The Appeal of Younger Men

young chickAt the age of 33 I’ve only ever had one real boyfriend. By ‘real boyfriend’ I mean a guy who I dated and everyone in my life knew that I was dating him. All of my close friends and my parents met him in person. Not only did everyone know that he existed, and that he was a man, but we discussed him on a regular basis. I told others about places we went together, things we did, fun we had, the way he made me feel, and other such relationship type things. This was a very thrilling time of my life.

To some people reading this, such details may sound silly to be thrilled about since they seem so ordinary and perhaps downright inconsequential or insignificant. I assure you this openness and honesty about my boyfriend was quite significant for me. It made me feel more a part of the human race and, I daresay, an active participant in this dance of life we are all engaged in.

I’ve been meaning to write about this boyfriend, our relationship, and what lessons he helped me learn for quite some time now. But every time I sat down to write about him my words felt like they were deflated and like the post’s message was not taking on a large enough scope. Like there was more to be said than to just ramble on about he and I and our breakup. Over this past weekend the bigger message here presented itself to me. But first I must tell you about Thomas…

My first real boyfriend’s name was Thomas. From the first second I saw him, there was a spark. God, was he cute! And he seemed so kind and so sincere. That first meeting was brief, but on our second meeting we sat and talked for a very long time about horror movies. I found him physically attractive and he loved horror films! Deadly combination. I was smitten.

One important detail about Thomas, and perhaps the single largest contributing factor to our relationship’s downfall, was his age. At the time I was 31 years old and he was 22. In our case, the 9-year difference was one of the things that attracted him to me, and me to him, but it ended up being an overall negative.

Without going into too much boring detail, Thomas and I were a wrong mix right from the start. I am a communicator, a giver, and a person who desires to talk out problems. In my experience with him, Thomas was a taker who avoided serious conversation at all costs. We were always on a different page and never understood what the other was trying to say.

We dated for literally two months and one week. About two of those weeks were easy and really fun. The rest were a gradual downfall into continuously feeling like crap. We argued constantly, actually had very little in common, and the death kiss – I seemed more interested in Thomas than he did in me. When we would go out, he ignored me and seemed to be constantly trying to hit on other men. Guys would comment about this to me at bars. Thomas was constantly trying to talk me into having threesomes, which now I realize was an indication of his selfishness and his lack of genuine interest in me. Who knows why he even wanted to be together?

threesome

Thomas was very self motivated. All of his decisions and motivations were based on what benefited and satisfied him. Writing about him now makes me feel like an idiot for dating him in the first place, but at the beginning all I knew was that I felt an intense chemical attraction to him and that he made me feel alive. I had no way of knowing how toxic and unsatisfying our time together would be. After it was over, Thomas personally told me that he had cheated on me twice in the short amount of time we were dating.

Thomas was an awful boyfriend, but he was my first. This dating thing was new to me. It still is. Since our relationship ended I’ve internally reprimanded myself a great deal for having dated someone so young. Why would I have done something so obviously stupid?

Jump ahead with me to just this past weekend. I decided to rejoin the world of the living and head to a gay bar in the big city on Friday night. I ended up having a spectacular time. I’m so glad that I went out. I ran into a lot of old friends. It was really nice.

young manThroughout the course of the night I came across a 21-year-old gentleman named Calvin. He was young in all the traditional and enviable ways. His skin was flawless and wrinkle free, his hair was thick, healthy and styled in the coolest modern hair style, he was wearing such a hot and fashionable outfit, he was currently in school, and came across as so innocent.

He smiled so much that it made me happy just to be around him. He made me smile in return. We spent a lot of time talking and he is extremely excited about life. He’s excited about his school, excited about the possibilities ahead of him in his journey, and he talks about love like it’s a concept he just discovered yesterday. He is not yet jaded. Still optimistic and still hopeful.

He seemed interested in me from the start. He was so attentive, so touchy feely and flirty. He kept his eyes on me wherever I would move. Being around this and his attitude invigorated me. In fact, he had such an affect on me that I’m writing about him today and still smiling when I think of him.

