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Since it is National Coming Out Day, I thought it was an appropriate day to talk about the coming out process, my story--the rise from shame and the reckoning of acceptance.
Coming out is different for everyone. It may take years from a person's point of self-acceptance to verbalizing their sexuality to the people they love. It is a process that can be painful yet freeing. This process can be dangerous for some; it also can be safe and full of love. It varies. It is a double-sided coin that requires the utmost vulnerability. It is the face to face stare down to the decades of systemic fear the LGBTQIA+ community has experienced. The closet holds feelings of resentment, denial, sadness, self-hate, and every piece of baggage a gay person internalizes, but it is a safety net that provides self-preservation in face of adversity.
I was not born into a family that shamed me for being myself. I was born to a mother and father that loved me unconditionally. Two people who embraced all parts of me. At three years old, my mom knew I was gay. For the next 15 years, she had to stand on the sidelines--watching me navigate my identity in a place that would never fully accept who I was.
I always knew I was different from the rest of the boys I grew up with. I was fiercely sensitive, learning hardness. I was wildly creative and imaginative. I wasn't competitive, but collaborative. I had mostly girlfriends. I hated hunting. I loved design. I was intimidated by most men and could talk to any woman. I wanted to lead organizations, not play sports. I was/am liberal as hell. Because of this, I had to pushback and prove my power--always, always proving I was enough. I was kind and respectful to most and fought for unfairness. These differences from the social norms that surrounded me, isolated me. It made me a target for unkind words, bullying, and the constant fight for self-worth.
Fourth grade was the first time I was called gay--all because I wasn't the same. I didn't even know what it meant and I remember going home and asking my mom. I loathed that word. I despised that word. It followed me. For 7 years, I was stubborn enough to never analyze my sexuality and internalized it until it was so deafeningly true. I didn't want to be gay. I didn't want to succumb to the realized thoughts of others. I wanted to be normal because my life was nothing but.
Thanks to my ride or die friendships, I was able to find a safe space to admit my deepest fear and realization. My friends took me with open arms and wanted to know my thoughts and feelings. Even though I was raised in a home that accepted me for who I was/am, I withheld this truth until I went into my first year of college; a place of complete and utter freedom to be myself. I even lived on a floor that focused on social justice and LGBTQIA+ issues--it was amazing!! I was surrounded by people who understood who I truly was and didn't have to apologize for it.
The act of coming out gave me permission to love myself unconditionally. I was able to radiate the light I've always strived for, become the healthiest person--mind, body, soul, and inspired people to be their wildly beautiful selves. This was the rise.
The reckoning was the navigation of the gay community.
Who was I, but a fish in a huge ass pond. How was I going to meet young men like me? Grinder? Tinder? Ok Cupid? Had to have them all. So naive to the dating seen yet so excited to meet the love of my life. Turns out, I needed to fit into a marginalized part of the gay community--was I a twink, bear, cub, otter? Who knows. Also god forbid I didn't have the desired body of most young white gay men. I was a person whose body had been through years of physical and emotional trauma. It is/was a story, not a photoshopped magazine imagine. After my encounters with most gay men, I found myself a bit broken and asking why? Was it even worth coming out?
I realized after all of the ghosted messages, the shitty things men said to me, the fucking straight guys in an Iron Range bars calling me a fag, and also after, the people who I inspired, the love that was shared, the deep conversations, the friendships, the activism. It was. This crazy ride was worth it.
My coming out was a rise and reckoning of self.
I am proud to be gay and I hope you never discredit the LGBTQIA+ humans you meet. I hope you embrace them and learn from them. In the end, we all just want to love and be loved.
Be inspired. Stay positive. Love yourself.
Where are all my type-A-cut-and-dry-to-do-list-overachieving-time-planning-expectation-setting people at? Hello. I'm sitting right here. Trying to control what you think about this blog post and how many people might read or share it with their circle of influences in order for me to become a full-time blogger, trying to inspire you to live the greatest, most inspired life you could ever imagine while overcoming and accepting the many life events that made an impact on the badass human you are trying to become.
It's me--Marko. I am a control freak that relinquishes my power to control the outcomes of this crazy life.
