Throughout my short life, I have studied many religions. There’s just something about mythology and belief systems that intrigue me. I like to know exactly what it is that others believe, where those beliefs came from, and how they interconnect across cultures.
Personally, I have never found myself to be particularly passionate about a belief system. I grew up attending summer bible camp and occasionally going to church with a couple of my neighbors — who were definitely afraid for my soul, as my parents were not religious in the slightest.
As I entered my teen angst phase, I learned about Wicca, Druidism and other types of Pagan belief systems. I learned the different pantheons and mythologies that connected to each other. Since I spent the majority of my days outside at the time, I tried to commune with nature on multiple occasions. As hard as I tried, however, I never actually felt anything that resounded in my soul.
During this phase, I was often compared to the devil by my more Christian classmates and family members.
From Paganism, I became interested in Buddhism. I’m still interested in it in a lot of ways. Buddhism has no Gods. Instead of worshiping idols, Buddhists focus on living simply and with compassion. Buddhism is about learning and growing until you eventually reach Nirvana — which typically takes several reincarnations.
Outside of the religions I tried out for myself, I’ve also studied Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, some Native American belief systems (typically the role of Shamans in Native American cultures), and Shintoism.
Today, I consider myself more of an Atheist than anything. I know that the word “atheist” has a bad connotation and a lot of people like to argue with me, telling me that I’m Agnostic.
No, I’m an Atheist, and here’s why.
The word “atheist” simply means “without belief.” “A” meaning “without” and “theism” meaning “belief in the existence of a God or Gods.” The word has been twisted and stretched and hammered so much that most people don’t think about this. When someone hears “Atheist,” they think of someone who vehemently fights against religion, in a typically obnoxious and elitist way, because they know for a fact that God does not exist.
Honestly, those people annoy the heck out of me.
I am an atheist because I am without belief in a higher power. Period.
I remember very clearly the day I decided to absolve myself of all religion. I was twenty-two years old. I had been in an exorbitant amount of turmoil because I felt that my higher power wanted nothing to do with me. I wasn’t a good Christian when I was a kid. I went to church only sometimes and my bible gathered dust on the shelf.
I wasn’t a good Pagan later on in life either. I would just pray to my Goddess, but never practice any rituals. I felt guilty and rejected because I wasn’t following the specific set of rules dictated by people long dead.
Finally, one day, I decided to be done with it all. I was never able to connect with a higher power, so I was going to stop trying. I immediately felt better. Once I decided that this world, this life was enough, I suddenly felt whole. I no longer had that self-made void in my heart, left to be filled by the grace of a higher power.
Instead, I filled it in with my own love and compassion.
Since then, I’ve found it difficult to talk to people about it. The few friends I have told reacted negatively, so I mainly keep it to myself. I let people believe what they want about me and try to avoid any actual conversation about religion.
That’s no way to live, though. So here I am.