and what they can teach me.  I also appreciate my own hardships more.

In fact, looking back when I first came out publicly, my parents were less than pleased.  They felt that coming out was a private matter that needed to be kept in the family and I had just blabbed all over facebook that I was gay.  The horror!  But now, my parents are completely supportive of me and my decision.  I talk to my mum and nanna about who I am dating and what we did.  They get excited for me and encourage me to live the best life I can.  I'm still a good person and need to stick to my morals.  My brother encourages me to keep an open mind, reach out to new people, enjoy the company of others, and become more comfortable with myself.  My father helps me discuss deeper issues such as where I fit in in this life, where my life may go, and the occasional excitement about a date.  I love my family more than anything and I am *so* grateful that they are so supportive.  I never could've made it this far without them.

I am no longer attending the LDS church meetings.  I respect the church, I respect what they do for some people, and I cannot fully participate in the church and be true to myself.  They are mutually exclusive.  Although I pray that one day the church will change, I highly doubt it will.  I am comfortable in living my life the best I can with what I have, not abandoning who I was, sticking to my morals, and just being happy.  I do still pray and find myself connecting to God in different ways--through music, love of friends, wholesome activities, and family.

Now then, I have left the best for last.  I have met someone.  And yes I meet lots of people all the time but he is different.  The instant I saw him, my jaw dropped.  I did my best to hide such a foolish gesture.  He and I chatted, fairly easily might I add, and I asked him out on a date.  He was so sweet on the date, very chivalrous, kind-hearted, loving, and a great conversationalist.  After dinner, we headed into the mountains to go on a hike.  It was splendid to be in such a beautiful area with such a beautiful guy, inside and out.  We have seen each other every week since, and love spending time together.  I have never been happier to be with someone.  Anytime I get a text, I swoon.  When I speak to him every night, there's constantly a huge smile on my face.  And anyone within ear shot has to hear about my cheesy middle-school romance that I seem to be in.  I think it's wonderful!  I am elated and haven't been this happy in a very long time.

He tells me he feels the same.  He is helping me gain the confidence I am so lacking at times.  He compliments me, and I him.  We talk about everything and I do my best to help him feel as comfortable as possible in his own skin.  He makes me feel like a million dollars!  I feel like I can be completely myself with him, and he says the same about me.

We are taking things one day at a time, and slow.  I do not feel a need to rush.  I am comfortable where we are.

Now then, I leave you with how I feel about myself this morning.  I hope to remind myself about these positive qualities if I feel down.  I can change my outlook on life and myself.

I am generous, loving, silly, have a nice smile, I dress well, I'm smart, I know how to help people, I'm successful, I'm dedicated, I'm compassionate, I'm spontaneous, I'm sweet, I'm thoughtful, I'm random, I'm goofy, I'm talented, I'm handsome, I'm considerate, I'm frugal, I'm ambitious, I'm passionate, and above all, I am me.

Here's to another year!  Cheers!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

So What Happened...?

We broke up.  Since he is not all the way out, I will refrain from naming him.  If you did not get the chance to meet him, he was an incredible individual.  He was probably more than I deserved.

A million thoughts were running through my head yesterday and last night when I told him we couldn't be together anymore.  Honestly, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I feel absolutely terrible about the pain that I have caused.  It is not in my nature to hurt people or make them sad.  So it killed me to see him take it so hard.  I did everything I could to apologize and make it easier for him but breakups are never easy.  I broke his heart.

I wish there was a way to help him understand that the reason I wanted to end things was mostly coming from myself.  The relationship was bringing up issues in myself that I felt needed to be solved before I could be a healthy and stable individual.  He thought I was breaking up with him because of his issues.  But that's not the case.  I did what I thought was best to take care of myself and my personal growth.  And I didn't think it would be fair to him to deal with only a partially complete person.  He deserves someone whole and wonderful.

I have a fear of being alone.  It's almost like a phobia.  I think of my life ahead of me and the thought of being alone through it all scares me to death.  Some people are more wired to be monogamous and others to just have friends and still others to have multiple partners.  I dream of the day when I marry the man of my dreams; when I buy a house, start a new life, and make a family with the man I love.