I've spent so much of my life trying to control the outcomes. Whether it is me trying to mediate a difficult conversation with family or friends, fighting for my dream career, curating my "perfect" body (that's not even a thing), or people's perceptions of me. I am tired. I am sick of it. With control, comes expectations, with expectations comes disappointments and stress--the cycle continues until you find yourself stuck not with just two roads diverging but the whole fucking highway system spinning around you with clover leaves and side roads; basically, just waiting to get hit by a car.
Who feels like this?
Is it just me?
One of my biggest goals in yoga is to "let go." While I try to breathe through the pain of letting go, I have to give up the control. The control of my emotions and leave it up to the freaking universal energy that you may or may not believe in.
I am sick of timelines, people's expectations, to-do lists, and the constant urgency over "issues" that don't really matter.
I challenge you, dear readers, to look at your life and controlling tendencies and simplify. Let go of the control and the image of the "perfectly" curated life you made up in your head. Use your present power to fuel your ambitions in this moment.
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.
P.S. Okay, you can still use a to-do list and calendar.
22 years old and I face fear head on. Jobless (for now) and I have no idea of what is to come from this. As I look at my life, thus far, I have faced fear at almost every milestone.
- 6 years old, lost my beautiful aunt and 2 cousins in a tragic car accident.
- 8 years old, shattered femur while rollerblading (3 year recovery).
- 11 years old, my parents unwanted divorce and father's full-blown addiction.
- 18 years old, moving to a new city and starting my first year of college
- 20 year old, father's addiction relapse and official "coming out"
- 21 years old, graduate from college
- 22 years old, jobless
In all instances, fear resides. Fearful of what was to come and what clearly is. Most of my life is based out of this almost debilitating feeling. In all cases, I breathe through the uncomfortableness this emotion feeds me. I take it and I work with it. I tell myself. "I can." "I will." "I am."
The faces of fear are the demons we meet--it is the reality and stories we tell ourselves. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we didn't base it out of every negative, fear-based experience?
Fear is like that co-worker you can't stand. The ones that nit-pick and talk to you in a condescending tone. The ones that soak up your failures and shortcomings. Fear wants you to lose in this life. It is the egotistical asshole we cannot stand.
Let it not kill us.
Let is not determine our soulful paths.
Notice your uncertainty and move through the ebbs and flows with grace and a grateful heart.
I look back and I smile. I will not let fear take me into its clenching arms. I will look past it and move towards the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Let us win this together. In the end, we all don't get out of here alive.
Yoga, to me, is the practice for yourself, to yourself, that finds yourself. It is the moment where you can find the deep connections between your mind, body, and soul. It is the breath that you use to center yourself in times of stress and uneasiness or even times of great joy. Most importantly, yoga is the practice that quite literally “yolks” or brings together all that you are--the imperfections, the messiness, the brokenness, the love, and the light.
I practice yoga because it is the only type of exercise that I have ever felt centered and fulfilled after. It has been the most constant form of movement I have ever followed through with. Every time I am on my mat, I learn about a different part of myself. I learn the why behind my tight hips and shoulders or the reasons I fall in an out of a balance. On my mat, is where I can face some of the deepest emotional, physical, or mental obstacles. Even though the practice may be constant, I find that every class challenges me in a different way; today it may be more physical than mental then tomorrow more emotional than physical-- it is forever changing and evolving. I practice yoga because it helped me to find myself. It helps me to love myself fully--quite literally every part. Each moment I move in and out of an asana, I come back to a piece of me. It further teaches me that breath is the strongest life force--I can use it both on and off my mat and it instills in me that everything will be okay; “I am safe. I am healthy. I am loved.” Most importantly, when I practice yoga, I feel like the best, greatest, strongest, most powerful version of myself.
2016, I thank you.
I may have started the year out in a therapist's office talking about the very things that scared the absolute hell out of me, but I learned something every single day:
- Life is what you literally make of it, you either push through the hard stuff or become the perpetual victim of your own life.
- Some friendships are temporary and serve only a short time purpose in your life.
- Yoga is harder than everyone thinks--I spent more time crying on that mat than I ever wanted to admit.
- Friendship is the corner stone of every romantic relationship.
