I Don’t Have An Expiration Date and Neither Do You: How I Learned to Have the Best Day Ever

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I lived in a world seemingly devoid of any hope.

I’ve known I was gay since I was four years old and growing up in a conservative, religious Asian household in gay-friendly San Francisco was my version of a lonely post-apocalyptic world. I had been told in sermons week after week that there was no greater sin than being homosexual and that I’d go to hell for feeling these urges that I couldn’t understand as a four-year-old. I genuinely believed I had no chance at real happiness in this life and that my soul would be damned in the next.

I was so scared of letting my secret out that I went selectively mute from age four to twenty-four. I didn’t talk unless it was to request basic needs like food, water and toys. I lived in complete isolation and miserably trudged along through my young life. I thought happiness was an emotion I didn’t deserve to feel and never allowed it to take camp in my heart. At the ripe age of eight, I decided that the only solution was to take my life as soon as I graduated from college. Even though I was so miserable I could have ended it then and there, some part of my Asian genes wouldn’t let me die without affixing M.D., Ph.D. or some other string of letters to the end of my name. I settled on B.A.

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I lived my life truly believing I had an expiration date.

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I hoped for death and had no concern for my safety, which led me to make a lot of bad decisions. I’d buy drugs from homeless men off of Craigslist, drive at 120 mph with my eyes closed, stand on the ledge of any building I could sneak into and try any sort of drug and alcohol combination that would just let me feel… something, but nothing worked. I went 20 years living in this hopeless prison I had created for myself in my head.

Once I graduated from college and D-Day arrived, I was more than ready to plunge head first into the abyss. I reflected on my life as I counted down the minutes before I’d take the pills to end it.

For some reason in the midst of it all, I tried to remember the happiest day of my life. There wasn’t one. I made the decision then and there that I deserved one last day that would be the best day of my life. I figured I owed it to myself.

I decided to spend the day gallivanting around the city of San Francisco. I rode a cable car, explored different areas, went to three different bookstores and discovered a bench with the most peculiar writing scribbled on it.

“There’s beauty in everything, it’s up to you to see it.”

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The words were swimming through my head as I was walking towards the Montgomery St. Bart Station when I noticed a homeless man by the entrance. Growing up in a big city, you grow desensitized to this form of suffering as it’s a daily sight, but I saw him clearly that day. I decided to dare myself to get over my fear of talking to strangers and asked him if he wanted something to eat. He agreed to let me buy him a sandwich and as we were waiting in line, he shared his story with me as if it were payment for the meal.

His name was John. He was a veteran, a former musician, and had traveled to San Francisco in the nineties to follow Rob Zombie’s concert tour. He told me he got into drugs, fell on hard times and never managed to pull himself out of it. He then thanked me for treating him like another human being and we parted ways.

I began to reflect on my conversation with John. At first, I wasn’t able to understand how someone could let themselves live in squalor on the streets for almost twenty years without doing anything about it. And then it hit me, I had been letting myself live in utter misery for the same duration without ever trying to pull myself out of the dark hole I was living in. As these new thoughts began taking root in my brain, my phone rang and it seemed like I was listening to the lyrics of my ringtone, the song Across the Room by Fox Royal, for the first time.

I don’t care where it goes, just as long as it’s going.

In that moment of enlightenment, I realized I’ll never know the meaning of why I’m here but as long as the world keeps spinning, I have the power to make my life whatever I want it to be. We don’t have control of the events in our lives, but we have control over how we react to them. Life will run everyone down at some point, but you can choose to either let it consume you or rise above it.

I realized I had just had the best day of my life and none of the things I had done to make it the best day were out of the ordinary. All that changed was the way I approached the day in my mind. I wanted it to be the best day and so I approached it as if it were going to be. It led me to take risks, leave my comfort zone and do the things I’d normally never do out of fear.

As humans, we are most afraid of the unknown, and that makes us stick within certain boundaries that we know we can handle. We have volition, but if we consistently limit ourselves from pursuing certain avenues out of fear, we deprive ourselves of all the possibilities awaiting us.

Living my life in fear had deprived me of experiences, and most of all, happiness. I decided from that day on, I was going to live the exact kind of life I wanted to live, be the exact kind of person I wanted to be, and see the beauty of life by approaching every day as if it’s going to be the best.

This is my Best Day Project.