Lately I’ve been feeling so blah and devoid of hope in my own life that being around Calvin held a harsh mirror up to me. Through him I saw an old reflection of Adam at the age of 21. He made me miss my old self. He made me miss my old excitement and optimism. He made me miss being young. Realistically, I believe that is how Thomas also made me feel at first.

old man reflectionStill, Calvin did another thing for me; he helped me realize something about myself. In the past two years I was most attracted to and enlivened by Calvin and Thomas, two men in their early twenties. As I drove home on Saturday morning with Calvin’s sparkling eyes still fresh in my memory, I realized why I was so attracted to these young two men.

I never got to date these young men when I was their age. I never got to date when I was a teenager. I never got to talk on the phone for hours with my teenage boyfriend. I never got to pass notes with him in class, or hold hands with him at homecoming, or take walks with him on warm summer nights. I never got to visit my boyfriend in his college dorm room, or study with him at a table in our college library, or feel his reassuring touch beside me in a dark movie theater. I never got to do any of these things, and to be honest, I feel so damn sorry for myself that it is hard not to tear up when I really think about it. I was attracted to Calvin, and initially to Thomas, because they were what I wanted back then and was without.

I was in Calvin’s presence for 6 hours on a Friday night and during that small amount of time I got to travel back in time to something I had been cheated out of. In the interest of full disclosure, we spent a pretty large amount of time making out on a friend’s couch in an apartment with lava lamps in every room and heavy-metal band posters on every wall. It could not have felt more like college if I had planned it, and it was wonderful.

In all honesty, I don’t think I will ever see Calvin again. This meeting had the feel of a one-time thing. It doesn’t need another instance in order to teach its lesson. He will probably never know what an impact our short time together had on me. I held his face, looked into his eyes, felt his lips on mine, and was completely present with someone for the first time in a long time.

For my future, I’m not completely sure what this will all mean in relation to my moving forward and to my accepting that some things were absent from my youth because I was a closeted gay man until I was almost 30 years old. The hard truth is that I can’t go back to being 17 again, and I will never be 21 and in college again, but I did just turn 33 and some would say that is still pretty young. I still have some youthful experiences ahead of me.

But it’s not really the youth that truly matters, is it? Maybe it’s just the innocence and authenticity that really attracted me to these two young men. Something tells me if I look hard enough there is still some of that to be found in this world, even in a man in his 30’s. I just need to hold on to the positive traits I once had in my youth and mix them well with the lessons of my older age. And maybe there is a man out there whose love will make me feel like a teenager again, while also making me feel like an adult in all the right ways. A perfect combination.

It could happen.

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This is a picture from a truly amazing film about teenage love titled ‘Boys’ – released in 2014. Click on this image to go to its IMDB Page.

 

Versions of Adam

overlapping faces

Drawing by artist Angie H. Iver

I’ve been thinking about different versions of myself lately.

Our lives and memories are made up of so many moments, so many images of ourselves that stand out, so many versions of who we have been.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam pictured in a polaroid hanging on a wall in my parents’ basement. In it, Adam is four years old and he’s wearing a light blue hospital hat and mask. His parents brought them home from the hospital along with his new baby brother. Most of his face is covered but you can tell he is smiling. His large smile shows even behind the mask. He looks happy, safe and loved.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam right after his third round of chemo. In this time period it was a Monday and he had made plans to meet some college friends for dinner that Wednesday. It was to be a much needed escape from his cancer reality. But he found out that Monday morning that the reason his tailbone had been hurting so much was that he had developed some odd viral cyst back there. In a completely healthy 21-year-old the virus would have been easily warded off with no symptoms. But his white blood cell count was too low and the unlucky combination caused havoc. He was in pain. He didn’t know if his cancer was gone yet. And he had to cancel the Wednesday plans with his friends because he wasn’t healthy enough to be around germ-covered people. In this version of Adam in my memory he just finished slamming a kitchen utensil off the kitchen counter, nicking it in his rage, and was now laying in a sideways ball on the floor crying because his tailbone hurt too much to sit on the floor. He feels defeated and absolutely terrified.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam from yesterday. He is in the middle of a lunch rush at a busy family diner where he waiters. He has just walked into the dishwashing room to sort out several dirty dishes, spoons and cups before heading out to take his sixth table’s order. He is tired, his knees hurt, he feels frustrated and wants to go home. He can’t escape this hatred towards himself for leading his life in this direction. For making decisions that placed him here in this moment, when so many other moments could have been better. He feels like he failed. Like he is failing. He has to go back out there and see what the annoying lady in the red shirt and her awful husband want for lunch. And then he has to serve it to them, put up with their attitudes, and mix them milkshakes at the end for desert just so they can leave him a shitty $3.00 tip and he can feel like a failure. This version of Adam is sad.

