As I have continued to evolve in my life, I’ve made conscious efforts to try to find out who I am and what my place is here on Earth. It hasn’t always been an easy journey. It’s been met with feelings of inadequacy and sadness, but it’s also been met with feelings of joy and real purpose.
Lately, it hasn’t been sad or happy, so to speak, rather, just … lost. This aimlessness has, no doubt, caused me to treat some people unfairly, as I have been frustrated, wondering simply, “Is this it? Is this how this grandiose idea of ‘life’ is supposed to play out for me?”
Now I’ll grant you an obligatory eye roll because yes, I am only 29 and have the potential for a long life, but I don’t feel unjustified in wondering about my future. One has to admit that it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and then realize that years have passed and those personal goals seem to cross themselves off the list out of neglect.
That being said, I may have mentioned in previous columns that about six months ago, I made a personal goal to “put myself out there” and meet more people. This too has been a challenge, because it’s nearly impossible to meet people in Kansas City if it’s not at a bar. Being a homosexual who does not drink makes the whole bar thing all the more challenging, because the places to meet other gay men around my age are almost always bars.
“Just go and have a good time,” people have told me, and yes, that’s absolutely right. But it gets a little old.
Anyway, I made this pledge and have taken the arduous journey with some of my trademark trepidation. However, throughout, and especially recently, I’ve really started to think of myself as a jerk. A real anti-social jerk. I might as well have a stink eye.
I’ve been beating myself up, wondering why I can’t go out and be social, why I don’t get invited to this party or that event, as I see pictures of smiling faces feed into the news on my Facebook account. It can be consuming. In fact, it’s gotten so consuming at points that I’ve been completely oblivious to all these awesome things that have happened in my life. Or, I’ve acted out on some of the real friends that I have made because I’ve been so lost and not myself, thus perpetuating the frustration that I was working so hard not to have.
Nothing has to be that hard. So I couldn’t help but look back and wonder why everything felt so aimless, why everything felt so wrong and made me feel inadequate. Why I, no doubt, pissed off some people whom I care about. Then, as if a proverbial pair of ruby red slippers clacked together at my feet, my wondering psyche returned home for a brief moment to sort of slap me back into coherence.
Of course things felt out of place. No wonder I was frustrated. Suddenly it all made sense! I’ve been chasing after a version of myself that didn’t fit. I wasn’t having fun at bars or parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people I didn’t know because that isn’t me. That isn’t something that brings me joy and fulfillment in life, and I’m sure it showed. Here I was, most likely already feeling awkward, with some extra pounds, untucked loose clothing, and a receding hairline, let alone being lost on the map toward things in common.
There isn’t anything wrong with partying and drinking, but it isn’t something that I like. So why stress over it? Why project someone else’s likes onto my own? I can be friends with people I like, people I’ve met in my own way, and enjoy their company when our paths cross doing something that we commonly enjoy.
Believe it or not, so far it’s worked. I haven’t felt stressed or inadequate. I’ve felt like my old self again except … better. I’ve felt like me, just with more openness to go with the flow of things. Less anticipatory of disappointment and more focused on what my wants are. “What do I feel like doing?” instead of “OK, let me compromise what I want so that I can be like everyone else.”
I’m a unique person. Sure, we all are, I mean how the hell could I forget second grade and how we were “each like a snowflake.” But further, I’m a unique guy. I’m not into the gay party scene, I’m introverted, I’m stocky, big-boned or whatever you want to call it, I’m pretty intelligent (not that others aren’t, too) I’m sort of witty in a British kind of way, and I like smaller groups of people. I have a more serious disposition, and that’s simply … OK.
Who I am isn’t easy. I’m a complicated fellow, but I have a feeling I’m going to start enjoying the complication more. After all, my grass isn’t always the most green, and there may be some patches of crab grass and weeds every once in a while, but hey, it’s a nice yard.