One hard thing about living in Utah, or maybe just growing up LDS, is that this fear of being alone is instilled in us.  Maybe not purposely but it seems like everyone I talk to has the same goal: get married, and have a family and live happily ever after.  Even though I have stepped back from the LDS church, I still have similar beliefs and values.  And maybe that drive for marriage has come from the church or somewhere else.  I really don't know.

So, back to my issues.  I feel like I jumped into this relationship because of my fear of being alone.  I was hesitant to start a relationship at first but here was this wonderful guy, and I thought I'd work it out.

I am now even more firm in my belief that a real, lasting relationship takes two complete individuals.  To rely on someone else to make you whole is putting way too much pressure on the other individual, and you don't grow.  You actually stunt your growth by doing that.  I want to learn how to be more independent, rather than codependent.

I'll admit it.  When people tell me something that leaves room to read between the lines, I assume the worst.  It's a terrible trait I have and I wish I could get rid of it!  It leads to unnecessary arguments and clarifications.  I found myself even doing it with the man I loved.  That wasn't fair to him.  He gave me his heart and that should've been enough for me to realize that I could see him in the most positive light.  He had my best intentions at heart.  But I couldn't see that.

These next few days are going to be tough.  I've already broken down and cried twice at work which is awkward with teenagers running around everywhere.  Thankfully, I do have wonderful friends who have been very supportive.  I ask those of my friends who knew my boyfriend to please reach out to him too.  He needs your help more than I do.

All things balance themselves out in the end.  At least I hope they do.  I learned so much from my relationship.  While I was driving to work this morning I couldn't stop thinking about all the good times, and hard times that I was helped through.  And not to mention how I have grown because of the experience.  I don't believe any experience is wasted until we choose not to learn anything from it.

So last night, I sat him down and got my feelings out in the open.  It was a relief, and incredibly difficult at the same time.  We differ on how we view some aspects of relationships.  That wasn't the breaking point.  One of the biggest reasons I decided to end it was because he deserves to have everything he wants from a guy, without having to compromise.  He deserves a guy who is as loving, caring, kind, generous, happy, fun, spontaneous, and just wonderful as he is.

I am a good person.  I did my best with what I thought was right, and even though I hurt someone, I hope it is for the better for the both of us.  I honestly wish him all the happiness in the world.  And I pray that he will one day be my friend.  I will always and forever love him and cherish the time we shared.  He touched my life, he touched my friend's lives, and my family has already told me how they are going to miss him too.

For now, I am going to take a break from dating.  It's time for me to work on me.  I am going to get to a point where I am a happy, completely whole individual.  Maybe then it'll be a good time to start dating.  And I'm gonna make more friends too!  I don't think that the first time I hang with a gay guy means it's a date.  I am going to step out of my comfort zone and just hang out with good guys.  Maybe down the road something will come of it, but for now, it's just me making some good, new friends.  I can always use good influences in my life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


My father is a business management consultant. Now what is that, you might ask. Well, my dad goes into a business, looks around, finds the manager, consults him, and then leaves. It's a very efficient, yet vague business. "If you can't solve people's problems, there's plenty of money to be made in prolonging them."

When I was a kid, and I came home from school very upset about what someone had said to me, my father would sit me down and ask what happened. I would recount a horrific tale of verbal assault in which I was an innocent bystander and was called the worst thing my 3rd grade mind could imagine: a poo-head.

Streams of tears would run down my face. "Oh the humanity!" I would wail.

My father, with love in his eyes, would look at me and say, "Why are you a poo-head?"

In my fit of rage I would spout a number of things of why he hated me.

And again, my father would look at me and clarify, "No Steven, what can you think of that would make him call you that?"

I was flabbergasted (even though I didn't know the meaning of that word at the time)! My father was supposed to hug me and make it all feel better! He was supposed to say something like, "Oh that so and so doesn't know anything about you. You are amazing just the way you are." And then I'd sniff a little bit and run out to play again.

