Lately, I’ve been living more of my life.
I can never tell when it’s about to happen. As I walked down the hall of my apartment building to get rid of some recycling, the ideas started to swirl around my head. I got the opening sentence, I got the title, and then sentences and ideas flooded my brain. As I walked back to my apartment, I picked up speed, feeling something like desperation. I wanted to get everything down before I lost it all. You never know how long inspiration will stick around. It tends not to linger.
The deck was stacked against me to fit in. I’ve been having conversations with my therapist about that feeling of being isolated, alienated, and feeling like an outsider. We took a look at my personal history, and sure, the losses I’ve experienced have a lot to do with feeling like a person apart. I don’t know many or any people personally that have experienced what I’ve experienced, but there were other contributing factors. On the cusp of turning 12 years old, my dad married my second step mother, and our family doubled in size. I think dad would have liked for us all to get along, but I’m sure part of him knew that this was going to be a challenge.
I told my therapist that although I’m sure there are good and established guiding principles for blending a family, that unfortunately, there is no tried and true technique, and how could there be? Each situation is a case-by-case basis. Humans are not simple. We are complex and nuanced. We want to different things in different moments. We change our preferences, our appearance, everything, sometimes at random. It’s difficult if not impossible to predict how humans will react and change. Once our family was under one roof, I don’t think that my parents were ready for the chaos that would ensue. No one had any clue what it would be like to mix two markedly different family dynamics. The kids were young, but we weren’t that young, and we were all at that fun and rebellious age
There was more. There was construction. My room was about to get much smaller. For months, my wall was a tarp, and at night, my room was lit by the red glow of the lamp in my lizard’s cage. I was still kind of an odd shape, body-wise, and although I wanted to be fit and strong, I wasn’t either. I still had some baby fat, and although I wanted to be a star in football, or any sport, I never stood out. The athletic dream died pretty quickly. I had to find another way to define myself, because even though I now had two new brothers, I didn’t feel like one of them. We were referred to as, “The Boys,” and I didn’t like being lumped in. I didn’t take losing my individuality well, when I’d spent plenty of time alone, especially when it was just us 3 (my dad, my sister, and me).
I was a bit of a loner, and finding a group of friends was challenging. I was not popular, and used my decent intelligence to try and gain favor with those who were. It wasn’t fun, not having a stable group of friends, and I also wasn’t comfortable with myself. I get the feeling that people could pick up on that energy, even in our teenage years. I tried on different personalities, tried to be who I thought I should be, but nothing stuck. People can recognize inauthenticity pretty quickly. I have vague memories of being picked on, but even so, I know that there were those who got it much, much worse. I remember a quote from someone I used to spend more time with. It was something like, “I dreaded going to school every day.”
I tried to be someone else, until I realized that even though it may not win me many friends, I didn’t like not being me. It’s funny how life waits until we’re honest with ourselves to finally reward us. I returned to my roots, so to speak, and even though I knew I wasn’t cool, I found a group of people that took me in, and made me feel like one of them. I maintain many of these friendships to this day. I came into the group, and was welcomed with open arms, even if I was the most different out of all of them, or would become the most different. They never thought that was too much of an issue, and after more than two decades, maybe it’s time I let it go, this fear of them realizing how odd I am, and deciding to revoke my membership. This kind of acceptance, I’ll never take it for granted.
I’ve been thinking a lot about self care, and the relationship that I have with myself. I’ve worked harder these last 7 plus months than I ever have. Some days I come home and melt into my couch. I’ve accepted that I am getting older, and I don’t hate it as much as I thought. I’m figuring out the relationship with myself, and I’m getting so much better at easing off, and not taking myself down a peg when it would be so easy. I don’t know where it came from, this need to be so hard on myself. I know that right now, I’m doing good work that matters to me, but I also know that I am worthy of love even if I do absolutely nothing. We all are worthy of this love. I’m getting so much better with being compassionate towards everyone, myself included.
Long ago, I made peace with the fact that I was going to be a different kind of person than most. In the midst of being this person, I found ways to enjoy life, and found passions that spoke to me. Rather than participating in sports, I took up announcing in high school and college, and absolutely loved it. I found a love of writing, something I actively avoided growing up. I have gotten better at being spontaneous, and I spend time with families that are not my own. I’m embarking into a field that I know will be challenging, while knowing that it’s the first full-time job I’ve ever found where I feel at home, like I am where I am supposed to be. It’s an elusive feeling I’ve been chasing all of my life. I know that this job will be at times difficult, that it’ll push me, and yet, I wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s a part of me that loves having others depend on me. I also absolutely love and adore people.
I was a weird kid, and that weird kid has now become a weird adult. I go to movies, concerts, and sporting events, often alone. I take trips alone. I am enjoying my own company, and I’m also enjoying the fact that I’m enjoying my own company. My mind used to be a hostile place, but I’m feeling so much more at home with myself and the choices I have made. I hope that I have a lot of time ahead of me, to continue living and to enjoy coming into myself, and just loving myself exactly as I am, even though there are parts of myself that I want to be better. There is still plenty of stuff that I have to work through, but even if there are still bad days, I feel like I’m getting much closer to being a functional human being.
I’ve been taking advantage of being single, and living in the city. We often wait until an impending life shift before we start enjoying our current circumstances. I am deciding not to wait until something happens. As I’ve written before, I don’t want to wait for someone to come along for me to start living. I spend time with friends when I want to, and have learned to worry less about explaining myself and my decisions. I know that I often don’t make any sense. I am learning to love myself, both for what I am, and for what I am not. This life is profoundly beautiful, and I am enjoying each and every day more and more. It may take me the rest of my life to figure out my resistance to certain ideas and concepts, but this is work I’m willing to do. I’m loving myself for who I am, and allowing myself to live the kind of life I want to live. May we all do the same. Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “Individual”
Every now and then I come across a post that shows both what freedom and courage is all about, and this is one of them. You have a soul that is finding itself, a difficult process but one you seem to be embracing and enjoying. The line which for me is the definition of living is: “… loving myself exactly as I am, even though there are parts of myself that I want to be better.” The realization that it is possible to improve and become better every day is one of those transformational feelings/decisions anyone could ever have, and few ever understand. Well written piece and wish you continued success in moving forward. Cheers ~ 🙂
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Hello, Dalo2013! I felt that read🐛Much Love🦋
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