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Here are some things that have helped me out over the course of my experiences:

• Never look farther ahead than to the end of the day. Looking too far ahead leads to predictions: "I can't imagine living this hardship for 30 years!" or "I can't imagine dying without experiencing Y or Z." It's hard to explain but this works; with any difficult situation looking ahead just to the end of the day provides reasonable coping strategies and solutions that are likely to be ignored in the despair of taking the long view. Survival is a moment-to-moment life-way; in America especially we are taught in childhood to look far ahead because 'success' in the American meaning of the word takes a lifetime. You have to put your energy *forward* into getting a good education, a good job, and a proper family; this requires years of foresight that are a downright disadvantage to anyone hoping to just stay alive, emotionally or physically.

• Think of yourself as an individual. Everyone says it but nobody knows what it means. Identities, such as 'boylover' or 'homosexual' or 'child' are the antithesis to individuality; they proscribe roles and attributes that simply do not hold. They force people into stereotypes and cause people to ignore individual characteristics that do not fit with the stereotype. Jeffrey Gold on SQR radio has it backwards in his PSA where he says that if you 'come out' as a boylover people will start to ascribe your glowing characteristics to the term; people already have characteristics associated with 'boylover' and they will associate them with YOU however long they've known or loved you. The idea of individuality is hard to embrace; people like their identities and use them to feel pride and to communicate (even our pronouns reflect sexual identities of male and female.) However, in the long run we do more damage on ourselves by entrenching the differences between human beings; we create power conflicts and hold ourselves to standards that are useless.

• Compare yourself to yourself only. If you do this, you will find that you are as good as yourself, as smart as yourself, as strong as yourself. Comparing yourself to others is a meaningless practice; on what basis can such a comparison exist? It's like comparing the number 42 to an apple; people are so different in so many ways that it is impossible to create dichotomies between them without extreme bending of the imagination.

• Know that it comes in time if in time it must come. This statement got me through my junior year. I repeated it to myself endlessly. What it means is: what will happen, will happen. At the end of the day there's not much people can do about it. Time is not an entity that bends to force.

• You can give freedom, never take it. This is how freedom works: if X person wants to wear a pink frilly tuxedo, Y person will either socially discourage the act or accept it. X can make a big stink if Y gives him a hard time about it, but it would make more sense for X to set the example in society by allowing other people their own self-expression. Activism works on an individual scale, and not always in the form of big marches or political statements. It comes in the form of Z asking Y: "why didn't you kick X out of the dance for dressing like that?" and Y saying "because it's not my right to do so" and defending that choice. Another reason I like this statement is because people who give no freedom should ask no freedom; it's hypocrisy.

• Take small steps. This follows with my statement on looking only ahead to the end of the day. If you want to be an activist for a cause, you won't do well rushing out into the street with flags and colors waving. It's a big leap, and it's destined to fail. Better is to start by networking, talking to people through the security of proxies and firewalls and start moving towards a realistic accomplishment of how you want to affect the world.

These are the statements and ideas that have held me together for the last few years. I hope they are meaningful to others.

David's story
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