This is all just a trip. This is us, born unto this life as we are. We look the way we look and act the way we act. We have a blood type and skin type. We have fingerprints that distinguish us as different from each other.
We have hair color and eye color and features that make us look the way we look.
This is me. This is my body, flaws and all. This is me. This is you. And more than anything, this is life.
I was born the way I am. As a matter of fact, I used to apologize for this.
Can you believe that?
I used to apologize for me being me, or looking the way I looked. I used to regret the features of mine which were (in my eyes) less than desirable. I was sorry I never looked as handsome as others. I was sorry that I was never taller or stronger or more athletically capable. I always wished I was richer or “better.”
I gave in to the commercial ideas of success and beauty. I surrendered my true esteem for a false sense of self and traded my dreams for the externally acceptable models. I went for the cookie-cutter instead of the original shape.
As for my looks, one of my eyes is shaped differently from the other. One of my ears is shaped differently too. I never had six-pack abs.
I have never been one for the gym routine. I was never captain of the football team or carried off the field on the shoulders of my teammates after scoring the winning touchdown.
Somewhere, somehow, I bought into an idea that there was a look and a life that I was supposed to find. I subscribed to a blueprint that did not belong to me, which meant I was always trying to mold or adhere to something that never fit.
I believed that I had to be, think, act, and live a certain way. Otherwise, what kind of life would I have? Who am I if I am not known? What kind of life do I have if my life is not remarkable? Better yet, what could I do to convince myself that me as I am is remarkable.
Somewhere, I picked up the notion that looks are everything. Status is everything. I somehow subscribed to the different dogmas of popularity.
I was always trying to find my place and always trying to find the right fit. In all, the only thing I ever wanted to achieve was balance. I wanted to find a sense of homeostasis, which is an overall stability, or peace. More than anything, I wanted to shed the layers of awkwardness and feel comfortable in my own skin.
I learned a few things during my search:
The one thing I learned is we waste so much time trying to find our beauty that we miss out on the most beautiful things.
We miss out on beautiful times. We miss out on the beauty of the journey because we are so intense and focused on our destination that we lose sight of what we are looking for to begin with.
We forget to enjoy the ride. We forget to enjoy the view. But yet, here we are. We are all here and we are all searching for something. We are always looking for something that will validate or confirm who we are and distinguish our purpose.
I can say most of my life has been an ongoing search. Same as anyone else, I have always been looking for this magical, cosmic thing.
I have been looking for this sense of something that cannot be touched but only felt. Whatever this is or was, or whichever form this is or was, or could be —I always assumed that I would be happy once I found it.
There are 7.8 billion people in this world. Think about the size of this number. Think about the small number of them that you know which are minuscule in comparison to the ultimate total of 7.8 billion people.
Each and every one of us are here and all of us are looking for a sense of self. We all have questions and curiosities. We have similarities and differences. We have talents and defects, flaws, and irregularities.
We all have our own course to follow and we all have our own destination to find.
Like many others in this world, I have always wanted to find my place. I’ve always wanted to know where I fit.
What am I supposed to be? What’s my purpose?
Where is my place in the grand scheme of life and how many roles will I try until I find the part I’m supposed to play?
Am I alone here?
Am I the only one afraid?
It’s cold when your lonesome — even in the summertime, which makes this especially true when winter comes around.
What am I supposed to do?
How does this work?
Why does this look so much easier for everyone else?
I have always been searching for the perfect state of mind. I wanted to find myself where pain is no bother and fears are no worry. I’m sure we all want this. We all want balance. Then again, we all want the highs, but we’re all afraid to crash. This is why people cling to pain. This is why people hold their hurtful emotions. This is not because pain is enjoyable —it’s only dependable, which means people hold pain because if we let this go and feel better, what do we do if the pain comes back and we feel it again? Somewhere in our thinking exists the idea that we have to be a certain way to be happy. So we force it. We shove ourselves around and we trim the corners of our square pegs to fit better into the round holes we’ve been taught about. We never knew about the freedoms that come with the acceptance of self. We never knew the victory of saying, “this is me!” and being proud of the result.
