If I had it to begin all over, and in beginning again, found myself as the cultural and parental rear-er of my own upbringing, the fairy-tale I would instill upon my young, impressionable hopes and dreams would be much more diverse a story than I actually got. There would be no royalty, no fate, no timeline, no gender bias or sexual preference expected, no numerical limitations, no "the one," and in some of the stories, no romantic love at all. I think much of modern, and even past centuries depression and anxiety come from this grand expectation we place upon our most freshly minted lives to rise and accomplish as a task of self-success and familial pride the events of marriage and children. Often these successes aren't even presented as a challenge, just simply the next in a series of life's steps, like losing baby teeth and growing your permanents; so that the failure to succeed at these simple steps to life's ultimate door, are seen as a rejection of the very fabric of society we are all collectively tethered to. As if by failing to meet these expectations, we are letting go of the large blanket of comfort that keeps our world safe and warm. We erase the narrative stories of others throughout history who do not sate the requirements of this story we've been telling for so many ages that its tradition has replaced reality with a story we mistake for an innate morality. You do not grow up commonly reading of the writers, philosophers, artists, teachers, scientist, preachers, doctors, and leaders who never wed, who fell in love with someone of the same sex, who chose not to create off-spring, who took up residence with platonic friends... these are not America's heroes. These are not the stories we champion into Children's Literature and Disney Animation. And in the few instances where these stories have made their way into print, their lifestyles are heralded as an example of overcoming hardship, rather than legitimate existences of their own merit. Every hero who dared go against the grain, by choice or by bravely honoring their true self, must first defy the normative expectation placed upon them without their permission from birth, and know that from then on each action and word will be judged against their otherness as if they are some strange minority. In fact, however, the more I dig through history on my own, without the stern hand of public education leading my curious pursuits, the more I discover that that which we call so rare, is in fact most common. So common as to nearly be considered boring, if it had not been hushed under the rug of shame and hidden from sight for so many centuries. It's plain as day to say some never marry, that a grand, romantic, and healthy love is neither a given nor something everyone craves. To every human who has fearfully uttered to a friend, "What if it never happens for me?" And whose friend replied, "It will! Of course it will." I must say, this promise is not written in some star whose gaseous output carries every human's fate as some romantic love plot--And that's OK. The lack of this is no more an indication of some profound error of your person-hood as it is a prediction that what has been will always be. What has been can cease to be, can change on a dime--and some never have love that fulfills both sexual and personal requirements for romantic love. And some fake love with all their heart to meet this expectation and find more hurts than gains, even as their pain is praised for its normative additions to our flawed moral cause. Additionally, it's clear that homosexual love dates back as far as heterosexual love, that transgender identities join them from the start, that platonic friendships can be as sustaining and worthwhile a partnership as romantic love, that there are all different kinds of ways to move through life and that one is not more worthy than the next. In short, young self, as you grow and ponder what you crave and how to fulfill your human needs that knock at night upon your lids, erase from your ears every utterance of expectation and judgmental moral platitudes that tradition tries to throw at you. You are perfectly capable of finding for your own self the ways that calm your heart, the people, person, place, or thing that makes your heart sing, the tickling of your private sensations is your own to hone and to be felt and dealt freely (barring injuring to yourself or others and always with consent of yourself and others). As Karamo Brown stated recently about not using the term "coming out" but instead saying he "invited them in" to know his true self... understand that you may be aware of certain truths about yourself that you cannot yet invite others in to know, but that does not make them less true. Do not hide them from yourself. Your house does not cease to exist based on the false beliefs and words of others, your house stands still, and holds your contents, and you alone hold the key to invite whomever you may choose to enter. Make your own way and keep your compass set within your self--outside winds will be strong and try to sway you with hurtful lies that you must learn to tune out. I recommend headphones, daily journaling, an auto-didactic approach to knowledge and truth, an open, humble mind, daily affirmations, and lastly, that you write the stories history has swept under the rug for all to see. And if you do raise children, your own grown or others born of other mothers, that you respect their own search to find their compass and that you provide them a more widely defined version of success to aspire to, to identify with, to daydream about; one that includes examples of every variation of human that you can come up with--one that shows that true happiness is defined within, not by achieving some outwardly put-upon perspective.
Hey! I'm Andie Bottrell, a multidisciplinary creative living in Springfield, MO. I share stories (autobiographical and fictional), poems, and other creative or personal musings here.