many faces

Artwork by Felipe Fox

There is a version of Adam on his first day of college. The sun is shining on his face on this perfect day. He is so awake. So excited. So hopeful. So ready to meet new people. To make new friends.

There is a version of Adam in his boxers in the dorm room of his first boy hookup in college. He’s smiling. He just finished kissing the boy who has adorable brown hair and killer blue eyes. He is nervous and excited. His stomach has butterflies in it.

There is a version of Adam laughing so hard with friends in college that he has tears running down his face.

There is a version of Adam who feels so exhausted during a CrossFit workout, but proud of himself just for being there. For pushing himself.

There is a version of Adam at a 19-year-old fraternity brother’s funeral staring into the casket thinking how unfair this is, and how alive his friend’s body still looks, and that the funeral home styled his friend’s hair completely wrong.

There is a version of Adam playing Monopoly with a childhood friend.

And another version of Adam swinging so high on a playground swing that his stomach is flipping.

There is a version of Adam stepping off of a plane in London, England.

And another version of Adam holding his new puppy for the first time.

Then there is this version of Adam right now. At this very second typing this post with tears in his eyes.

I don’t know who this version of Adam is yet.

In some ways, I understand every version of Adam I listed, except this last one.

I’m not sure what to do with him next…

What version of Adam do I want to be tomorrow when I wake up?

mirror and faces

Pushy, Pushy: Being Pushed Out of the Closet by Gay Friends

push-cliffIn honor of National Coming Out Day I offer up this post to you, Gentle Reader, in celebration of everyone’s right to be proud of who they truly are, as well as their right to share their truths with others in their own time, when they are fully ready. Here are two stories from my days of being closeted, each telling how sometimes others may prefer for us to come out in their time, rather than in our own.

In the fall of 2009 I was 27 years old and had known, without a doubt, that I was gay for about 8 years. I look back on that particular fall and try to understand why I was still so deep in my closet after all that time. Being closeted had just become such a labyrinth of internal and external obstacles for me, I suppose the more I tried to find the perfect way to accept myself and come out, the deeper I got lost in my maze.

I met my friend Ray at a gay bar in September of that year. From the first moment I heard him speak, I felt comfortable around him. He is the kind of guy that immediately comes across as intelligent and funny. I thought he was so hilarious. Every sentence out of his mouth was fueled by intellectual humor. In my opinion, that is the sexiest kind of humor.

We became fast friends and, looking back, I’m really thankful that he came into my life at that particular point. Ray is brazen and proud of being gay. I needed to be around that back then. Hell, I need to be around that right now. Ray was great because he would speak his mind and if you didn’t agree with him, then too bad for you. I, on the other hand, have always leaned more towards politely bending my will to agree with others so as not to create conflict. Ray helped me view a lot of things in a different light. He was one of the first people to help me understand that I could be proud of my sexuality if I just gave myself time.

Ray and I would have gotten along almost perfectly, if I hadn’t been closeted. Ray hated the fact that I was still in my closet and he constantly tried to push me out of it through our conversations. He would say things like,

“You will be so much happier once you are out. Just do it already!”

or

“You are making a conscious decision to be miserable by staying in the closet. Why are you torturing yourself?”

