When I grew upThe Gay Boy Next Door Thursday, March 31st, 2011
Social Chaos: The Gay Boy Next Door
We don’t have much time on Earth to achieve personal fulfillment. Although we have little chance of accomplishing the idealized control and godliness, we do have opportunities to feel happy and satisfied in our daily lives. Each of us has wishes, plans and personal missions, and it’s up to each of us to try to accomplish our goals without letting the pressures of society stop us.
Not everyone has the means or skill to realize their greatest dreams, but satisfaction doesn’t just come from grand achievements, it comes from fulfilling personal potential and the little successes along the way.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of making fantastical characters, creatures and worlds come alive in any way, shape or form. I would recite movie lines and invent compelling situations for my action figures and dolls. My sister and I would dream of acting and winning Oscars together, and my mom would help me stage performances and plays with my peers at school. I was a dramatic and flamboyant little ham and my family always encouraged my creativity.
“When I grow up, I’m going to make movies and video games for Sony,” I told them.
But growing up changed me. As I got older, my childhood dreams felt more and more impossible. When my sister and I talked about moving to L.A. and starting a production company together, people only offered hesitant support. Over time, the dream just got further and further away.
I’ve since realized that our culture’s idea of maturity comes with a lot of insecurity and self-doubt. We humble ourselves with realism and tie ourselves down with self-imposed responsibility to others. We censor and shortchange our own goals because we are made to feel guilty for trying to succeed where so many people fail. Eventually we bury our hopes or dismiss them as fantasies of a naïve imagination.
But while some dreams are – for the purpose of staying grounded in observable reality – impossible, no dream should ever be ignored. If an 8-year-old wants to be a tiger when he grows up, his dream doesn’t have to be put down. Instead, it can be nurtured into a more realistic career choice like zoologist, wildlife researcher or tiger-trained magician.
Lack of real-world knowledge steers children into the realm of pure fantasy, but their central passions are always real and can be fostered into happy, fulfilling lives. The same holds true for adults, with the pursuit of passion being the key to a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, the socialization and maturation process we face as teenagers severs the connection between reality and imagination. This effectively limits our ability to recognize and dream of what makes us happy, and therefore our ability to be happy.
The scariest part is that most people can’t admit, let alone recognize, when they have steered off course. I, for example, will never know when or exactly how one of my childhood dreams of becoming an actor unconsciously morphed into a perverted obsession with admiration and fame.
Freshly graduated from college, new to San Diego, and going to gay bars for the first time, I got lost on my path to self-discovery. I took the first job that was offered to me in an industry I didn’t respect; I volunteered as an activist and fueled myself with anger and resentment toward institutionalized injustice; I compensated for unresolved insecurities with heavy doses of narcissism; and, worst of all, I remained wholly unhappy.
I accomplished wonderful things, but I lost touch with my true passions and motivations. It was not until I won the Nicky Award for Outstanding Community Activist that realization swept over me. Still in shock over the surprise win, I held the Oscar-like golden statue in my hands and cried until the blood vessels burst in my eyes.
I felt so grateful, humbled and blessed for the community’s support, but even more for the freedom it granted. Winning the award released me of my guilt and self-deception, allowing years of repressed dreams to wash over me as I reconnected with my imagination and childhood innocence. I was going to make something magical.
The very next day I had my final interview to be on the PlayStation reality show, The Tester Season 2. I remember telling my entire story to the driver on the way to the set. She wished me luck and smiled supportively. She understood the difficulty of pursuing dreams.
Not everyone can win an Oscar or do something remarkably grand, but small accomplishments, heartfelt effort and the pursuit of passion always bring genuine satisfaction. From that day forward, I would live the rest of my life doing and fighting for what I loved, no matter what disappointments I faced along the way.
We each have different dreams and paths in life, and must try to maintain focus and resilience through our efforts. I don’t know if my sister Veronica will ever win that Oscar we dreamed about as kids, but she did just network her way into the Screen Actor’s Guild and was cast as an extra on Showtime’s Dexter. In my eyes, she’s already holding the prize.
We can’t always be perfectly happy or achieve the impossible, but with the pursuit of passion comes the promise of satisfaction and fulfillment. And every once in a while, if you’re really lucky, dreams do come true.
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