It Doesn’t Get Any Easier

In an effort to determine who I really am, I have spent the better part of the last three weeks thinking about who I am, who I could have been, who I still could be, and who I really will be.  It all started with a simple conversation with my best friend, followed by a tragedy, followed by a dream and I haven’t been the same since.  Oh sure, day to day, minute to minute, I am still the same guy I have always been, but my thoughts, my fears, my hopes, my dreams have either changed or at the very least come to the forefront of what goes through my brain all day long.

I started this blog to chronicle my adventures into adulthood.  Twenty somethings are pseudo adults.  Certainly I thought I was an adult throughout my twenties, but really, I could still have acted like a child and gotten away with it.  Once you hit thirty, forget it, you’re a grown up and it’s time to start acting like it.  I thought it would be important to me to see how and where I matured along the way, so I started this blog mainly to follow my progress.  Trouble is, there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress.  Sure, I’ve spouted off on topics that upset me. I’ve reminisced about my youth, trying to find the humor in my awkwardness, I’ve shared my feelings, past and present, and I’ve tried to make it at least a little bit interesting as I go.  I talk a lot about my plans for the future, or my failed attempts to change who I am.  The fact is, as I look it over, I have made a lot of promises to myself that I haven’t kept.  It’s easy to say you are going to do something, but to actually pull it off can be a different trick entirely.  I was going to write a book, I was going to write songs to play on my guitar, I was going to take a trip to South America, I was going to run for mayor, (OK, maybe not, but I was getting pretty political back in the fall of 2012 around election time.) I was going to get married, have kids, buy a house, have a dog, a cat, the works.  I have gone from saying I will do things simple like do volunteer work to more complex ideas, such as filming a documentary.  I have every How To book known to man, a collection of Idiots Guide to everything and dozens of unfinished lists of all the things I have wanted to do in my life but never will

I’ve had offers from my boss to help me complete all these unfinished tasks in my life.  She instructed me to write a bucket list (although I feel I am still a little young to be thinking about death) and she was going to help me cross each item off.  This was a week before she took a trip to Italy, and now that she’s back I haven’t talked with her, but I am sure at some point she will ask to see my list and I will be forced to tell her there is nothing on it.  That’s not to say there’s nothing in my life I wish to do.  Hell, I just rattled off a list of things, but the simple truth is, none of these things appeal to me without one particular thing in my life.  I am 32, I am single, and I am lonely.  Yes, there it is.  While I love my apartment, I hate coming home to an empty room.  I love my freedom, my independence, my ability to make my own schedule and live by it, and I would give it all up to roll over one morning and see a beautiful face sleeping alongside me.

While I have had a lot on my mind these past three weeks, this is the one facet of my life that ties it all together.  The truth is, without someone at my side, I don’t feel very motivated to do much of anything.  It all spirals back to this, so I had to sit and think about how I got to where I am and how I could fix the situation.  I have always been shy and recently I have come to see that the term introverted actually applies better to who I am.  Socially, I have always been awkward, but I have also always thrived in a solitary environment where I can sit and do my work without a crowd surrounding me.  I once commented to a friend, “I would be perfectly happy sitting in the back of the room and no one knowing I was there.”  He found this very amusing at the time, but I realize now that it is a feature of who I am, and while I don’t dislike people, I dislike crowds and commotion.  Because of this, I have always shied away from social gatherings, and even during my brief stint in college when I decided I would go to parties, I often kept to myself or stayed close to those I knew well.  Basically, I spent the most important years of my life, in terms of spreading my social wings, hiding in the corners, and because of that I never really flirted with women and never gave myself the chance to find “the one.”  Sure, I managed to have limited success over the years, but nothing lasting and nothing that was going to lead to marriage in my thirties.  I obviously can’t go back and change the person I was fifteen years ago, but I see now how so many of my choices back then have influenced who I am today and why I am still living alone.

So what inspired me to spout off on this tonight?  Well, again, it was the culmination of a lot of things.  I decided yesterday that I had to at least make an attempt at communicating with Sara.  Despite the lack of response from my initial message, I still held onto the slightest bit of hope that maybe she would give me a chance.  Of course, I am still a timid little shit when it comes to talking to women, and I felt like some foolish love-struck teenager as I sat at my laptop, trying to string together the best words in the shortest paragraph I could put together to apologize for possibly making her feel awkward and at the same time requesting an opportunity to talk with her.  I had been thinking over whether or not I wanted to take on this approach, but her sister suggested I try, and although she also warned me not to expect much, it was worth a shot.  I hurriedly sent off a message to her just before leaving for work and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening wondering if she would respond or not.  Of course, when I got home, I discovered she had not responded, which did not surprise me, but disappointed me greatly.  While I am really not willing to concede just yet, in all likelihood nothing will ever come of this.  It makes me sit here and wonder if there is anything I could have done sooner to make myself more appealing to her, but it’s easy to look back and say would a, should a, could a.  Honestly, there may never have been anything I could have done to make her see me as a romantic partner.

