More than a list of flaws

this too shall pass

"Fag" he mumbled as we were passing by, simply holding hands while leaving the subway. I wasn't sure I heard it well, so I let it pass. But he mumbled a second time between his teeth and his drunkness, suddenly deciding he had the right to gratuitously insult someone he didn't know, from whom he knew nothing about, just for who I was.

Bottled inside me I felt a surge of angriness. Suddenly I was flooded by those years trying to cope with who I was, trying to erase the part of me that were "too queer" for this world, trying to "behave correctly", to not provoke any shame to my family or friends just for existing and daring to love someone.

I wanted to bolt, jump on his face, redraw his features armed with a key, let for once this anger flood and make him pay for all those years trying to comply with the rules of a society for which I would always be "too much", for which I was apparently supposed not only to hide who I am, but not too dare to even let the slightest flash of color be seen from their prying eyes.

I did my best to contain the anger and to not got back to the drunk idiot. But I felt it boil inside of me, this anger that festered for years, this anger that is disregarded because we're apparently the ones at fault for just trying to exist. As I closed the door, I wished with all my heart for this one guy to have a miserable life and jump in front of a car, letting the rage take control of my heart, unable this time to turn the other cheek, at least in my mind.

Sometimes I feel like a loose strings of memories, a chain of yesterdays. Some of them are so vivid in my mind that I'm able to almost relive them while closing my eyes. Am I even living in the moment right now, or am I just reliving another memory, so vividly that it's not different from what the reality would be?

It's so strange how some memories are able to keep their touch, their smell, their vividness accross the years, making them feel as it was yesterday. It must also be why the concept of aging seem so weird, when some memories from fifteen years ago feel like they just passed before your eyes.

It must also be why I maintain some friendships with years of gaps and when we meet it feels like yesterday. Because, for some part of me, it indeed was yesterday, and those parts travelled with me along the years, waiting for the next time they would experience a new "today".

It came as a sudden realization. There's no epiphany moment, no moment when you can say : I'm older now. It comes suddenly in the form of conversations where you feel a small sense of disconnection with the others. Bit by bit you realize that everything you use to connect with others feel suddenly weird around younger people.

The thought it me while coming back from a friend house. I realized this thing I was expecting, this moment of realization would never come. In fact, I would probably always stuck in my head at the age of 25 year old, just without the same energy and while the world around would be passing by.

I would probably never feel like an adult, but that's ok. Perhaps there's something rich in staying this age when the world around you change and revolve. It wasn't a bad feeling, just a sudden idea that made its way into my mind, one of these thoughts that change your perception on life and its many roads.

Every time I go back to the countryside, I can't help but feel a disconnection with the people I meet. I wonder what makes a majority of gay people like me to escape the countryside quickly while others stay in its gravitational pull. Is it the search for a cure against loneliness? The promise of meeting people like us in the big cities? Is it to be able to live somewhere where we don't feel like we're the only weird one?

Spending time in the countryside always remind me of my singularity. There's a world between me and those live they built. So quickly they reproduce schematics, and I can't help but feel like I'm late, or that I don't have any of their codes when they can't stop talking about houses, cars, children, ...

I feel we don't understand each other, they never get why I had to "run away to the big city", they don't understand how left out I could have felt and how this escape was the only way to not feel lonely in this paradise they built for themselves. And on my side I can't understand how you can stay in one place for all your life and find solace there.

I realized lately that I was more and more comfortable with my age. It came with a surprise regarding how teaching 30 years old hit me. But lately I started to feel a kind of calm, as things get slowly in place. Bit by bit parts of my life reach a level where they bring me a lot of joy, and with age I started to realize the bits I had to let go because of the negativity they brought. Each new day is a step where I accept more and more things about myself and acknowledge my limitations and what I can work on.

The passion is still there, but gone are the worst parts of it that were capable of bringing me down to my knees. Perhaps the days are less colorful, but the colors don't hurt anymore, and that's something.

