There are certain moments in everyone's life that I like to call "check marks." These are those milestone moments and accomplishments, big achievements or birthdays that have a generous impact on our lives and how we learn and go forward. Thinking back on my different check marks in life, from my first day of kindergarten to my last class in college, I have tracked one big change in my life -- and that is change. I am proud to be a constantly evolving product, still not ready to be sold but in the development stage. It's sometimes hard to be 22 years old and remind yourself that you have so much more life ahead of you. I can't wait for what's ahead, especially to think about the amazing things I have already accomplished. It all goes to show that change is always a good thing when the timing is just right.
I was born in January 1991, right on the cusp of Capricorn and Aquarius (and I honestly don't really know what that means). I like to consider myself a pop-culture baby because of the many coincidences that correspond with people of my age in different pop culture mediums. For example -- I am the same age as Tommy Pickles and the rest of the Rugrats, High School Musical came out my freshman year of high school and yes, the last film, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released in the fall of my senior year in New York City. Oh, and that Taylor Swift song "22," about you know, being 22, came out the same year I turned 22. Because of these and many other little things, I've always been a strong believer in fate. As I've gotten older, I've grown further away from religion so its nice to have some little thing to still believe in. Keeping faith in fate has taught me a lot about time and knowing when it is the right time to do certain things, especially the big things in life that you sometimes want to avoid. I've had three of these struggles in my recent past and I'm happy to say that I finally figured out when the time was right for each to change.
The first problem was my weight. As a sophomore in college, I was 260 pounds and pretending to be happy. I was a somewhat successful theatre major at Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, an environment that felt familiar to my home in suburban New York. I was in a fraternity, started drinking alcohol and smoking weed for the first time ever and my natural habitats and genes got the best of me. When I came home for my spring break before I went on a service trip to Argentina, I looked in the mirror of the airplane bathroom and just felt sad for the person I saw. I knew I had to do something to change that feeling. I was lucky enough to have the resources and young enough to make a commitment to improve my health and appearance, without a job to worry about and parents to support my goal. I started with a nutritionist to get an overall basic knowledge of good and bad. I went to the gym almost every day for at least an hour and after a couple of weeks, the numbers began to drop. When I saw that the commitment to an overall lifestyle change and not just a temporary diet was working, I knew I had to completely change for good. I am happy to say that I now weigh 185 pounds, losing every inch in an organized and healthy way. I've done Pilates and personal training and just began training for my first half marathon! Every day is a struggle to maintain, but the improvements I made in my appearance and health helped me with the next most important change I needed to make in my life.
I've always known I was gay every since I knew what that word meant. Why I didn't come out for 20-plus years? I'll never really know. Coming out is a really confusing thing. It's the one thing I think straight people just can't really understand because they never have to do anything like that in their lives. Hopefully one day I won't either. My best friend, Jon, said he told my other good friend Devon at the beginning of our junior year of college that after my drastic weight loss and new look, I would have the confidence to come out by the end of the year. Well, he was right. The first people I came out to were actually my parents (rare for this type of thing) in an email (maybe even more rare). I never thought they would disapprove of me in any way, but it's a reaction you can truly never be prepared for. Not surprisingly, my entire family and friends have been nothing but supportive and kind to me about my sexuality, something I know not everyone gets in the world, or even this country. I'm lucky to be from and live in two states that recognize same-sex marriage, but 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, we are still fighting a civil rights issue in our country today. As a history minor in college, my focus was on 1960s America. I studied the civil rights era from all angles and I still can't believe that things that like are still happening today and it's happening to me. It's simply stupid and dumb, but I believe that there are smart people in power like President Obama and the Pope who will make the necessary changes needed now for equality, because the time is right.
The most recent change is my life is probably the most exciting and scary at the same time. After a childhood in New York and college in Chicago, I moved out west to California, living my Hollywood dreams, West Hollywood to be exact. What's next is still up in the air, but I knew the time was right for a big change in my life. Every next check mark I pass from now own will take me one step closer to my final goal. I have no idea how many long that will take but I think I'm putting myself on the right track. And I'm confident I'll be able to figure out the appropriate time to make any more changes and check back again in a couple of years and well, take it from there.
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