I grew up unpopular. It’s not that I minded the isolation of being unpopular so much, I was happy enough being alone. But it always bugged me that I didn’t know the feeling of having a large circle of close friends. I had a few best friends growing up but for one reason or another they always had to move away.
This isolation served to strengthen me. It helped me to grow independent and then adventurous and daring. It gave me time to read books, explore myself and expand my mind. I grew to know myself better than most other people. My mom always worked, my siblings had their own lives and we didn’t spend much time together. I’d see my father most weekends but those incredible moments just served to remind me of the family life I could’ve had, had my parents not felt their differences were too vast.
So I dabbled in my various interests. I played baseball, hockey, I swam, played tennis, took Tae Kwon Do lessons, volunteered and did a lot of the things that interested me. My mom always indulged these passing interests because she knew 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 me 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, too many insecurities and fears. If anyone ever really knew what went through my mind 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. I got angry a lot and didn’t understand how to control and connect with my feelings. I’d yell and scream sometimes but it was never about anything particularly important, I just didn’t know how to handle unfamiliar and often conflicting feelings. I was always afraid of failing, so I never really tried.
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 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 was 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. Something along the lines of..
Why am I afraid of asking so and so out?
Because I know if she turns me down it means in some way I’m not good enough. And I’d rather not have to face the reality that I’m not in control of every facet of everything involving me, so rather than accept that in some ways I’m powerless I just won’t ask her out so I can continue to feel deluded but safe.
And so it went.
I started thinking about careers, and relationships. Now that I’d acknowledged I wanted something I needed to know what it is that I wanted. Did I want to be rich? Powerful? Loved by many? Did I want total control over a societies future or to toil in obscurity on a project I was passionate about? Sooner or later I honed down what I desired to a relatively simple list;
An exciting, interesting lifestyle
A list which I continue to update to this day as I continue growing and evolving.
But 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. I realized I wanted to know myself, that I was tired of being confused by my own reactions and actions, tired of shying away from my own thoughts because I refused to accept that I was the kind of person who would have those thoughts. And I realized I wanted to create something that impacted people positively. I wanted to create something that meant something to me.