I haven't even had the chance to sleep in my own bed since getting back from nationals early Monday morning. I was pretty eager to start putting away all of my things, reorganizing my room, and getting on with the business of everyday living again. But each time I touched anything in this room--each time I picked up a piece of a costume or a trophy or even opened my suitcase more than a crack--I saw the things, feelings, and people connected to them, and I couldn't bring myself to do it just yet. I've had more fun in the last week than I have in years, but I have also felt more pain than I thought I was capable of enduring.
Most people know that I didn't win this year, and I knew exactly what I did to lose the very moment it happened. I can't pretend that it wasn't one of the most painful experiences I've had to deal with in my performance career. I had no one to blame but myself, and these were mistakes that just simply shouldn't have happened. I didn't think I could ever feel that broken again. I had let everyone down, again, and this time, I couldn't walk away feeling like I had done the best that I could, which would have made everything perfectly fine. I was convinced I never wanted to put myself in that position again, risk feeling like that yet another year later. In those hours immediately following the conclusion of the pageant, I had finally come to the point of believing I just had nothing left to give. The magic was gone. And I couldn't get myself out of it.
I don't know what brought me back to reality. Maybe it was hall twerking in my underwear with three of my best friends. Or eating four pounds of Chinese food the next morning. Or seeing one of the people I love and respect most in this industry win his dream bar title the day after stepping down as Mister Gay United States MI. Maybe it was seeing my drag kids place top five in their very first national pageants ever. Maybe seems to be kind of a useless word at this point in the conversation. Collectively, my experiences began to chip away at pain enveloping my every thought. Would I really want to give this up? Ultimately, I had to ask myself, "What kind of person do I want to be?" What will be my legacy? Perseverance.
Because nothing worth having is ever easy, and someday, I will look back on all this pain, and it will be invisible. I know this isn't over for me. I know I am my own worst enemy. This year, it was about celebrating my demons, not fighting them. Now I realize that it's not so hard to fight them, and it's not so hard to be proud of them, but it is infinitely more complicated when you need to discover the balance necessary to achieve success.
But, while I was sitting expressionless in the front seat of the van, unable to move from the parking garage back to the room, he reminded me that I had achieved so many victories that weekend, regardless of my placement on the final night. I gave my kids the experience of a lifetime, and though I may not have won the war, I won a few very important battles. Interview and Question and Answer. I beat something I have been fighting for years. I still don't know how to feel about losing the category that I'm "supposed to be" the best at. My head probably wasn't able to keep up at that point. Everyone keeps telling me how well I did, but there is that part of me that knows how many mistakes I made. I know that I didn't get to show them the best parts of me during talent. That will stick with me for a while, but for now, I can celebrate the win for my new brother and sister. I can look forward to a fantastic year of growing, strengthening, and promoting a pageantry system that has made me who I am today. I cannot wait to work with everyone. The energy has returned.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I've only been in Pittsburgh for ten days, but it feels like I have been back for several weeks already. Though the first few days were very difficult, it didn't take long for me to feel at home. I want to expound upon this at some point--why transitioning to a new location is such a mindfuck for me and how I have learned to cope--but I leave in a few hours to head to nationals for GUS, and though such a topic deserves more than a passing mention, my head isn't quite ready to commit to writing about it.
The day it sank in for me was the day we played softball in the rain. I have and will always connect with people through shared experiences. It's not enough to just talk about common interests. I need to do things with you. Sports and their basic mechanics, like music, have a natural rhythm to them.
Rhythm is a form of communication. It is a form of interaction all its own.
Playing on that field in the rain made me feel things I had forgotten I could feel. Playing sports, dancing, and playing music all require you to somewhat share the same consciousness as others. I finally felt grounded in my city again. I finally felt able to call Pittsburgh my home again. It became real that afternoon, and despite the abysmal weather conditions and the possibility of getting struck by lightning, I can say without a doubt that I was just plain happy.
It's so much easier for me to talk to people when I do things like this.
I too am ready for whatever comes next.
I have finally learned to say "no" to people. It's been the hardest lesson I've had to learn. I am naturally a much too giving person, and when I also care about the things with which people need assistance, I tend to feel guilty about refusing. I have something very big and very important coming up this weekend, and it has been a constant struggle to remain focused and to love myself enough to put myself first for the time being. I am excited to see old friends and begin working on these new projects, but now is happening now. I will treat my present with the same respect I treat my future.