Boyhood

Truth - Time stands still for no one. We blink and all of a sudden we've aged - whether or not we have grown is a completely different story. Year by year, week by week, and second by second our time moves forward with or without us. Externally we change but internally, that is with respect to our mindsets and motives, the process looks completely different. No one ever said growing up was going to be easy, but what they really should have emphasized is that it isn't a one and done thing. The day we stop moving forward is the day time stands still, and that is the way we pass away. This is my declaration of boyhood.
 
"Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years." Ausonious

My birthday is here and somehow I made it to 23 years of age. I just finished rereading all my old birthday blog posts (check them out here: 22nd 21st  20th 19th 18th) and boy or boy has life been an adventure. People keep asking me what I want for my birthday and I don't have any answer for them. It's the most pretentious and yet the most humble question I ask myself, what do you give the boy/guy/man(child) who seemingly has everything? Nothing and everything - simply love. There is nothing anyone can give me that will bring me happiness save for love. I want not to receive love but to give love, and for it to be accepted. There's a post coming soon (I think I might have been in love this year) but that's a long-winded story for another time. I also want people to love one another. Above all else that is all that is asked of us. To demonstrate kindness, be compassionate, shine light, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Nothing more and nothing less. If you're reading this, I want you to remember this and to show love to yourself and someone else, especially those we do not know. I couldn't wish for anything more important than this. For me, for you, for all of us. Let there be love in this world - at least on this day, if not every day.

This year I wanted to reflect and write an open letter to my younger self. Before I do that, I want to write thank you and I love you to those who love me and those who don't. To my sister, parents, brothers, sister-in-law, niece, family, friends, co-workers, readers, etc. thank you for getting me here. I'm still alive. I'm still going. I'm still blessed because of you. Shoutout to big G and the rest of the holy trinity for holding me down. Special thanks to a few people who have really been staples in my life this year - Matt *(and fam), Zach, Isora, Cheyenne, Rose, Stephen, Dom, Shawn, Kyle, Connor, Will, Sam, Lexi, Lila, Patrick, Justin, Adam, and those I'm forgetting. I am so grateful to have you in my life. Here it goes.
 
Dear Joseph,
I'm writing you this letter to tell you that you're going to be fine. I mean that - in the exact same tone of voice and way that our dad says "it'll be okay" and his slight accent slips through. You are going to be someone who matters. You are going to be appreciated. You are going to be loved. I cannot emphasize enough how much that last one will be true. You don't know it yet but you're talented in so many ways and someday you will use those gifts to bring light into the lives of others, and for that they will love you. Even more important is that you will love you. I promise you, that you will have the most amazing love affair with yourself. You will be unabashedly proud of who you are in every way. You will love the way you look ... spoiler alert, puberty and your orthodontist bless you in ways beyond imagine. All I'm saying is your outer beauty will match your selfless heart. Embrace your awkwardness it is what makes you ... you and you'll find that people will be drawn to you. Take my advice and all will be well.

1) Let go - of your grudges, and open up your heart. Stop carrying around all the weight of the world. It is not yours to bear. So much of what you will go through has little to do with you, in fact, it's because you scare people - in the best way possible. They don't know how to contain you, hold you down, and stop you from proving to them that you are in fact human. Your intersections of identities don't have to make sense to people. Forgive people with all your heart and move on. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and inequities. Let people love you, and accept the love they offer as valid. Don't be afraid to say I love you and say it often. Mean it each and every time.

2) Speak up and speak out - your stories, words, and experiences are some of the strongest weapons in your artillery. I'm telling you, when you speak or write people will listen/read. Never be silenced and never be quiet. Yell, be loud, and be bold. Speak your personal truth as much as you can. Let the truth set you free and enlighten others around you. Listen to understand before seeking to be understood. Let what others have to say hold value and be moved by it - either to stand firm in your beliefs, or to be changed by them. Be okay with silence and relish in it. Let your emotions show. If you're excited scream, and if you're sad cry. Ask for help, and give it when others need it - without question. If you know something to be wrong do something about it. Say something, challenge it, or at least acknowledge what you heard/saw. Love your voice - with all it's scratchiness and quivering.

3) Show/tell people how much you care - each and every day. Be kind, be compassionate, and be empathetic. Go out of your way for people. Write notes. Text people back. Call and leave voicemails where you say exactly how you feel about people or how they make you feel. Give hugs, smile at strangers, and just sit with people when they need you to. Ask questions, and keep going. Listen for hours without talking about yourself. Expect nothing in return and be happy with that.
 
4) Choose you each and every day - You are absolutely amazing, people may not always tell you that but you really are. Your value is inherent. It comes from you, and it remains with or without the acknowledgement of others. You are thoughtful, patient, funny, charming, witty, intelligent, joyful, loyal, and genuine. Be you and be genuine. Make time for self-care and find your passions. Hold on to your friends who make you better and do away with toxic relationships that bring you down. You do not have to justify your existence or humanity to anyone. You matter. You are enough. I love you.

If only you know how much you would change your world. You read that right, not the world but your world. You're only tasked with making a difference in your spheres of influence until you are able to have an impact on a much larger scale. People will tell you that you are destined for greatness and you don't have to believe them, but you already know deep down in your heart that you are someone special. You are the exceptional but you are exceptional. Be weird. Be cool. Be you.

Love,
Joey


My boyhood was definitely a non-traditional one but it made me who I am today. This year has been a wild ride with many a detour and a fork in the road. I hope I chose to take the paths less travelled. I finished my first year of grad school, worked my first job, got a car, picked up photography, moved to a new city, and made new friends. Most of all I fell in love with myself wholeheartedly and my relationships with my siblings are the strongest they have ever been. I feel like I am more intentional in my communication and expressions of appreciativeness. I look good. I feel great. I've been through a lot but the biggest challenges for me have been internal in discovering who I am and working towards who I want to be. I ventured out into the dating world to no avail but am not giving up. Society continues to challenge me and us all left and right but I'm still trudging along. I am loving life and am so excited to see what is next on my lifelong adventure. I wish you all nothing but hope, love, light, and peace. X
 

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