This letter is part of our inaugural editorial series, “Letter to Myself,” in which we asked 40 remarkable queer people to write a note to their younger selves.
Hang on…it’s going to be a bumpy ride…but, ultimately worth it. Life works in mysterious and often irrational ways. And good ones, too.
Okay, first, on the whole gay thing. I know the world around you is saying “same-sex attraction” is a mental disorder. Or religions say it’s a sin and you’re broken. They’re wrong. It isn’t. It’s just the way you were born and there truly is nothing wrong with it—at all. It’s a natural and human part of your being. So one lesson is to really look carefully at your life and try to figure out what feels right versus what feels wrong. And if you feel it is right, try and figure out a way to articulate it to others and convince them. On the gay thing, just hold on and the American Psychiatric Association will catch up and do the right thing. So will many religions and more still to come. I promise.
Stop thinking about suicide. It’s easy for me to say now, but really. Taking your life is not the answer. Living is.
In the meantime, this incredible mental anguish you feel will serve you well as you grow up. It’s going to force you to survive when you think your world is falling apart around you. This will happen many times in your life—in business or in your personal friendships or loves. You’ll learn how to get centered and think clearly through all the muck. You’ll form a strategy and with intense determination, you’ll implement it. Many times more successfully than your failures. And you will fail. Just learn from them. In fact, in your office you’ll have a sign that will read, One never knows success until one knows failure.
It’s going to make you a more compassionate person to others who are suffering indignities in their lives. You’ll be a voice against the systemic racism that will continue to exist in American and world societies. You’ll be a voice for women’s rights. And you’ll be a bigger voice for LGBT rights and lives. You will use your life experiences to understand the oppression and turn it to good. For you see, there will always be insecure people with low self-esteem who are trying to marginalize others so they feel bigger about themselves. They are the wrong ones. You can be a part of a great education process. And here is something really fabulous you will learn: Your patience and compassion toward the oppressors will change some of them and then they will actually feel better about themselves. They will be happier and more caring human beings.
Keep being interested in history as it will play an important role in your successes as you get older. You’ll recognize that you have to look backwards to learn, and you’ll even write that for all to see. You’ll be more sensitive to not making the same mistake twice. It might make you too cautious sometimes, but it will also give you the confidence to take chances. When others say they don’t wish they could do things differently now knowing what they know you’ll say, “Heck no, I would do this or that differently because I now know better!” Even in business, you’ll use history to train your mind to look at the data of the past to make good decisions moving forward.
Here’s the other HUGE thing. You’re depressed because you think you will never get married, that you’ll never be able to have a relationship with another person that is intimate or of deep companionship. Wrong! You’ll be able to live your life for many years with an incredible guy named Bob Williams. He’ll truly become your best friend, partner in life, and business partner. You will experience having someone in your life you can trust 110%. And though you will both decide to move your personal lives in different directions, you will continue to have a bond that is never-ending. And when you least expect it, in your fifth decade, a guy named Tim will parachute into your life. He will be so considerate and such an old soul, so smart and funny with such an endearing smile, and so incredibly handsome that you will know your entire life is complete. And guess what? You will be able to legally get married! He’ll even take your last name.
Mitchell Gold is the co-founder of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Read more letters here.