On one hand I could understand what he was saying and I truly believed that I would be happier once I was out. But I just wasn’t at that place yet. This reality caused many arguments between us, all of which left me feeling stupid and cowardly. (Not things that your friends should make you feel on a regular basis.) My being closeted was one of the major things that ultimately unraveled our friendship. I know Ray mostly just wanted me to be happy, but his pressure-fueled tactics were flawed. Being nagged at does not make coming out any easier. But I still find my mind wondering to thoughts of Ray often. I smile remembering how genuinely funny he was. I miss how he made me feel when things were good and I wish him well.

coming-outJumping back seven years prior to Ray, during the fall semester of my junior year in college, I existed even deeper in my closet. At the time I had just begun meeting guys online for dates and I was only just beginning to accept that I was probably gay. In those days I was really immersed in ‘The Closeted Game”. I had a whole system worked out so that I could live two separate lives. I had two AIM screen names and two emails (one gay and one straight). When I would go on dates with guys I would sheepishly ask them to keep my identity and sexuality a secret. I nervously explained to them that no one at my college knew that I was gay. I was terrified about acting on these gay feelings and I was actively begging the guys I dated to help me stay on the down low.

I went out on one particular date with a guy named Mike. Then several months later Mike coincidentally began seriously dating an out gay man that went to the same, small liberal arts college that I did. (We will call this fellow student Neal). Well, one day Mike decided to tell Neal,

“Hey, actually, come to think of it, I went on a date once at this school with a guy named Adam.”

And he then proceeded to describe me in great detail, to the point where Neal knew exactly who I was. At first Neal must have said to him,

“Nah I know who you are talking about, he’s not gay.”

But eventually…Ding Ding Ding. A light bulb went off and Neal realized that I was closeted and that no one on campus knew about it.

Now Neal just happened to be the only out gay man on our small campus: a situation, which I am sure, was not ideal or entirely pleasant for him. Now Neal saw a unique opportunity with this newfound information and, instead of keeping this to himself or coming to privately discuss the matter with me, Neal began telling my friends and other random people on campus that I was gay and that his boyfriend had dated me once.

push badOne brisk autumn evening one of my friends called me up on my dorm room phone to tell me that Neal was spreading this rumor… I. Was. Pissed. I found Neal’s phone number in our campus directory, called him up, and made him meet me in person. I angrily confronted him, basically threatened him, and demanded to know why he would do such a thing. I screamed at him,

“How dare you! Why in the hell would you do something like this? You of all people know what it is like to be gay on such a small campus. If I do not chose to share my sexuality, which I am literally still figuring out, with everyone else then that is none of your god damned business! You have no right to out someone else! If I am gay then we should be sticking together and helping each other, not going behind each other’s backs and spreading rumors. In this small community how would we benefit from attacking each other?”

Neal cried a lot during that conversation and explained to me,

“I’m sorry. It’s hard for me being the only gay person at this school and I figured that if someone like you, who is involved in a lot of clubs and stuff and who is in a fraternity and who has lots of different kinds of friends, was gay then everyone would see that it is not such a big deal and I guess I thought it would make it easier for me.”

All these years later, thinking back on Neal, I can’t help but to feel a little bad for him. He was scared too. But he really pissed me off. Gay or not, he was sneaky and I can’t respect that. As you can imagine, the whole experience scared me and, in some ways, pushed me even deeper into my closet and my paranoia. Still, to my knowledge, he never spread any further rumors about me, and I was once again free to uncomfortably hide in my closet for many years more.

So what is the purpose of me droning on about these two less than perfect stories on a day that is supposed to be about hope and freedom? The moral is, no matter what, we all come out when we are ready. No sooner and no later, and that is the way it should be. Those of us who are out and proud need to be supportive of our closeted brothers and sisters. Show them we love them while not being pushy. We all arrive at these milestones exactly when we should; when we know in our gut that it is time. There may still be fear and apprehension, but eventually we know the time has come.

So in further honor of National Coming Out Day, I think I will be brave and display a link to this post on my personal Facebook account. I feel ready to now… and I got here completely in my own time…

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After You Say, “I’m Gay”: Dealing with Others’ Reactions

????????????????????????????????????????For gay men and women, coming out can be a liberating and validating experience. One that can cause much welcomed relief after years of hiding their true self behind a heterosexual façade. Of course the actual act of telling someone you are gay, even if that someone is very open-minded, progressive and supportive, can be riddled with stress and apprehension. Saying the words, “I am gay” can be the frightening first hurdle in a race that we all eventually hope to win.