- I was never meant to live a traditional life.
- Loving yourself is a lot of work and some people will be scared of your self-aware attitude.
- Finding your tribe of people is one of the greatest uses of time you will ever give yourself.
- All people are complex. (Yes, ladies, even gay men.)
- We must be our greatest advocates in life both professionally and personally.
- Life long learning is more important than what a college degree will give you.
- If you are passionate about anything you do in this life, keep going, hustle, and it will payoff--someday.
- Never feel shame for the things you cannot control in your life.
- Standing with your personal convictions is hard, with integrity, it is worth it.
- In any situation, kindness will always be the answer.
- If someone chooses to be unkind to you and spew absolute negativity your way, know that it has nothing to do with you, but it is a reflection of themselves.
- Never give your power away.
- Talking about the hard stuff will only get easier.
- It takes courage to be the person you want to be and go the places you want to go.
- Vulnerability is not a weakness, but the greatest asset.
- Find what inspires you and bathe in it.
- Laughter and love are the ultimate medicines.
So I thank you, dear 2016, I thank you for throwing a mirror in my face and ultimately scaring the hell out of me. Thank you for the lessons, the hardships, the memories, the laughs, the tears, the love. Thank you to my friends, my family, the strangers with the smiles--know you are all loved. Let's make 2017 something to remember--we are all forces to be reckoned with.
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love yourself.
With the great amount of gratitude, love, and light.
There we were, tears flowing down our faces and hitting our yoga mats. My best friend and I decided that we would take a late night yoga class. Little to our knowledge, we entered a class that focused on the second chakra--the Sacral center. As we practiced, we met our deepest yearnings for love and released some of the deepest emotions and fears. We learned that sexuality is born in this chakra and how it affects the way we love and live.
Sexuality is so complex. You cannot put it in a box and define it just one way. Think about it, think of all the things that are defined by sexuality: love, gender identity, emotional capacity, clothing choices,lifestyles, etc. These are some integral parts of what makes a person who they are and it can all be defined around one's sexuality.
As some of you know, I have openly talked about my personal identity. I am an openly gay man, but that wasn't always the case. For years, I had wondered what I was and was so unsure until one day it all made sense. My sexuality had been such a point of contention in my life that it had physical affects on my body and psyche. I let others define me through their personal notions of what it looked like and up until I chose to search more deeply is when I found solace.
So here's the story:
My first year of college, was a huge turning point. I had moved from small-town MN to the metropolis of the state and found myself becoming the person I aspired be. My spirituality is something I don't necessarily talk about, but it is something that is conscious in every part of my life. I believe the people and lessons that come into my life are there for a reason whether I want it or not. So there I was sitting in a college dorm room dreaming about who/what I wanted to be.
After a lot of taxing inward conversations, I consulted an astrologist. (Yes I know what you are thinking. "Is he kidding me?" I thought the same thing until this.) I was introduced to Bruce through a very good family friend. We started the conversation of why I was calling him and he ended up explaining the things that I always doubted (my sexuality, life's path, etc.) He knew that I was keeping something from myself and from the people I love. And he outwardly told me "no one gives a shit about your sexual identity." He told me I had been abusing myself for so long about this that I was hurting myself physically and emotionally (I put on weight as a way to block love from others and to become invisible.) And in that moment my life changed.
Once I was able to define myself as a gay man, I was able to lose weight, to talk about myself and to love others and myself more. As Merle Miller wrote in On Being Different: What it Means to be a Homosexual,
Gay is good. Gay is proud. Well yes, I suppose. If I had been given a choice (but who is?) I would prefer to have been straight. But then, would I rather not have been me? Oh I think not, not this morning anyway . . . on such a day I would not choose to be anyone else or any place else. (23-24)
With that quote in mind, it takes into every aspect of what sexuality involves. It involves the individual person and what journey you choose to take. Never let anyone demean your feelings or emotions or call you out based on your personal identities. Sexuality plays a huge role in WHO we love, HOW we love, but it doesn't fully define you. YOU define you. And I encourage you, dear friends, to ask yourself deeply--"what is my truth and how and the hell will I talk about it?"
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.
