What used to be one of my biggest fears is the discovery that I’m organically not what I hope I am. When I’d think of myself, I’d wonder if who I think I am is really antithetical to who I was created to be; that there’s a possibility I’m spending all my energy doing the wrong things. One day it came to me that my fear was actually rooted in what I thought people thought of me. What would my family and friends think if I ever expressed what I was really felt or was thinking? What would happen to my support system if I was ever authentically “Tuan?” In fact, what did being authentic mean for me at any point in time?
Being worried about the thoughts and opinions of others was the root of my spiritual paralysis. To break the stagnation, I had to do some hard work. I had to find what relationships, food, sex and alcohol couldn’t give me… knowledge of me. I needed to confront the pain relationships, food, sex and alcohol pacified. I had to start thinking about myself. I had to challenge and explore what I thought of me. After thirteen years in ministry, I had to break open my spirit and calculate what I had, who I was, where I was going, and what all that meant. It all started with my thoughts of me.
“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” opened my eyes to a great deal of things. It taught me that it really doesn’t matter what other people think of me. The important thing is what I think of myself. And whatever I thought of myself, IS who I am. So when I thought of myself as unloveable, unattractive or not good enough, I wasn’t. That thought pattern lead to me being depressed and self-destructive. Not only was I self-destructive, I was subconsciously destroying everything and everyone around me. I couldn’t see good in me, so I couldn’t see it in others. I was hypercritical, judgmental, catty and downright mean.
Eventually I had to ask myself, “Tuan, what are you thinking?” The only thing I thought was good about me was based on the opinions and thoughts of others, so in reality I wasn’t thinking.
To get a good view of who I am, I had to break down every wall that I thought was protecting me. I had to become open. I had to crack open all the things I had bottled up and look at them; deal with each and every issue, positive or negative. Only when I became open was I able to see my own potential. While I had a closed mind and spirit, I wasn’t able to get a true calculation of all the things that make me who I am; my talents, my insights, my background, my dreams, and so much more. I couldn’t even see the infinite possibilities. Confronting all my crazy helped me see not just what I have, but helped me realize what I want. I now understand what I want isn’t impossible. What I want for my life is what I deserve.
So, what are you thinking? What are WE thinking? Are we really seeing the big picture about who we are individually and collectively? Are we passionate enough, courageous enough to brea open that which keeps us isolated, take inventory and open ourselves up to what is possible? At this very moment, you are… we are the precise expression of what we think.
Tuan N’Gai is an activist and co-founder of Operation: REBIRTH. He is the author and publisher of “Will I Go To Heaven? The Black Gay Spiritual Dilemma” and “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.” He is also a contributor to the New York Times Best Seller “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.” Tuan currently lives in Chicago, Illinois