Well, it has been over a month since my last blog. I was planning on putting one of these out every other week or so, but I just never know what to say. I could continue to talk about how I am gay, and life is hard, and then no one would want to read any more blogs of mine because hey, everyone has their own problems. Life is tough all around. So, I will instead try to focus on more of the things that help me deal with life when it is getting tough.

I’m in New York right now, finishing up a month working for a summer language program. We have kids ages 13-18 ish fly in from all over the world to learn/improve their english. I was an activities leader. My job was to take the kids out into the city in the afternoon after their classes. We took them to pretty much every major tourist spot you can think of. It was fun, but at the same time, it was overwhelmingly stressful. Getting 20-40 kids on and off the subways was bad enough, but the part that really was hard on me was that I had never been to any of these tourist locations, and I was expected to lead an entire group of teenagers through Manhattan to these places. As the days turned to weeks, and chaos started building in the camp, I was getting overwhelmed. I would go to bed dreading the thought of waking up, and having to go out into the city to lead another excursion. My mind was flooding with every possible way that things could go wrong. I was drowning in the endless sea of “what if…?” I was about to snap. I could feel it happening, just behind my eyes. I decided the best thing to do was bail. Abandon ship, because this one was sinking fast! I bought a plane ticket home after two weeks, and let my Mom know that I would be coming home early. She encouraged me to stay longer, because it builds character. At that point, I could care less about my character, my sanity was on the line! She also told me that I need to finish what I started, and that I was already half way done. I ended up taking her advice and staying the rest of the summer. “Build my character” my Mom had said. I sat myself down and tried to pin-point which area of my character was being added to. In order to survive the next two weeks, I was going to need to speed up the growth. The answer was, Self-esteem. Confidence in myself and my ability to perform.

When I was in 9th grade, we had a seminary lesson about humility and pride. We read scriptures, discussed it pride and how detrimental it can be to your salvation. We also learned that everyone struggles with it. It is called the universal sin. Well, my 9th grade self decided that I would do better than the rest of humanity. I alone would master the art of humility. I would be the most humble person who ever lived! … I was off to a great start. So, I put every effort I could into being humble. Satan has a very cunning trick that he uses  everywhere. When we realize a mistake, and we try to correct our lives and return to the straight and narrow, Satan tries to make it hard for us to recognize when we have returned to the path, and urges us to keep going, till we have gone right through, and off again, this time on the other side. Here we are, fighting the good fight as hard as we can, correcting our first mistake, to that point that we are erring on the other extreme. I have found that it is called the straight and narrow because you have to learn how to balance yourself between two extremes. Satan will be constantly pushing you one way or the other. He doesn’t care which way, so long as you are not on the path. One of these balance struggles is between Confidence, and humility. Some people can be confident to the point that they try to take life on by themselves, never once allowing God to help them, or work with them. They’ve “Got this, Thanks.” I erred on the other side. I was far to humble, to the point that it was self-depreciating. I had zero confidence in myself. I would let moments of success slide past, worried that it was prideful to acknowledge my achievements, and I would criticize my every failure, because I had a skewed vision of perfection. (see previous blog). Satan had me right where he wanted me, because I didn’t even realize I was doing something wrong. I was doing exactly what God wanted. I was being humble. Or, so I thought. It wasn’t until I realized that I was crippled by fears and worries that I was missing a key piece of myself. The part of me that I had almost killed off in my efforts to be humble. The part of me that believes in Me. So, I decided from then on that I would become my own biggest admirer. I would mentally shower myself with praise whenever I did something well. When I didn’t do so well, I gave myself the benefit of the doubt.

“You know what Patch, It has been a long, hot day, and you have been working so hard. Yeah, you lost a kid in Central park, but hey, there were 26 other kids that you didn’t loose. I like those odds. Heck, I like You! Sure, some people may blame you, or think you are doing a bad job, but you and I both know that they are wrong. And besides, it all worked out in the end. We found him in time, so what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you what’s the big deal. You. You are the big deal.”

One example of my internal monolog. I told myself every day that I am important. I told myself that “Dang, I look good today.” I told myself that I am an extraordinary human being, and there is nothing that I couldn’t do. And you will never guess what has happened. I am happier. I am less stressed, less anxious, and less fearful about the future. I’m starting to stand up for myself more, because now I am starting to believe that I am worth standing up for.