Now, my little 3rd grade head couldn't figure out my father's wisdom. And even I still have trouble with it now! But I'm slowly getting better at it. Well, I hope so.

I talked with my dear mum this last Sunday about some personal issues I have. My mum is very good at telling me what I need to hear, without it coming across as harsh. But maybe that's just because we have worked through so much before.

Sorry, getting sidetracked. We talked about the way my mind works. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit after being given feedback, of being hyper-critical of the feedback-giver's own foibles. It's almost an immediate reaction. I do take into consideration what they've said. But then I think, "look at all this stuff I'm trying to change and *they* are not doing anything!" Which is probably my attempt to fulfill the victim role and have to do less work than before.

So my mum told me to snap out of that attitude. It isn't healthy for anyone. I end up feeling resentful of the other person, and then do nothing about the feedback I had received.

Now this is not to say that every person should actually follow-through with every piece of feedback given. I was given some anonymous feedback at work saying that I don't care about my students. That's obviously not true. There are much better, higher paying, less stressful jobs out there that I could take if I didn't care. I don't work there for the money. I work there because I care.

So in that case, I feel justified in refusing to really consider that feedback.

But in other circumstances I can't do that. My mum and I also talked about what we expect from other people. We expect *them* to do the work, and in turn make *us* happy. When in reality, if we just worked on making ourselves happy, more people that we surround ourselves with would be happy. "Be the change you wish to see in others"

So I'll end this blog with a funny little story about two of my students at work. And I'll change their names.

Bob and Sally are dating. And they are so mushy and lovey-dovey that I wanna take a blunt instrument to my head when I see them. But Sally is a bit of a ditz.

Students were coming from Spain to visit our school. Every other year, they come to our school, and our school goes to their school the following year. And back and forth we go. Wee!

Anyway, Bob is from Europe. I don't remember which part. When he heard those students were coming, he said, "It'll be so nice to have some other Europeans around."

To which Sally responded, "Bob...Span is in *South America*!"

*Induce blunt instrument head-bashing*

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It Gets to You

Wow I can't believe it's been a month since I last posted. So I suppose it's time for an update.

I got accepted into the Masters program at the University of Utah to begin my work towards becoming a professional counselor. I am currently on the alternate list for their PhD program so if I don't get into that, I can at least start working on my Masters.

I have a boyfriend! Amazing right? Didn't seem like I was going to get one. We were set up by a mutual friend and I was shocked things worked out 'cause blind dates usually don't end well. But, I wasn't looking and everyone says that a boyfriend comes along when you stop looking for one. So yay me!

I'm mainly writing this blog to get some feelings out that I'm having right now. I do want to address a frustration I recently had.

Someone in my ward read my blog. I have a pretty good idea who it is. He decided to run and tell the bishop about my blog. The bishop then decided to give me a call and talk about my blog. Nothing bad happened. We just talked and he wanted to make sure I was using this blog just as a journal and not as a way to try and teach doctrine or something like that. And I can understand the bishops' concern.

The problem comes in with this guy who ran to tattle to the bishop on me. I mean really...? Nowhere in my blog have I ever stated that my thoughts and ideas were doctrine of the church and that I was trying to persuade people to believe in what I had to say. If you have a problem with me or my blog, say it to my face. Don't try to go behind my back, because guess what? I have a lot of respect for people who bring me feedback out in the open. The people who want to save face or whatever and go around me actually end up losing my respect.

The words from a song keep repeating in my head over and over. The line is, "what if your best just isn't good enough?"

I've felt like that a lot. Actually, most of my life to be honest. Having been to therapy, I've done a lot of work on my shame-based thoughts and behaviors. For some reason, I have an idea about myself that I'm not good enough and I never will be good enough. I don't know where this idea originated, and I probably had a lot to do with it being perpetuated but that's not the point. The point is that some of the stuff that I'm exposed to has really begun to wear me down.

