My Childhood Beliefs, Revised
Growing up is hard, about this there is little argument. We 20-somethings are in constant limbo, trying to balance out our nostalgia for the past (ah, simpler days!) and our eagerness for the future (where we hopefully have our lives together and can actually afford to buy stuff). Usually, we spend our time complaining about how difficult it is to find an apartment, find a job to pay for that apartment, find a boyfriend/girlfriend to stay the night at that apartment, etc, but I think the root of our strife goes a bit deeper than the simple logistics of it all. What people talk about much less frequently is how hard it is to have your entire system of beliefs change as you get older. As we morph from children to adults, our worlds are constantly being rocked with new information, effectively changing the way we perceive ourselves and everything around us. Our beliefs, our morals, our thoughts are essentially who we are at the core, and all the constant shifting and mutating can really wear a person out!
To illustrate the various ways in which our beliefs can change, I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of things I used to think as a kid, and how these notions have been revised as I moved into my teens, then my twenties. They are as follows:
As a child, I used to believe that if you didn’t have any cash, you could just write a check or use your credit card instead, effectively making your own money and getting the item (toy, video game, book, whatever) for free. As a teenager, I used to believe that it didn’t matter how money worked exactly, I was going to convince my parents to buy it for me. Now, as an adult, I realize that checks and credit cards are only effective if you have the funds to back it up. I also realize there comes a day (it happened a few years ago) when parents will say, “You’re on your own now, dude! Best of luck!” and you will have to earn a living on your own. Now that I’ve learned all of this, I believe that Top Ramen, at 25 cents a package, is vastly underrated as a food group and is an appropriate meal any time of day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
I used to believe that alcohol tasted terrible and I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to drink something that would make them act like an idiot, vomit, forget what they did, and suffer an incredible hangover the next day. Now, as I take the final sips of my second glass of wine while writing this list, I believe that alcohol has its time and place. Namely on days where work is a bit rough, when I’m meant to be doing something creative, when I’m socializing with friends, or when there is only a little bit left in the bottle and I need to make room in my cabinet. As for the puking and blacking out? Now, I believe that it happens to the best of us, and as long as it’s not a weekly occurrence, your friends will generally forgive you without giving you (too) hard of a time.
I used to believe that naptime was a punishment; an unnecessary activity whose only purpose was to prevent me from playing outside with my friends or watching more television. Now, I believe that naptime is the BEST time, and should be taken advantage of at every possible occasion. Just another example of how we miss things once they’re gone from our everyday lives.
I used to believe that my parents had all the answers to the questions of the universe. I used to be amazed at every little thing they did — from always making sure my favorite cereal was in the pantry, to building the swing-set in the backyard, to driving an hour to my grandma’s house without even needing a map! As a teenager, this awe became angst, and I believed that not only were my parents not as remarkable as I once thought, but I was like, totally way smarter than them. Now, as a 20-something, I believe that, shock of all shocks, my parents are people just like me. Sometimes they know what’s best, sometimes they don’t (sometimes I’ll listen, sometimes I won’t). It’s taken 20 years, but I think I’ve finally humanized them, and I believe that’s for the best.
I used to believe that I would get married to a woman, and that she would wear a beautiful white gown and walk down the aisle like a fairy princess, everyone transfixed, myself included. Now, after realizing I spent way more time imagining the dress (A-line dress… wait no, Princess-line with lace trimmings) than the woman wearing it, and now that I have taken the moniker of fairy princess for myself, I believe that running away with the Best Man is a far more likely scenario. That, or dying alone — I believe we always have options!
I used to believe that you should only have sex with one person for your entire life. I used to believe that you should only have sex after you were married (see above). I wasn’t even religious or anything, I just thought that’s what people did because that’s what my parents (see above again) told me that’s what I should do. Now, I believe that you should probably only have sex with one person at a time, and you should probably try and get their last name first. But, like with all rules, I believe there are exceptions (see the section on alcohol above as well).
I guess, as a kid, I used to believe that my beliefs would never change. Now that I’m older, I believe they’ll never stop changing. And I believe that’s what growing up is all about.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.