I stopped caring about those who didn't bring me anything and found solace in some beautiful human beings that I love more and more each day. Of course I long for some things of the past years, but when I look at the big picture, I feel that this calm is perhaps what I've been waiting for for a long time.

We don't forget the pain, we grow around it. With time, we are allowed to ease it, as it's size relative to our beings shrinks more and more.

Still the pain subsists, even as a back echo somewhere in our mind, and too often we spend time and energy trying to force it into oblivion.

But we should focus on growing more, let it be a small black trace in the back of our selves, just a minimal shadowy place we learned to live with.

And if we allow it, with time, this hole that look so big today will be only a figment tomorrow.

Lately have been amused about how conversations happen in the digital space. We don't start or end conversations most of the time, they feel like a continuous flow that just goes on its way, never stopping, ever going on.

We don't say goodbye, we just don't ask any more question to keep it going on, until the next time where it opens again.

I've lost the count of those open conversations, in the end do they even deserve this name when they're just an assemblage of fragments, small answers separated by days, weeks and even months. Like our lives, our exchanges begin to fragment, leaving only small rivers of words.

I encountered my share of homophobic agressions. Walking down a street looking a bit too "colorful" or "effeminate" while I was a teenager, attracting the usual pack of predators lurking for anything different to what they were taught to respect. Words, sharp pain, contusions, those happened along the path of life. The usual wait at the police station, waiting to be able to open a complaint under the judging eye of a police man not really disproving the event that happened.

All those were part of the hurdles along the way. But one thing still haunts me to this day. I vividly remember this boy while I was in boarding school. We were both 16 years old, going through our lives, but to this day, his look still haunt me. There was a pure hate in them when looking at me that still frighten me to this day, something quite animal, raw, violent that I never quite understood. Every time he looked at me, those eyes were piercing blade forbidding me to come closer, warning me to never, ever get alone in a room with him.

In those eyes was the promise to condemn me for a crime he deemed me guilty. I never understood this look, and I was lucky enough not to encounter it anymore. But still, 17 years later, those piercing grey eyes filled with hate still haunt a part of my memory, wondering what I had done to deserve them...

Every day I wake up with a small flame burning inside be, a little speck of light that I try so hard to keep alive during the day. This little flame is the only thing I have to fight my inner darkness and I fought so hard through years just for it to be there, among this endless void that fills my mind.

Sometimes the flame weakens, be it a word that I misinterpret, a smile not reciprocated, a joy facing no answer. In those moments, I feel a cold growing inside me and this little flame goes pale as the shadows around it grow again.

I envy those with a fiery pit, those who wake up every morning to a roaring fire, able to tackle the day without a doubt, immune to any outside affliction, knowing well their strength. Those whose flame is so bright that the darkness inside them has to hide in a corner, behind a closed door which only opens in the saddest time.

And still I love this little flame, as for years I had to travel those darkness without it, wondering if it will ever end, or even if my errands had a goal in the end. And every day, at every waking moment, I do my best to keep it alive, to laugh, to smile and to try my best to bright those other little flames I see around me.

I've grown accustomed to my prying inner eye. With every mistep, every failed relation, every loss, I sensed it scrutinizing my ever move, replaying the past over and over again, trying to find all the things I did wrong, all those words I should have said, all this worth I should have had. Because to my inner eye, the only truth was that I was never enough.

For every guy that left me, the sole reason was that I wasn't sufficient. That I must have had an inner flaw, an ugliness inside or something so deeply wrong with me that I was left behind every time. But years after years, bit by bit, I learned to live with this sadistic judge. I've learned to find worth where I could. I've found pieces of me I could value, that were worth it to me.

The road travelled is vast, but there's still so much ahead. So much to learn still to be able to silence those small voices inside my head that keep telling me over and over again how ugly, useless and worthless I am and that everyone will leave me in the end. This voice that I believed to be impartial is my worst enemy. And this enemy is inside.

