i want to go back in time and hug my 15 year old self and tell her that its going to be okay. that even though that hurt so much and you will keep hurting and hits low points its going to be okay. that you have such loving and caring friends in your life and their families. that you will no longer have to hide and keep everything inside. that believe it or not, your mom will be more than understanding and will listen and just wants to do what she can to make sure your happy no matter what.
I talked to the McElroys for 15 goddamn minutes and Griffin told my parrot to go fuck itself
Buckle up kiddos, this is a story for the ages
Last night, I went to the Chicago live show, and in short it was one of the best nights of my life. I laughed so hard I choked on my Fancy Theater Sprite™. Cosplayers frolicked amongst people in Shrimp Heaven T Shirts amongst people in their Sunday best.
Towards the end of the show, the boys traditionally asked for questions from the crowd, and immediately over 1000 hands shot up. I was up in the balcony, but I raised my hand anyways for kicks. No waving, no movement. My hand was a beacon, a goddamn lighthouse in the middle of a swarming sea of desperate fans. Travis and I locked eyes. I felt my stomach drop.
“The person in the…purple hoodie?”
“You mean this?” I said as I stood and my crimson cosplay robe fell around my shoulders.
“Yeah!! Come on down!”
In a blur I made my way to the aisle as quickly as possible, people clapping me on the back and whispering “don’t mess up” all the while. My hands were shaking so bad that I couldn’t hold on to the railing as I climbed down three flights of stairs and walked down the aisle to the microphone.
And immediately caused someone to face plant into said microphone out of our combined clumsiness and panic (she was ok but boy shitting howdy do I feel bad). I waited for my turn slowly being consumed by blind terror. Everything I said was going to be forever embedded into podcast history for all of eternity. I Could Not Mess Up.
As they called me forward I mustered up every drop of comedic timing within me, every tactic of improv I could remember. I stepped up to the microphone. “So a little over a year ago, we bought a parrot, and it was, like, a cool pet…”
“yeah, AS OPPOSED TO THOSE SHITTY DOGS, RIGHT?” Griffin interjected. The crowd roared for what felt like years, until it was finally quiet enough for me to continue. Dead silence.
“Boys, now I have 7 parrots. Please help.”
In all my years, I will never forget the look on Griffin Andrew McElroy’s face as the realization hit him. It was like he was hit by a motherfucking monster truck, and the monster truck was being driven by my seven birds of the apocalypse.
For the next 15 minutes I talked to three of the coolest people alive as all four of us ragged on my 7 horrible, horrible birds. Highlights include:
“WHAT MADE YOU THINK, AFTER SIX GODDAMN BIRDS, THAT YOU NEEDED A SEVENTH?”
“YOU HAVE A FUCKING BIRD NAMED PIKACHU?”
“BIRD NUMBER 4 WAS LONELY?”
It was the best night of my entire life and I physically cannot wait until the episode comes out.
I grew up hearing the phrase “you never stick with anything, what’s the point” a lot. I’ve always been attracted towards seemingly disconnected interests, and gone through phases of being really into something. But eventually my interest would fade and I would move onto something else.
Or at least that’s always how it’s been phrased for me, by others. Now I realize that my interest for the old thing didn’t fade so much as my interest for something new outshined it, and that’s vastly different.
I was always made to feel bad about it, with every abandoned endeavour I was told I needed to stop starting things if I wasn’t going to stick with them. I was told I was wasting time and money picking up these random interests and abandoning them after a year.
So eventually, I stopped picking things up. I told myself “what’s the point, I’m going to give up in a year anyway”. Even worse, I started dismissing every new interest, because I had no way of knowing if my interest was “real” enough or just another passing phase. I stopped trying new things, I stopped looking up stuff that piqued my curiosity, and having chronic depression made it really easy to leave everything on the dirty floor of neglected ideas. The more they piled up, the more depressing it was. All these things that could be nice, but I just can’t take care of them.
I realize now how bullshit that kind of thinking is. So what if I stopped doing karate after a year? That’s one more year of karate than most people I know. And in that year I learned discipline, I learned to listen to a teacher, something I had never done before in all my years of private education. I learned the true meaning of respect, that it’s something you do out of faith at first and maintain as it’s reciprocated, not something you do blindly and regardless of how you’re treated.
It gave me the foundation for the determination and grounding I needed to practice yoga. Another year. Not enough to be good at it maybe, but again a year more than most people I know and a year that is not lost, but gained. I learned balance, I learned to listen to my body, I learned how to let go of emotional tightness through physical stretching.
And then iaido, only a few weeks because I couldn’t afford to keep going. The year of yoga I had done a couple years previous had given me a better starting point than the other newcomers to the class. I already had balance, I had strength in my legs and I had better posture. In those months I learned the importance of precision, the true definition of efficacy, the zen state that is incessant repetition.
Did I practice long enough to get good at iaido, and yoga, and karate? No. Of course not. It takes years to become proficient and decades to master any of those things, but I learned other skills and those skills were an invaluable part of my growth both spiritually and emotionally. Likewise for my forays into painting, sewing, graphic design, film. I’m a photography student now heading into my second year of school, and every single second of practice I have in those other disciplines has given me more experience in those areas and made learning easier.
Skills carry over. They intersect and connect in ways that are sometimes unexpected. Nothing is ever lost, experience is never a waste of time or worthless or stupid. Allow your focus to wander, reflect on what you learn, and consider how you can keep using it in other aspects of your life. Stop telling people their interests aren’t worth their time.