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I’ve written out 100 things I’ve always wanted to do. There’s everything from skydiving and performing random acts of kindness to basic things like hitting on a girl for the first time that my experience growing up a depressed, selectively-mute loner didn’t allow me to do. I draw one task at random before I leave my house each morning, force myself to do it and fall in love with life a little more every day. Wounds have been healing, courage has been gained, and every day has been the best day of my life.

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About the author
: When Grace Kim isn’t fighting the urge to rub her face all over her puppy, looking forward to A-camp or scaring the shit out of herself for Best Day Project, she is working on her sponsored web series for queer youth suicide prevention.

If you have similar experiences as Grace’s and would like to take on something you’ve always wanted to do as an episode of her web series, please email [email protected] for more details. Must be 18+, in the United States, willing to be filmed talking about past experiences and sign a release.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.


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116 Comments

    • Thumb up 9

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      I think it’s human nature to forget. We always want the things we can’t have and don’t appreciate the things we do have. It took a year of forcing myself to spend one minute every day appreciating something or someone in my life to even begin scratching on the surface of everything I have to be grateful for.

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    I really love how brave you are and how well you explained all these not easy feelings. I’ve been drowning lately and have had a hard time even considering setting new goals because everything seems pretty hopeless. I got two rejection e-mails from jobs I applied to last week, My Mom has officially cut the cord and I can’t go home because there isn’t one anymore so I am afraid that if I don’t find a job before my current one ends (thanks State budget cuts)I will be living in my car down by the river. This morning there was a school shooting back “home”, and while the only victim was the shooter (he shot himself during class) I understood how loss in faith in the world might make you do something like that and the online comments on the news story don’t give me much hope that this is something they hope to prevent in the future. All that aside I like this project because it gives me time to appreciate what I have done and what I can do. I got two rejection letters, I applied to two more jobs. It might take a long time, but I have plenty of time. Sorry for venting, but I don’t really have anyone to tell these things to and this article couldn’t have come at a better time.

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      Lanie, things will get better as long as you keep trying. It’s such a silly thing that we hear all the time, but I saw my life completely change in one year because I decided to try one day. Just don’t give up. When we face obstacles in the beginning of going after what we want, we tend to lose faith in ourselves when met with discouragement early on, and then we give up on the whole thing altogether. If you believe you’re going to get what you want, you put in the action everyday and eventually, you get there. I have faith that you’ll get there.

      I am always here to say cliche fortune cookie lines to you if you ever need to vent.

      • Thumb up 6

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        Thank you @Grace and @Selfice :)I’m pretty sure the job situation will figure itself out, even if I have to work a job I don’t really like for a while. It was more difficult hearing for the first time that my Mom wouldn’t offer me a place to go if it takes longer than the couple of months I might have left. It just sort of felt like the one person who has to love me doesn’t want to anymore and that sucks. My siblings (I’m #3 of 4)have all crashed and burned a few times and she has always been right there to rebuild, but I’m the black and rainbow sheep and I just have to figure it out. I built my current life from scratch with very little help at all from my family, but with the security of knowing that there was something to catch me. I’m trying to see it as an opportunity to be myself without restriction for the first time ever, but that excitement coupled with the stress of not knowing how one survives without a family has resulted in this mood. Everything isn’t lost, just unclear. Fortune cookie lines are sort of what I’m running on so thank you for the support and I can’t wait to meet you at camp!!

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          I spent most of my life not really talking to people in depth before so I am dangerously fascinated by people’s stories. I’ve also been working on talking to people who are nice to me, instead of ignoring people like I normally would so I’m going to try and reply to everyone who commented here. Hearing other viewpoints is rapidly shaping the way I view life and the way I hold certain unfounded beliefs.

          I am so excited to meet you, too! You should just be exactly who you want to be, you owe it to yourself. I spent a lot of my life letting whoever was around me influence the person I was to them, but now I just want to be me and I hope you really take this opportunity being yourself without restriction and really learn to be happy in your own skin; just know, you’re wonderful. Please just never give up and keep continuing on this wonderful path you’re going down and I know you’ll find a way to work things out. Camp is going to be fantastic. I have a question for you that I ask everyone and if you don’t mind sharing, I want you to tell me the answer at camp. What would you do if you could do anything and how exactly do you do it?

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      I know what it’s like to feel alone and like nobody is supporting you. I hardly ever comment on this site, but I read a lot. Here’s an offer of support:

      I used to be a career advisor (for five years), professionally. If you want help applying for jobs, support in what you’re doing, and you don’t have anyone to run things by, send them to me. I’m happy to help, if I can.

