Living unapologetically can only occur as one ages.
Being passionate and clear and driven is one hell of a combination. One of the benefits of growing older that nobody mentions is the “I-don’t-give-a-shit” mentality. It is extremely difficult to be happy if your only and primary concern is that everyone else is happy. Many gay men who have yet to disengage their internalized homophobia and sexism, take on the highly limiting “feminine role” of caring too much what others think and putting everyone’s needs before their own.
I know this ism well because for several years, I wholeheartedly and unabashedly practiced this way of being.
Until I reached the eye-opening and soul revealing age of thirty-eight, I believed that fully living and not requiring the input and concern (approval) of absolutely anybody I cared about was wrong and selfish. I truly believed that being successful and owning it was evil and pointless.
What I didn’t know then and no one will let you in on is that there is a far better way to thrive in the world.
Growing older (as gay men) is not about trying to hold on to “what never was ” or possibly “could have been”. Instead, we learn to relish and properly utilize our power. Recognize that I said relish and properly utilize. I did not say misuse, dominate or squash others.
Power is nothing to fear.
Power comes from understanding and reveling in one’s own unique skill set and take on the world.
As we age, hopefully we realize that ours is a great power. We learn to understand what it is we like and can control and determine goals, aspirations and the use of our life force in the pursuit of things that truly matter. When I was a young homo full of ideas and passion but short on follow through, self reliance and confidence, everything mattered.
I often involved myself with other confused individuals who were as scared of being themselves as I was.
In the words of M.Scott Peck in his tome for living a wonderful life,The Road Less Traveled, my opinions, thoughts, limitations and dreams were all “hand me down”.
Between the ages of nineteen and thirty I truly felt that in order to prevent people thinking that there was something seriously wrong with me, I had better keep a boyfriend. At 43, I can only look back on these shenanigans, shake my head and wonder , “What the hell was I thinking ?”
There was never anything wrong with me.
Aging will let you know there is nothing wrong with who you are and that all those folks’ opinions you spend so much time worrying about and trying to please won’t even matter given a significant amount of time. This is a welcome relief. It certainly frees up a lot of time if you are not overly and ridiculously concerned about what looks good to someone else.
At 25, I had an enormous revelation.
I was in charge of my life.
I didn’t start taking advantage of this epiphanous flash of brilliance until much later. Why don’t we as the older contigent tell the young folk to wait, to slow down ? That all the upset and angst will be for nothing.
Why are we not encouraging our younger brothers to invest in themselves and their incredible gifts ?
Is it wrong to offer advice and insight knowing full well that it may or may not be perceived as such ? As I mentioned previously, the best part of aging is not giving a shit (regarding what others think, do or say). This does not mean bitchiness or an evening of catty put downs and zany one-liners.
It means being completely responsible for your life and not waiting for someone to come and fix it or tell you how to fix it or that you are fixing it wrong.