Being gay, I am privy to a lot of information about gay issues. Mostly just because my friends post things on their websites or facebook accounts. And most of the time these things are not good. It usually has to deal with how we are still being denied rights and how we are of a lower class then everyone else.

So what am I feeling now? That I've tried my best and it's just not good enough.

For the first time in my life, I am living as authentic of a life as possible. I'm working on being true to my religion (by living it as much as I can being gay) and I'm also working on being okay with myself as a gay.

But then I see these hate-filled statements that politicians, religious figures, and other people make and as much as I try to not let it sink in, it takes its toll. There are nights like tonight where I feel like I'm worthless. I feel like I'm fighting so hard just to be myself and it doesn't even matter because I'm just not good enough. How I was born and made is just not up to par with what I should be.

So I'm left with this empty feeling inside. What more can I do? How much more am I expected to take?

Unfortunately, the words of others are almost always worse than physical actions. Someone can punch me, and yes I'll have some bruises or damage for a while, but it goes away. The words that I hear stay with me. I can see the article headlines in my mind, "God hates gays", "so and so brings Bible to prove that gays are terrible", and so on and so forth.

Those bigoted words stay with me. People can believe what they want and think that homosexuality is wrong or that's its a choice or whatever else. They're just ignorant. But when people are vocal in degrading a group of people, those people will eventually start believing what they hear.

I know I'm beginning to...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Online Dating

The world of gay dating is an interesting one. In my experience, most of the first interactions between two people occur online. Let's face it, it's hard to go up to someone and just hit on them. I wouldn't even do that in a gay club, let alone in a normal setting where I could be hitting on a straight guy! Oh and just FYI straight guys, just because a guy is gay doesn't mean he's attracted to you. That's like thinking that every straight girl is attracted to you. But you might already think that...conceited...moving on!

So I thought I'd write a little blog about some of the things that I find funny in cyber dating. Let us first begin with the all-amazing iPhone.

There have been research articles that have shown that iPhone owners are more likely to have sex. Why you may ask? Well, it could be that there are multiple applications for the iPhone which allows a user, using the built in GPS chip, to see who is nearby and of the same sexual orientation. I have a few of these applications on my phone and I've met some cool people and some rather...interesting...people as well. Let me tell you some of the "secrets" to these apps.

Some people think they are being all clever and sneaky when they hide certain information on the apps. The basic information asks for a picture, age, height, weight and ethnicity.

So let's say someone decides not to show their age. They're probably thinking to themselves, "I bet if I don't show my age, everyone will think I'm super young and talk to me..." Uh, no. If you hide information like that, you're basically going to cause the opposite effect. You're hiding your age because your old.

The same thing happens with profile pictures. People choose to showcase a different part of their body, mostly the chest which can make for some great eye candy, or they show a blurry picture of their face. It should come as no surprise when they do actually show their face you might be in for a bit of a shock! Just show your face people! Not everyone is going to think you're attractive! But at least that way the ones who do think you're cute will talk to you and the other ones won't have to dig through the obligatory "hello, how are you? Do you have a face picture?" to find out you're not the one for them.

And why is it that guys are so obsessed with how their chests look? I mean, don't get me wrong, I think a nice chest is...well...nice! But I don't think that every single person on the planet should be required to have one in order to become appealing to the opposite sex. I also think it's funny when a guys' profile picture is just a chest and he says on the profile, "not looking for a hookup..." Well, I hate to break it to you, but showing off your chest without any other information is basically telling everyone you have nothing better to offer than your body. Sounds like you're looking for a hookup to me.

Now on more detailed sites, like websites designed for dating, you can add a variety of information to your profile. I basically wrote a narrative for mine because it keeps the creepers away, while allowing for the people who are actually intelligent to laugh at my writing style, and hopefully proceed to email me.

"Be straight acting" I see that phrase all over the place! Um...I'm not straight. Nor do I intend to be. I don't know what's down there on a woman's body but I'm pretty sure Easy A said it best, "What is with you gays? Do you think I have a gnome down there...?" Yes, yes I do.

