This year has been an interesting one. It hasn’t been short on life-changing moments, both positive and negative. I started off the year engaged and, in a few days, I’ll be married. The year has been mostly filled with travel for work and wedding details but it has also been a reflective year for me.
Life events, I’ve realized, can really change the way you think about things. Getting married has forced me to start thinking in “2s” about most things. The political climate in this country has forced me to think about what it personally means to be an activist. Chester Bennington’s death on July 20th has forced me to face my own past mental health issues and the way they impact my future. Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico has forced me to think about my extended family more.
So, all in all, it has been quite the year. All of these thoughts were running through my head on Yom Kippur recently. I thought a lot about how the past year has gone and how I am going to improve the future. I thought about the people I’ve wronged and the mistakes I’ve made. I also thought about all of the good things that have happened.
I thought about how all of the people in my life, including my family, friends (including new ones), and coworkers, have been right by my side through all of this; congratulating me on the good things and supporting me during the tougher moments. Some of that crucial support came at work. When you spend at least 40 hours a week somewhere, amazing coworkers can really make a difference.
Appian has made a huge difference in my life. This year, I was able to bridge my GLSEN knowledge and my Appian knowledge through Appian Pride. It’s been amazing to see so many of my colleagues engaged with the group, to the point where some of them volunteered at GLSEN events this year. The meetings we’ve had have been highlights for me this year and I’ve made new connections around a topic that I thought was reserved for my “activist” nights and weekends. Just recently, a coworker came up to my desk and told me they found my ADL video and talked to me for a while about my bullying experiences.
Seeing donations, of both time and money, from Appian employees to NOVA Pride Prom this year brought tears to my eyes. My “work-work” was coming together with my GLSEN work and I couldn’t be happier. It all came together again this past weekend at the 2017 NOVA Pride Festival. I was there with my fellow GLSEN NoVA Co-Chair, my fiancée, and the Chair of FCPS Pride. Spending the day talking to LGBTQ+ youth and supportive educators is rewarding enough, but having Appian there made it even more meaningful.
I can’t tell you how many people I proudly told that my company was a sponsor of the festival. After spending a day fasting and deeply reflecting on the past year, the festival was the perfect way to carry the good into this new year. I was beaming all day yesterday. I couldn’t get the thought of how wonderful this period of my life is out of my mind. I know there is a lot of bad happening right now but there is so much good also.
I’m looking forward. I’m excited to keep things going with Appian, Appian Pride, GLSEN NoVA, the ADL, and my soon-to-be wife. This truly was an up-and-down year but I couldn’t be happier with the people I am surrounded by and the opportunities that I’ve had. Activism has made such a huge difference in my life and I’m seeing it all come together.
This year is going to be amazing!