Earlier this year I discovered one of those things that people do – you know, like “photo of the day” for Instagram, or what have you. This one was a list of 30 questions to answer about yourself. One of the questions is as follows: List 10 things you would tell your 16-yr-old self if you could. You can find my original answers here. Today I’d like to take a slightly different approach to that question thusly: List 10 things you would tell your 16-yr-old self regarding your experience with same-sex attraction if you could.

  • You’re going to be okay. I know you don’t really have any doubts about that, but I thought it might be nice to just confirm that.
  • You have a lot going on right now. There are hormones in your body, and cute high school boys around every turn, and you live in a small town—which is not especially helpful for something like this—and the internet is just kind of happening, you’re going through growing pains with friendships—just a lot of stuff. I am almost double your age and about the only thing that’s gotten easier is the crazy hormones. There will always be cute guys—and some of them will think you’re cute too—the internet isn’t going anywhere, and in fact it’s gonna become more widespread and easier to access, friends (not all of them) will continue to let you down. I don’t tell you this to scare or discourage you. I tell you to prepare you. Knowledge is power. Use it.
  • You’re an introvert. You won’t really come to grips with that until you’re about 29, but it’s true. Knowing that, and knowing what it means, and being able to communicate that effectively to people, will alleviate a lot of the anxiety that’s coming up.
  • I know it’s super scary, but having a good friend you can talk to about all of this stuff you’re feeling can be immensely helpful. Don’t be afraid to hit Joe up. No, not that Joe it might freak him out right now, the older Joe. Yeah.
  • Don’t get too down on yourself about mistakes you make. That’s called shame. And it’s not good. You are a bright young man with a pretty awesome future ahead of you. People like you, and for good reason. Just recognize that you did something maybe a little stupid, but that you are not a bad person. Pick yourself up and move forward.
  • I know the little brother can be annoying. I think it’s the station of little brothers in general. BUT, I would strongly recommend getting to know him and being his friend—and a good friend. You two can help each other out a lot coming up.
  • Get into meditation.
  • Keep a journal of your feelings and experiences. Everything. No one’s going to read it but you, and you should read it occasionally so don’t hold anything back.
  • Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of information available to you right now. That won’t happen for another 5-10 years. A lot of things you already know innately—which is great. Just keep on keepin’ on and remember that you are loved, you are important, and there is nothing wrong with you. :)
  • When the question of a mission becomes relevant, think long and hard about it. Don’t worry about what other people will think of you—including, and maybe especially your family—pray about it, think about it, take some serious time to consider it. You don’t know you/me as well as I know you/me and an alternative to a traditional mission may be a better option for you. Preaching the gospel doesn’t mean 2 years of a white shirt and tie for everyone. It can look different than that—and that’s okay.

I’m interested to know what you’d tell your 16-yr-old self.

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    Tell myself when I was 16? Here goes…

    1. It is what you think it is. It’s OK to admit it.
    2. Trust in the answers you got to your prayers. Just because it is what you think it is doesn’t mean it has to turn out like you think it has to. You have lots of choices.
    3. Don’t listen to negative people.
    4. Remember how you told Heavenly Father you’d go back to church. Don’t waste any time.
    5. Remember how much you felt like you wanted to be a Dad? Well, don’t give up on that.
    6. Be ready for opposition from all directions, even people at church. You’ll need a stand-on-its-own testimony.
    7. Have a sense of humor. It can really get you through the times when you are feeling down. There’s plenty of Funny to be found.
    8. If you marry, marry for the right reasons.
    9. Don’t beat yourself up because you notice good-looking guys. Just remember that they are sons of God too.
    10. Don’t let “gay” be the first word you use to describe yourself.