So where did this homophobia of other gays come from? Well, I can understand what they mean. I can't say I relish being with a gay who is exactly like The National Enquirer in human form. I can only take that in small doses people. But really? Straight acting? We're all gonna be a little gay! I mean, you like boys, that's pretty gay if you ask me. This is not to say I am extremely feminine. But I'm not extremely masculine either. I'm a healthy balanced gay. Except when I'm hyper, then I tend to get a teensy bit more flaming!

The online world provides a sense of security and a detachment of oneself from the feelings of others. I can't tell you how many times I have tried to chat with someone, and the next thing I know, I can no longer access their profiles. I must have bad breath or something that can be detected through the Internet! There must be some conspiracy going on here...

So there's a little bit about the dating world. It's a little bit messed up. Which is why it's preferred, for me anyway, to meet people in person. I've been told I'm cuter in person anyway.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Letters of Intent

Hey everyone,

Since tonight seems to be the night that people get feedback on their stuff, I thought I'd join in! I have written to Letters of Intent for Utah State University with two different styles. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on both and tell me which is better.

As a student at Utah State University, I would most certainly excel. I am tenacious, disciplined, passionate, balanced, and driven. Having successfully completed my education at Brigham Young University so quickly while maintaining excellent grades and a healthy social life can certainly attest to that.
Ultimately, I hope to be a therapist at a university counseling center. As a therapist, I would hope to help students become just a little bit better so that they may achieve their goals. I would also enjoy being a part-time professor with a few classes. I would use my case notes to show my students what psychology looks like outside of the classroom.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and encounter new and exciting people. I believe it helped me broaden my horizons further than my friends who did not have that opportunity.
My parents often encouraged me to reach out beyond myself. This was put to the test when my brother became addicted to heroine. In my effort to reach out to him, I felt powerless to help. I did not want to see his talent and personality poisoned by his addiction.
Because of the experience I had with my brother, I began volunteering at places where I felt like I could make a difference. I volunteered at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center where I taught groups of teenagers the skills of teamwork. I was also lucky enough to explore a new area with my volunteering at a clinic for sex offenders. My volunteer work at a boarding school as well as at the Utah State Mental Hospital allowed me to become more acquainted with one individual and help them just by taking their mind off their current situation.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school for at-risk teens. Most of the residents that come into our program are from a wilderness program. For the most part, they have experimented with drugs, alcohol and sex and let it get the best of them. At the school, I oversee the dorms and make sure things run smoothly. I also act as a go-between for the residents and their therapists because often times the residents feel more comfortable coming to me before their therapist.
Before that I worked at Copper Hills Youth Center as a milieu staff. There I was more responsible for the resident’s safety because those kids were more prone to violence. It was there that I learned the most on how to manage crisis situations, as they tended to happen more often than at the boarding school. I also developed respect for the people that can work with that kind of population.
As a gay male that came out at BYU, I began to critically analyze my core values and beliefs. It was difficult to come out in an environment that at times was hostile to how I was feeling. Because of some of the pressure that I was under, my ability to analyze situations and research became much stronger. I was able to look at moral issues and see it from a more understanding viewpoint. I knew what it was like to be thrown into a general category with all of the other people like me. I vowed that I would do my best to get to know the person behind the issue, and not just how to fix the issue.
In my research experience at BYU, I focused on pornography, sex education, depression, gender roles, memory retention, and sexual orientation. My role in most of the research was to write up our findings, as well as create and give the presentation of our data. I found that collecting and presenting our data was both challenging and exciting.
I look forward to taking this next step in my life. I believe that the program at Utah State University will challenge me to be better, work harder, and achieve my professional goals.