      [email protected].

      You’re never alone, not really.

  2. Thumb up 4

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    Great post. Pulling yourself out of a bad experience is difficult, not just because of the endurance it takes, but because there is a kind of masochistic comfort in staying safe in your own head.

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      We will always have those days with a tinge of melancholy but ultimately, humans love feeling happiness the most, and sometimes we have to force ourselves to try and feel it, by seeking professional help and/or healing from within.

  3. Thumb up 3

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    Thanks for this article. I grew up in a very conservative religious household in an otherwise liberal place, and I know I hated myself for my sexuality long before I knew what it was. After pulling myself out of a depression that lasted almost my entire adolescence, I’ve figured out that I’m a thousand times stronger than I ever imagined.

    You’re already brave for sticking to it. Everything else is easy!

    • Thumb up 24

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      This one’s easy–my best day has been when I met all the Bay Straddlers at my hot tub party. In the apartment I nearly took my life a year ago, I was surrounded by soaking wet lesbians in their swimming suits, all of them taking a shot of my favorite drink, Jameson, and toasting my name. At that very moment, I questioned whether or not Autostraddle is a lesbian cult, and if it isn’t, how I’m going to cope with my life peaking.

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    I’ve tried about twenty times to write something heartfelt and poignant, but I can’t. So just know that I’m thankful you wrote this.
    I passed my expiration date a year ago. c:

      • Thumb up 5

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        I need to figure out a way to work this into a Best Day activity :D

        Seriously, though, I too had an expiration date set for after I finished grad school (Asian genes ftw). Thankfully, when the date came, I decided I owed it to myself to at least see how it felt to flirt with a girl before I went. Of course, as with all things, if I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right. This led me down a road of self-exploration that took me so far from where I started that I didn’t want to go back.

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    This is just fantastic. I was on your blog today and I read your coffee note and, um, my eyes started leaking a little. Pay-it-forward coffee is something I’m going to do next time I’m feeling down.

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    So much of this resonated through me that I had to step back from it a little. Those 20 years for John, 24 for you mirror in a way about 30 for me. Finally seeing worth and happiness in the world is revolutionary.

    Also: Cannot wait to meet you (and everybody) at Acamp!

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    Thank you for writing this, I needed it today. I occasionally prevent myself from doing things I want to do only because I tell myself that I shouldn’t want to do them. It’s good to have reminders that it’s ok to do what I want.

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    This is so powerful. Thank you.
    I have nothing more original to say, but I do have another fortune cookie line for you–although maybe we should call this a tiramisu line because it’s an Italian proverb:

    “Who does not go, does not see; who does not try, does not believe”.

  9. Thumb up 3

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    I am also finding it difficult to find the right words… What an honest, open and deeply inspiring piece, Grace. I am training to be a therapist right now, and I will definitely bookmark this piece as something to share with my clients. Thank you for sharing of yourself. I also find it personally uplifting. I can’t wait to meet you at camp!!

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    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so valuable to be able to read about someone’s experience and have it touch you in such a personal way. The way I see it, there is a certain amount of bad in the world and it has to go somewhere. Usually the universe gives you only what you can shoulder, sometimes it gives you more. We live for each other, you know?

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    I can completely relate with the conservative, religious Asian household except in gay-friendly Toronto. Thank you so much for your candidness and positive message, and the Best Day Project is a brilliant idea.

  12. Thumb up 5

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    Grace, as you already know, I think you are the most awesome person ever. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are such an inspiration in so many different ways.

    There were so many powerful things you wrote that I had to pause, go back, and reread them.

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    I just want to say …you are truly an amazing person….it is too bad someone along the way did not take you in hand and tell you “it is ok to be you and ok to do the things you want too”. Today, I took that risk and said hello to a developmentally challenged young man…he hugged me and asked my name and then gave me a beautiful kiss…he was not afraid to express his emotions like most people are…I find if I open myself even more and keep on talking to strangers…they all open to me and we get along like houses on fire! I have a best day project too…I will push myself in my sport to go faster and faster and see how far I can go even if I am way past my junior Olympian days as a swimmer.One just has do do it. Thank you.

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    I am utterly blown away by this piece. You are incredible, Grace, and I am so glad you’re here.

