“Why am I such a misfit?” That line, sung by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the little elf in the Christmas classic that I watched four million times as a child, seems to apply to my life now as a 28-year-old man. I have been feeling a little lost, doubtful — even jealous.
I have tried to become the best person that I can be. (No, I’m not in the Army. Don’t ask, don’t tell!)
Sure, I have limitations, but I feel at this point that I have earned that distinguished line for my obituary: “He was a good person.” However, the limitations that have influenced me to pursue what I felt was important in life now leave me with doubt about where and who I am today.
I’m apprehensive, wondering whether I should enter my land of toys as a “misfit” where I will thrive. Or maybe there is some other path that I am supposed to travel on.
I look back and wonder whether I ever really let my hair down and acted “crazy.” Sure, I used to drape a bath towel over my head and pretend I had long hair, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’ve always acted older than my age, and I wonder whether I would be more sure of myself today if I hadn’t exercised such caution. Would I have a huge group of friends? Would I be going to parties and clubs, rejecting phone numbers and advances because they weren’t my type?
When I go to functions or interact with other gay people my age, I feel as if I don’t fit in. My waist size is 35, and I wear clothes from the clearance racks. I find success in my actual work and not in salaries, cars and pencil pants. I don’t really date, and I have never had a boyfriend. I don’t go to clubs and dance to music that can send some into epileptic seizures. My Facebook page has less than 500 friends.
I educated myself as much as I could and I still do, but why? Would I be happier if I hadn’t sacrificed to learn or if I had gotten drunk all the time and acted crazy? Would people like me more? If I hadn’t inhaled every calorie in sight, would my once-thin body have stayed that way instead of ballooning into the shape of an apple? Does my size matter?
When fitting in with my age group wasn’t working out, I tried fitting in with an older crowd by tagging along with an invited friend to social functions. I once jumped in shock as a shorter, stout man tried to grope the areas they warned about in public service announcements on Sesame Street. I zoned out as discussions of politics and house renovations left me dreading home ownership.
So what is it? Why do I find myself wanting what I don’t have and what I’ve said in the past I don’t want? Why does the sight of fellow gay people in relationships make me ask myself why I am single? How do I stop those thoughts? How do I know if who I am and what I do is right?
I look back to my childhood in the ’80s for the answer. Back then, it was always time for afternoon TV after I had had lunch and played outside.
Now I sometimes wish I were He-Man, pulling out some sort of ancient sparkly sword and declaring that I, with the power of self-confidence, will protect the very core of the values and choices that I felt were necessary.
I wish that I could just stick out my stomach and, being the “bear” that I am, change people’s perceptions and judgments with some sort of magically inspired tattoo shooting from my gut. Care Bear Stare!
I wish I could relieve my doubts and calm my worries within 30 minutes (including commercial breaks, which take an eternity to a kid in his grandmother’s living room).
But I can’t. Despite medical advances and plastic surgery, I can’t transform into iconic fictional characters from my childhood. I’m here in 2009, trying to live with the choices I have made and be confident in the person I have become.
I have one life to work with. My path has had plenty of obstacles, and it may not be as pretty and paved as some, but it’s mine. I have to remind myself of that so I can put away doubt and jealousy and make the contributions to our world that I can. Otherwise I might as well have been a cartoon, entertaining and fun, but something that you eventually lose interest in.
My friends are who they are, and I have accomplished every goal that I have set. So what if I don’t text 10,000 times a month, date every week, or squeeze into size 31 jeans.
It’s OK that I don’t pretend to be a host on HGTV and grab younger men’s buttocks and make bad jokes.
I’m a person who has come from something and who will go on to somewhere. I just have to be ready to take the journey — as only I know how to take it.