My mind often dwells in the past, too often even. But as years go by, I've wondered how much exactly I am clinging to the past. Long lost love that I can't forget, memories of friends replaying on repeat, wondering what I could have done better, bad memories trying to warp my mind showing how wrong I was.

And I'm wondering how much exactly I grab to this past because allowing me to forget would be letting go the last piece I have of some relationship. Those poisonous memories, those bad moments haunting my brain are too often the only last bit of relationships long forgotten. Even if my heart aches dwelling back in those, it provokes a kind of masochistic feeling as suffering through those memories is the only way for me to find back those loved ones.

And still I wish I could forget and let go, but more and more I discover how much a part of me is deeply rooted in those memories and refuse obstinately to let go, yelling at each attempt, hiding in a dark corner to only come back when it can haunt me. And I wonder, will I ever free myself from the past? Or do we have to endure this game of hide and seek forever?

Years after years I find myself facing the same question: do people really change or were the changes we notice over time always there at the beginning? Do those changes accentuate over time until they become this full personality we sometimes discover after years?

Friendships evolve over time, through hurddles, hardships but also fundamental changes. Still I wonder if those changes that provoke such a rift in friendship were noticeable already at the beginning? Could we have know? And if we had, was something doable to alleviate those changes and find a path were they didn't provoke so much repressed exhaustion sometimes?

And turning to my inner eyes, how much have I changed over years myself? Physical changes are easy to discern, mental and character ones are harder to get. My patience went thin, things I let pass years before are now a reason to go cold and bored. Getting over a burn out, years of depression and the loss of loved ones took its toll and bit by bit I know I'm not the same I was yesterday. And I wonder: do my changes bother some of my friends too? Am I still the person they gave their friendship or are we playing a masquerade game, forcing ourselves because years have passed?

Sometimes i'm afraid to face those changes, to admit we've changed over the years because that's what we do. I feel having those discussions is harder than it should be. I guess we do change over time but we don't want to admit it. So we let things stay their course, wherever it leads.

I find it fascinating how some people reclaim their right to be stupid and uneducated. They refuse every chance to learn but attack the teachers, they fight for their right to be ignorant while also reclaiming the right to be considered as equals on subjects they refuse with all their might to even slightly understand. Ignorance has become a right on its own, education for them looks like a danger.

The teachers and experts are the enemy, as those reclaim the right to ignore almost everything about the world around them while claiming nevertheless to know it all. Everything should be simplified to reach the grasps of their bare culture, but none of it should ever go against any beliefs they might hold or else you risk to provoke their blind anger.

Humans can be fascinating, but the toll it takes on society frightens me as those in powers learn more and more how to wield this mass of angriness and stupidity for their own interests, unable to foresee the risks on our common future.

I often read thoughts about how my field of work (UX) should be locked behind certifications, agreements, mountains of papers and hypes of official stamps. Then I look back through the path I walked and wonder what we are so afraid of. My UX education was a path I had to build. The studies I could find were years behind the actual state of the field, but they were also the only one available.

For 3 years, I worked, studying things that would reveal to be mostly useless to the path I found myself in later. I remember late nights trying to find some time to build my own education, reading psychological textbooks, building my first websites, learning to bend the computer to my will. I remember falling asleep on books on complex systems, trying to find my way through an uncertain future.

I remember also an innocent conversation, when a friend was leaving the country, with one of his friend that taught me about the UX field. Suddenly I discovered something at the intersection of my interests, unique and beautiful. Something that captivated my mind for years and still do.

Our field is bright and beautiful, what make us riches is the multiple path we crossed to arrive where we are now. The field is diverse, wide and open, there's no UX designer like another and it's why I love it so much. Instead of trying to build walls and gates, pretending to care about our field while all we really fear behind is to become irrelevant, we should embrace our diversity and welcome all those UX babies arms wide open.

The youngest crops that are slowly coming into the field have better teachings than we ever had. Still I see too much people of my generation trying to maintain them out of our fields, pretending that they didn't learn enough. Stop building gates, pave the way, build welcoming arches.

