There used to be a time when I wasn’t the most confident person. Shocker, I know. I’m sure we can all think of a time in our lives where we were less than satisfied with who we are. Man that was a weird sentence. Not even quite sure if it’s grammatically correct. Ah, well.
This specific time was in college. I’ve always been kind of a bleeding heart in a way. Except, you know, every complex emotion I felt ended up converted to anger before it escaped from my mouth. I’m still kinda like that. Less moody.
Ever since I was a kid, it’s always felt like something has been missing in my life. Maybe you’re familiar with this feeling, too. Like there’s a tiny imp in the pit of your stomach eating away at those nerves down there. Is that a cool simile? Whatever, people always describe loneliness as having to do with their stomachs.
I used to always think that that hole needed to be filled with a girl. Um, yeah I’m gonna stick with that wording. Or with friends. I can remember never wanting to be alone. I always latched on to groups of friends that I spent exorbitant amounts of time with. And there was always some girl that I was pining for. Rarely was that girl ever pining for me.
But I was fickle. I remember that. I’d always get so infatuated, then I’d get my heart broken when I got rejected. And I’d cut that girl out of my life in typical shithead-high-schooler fashion. Though, when I actually got the girl I quickly became uninterested. I just couldn’t put in the effort to actually date the girls I was obsessing over. In retrospect, I was a real fun person. The weird thing is people liked me. I think maybe they liked me because I was kind of an asshole. I’m still kind of an asshole, but in a more sardonic-jokey way. I try really hard not to make shitty remarks at the expense of people I care about, and I do my best to humble myself and apologize when I see I’ve upset someone. Teenager me was just always right, and even if you proved I was wrong, in my opinion I was right.
I think my heart softened a little when I legitimately fell in love with a girl, who I’m so happy to say is the woman I still get to share my life with today. When I say “a little,” though, I really only mean a teeny tiny bit. I was an angry kid in high school, and I still deal with some of that anger today, and it’s not something to be discounted. It’s a thing I’m aware of, and it’s weird because I’m not so sure where it comes from.
It can be really difficult to see outside of yourself. I’m a very stubborn person. That, I’m pretty sure is genetic. It’s hard for me to let things go. I sound like I’m being hard on myself, but I’ve grown to realize that being self-aware is important. I think we all deal with aspects of our personalities that we don’t like, but it’s important to remember that our weaknesses are general also strengths. I may not be the most graceful at losing an argument, but the same stubborn attitude has kept me from giving up on what I truly want so many times. If I ever gave up my stubborn side completely, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Though I may be a lonely person, this also means I am loyal to those who call me “friend”.
It’s important to acknowledge our shortcomings, because everything can be shaped and channeled into something new. That hole in my stomach has nothing to do with companionship or feeling liked. I realize that now. That hole is there because I have demons I need to work out. Still to this day. I’m not even sure if they’ll ever go away, but the devil isn’t so intimidating when you can see his tricks.
I spent a little over a year living with my sister, three days-a-week. She was in the later stages of metastatic melanoma. As the time passed, I saw her retreat further and further into herself. She didn’t want people to look at her and see cancer. She didn’t want the world to see her. She used to be the happiest person I knew. Not a care in the world. She was afraid of what her friends would think of her. She had this idea that she’d re-emerge when we was okay, and tell everybody the harrowing story of her survival. And they’d all be shocked and surprised. But my sister would have long blonde hair again and look like she hadn’t aged a day. And everyone around her would think how amazing it was to see her standing there seemingly unchanged.
Experiencing that firsthand, sitting up night after night, listening to my sister, hearing how scared she was. It changed me. When she eventually passed, I was devastated. I wanted so badly for her fantasy to come true. Reflecting on that time, I saw so much of myself in my sister. What my sister was doing, the way she felt, was just like how I’d been my whole life. Closed off, only willing to let people see the best versions of ourselves. Stubborn, indecisive, and distant. I made a conscious decision to open myself up. I realized that if I were ever going to feel happy, and close that hole in my stomach, I had to start working on myself. I had to start listening to the people who cared about me. I had to stop sabotaging my relationships with my stubborn ego-driven attitude. I had to swallow my pride.
That was probably around four years ago. I can’t say I’m where I want to be her, but I do feel confident that I’ve changed. But most of all I just feel confident.