Dr. Bristow seems to have a nice ring to it—sophisticated and invokes a sense of confidence. Not that a name is everything, but at least it’s a good start.
People have always fascinated me. I love taking a look around in public places to see how people interact with one another. I remember in particular one day seeing a young woman at the DMV who decided to flip out on the phone while standing in line. Why on earth she decided to do it in such a public setting is beyond me. But maybe with more formal education, I can catch a glimpse at what makes people tick.
Most people cannot wait to get out of school. I am one of the rare gems (maybe nerd is a better word) who cannot wait to go back to school. I love the challenge, the knowledge, the fun, the discipline, and just the essence that fills the air. It’s as if the air is filled with knowledge and all I have to do is breathe it in to become smarter. Obviously, it takes much more than that. Skills such as tenacity, discipline, drive, passion, and balance all play an important role. And since I feel like I am in possession of most of these skills (I am allowed to sell myself here right?), I will excel at Utah State University.
I am a local boy. I was born and raised in the little bubble they call Utah Valley. I loved it there. I got to experience a very different culture from what the rest of the world is used to. But since I have relatives around the globe, I have had the opportunity to explore other cultures and areas. My drive comes from wanting to see the unexplored. The Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song comes to mind—I want to go where no man has gone before—into the human mind.
Well, not literally of course. Ultimately, I would love to work in a university setting at a counseling center. I would enjoy not only being a therapist but also teaching a few classes to show students what psychology actually looks like outside the classroom. I would push my students to focus more on themselves, which may seem like a selfish goal. However, in my experience, it has only been when I have focused on myself and made myself truly happy, that I was able to lift others up to my level. I am in a constant quest to better myself and in turn, better those I come in contact with.
My research experience at BYU focused a lot on gender roles, depression, pornography, sexual orientation, and memory retention. As a gay man who came out at BYU, I was put in a situation where I needed to critically analyze the world around me. While most of my friends thought that this critical analyzing would include me deciding if they were crazy (Because that’s apparently all psychologists do), I included it in my school work. I knew how to have a balanced life and used it to stay on top of my work as well as to simply stay sane.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school in Oakley, Utah. There, I am an assistant house coach and oversee things in the dorm and make sure things run smoothly. At times, I feel as if I am a therapist. The residents will come up to me frequently and figuratively spill their guts. I, in turn, try my best to empathize and if it is in my power, I do my best to rectify the situation. For the most part, I encourage them to stay in close contact with their therapist and family as I do not have the necessary skills to actually give therapy.
I have done a lot of volunteer work in the past. It was very influential in helping me find my knack and passion for psychology. I volunteered at a “space center” where I pretended to be in the Star Trek universe. I also volunteered at a boarding school, the Utah State Mental Hospital, and a sex offender clinic. And just before my work at the boarding school, I worked at an RTC.
I am excited to begin this next part of my life. I believe being a therapist will help me make the world a little bit better. Oh, and I still want my title of doctor.

Thank you everyone!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Brand New Day