    “We don’t have control of the events in our lives, but we have control over how we react to them. Life will run everyone down at some point, but you can choose to either let it consume you or rise above it.”

    A million billion times yes.

    • Thumb up 4

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      “We don’t have control of the events in our lives, but we have control over how we react to them. Life will run everyone down at some point, but you can choose to either let it consume you or rise above it.”

      I enjoyed the piece, but this was the phrase that I had a problem with. Someone who was having suicidal ideations would not be pulled out of them by taking a homeless guy to lunch and a “can do” attitude. It would require therapy, medication and immediate hospitalization. Even then, it would take a fair amount of time to remove the idea of suicide as an option.

      I’m sure you were very seriously depressed, enough that the idea of suicide had crossed your mind, and I’m sorry for that. But I can’t help imagining someone out there in the void reading this, thinking if only they tried harder they would be better, and not getting the help they need.

      If I’ve been rude, I apologize.

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        I had the same thoughts, Melanie. I really appreciate this piece and Grace for having the courage to put it out there. What a brave thing to do! :) But yes, that part you quoted rubbed me the wrong way as I have dealt with depression on an off for my whole life and have been in community with others suffering from the disease as well. I think if Grace managed to pull herself out of a dark place on her own, this is wonderful! But the “you can choose to either let it consume you or rise above it.” is not true for all people. Depression is a disease and there are many, many people who cannot rise above it on their own. I am one of those people. No matter how many positive thoughts I try to flow through me and no matter how many different ways I try to look at life, I am one of those people that needs medication and therapy when I’m at my lowest to pull me back up. It could be that Grace didn’t mention her recovery in depth and maybe she did seek therapy at some point, but the fact that she didn’t mention it and writes about choosing to rise about it is worrisome. There’s major stigma against mental illness and people who haven’t experienced the worst of it often assume a change of thinking on your own can get you out of a bad place. I just wanted to put this out there, to those that are like me, that need extra help (therapy, meds, whatever) it’s ok! You are not alone! You are not weak! Sometimes it takes a combination of things to get us back to a good baseline. :)

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        I did not mean for it to come off as if my new “can do” attitude and buying a homeless guy a sammich magically cured a lifetime of suicidal thoughts, but a person can’t be helped unless they want to be helped. I didn’t want to be helped so I never sought anything that would possibly let me remove the idea of suicide as my only option. I realized I just didn’t want to live that kind of life anymore and decided to do something about it that day.

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          While it pains me to quote Oprah here, some people go their entire lives without ever experiencing that “Aha moment”. That moment of clarity. That moment of sudden realization. When I did, I knew I wasn’t quite sure what it was I wanted from this life. But for the first time in my life I knew what I didn’t want. I’m thankful every day for that moment. So very happy that you had yours.

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        To clarify, who’s the “you” you’re referring to in the last paragraph of your comment? Because regardless of my history, this post isn’t my story, it’s Grace’s. And her intensely experience isn’t something I feel that anyone of us has the right to negate.

        I do appreciate that for many many people, overcoming those thoughts is a process that, as you said, would “require therapy, medication and immediate hospitalization”, but I don’t believe the section I quoted flies in the face of that. As I see it, those steps would be part of the aforementioned “choos(ing) to…rise above it.”

        The ability to choose to accept help in order to change the situation was why I appreciate that quote. I hope this makes more sense.

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          I was speaking to Grace.

          And I still think it’s a fundamentally dangerous idea to say 1) that there’s a special, distinctive form of suicidal behavior that should be helped by It Gets Better, etc. Do projects like this keep people from getting suicidal ideas which would cause suicidal behavior? Absolutely, yes. That is their power. That is their importance. That is why they should exist. Not allowing things to get that far. But I am speaking of someone who gets up on that day not saying, but decided and determined to end his or her life. Nothing is going to keep that person from suicide on that day or a day in the near future unless they are treated, ASAP.

          2) And I still don’t agree with the idea that it only comes down to the person’s willingness to help him or herself.
          Yes, often, he or she must be willing to contact a mental health professional or 911 to have the severity of the condition pointed out to them to set recovery in motion. (But there are 5150s too, if the person is too sick to even do this and family members/professionals need to intervene.) The person still needs help fighting the impulses.

          Respectfully, I think we are speaking of two different states of mind: one is a depression so deep that a person may comfort herself with suicidal fantasies; the other is an individual actively (such as having the death dose in a desk, the gun at home they are driving to pick up) seeking to do harm to herself. The former may work it out for herself, but the latter won’t.