I was raised by four witches. The first one, my mother, taught me about compassion, love and always helping others. She showed me the light there was in kindness and to always be there for the one I love.

The second one, my godmother, showed me the wisdom and refuge I could find in books. Growing up feeling weird and lonely, it's in the books I found my first real friends, people who got me, thought the same as I. It's through those pages that I started dreaming about space, wonderful fantasy kingdoms, robots and so many things. It's a love that never left me and is always there.

The third one showed me that you shouldn't feel forced to endure a family, but that there was also always a safe haven in ours. When I was feeling left out among my peers, I could always cross a garden and find solace around her table.

The last one taught me to dream. Through her stories of travels on the moon and witches country, she taught me that if I really wanted something, I could clap my heels three times, pick a broom and fly away. While it never worked in real world, it worked well enough in my mind. She taught me to build my magical country inside my own head and fly away there when things got bad.

Through all their four teachings, I grew up to be who I am today. Through their love, their fantasy and their dreams, I found love, passion and an ever growing wonder about life and its mysteries. They didn't shoulder me from pain, and god know we went through many hurdles, but they provided solace, safe haven and an unconditional love through the years. For those four marvelous women, I'm forever thankful and in debt.

You would have been 33 years old. But you left life as you lived it, quietly, discreetly, without too much of a noise.

From you I'll remember your laugh, the way you smiled. I'll remember the times we laughed and played, spending long evenings speaking about the world, about my heart errands, trying to force the keep around yours. I'll remember also those bad movies and, among them, those rare jewels that kept us laughing years after years.

I wish I had been more present, I wish I had find a way to make you talk more about yourself and your troubles, but I'm glad for the times we had. You left me golden memories of beautiful times, you shouldered me when the weight of my heart was crushing me. Thanks to you I survived life hardest moments and struggles.

You taught me to live, to see life as a unique adventure, filled with mysteries. With you I knew that even in the darkest moments you would be there. The path ahead will be hard without your beautiful soul, and I'll miss you at every single step. Rest In Peace my crazy friend.

They never told us how fast time suddenly speeds up and start slipping away. The older I get the faster years start to pass by, in a blink I went from 30 years old to 33 while still thinking I’m some months past 27. It’s frightening to see how much time has already passed by and how fast it goes.

I’m still struggling with issues built during my early twenties, and suddenly new ones related to the thirties are already coming. Still doesn’t feel like an adult either, and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever really feel like one or if, as usually, I’ll manage and do my best to pretend to have the faintest idea about what I’m doing. I’m relieved to not have become a serious suit player, a boring corporate guy with boredom paint all over my face, there’s still so much I want to discover. I fear I won’t have time to do all the things I want to do, read all those books, experience this and that, and it frightens me a bit.

It’s funny how this wheel turns and how we switch sides so quickly. Looking back I thought my days as a student were still close, but suddenly I’m judging the work of younger students, looking at there faces and thinking: oh my, was I so young? How much have I changed over the years… a bittersweet but interesting feeling as I reel all those years into my mind.

When I was a kid and we were playing, there was often this boy, trapped in the body of a man with white hair. I can still picture his face, his hat and colorful banana bag, but alas his name was lost in time.

Never daring to come too close to us, this children trapped in his adult body had the kind of kindness you can only find in those with simple minds. He was simply looking for comrades to play with, kids who wouldn’t shunt him because of how he looked, kids who could see the child in his old eyes.

I remember seeing him often, always smiling, keeping an eye on us and trying to express himself how he could, often with words we couldn’t grasp.

Sadly one day he stopped coming. We never saw the banana bag and his colorful smile. Older people, who forgot they were kids, feared this boy they only saw as a man, and forbade him to come close to their children.

Sometimes I saw him through the windows of our car, walking alone, dressed in all colors. I often wonder what became of him, but nobody could tell me. Still I never forgot this simple boy trapped in his older body.

