Don’t be afraid


For anyone who reads this: If you ever feel sad and alone and need someone to talk to, please message me. I promise I will make time to listen. I love you all and always.

A week ago, I taught myself how to ride a bicycle in a city where I didn’t know anyone, in a country halfway around the world from the only place I have ever lived and known.

Seventeen years ago, I tried to kill myself by overdosing on a bottle of pills, putting myself in a coma for 3 days before waking up in the hospital. I spent the next 10 years of my life recovering and trying to understand myself and my depression. There is more to the story, but for now I will answer the question, “Why?”

I’ve always been a hyper-observant person. By the age of 4, I realized there was something different about me. By the age of 9, I was reading my sister’s college biology books and found the male anatomy more… Interesting… So, even though I didn’t know the word for it then, I think we can say that I’ve always known I was gay, and even more, I was always aware of the stigma surrounding it.

I was always aware of all the nasty remarks and slurs. All the put downs, all the bad jokes, all the name calling and off-hand comments about how horrible it must be to be gay, how sick we are, how much we are hated, how we should all just pretty much die. I heard it all. From everyone and everything around me, I heard it all.

So, in a juvenile attempt to protect myself, I hid. I buried myself in books and video games. Sequestered myself from any human interaction. I grew up with few friends and always afraid. Scared that no one would love me, scared that no one would accept me, scared of being found out, scared to be myself. Every moment, one of fear. Every moment slowly dying.

Because that is what fear does. It is a veil that obscures. Like a pair of blinders, it causes us to see nothing but that grain of darkness. To fill our minds with nothing but worry and despair. To disregard all the light and love that surrounds us. To live our lives behind masks. And we do nothing but kill ourselves when we hide behind masks.

A year ago, I decided that I wanted to pursue my love of art. I quit my job, signed over my home, and sold or got rid of most of my things. I had never lived anywhere else in my life other than San Diego, so I decided I had to travel as much as possible while I learned. Since then I’ve been to 9 states, 3 countries and 20+ cities where I have made many wonderful and temporary homes, meeting many wonderful and, hopefully, more permanent friends along the way.

The only things we truly have are our experiences. What we have to give is what we have learned from those experiences. So I would like to share something I have learned along this journey: Don’t be afraid.

Starting off, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don’t! We can never know the results of anything we do until it happens. That young, sad boy had no idea what lay ahead of him. (He still doesn’t!) But we can’t let that stop us. We can’t live our lives in fear. We must live honestly and unafraid. To do that, we must have faith.

Faith isn’t about just believing everything is going to work out fine. It doesn’t. Shit fucking happens. We get lost, we don’t know what we’re doing, and things don’t happen the way we plan. Faith is knowing that we have the strength and fortitude to overcome any obstacle. Just as we have every time before. Expect resistance. It takes hours of labor and pain when we are born. Why would it be any different later on?

Faith is also knowing that on the other side of fear, doubt, and sadness there is love, freedom, and happiness that is more than anything we could have possibly dreamed or imagined. Fear does that. It chokes off our vision so that we can not see the infinite, beautiful possibilities.

Faith is having the grace to be grateful for every blessing that happens. Because with every test of faith we are blessed. The most amazing things will happen and there will be amazing people that help guide us along the way. We are never alone.

But, fear would have us think differently. It causes us to see failures, but not lessons. Strangers, but not friends. The terrifying unknown, but not the exciting unexplored. Everything that could possibly go wrong, but not the much simpler way that things do happen: not the way we plan, but the way that it needs to happen for us.

We must have faith. We gain faith by acting in the face of fear.

With it, trust grows. Love grows. We begin to see that there is a Love that always has and always will love us. It resides in everyone and everything around us. It is the very reason for our existence. Love kept me alive that dark night in November, 17 years ago. Love sustains me to this day.

Love is also why I must tell you, Don’t be afraid.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that everyone should just turn their lives upside down, set aside everything, and buy a one-way ticket to Asia. That would be ridiculous and irresponsible. But I am going to suggest that we do the things that we have been putting off. The things that we have been afraid to do because we’ve never done them before, we don’t want to look foolish, we don’t know if we’ll be good at it, we don’t know how it’ll work out, we don’t have the time to do it… The things we will do, maybe… tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…

We fear what may happen and never see what does happen. A hundred days and nights have passed and gone. Who says that there will be a hundred more? Don’t be afraid! Do the things you’ve always wanted to do: take that class, learn how to draw, learn how to act, learn how to program, learn how to dance, go to that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, go to that museum, go to that concert, go to that show, go to that play, sing, try out a new sport, pick up that old one, read that book, cook something you’ve never made before, write a letter to your teacher, write a letter for a friend, take care of the homeless, go swimming, go paddle-boarding, learn how to ride a bike, learn how to ride a motorcycle, perform on stage for the first time, ask that person out you’ve had your eye on, go have a drink with your co-workers, go fishing with your dad, go to a game show with your mom, have dinner with your sister, go rock climbing with your brother, go to a musical with your nieces, build a make-believe rocket with your nephew, tell a story to your son, play a silly game with your daughter, reach out to that friend of a friend that you’ve always wanted to know better, reach out to that old friend you’ve always said you wanted to get back in touch with, go dancing with friends, go dancing with strangers, talk to more strangers, go camping, go road-tripping, go ride a train, move to a different city, move to a different country, speak the Truth! Whatever it is, don’t be afraid!

The days burn away like the wick of a candle. And life just as easily, is snuffed out like the flame. Do the things that need to be done, that no one else around us is doing. Have Faith. Don’t be afraid.