          And now I guess I am speaking to Grace/the thread.

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            I agree with you, if someone has suicidal thoughts they should seek help ASAP. I found another way to heal myself, but I was in need of help for a long time.

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            I see what you mean and agree with you. Someone in the middle of a suicidal crisis probably isn’t in the state of mind where some positive thinking is going to suddenly change their mind. They need immediate medical attention. I guess I was thinking more about the period before or after the crisis when some people really can get better on a more permanent basis through the power of positive thinking/changing perspective. I felt like you were giving those people a short shrift, but I see now that wasn’t the case at all.

          • Thumb up 5

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            Please note the following copied from above: “Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.”
            Grace, keep speaking honestly from your heart. Many (not all) will take something special from it. I have.

          • Thumb up 8

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            Yes! The First Person essays are just that, first person and their experiences and points of view. Again, I really appreciate Grace for putting herself out there and sharing her story and I have taken something special from it. The more people who speak up about mental health issues like Grace, the more people will feel less alone. It’s so important and I’m glad this piece is out there. With that being said, the comment section of a piece like this (and any other piece on this site) is also a place for people to be supportive, share their experiences, and add to the bigger conversation (in this case, it would be mental health). I would assume Autostraddle has a comment section not only for people to agree with what is written, but to bring up new points of view and/or even challenge things sometimes. Just wanted to put this out there because it would be a shame if no one spoke up in the comments with differing viewpoints on First Person pieces, no matter how personal or vulnerable the pieces are.

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        I think there’s more than one reason why people consider/attempt/commit suicide. There’s definitely people with depression where no amount of happy thoughts will magically make it go away, and I really hope they can find the professional help they need. But there are also people who just get pushed so far from internal and external pressures and expectations that they don’t see any other way out. There’s a lot of people in the queer community like this, which is why we have things like the It Gets Better project and Grace’s project. I think for a lot of these people, including myself, it really does feel like a magical moment when they were able to look at the world differently.

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          yes, what aly said. i didn’t get the impression that grace was describing clinical depression here — as a person with major depressive disorder i didn’t read her story and think “oh this is just like mine!” because to me, a major element of that depression has always been that my specific circumstances or life outlook are essentially irrelevant, it can strike at any time no matter what’s happening. what i read in grace’s story was a person who had become depressed because of her specific circumstances (her family, her sexual orientation, the worldview of her community about her sexual orientation) and outlook, and therefore she had more of an ability to change that by changing her circumstances than somebody with depression might.

          i don’t know if that makes sense or if i’m putting words in grace’s mouth, but that’s what i read it to be?

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            I don’t want to take away from what Grace has written (contrary to the passive-aggressive implications of one commenter) and I thank her for posting a phone number for those who might need it. I was simply (and genuinely) alarmed when the issue of suicide was raised.

            as you say, yes there are differences between those who have a clinical disorder facing specific depression inducing issues and those who don’t. But the people who sit to read this *without* awareness that they have a clinical disorder/suicidal impulses might read it and think they can/should be able to help themselves. which would be a dangerous thing.

            and I’m probably being unfairly harsh because I’m generally dissatisfied with the way clinical disorders are portrayed in media. There’s a peculiar emphasis on up by the bootstraps thinking which, while it’s important down the road, is often the cart put before the horse. People have to be confident that they won’t be stigmatized as weak or treated as defective because they couldn’t cure themselves.

            That’s all I wanted to put out there.

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        I have read this discussion several times over, and I am so reluctant to comment for fear of upsetting anyone or being misunderstood. Deep breath!…
        I think what Melanie said is completely valid and I can 100% understand her perspective. I also think the way she worded it was respectful and gentle.

        “But I can’t help imagining someone out there in the void reading this, thinking if only they tried harder they would be better, and not getting the help they need.
        If I’ve been rude, I apologize.”

        I don’t think you were being rude, I think you showed concern for people in despair who may be reading this and clearly have an understanding of their possible triggers.

        Grace, you have written such a beautiful essay and I’ cannot express how absolutely, utterly and wholeheartedly glad I am that you made it. Honestly, I can’t put that into words. Furthermore, I am so glad you’ve had the courage and conviction to share your story with the entire world. I don’t underestimate that for one second.

