The word ordinary always had positive associations to me, and was one of the contradictory descriptions of adulthood I looked forward to as a gay teenager. To escape schoolyard bullies and my own insecurities I would close my eyes and tell myself to just wait it all out, imagining adulthood as a fresh start.
Be patient. In about 15 years you will share breakfast with the man you love.
In one of my teenage dream scenarios, some otherworldly force would simply “beam me up” and store me safely away from everything until I was ready to re-enter the world. My new and care-free adult life would come fully equipped with an inner city apartment and a loving boyfriend, an interesting job and a diverse group of friends. I believed this to be both a simple and a brilliant plan that would solve the problem of having to figure out how to become an adult.
Turns out I was both right and wrong.
Due to the lack of existing technology for the “saved by friendly aliens”-scenario to become reality, there was no escaping adolescence. Thus, my teenage years were spent naively ignoring both my obvious sexuality and the lack of true friends.
None of my childhood escape-plans solidified, and growing older involved being critical and honest about who I wanted to be. As a teenager with few gay role models, the image I created for my future happiness was disconnected from reality, and existed as a utopia of longing and desires. I had no experience or reference for how to fall in love, keep good friends or find my own stories. My wish had been that if I could simply leave my old self behind and step into an already sorted and well-adjusted adult life, this would in many ways free me from the truth about myself.
Not surprisingly, a key step to adulthood was accepting that I was still that same outsider, only a few years older and many experiences richer. My idea of hibernation as a quick fix to teenage fears was contradicted by the realization that we all carry important stories of how we became who we.
My husband and I met while I was recovering from depression. We laughed and talked about dreams and fears, and quickly fell for each others smiles and personality. He saw someone who deserved to be loved, behind my cuts and bruises, and we grew closer and became each other’s best friends. In between all this, I realized how wrong I had been about the concept of simply skipping the years between age 15 and 25. If I had missed out on those years, however awful, I would not have been the same person.
My adult self is in many ways reflected by the teenage years that shaped me. Creativity and anxiousness would not have been such an important part of my personality, had it not been for those years of worrying and finding new solutions to a seemingly endless string of challenges. Still, these traits are a part of me now, and I can only hope to use them well.
Tuesday morning breakfast is not as angelic as I dreamed it would be. Often, our schedules are incompatible with both of us being seated before hurrying off for work. Still, standing in front of the fridge finishing my oatmeal, I am reminded that this is what everyday life is like.
No fireworks, no majestic choral pieces, but ordinary people falling in love.
I am not questioning the seriousness of challenges facing many gay teenagers today, but simply stating that they were an important part on the journey to finding myself. The teenage me would despise the adolescent me for stating the following, but it is still true that what doesn’t kill you, makes you.