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I Won't Give Up
The thing that's defined me more than anything else, more than anyone else, has definitely been myself. At the end of my hardest days, and at the tops of my highest mountains, there is but one standing. I've not felt comfortable talking to anyone in so long that giving my preferences feels like opening up, and so I've learned to find my solitude in myself, deeper in the caverns of my mindspace, free of judgement, and free to think. The shyest person you'll never meet (there's a limit to how few people you can meet, and hence a limit to measuring shyness this way), I've grown independent of society, social interactions and of letting anyone know too many things about me... or really anything that I can possibly keep a secret for that matter. Sharing my shit has very rarely left me feeling better, so I just don't anymore. I've lived my life with two shoulders to cry on, two to lean on, and two to pick me back up when my world stops on its axis. This isn't pride you hear in my voice. This is the voice of my biggest weaknesses, found in the darkest of places; the only light bright enough to see me through the night. This is the voice of those weaknesses, strengthened by my continual and sole reliance in them to keep me above water.

I was always content playing by myself, and though my shyness didn't really hit me till later, I still never managed to have more than a single friend at a time. When I hit teenagehood my shyness was maxed more than ever before and I found it very hard to speak openly and uncensored to anyone. Walking up and introducing myself to a stranger still seems like the most terrifying thing, though I've yet to confirm. You probably can assume I haven't had many friends, which would be the correct assumption, and the number seems to average smaller every year.
Homeschooled and Bible fed, my parents hermatized me under a "shelter" of "protection." Believing I was made by God, I never believed he would make me too shy to enjoy making new friends, so I pushed myself to try and be someone I wasn't, and every time, I reliably failed, and every time it crushed my self esteem more than the last. Why was everybody else better than me? Why didn't everyone regret the words they said to the point of not wanting to say anymore? Why couldn't I have a conversation without thinking about the face I was making, where I was looking, or what I could possibly say next, to the extent of being very uncomfortable, anxious, and entirely unable to enjoy the conversation? These questions ran through my head as I laid on the floor staring at the light and tears filled and spilled from my eyes to my ears. I just wanted someone who would be there and whom I could be there for... why was this so hard to find? When the tears dried to salt and I was left contemplating my existence, suicide came to mind often, with the promise of peace. I justified it by the fact that we have no choice in being born, so surely I should be able to determine my own death if life turned out to be less than fitting for me.
There were plenty of moments with a barrel in my mouth or a knife to my skin, but the thought of my grieving family was always enough to get me back up, fake a smile and survive till tomorrow. Even though these brushes with death could have killed me, I learned something very important. That when you have the choice to die and nothing matters anymore, the choice to live differently, the way you want, is a much easier choice to make. When nothing but your next breath is required, you're free to become the person you want to be because everyday after is an extra day you've chosen to live on your own terms. For me, those terms were happiness. If I wasn't happy I was doing something wrong, and so I had many experiences reevaluating my life and removing anything I didn't like just so I could convince myself to continue.

My entire teenage years were full of suicidal thoughts, but it wasn't until I was 17 that I was closest to going all the way. The religion my parents shoved down my throat, and the God I'd come to know and trust, turned out to be figments of my imagination, and it all hit at once. The only thing that had prevented me finishing it before, my family's suffering, I had removed as a deterrent (as much as it possibly can be), by planning an accident shaped suicide. I could finally rest peacefully and not deal with this godforsaken world! The time drew near, the stars came out, and I sat and pondered my insignificance and how, no matter what I would do, I would never affect those stars or the galaxies beyond, and my life didn't matter at all in those terms... the only way it could matter is to the inhabitants of my planet. I mentally drew up a new lifestyle to see how it'd look, and the only two things that mattered for a regret free life I realized at this point, were: find a way to love as many moments of your life as you can, and make as many moments of as many individuals lives as good as you're capable. That was something I could live with, even if the God whom I was devoted had created a world doomed to wrought less than anything near happiness, for less then anywhere near everyone. There was no one there for me in this critical moment, yet I managed to find something to live for by myself.
Deism, and a hate for whichever god had created this mess, was constantly on my mind for the next six months, and my cuss free life before that point was now entirely compensated for enough to put me in the F-bomb Hall of Flame (aka god's designer torture chamber, Hell). The anger felt good for a while, but eventually things almost started straightening out with god... whoever he was.
At this point I was nearly 18 and already graduated high school. I have always loved learning so once my curriculum stopped, I found a replacement. Audiobooks filled my Zune (don't say it!), and as a commercial painter I had +8 hours a day to suck knowledge from whichever book I wanted. Now my parents weren't there to censor the science I heard, so I was free to hear the musings of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. I tried to also balance this with Christian authors (because I was intent in NOT becoming an atheist), but there's not very many with actual science in them, so I ran out pretty quickly.
By the time I turned 18, I was tired of defending why god made the universe appear so old if he just created it mere thousands of years ago. The universe looks old in every respect it can look old, and I found this deceitful act of creation unacceptable as it quite foreseeably damned the most curious among us (made that way) to Hell. Even though he was all powerful, I could tell his plan was less than thought out or he just didn't care about the majority of his creations... either way, the thread of my faith finally broke and I anticipated god's wrath!.... nothing. I didn't even fall, instead the kaleidoscope of religion was removed from my eyes and it became easy to put the complex pieces together and see the underlying simplicity which now I could see clearly didn't contain god. The universe worked just like everything else, cause and effect, not magic and presto, and my sanity and outlook on life increased 10 fold that day.

There were none before, and there will be no changes in perspective after, that will change my destiny in anywhere near the positive way that atheism did. This life is all I've got, and my fate wasn't set into stone by a design, so if I want to do something or be someone, I have to get it on my own. Nothing has gotten me off my ass so effectively, and my knowledge bank and list of new experiences have lengthened so quickly, I'm excited for what I'll learn next. I've been an atheist for 2 years now, and I've accepted my shyness as a part of me, not a weakness. I haven't considered suicide in so long, I'm starting to feel like a stable adult. And I've accepted that I may never find someone I'm comfortable being around... and the hopeless romantic in this not compatible body, might only find his way out through the imagination of a 12 year old which I've refused to let fade... and I can live with that.
I might never find the words to speak or somebody to be there for when I do, but I hope my writing encourages someone feeling alone... you can make it all by yourself, but know you don't have to. I would love to write to you if you want a nonjudgmental person to talk to (I'm entirely not shy when I write if you haven't noticed), because I've been where you are too many times, with nobody I could trust, and nobody should have to hold it all in alone. You always have my support for whoever you want to be, even if only in thought.
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