        But I have to agree, while “but you can choose to either let it consume you or rise above it” was true in your story (and thank goodness it was), it is not true of everyone.
        Even with all the medical attention, therapy, and absolute determination to survive, sometimes it isn’t enough.
        Perhaps this resonated with me a bit too much, because if I let myself believe for just a moment that there is any measure of willpower that can save someone, it would tear my heart open even more that I won’t be meeting my best friend after work today for a beer.
        I’m conscious my response here is unbalanced. I think you are all wonderful people and I would never speak ill of any of you.
        ugh i am going to regret posting this I can tell…

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          I completely agree with what you’re saying. The opinions in this article only reflect what holds true in my world. Everyone shapes the world that they see with the information we have. I wouldn’t be able to even imagine what most of you see when you wake up in the morning. I don’t assume the world that I’ve created with the information I’ve come across holds true to anyone else but me.

          That line was true to my experiences, but I really do believe people need professional help if they are having suicidal thoughts. Please call 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking about killing yourself.

          I didn’t seek any help myself, but I have a science background and spent a lot of time methodically researching different tweaks in my diet and how they affected certain chemical imbalances that might’ve led to depression. I crafted a diet, a schedule with lots of time for fun activities, and a new approach to life that I adhered to for a year, which really helped in healing myself from within, but I know most people won’t be able to follow that path.

          I wanted to change my life so badly that I gave it everything I had for a year, which has led me to this point. The line I wrote holds true for me, but it doesn’t hold true for everyone.

          Don’t regret a thing! I want to know everyone’s opinion. Autostraddle is a safe space for you to come and share your thoughts with people who accept you. Some of the time our opinions won’t align, but we can always take something away from hearing how another human being sees the world through their eyes.

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    I just had a pity party last night before I went to sleep, I cried myself to sleep thinking about the past, I think I’m having a quarter-life crisis, you see my 25th birthday is drawing near, and this article is sooo beautiful and it came at the right time. I realized that yes we owe it to ourselves to be happy, and sometimes it isn’t nice dwelling on past events, but rather it’s better to think about the present, and to look forward to the future. Thank you Grace, thank you for sharing this! Here’s a big hug from one gay Asian woman to another! :’)

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    Thanks for sharing this with us Grace. I’m glad you made it through, and that’s such a great idea for a project! Reading this has given me a new (and much needed) perspective on my own life right now, and I’m looking forward to following your progress. If “Be an inspiration to others” is in that jar, I think you’ve already accomplished it!

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    Thank you, Grace. I was just thinking about how long I waited to come out, how I berated myself both for being queer AND for lying to everyone about it, how life seemed like a thing built for other people but not for me, how my life became this tiny box, how I felt I was living on inertia or not being dead purely by accident. But reading this, coupled with some other stuff, made me realize that it’s SO HARD to take risks and be vulnerable when you feel trapped. I gotta have compassion for myself. Suicidal people have tunnel vision. Believing that there’s a reason to keep living takes guts and stupid faith. I’m so glad you are alive, and I’m glad I’m alive to be here with you. I am glad we defied our tunnel vision and gave life a chance!!! Your project sounds amazing. I want to give 8-year old you a hug, but I will settle for giving current-you a hug at A CAMP!!! (If you’re into hugs, that is.)

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      “…how life seemed like a thing built for other people but not for me…”

      This.

      Those days when you wonder if everyone feels as isolated as you and how do “normal people” and what is wrong with me that I can’t figure it out. I put pressure on myself for a long time trying to be good enough for myself, just to deserve to be alive, with no self-compassion. I was so deeply in denial that I didn’t know myself, and when I came out to myself I felt like, this is life! What was it before?

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      I am so, so very excited for camp. I have a lot of hugs owed to me I plan to make good on. I already want to talk to you about a million things but I shall wait until camp. I’m sure there will be lots of laughter when we talk about how irrationally we go about life sometimes.

      Looking forward to it.

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    Hello fellow Korean gay friend! I wanna give you a hug!! I also grew up in super religious household and listened to homophobic sermon every single week… life wasn’t easy so I closed my eyes, covered my ears and shut my mouth. I lived like I don’t exist so I just decided to kill myself so others could see how much they hurt me. Then I realized WHERE IS MY FCKING LIFE? I put “expiration date” on myself and decided to be the coolest kid I know until then. Well that date has passed years ago but I’m still living my AWESOME LIFE trying to figure out the coolest/most adventurous thing that I haven’t done!

