Hi guys! I know that I usually write about books, and that is still going to be the focal point of this blog, but sometimes I feel the need to express myself. Right now, this is one of those times. And since I recently became an atheist (up until that point I was an agnostic), I feel that I need to explain why. Not because I feel like I have to defend myself or anything, because I feel completely comfortable with my decision, but because I hope it will help you to understand me more.
What you need to know about me is that I was raised in a family where religion wasn’t particularly important, at least to the point where it wasn’t a part of our everyday lives. Neither was politics. And I think most people are this way. We went to church on holidays and voted in elections, but we were never fanatics about anything. My parents were very influential in my life and I appreciate the way they raised me because I was pretty normal for the most part. I use to think my teenage years were pretty messed up, but I’ve realized now that I was raised as an only child and things are a little bit different for only children. Especially girls. I didn’t have any friends that were only children.
The point I am making with this is that it took a long time for me to realize that I needed to think for myself and form my own opinions. I was a conservative republican for a few years before I realized how ridiculous I was being. I was against gay marriage and totally wanted affirmative action to end and I voted for Bush when he was up for re-election(I know), and for the longest time I was so so stupid. Ignorant really. And I have no one to blame for this but myself. I could blame my parents, but that wouldn’t be right, because I am my own person, always have been, and they were more liberal than I was. My dad belongs to the UAW for christ’s sake. I really don’t know where it came from!
I guess I just didn’t care to think for myself and was content to go through life in a cloud completely clueless. It wasn’t until I moved to Florida, then back to Michigan, when I realized how difficult life really was, started dealing with my mental illness, and realized that in order to be happy, I had to be happy with who I was and what I believed in. I started opening my mind and listening to what people had to say.
I could credit Dan for guiding me to atheism, but the truth is, he has been an agnostic for pretty much his whole adult life. Maybe he gave me the idea of what that was like, but it took me to think and form my own opinions. And since then, I have gone even further than him, and he is still an agnostic, while I am a full-blooded atheist and completely happy as well. The difference between me and Dan is this: I am way less tolerant of religion than he is. I live in the deep south now, and I see so much ignorance on an almost daily basis. I know this sounds ridiculously judgmental and I try not to be, but it is so hard living here. I have never experienced anything like this in my life, mostly growing up in Michigan, and it was not like this at all there. There is so much blatant racism and homophobia here. There is also a lot of close-mindedness. And when I moved here and started seeing that, it made me take a long hard look at myself and I realized that I didn’t want to be like that. I needed to change my life.
I went through a deep depression around this time too. For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I felt like I finally knew who I was as a person, but still very deeply unhappy. I didn’t know what to do. I lost my grandfather in 2007 and it was the first person that I lost that I was truly close to. I felt like my heart was breaking open and that I would never be me again. I cried daily..hourly even. My family healed and moved on, and I was so disappointed in them because I was still miserable. He meant everything to me. I had finally found myself but at the same time I lost myself. I was a mess. From 2008-2010 it was like a period of instability. I didn’t know which way was up or down. I went to the doctor and got help for my depression and anxiety. It took awhile but I started feeling better. I’m not gonna lie though. I was still pretty miserable.
Now is when we hit Nov/Dec of 2010. I am living in South Carolina. I’m still pretty unhappy, but I’m happy as an agnostic, have a good idea who I am as a person, living with my best friend and I have a dog who changed my life in all the best ways. Yes…a dog. Don’t judge me. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Then I get the worst news I could possibly ever get. My best friend dies. My grandmother, pretty much my reason for living has passed away. I was sad for about a day. Then I stop. I sit and think. My grandmother would not want me to cry. I was wanted back in Michigan for the funeral. I learned from the first time. I will always remember my grandfather in a coffin. And the fact that this caused a large part of my depression. I don’t want to remember my grandmother the same way. I want to remember her vivacious and full of life. So I don’t go. This turns out to be the best decision I could ever make. Because I have the best memories of her now.
I start thinking even more. I’ve always been a firm believer and an advocate for science. I have always believed in evolution. Then I read the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. It helps me confirm what I’ve always been thinking. I have worked with people who are extreme evangelists. And I just..I don’t know any other way to say it, but I just open my mind and realize I can be free if I just stop being influenced. Thinking for yourself is such a relief. It’s a lot of mental reflection, realizing that maybe you want to believe in what everyone else believes in, but you just can’t, because it just doesn’t make ANY sense. And I’m not trying to alienate people or be a bitch, but I just cannot believe in that load of bullshit. It’s all about what makes sense to you personally. The stories in the bible just make my mouth drop open in disbelief. Noah’s ark, Moses, God creating Earth, really? You believe that a man in the sky created the land that you walk on, the food that you eat, and the water that you drink? I just can’t do it. It’s all about logic for me. I cannot possibly believe that anything other than the Big Bang Theory, Evolution, and amazing science created the world that we live in.
I’m not one of those atheists that can argue the viewpoints of Darwin, Hitchens, Sagan, and Dawkins and know everything they say and can debate it with any Christian with complete confidence. That’s not what I do. And that’s not me. I totally respect those people, and some of them are my friends, but I’m not smart enough, nor am I interested enough to be one of them. All I know is what works for me personally. And for the first time, I feel truly happy and satisfied in what I believe in.
This is not about arguing with any other religion and proving myself right and them wrong. This isn’t why I wrote this. I’m cool if you believe in God, or Buddha, or Allah, or whatever it is. And I try my hardest not to judge. This is about what works for me. And my comfort. And my sanity. And I finally feel like I know myself. For many years I’ve been searching…and I finally feel like I found myself. My religion or lack thereof is part of it, but also just realizing who I am and what makes me tick emotionally, has made me finally feel comfortable in my own skin. Everyone needs to feel comfortable in their own skin. Everyone has the right to be happy. Being an atheist makes me happy. So does being an intellectual. So does questioning life and the world around me. I’m still working on my confidence. But I’ll get there. No doubt about it. Because for the first time in my life I feel like I can do anything I want to.