I hate being taken in picture. Every time I see myself in one, my mind starts racing and yelling at me, and I’m back in school, shunned in a back corner, rejected and lonely.

I often wish I could go back I time where I wasn’t so self aware, when how I looked didn’t matter as much as which game we could play. Where people who loved me could take a memory of a great moment without it sending me in a depression spiral.

For years now, pictures are a cruel tool for my mind to find all the things I should fix in my body. I should get thinner, I should have fuller hair, I should have dark eyebrow, my hair should be darker, … Every picture is a tool used by an inquisition tribunal residing rent free in my mind.

Often I look at myself in the mirror, searching for this guy I see on the photographs, but I can’t seem to conciliate those two images of me. The guy I see in the mirror has some problem, but looks cute, still a bit boyish with messy hair and nice eyes. This guy in the mirror, I can’t hate him.

So I end up with the only solution my twisted mind always find: the mirror is lying.

I never got that feeling of belonging to a place, to feel that I fit there. It’s one of the main reason I still haven’t nor want to buy a place of my own and I feel happy with renting. It allows me the liberty to change places if I want, to move and change my life if necessary.

This absence of « belongingness » might be one of the reason I sometimes wish to express myself in English rather than any other language. This search of connection, this sense of reaching out into the unknown.

Has I never experienced this feeling of belonging, I also never had any pride toward my nationality or felt any obligation to my country. My country is the place I was born in and where my family resides, but my sense of attachment ends there (except for *Belgian fries).

I’m wandering, searching this place where I could perhaps one day say « this is home, this is where I belong ». In the meantime, I experience, discover and connect with places and people and I’m happy with that.

I often wonder about the roads not taken, wishing I had done this or that, studied those, dared to do this thing, … I know we could always rebuild the world using if’s, but my mind is often travelling through those paths I didn’t travelled and what my life could have looked like.

I’m happy regarding the state of my life right now, but sometimes I wonder if things could have been made easier if I had taken certain choices, or dare to say: listened a bit more to my elders or fought a bit more. It’s sad to think how many times we ignore the warning of those older than us, only to find, some years later, how right they were.

I realized also how many times I postponed a decision I had to take because of fear of the unknown, especially regarding my professional life where I stayed way too long in toxic places.

We are a vessel of possibilities, the result of the choices we took and that shaped us. Still we go through our lives wondering how much more we could have been, how different our lives might have been. We decide our trajectories but keep in our memories the paths that could have been, contemplating multiple pasts, blind to the futures ahead of us.

Lately I’m feeling like I’m grasping for air seeing the events piling up more and more. While I’m always trying to distance myself from too much access to the news, the last events (and the last two years) have been quite overwhelming.

I usually escape through jokes, but behind those there’s a bleakness I can’t always face. And through the cracks I can’t hide the sadness and fear I feel regarding the state of the world. Be it the climate changes, the general stupidity level, the extremists growing more and more all over the world and taking whole countries over, sometimes jokes and music are not enough to cope.

Might be August and the fact that a lot of friends are away too, as often things are not isolated and coming together. Still the weight of it all makes it hard to breathe and often I’m feeling powerless, willing to do something but clueless about how or what I can really do. Sometimes I wanna scream, shout or explode in tears, the emotions become too much to handle and I can only act goofy, waiting for a solution.

Writing helps me to cope with everything. It clears the air a bit and empty my mind. I wonder for how long.

Thoughts are always crawling in my mind, swirling around endlessly to the point of obsession. Over the years I tried a lot to keep them away. Bad thoughts, cyclic thoughts, anxious thoughts. It’s like something in my mind keeps on twisting the world before my eyes, painting things in shades of dark.

It‘ll reveal itself every time I cross a road, showing me pictures of getting hit by a car, or when I take a plane, showing us crashing down, or while in a car burning, crashing, on and on on repeat. It’s not that I’m not frightened anymore of those things, it’s that I see them happening in my mind all the time and I learned to let them be.

