To Everyone I’ve Ever Known,
I’m sorry, but we have never met. You have never known the person I am supposed to be. You have never known the real me. Only in brief, unfiltered glimpses when I let my guard down. With most of you, I have never had these rare moments of truth, guarding myself against your judgment. Or maybe my own. So to the few people I have let myself open up to, thank you. You were close enough to me at the time (and maybe still are) to let me shine and show you what I was capable of.
You see, I, we, were brought up this way. Brought up to fall in line with the status quo. To fall in love with another, get married, have kids, work our 9-5, grow old and retire. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that approach to life. It makes sense in the world we exist in. But there’s more out there for us. A world that most of us never get opened up to. One where we buck the system and create a better world for ourselves.
It is my sincerest desire that we all reach that place. To know our full selves and to be able to share the best, most authentic version of ourselves with the world. It is not enough anymore to coast through life and not experience pure, expressive joy. Even the most rigid among us have something that brings us that happiness. And I’m not talking about another human being. We are conditioned to believe that we need another person, our “person”, to complete us. Connection with community is vital to our health, but to presume that one whole person should accept the role as half of another is silly. This isn’t to suggest that marriage or long-term partnership is bad or wrong, but that we value it incorrectly. We are all whole people looking for another whole person to share our lives and our values with.
I have never been the person I described. I have never let pure, expressive joy find me. I have never opened myself up to the idea that I wasn’t meant for the status quo, at least not until recently. I have had opportunities, sure, but I ran from them. I have never wanted myself to be happy. It’s only recently that I’ve started to entertain this idea, and believed that there is a greater plan for my life.
So, to the people I knew as a child, I was scared. Scared of being myself in a world that told me what I wanted didn’t matter. I was trying so desperately to fit in and be liked by everyone. As you may be aware, if you try to be liked by everyone, you are liked by no one. The world is a polarizing place and trying to be in the middle leaves you with no real allies.
To the people I knew as a teenager, you taught me a lot. I started to learn that lesson of trying to please everyone, but I grew more insecure. By the time I had graduated high school, I had entered the first phase of figuring myself out. I had a small number of friends, but I was still pretending. Still trying to figure out what resonated with me. It was mostly the unimportant things that I was learning about: music, movies, entertainment really. But nothing of substance. Nothing that truly sparked me.
My early 20s were the worst time of my life. But it was also my catalyst toward change. I went through depression, alcoholism, and a general sense of loneliness. I distanced myself from everyone, determined to not hurt, or be hurt, again. I shut people out and created distance where there didn’t need to be. Again, I was not my true self, preferring to completely hide who I was at this point. There was no one to open up to, so why be who I am?
And until recently, this malaise has carried over into my later 20s. Slowly getting better, slowly understanding myself and my joys and sorrows. Still with a feeling of isolation (admittedly self-inflicted) and still with a tendency to drink too much. Hitting bottom this weekend, while wasn’t fun, has woken me out of the spell I had been under. I had “gotten better”, so I was fixed now, right?
I’ve been on autopilot for years, probably more than a decade. First following the whims and ideas of everyone around me, then coasting through my “better” self. But it’s time I take control. I’ve brought so much poison and negativity into the world. It made ME feel better. I’ve always believed myself to be unselfish, but in reality, I was only helping others when it could benefit me.
I am by no means a finished product. None of us are. And I don’t know that we ever become “finished”. If we ever reach a place of feeling “done”, there’s always something we can work on. “Change only comes when the pain of the current situation reaches a breaking point”. I’ve felt I had reached my breaking point long ago. But it’s not till you actually hit bottom that you realize what bottom is.
To everyone I’ve ever known… I’m sorry. You’ve never seen me at my best. You’ve never seen me as whole human being. Some of you, I have tried and failed to connect with. Others I resisted and pushed away because I didn’t think we “clicked”. And it’s all bullshit. The masks, the lies, all bullshit. I don’t expect forgiveness or even understanding. I just want you to see me now.