I was born in an era where you didn’t go to therapy, didn’t discuss mental illnesses, didn’t struggle openly with sexuality and didn’t challenge much anything at all. Men were men and women were women, they didn’t discuss roles, it was an understood tradition. Women could be harassed because men were simply men. People just kept to themselves, went to school, went to church, worked, got married, had kids and eventually died. All the problems, and issues were buried. It was an era full of toxic fumes.

I grew up in an era that crested a lot of messed up people, I grew up with divorce in most of my friends lives, single parent homes and growing dysfunction. I saw my schools push “troubled kids” like myself through like livestock, saw friends imprisoned for minimal offenses, and saw an increase in drugs and violence. I grew up in an era where being different was getting beat up, harassed and called names. Men were still just men and women, though making strides, were just women. It was an era of absolute disillusionment.

I now live in an era where the old is fearful of invisible enemies and their own mortality. The youth are fearful of guns and of the old using their fear against them. Meanwhile it’s an era of growing pains. People, including men, are getting mental health care, despite the stigmas. People are freely being themselves, possibility for the first time in decades. Women are not quite equal but gaining ground with men in the workplace. Roles are changing, outdated traditions are fading back and new ones are being birthed. It’s a turbulent time but one of hope despite adversity. I see kids like me, living openly as who they are, being weird and being okay. Bullies and assholes still exist but the collective youth culture is changing as it was slowly doing with mine, it’s just evolving. Painfully we are finding out who we are.

I hope someday I’ll write about being old in a culture of diversity and beauty. I hope we continue to evolve.