I found the letter I wrote to myself as a teenager when I came out — and looking back now 14 years later, it’s the best advice I’ve received so far
- Philip Markle
I went exploring through old drawers in my childhood house, and I found this letter I wrote to myself the day after coming out of the closet on Feb, 13, 2004 at age 17. My mom kept it. She had such a difficult time accepting me coming out; even so, she had the wherewithal to keep this letter because she knew it was a big moment in my life.
I am struck by the words I wrote in this – I think it may be one of the wisest things I’ve ever written, and I wrote it 14 years ago.
I’m struck by how I’ve followed this advice in some ways, turned against it in others (my relationship with ‘God’), and forgotten most of it. I remember the feeling of when I wrote this – the day after I came out – of feeling infused for the first time with the power of being whole, with nothing to hide, ‘worts’ and all, without shame and with a sense of humor about it all.
I am at a crossroads right now, where I feel stuck in some negative thought patterns and bitter over my inability to change them after 32 years…and also aware I’m missing out on the gratitude I could feel for how much I’ve grown up from the terrified, 16 year-old kid I was the the day before I came out and wrote this letter.
I’m off to Burning Man for a week of introspection and adventure, and this letter will be my guide:
- Wikimedia Commons
You made such great leaps and bounds on this retreat; it’s heroic and wonderful at the same time. You conquered coming out so bravely, with Jesus at your side and in you, something that was eating you up for many years. And you inspired many others to reflect on their own beliefs and make changes. You forgave yourself, your parents, and others for their shortcomings and are no longer afraid to love “agape” and receive love. You made what will hopefully become the greatest of friendships and gained a confidence in yourself that will help you to deepen your connection with the world around you. You are so loved by God and everyone else. Congratulations!
My relationship with God has completely changed. I see God and Jesus as a light in others and myself, as the random acts of kindness that float about everyday, and as a friend that will talk to me at all times. Life is good! I know that now. I feel empowered to be myself, with all my talents and worts, and share that person recklessly with others.
The road ahead is a difficult one. Never forget to love yourself wholly and to see the sacraments of God’s work everyday. There is a master plan – even in the worst moments, God will be there to support you. Man, that sounds corny, and I’m switching tenses like a madman. Oh well, I can accept these imperfections ????. Remember to not sweat the small stuff, breathe, and laugh at yourself (cause we’re all a little silly). You, with all your talents and gifts and love and genuine kindness for the world, you are an amazing grace. Never fear or be scared by adversity – you proved you will overcome it. Real love means we don’t have to hide what’s inside. Live for others first, unselfishly and daringly – the risk is worth the reward. Hehe, I’m babbling now. Kudos to a great Kairos and a new year.
Philip Markle is the Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Comedy Collective. For more, follow Philip on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.