    *btw I registered to leave this comment ;-)

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      It’s wonderful to meet someone who has similar experiences as you. You feel less weird and alone. I’m so glad you’re living up your life, too. It’s funny how we think everything is the end of the world when we’re kids. I’m glad you decided to register and speak up. It’s oh so very nice to meet you. The name’s Grace and it’s a pleasure.

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    This was amazing and life affirming and inspiring. I loved it. Now I just need to work out how to apply it to my own life. For now, I’ve followed you on twitter so I get a daily reminder that I should be trying to make my own days the best ever.

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    Okay, I’ve briefly skimmed 109 comments on here and I haven’t found a single one that asks the questions that I’m going to ask, so I know I’m going to sound like a critical a*hole, but I can’t help but feel, um, skeptical.

    – You knew you were gay when you were four?
    – As a four-year-old you remember sitting in church, you remember what the preachers talked about, you comprehended what homosexuality was, and you linked it to yourself?

    Forgive me, but when I was four, I was more concerned with, I dunno, crayons.

    – This knowledge was so traumatic that you really went selectively mute for 20 years?
    – Although desperately suicidal and intent on sampling every mind-altering substance available, you wouldn’t complete the act unless you had a college degree, first?
    – Your defining moment in life was talking to a homeless guy?
    – Were you guys passing notes, or what?
    – Life is worth living now because you have a bucket list?

    Okay, one or two of these things in isolation I could swallow, but the whole story just seems really implausible.

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      -She may have just been estimating ages. Sehe probably doesn’t “literally” remember sitting there, but she knows she was there and now as an adult can piece together what she was listening to.

      -She probably didn’t understand what homosexuality was, but she probably did at least feel that she was curious about girls instead of boys. I really relate to this article because I had to be about…idunno, six or seven when I “knew” I was gay? I didn’t actually call myself “gay” until I was 19, but I remember that when I was a kid, I would always play “make believe” games that involved girls being together instead of a girl and a boy, and I would always put my toys together in girl pairings instead of het pairings. Those sound like stupid examples, but now I realize that it was more that my *actions* were beginning to show that I was gay, not that I knew I was gay. At that age it never “occurred to me” to think about boys in a romantic way, or see them as “princes” like my other girl friends did, because of all the Disney movies we used to watch. It still doesn’t now.
      It’s not that unrealistic to realize that you were gay when you were a kid too, not just gay when you were old enough to label it.

      -I, too, turned in on myself throughout most of my elementary, middle, and high school years. Again, I couldn’t figure out the reason why that entire time, but now at 20 years old I know that it’s because I’ve been gay my whole life, and I always felt different. There was *something* about me that I was ashamed about, *something* about me that I was insecure about, *something* about me that kept driving a wedge between me and the girl friends that I just wanted to be close to, and whatever it was, it was scary, so I ignored it. I, too, selectively withdrew, not to the extent of being mute, but still. I didn’t make the choice because I knew 100% that I was a homosexual, because I was that self-aware (no one is at that age). I made the choice because I was a scared little kid. Maybe she felt this way too.

      -A lot of peoples’ defining moments in life are the ones that seem the smallest. Some of mine are, too.
      The thing that talked me off the edge–I, too, had a plan to kill myself after my college graduation because I was scared of coming out, scared of truly showing myself to the world–was a two minute conversation that I had with a friend of mine one Saturday morning. It wasn’t an exceptionally deep or meaningful conversation. To her it probably meant nothing. She’s probably forgotten it. But the best day of my life thusfar was telling my friend about how badly my anxiety has skewed my perception of myself, (how badly its come to make me hate myself), and all she said was, “Dude, nobody really thinks of you that way. Everybody loves you.”
      The sun’s been shining brighter ever since.

      Thank you, author, for writing this. And Jess, I think you missed the powerful punch that this story packed because you decided to pick out details and decide that they didn’t line up to “your reality,” instead of just believing that this person went through something truly scary and life-changing, and decided to share it with us.

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    This is a beautiful piece. It is truly inspiring to me how you were able to move away from suicidal thoughts and learn to live an awesome life through the best day project. I am following you on Tumblr and I find your posts to be very inspiring.

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    I can only start by saying that I found this article so on point with my own experiences that I had to sign u as a member. I’ve been reading this site for quite a while now and even though I have found many compelling stories I have never related to one like this. Thank you Grace for sharing your experience and I look forward to speaking with more members in future :)

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