While we all come from different backgrounds and living situations, thus making each individual’s coming out uniquely hard or easy in its own ways, the general hope is that ultimately coming out offers increased happiness in our lives. In a recent interview with BuzzFeed Brews openly gay actor Ian McKellen spoke of coming out as saying, “…I’ve never met a gay person who came out and who regretted it.” Coming out is about self-acceptance. And self-love can be a beautiful thing.

But in our coming out process, we can only be responsible for the things that we say and the things that we do. After we are out to someone, in a sense, we place the ball in his or her court. At this point, we have no control over how they will react to the personal truth we just shared. For me, learning how to react to what others chose to do with “the ball” I had handed them became the next hurdle in my coming out process.

Let’s explore reactions and resulting quotes that stand out the most for me on my coming out journey. These were what people said and did after I said, “I am gay.”

One of my straight female friends:

“Well Duh. Okay. So are we gonna watch the movie now?”

A straight male friend of mine from the gym:

“Ummm…congratulations? I’m not sure what to say. I don’t care. Just don’t touch my dick when we are doing pull-ups” (and he smiled)

One of my childhood male straight friends:

“Wait… so all those times we talked about hot girls… did you not think they were hot? You sure you aren’t bi?”

My best male friend from college:

I was very nervous to finally admit it to him and I guess I looked very serious beforehand. I told him that I had something to tell him and it took me over a minute to just say it.

He looked relieved. He took a deep breath and exclaimed,

“I thought something was really wrong. Like you were gonna tell me your cancer was back or something. Dude, who cares if you’re gay.”

My Mother:

Her face became cautious and guarded instantly. The news turned out to be hard for her. After I told her, every word out of her mouth was serious. She looked like I had just punched her in her gut. She voiced,

“Adam, I don’t even know any gay people. I know nothing about this. I’m not sure what to say exactly, and when I’m not sure what to say about something then I usually say nothing.”

She went to bed that night without giving me a hug and while avoiding me with her eyes. She barely spoke to me for the next 7 days. If we rode in a car together she stared straight ahead and hardly spoke. I kept thinking that she was mad at me, because that was how she was coming across. Today, she respectfully talks about me being gay and frequently asks me questions. While she is still learning, she constantly expresses that she wants me to be happy.

My Father:

I told my parents separately. With my dad, right after I said the words, “I’m gay.” I started to cry. (It was an emotional day for me.)

His immediate response was to stand up and hug me. After that he said,

“You’re my son and I love you. None of this other stuff matters. We will figure this out. Now…can I ask you a few questions?”

After this first conversation, my father has collectively asked far less questions about me being gay than my mother has. His reaction was love first, silence later. Nowadays he seems to avoid talking about me being gay. I think it makes him uncomfortable, but he is as loving and caring towards me as he always was.

One additional question he asked me on that day does stand out though. He asked,

“As your father, did I do something, or not do something, that caused you to be gay? Do you think I did something wrong?”

Since we are discussing other people’s quotes related to my being gay, I wanted to also share two quotes my parents reiterate to me every so often. I want to preface these by saying how much I truly love my parents. They are wonderful, loving people. While they are getting better at learning about me being gay, they will still say things they do not realize are hurtful. I share these two quotes merely to highlight that sometimes even the people who love us, say things that hurt us due to their ignorance and lack of knowledge about what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. Proof that this is all a journey, until it is a destination.

One of my mother’s favorite things to say to me is,

“I just keep hoping that one day you will walk through the front door and say, ‘Mom, I’ve met the perfect woman. I’m so happy and we are going to get married.’ I just think you haven’t met the right girl yet.”

The topic comes up every so often about how my dad will handle conversations with our conservative extended family members who still do not know that I am gay. He likes to explain,

“It’s no one’s business. I don’t feel the need to just go around and tell people. If they find out and say anything to me I will just tell them, ‘Look, yes Adam is gay. It’s not something that I’m proud of or that I would chose for him, but what are you gonna do? It’s his life and I love him.’”