With love and light and all the x's & o's,
I sit here writing, just like Carrie Bradshaw did in the Sex and the City series--about the complexities of love and the impacts it has on a person.
We can all agree love is intoxicating and deep--it gives you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, it will take you and hug you tightly or totally rip you apart. That is why I am writing about it and I hope you will take the time to see what I have to say and explain the impact love has had on me and from the countless observations I have collected.
Throughout this short time I have been on this earth, I have observed many relationships, platonic and romantic, new and old, young and mature. I have seen them crumble and I have seen them thrive, but the most important thing I take away is that love succeeds with mutual respect and friendship.
One thing that grinds my gears and gets me heated is codependence. You my dear reader are not a half of anything, you were born whole and will remain whole until the day you die. We will not leave this planet alive and the only person you have, right now, is yourself. More specifically, to my dear millennial friends, we are far too progressed in this modern society to be relying on someone to give us the love we can't give ourselves. We are too young to be worrying about what our future lives may be like with the partner(s) that may or may not show up.
I will say I have been in love, I know I have been loved, but that all comes with a price. You either give yourself fully and get screwed over or you can't find yourself giving enough love back to the individual who wants you so badly.
Quite honestly, I think love impacts the way you view yourself. If you cannot fully embrace all the messy, interesting, dysfunctional parts of yourself, how the fuck will you be able to give love back to someone else? This goes for both platonic and romantic partners.
One of the greatest pieces I read, after a major heartbreak from someone who didn't mutually love me back, was from one of my all time favorite authors/books: Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. It may be stupidly cliche but here it is:
- Life's metaphors are [insert higher power of choice or not] instructions.
-You have just climbed up and above the roof. There is nothing between you and the Infinite. Now, let go.
-The day is ending. It's time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
-Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You being here is [hp's] response. Let go and watch the starts come out--on the outside and on the inside.
-With all your heart, ask for grace, and let go.
-With all your heart, for give [them], FORGIVE YOURSELF, and let [them] go.
-Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.
- Watch the heat of the day pass into the cool night. Let go.
-When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It's safe. Let go.
-When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.
This mantra/prayer taught me to let the intense feelings I have for others and let them go. It let me release them to the universe and gave me hope for a more open and fuller heart.
We go through life wanting so much. At the end of the day, we just want to be with someone who makes our heart smile, who deals with your bullshit and idiosyncrasies, and ultimately a person who will pull us out of the darkness and into the light. (and you to do the same, of course.) In reality, I think need to do this for ourselves and if this behavior intimidates a certain person in your life, he/she/them isn't for you. When you find that love, it will be perfect, it will be impactful and it will cultivate a wisdom for a new and open heart.
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love Yourself.
My entire life has revolved around my deep sense of "just knowing." I have always felt older and sometimes I have no idea why I can find words for the very things that trouble me in this life. When I was young, I loved family gatherings--only if I could sit with the grown ups and listen. I always found myself having something to say or positioning myself to connect with the adults. So from then on, I have felt like an old person in a young adult's body waiting for the day my mind catches up with my age. Let's just says its been interesting and it serves to be a gift and a curse.
I like to call this "old soul problems."
Here is how it feels most days:
- You have a deep intuition of knowing certain things are right and wrong moves in your life. Most of the time you are never surprised with the outcomes.
- You are constantly in your head--always having a conversation with yourself about your future or life's mysteries.
- People tell you,"you are wise beyond your years" after each conversation.
- Immaturity is the bane of your existence, to the point you want to whack the person on the side of the head and yell "shape up!"
- Maturity is also the bane of your existence, sometimes you wish you could think about things more superficially.
- You can weirdly feel the difference between "souls"--who has been here before and who just got here.
- Some friendships are a constant teaching experience, while others feel like you have known and understood each other for centuries.
- You don't dramatically react to life's curveballs.
- You question authority figures.
- Egos are a waste of time and you don't like stroking/creating them.
I'm not here to tell you if you are an "old soul." These are just the many feelings I and fellow "old soul" friends have felt/feel on a daily basis. If you are an "old soul," I understand you and know what you go through.
Cheers to #oldsoulproblems!
Be inspired. Stay Positive. Love yourself.