I am me. I will always be this, the same as you will always be you. I was born. I grew. I lived and I learned. This is the case for us all however, I am me.
I say this not as a challenge or to compare myself to anyone else. Instead, I say it this way to claim one undeniable and empowering fact. I am me. I say this because all too often, we come at ourselves from a place of judgement. I say this as a means of celebration, which unfortunately most people do not do this for themselves. So, therefore I say it again. I am me.
I was born past my due date on September 20, 1972. I was born to my parents Ronald and Alice. Somewhere in the world is the very first picture of me. I know this because I have this buried somewhere in a box with all of my family photos. There is a picture of me, swaddled and wrapped in a blanket the very first time the sun shone on my face. I was in front of the hospital. Mother was holding me. My Father was there beside her. This was the very beginning of my life and no matter what I say or what I confess to; nothing can or will ever change this fact.
I am the youngest child. My eyes have always been brown. I have one eye that is shaped slightly different from the other. I have one ear that is shaped slightly different as well. This is me. My height has always been my height. What I have with me is what I’ve had since birth and for most of my life; I have lived with a sense of physical envy, which is personally demeaning and cruel for anyone to do this to themselves.
I was born into a family with a certain dynamic. Both my Mother and Father had been married before. They had lived before I existed and together, I was the last of their creations.
My father was older, which lead to challenges between us. In fact, decades after my birth, my Mother acknowledged that my Father was too old to have another child, — namely me. My Father was tough at times, strict and often frustrated. The Old Man was frustrated with life and politics and things like the price of gas and the fact that he worked long hours.
On the other hand, my Mother was the primary caregiver. She was the more patient of my parents however, as I grew, I certainly learned to test this motto. She was there to see me be stitched up. She was there to see me hospitalized. She was the first at the hospital after my motorcycle accident when I was 15. She was there when I had to be arraigned by the judge for the first time.
The Old Man was there too but his capacity was different. His level of shame and anger was different. And, too, his ability to address and process his own feelings were different too. This was him. This was some of his drawbacks.
I was me and he was him but between the two of us was the battle of something undefinable, yet simply complicated by the inability to openly discuss or express our challenges in a helpful, empowering way.
I had brothers and sisters. But I only grew up with my brother Dave. He was a hero of mine but for now, I will stick with my game plan and save this story for a different entry.
I was the youngest. I was born. I was the smallest as well. I did not have the same athletic abilities as others. I did not handle my classes in school very well. I struggled with math. I struggled with reading comprehension, but most of all, I struggled with social learning environments in school.
Nothing in school was enthusing to me. I struggled to find my place in both the classroom and on the playground. At best, I wished I was taller. I wished I was stronger. I wished I was more coordinated. I wished I was better looking and more desirable to others. I wished I was picked first when the kids would choose teams but instead, I was me.
There were those who for some reason as soon as they came into the room, — everyone took notice. There were others who were simply faceless and/or unmemorable. In my assumption of myself, I thought this was me.
I was only me, which meant I had both advantages and disadvantages. I had talents which went undiscovered. I had dreams that went unnourished and a misled spirit of dedication, or should I say the lack thereof.
I gave up too easily on myself. I was too timid of rejection and too dependent on the approval of my surroundings; therefore, if I couldn’t play well then I refused to play at all. Since I lacked the voice to explain myself, I used my behavior to voice my contempt. I used sabotage and self-destruction as a voice for my rebellion. I would swear that I hated the world yet, meanwhile, none of this was true. In all honesty, I was only looking for a way to connect with others to be included, wanted, and more than anything, — I only wanted to be accepted.
I would not label myself as a problem child. Instead, I would call myself a child that lacked the ability to have my own voice, which meant I lacked the vocabulary to express myself.
There were fears and discomforts that went without language, which made this difficult to explain why I did things or why I was always in trouble. This made it difficult for me to explain why I couldn’t get myself together?