If you didn't know, my title actually comes from a song that's a part of "Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog" which is an awesome show by the way.  It is actually one of my favorite songs.  Probably because it's kind of a dark, passionate, emotional song, but also sassy.  I dunno, I just really like songs that are more sad.  They just sound better and are a lot more powerful.  Guess they just resonate with me.
But this isn't about music.  I guess I feel the urgent desire to write in my blog for some reason.  Maybe it's because it's New Years day and I feel some obligation to create some resolutions.  But I've also been struggling and writing usually helps me feel better.
It's amazing how different people can bring out the best and the worst in you.  I know here at work, some of these kids just know all the right buttons to push and I can go from zero to sixty in two seconds.  But then there are kids here who can actually tell when something is bugging me, and I can actually see that they care.
Well, my day started out well yesterday until I received some news from a friend of mine.  He and I met recently; we've hung out every day and have gone on a few dates.  Honestly, I have never felt the way I feel about him before.  And I told him that.  That was when he told me that he's been hurt a lot and so he's locked away his feelings.  He's just not as interested in me as I am in him.
Well, that hurt.  A lot.  After I saw that, I couldn't stop crying.  He called and we talked about it, and honestly, I understand where he's coming from.  I know it's important to protect yourself from emotional pain and anguish.  But it doesn't make it any easier for me.
The problem for me comes in with my feelings.  If I had these overwhelming feelings for every guy I've ever met, I would say there's a problem and that I'm falling too easily for guys and am not letting things happen naturally.  But that's not what is happening.  I've met plenty of gay guys, and have never felt so twitterpated as I did with this guy.  So I feel like it's something special.  It is for me anyway, maybe not for him.
And of course I *love* to overanalyze everything.  It's a bad habit, I know.  I'll work on that.  Maybe that should be a New Years resolution!  Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...
So, I'm overanalyzing things.  I'm thinking that he really doesn't like me, that he never has, that he's dating other guys on the side and making them fall for him like I did.  But of course, I have no evidence to support those assumptions.  He even told me that I have done absolutely nothing wrong.  He is just trying to work things out for himself and that he has just a different process of doing things.
This has brought up some interesting feelings for me: both bad and good.  Which is why I mentioned how different people can really change how things look to you.  So now to my resolutions.
I think my first one is to be true to myself.  Honestly I get crazy mixed messages from the gay universe!  Which is incredibly frustrating.  I keep hearing from guy after guy how much they value honesty with others and with themselves.  And I'm a pretty honest guy when it comes to my emotions, needs, and what I want.  But that seems to scare people off.  I tell them how I'm *honestly* feeling and it scares 'em off.  I can understand that, I guess.  Most people aren't used to others who are very honest and direct.  Guess that's just another way my psychology degree has ruined my life.
But hey, as I have been thinking, being true to myself, no matter what that is, is what I want to do.  I'd rather be with someone who loves me and everything about me, even when I am crazy just because I'm in tune and open about my emotions.  That way I'd feel truly fulfilled and valued.  I am a worthy person all by myself, without needing to change.
My second resolution also has to do with dating.  I am going to go on dates to have fun.  This one is going to be a challenge.  When I ask guys out, sometimes I feel differently on that first date.  Unless I've already been hanging out with the guy a little bit before I ask him out.  But I think that happens to everyone.  So I think if I am honest with myself, I will have fun on dates and won't be thinking in the back of my mind, "is this going to go anywhere?" and all those other relationship questions.
My third resolution is to be selfish.  But not in the way you think.  I find myself giving up a lot of what I want to do for the benefit or convenience of others.  I need to be taking care of my own needs first.  I can't help people up a mountain unless I myself am on a higher plane and am able to do so.  Along with this, I want to start doing things for myself that make myself happy.  I snowboard, and I love it.  I go by myself every week and it hasn't been an issue.  I don't look around and pout because I am alone.  I am at peace, and am in love with what I am doing.  I want other activities to help me do that.  I used to volunteer at the Space Center.  I now think I'd like to volunteer at the Salt Lake City LGBT center.  I used to take violin lessons and play my bass in an orchestra.  I now want to take voice lessons and get back involved in an orchestra either with my violin or bass.  In this way, I am being selfish, but it will allow me to be in a better mood, and be better able to help others in a darker place than my own.
Hopefully I will get accepted into graduate school this year.  I applied for the PhD programs at the U and USU in counseling psychology.  I also applied for the masters program at the U just in case I don't get into one of the doctorate programs.  Education keeps me busy, helps me have a goal in mind, and keeps me feeling useful.  If I don't get into grad school, I will have to rely more heavily on my hobbies and other activities.
I want to look back at the end of 2011 and think to myself that I made the most of every moment I had a live.  Life is precious.  As I know from losing my brother, it really can end at any time.  If that were to happen to me, I want to be able to say I live with no regrets.  And honestly I'm doing a very good job I think.  The only thing I would regret is not choosing to learn something from a mistake.  Mistakes are good.
I watched Memoirs of a Geisha last night and thought it was a fantastic movie.  It was beautiful, profound, fun, engaging, and insightful.  In one scene, a man approaches the young main character and encourages her that the next time she falls down, she must get up with a smile because happy moments are ours for the taking, and we must make the most of them whenever we can.
So there you have it.  I actually do have some resolutions!  And studies have actually shown that writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them.  Most likely because it helps them be stored in long-term memory for use down the road.  But now I'm just psycho-babbling...