So after spending most of my afternoon questioning myself and my life choices, I came home tonight and once again found myself hoping she would talk to me.  While I sat here, pathetically waiting for something that would never come, I came across something else entirely that offered me at least a glimmer of hope, or at the very least, a little inspiration.  The following was written by the husband of one of my very best friends in high school.  The beauty he is referring to is a picture of his sleeping son.  Read on:

I’ll be honest–I’ve had a few drinks. Alone. While the rest of my house sleeps. But I realized while I was freaking out in fear and sadness over my upcoming transition that this little guy–this little perpetual ball of happiness and inspiration and enthusiasm and beauty and pressure in all the right ways–is fourteen steps away. So while I get ready to both go to sleep and embark upon the best step of my career and life, I wish all of you the chance to have this kind of panic, and this kind of fear, and this kind of beauty in your lives too. Because whether you only live once or twenty times, it’s a rare thing to see what I see after fourteen steps in my home. So I treasure it, and I hope all of you who can see your version of what I see do the same.

After reading this, I felt inspired to write a response to him.  Here it is:

Adam, I just have to say that I truly envy the fear and panic, and even the sadness you speak of as I realize that throughout my life, I have shielded myself from these emotions in an effort to protect myself and in doing so I have limited the person I could have been. I am constantly seeking the someone or something that will allow me to someday let down my guard, throw caution to the wind, and live the life I would like to live. I realize all these years I have been alive, I have not been living and as each day passes I lose the opportunity to come across the beauty such as you have found in your life. I find your message inspiring and I wish you all the best in your transition to new things. Good luck, and by all means, keep writing!

His response to this was:

Jamie, if I may be so bold (and with alcohol-child), I would say your inspiration for “life” already exists in the form of woman. Not a woman singular, per say, but woman generally who can grant you the confidence in yourself that will get you to the next step. I realizeThat it isn’t quite the same in your case, but I have met you, I’ve read your writing, and I have an idea of who you are from a basic level at least. You are an intelligent, sensitive, radically insecure person who should realize that while a woman would indeed help your “transition”, only the right one would make you feel right about doing it. And that just takes luck

Without knowing a thing about my current situation, he pretty much nailed it.  I went on to ask him if he would pass along his compliments to Sara for me.  Ultimately, I know what the issues in my life are.  I know why I can’t get on a plane to California just as I know why I can’t risk quitting my job to go back packing across Europe.  It’s easy to say it’s my fear of flying, my fear of change, my fear of everything irrational, and while I will admit I am a bit sketchy on flying, I did it way back when I had a girlfriend.  The simple fact is with someone at my side, someone supporting me in all that I do, I am much more motivated to take those risks.  I know this.  I have always known this, but when you spend all but one year and four months of your life as a single guy, you have to look for reasons things are holding you back.  People ask me why I don’t dress up for Halloween, why I don’t get excited for Christmas, or why the fireworks on the 4th of July just don’t do it for me.  It’s not that I don’t like these things, it’s that I don’t have any reason to want to enjoy these things without someone to share those moments with.  I thought about getting dressed up for Halloween, just because I thought I would have the chance to go to a party where I would run into Sara.  Actually, I wanted to go pumpkin picking and carve a jack-o-lantern, but I certainly have no desire to do such an activity on my own.  Contrary to what most people think about me, I like a lot of things, I just don’t like doing them alone.  Until I find the person who wants to do all those things with me, I will continue to be that boring, solitary person, and that scares the shit out of me.  While I don’t dislike who I am, I dislike the idea that people think I don’t like fun things.

One of the things that bothers me most is how I perceive myself versus how I am perceived by others, my friends, my family, my coworkers.  For the most part, my friends and family see me how I am, minus a few features, but my coworkers and apparently a good portion of the rest of the world see me very differently.  I see myself as quiet and shy while there are those that perceive that as arrogant and rude.  Now, there are some people out there who don’t like me, and I don’t care.  Some people are assholes and I could care less what they think of me, however if the people I am closest with see me as rigid, stubborn, angry, etc., I need to do something to show them who I really am.   Of course my fear is maybe I am the one with the skewed perspective.  It occurred to me tonight that although Sara and I had always gotten along very well, if she saw me as some others see me, I could see why she wouldn’t want to date me.  From what I know of her, we are very similar and I honestly believe we would get along great, but she may not see the person I want her to see.

I suppose I could go on with this forever, but all the talking in the world isn’t going to change anything, not tonight at least.  I’ll go toss and turn for yet another night, playing in my head the scenes I will never live out with her or anyone else.  As the title says, it doesn’t get any easier.

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~ by James on October 18, 2013.

2 Responses to “It Doesn’t Get Any Easier”

  1. To say I understand everything you wrote is an understatement. I told a coworker the other day I was nervous about dating a guy I’d started talking to online, and she was shocked that I was nervous. I’m “never nervous”. We don’t realize the persona we project until we are slapped in the face with it. Who I am behind the written word is the real me. Who I am at work, or even with some friends, is not completely me. It’s a front that I’ve learned to project, and do enjoy, but it’s mostly an expression of just one aspect of my personality. I mostly feel like you described above. What I have found, very recently, is that I’m actually ok with this. While it sucks being lonely, I shouldn’t have to be fake just to be with someone. I will wait for that person who can see the real me, and the projected me, and still see me. All of these parts (at my age – 29, even though I act much older), make me who I am now, and I kind of like that. Find the You that you are comfortable with and be that person without compromise. I know it’s easier said that done, but you’re on the right track. Good luck, I can’t wait to see what you discover!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words. It is certainly surprising to learn how others perceive you, especially after having what you think is a pretty good perspective of who you are. I am far from perfect, and I know I need to make some adjustments. I just hope I can do it before it’s too late. Thanks for reading and I hope I can keep you entertained! 🙂

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