Monday, April 28, 2008

Home Again

04262008159Sorry for having a light week when it comes to posting. Last week was a busy week. Along with trying to put together a last-minute memorial CD for a friend who passed away a few months ago, I also headed back to Notre Dame for a weekend conference called Alumni Senate.

I won't bore you with the details, because a lot of it was meetings and workshops and dinners with other Alumni. I guess the big thing for me was that I had come last year and had really struggled, having lost my job a couple of months before, I was wrestling with the questions that inevitably come with that along with the heightened sensitivity of being around so many people who are successful in traditional ways.

04262008158Flash forward a year: While many of the circumstances, on the surface, haven't resolved themselves yet, I've been coming to accept that I really am in a much different place. While I may not be a partner at a big law firm or deeply ingrained in a Fortune 500 company, it's okay because that's not really want to be anyway. Maybe I don't know how to make my dreams come true yet, but when I stop to look at my life, I know that I'm involved in things that I really care about (and enjoy, if I let myself) and I'm excited about the possibilities of what is to come.

What makes it more special to me is that Notre Dame is the one place where, despite the fact that I had stepped away from my family and everything I knew, I felt like it was home, a place I knew was incredibly special and that I was a part of it. That's a bit of a mixed blessing. Throughout my college experience (and even through last year) I had a hard time with that -- maybe it was being gay on a conservative, Catholic campus, perhaps even deeper. So many times I wondered whether I deserved to be at such a place. Notre Dame isn't the easiest place to be different.

Of course, it's not necessarily easy being different wherever you happen to live. That's been my work -- to recognize that I'm unique and that what I have to offer is valuable, more so than if I had been willing (and able) to stuff myself into the expectations that somehow I placed on myself.

04262008166It was a new experience for me -- being able to hold my head up high and say, "Here I am. I'm damn good at what I do. I belong here. I'm proud of myself and of this place. We are part of each other and we always will be." I'm not perfect, at least in any of the ways people would define it. And at the same time, I know that not only will I never be, but that I'm figuring out that I don't need to be and never did. It's just a matter of setting down all the excuses and justifications I've used to hold myself apart from the things I love and diving in. I'm not always in the place where I can do that, or am willing to do that, but I'm getting SO much better at it.

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