Bottom line, Gentle Reader: take everyone else’s words with a grain of salt. After all, people’s comments say more about themselves than they do about you being gay. Focus on the words coming out of your own mouth. Since, in the end, those are the only ones you have any control over.

Finding My Voice

taped-mouthBeing closeted can feel like having no voice. It is difficult to ask for help, if you have no voice.

The first person I ever came out to was my friend Stacey. It’s easy to understand why I chose to tell her first. Stacey has the kindest demeanor about her. Everything from her laughter to her body language expresses acceptance. To this day, I am hard pressed to think of anyone with a more benevolent tone to their voice than Stacey. She smiles a lot, and she always has this unique expression on her face that seems to say, “Go ahead, whatever it is you want to say, I won’t judge you at all”.

I met Stacey in college and the night I decided to tell her that I was gay happened to be during our junior year. I had been anticipating it all night. I remember we had been hanging out, ate a bunch of junk food, and watched a movie. After the movie we were just sitting in her room talking when I finally leaned towards her and said, “So, I want to tell you something.  It’s kind of a big deal…” Now, I said it with a nervous enough tone to my voice that she immediately lowered her voice, trained her eyes on me with concern, and replied, “Okay…”

I remember taking a deep breathe and jumping out of my chair because I was so nervous. I remember a lot of walking around the room, darting in circles. I remember a lot of flailing my arms around as I repeatedly yelled about how scared I was. I also did a lot of nervously clenching my hands into fists and avoiding eye contact with her. I kept saying things like, “I’m sorry I just can’t say it” and “Oh man, oh man, oh man” and “Jesus, Stacey, this makes me so freakin’ nervous”.

Considering that she had no idea what I was getting at, Stacey was supportive in every way she knew how to be. She was patient as I freaked out. She tried to calm me down. She tried to get me to just say it. I remember that it took me an hour to finally tell her. And I remember it feeling like 8 hours. It was hard to just say it. Saying nothing had begun to feel safe to me. Staying silent was the price I paid to feel safe.

Now, she would be the first person I said this out loud to. What terrified me the most about that was after I told her; there would be no going back. You cannot unsay something like that. I kept thinking about how big of a deal that was. How I was changing my life forever. Once I said it, then it would be real. My declaration would make it true.

Yet, even with all of these worries and apprehensions, this need to tell her still burned inside of me. It’s amazing, I was so afraid of the truth, so afraid of my life changing forever, but I could still feel this need underneath all of that. At last, the need to speak the truth far out weighted the fear.  I think all closeted men and women eventually reach this breaking of the equilibrium, and that’s when we finally say it out loud. There comes a point where saying nothing just doesn’t feel safe anymore. When we reach that point, we not only find our voice, but we start learning how to scream.

man_wordsThat night, Stacey helped me speak. I remember her finally getting worried and taking control. She got slightly stern with me and said, “Adam. Seriously. You are starting to scare me. Just tell me what you are trying to say.”

So I stopped pacing, sat down next to her, looked at the ground because my eyes were too afraid to look up, and I said, “I’m gay.” It felt like someone just ripped a band aide off my arm. I barely got the words out and I followed them up with, “Oh my god, I said it. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. I’m sorry that took so long. Please don’t hate me. If you hate me, don’t tell me cause I can’t handle that right now.” I felt sick to my stomach. I continued looking down at the ground.

And Stacy replied, “Adam. It is fine. It is totally fine.” She put her hand on my arm. I managed to look at her. She smiled at me. I sheepishly smiled back. And as always, her face said, “I’m not judging you at all”.

And just like that, someone else knew I was gay. But most importantly, they knew because I had told them. I had summoned up the strength to tell her from my own lips. I had taken the first step.

And looking back on that very scary and very arduous first step, words alone cannot express how proud I am of myself.

The pride I feel today far outweighs the fear I felt then.

