Today was supposed to be my graduation from BYU, but of course that's not happening. I was feeling pretty depressed about that this morning, together with Jan being gone and Lucy breaking up with me, so I did what I usually do when I'm feeling down: I went for a jog. I suppose that's one benefit of all those years of ex-mutant therapy I went through--I've developed some good coping strategies for when life feels overwhelming.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, just a little bit of wind to keep things cool, and Provo was full of happy people either graduating or taking off for summer vacation. I had a hard time getting going at first. Each step felt like I was lifting a ton, which is no surprise with all the emotional baggage I was carrying. I had to force myself to lift my foot off the ground each time. As minutes passed and I pushed myself forward, my steps grew lighter. It became easier and easier to push off the ground. My stride grew longer and longer. Eventually, I realized I wasn't even touching the ground anymore. My first impulse was to force myself back down, but I smiled as it dawned on me that I no longer have any reason to hold back. I waved goodbye to the sidewalk, looked up at the beautiful blue sky, and flew toward it.
Five months ago, it took all the courage I had to admit that I'm a mutant. Since then, I've been gathering up the courage to actually be a mutant. To be me. At first I insisted on calling myself Mormon X because the Mormon part of me was more important than the X, the mutant. Over time, I realized the Mormon part was obscuring who I really am, and gradually the X became more important. Perhaps, for a time, I was X-Mormon. That very quickly became ex-Mormon. But you know what? I don't really want to be defined by "Mormon" anymore. And honestly, "X" doesn't cover it either. I used to be Mormon, and that will probably always be part of who I am. I am a mutant, and that's also part of who I am. But that's not all of it. I'm Ben. I'm a guy who, among other things, can fly. I'm a college student and a writer. I'm a son, a brother, an ex-boyfriend, someone's future boyfriend, someone's future husband, someone's future father. There are facets of who I am that I haven't even begun to imagine.
As I've started this process of self-discovery, it's been helpful to sort it all out here on this blog. It's been great to meet others like me and see the different paths they've taken, to get a glimpse at the infinite number of possibilities available to me. But I'm at a point now where, for a while at least, I need to do this on my own. Maybe I'll blog again someday, but this will be the last post of Mormon X. That chapter of my life is over, and it's time for me to move on to something else.
As I soared through the air this morning, the song that I couldn't get out of my head was Pharrell Williams's "Happy." An odd choice, I know, for someone whose ex-girlfriend died, who got expelled from college, and whose girlfriend then dumped him, all within two weeks, but the truth is it's impossible to be up there, weightless and miles above any cares in the world, and not feel happy. After years of forcing myself to keep my feet on the ground, the thrill of finally cutting loose and enjoying the gift I was born with made me laugh with joy.
This, I thought as I sped through the air, the cold wind rushing by and the hot sun on my back, this is who I am.