^especially that one
^especially that one
I sometime wonder if as humans we are meant to continually, break, fall apart, and rise back up, having grown in ways we dot always understand.
In this my 24th year I commit to…
giving it my all.
developing my daily meditation practice.
being committed to myself 100% of the time, regardless of what that 100% means.
earning my MPH with pride and success.
being loved + giving love.
opening myself up
growth. spirit. love. change. amaze.
This post isn’t meant to be a scorecard.
In fact, its just the opposite: an honoring of the past 365 days of growth, hardship, triumph, fear, and joy.
24 began full of promise. Hopkins, Baltimore, newness.
I moved, the power went out, classes started, everything changed. Having anything remotely close to a regular schedule just didn’t happen, not with 8 week terms during which time you spent 2 weeks basically living at school doing for mid-terms and finals. As I write this I realize that part of the reason this year challenged me so was this very lack of a steady schedule. Everytime I started to feel comfortable, everything changed.
Tangent: Thank the Universe that’s almost over. As much as I am terrified for what’s next, I am looking forward to life settling down a bit. Which, of course, is ironic since I despise the word settle and all it connotes.
24 ended up being just as difficult as 23 but in a completely different manner. My injuries weren’t physical this year, although my symptoms certainly manifested themselves that way. Instead, I dealt with an uprising of my Gremlins who had been silenced for so long. <–Think of yourself on Easter when you can have that thing you’ve been denying yourself. I did so much self-work during my 23rd year that I started 24 feeling grounded and sure and on top of the world.
As I look ahead to 25, I can’t say quite the same. I can’t say I’m totally ungrounded as the last few weeks have seen me coming back into myself and living with so much more self-awareness than I have in a long time. But there are so many questions and my road to recovery is still in its early stages and I’m dealing with the guilt over hiding my truth for so much of this year. More often than not, I didn’t let myself feel…good, bad, or indifferent. Instead I isolated and ignored and numbed.
What, then, is my overarching theme for 25? Hope + trust.
Both are emotions I’ve started to feel again after months of experiencing the exact opposite. As graduation comes closer, the bank account balance declines, and the question marks stack up, I’ll need these two emotional heroes to buoy me and guide me through.
Selfishly, I can’t help but hope that this year will be a bit easier physically. But I’m excited as it brings with it the newness of a graduate degree, a new career, and a new way of defining myself as a professional. I’ve no clue what’s next but I’ve got the love and support of people near and far and the confidence that I will make it through.
Last week I began to integrate all parts of me, even the one I’m not proud of or excited about. I felt the puzzle pieces falling into place. I felt myself opening up and accepting even my demons. Because my shadows and my light make me who I am. And the harder I try to keep out the parts I don’t want, the more they want to stick. The more I tell myself that “this illness isn’t who I am,” the more it controls my life. The more I try to couch what I do in PC terms, the more fake I sound. Yet the more I say, “yes this sickness is part of who I am” or “I’m a health educator who focuses on sexual health and I’m looking for jobs in education, communication, and program planning” the lighter + freer+ less symptomatic I feel and the more opportunities come my way.
The past ten days have been transformative.
In many ways, I’ve come full circle, right back to sobbing to Defying Gravity while letting emotions fill me up, topple over, bring me down, and lift me up again.
I found me again. I hadn’t even realized I had lost myself until kerplunk, kerpleuy…I’m sitting in a hot bed of emotion realizing all I let slide, disappear, disintegrate over the past year. Seeing how “corporate” I’ve become in an attempt to convince myself that I did belong.
The week before Easter I found myself holed up in the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health participating in the most intense training I’ve done in a while. A training that is indescribable, but I’ll do my best.
Imagine the most intense therapy session (or heart-to-heart for those who’ve never sat on ‘the couch’) you’ve ever had. Now multiply that by eight hours. And do it three days in a row.
That was the Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR). Three days of being gently and lovingly pushed to feel into our bodies, to confront our own biases and demons, and to question and push everything we thought we knew about sex and sexuality. On one hand it was three days of hell. There wasn’t anything pretty about it. There were tears and fear and rage and confusion and disgust. There was also truth and light and freedom and arousal and community. On the other hand those three days reminded me of who am I, of the community I’m a part of, and of the values I hold most dear.
I returned to Baltimore on a high. At times, I was inappropriate (three days of absolutely NO filter is hard to come down from). But 100% of the time I was me.
I am valuable. I am enough.
For those who’ve been following along, you know this year has been a tough one. And the SAR opened my eyes to the fact that I shoved so much of my me-ness under the covers. Because I wasn’t at the right place for sex ed. Because I was told repeatedly that my interests weren’t public health issues. Because classmates shot me dirty or annoyed looks when I said something typically Kait-like or spoke too loudly or made too big of an entrance. Because Hopkins never ceases to remind you that you are among the best of the best…and how are you going to prove it? (Answer…publish and go abroad and put your name on shit)
So I dimmed my light, my Kait-ness. I questioned saying and doing and writing things that 12 months ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to do. Some would call this growth or maturation. (The PC part of me wants to write…’in some ways it was growth’) But if that’s what it is, then I want none of it. I want to have safe spaces to talk about anything and everything, from the controversial to the kind of gross to the plain sexy. I want to say the word vulva. loudly. on TV. (Side note: even the ‘Cunt’ skit from Vagina Monologues was cut ridiculously short…) And you know what, I want to make an entrance dammit!
Because that is me. I’m full of life and spirit and energy and passion and sometimes I burn the candle at both ends. But I shine brightly, and often Jon a way that differs greatly from the “typical” Hopkins student. I have no publications and quite frankly could give a rat’s ass about research (beyond reading it to inform my work and interests). I have practically no interest in working in developing countries and I don’t want to focus only on marginalized populations in the US. I want to be on the ground DOING public health…the one being analyzed and monitored and evaluated. I want to work with people, not numbers (ever).
Even now I’m terrified to hit publish. I’m worried others will think this is a judgment of them when in reality it is an expression of my lived experience over the last year. And I’m worried too that judgment will rain down on me for not being Hopkins-y enough…for not fitting the mold and for not being compassionate enough or worldly enough.
But I’m going to…because these past ten days have reminded me that I have nothing to prove and nothing to be ashamed of. In the span of a year, I have managed to grow from a girl who likes to talk about sex and sell sex toys and kind of knows her direction in life into a full-fledged sex educator who gets paid consulting gigs, has a weekly column, and is listed among sex ed
idols superstars like Megan Andelloux, Tristan Taormino, and Erika Lust. I’ve gained the respect of others. More importantly, in the past few weeks I’ve started to feel proud of myself for the first time in far too long.
This is who I am. Proud sex geek and sex educator and yes, sex toy lady. I am me and I can’t be anyone else. And I’m meant to shine brightly and that’s what I intend to do for the rest of the year and beyond. Because I”m happiest being myself…and looking back, my best times at Hopkins have been when I wasn’t questioning or doubting. I was just being 100% unapologetically, me.
So hello again world. My name is Kait. I like to write, learn, and talk about sex and vulvas and penises and orgasm. I’m pretty damn good at doing so too. So good in fact, that I’m building a career out of doing it! I have a thriving Passion Parties business and I teach Zumba for my body and my soul. Expect me to be late for things but be proud when I’m not. Know that you’ll always have great food when you’re with me because I rock at picking out restaurants and I’m a great cook too. I’m also the perfect size for most hugs since more likely than not you’ll be able to rest your chin right on my head. In other words I’m 100% unique, I defy gravity, and, you know what, I kind of rock.