Insert obligatory first line about being new to Atheist Nexus <here>!
(Skip to the bottom for the short version ;D)
Now that that's out of the way--hello everyone! My name's Ariel, I was born and raised in central Texas--more specifically in the Texas hill country in a town near Austin and San Antonio--but will soon be moving out to Los Angeles for college, where I'll be attending Otis College of Art and Design and will hopefully, after my foundation year, end up studying as a Digital Media major (which consists of 3D modeling and animation as well as concept art and et cetera.)
I was raised as a Roman Catholic and was baptized in the Catholic Church, went to a Catholic School from pre-school through 8th grade before going on to the local public school for high school. (This being said, I really don't feel like my parents were super strict though--to give you an idea, though my dad converted from Lutheranism to Catholicism recently enough for me to remember his conversion, I don't think I've ever heard him even mention God in a religious way, and my mom's kind of has more new age leanings, I believe. They both know I'm an atheist, and though my mom expresses disappointment that I didn't stick with the Catholic church, she tends to blame herself for it (and of course I have to quietly remind her that she did nothing wrong and I'm quite happy the way I am, thank you very much--so that's a success in my eyes!) and we are still more than capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation, though we often end up agreeing to disagree.) Sometime around 7th grade, I started to delve into neo-paganism, and dabbled in this off and on until my junior year in high school--so often I told myself and my friends that the only reason I couldn't stick with paganism and continued to look back towards Christianity was because the fear of hell that I had instilled deep within me.
And then, all of a sudden, it just didn't matter anymore!
But no, really. It wasn't until this past year that I actually began to question everything and develop a sense of skepticism--better late than never, they always say. I attended a psychic fair at the beginning of this school year with my mom and my friend. Needless to say, up until this psychic fair, I was all up in the new age stuff--UFO's, tarot cards, reiki, you name it--and so the psychic fair sounded like a wonderful idea at the time.
Ironically, that might have been what ended up demolishing my belief in all of that mumbo-jumbo and instead ended up setting the foundation for my skepticism.
I'm not really sure what lead to my atheism after that. I think it was then that I just started questioning things, that I began to realize just how much I had taken at face-value up until that point. Nothing I had believed in was adding up, and then, much like I said, it just didn't matter any more.
Well, it took a good deal of reading for me to come to that conclusion, but you get the point. And as pessimistic as I might have made that sound, it really wasn't! I think I'm pretty lucky in that I haven't gone through a difficulty in giving up religion like so many others have--it was relatively painless in my case and actually incredibly liberating.
What has been hard, though, is finding others of a like mind. I don't really have an outlet through which to discuss my thoughts and feelings about these issues--which is why I have come here.
TL;DR Version: Hello! My name is Ariel and I would LOVE to talk to you. :D