Submitted by: Beaudry

This is dedicated to all LGBTQI2SA+ people, past, present, and future. <3

Growing up I was always told “you only live once” – when my mom would say it, she really meant, “take care of yourself and make good choices for yourself and those around you.” When my friends would say it though, what they really meant was, “Let’s get wild, let’s have fun!” Maybe what they all meant was “let’s make the best out of what we are given, let’s make the best out of our time spent here with each other.” Both had good intentions. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about those words and what they mean to me. YOLO maybe true, it’s the sense that we have one birth and one death here on this earth, but everything else is up to us –it’s our decision to make.

“It takes a lot of strength to come to terms with the emotions that exist inside of us.”

When I think of my time here on earth, I realize I experienced many deaths and many rebirths, but I am here – I am still here. YOLOing, every time; chances to grow, to change, to find myself, to lose myself, find others, to discover who I am, and what it is I want out of this life. I was still growing through all that time. Growing, learning, and changing. Through those harsh prairie winters, I still grew. Through all the good and bad times, constantly growing. Always trusting in the process; building the strength for what I needed to do. Growing up though, I was always shy, anxious, in the world of my own. I didn’t have many friends. And for a long time, I thought I was fine with that. Never asking for more, or believing I deserve more. I lived in complacency for a long time. I withstanded the bullying throughout school; being stabbed with pencils, hair lit on fire, being choked out during recess – all because I was different. And I knew I was different too. But for a long time, I never understood why it bothered others so much. Until I realized the power that being “DIFFERENT” holds. It takes a lot of strength to come to terms with the emotions that exist inside of us. If we don’t it can consume us like a violent storm.

“Our strength lives deep in our bloodlines.”

I’ve seen it happen to people I loved deeply. Many loved ones were taken away because of drugs, alcohol, and/or violence. Their absences will forever be felt in my heart. I’m grateful I had the chance to call them my friends and my family. Their absence also fuels a fire in me, a deep need to make them proud. Proud of me, proud of themselves, proud of us. We’ve been through so much, but we are still here. Nothing can ever break our spirits. Our strength lives deep in our bloodlines. People always talk about intergenerational trauma and the hundreds of reasons why we will never succeed, but we should also remember our intergenerational strength and the million reasons why we should succeed.

It took 28 turns around the sun, but I feel closer to who I am supposed to be than ever before. It took a long time to get here… I’m sorry I’m late, but I can’t go back in time. What I can do is help make it easier for others to be true to themselves sooner; by being kind, listening, being generous, and making spaces. All the things I felt I never had growing up; I strive to give to others.

I thank my ancestors whose vision and hard work brought me here today. They make me proud of where I come from and where I am going. I’m trusting the process, I’m trusting myself. I want to thank my friends for helping me get out of my own little world and helping me to believe in myself. Thank you to my family for always being there, especially my mom. Thank you to my guardian angels for always protecting me. Thank you to all the people who I’ve met on this journey who inspire me to be the best version of myself.

I’m trusting the process, I’m trusting myself, I’m giving myself permission to be myself.

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”