My blog is a representation of me. While I do want there to be a structure of at least one post a week on Tuesdays, I do like to use my writing as a medium to let my emotions pour out a bit. It’s healthy to find an outlet with which to do so and this is mine. With that being said, although this isn’t Tuesday and this my typical type of post, I feel it’s necessary to be authentic and to be authentic is to show the good, the bad, the ugly and the truth.
Because of who I am as person, I try to share mostly the good parts of my life and try to do my fair share of spreading good vibes. There is a lot of other parts to my life though. Although I am VERY public, I am also VERY private and finding that balance wasn’t always easy during the early stages of social media, but I digress.
I know it may seem a bit antithetical for me to say that my blog is an emotional reverie, because I compartmentalize a lot. For people who really know me personally, they have probably thought to themselves “he’s a bit off.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just have problems with understanding and projecting my emotions. I know it may seem even stranger that I can find solace in projecting these emotions in a very public forum such as a blog. In recent years, my emotions have begun spilling over and a lot of that has to do with me becoming the man that I want to be in life. And by that I mean more empathetic, more human, and more “normal” in my own individualized way.
It all goes back to my childhood where I never felt comfortable showing emotions. I can remember being as young as seven and realizing I was different than other kids. Different interests, etc. I was an adult before I was a kid. I was always at a different cognitive level than my peers. (I could read before I could talk. In kindergarten, I figured out how to count to 1000. In second grade, my teacher apologized to me on the last day of school for not letting me skip ahead to third grade. By age nine, I was reading my mother’s college textbooks. In fourth grade, I wrote a 10-page paper single-spaced. You get the picture.)
What’s interesting is that I think I developed a touch of social anxiety early in life. It was a mix of being different and wanting to keep those differences as hidden as possible as well as troubles with my home life. While other kids had play dates and went to the playground together, I stayed home, read books and played video games and tried not to upset my stepfather which became harder and harder to do as I matured into a socially awkward teenager.
I can also remember being really little, not even in school yet or maybe just in kindergarten and going into the kitchen late one night because I was looking for my mom when I had nightmare. I remember hearing a noise in the kitchen and thinking it must be her and it was. She was crying. I remember going back to bed, pleased that she didn’t notice me and I vowed to myself that I would never come to her and burden her with my negative emotions. I could take care of myself, she didn’t need the extra baggage. I don’t remember waking her up too many more times beyond that, even though I woke up from a nightmare most nights for many years. I later made a vow never to cry again on a totally different occasion and I didn’t for over 10 years. It felt amazing when I finally let go of that vow.
Other kids played sports, deep down I wanted to, but didn’t know how to ask. (There was a particularly demonizing experience with a soccer coach of mine when I was nine.)
School was an escape for me and an opportunity to see how “normal” kids behaved. I would watch and try to emulate how other kids talked, and tried to keep up on trends. Kids are mean. Granted, there was a lot of ammo which could be used against me. And use it they did, ALL of middle school, and half of high school, relentlessly.
I would help others with their homework, do full projects alone, and try my best to fit in. At the end of the day, those kids would have their friends and I would go home to my room. I was always too afraid of what could happen if I ever invited anyone over. This was something that stuck with me until I was well into my mid-teens and my stepfather was gone.
Throw in some abandonment issues, being too smart for my own good and more isolation as the years went on and it’s no wonder I ended up being a black, skull wearing being of silence. (By this point I no longer viewed school as my escape from my home life, but rather something I had to do. I eventually grew so bored with school that I stopped trying and my grades suffered because of it. I developed some nasty habits.) But then I found my voice. I found friends who liked the weird things I said, and the way I saw the world, and that shared the same tastes I had. No surprise they were all older.
By 16, I considered myself a full blown adult in most ways.
It was here that I realized that the reason I was different wasn’t my brain. It wasn’t my personal issues. It wasn’t my anxiety, or the deep depression I would often feel. It wasn’t the fact that I was overweight or didn’t have a ton of confidence. I was different because I had never really had friends until I was 16. (I had “school friends” for the most part, acquaintances at best.) Because, I didn’t know how to make friends. My first friends back in those days taught me something I couldn’t learn from a book, from my brain, or from the various abuses during my upbringing. I’ll always be grateful for them teaching me that life is better with people.
Thanks to that, I began to feel again, and I allowed my feelings to be made known to people I interacted with. Essentially, I was feeling about 3500 different emotions that I had never felt before, because I never allowed myself to. Imagine that mixed in with the normal hormonal changes of being a teenager and experimenting with all kinds of new experiences with other people. From 16-18, I was a whirlwind.
Those two years were the most tumultuous of my life and a lot happened. (That is all definitely another story for a tell-all book one day haha.) Although I considered myself an adult, I certainly wasn’t. I did learn how to control all these new feelings and emotions so that was good.
Then college happened and for a short time I was faced with something I hadn’t had in a long time: isolation. It was super difficult to not be lonely as a commuter but eventually I managed. I made some pretty massive mistakes early on in my college career, but that’s when you’re supposed to right? The second half of college was much better.
So now here I am as an adult man and I feel a little bit like that freshman back in college again. But this time, I have people behind me and I’m becoming a lot more adept at letting people in, for better or for worse. I am happy to say that although I still suck at talking about my feelings and why I feel a certain way, it is becoming easier and easier for me to feel and to discern what these feelings are and why they happen.
I guess my point is that everybody deals with stuff, and everybody had anxiety and depression, everyone. I even tend to need a consistent level of validation here and there. The important, self-defining thing is how you deal with that and I think I’m doing okay. Everybody has experiences that shape them, but who you are is malleable as well. You have a say. You don’t need to give up, and you don’t need to compartmentalize. Talk to people, understand other people, and be there for other people. You never know where their lives have taken them, and how they got to the point in front of you. Empathy.