There are all of these levels and standards, and labels of people around us. There are different variations of success and there are the supposed kinds, which on the exterior may seem like something big. However, suits and ties and mansions cannot dress the empty void of nothingness.
Hollow is still hollow, empty is still empty, and a silk dress is only a silk dress.
I came into this world as a small, little baby boy. I was graced with two arms and two legs. I had a little bit of hair. I have ten fingers and ten toes. I have two eyes that work at least somewhat well. I have a set of eyebrows above my eyes and eyelashes on my eyelids.
I came into this world and grew into my body as it appears now.
I have scars which tell stories, and scars that are unseen by the human eye. I have history which has seasoned my background with different flavors that range from sweet to bitter.
This was me and since then, I have been looking for this person. I have been looking for this thing to become.
I have been looking to achieve this presence of both mind and body.
I wanted to find my way in the circle and stake my claim. I wanted my own little corner of the world, which belongs to me.
I have this trick that I’ve been telling you about. This is my dream. This is my world that I have been working on.
This is my design which I’ve been trying to build like a little wooden ship, detailed with all the masts and sails, ropes, and flags, and then I will place this dream of mine in a bottle and mount this on my mantle and say, “Yeah, that’s it.”
I have met people in my life that do or did different things. This is them. This is their course and the way they choose to make a living.
I look and wonder about me in comparison to them. I look at their life and wonder what my life would be like if it were more like theirs.
It took me more than four decades to realize that if my life were more like theirs then my life wouldn’t be mine at all.
If I were to look like them or act more like them then I would not be me. I would be them. This means I would have forfeited the rites of my personal passage. I would have given up the rights to my own personality and furthermore, I would have given up the right to my own true beauty.
I would have given this up to be and look like someone else, when in all actuality, there is no one else I can be in this world other than myself.
I spent most of my life torturing me about the way I looked and lived and felt and thought. I spent most of my life believing the inaccuracies of my insecurity.
I used to believe that I had to apologize for being me.
I used to ask myself “Why am I like this?”
The reason is because I am me. I am this being. I am this person. I have thoughts and feelings and concerns and questions.
I have insecurity. I have this body. I have this face. I have this brain, and I have these features.
I have this desire to be, think, feel, live, love, laugh, and learn. I want to find my space in this world. I want to find what it means to live and feel free.
To put this in the simplest of ways:
I always wanted to be somebody.
I never realized that I already am.
Once I began to understand this, I realized it was time to stop apologizing. I learned this was time to forgive myself for seeking comfort through unworthy and external means.
I had to give myself the permission to break away from the ideas of acceptance. I had to detach from the pleading ideas that placed importance on unimportant things, such as outside approval.
I had to disconnect myself from the ideas that linked to the social demographics of success. Being me is already successful.
I bought into the inaccurate ideas for too long. Each time my insecurity was at its highest is when I compared myself to others.
This happened when I compared my progress and my position or my social standing to other people in my life.
This happened when I looked at people that were younger than me and yet, their professional title held more of a prestigious ring or paid them more money at a higher rate.
I was so focused on my comparisons that I never stopped to see my own achievements. I never acknowledged or celebrated my own accomplishments. And such is life turned inward. This is what happens when we look elsewhere instead of within because this is where the wealth is.
Some live their entire lives on the search for validation. Their trek is endless because no one ever celebrates them enough, which leaves them empty inside.
A man with a glass eye once told me, “It all starts, begins, and ends with you.” I was a kid when he told me this.
He was a tough man, short, somewhat round in shape, black-skinned, and he came from the streets of East New York, Brooklyn.
He grew up in a way that most people would find horrendous. But yet, he lived, he survived, and whether his lifestyle was clean or not, this man told me something 30 years ago that I still remember today.
“It all starts, begins, and ends with you. You might not know what that means right now, but one day you will.”
He was right.
This means my life is up to me.
Anything else is none of my business.
So be it.