I found my voice. I found my words. And you are reading them…

Procrastination & Wanting to be Liked

procrastinate-now-and-panic-later

If I may speak frankly, I hate the word Procrastination. The act of procrastinating, putting off work that is necessary for me to complete, has filled me with anxiety and fear throughout my life. Lost in thought a few days ago I began wondering, like all tasks that are uncomfortable, did I procrastinate on coming out? Did mere avoidance play a part in not coming out until I was 29 years old? This lead me to further examine my relationship with procrastination and to unearth some old wounds.

In college, I was afraid of not being as good a student as my peers. I was afraid that I was not studying the correct major and that this was the reason I always felt so out of place. I was afraid that I was on the wrong path and that I would never find the right one. I was afraid that I had a concentration problem and that I would never be able to focus on my studies. I was afraid of being a bad student. I was afraid of letting myself down. I was afraid of letting my professors down. I was afraid that my friends would view me as weak and too fragile. I spent a lot of time feeling unsettled, like I was about to fail at every moment. I feared deadlines, papers, tests, and of course, finals.

Looking back on it, these feelings of dread have stayed with me even ten years after college has ended. I’ve never really let myself off the hook for having these feelings in college. I still have not let Adam, age 18 to 22, off the hook for being scared. God, I’ve been so mad at him because he was so scared.

Procrastination became a way to avoid these intense feelings of fear, inadequacy and sadness. I would avoid work by spending time hanging out with friends, talking, laughing, visiting stores to pass time, attending parties and simply walking around campus. Alone I would watch TV and movies, chat online, endlessly Google more entertaining topics and masturbate.

My sophomore year I started seeing a counselor to talk about, what at the time we labeled as, my anxiety caused by my procrastination. On top of everything else I was feeling I began to feel guilt for procrastinating. Obviously procrastinating was something I was doing which was leading me to have trouble in my classes and feel anxious.

Part of the real bitch of procrastination was the wedge it created between me and myself. All of the classes I missed, and all of the work I didn’t complete, became attacks I was personally performing against myself. I became an enemy to me. I was an obstacle between myself and happiness. What a horrible way to feel about yourself. How do you move forward with yourself if you think you are the enemy?

scary ticking clocksTime also became my enemy. Ticking clocks and passing hours brought me closer to failure. There never seemed to be enough time left in the day to finish a task, so why bother even starting it?

 Looking back, I was trying so hard in college. I just wanted people to like me. It felt so important that people like me. I just wanted to be interesting, funny and worth their time. Perhaps school work and classes played second fiddle to this need to be liked. But, in all honesty, does this really make me any different from every other college student in the world?

Now, I wish I could go back and give myself a hug. Tell myself that it will all be ok and let myself know that when it is all said and done college will be a bundle of happy memories. Tell myself that procrastination, and all the fear it covers up, will not define me. And that at the end of it all, what is most important is that I forgive myself for being afraid and being flawed and for deep down just wanting to be liked.

Moving forward, I try to remind myself to not give the word procrastination so much weight. It is, after all, just a word. Remember that it is possible to still be successful and accomplished with occasional procrastination. Give yourself permission to keep going and complete tasks at your pace in your own time. And remember to give yourself credit for the tasks you do complete, they are successes. And it is important to remind myself that everyone procrastinates, and the act of procrastination does not make us bad people or any less worthy of love.

In the end, Gentle Reader, it is important to not procrastinate on loving yourself. Give yourself as much time as it takes. That ticking clock is not judging us.

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Some related articles on Procrastination you may find interesting
Mind Tools: Overcoming Procrastination
Smithsonian.com: Why Procrastination is Good for You

Me and the Perfect Male Physique

david williams rugby

The Beautiful David Williams

In this post, I would like to explore my obsession with the perfect male physique and the internal conflict that this obsession creates with how I view myself.

The truth is, I spent a significant chunk of my teenage years, and later my adult life, obsessed with the idea of the perfect male body, and thus the role it played in making a man a man. In further truth, I am still battling with this masculine image in my mind today. I have always associated muscles, athleticism, and confidence with being a man. But of course, there must be more to what makes a man than his physical body. I know I am missing other important pieces. But this constant fear of my body being inadequate, weak and not sexy always haunted me. I will admit, this fear has gotten better with age, maturity and life experience. But I still struggle with my body not being good enough, and thus fearing I am failing in my role as a man.