I offer this explanation but before I go forward, I can only say that I am me. My capacity is my capacity. I have always been me; and try as I might have, no matter how I dressed myself, no matter which persona I clung to, and no matter what mask I tried to hide behind; still, the only person I could ever be is me.
There were others who were stronger than me. There were those who were my age, and yet, I looked so much younger. I was skinny. In fact, at best, I was only skinny. Mainly I was a thin, baby-faced little boy; always wishing I was more like someone else and never realizing that it pays to nurture the one pure truth.
I am me.
I often discuss the different stations in the cafeteria at school. This is where the different sections of social groups were flocked in their categories of popularity.
This is where the tough kids sat together. This is where the athletes sat together. This is where the different sociopolitical gatherings were grouped together in a prioritized order. This is what we learned in school, (and don’t let anyone tell you differently).
Although young, this was the breeding ground for learning. In fact, there was more to be learned about life in the lunchrooms, hallways, schoolyards and locker rooms than in places like, say, Mr. Syden’s 3rd period Earth Science class.
I learned plenty in school. I might not have learned quite as much in the classrooms but yes, I learned plenty. I learned about me. i learned about self. I learned about difference and how this was viewed. I learned that should someone read poorly or learn poorly, then perhaps this made them less valuable as a person. (Right?)
I learned what rejection was. I learned that if you read poorly and stutter, people laugh and snicker. I learned what the letter “F” means. This means failure.
I learned that reading and writing were important enough to help perfect communication. I learned the importance of note-writing in class, which took place as a means to connect interpersonal relationships. I also learned what happens when you find your name in one of those notes and what it feels like to be both slandered and outed by someone you considered to be a friend. I learned plenty in school.
I mention that we passed notes, which is outdated now because texting is the technology. However, no matter how technology advances, nothing can advance us beyond our core, which is that at our core is the simple, yet complicated version of our emotional picture and point of view.
The way we view us; the way we view each other and the way we learn to interact; the way we learn to socialize or improve our socialization and the way we submit to social programming and prioritize ourselves by status, race, culture, and fashion. All of these are trained concepts that reach back to our earliest times of social interaction in pre-school.
I am not sure why I compared myself to others.
I don’t know why I held myself to unfair standards.
I was only me.
I am not sure why I compared my body type to other people.
I don’t know why I punished myself with envy.
I was only me.
I am not sure why I allowed myself to be defined by my inabilities over my abilities.
I don’t know why I focused on all of my weaknesses instead of nurturing them by including my strengths.
Again, I was only me.
There is a social program of what beauty looks like. There is the accepted norm and the common opinion. There are trends. There is the suggestion of what beauty is or what beauty is supposed to be. However, these classifications are celebrated in such a way that people will suffer, struggle and endure great pain just to fit in.
The first girl I ever liked was not someone that others said was pretty. I remember being made fun of. I remembered the group of people that approached me. They came to tell stories about this girl. Although very young, I remember this. I remember being disappointed because I liked this girl.
I liked her but I was too afraid of the social pushback. I lacked the presence of self and the presence of fortitude to stand up for my right to enjoy this young girl.
She was not the typical beauty but to me, she was sweet and soft and pretty. She smelled nice too. She laughed. She had a smile that made me feel better about myself. But for some reason, this girl was deemed to be undesirable by popular vote. She was different.
I like different.
And me being me, or wait, no; — me being afraid to be me, I allowed outside opinions to influence my own. I allowed the flock to dictate and determine my happiness. Therefore, I never knew what it meant to be truly happy.
Looking back, it is truly amazing to see how we hurt each other. It is amazing to see that we allow this and that we are often volunteers (not victims). It is sad to see what bullying does. Moreover, it is sad, but yet, I admit to my involvement with this. I admit to my involvement with rumor factories and the gossip mills. I admit to my dependency on social nature and the need for acceptance.
I am me.
I am someone that wanted to be wanted.
I am me.
I am someone that enjoys being included and invited.
