Hope. The one constant in my checkered life.
As a young boy in school, I always hoped to be accepted by the cool kids. I guess I just wanted to fit in, and at that age, being part of a popular gang was the ultimate nod of approval. I naively hoped that if these kids liked me for what I was, then I wouldn’t feel odd anymore.
But, life is not a clichéd sitcom with a laugh track in the background, and our problems don’t get neatly solved within a 22-minute episode each day…
I learnt this the hard way. I was bullied and humiliated. People did not understand me, nor did they try to. It made me sad and angry that my search for companionship only yielded heartache. But with time, my moments of loneliness and isolation began to make me stronger. They helped me develop a sense of agency. I slowly began to accept myself for who I was, instead of trying to seek validation from others. I learnt that life is all about choices. If I chose not to feel victimized by people who humiliated me, I would retain my dignity and have the upper hand. I was not the problem. It was their narrow-mindedness, which was. Once I understood and accepted this fact, I felt happy and hopeful.
The truth is, we are all misfits and our weaknesses and limitations are our strengths. No one’s perfect, though we all try to seek perfection in some form or the other. Each one of us is fighting a battle and we should be allowed to do so with dignity. Does it really matter what my sexual orientation is? As RuPaul once said, “You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis & Cathy Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.” All that matters is whether I’m a good human being, and whether I have the right to do what I must do.
My childhood was far from perfect and although I have forgiven those who wronged me, I have chosen not to forget. I bear no grudges. Instead I am trying to use my past experiences as stepping stones for building a better future.
My father once told me that we human beings are the greatest creation of God and that our superpower is ‘hope’. So long as we keep believing in ourselves and strive to become better humans, we can make it big. Simple. End of story.