Other times it’ll be a thought, a feeling, a bad moment or a memory that will play on repeat between my neurones, making me unable to live in the moment, as my mind is reliving different times. Focusing is the hardest thing, as I never found a way to switch off those speakers blasting in my mind all the time. So I learned to live in noise, hoping to get some silence when I fall asleep exhausted and the thoughts finally let me close my eyes.

Living with the enemy as they said, my mind has always been behind its lines.

Growing up catholic was growing up persuaded to be sinful. I remember searching for days, scanning all my actions for some sins I would need to declare to the priest while preparing my profession of faith, reinforcing my feeling there was something deeply wrong with me.

I detached myself from religion, but the shame stayed on. This feeling of being sinful, of something deeply wrong with me took its root into my heart and distilled its poison over the years. It’s always there, lurking in some corner when I’m feeling alone, always there when someone leaves, whispering that those priests were right, there was something wrong and sinful with me, and no one would love me like this.

I remember talking a lot with priests, thinking they would understand and help, but each talk took me a bit deeper. Searching for their god’s light, I darkened my own.

The feeling slowly fade away, the memories stayed. Looking back, I just hope no more children will grow up thinking there’s something sinful with who they are or what they do.

Because no 10 years old could ever be sinful.

My first loves were secret. Taking multiple forms, crying when I had to say goodbye to a friend, playing games where we had to hide close to each other, our skins barely touching. Experimental for them, wondering what it was to touch another body, kiss someone, then forget while something was aching inside my heart.

First loves couldn’t be defined by words yet, but I knew I had to keep those feelings secret. It was also trying to fake things, picturing what life would be with a girlfriend, a wife, while my eyes kept glancing at boys. It was forming bonds with close friends they suddenly broke, calling our games, our nicknames, our sacred times, childish and foolish.

First loves were solitude, this feeling of loneliness, searching for words to exist in this world, anything that could explain those things I felt inside of me but couldn’t define. While my friends were feeling butterflies, mine were moths eating my light away, leaving me in a dark pit, wondering if I would one day be loved by those who always went away for normality.

First loves left unhealed wounds, lessons I’d rather not have learn, and a thick skin around my heart I had to learn to open again.

Like many of us, I woke up with the IPCC/GIEC report, showing the span of our impact on the planet and what will happen in the following years. More and more I’m relieved to not have any children nor desire for when I see what’s coming for the following years.

I’m feeling we can only enjoy the great things we have at the moment while working toward change, but our societies will have to dramatically change in the coming years. It’s already too late to change what’s ahead of us for my old years, I can hardly picture the struggle for the next generation.

What saddens me even more is that I know we won’t be able to move before the worst things happens. As of now, our every movements toward fighting climate change are either met with passiveness on one side or mindless activism on the other side. We’re acting as if nothing will ever change while closing down the solutions that could help us the more to reduce our emissions.

I can’t say anymore that I don’t know what’s coming, it has become perfectly clear. What I don’t know is how we can avoid those problem that plague us currently to face the inevitable. And it frightens me.

The main memories I still have from my first years of school are from my mother crying because I « could have done better », every single time she got out of the teacher’s office.

Looking back I realized that my scores were some of the highest in the classroom but the teachers didn’t like that I finished every test « too quickly ». For years I saw myself as careless, bad and dumb while I scored more than 90%. But the only things I heard from teacher until I was 16 years old was that I was « too quick and careless ».

I remember facing my tests and reading them 6 times before giving them back, 20 minutes from the following student. Searching for mistakes I couldn’t find. And only to be brought back to those mistakes while I had almost perfect scores.

This mentality led me the avoid any scientific studies, run away from mathematics and, more, from anything academic. Looking back I have so much anger regarding the potential I had, wasted just because some people didn’t like that I went through their tests too fast for their own taste. Because of this I closed so many doors to myself and I still have to cope with the scars of their words and actions.