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Personal Growth or Stagnation: Art in Progress
by Vicky Nabors
2006-01-01

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2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005—2006! For some reason, I keep thinking back to the fear and euphoria of Y2K. It seems like yesterday, but five years of my life and your life have actually come and gone. That's enough time to have earned a high-school or college degree. Enough time for a baby ( like my granddaughter born 1/9/2000 ) to grow into a very tall kindergartener; a baby no more. Five years seems like a short time, but it's long enough for significant changes to occur in our lives; especially personal growth. Have you grown, or are you in the same place you were five years ago: self/beliefs, career, family, relationships?

Some measure growth externally, by: material purchases ( house, car, name-brand items ) , and/or by career status. I look inside of myself to measure personal growth: my level of thinking, understanding and accountability ( i.e. today's maturity versus yesterday's immaturity ) . Some examples: Five years ago, I believed the idea of 'forever' in intimate relationships was a joke; today, I know that it's possible. Five years ago, I hated being called 'stud' ( I hate labels ) ; today, I understand that the term is used by others to help them better relate to my butch mystique—that's cool.

Five years ago, I thought all bisexuals and gay male sexual behaviors were disgusting; today, I respect the reality that we define ourselves according to our reality ( our truth ) . Who am I to judge? Five years ago, a date was an opportunity for a potential booty-call, ( being honest ) ; today, a date means enjoying an evening with another person for socialization, entertainment, and/or getting-to-know you purposes. Five years ago, I didn't believe in gay marriage because lesbians didn't seem to take it seriously; today, my companion of two years has changed my perspective. Five years ago, I thought my body was invincible and often mistreated it by: overloading it with junk, too much salt, ignoring my asthma, boozing it up, and not getting enough exercise and sleep; today, I respect my body because several friends and acquaintances have died from lack of respecting theirs.

Five years ago, I thought the American society owed me something, especially since I struggled to earn two degrees; today, I know that nobody owes me anything. I have to go out and compete for everything I get—or go without. Five years ago, I wished I'd never given birth to my daughter and son ( they were horrible and evil ) ; today, I'm proud of the job I've done alone ( they're wonderful adults, soon to be college grads ) . Five years ago, I secretly wished I were: straight ( being a butch lesbian was difficult and often hurt ) , thinner ( tired of being big-Vic ) , and darker in complexion ( not Black enough for many, stung ) ; today, I celebrate all that makes me uniquely me. Five years ago, even though I'd always excelled, I hated being called smart ( it's difficult to fit in ) ; today, I accept my profound analytical and logic-oriented reality and understand that—it's just me, and that's a good thang.

Now pose this question to yourself, 'Five year ago I thought ... and today I ... ' to see if you can identify 10 areas of internal personal growth. The answer should be a wake-up call for many. We're much more than liberated lesbians and gays—we're actually art in progress. Why not work on your self-portrait this year; incomplete art projects are simply incomplete—but a finished product is a masterpiece. Happy New Year!

vickynabors@hotmail.com


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