I invited my friend Riley to author a post for the blog, these are his words.
My name is Riley McGrath. I’m a 20-year-old FTM transgender guy and my heart was left behind in Kingston Massachusetts. I am a lot of things; I’m an artist, musician, writer, twin, I’m queer AF, I’m an advocate and and an educator. I am a “man in progress,” a musical theatre nerd, and a hopeful explorer. I have a lot of love to give but I have a lot of work to do before I can be the man I want to be.
I’m way too wise for 20 years old, but I’m glad that my experiences make me who I am. Do you want to know what makes me so wise? My life. My experiences. My challenges, defeats and triumphs, but also my regrets.
When I think of the word regret, what comes to mind for me is the fact that I wasn’t able to tell my dad that I’m transgender. It was taken away from me. By fear, by time, by social media, and worst of all, by a family member. I lost so much the day he found out, but I realize now that I handled the situation incorrectly. I blamed myself.
I could feel myself go through the stages of grief following this event. It wasn’t easy for me to watch my biggest fear come to life. What’s easy is beating yourself up for your regrets to cope with the event. It’s so easy to get lost in the hurricane of feelings that come with regrets. I’ve been caught up in this cycle of bad habits for a long time now. But at 20 years old, all I want to do is move on from things that have happened to me since I was 13. A change in mindset has recently taught me that moving on is possible.
Gratitude has taught me that there are good things even in the worst of events. That sometimes light shines through the darkest of rooms. That even an event like being outed as transgender to my dad can be looked at in a positive light. Gratitude taught me that I should be grateful for having a family even after coming out. A big part of gratitude is being grateful for what we have, what we don’t have, what has happened, and the things we are privileged to never experience.
I am slowly teaching myself that no matter how hard something is, it is all part of my journey and has made me into the person I am today. As someone who is new to self-love and gratitude, I am slowly learning to retrain my thinking and mindset. Gratitude is teaching me to be kind to myself, that it’s okay to have bad days, to love my journey and its process, and that seeing things in a different light change everything.
It’s not your fault.
You can overcome this.
And most importantly,
You are strong.
Today I’m Grateful For…
- Glasses (because I didn’t know how much I was missing out on seeing)
- Driving over the Sagamore bridge
- The community of people I’ve grown and changed with since I’ve come out
- “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson
- Haircuts (for making me feel manly)
- The trans community on social media (Laverne Cox, Aydian Dowling, Chella man, Chase Ross and too many more to mention)
- Music (for being a life long friend, therapist, outlet, dancing partner and distraction
- Bridgewater State University (for being home no matter how far away I may be
- A lacking use of rulers in my drawings
- Pride month
- Wisdom (for having it, the fact that it exists, and many more reasons than words allow)
- Love (finding it and learning how to love myself)
- My best friends
- Anyone that has ever doubted me
- Bridgewater State University’s psychology research lab
- Sunsets and sunrises
- The lighthouse down the street from my mom’s house
- The fact that its 2018 (cause there’s more tolerance, diversity, love and acceptance, and people that advocate for what’s right)
- My sister (for taking care of me, going on adventures with me, keeping me calm and being a real queen)
- Every challenge and obstacle I’ve had to face
- Experiences and the stories they tell
- My amazing mentors that believe in me no matter what
- The crazy journey of manhood
As always, check out my first blog, 25 Things I’m Grateful For (#1) to know why I’m writing this list and why I want you to start yours.
Featured image of the lighthouse and harbor in Situate, MA from Riley. This was the gateway for him when he moved away from his hometown in Kingston.