I grew up unpopular. It’s not that I minded the isolation it brought so much, I was happy being alone. But it always bugged me that I didn’t know the feeling of having a large circle of good friends. I had a few best friends growing up but for one reason or another they always had to leave the city and thus me back where I’d started, alone.
This isolation served to strengthen me. I grew independent and adventurous. I grew to know myself better than most other people, I grew creative because a lot of the time I was my only friend. My mom always worked, my siblings had their own lives and we didn’t spend much time together. I’d see my father almost every weekend but those moments just served to remind me of the family life I could’ve had, had my parents not felt their differences too vast and divorced.
So I dabbled in my various interests. I played baseball, hockey, I swam, played tennis, took tae kwon do lessons, volunteered and did many things that interested me. My mom always indulged these passing interests because she knew that she was rarely home and that maybe these sports and hobbies would wake me up from the internal world I lived in.
But they never really did. At school I was quiet, usually adrift in an endless world of internal debates, thoughts, images and inspirations. People liked me, at least the bit of my character they knew. But I never really let anyone in, I didn’t really know how. The concept of sharing everything didn’t seem possible. I had too much to hide, to many insecurities and fears. If anyone ever really knew what went through me they’d think I was unstable, or worse a psychopath. I had crushes sometimes but they were never acted upon. Most of the time they wouldn’t even realize I was interested.
Emotions confused me, even though I got angry a lot I didn’t understand how to control and connect with them. I’d yell and scream sometimes but it was never about anything particularly important I just didn’t know how to handle these unfamiliar and often conflicting feelings. I was afraid of failing, but I was even more afraid of not failing. Then one day I sort of woke up, it wasn’t a sudden paradigm shift where I suddenly realized who I truly was. I just gradually became interested in the idea that I could be different, that life could be better. That I could do things outside of my head and that I could do them well. This scared me even more. My identity was built upon this idea that if I never tried I could never fail. I’d quit everything I’d ever tried the minute I realized I wasn’t immediately good at it, never realizing that that’s the first step towards attaining any true skill.
So I started reading blogs about communicating, and about leading a life of purpose and about doing things I actually cared about. And I started to care just a little bit. For once I felt like I was really alive and not just some idea that was stuck temporarily floating around between non existences.
I started to figure out just who I was. At first my endless lists and word documents were full of surface level stuff like what’s my favourite food and what are my favourite videogames but as I asked more questions I started to find better answers.
I started thinking about careers, and relationships. Now that I’d acknowledged I did want something what is it I wanted. Did I want to be rich? Powerful? Loved by many? Did I want total control over societies future or to toil in obscurity on a project I’m passionate about.
This gave me the foundation of everything that came next. I realized I did want to go to university because I wanted to gain the skills and confidence to run my own business successfully. I realized I did care about relationships even though developing sound ones meant accepting the negative realities about myself and sharing them with others. I realized I did want to help the world in some way, and to leave it a better place than the one I’d entered. And finally I realized I wanted to know myself, that I was tired of being confused by my own reactions, tired of shying away from my own thoughts because I refused to accept that I was the kind of person who would have those kinds of thoughts. And I realized I wanted to create something that impacted people positively.