I told Bella that I was going to write this post when the time was right, but I've been sitting on it in my head for weeks now, and because of a post she wrote today, I really feel the desire to write this down. She's been an inspiration to me, the way she handles her personal growth. Reading her post was just a huge kick in the ass to me, the proverbial "two by four to the head" everyone talks about when they get a message from the universe that says "Hey stupid, what the hell are you doing just sitting there, do something!!"
I've been on this path of mine for a very long time now, over 39 years, and through it all there has been one constant. I have never shown my true self to anyone, not even to those I love and trust the most, not completely anyway. All I could ever do was this: show people the side of myself that is socially and what I have now dubbed "personally" acceptable. It's easy to do, especially if all you want to do is to avoid conflict and avoid feeling let down or disappointed because someone doesn't like who you are. I've never been comfortable enough with myself to show anyone who I am, that's the bottom line, I know that now. I've always been afraid, too unsure of my own worth to be who I really am. And this even in recent months when here I thought I had made great strides in becoming "whole", there I sat, still afraid to be "me".
I talked to my dad the other night, and he told me something that really made me think, bringing this post ever closer to reality. He said that in all the things I didn't do early in life, in school, in the Navy, everything, was from a lack of motivation, and he more or less called me an idiot for being that way. See, growing up I was the one out of my siblings, (I have 2 brothers and a sister), that was supposed to be the "smart" one, I had the ability to get straight A's in school, to get an academic scholarship to a good college, and it was expected of me to perform to the best of my ability. As an adult I took an IQ test to find out if in fact this expectation were true, and I found, not to my surprise, that my IQ is around 150, or what they call "borderline genius". I'm smarter than about 95 percent of the population. So what did I do? Well with my lack of motivation I did nothing, no effort in class, little to no homework, and what did I get out of it? Not straight A's of course. I didn't get a scholarship to college, so, in order to get the ability to go to college, I enlisted in the Navy to take advantage of their GI Bill. You can probably see where this story is going. To make a long story short, not only did I not succeed in the Navy, I was discharged earlier than I was scheduled due to taking a 31 day vacation without telling them first. Now that situation was over a woman, the girl who was eventually to become my wife and bear me my 3 daughters, so it was not a "bad" thing insomuch that it was poor planning and yet again a lack of motivation on my part to do what I needed to do to get what I wanted and needed. She was the focus of my thoughts, what she "wanted", which of course was nothing even close to the reality of what she actually had in mind.
Which brings me back to what I started talking about, my socially and personally acceptable behavior. My whole life I have said and done things because of what I thought someone else "wanted", or acted in ways that I thought THEY felt I should, never once considering that in the process, I was losing myself, or worse, never finding myself to begin with, never being "me". And I still do it to this day, I talk to my friends, I tell them things I think they want to hear, not what I truly want to say. Even those closest to me probably don't know the true "me", because I have never actually showed him to them, and that really makes me sad, I want to just be me, and not feel like they will hate me for what I've done, for who I've been. But I'm scared, deathly afraid to do it, and I wish I knew why.
I know some of the reasons why I do things like I do, especially when it comes to the opposite sex, wow, I could write a book on that. Now I'm not saying that I haven't gotten better, these days I do tend to be a lot less afraid to say what I really want, but I used to be a whole lot worse.
Here's the scenario. There's a woman who I have feelings for, and she says she likes potted plants, she loves nothing more than to plant them and tend them and make herself a wonderful garden, aren't they just the coolest thing ever? (she asks me) Well in my mind I'm saying "Potted plants? Yuck, I hate to get my hands in dirt, I don't like potting plants or messing with anything of the gardening variety". But what comes out of my mouth? "Yeah plants are cool, I'd like to have some in my house, build my own little garden". And I say that because A) "What if she loses interest in talking to me if I say I don't like plants?" and B) "Messing with plants isn't all that bad, I can do something like that if it's what she likes, and she can teach me something in the process, and she'll see that I'm interested in the same stuff as her, which will make her like me more." See, the fact is, I am very flexible, and I like to try things more than once, sometimes it's all in the person doing it, so I don't just write something off because I didn't like it the first time I tried it. The problem comes in my motivation for doing it, it's usually not JUST because I'd like to try that something again, it's to get her to like me more.
That's so wrong it's not even funny, but that's what I used to do, and to some extent, still do. Let me do what she does, what she likes to do, and more importantly, when she does it, so I'll look like I'm really interested. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I say and do this with EVERYTHING. There are a lot of things I do genuinely like, and like to do, like blogging here. I love to write things, not so much stories, but observations of mine on the meaning of life, or something educational, I love to teach people about cars and computers, two things I love to work on.
Something just struck me, I feel like I've written this post before, or parts of it at least, almost word for word, and that bothers me. That means I've said this before, and that means I've known and acknowledged this issue before. And obviously did nothing. Hmmmm.
Anyway to shorten this increasingly rambling post, I have to say that just writing this has made a lot of difference, because for the first time I've actually said what's in my mind, and I don't do that a lot. Even writing here most of the time I say things in a way that I feel most people will want to read it, not necessarily how I really want to say it. Which I recall I have said before, jeez. So this is a vicious circle then, no wait, a globe, you know, one of those things you see a hamster running around in, I've gotten myself stuck in a globe of fear, fear of others seeing "me", (see mine's not plastic and clear like the hamster's, otherwise everybody could see me, it's probably an opaque gray or something) and that my friends is what this post is about, coming out of that globe once and for all. Boy I hope there's a door or something, or maybe it's glass, and I can hammer my way out.
But all kidding aside folks, what I fear too is the expectations of others, and really of myself and what I will have to do, which I believe is why I stay unmotivated to be as successful as I could be. That has to be it. I'm not really "lazy" so to speak, I'm not one to just do nothing intentionally, it's just that I don't always feel confident that I CAN do something, and so I don't, and I basically paralyze myself into inaction. Interesting premise, I've never really worked that out into a logical thought process before, but it's true, that's exactly what I do. Even as a kid I was told I could do it, but when the going got a little tough, I started to doubt myself, and then just said "screw it, I can't do this", and gave up. Wow, that's amazing, 39 and NOW I get why I acted that way. And by proxy, the reasons why I act like I do to everyone today.
I'm not going to apologize folks, this is just part of MY growth process, and I have the right to be an idiot. Lots of you may have seen this long before I did, but that's ok, this is me, and this time I want to be the me you all DON'T know and love. And just maybe you'll love me anyway. I know me, and I want to share me with you.