I’m in a better place than I was a month or so ago, when I last posted. That said, I think it’s important to reflect on and report what better means in reality. I’m in no way “over it” or somehow cured of the emotional and affective turbulence of depression and anxiety. In the spirit of living my life in the open, I want to share where I’m at now. This post will serve two purposes. First, to describe the reality of living with myself outside of a moment of crisis. Secondly, to use this period of up-ness to build a resource that might help me when I descend in the future.
CW/TW: descriptions of anxious and suicidal thoughts Continue reading
This last week I descended into the most severe anxiety-induced depressive episode of my life. I’ve experienced two similar, though less severe, episodes since I began teaching. As I descended, I made a life altering choice. I want to explain this period and what I was going through. My goal is those who know me a closer look at what I experienced. A secondary goal of this post is to offer solidarity and to make a space for these kinds of feelings and discussions. We don’t talk about this stuff enough, and a lot of us are suffering through feelings and impulses that we keep to ourselves.
[content warning: suicidal ideation] Continue reading
I am officially on Winter Break. I have completed my first full trimester (plus a couple weeks) of teaching. I have had 58 student-contact days. Not only is now a good time for me to reflect and report on how it’s going, I think it’s necessary.
This is the first post I’ve published on Medium. Jump to Medium to keep reading.
29 years ago today, somewhere between 200,000 and half-a-million people came together for the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Every year after that, October 11th has been internationally recognized as International Coming Out Day. On this day, to both remember the ongoing fight for recognition, visibility, representation, equality, and justice and to continue to make the world a safe place for everyone to be themself, we celebrate what it means to be out.
I’m out, and proud. And today, I want to reflect on what it means to be out. Continue reading
Today I watched Engadget’s mini-documentary Citizen Mars, which provides a glimpse into the character of five different Mars One candidates who have made it to the Final 100. Since I’ve finished it, I’ve been thinking about my priorities, my ambitions, and my goals. I’ve been focused on graduate school and my goal of becoming a math and physics teacher for the last few months. My attention has been on the day-to-day because I’ve had so many short-term commitments. I haven’t really thought about the overall direction of my life for a while.
When Mars One first put out the call for candidates to go on a one-way trip to Mars, I applied. Getting to Mars was my ultimate goal. It still is. As I watched the Citizen Mars videos, I realized that I feel just as passionately as those candidates.
Can teaching get me to Mars? Maybe. A true colony will eventually have children, and children need to be educated. What will education look like within a Martian colony?
I still have Ph.D. ambitions. I need to find a critical need of a colony mission and pursue solutions to that need as my graduate work. I need to make myself an obvious and necessary addition to such a mission.
In pursuing teaching now and Mars overall, I’ve chosen to leave behind other ambitions. Robotics and artificial intelligence are now merely hobby interests. My interest in user experience remains that. Even my further study of physics or mathematics has been halted. Yet, I cannot give up my drive towards Mars. I am not yet ready to cede this ambition to something more realistic or pragmatic.
I am a hypocrite.
Yesterday, I failed to live the morals and ideals I espouse. In a spectacular show of self-righteousness I responded gracelessly to a family member’s comment on one of my Facebook posts. Based on my own prejudice against that side of my family, I assumed the worst about his meaning and intention. Instead of engage him in constructive, compassionate dialogue, I assumed I was smarter, more critical, more compassionate than him and asserted my voice over his.
In the Facebook thread I did apologize to him, but only on the heels of him calling me out. I’m glad he called me out. I needed and deserved it. I want to take this one more opportunity to unequivocably apologize. Steven, I am sorry for the way I treated you. It was inexcusable. You deserve better.
I want to do better. I want to be better.
I am both embarrassed and incredibly disappointed in myself. I realized that I’ve become self-righteous. I have not practiced the critical thought and compassion that I preach are essential to improving the world. I did not assume benevolent intent, a central tenant of my faith in humanity.
So, as penance and to strive to be better I am taking a one-month vow of constructive silence. I’m just making this up. Basically I will not insert my voice into conversations or discussions other than to ask questions of genuine curiosity and interest as I seek to engage more deeply with people. I will remain silent about my opinions, point of view, and feelings unless I am explicitly asked to share.
I will fail at this. I will try everyday, though. And, after a month, my hope is that the effort will have developed a habit of compassionate, curious dialogue.
I’ve been reflecting on the tragedy that struck Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina the evening of June 17th. I’ve been silent in my reflection. What is there to say, now? Nothing can be done to lessen the heartache of the friends, family, neighbors of those nine people. We must support them as the mourn.
What can be done, what I can do, is learn from this event, to call it what it is. We can hold people accountable for the language they use to discuss it. We can insist that this atrocity be illuminated clearly so we can see all the ugly facets. We can hold the perpetrator fully responsible, and yet examine our own role as a society in which the perpetrator could go this far. Continue reading