Last year, I submitted one of my creative nonfiction pieces to a publication contest for young LGBTQIA+ writers. I did not have high hopes for winning
just as I do not have high hopes that the men in my life will text me back. But I heard from one of the editors that they selected my piece – one of seven they chose out of almost 400 – and now it has arrived. As Patrick from SpongeBob would say, look at it (and check it out on Amazon here):
The piece centers on my eating disorder from my early adolescence. Without giving too much away, I will say it delves into the intersection of mental health, sexuality, and race. It only takes up a few pages, which I appreciate, because that leaves room for many other young LGBTQIA voices. Because I turn 21 in a week, the piece triggers an interesting set of emotions for me. It feels both odd and fitting that the events in the piece took place in the range of seven to nine years ago.
Some days, I wish I could go back and tell my early adolescent self the classic line from the fabulous campaign for LGBT youth: it gets better. Awful stuff went down in my past, and I dealt with it in unhealthful ways. I do not blame myself. How, as a kid, could I have known about mindfulness, about how to report abuse, about other more self-compassionate coping strategies? We teach quadratic equations and world history in schools, not lessons about emotional well-being and recognizing red flags. If only thirteen-year-old me could have seen myself now: confident in my compassion, humble and aware of my privilege, and flying and driving around the country for conferences and workshops.
I hope my words – and the courageous, vulnerable words of others in this collection – can reach those who need it. If you’re lucky, life is long, and better days do await. Just look at me. Eight years ago I spent every day worrying about what to eat. Now, I spend my days writing, researching, and facing life’s challenges with an open heart and a full stomach. Now, I can drink wine in a week, and I could not feel more content.
I hope you all are doing well. Thank you again so much for the support over the years and for honoring my voice when I needed it most. Expect another post next week. Also, if you are interested, I published a news report on Asian American mental health as well. See you all again soon!