I wasn’t happy at my new job at a liberal university near Boston. I missed my friends. I felt isolated.

I didn’t know anyone. I wasn’t near my family. Through a series of unfortunate events, I was fired from that job. At the time, I was totally devastated. I had moved from Florida to Massachusetts just for this job and now I had nowhere to go, I had no one in my corner.

It turns out I just had to look a little harder to find the people who cared about me. My family stepped up. My former professor and friend stepped up. My friends from far away stepped up. Maybe I could restart again.

When I was in college, I felt that happiness looked like a successful career, a happy marriage, some kids, a nice big house. I was groomed to think I would get all this and then I would be happy. I wasn’t going to be happy until I had it all. I was in the process of being happy, but I wasn’t there yet. You need to live in a liberal city where you’ll feel safe, you need to make this much money, you need this kind of job, you need this type of romantic relationship, and then finally, you can relax and be happy.

My life has not turned out the way I expected. After I lost that job, I found another one at a different LGBT nonprofit. While I was enjoying the work, I was back to long hours and pay which made it difficult to move forward in life. My personal life was going well, though — my wife and I got married. We bought our first house with monetary assistance from our wedding gifts, and we got our first puppy.

But I wasn’t happy professionally and I didn’t know how to get there. I looked into starting my own LGBT Center, I considered starting my own business as an LGBT consultant, I even thought about leaving all that behind and trying to become a carpenter. I started to think about what I really valued in life. What made me happy? I wanted to be important. I wanted to be someone that people came to for guidance and advice. I wanted to travel the country telling my story. But I also wanted to spend every night with my wife and our new puppy. I wanted to have time to learn new skills so I could fix up our house. I wanted to have lazy Sunday mornings with my wife. Suddenly, becoming important to everyone felt less important than being present with the person who was most important to me.

I felt pressure to find the ideal life. When I finally gave up on pressuring myself to find someone else’s idea of an ideal life, I found my own.

I found a job at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute creating and managing an LGBT health-related curriculum. This was the perfect job for me. I wasn’t going to travel the world and tell my story everywhere. I wasn’t going to be important all over the country. I gave up a little bit on feeling important to everyone. It’s not possible and it was stressful trying.

Instead, I get to work 9-5 five days a week creating LGBT training that is taught all over the country, making a good salary, and coming home to my wife. Now I value slightly different things. I’m relearning things that excited me as a child that I have time to rediscover. I bought a metal detector and I’ve become an archeologist in my own backyard. I’m building a shed with my wife and my parents on the weekend. I’m re-tiling my kitchen backsplash.

The story doesn’t end here. Stay tuned for the final part of this story.

Atticus Ranck (he/him/his pronouns) works in the Education and Training Program of the AIDS Institute for the New York State Department of Health. Atticus identifies as a trans man and he is married to a trans woman. Together, they are raising two puppies and a cat and happily live in rural upstate NY. Previously, he was the Director of Transgender Services at SunServe in Wilton Manors.


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