One of my favorite things to do is change into the short bathing suit that I bought at an h&m in Kansas City because I wanted to look more gay, hop into the hot tub in the apartment I’m living at and turn on the bubbles. I then hold my nose and go beneath the surface of the water and just sit there. There’s something calming about seeing nothing, hearing only the hum of the jets and knowing that nothing can touch you. I haven’t done it since I was a little kid, because I always had this fear when I was younger that if I closed my eyes underwater then, when I opened them, I would all of a sudden be in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks. Clearly as I grew up I knew that this was impossible but, ever superstitious, I refused to do it. Finally, one day in the hot tub, I decided to face my fears. By the way, this autocorrected to “face my Sears,” which I enjoy because I find the thought of conquering a department store frequented by the Brady bunch hilarious. Anyway, getting back to the hot tub, I pinched my nose, closed my eyes, and hovered under the water. The fear of sharks quickly arrived, and I almost surfaced, but, suddenly, the fear abated as quickly as it came. There I was, an adult sitting underwater, afraid of nothing save the intimate touch of a man. I began to feel a sense of excitement, not because of the lack of oxygen, but because of something else. It was a sense of adventure; of possibility. It was the idea that the things I’d feared in the past weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be, and that, like a chubby girl with rage issues at a whack a mole machine, I could knock out all of the things I was afraid of, one after the other, until the only thing left to face was myself. What had I been so afraid of? It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I have always been an anxious person, ever since I was a little kid. I was always living in constant fear of getting in trouble, of something bad happening, of what lay ahead. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to just relax and not worry about anything. Yet, here I was, doing something that used to cause me intense anxiety and feeling completely serene doing it. It seems silly, but to me, it was the beginning of the idea that things could change, that I could change. And with that, maybe I could be happy.

-Theodore Dandy

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