If you were to approach me and ask me what my spiritual belief was, I'd smile and answer, "Agnostic." To some that is not an acceptable answer, but to most they would agree. Being Agnostic means you don't know if there is a God or an afterlife, and that you can't know until you die. That's exactly what I believe, that when I die, I'll see for myself what happens. In the meantime, I'm going to live my life how I want to, and live it to the fullest. However, that wasn't always the case. I used to consider myself a Christian, and like most Christians, if you didn't believe what I did, I was offended and you were wrong. However, the journey there wasn't easy, and I didn't simply wake up one day thinking, "Hey, I don't know if there is a God or not. Okay then!" It took years and plenty of life experiences to figure out what I truly believe, and now I say with almost a pride that I won't know until I die. It may not be your belief, and that's okay too, but this is how Agnosticism changed my life.
Growing up, my innermost family, consisting of my parents and siblings, were pretty much neutral on religion. They never forced their religious beliefs down my throat, and I grew up knowing I was free to believe what I want to believe. In fact, I was raised to think for myself always. However, as for the rest of my family, they were conservatively Christian, and until this day if we disagree with them, we need to pray to Jesus for forgiveness. *Insert eye roll*
As a kid, I adored my grandma and thought she was just the shit. I mean most kids do, right? Even today it's not like I hate her or anything. I love and respect my grandma. I just can't stand her constant preaching. I saw no fault in her and of course she would have influence over me, but her biggest pet peeve was making sure we believed in Jesus... My grandma would attend Bible studies, was friends with her pastor, and just an all-around devoted Christian. That's cool, but at a very young age, I was told I needed to do the same if I wanted to be happy and safe. I didn't think much about it at the time, but if my grandma wanted me to be a Christian, then I was a Christian. It is not like I really knew what that meant anyway.
For most of my childhood, I identified as a Christian. I attended church and Bible studies, made friends who were Christians, and I even prayed to God every night thinking I was saving myself from eternal damnation. See anything wrong with that? I do. It's called indoctrination. In fact, I was convinced I had "Magical Prayers," for it seemed like any time I prayed to God for something, I got it. However, there was always something wrong with my faith. It was like I was reaching into the dark for something that wasn't there. I wasn't totally convinced there was a God, but I pretended like I did and convinced myself very hard that I loved Jesus. Then again, how could I love something I didn't see or hear?
As I carried on with this struggle, that all changed once I began to go through puberty. As my body developed and hormones coursed through my veins, I suddenly found an occurring interest in boys. I developed crushes and started wearing makeup, and on top of that I was beginning to grow curious about sex; simply putting it, I was growing up. Through my lustful and confusing thoughts, that made me feel horrible as a person, for I felt like I was betraying God. I was always told sex was sinful and sex before marriage would surely send me to hell, and because of that I felt so ashamed of myself for doing this to myself. How could something so natural be so harmful?
As I grew and my body developed, I, like most kids, began experimenting and having sex. Every time I did though, I was stricken with grief and guilt for acting on those impulses. I felt so incredibly dirty and conniving and just evil because God didn't want me to act on those impulses. I felt so guilty I would go months without praying, thinking God was furious with me and would never forgive me. Horrible right? This is what 13-14-year-old me thought, that by acting out my natural desires and feelings made me more evil than even a murderer or a rapist. No matter what, I was buying myself a one-way-ticket to Hell. I can't count all the times I woke up from nightmares I had of Hell, and even as I write this, I feel my stomach churning from reliving that surreal fear I felt. This is why I feel indoctrination is child abuse.
This continued for the rest of middle school, until I was a teenager in high school. Freshman and sophomore year I kind of let go of my beliefs a bit as I started making friends and dating boys. I began to feel less and less guilty and more like a normal girl. I was actually happy, but I still believed in God. The following year, junior year, I was sixteen and I remember wanting to "reinvent" myself. I dyed my hair blonde, (which on dark hair turns orange), and everyone thought I looked crazy, but I loved it and it really made me stand out. Unfortunately, that year was going to change my life forever. Something very negative happened to me that year, I won't go into detail, but it hit me like a brick wall; everything changed for me, and it altered everything I thought I knew about me. This sent me spiraling into depression, and any beliefs I had in God and the afterlife were suddenly shattered. Why would God do something like that to me, after all the years I prayed and believed in it? I lost my faith, and I no longer believed in God. From that point on I began to see the darker side of religion. I saw the hypocrisy and the corruption, and that made me hate religion even more. It especially only deepened my disbelief in God further.
