“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” A profound statement, isn’t it? Maya Angelou’s famous phrase can be key in terms of growing up and becoming confident in who we turn out to be. Whether we were raised in healthy or abusive homes, the concept still applies. When we find confidence in ourselves and love for ourselves, many doors open and our world shows us happiness and a continuous state of positive energy. Alternatively, when we dwell on previous experiences that cause pain and distress, we have great difficulty finding balance, happiness and success.
Coming from a heavily religious household, my parents had trouble accepting I was gay. I have lived in Reno my entire life, except for the few short months when my parents moved us to a little town in Oregon during my junior year of high school. While there, I came out to my parents with the hope that despite their religion, we could all accept me for who I am without a huge ramification. Unfortunately, they did not take the news well in any sense, and my dad in particular completely lost his mind.
Thankfully, I was able to rely on my grandparents in Reno and move in with them that August. The situation in Oregon had become so draining that I simply could not keep trying my best to make it work. I turned 17 that September and finished out my senior year at Rainshadow Community Charter High School, an alternative school known for its unprecedented emphasis on the arts. I did not speak to either of my parents until they insisted upon attending my graduation, but even after that we only speak rarely, when needed.
Back to the quote about changing your attitude. It has been a long journey accepting that my parents most likely will never change their perspective about my lifestyle, and we might never have a real mother-son or father-son relationship. I firmly believe we were born for a specific purpose, however, and our journey in life is to find what makes us truly happy, fulfilled and successful in our own ways. Success may not mean the stereotypical Mercedes, daily Starbucks latte, the big house, etc. Success to some may mean they were able to get through another day thinking positively.
If I were to give advice to any adolescent, it’s that it is absolutely critical to love yourself, to listen to yourself, to trust yourself, to be confident in yourself, and to be yourself. You are the creator of your future—nobody else—and that, to me, is one of the most freeing concepts I have yet to find. It’s allowing yourself to be free from others standards, from the negativity some people may try to put on you, from the negativity in your own life because you are able to recognize it, and “change your attitude.” Life really is about perspective, and if we have positive, loving perspectives, we will see that our lives work seamlessly.