This past week I was invited back to my high school to speak at their Career Fair. Getting the chance to talk about my organization is a great opportunity and hopefully it will be a great chance to build a long-lasting and sustainable partnership.
I should be excited but instead I’m filled with dread and experiencing flashbacks from my adolescence. Most of my stress dreams from the past several years involve me having to go back to high school to take classes and being completely lost.
Like a lot of people, high school was a difficult time for me. I wasn’t out to myself yet but I knew that there was something ‘different’ about me. This made me a target for teasing and general meanness. For an all-girls Catholic school there were some progressive teachers, but we still had groups come in to say that Gay people didn’t exist because God didn’t make mistakes. And I won’t even get into the terrible abstinence only sex education I got. There was a lot of stress at school and at home – ten years ago I was dealing with self-harm, ignoring my depression for several years, and living with a recovering addict in the family.
Going back in its self is scary. Going back and being out is terrifying. I’m not going to be waving rainbow flags as I go through the school, but I can’t honestly go back and talk about my non-profit experiences without putting it in a queer context.
How I operate in the United States and abroad is greatly influenced by my sexuality, but honestly just the thought of being completely open around a bunch of nuns is giving me massive anxiety.
However, I know how oppressive that school can be if you think you are the only strange or different person pressured to follow a set of rules that just doesn’t fit who you are. It’ll be worth it if there is just one queer girl who knows that someone before her survived, and then thrived after leaving high school behind.
There are so many queer narratives that are blatantly ignored in Catholic high schools (and schools in general). Hopefully my presence and my stories can at least spark the smallest of positive conversations.
When it comes to my nonprofit sometimes I have too many good ideas. Let’s build wells at the schools… and playgrounds! Playgrounds would be great. Except for… one small problem. That those ideas would mean giant program expansion outside of the mission. Even if these ideas fit into our mission, my organization certainly doesn’t have the funding for these projects.
I pride myself on being a creative person who can come up a lot of interesting ideas for my organization. There are a lot of people who involved with my non-profit. So what do we do when we acknowledge that an idea is good, but it just doesn’t work right now?
My organization has come up with the “Back Burner” method. It’s really simple and it helps acknowledge great, creative ideas that might not work now, or ever.
Say you have an idea comes along and a lot of positive ideas are exchanged building it up. Then, whether it is a board member or someone who leans towards the more realistic side, points out the issues of implementing said idea.
These ideas officially go on our organization’s “Back Burner”. It’s a nice way of saying ‘hey awesome idea you came up with, maybe we can revisit it later’. Most ideas that have been put on the back burner never return to the front, but some seem to creep their way into new programs and ideas that are more in sync with our mission.
I don’t like the idea of completely nixing ideas. A lot of them may never come to fruition, but it’s hard to tell how these ideas will evolve over time and circumstance. Sometimes the best idea for a new program is something you thought of six months ago, but it just needed to sit for a while before it transform into something that flushes perfectly with your organization’s mission.
In April, my best friend and I going to go see a concert in Toronto. We’re both traveling from different countries to Canada, so this will be the first time I’m traveling to another country completely on my own.
Now, I would like to think of myself as an independent traveler, but I always have gone abroad with at least one person with me. From people I’ve barely know through People to People and with friends and colleagues, I’ve never left the country completely by myself.
Look, I know that taking a bus to Toronto by myself isn’t the most daring trip I could make on my own. And yet, it still makes me feel a little anxious.
I really don’t know why the thought of my first solo international trip makes me so nervous. It’s not like I’m just going to be chilling out in Toronto all by myself once I get there. The only alone time I’m going to have is on the bus.
The closest thing to an answer I can find is that I won’t have anyone to share the travel experience with. Which I feel like is very ridiculous, because a 15 hour bus ride to and from Toronto isn’t going to be earth shattering. I’m going to guess that there really won’t be an opportunity to do anything besides sleep, read, eat, and play games on my phone.
I think that it’s the idea of not having a person to share with, even though there probably won’t be anything to share. The only reason why I survived my return from studying abroad in college was I had someone to recall stories and memories with. Who got what I was going through and could laugh and cry at the same things when everyone else thought we were crazy.
I know I’ll survive my trip back and forth alone, and I know that not having someone on a ridiculous long bus trip is probably a good thing.
It will be a new travel experience.It’s always good to push myself out of my comfort zone everyone once in a while, but I’m glad that I have many people who want to journey with me to new adventures.