You know... I have been on a quest to figure out just who I am since the beginning of middle school. I didn't acknowledge this quest. Apparently, it was bestowed upon me unbeknownst (word?) to me.
Okay. So just about every kid finds middle school hell. (If you didn't, for any random passerby that'd be reading, please, share why so I can figure out where I went "wrong.") But I mean, half the time, the hell is only half acknowledged. No one wants to admit they're hurting. (I mean, why does it seem more often than not, anger takes over where hurt probably should have been?) Anyway. Elementary school is the time when everyone is friends. Yeah, sure, there's the cry of "ewww cooties!! run!" or "girls/boys rule; [opposite gender here] drools" blah blah. But at the end of the day, we all shared the same play ground and we all took life for the box of candy we believed it'd be for all of us. Then during the summer after 5th grade, friends become ex-friends, girls and guys suddenly start getting more attention from the opposite sex (and respond accordingly with cheap make-up and silly outfits, and puerile "flexes" (of whatever the boys think impress)), pimples pop up and the teasing's cranked up, gangly limbs and less flat chests cause awkward reactions, etc, whatever, blah blah.
6th grade equals (basically) one of those comedian roast shows that no one signed up for and no one expected. The best friend of a girl becomes the popular girl that never acknowledges the girl's presence. The best friend of a guy discovers sports. Splits happen that those kids from elementary school never thought possible. Then seventh and eighth grade blend with sixth because they all three are just wished to the past.
Well, high school. Simply? Jail. Jail for the mind. Jail for the heart. Jail for the faith. Jail for uniqueness and creativity. Okay. That doesn't describe every school. I'm sure there are a number of fabulously run high schools elsewhere in the country. (But honestly, high schools might be becoming obsolete... But that's a passing thought for another time.)
The jail school is the kind of school I went to. A lot of it has to do with how the place was run, yes. But I (now) eagerly admit that I am the cause for letting it so cage and break my spirit.
But it was just.... the courses. Rote recitation... More like regurgitation. Maybe that's why I'd always loved English and creative writing. It was freeing. That is, until I decided to take a creative writing class in high school. The teacher was awesome, had the right ideals, but had so much favoritism for other "better" writers that I felt inadequate and my talent (what I had) just.... sorta..... left... Or maybe it just died... I mean, it was worked really hard over the course of nine months. And when the nine months bore no fruition? (I was gonna put an analogy here but everything seemed WAAAAY too morbid...)
Annnnyyywaaay... The whole point of this is that I've gone to college for a year. The first half was AMAZING! I felt like I'd FINALLY found my niche! Like I'd found my calling.... But second semester sucked.
So through all of these years I've been looking for myself. I think I finally found a possible answer. For me, if no one else.
I've been trying to impress people since 6th grade. Even sooner but at least I was a little more genuine with what I was impressing people with. Since middle school, I've tried to be the "cool kid," the "artsy kid," the "band kid," the "scene/poetic/depressed/emo/whatever kid," the "funny kid," and the list goes on with only God knows what other things.
All of those, while all ingredients of me, none of them were solely me. I never realized it. And when I did, I didn't like that because, as much as I hate labels like "geek" and "jock" and "goth," I wanted one. Maybe it was the subconscious need for attention that undermines my conscious preference for the behind-the-scenes area. If it was that, then that means, having a label? A label would have put me on the social map. I'd have at least been known, even if scornfully by some group or another.
But I never admitted to wanting to please others. First, thing to solving a problem? Admitting there is one.
I was like "No! I hate stereotypes, blah blah! Anti-stereotypes! Die stereotypes! Grrr!" But what I was really doing was joining another stereotype. I wasn't doing things because they made me happy.
A shallow instance: say a kind of shoes was "in" (Converse for instance), I would go out of my way to not only avoid the shoes myself but to put the shoes down, as well as the wearers of the shoes, mocking them and whatever else. Horrible, eh?
Anyway. I realized around the start of my senior year that I need to just do things because I enjoy them. Wear the shoes I want to wear. (I love Vans but didn't find any, so now love the "treehugger" (no joke; it says that on my shoes!) shoes that are made completely from recycled materials.) Listen to the music I want. (Anberlin is my all-time favorite, though I will go periods of time without listening to them so that when I go back, they'll be fresh again.) Read the books I want. Eat whatever food I want. Worship God like I want. Hang with the people I want. Et cetera.
Kinda the "I do what I want" slogan, but with a less defiant and more modest approach.
Basically: my answer (one of them) is to do what makes me happy. But NOT in that "screw everyone else" kinda way. Just the "my style, my people, my love, my faith, my life" approach where I do what I can to take care of others but don't sacrifice myself mind, body, and even soul in the process.
You know what I also figured out recently? I wholly (or mostly wholly) define myself by my mistakes and failings. I don't know how to give an example for that, unfortunately... It's just one of those things... I'm always apologizing... Always. "Sorry I was late," "sorry I missed your call," "sorry I didn't get to go," "sorry I asked," "sorry I exist..." Okay. That last one I don't say, but I mean, I might as well, right? If I'm going to apologize for basically everything I do, making sure to never step on toes, I should just go ahead and apologize for existing. Like so many others have done before me, I'm sure, I'll quote Anberlin and say "there's more to living than being alive." Well, that said, doesn't that mean that my mistakes are automatically included in the "living" part? I mean, what human being has ever gotten through life without a scratch, physically or metaphorically? As kids, races down steep inclines on our bikes held no fear of wiping out. Thus skinned knees.
I gotta wonder.... Does fear take a stronger hold when we're younger or older? I mean, when we're younger, the Boogey Man still lives in our closets, under our beds, outside our windows, whatever. When we're younger, 20 is forever away, and forever away is "old." But when we're older, we fear other things. Death is a big one.
But back to my defining myself by my mistakes. I still don't have an example, although it's been 15 minutes since I wrote that first mention of how I define myself. Well, here's one... MAYBE. But I was hanging out with a friend I hadn't seen in a year or more, and she asked if I like Glee. I shrugged, saying I liked the actors' singing but wasn't fond of the drama. She just shrugged it off, saying she had thought of Glee as a show I'd like. What was my gut reaction? Guilt!! I mean, what in the WORLD?? Who feels guilty for something like that?? Me, apparently....
Right now, I'm working on not putting myself down (so much, at first, to break the habit, then at all eventually, hopefully). I'm also trying to be logical about what I react to. I mean, reacting to a slight snappish remark? Come on... That's dumb. Not to say I want to be an automaton that directs how my emotions go, just that I want to work on my... emotional paranoia? (Not sure how else to put it.) Oh! And work on my temper.
Whew! Umm... Poor, dear reader. I'm sorry. I'm sure, if you've made it down this far, you feel like you've just been whipped around the world on a twisty roller coaster... I'm sorry. My mind has been scattered lately. (Actually, I think that's just how I write in general... *ahem*) There I go again, apologizing for being me.
So summed up? I've been searching for myself for almost 10 years now. Still haven't found a WHOLE lot, but I'm finding things. One thing is that I need to do what makes me happy while also trying to be a friend to everyone and never putting myself over others. (I will say the exception of when it comes to my sanity... And I know that sounds like a joke, but it's not...) And also, I want to stop drawing myself up with all my flaws as the major edges and outlines that are instantly viewable. I want to be me which includes the goodness, too.
All right. Hope you're eyes aren't dripping from your head from having read so much. :-P Thanks for sticking with me.