I'm no relatively new to android (my first android phone was the backflip), but im torn between rooting my aria and flashing the gratia 2.2 rom (im actually scared to do it because i dont wanna brick my phone) or waiting for the AT&T official update that might never come
Just do it . Liberated ROM (the Gratia ROM has some issues, Liberated fixes those) is a hundred times better than what AT&T will/might release. The risk of bricking is very low, as long as you follow the instructions. It's also easy to go back if you need to send it in for repair (I flashed the stock RUU with a broken LCD).
You asked this just at the right time. If you want to believe AT&T the 2.2 update should be here today (2/25/11). If not, Liberated works great if you want to keep the look and feel of the phone. If you want to try out vanilla Android I recommend Cyanogen. It's the best one I've tried. There's plenty of help out there to walk you through the steps. Just follow them and enjoy!