So, I've had some friends and people I've met along my journey of life ask me how I've come to become the person I am today. My answer each and every single time is experience, forgiveness, and my favorite phrase "it is what it is." With that being said, I'll go ahead and tell you that life wasn't easy for me; hell, I don't think it's easy for anyone. I would have to say that it started after my dad died. I didn't really talk much about the feelings that I had with that, or the pain that it actually caused me. For starters, he was never in my life, so to know that I'll never be able to know apart of myself that was present in my mother was a pretty big blow. It was also pretty devastating to have someone come in your life just to die on you. After that, I was dealing with my sexuality- do I like girls, boys, or both? Living in a conservative area, coming from a Christian family, and not really knowing gays to discuss it with, I felt pretty lonely. I had 2 friends that I was pretty close with and I shared how I felt about it. One of them was accepting, as I expected him to be- he was always a good guy. The other gave me a very hard time about it. He'd never forget to share with me how I was going to hell or how God would forgive many things, but not that. It didn't help anything that my mother wasn't taking it very well, so I felt alone. One day in PE class, we were horsing around, and I rubbed the top of the head of my second friend, and he actually hit me in the face. I thought that I had hurt him, so I apologized and extended my hand to shake it. He gave me the finger and said "fuck you," as he walked off. I felt bad and I did what I could to make it right, but after a while, my friendship with the two guys drifted away. At this point, it was obvious that I was alone, and I felt blacklisted. What bothered me the most about it was the fact that the second friend had told me a year earlier that he had sexually assaulted two people younger than us over the course of a few months. And I forgave him; he was already my friend. We all mess up, great and small- who am I to judge? Don't we all deserve a second chance- otherwise, what's the point of living if you're forever damned? I was afraid to go to school. I could hear the gossip and the rumors, and see the phony smiles, and I just went with it. I seriously believed that I was going to be queer bashed or worse especially after Matthew Shepard. I made a friend in my biology class, and she accepted me. Took me to her house, we'd hang out and share thoughts; it was just nice to have that sense of trust again. One day, she talked me into skipping class. I did it, and I did it a few more times with her. I eventually got caught, was requested to go to the principal's office, and answer to "Cut-throat" Willis. I didn't deny it, in fact I told the truth, and told her who I was skipping classes with, where I was going off campus. That friend came in with her mother and they both lied. Mrs. Willis called me a liar, and sent me to In School Suspension for 2 additional days on top of the day that I was given. I was hurt, betrayed, and humiliated. What people didn't know and I'd never share it, was that I was suicidal. I seriously wanted to die. There were a few times when I would tell God that if he truly loved me, he'd take me in my sleep instead of sending me into a world that views me as a joke. He never did follow through, of course. And after a while, I stopped caring. I didn't put much stock in people; I learned quickly that anyone can betray you. Friends could walk away from you and never look back, and "I'm sorry" is something that people just say to help them sleep at night and to shut you up. I had two friends who saved me; one was a faculty member of my school, and the other was a student, Robyn. We never really hung out or shared our deepest secrets with one another, but she made me feel loved and welcomed. She understood what it was like to be different, and she encouraged it. It was outside the mold where I took my strength. And the remaining two years of high school weren't bad at all. So Robyn if you're reading this, thank you! I recently spoke to that condemning friend, and he told me that I'm the reason that he can say that he's less homophobic today, but he still doesn't like his hair messed with. It was at that point that I remembered that day and thought about it- he hit me in face because I "messed" with his hair. 1% of me would have gone to his ass over such a stupid reason, but the other 99% is very proud of the way that I handled that situation. Such stupidity is not in my nature, but I did have to ask myself one question: Had I known that he hit me because I messed with his hair, would I have told my fellow students his dark secret out of anger? I forgave him, so I don't believe I would have, and I'm glad I didn't; makes me the better person. So there you have it. Forgiveness is huge and I always preach it. And we've all betrayed someone at some point or another. What you need to understand is that it's wonderful if that person you betrayed forgives you. But what determines your relationship from that point forward is how you demonstrate as to whether or not you're truly worthy of that forgiveness. I've stated that I've gotten sick and tired of "It gets better." But it's true, it does get better! And I encourage everyone to treat others the way that you would want to be treated; the world is filled with ugliness already- dont make it even worse. You never know what someone is going through, or whether or not someones in a good or bad place in life. And who knows, you might just save a life.