A little while back, I posted a self portrait on Instagram with a caption describing my instinctive desire for authenticity. Admittedly, this need was brought into the foreground because of a sore heart and selfishness— a positive form of the latter, at least (I promise, I’ll get to this Chocolate Peanut Butter Swiss Roll momentarily).
This isn’t an entry of tear-thick protestations, or even a speech. Rather, it’s one of celebration, acceptance, and most importantly: clarity. This post is mostly for myself; it’s to document a nearly decade-long inner fight, and to mark the moment that I march to the beat of my own drum and do what feels right. This post is also to create some clarity for everyone in my life— some of my family, some of my friends, and for you; I feel this is necessary for all of us.
Most of my life has been spent trying to be an unparalleled force to be reckoned with; I’ve always been a people pleaser. And up until a couple years ago, I thought I could manage it all. I thought I could be the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect son, the perfect nephew . . . The perfect everything. “Perfection”— that’s what’s been my biggest issue. Though I eternally loathe thinking about my image, I’ve spent my life focused on perfection; and that, essentially, is being image-conscious. It was almost a bit of a double standard, and focusing on this faux-instinctive desire exhausted me greatly.
For nearly a decade, my focus has always been on making others happy and living through their happiness. And, don’t get me wrong, that’s certainly not wrong at all; but when you make that one of the main purposes of all your relationships— familial and not, it just doesn’t work out. It leads to a lot of disappointment and sadness.
Up until a couple months ago, I thought I needed to please everyone. I thought it was necessary to give, give, give. After looking back on this, I wasn’t expecting so much naiveté from myself, but things happen and all I can do is accept that I’ve to learn how to work with the scales of give-and-take.
Tiny, unimportant things can destroy us internally— if we allow them to, anyway, especially when we try to live the life others have planned for us. There are so many omnipresent hackneyed ideas that describe how men and women must behave. These ideas— these stereotypes— they do good for no one; anyone who doesn’t cleave to these unrealistic standards goes under the scrutiny of others, and I for one have been there.
We all have stories (especially those we’ve endured during our educational careers) and different experiences that can be written down and taped together to span the earth millions of times. And though these memories assisted in my ever constant self-discovery, they don’t define the kind of person I am. Our experiences, no matter how horrid, don’t define who we are unless we let them. How we share ourselves is based on our own actions— this, I feel, makes up part of the definition of who we are as individuals.
Being a positive human being, and sincerely trying to make some sort of a difference— by having hope and giving hope— is what sets a positive person apart from one who might be disheartened. Hope, like happiness is evanescent; it can exist and last so long as we allow it to. We can’t expect the best if we litter the planet and our lives with negativity; the laws of nature aren’t designed to work that way. In order to coexist and be happy, it’s important that all of us understand that. In order to have happiness, we must pour it into the universe— in any form possible. Not through lying, not through retaliating and fulfilling vendettas, and surely not through ignorance.
I’ve never liked the old adage, “ignorance is bliss.” I feel that such an “aphorism” offers an excuse to not better oneself. Why live in ignorance when we can educate ourselves, learn, and share a wealth of important information that could help commence acceptance of peoples who currently struggle to be accepted? Acceptance has been a theme of mankind for centuries, and mankind has struggled greatly with it.
After almost a decade, today, I’ve decided that staying silent, that allowing others to turn the wheel of ignorance, and that selectively lying is not what I want for myself and for those that I love. I’ve not been completely honest in one aspect of my life, and that— that’s not what I want; especially in a space where I’ve promised to be true to myself and to my readers.
As small children, somewhere between the innocence and tantrums, we learn how to lie. It seems like a natural thing to learn, despite how much we would like to admit it, along with walking and talking. As we mature, we either choose to further develop these skills, or not. For me, growing up, I learned that lying was a very elaborate practice. And though I abhor the act of lying, I found myself doing it so often because I wanted to please others; while doing so, I lost a great deal of confidence in myself. By avoiding honesty, by trying to protect myself from judgment and by wanting to please others, especially my family, I set myself back and created unnecessary stresses in my life.
I come from a multiracial background of multiple faiths; I know what it’s like to have to work 20 times harder than the next person, and to fight for acceptance in anything you do— to break boundaries. This fight is second nature to those that are different; what’s harder is informing others and hoping that they’ll make the right decision based on factors that are fair. Both sides of my family are very religious and conservative, and the news I’m here to share with you today might be nothing short of difficult for some to handle. For others, it might be a walk in the park, a shoulder shrug, or wide-open arms of acceptance. And for some, it might be a moment in which my words reach you for the last time, or the first time you open up your eyes. I accept it all because I have hope and confidence that one difference doesn’t matter because it’s a small part of who I am.
At this point, you’re either with me or against me, and I’m fine with either.
Regardless, this process of “coming out” has been nothing short of straining— not only for myself, but for others. I’ve lost friendships, work, and relationships with many people because of my sexuality— a small part of myself that doesn’t define the person I am. And though this may seem like information too personal to share on a weblog, I feel like I owe it to everyone to be honest because there are many people who aren’t as lucky as I am. Who aren’t as lucky to have such loving and understanding people in my life… We all deserve acceptance and love. We all deserve to hope and to be happy.
Love, as I’ve learned over these past few years, is a gift to mankind; in all of its forms— be it the delight, the glamour, or even the grief associated with it. I am not exactly the epitome of empirical; I’m young and I am probably not as emotionally experienced as the next person. I do know this, however: I know that all people deserve to experience love and happiness (whatever we individually define it as) without compromise and without embarrassment.
I’ve spent too much time hidden in the background in the lives of others. I’ve spent too much time loving silently and secretly. I’ve spent too much time being tolerant of mistreatment I didn’t deserve from bullies and those I loved. I’ve spent too much time being tolerant of ignorance. I’ve spent too much time tolerant of being ignored, and I’ve spent too much time tolerant of being talked down to. Today, I put my foot down and say I’m no longer tolerant of these things.
I support equality, I support acceptance, and I support love in all its forms. I support open arms, sharing journeys, and supporting those that ask for help.
My book, practically my child, Hand Made Baking, followed me as I’ve undergone this transformative journey over these past few years. It’s been the reason I keep going and the reason I’ve managed to get this far.
Hand Made Baking is coming out in a couple weeks (November 18th, to be precise!). I’ve not opened up much about the book on the web; I’ve wanted it be a surprise for everyone (not even my family has read it). Hand Made Baking is my biggest attempt yet to convert fear-filled nonbakers into experts in this ultimate form of comfort cooking. Everything from childhood memories of pumpkin pies, to Norah Jones crooning softly in the background, to mentions of Will & Grace and The Golden Girls, to heartbreak-curing cookies, cute kitten videos on YouTube, and mentions of childhood summers… It’s all in there, and this book was with me during the entire time.
In celebration of coming out— myself, and the book— (preorder details at the end of this post) I wanted to share something glamorous. Something rich, sexy, and something that cuts to the chase, but doesn’t require much more than a small timeframe of dedication on your part.
Imagine this: peanut butter cream cheese mouse rolled between insanely quick Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake and adorned with a robe of rich chocolate ganache and a super-easy peanut brittle recipe. I’d tell you how it all goes, but I figured that after all the reading, a video (scroll down a bit) and the recipe might be lovely:
This is me, and this is Hand Made Baking.
As, promised, preorder details (for the major retailers that I could think of):
USA: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Powell’s // Books-A-Million // Chronicle Books
UK: Amazon UK // Blackwell’s // The Book Depository // Waterstones // Abrams & Chronicle Books
Canada: Amazon Canada // Indigo // McNally Robinson