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Friday, September 24, 2021

Column: Well, that’s just fabulous!

No matter how eventful, amazing, fun or gluttonous your winter breaks may have been, I know how much you all were looking forward to today. Yes, today is the day all you precious readers couldn’t wait to get on campus, grab The Aggie and open it up to page two, where my column and cute little mug shot await you.

But much to your delight, I’m sure, I will not be bragging about how great my break was. In fact, it was the exact opposite thanks to my lifeless hometown, family members who didn’t have a clue about what to give me for Christmas, lack of sex and the stomach flu.

Aww, shit – now my inner optimist is making me feel guilty. All right, I guess not all of it was bad. On the bright side, my lackluster vacation did allow for plenty of “me time” to reflect and lose myself in thought.

Being back in my hometown – in my old house, walking by my old high school and catching up with old friends – made me realize how much I’ve changed from the emo kid I used to be in high school. (Yes, you read correctly. I dabbled in the art of being emo. But that was so 2005.)

In a town where meathead jocks, pregnant 15-year-olds and legit “Yo foo’, I’ma kill you” gangsters are the norm in high school, kids like me get eaten for breakfast. Ever since third grade, the question of my sexuality had been the school’s hottest gossip. Kids I didn’t even know would come up to me and be like, “oh, you’re the gay kid.” I got pretty tough skin from all the taunting, but I did cry a few times on the way home when it got really bad.

If you’re wondering, no – I wasn’t even out. I guess kids can just sense a homo in their midst. But like I said, growing up and having to face all the negative only did positive things for me in the long run.

So there I was, sitting on the new couches my parents had just purchased (getting light-headed from the strong smell of new vinyl) and thinking about how far I’ve come. I came out to my parents after my freshman year here at Davis. I was lucky at finding a few guys but unlucky when they turned out to be douche bags. I kept and made great friends who accept and love me. I became a brother of Delta Lambda Phi. I got very lucky once I met my boyfriend Arthur.

I kept thinking. Why was it so hard for me to simply accept who I was back in high school? Would life have been easier if I had learned to love myself unconditionally, without caring about what others felt? Why did I let fear keep me from being who I really am? And if I had embraced myself at a younger age, would I have dressed as amazingly as I do now?

To be completely honest, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with myself. With a high school immersed in homophobia, a strictly religious family and very little self-confidence, I conditioned myself to believe I was subpar. Looking in the mirror was never a pleasant experience. Plenty of times, I wished the word “gay” didn’t exist.

Then I stumbled on a word: relationship. Isn’t that what I spend every Monday rambling about, trying to convince you readers that I know a thing or two about? How did I go from the kid who had a crumbling relationship with himself to the advice-giving relationship assister in the paper?

So I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that are fresh and foreign and open you up to different experiences. There are those that are old and familiar, keep you sane and aware that you always have a shoulder to cry on. There are those that drive you crazy, give you butterflies, make you want to dance in the rain or write a love song.

But the most important, difficult, fulfilling, remarkable, tedious and worthwhile relationship you’ll ever have is the one you have with yourself. Sure, I usually write about how important it is for you and your partner to have a perfectly functional relationship (and a great sex life), but I’ve never really stressed how important you are to yourself – and that’s a damn shame.

So this column is all about self-love. Love yourself for who you are. Embrace your flaws, admire the reflection in the mirror and don’t let anyone taint the beautiful masterpiece you are.

I’m sure back in high school, a lot of us wanted nothing more than to be the popular kid, to be well liked, to fit in. Now that we’re older, all we should be striving to do is slap our old high-school selves and tell them, “It’s okay to be different; that’s what makes you beautiful.”

So, my beautiful readers, today is the day you have been looking forward to. Today is the day that you fall in love with yourself all over again. Reflect on what makes you you and own it. Only once you fall in love with yourself will you be able to fully fall in love with another person. And, to quote God herself (aka Carrie Bradshaw), “if you find someone who loves the you, you love – well … that’s just fabulous!”

MARIO LUGO smiled at his reflection in the mirror this morning. If you did as well, e-mail him at mlugo@ucdavis.edu.

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