I am me and such, I am someone that has learned to understand more about social disorders, phobias, anxieties and the inner turmoil of depression. I made a choice to learn more about the internal voice or monologue, which can often talk us into a self-driven insanity.
I have seen and compared the narrative between corporate boardrooms, work places, schoolyards and childhood sandboxes. I have carefully looked at both and seen an amazing similarity.
I can see sociopolitical draw. I see the politics of popularity and I have found that nothing has changed.
I can see the need for popularity and the need for status still remains. Public acceptance can be as worth as gold. And, in some cases, people have sold themselves for this. See?
I have learned a great deal from my early years in school.
It is apparent to me that bullies and bullying do not stop at the end of high school. There are the popular crowds and the accepted norms of what is and what is not beautiful. There are people who will suffer, struggle, and live in pain, just to fit in and find their place in the circle.
As for myself: I am me.
It took me more than four decades to comfortably say this.
I am me.
I am me, faults and all.
I am me, crooked eyes, different ears, and brown eyed.
My weight is my weight. My skin color is my skin color. I have what I have and therefore, the one most important lesson I’ve learned is this – It is better to celebrate what I am than mourn what I’ve never owned.
I used to swear there was something wrong with me. I used to think I was “Mentally ill,” which is one of the labels I was given.
I thought I was “Emotionally disturbed,” which is something that I was told at a very young age. I used to think I was stupid because I had learning disabilities.
I thought I was ugly for most of my life. I thought I was undesirable and unwanted. But mainly, I thought all of this because I had given into trained assumptions. I subscribed to social programmings that lead to unfair judgements about myself.
The reason why we are overly critical is because we look at ourselves from a point of judgement. Even if others are given slack, we are critical of us. In fact, we are painfully critical to ourselves.
And why? The answer is simple.
We are living in the inaccurate lessons from our past. We are still that kid in grade school just hoping no one makes fun of our new pants.
This lesson goes all the way back to our first experience with rejection. This goes back to the first lesson we learned about being desirable and socially undesirable.
To explain this simply, our mind is only looking to find peace. Our brain is trying to take care of us. Our mind wants the easiest, softest way; however, to think beyond normal routines is a conflict of social interest. This creates discomfort and fear because this goes against the lessons we are taught.
This leads us to thought patterns of judgement. Therefore, we judge ourselves on the basis of the unfair and inaccurate comparisons, which we learned when we were very young.
There were times when this way of thinking was so intense for me. I saw myself as totally unwanted, unlikable and unable to fit with others. I saw myself this way because of my own misconceptions of self.
Thus, I was always uncomfortable. I was always afraid that someone would see through my mask. I was afraid to be exposed and vulnerable because above all; I was afraid once someone saw THE REAL me, they would reject me — or worse, they would expose me further to a new elevation of humiliation or shame.
But I am me.
I have been me since the moment of my birth. I will always be me. I will always have this heart in my chest. I will always have my lungs, my lips, my face, my arms and legs.
I will always have my ribs and my bones. And I will always have my brain. This cannot and will not change.
I am me and therefore, in order to enjoy being me, I have to learn how to nurture being me, which means to hell with the outside influence. To hell with the critics. To hell with other opinions and other talents.
To hell with my critical judgement of what is or is not beautiful to others.
No, I have to celebrate what is beautiful to me.
I am not a kid in the sandbox anymore. Neither is anyone else reading this, which means it’s okay to move away from judgement. It’s okay to find comfort in one’s self. It’s okay to like what you like, feel what you feel, and be who you are. Otherwise, doing anything else is only a disservice to self.
There came a point in my life when I decided that I just don’t want to be miserable anymore. Mainly, there came a point in my life when I had to decide to set myself free. Otherwise, I would still be trapped in the mindset of social normalcy. Otherwise, I’d just be typical like everyone else.
But I’m not typical.
I am me.
This means I have to nurture who I am.
Not fake it. Not appropriate myself, Not prove or commercialize myself.
To be happy, I had to be the one person I’ve always been
and that’s me.
Anything else is a disservice.