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  • This picture is of my mom, at 17. Two years before I was born.

    Let me preface this by saying that I am incredibly grateful for all my parents have given up for me. My mom was 19 years old when I started growing inside her. At 19, I didn't know so many things. At 22, I still don't know so many things, but I know one: that I wouldn't keep a child right now. The fact that I even exist bewilders me.

    Then, you throw in the fact that I could read a newspaper before I was five, that the only two grades I've ever gotten besides A's are B's, that I'm about to graduate with two degrees, and that I'm (hopefully) a relatively decent person, and wow-- I know my parents loved me.

    But sometimes, love isn't enough.

    My mom, for as long as I can remember, has acted inferior to my dad. And my dad has always been in charge. Sometimes, this reared its head in an ugly way-- 6-year-old me turning my Crayola radio up and down and then up again, never sure if I wanted to block out my dad's screaming or tune into my mom's crying and make sure everything was okay. Sometimes, it was less menacing: my mom nodding faithfully as my dad explained to me, at twelve, that I was definitely “a little Republican” because so was he, because I was a Gregory.

    My mother is beautiful, kind, loving, deserving. My mother is selfless. My mother is as strong as she needs to be, but my mother is not STRONG in the sense that I want to be, not in the sense that the women I look up to are. What are my mother's convictions? Well, she wants the parents in the neighborhood to show up to their parent teacher conferences. She wants my brothers to stop fighting. She wants to love and be loved, and who doesn't? But she's short on convictions about the way the world should be-- because that has always been my dad's job.

    My dad has rubbed off on me in ways I don't want to admit. I inherited his temper, but not his resilience. I took on the yelling, but didn't take on the obstinance. I am quick to overreact, just like my dad, but unlike him, I'm also quick to back down.

    I am angry, but appropriate. Touchy, but tender. Loud, but lazy. But I am also sick of these things, and sick of falling back on them as excuses. I'm sick of the momentum of inactivity, rolling and rolling faster down the hill, growing larger and larger, keeping me where I belong. I believe some things about the world-- I really do-- and I am ready to act on them.

    1) I believe that happiness is the primary reason for living. We figured out evolution, we figured out nature, but if those are the rules, why else would we fight so hard to follow them, to excel within them, if not to enjoy it?

    2) I believe that in order to be happy, we really have to let go of some sickening social norms.

    3) I believe that convictions are really, really important.

    From this moment on, I am going to live based on my convictions. They will change, of that I am sure. When they do, I will acknowledge it, and live based on those convictions. But I need some goddamn convictions. I deserve some convictions. And after 22 years, I'm claiming these as mine.
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