Upon graduating high school I took a year off for myself, and at the tender age of twenty, I enrolled myself in college where I was eager to start fresh and work towards a career. My optimism was short met, for I had yet another severely negative experience, but this one would be bigger and worse than the first one. This experience sent me spiraling into an even deeper pit of depression and loneliness, and unlike high school, I didn't have friends and was all alone. It was through this period in my life, I found myself cutting class and staying home, watching YouTube all day. When I wasn't... I was bawling my eyes out. It was an extremely difficult time in my life, and I can still remember hearing my religious family members telling me, "Well if you accepted Jesus into your heart you wouldn't feel sad."
YouTube was my only source of comfort. It helped me take my mind off things and helped me forget about my problems, and after hours of crying and feeling emotionally drained, I would actually smile and laugh. I remember binge-watching videos that were full of people who were happy and laughing, and that happiness rubbed off on me. Then one day, I found a video in my suggestion tab, with a thumbnail saying "Jesus is a Lie!" I just had to click it.
There is a well known YouTuber by the name of Jaclyn Glenn. If you don't know her, she's an absolutely amazing person and is definitely someone I consider a role model. She's an activist on Atheism who speaks on behalf of Atheist rights, LGBT rights, etc. She stands for most issues that most Christians are appalled by. She's incredibly intelligent, and her sense of humor is sarcastic, just how I like it. I immediately clicked with her, and until this day I'm still subscribed and watch her newest content.
The first video I ever watched of hers was a video disproving Jesus. At the time, I was a little biased and harsh. Of course there wasn't a God. Why would there be? However, her video got me to thinking. Now, I have always been a fan of science, because if they can actually prove or disprove something, then I can see it for myself. However, I've also been a big believer in the paranormal and ghosts, and I still love creeping myself out with ghost videos. How can an Atheist who disbelieves both God and the afterlife, still believe in ghosts? You can't. It's contradictory.
It was at this moment I realized that no one really truly knows if there is a God or not, or an afterlife, or anything for that matter. I was never truly an Atheist because I still had some belief in the afterlife. I was right in there in the middle the entire time, and I learned it was okay not to know. I don't know if there is a God or not. I don't know if there is an afterlife. What I do know is that I'm here and alive at this moment, and I have a whole life to live.
Upon dropping out of college, I got myself a normal job and I started focusing on the one thing I have loved doing since I was a child... writing. Since then, I have proudly self-published a book, and I'm working on a couple new projects at this moment. I was able to conquer my depression, which a lot of people are unable to do, and I'm extremely grateful and happy now. I'm in a really good place in my life. On top of that, I have an amazing boyfriend who loves and accepts everything about me, and I him. Years ago when I still identified as a Christian, I would have been repulsed by his Satanism, but now I can appreciate his differences and perspectives. I can truly say life is a gift!
The moral of this story is life is short and it can be gone in the blink of an eye. There's no point in driving yourself crazy trying to logically prove whether something exists or not. If it does, it does. If it doesn't then it doesn't. It can be very stressful and hard on your mental health overthinking and logically evaluating what happens after we die, trust me, I know. Live your life. Enjoy it. You are here in the now and your life is your own to live. You, in a sense, are your own God—you have the power to make choices that can change your life; you can pack up and move if you want to, you can take that job you've always wanted, you can love who you want. Life is too short to worry about things like that when you can be living your life to your fullest and freest.
I like to think if there is a God, it wouldn't care about your religious beliefs, or your sexuality, or anything most religious people would consider a "sin." I like to think that if there is a God, the only thing that would matter would be the goodness of your heart. I would rather be on my death bed, and look back on my life without regrets, than to look back and wish I could have tried something once. As a Christian, I would never have pursued the things I did for fear of going to Hell, but now as an Agnostic, I'm okay with taking chances and trying new things, because if I don't, then someone else will. As I've previously stated, I'm in a really good place now and I'm very happy with my life, and that is how Agnosticism changed my life.