April 6, 2011

Butterfly In A Hurricane

So, my last posts have been more along the let’s-talk-about-uncomfortable-issues line of topics. But, for this one, I wanted to bring it back to a more personal level. The only problem with that is that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve got so many thoughts and emotions swirling around, zipping back and forth between my head and my heart, dancing in my chest and on my sleeves that I can’t really describe any of it. I guess I’ll just start...

I feel alone. I feel like I’m lost in the world again, similar to the way I felt throughout high school and early college. I believe Katy Perry was talking to me when she asked if I ever felt like a plastic bag drifting in the wind. Back in high school, I wasn't like everybody else (even beyond being gay). Somehow, everyone just became absolute best friends and we’re hanging out with each other all the time. They always made plans for the summer and birthdays. I, who was right there at the table while they were making these plans, was never invited. For fear of not having anyone else to sit with, I stuck with that group of “friends” for the rest of school. But, as soon as graduation came, it was goodbye and good luck. I wasn't really living those 4 years. I was floating through life just waiting for life to settle me in some place I could grow.

Well, it landed me here at Duke. As much as I could, I rooted myself to the ground and began the photosynthesis process of taking in all Duke has to offer and turning it into energy to grow into the mighty oak my mother says I am inside. It worked for a while. I began to find my way around life and began to develop into my full potential, but somewhere along the way, a storm came through and uprooted my not-too-deep roots. Once again, I was caught up in the whirlwind of life being tossed to and fro, torn inside out, thrown into the haze of confusion and despair, and flung into the darkness of depression. I lost sense of who I was and who I wanted to be. I didn’t know me. I didn’t know anything except that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. The friends I once felt so close to moved on and we followed different paths, never destined to cross again. Others that I once walked side-by-side with now had paths that took them just out of arm’s reach, leaving me ever grasping for that closeness once again.

Every once in a while, the storm will die down just long enough for me to catch my breath and gather what little identity, security, peace, joy, happiness I could find. But as soon as I had a shred of each in my hand, the storm would pick up once again, ripping me from my little bastion of safety. I’m in that hurricane once again. I don’t know where I belong. Do I belong with the gays, the greeks, or the blacks? I don’t know where I’m going. Do I go to Fab Friday, Shooters, or a probate? I’m just trying to survive this thing called life. I’m trying to navigate these highways that everybody else seems to be speeding by on while I’m driving in the right lane going 5 mph under the speed limit.

I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. And I think people know that. They can sense how uncomfortable I am in these spaces where I don’t feel completely comfortable/ accepted/ welcome. That’s what this whole thing boils down to. I’m not totally comfortable anywhere anymore. It’s like I missed the memo about what to wear or when there was an open invitation and I showed up wearing the wrong color or on the wrong day.

I feel like it’s too late now. I mean, I’m a junior. At this point, I feel like everybody’s got everything figured out or, at least, some sense of something. They either know where they belong/ who they belong with/ or are totally happy being alone. I’m not either one of those and, with groups already stabilized, I don’t feel like I can/ want to use the energy trying to break into one. I’m stuck in this limbo where I just don’t know what to do. Nothing seems constant in my life. Everything and everyone is always changing and I don’t know how to manage it all. People come and go. The only thing constant is change.


  1. "At this point, I feel like everybody’s got everything figured out or, at least, some sense of something. They either know where they belong/ who they belong with/ or are totally happy being alone."

    Good golly AJ, first off, I'm more than willing to argue that this is complete BS and supplement the argument that everyone is just an excellent pretender or completely one dimensional.

    Also, if I can do some quick Publicity, LAMBDA's next issue has a few articles that you'd probably love. Just sayin'

    You might not feel like you completely belong to any group and that you're just drifting but I think that you're more rooted than you think you are. Where some people have only one community that they identify with, you have three ABSOLUTELY AMAZING communities that all cater to different parts of your personality and that are not by any means mutually exclusive. You'd never believe how jealous people are of you, probably, and I know that I am. I'm so involved in the LGBT community that I have issues, funny enough, with the heterosexual community. I'll cope and life will go on, this is about you.

    Just think about what happens, to take an example, every time I see you. I'm always just dying to find out new information and catch up with you rather than resting on inside jokes (like your inability to hold on to sunglasses or money) that are classic signs of a friendship in which no one is trying. I'm willing to bet that you have more than one person who misses you in each community and who you matter to. You're not just a plastic bag, so don't get down on yourself.

    It might just be hard to completely give yourself to an entire community, it might be damned near impossible actually, and that's no big deal! You don't HAVE to and frankly, if one community is demanding your time 24/7 then it's just not fair.
    The craving and need to "belong" is so huge, and people usually find it in college, all valid assertions. However, they find it with the same ~20-30 people. I also know that many may say that they belong to more than just one community and that this identity is not their whole life, and I'm more than willing to believe that, but they do give one precedence over another and they're okay with that. If you're okay with that then that's okay as well, but if you want to keep this balancing act up, then you might just need to get comfortable with the fact that you might not be completely grounded. You're not just Greek, Black or Gay. You're all three...and that's just lovely.

  2. aj - this summarizes my life and how i feel about it. thanks for letting me know i'm not alone.

  3. Hey AJ, this is Adryen. So I wrote a piece on being a gay black man and juggling with all three identities for LAMBDA that I think you could relate to. I know we've never really chilled like that but I'm here if u need me. Stay strong man. U got people who love u. :-)