Even scarier, what if it is my fault that my body is not more masculine or muscular? If I wasn’t so scared of the intensity of sports, competition, and masculine roughness than maybe I could have been more athletic and come across as more calm and collected. Maybe then I would have looked and acted more like a man. 

In what felt like a side effect to all of this, the images I never felt I was living up to, the ones in my mind that were the most different from me, became the things I lusted for and desired. Football players with their silent intensity, and perfectly developed chests because erotic. I began playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’ games out in public, peeling my eyes for glimpses of the strong masculine back leading up to a pair of ripped arms extending from a sleeveless shirt, or a perfect ass reflected in cargo shorts leading down to strong muscular calves. Sweaty muscles, bulging biceps, and washboard abs became things that I would never have, but which would fill me with endless envy and obsession.  

sheridan towel man

The Sheridan Towel Man

Straight men will never understand how torturous simply going to the gym can be for a gay man. I do not mean to over dramatize, but I’ve always been nervous about staring too much. If someone noticed me staring at them I could get my ass kicked or at the very least be shunned as not ‘one of the guys’ and in fact queer. All gay men have done it, as they rest between sets, they try not to make it obvious that their eyes are longingly gazing at the sexy bodies all around them pushing their bulging muscles to their limits. And what about changing in the locker room? The anxiety mixed with excitement of catching a god like body as it undresses, or exits the shower drying off and wrapping a towel around his waist…it is exhausting just thinking about it. While viewing these male bodies is fun, it always made me feel separate from something I wished that I was. These bodies where not mine. I was never sure if I saw this same raw masculine power and sexuality in myself.

This brings us to a confusion I began to struggle with my freshman year of college. At what point does longing to be this masculine, perfect male body, turn into wanting to have sex with this masculine, perfect male body? There was a point where I honestly convinced myself that I wasn’t gay. I convinced myself that I was misinterpreting my not feeling masculine enough, my longing to physically be manlier, for an attraction to men. Maybe I was confusing this ‘something missing’, for a sexual attraction towards those I envied and wanted to be. Where is the line between these two things? Where does one begin and the other end? Or do they overlap? Does this confusion make sense? Can anyone out there relate to what I am saying?

Do I want to become the perfect male specimen or do I want to sleep with him? I am really gay right?

So where do I fit in? Where am I at with all of this today?

I wish there was a simple answer to that question. I can tell you that writing this blog, thinking these thoughts out thoroughly, helps. This post has a lot to do with my past and who I was before I came out, but, if I am being honest, the fears and questions I included here are still a smaller part of Adam in the present. It helps to bring this all out into the light.

I can tell you that coming out has made me more confident in who I am as a man. I have been in a steady workout routine for almost two years now, so though my body is far from perfect, I feel stronger and more attuned with it than I ever have. These are all positive things. I am who I am, and at the end of the day, I can tell you that I am sincerely proud of the type of man I have become and that I am continuing to become. And I can tell you that none of us should allow ourselves to be haunted and tormented by an invisible, self-constructed ideal of what it means to be anything.

So, now I realize that I am attracted to certain types of male, physical masculinity. But I am also attracted to viewing myself in a similar physically masculine body, and that is okay. I can want these things for myself and for my partner at the same time. I am still working out all of the details, but I think as long as I try to be realistic in my expectations for myself and a significant other, then this will all turn out okay. After all, any type of unobtainable and unrealistic ideal placed too high on a pedestal can be unhealthy.

The older I get, the more I can envision walking off into my ‘happily ever after sunset’ within whatever body I have and with whatever vision of masculinity I project or lay next to at night. If I really think about it, my body’s outline, beside someone I love, would look fantastic in front of a beautiful sunset, just as it is, in whatever form it happens to take. And perhaps, Gentle Reader, complete self-acceptance is the real ideal we should all be striving for.

men walking into sunset