I spent at least an hour the other night just watching myself. I fired up the camera on my computer and just took a good look trying to absorb everything, partly because I’m too broke to afford a mirror.
I came to a couple conclusions lately. First, I’m still not fully recovered from my last relationship (I like how I say last as if I ever had one substantial like that beforehand), and connected to that, and my hour of staring at myself, that who I see myself as in my mind’s eye hasn’t gotten any closer to matching up with who I really am.
I was there, trying to stare at myself in the eyes (which is where the mirror really would have come in handy over a webcam), digging up long lost facial expressions and even discovering ones that were never thought to exist before. The longer I did, the more I truly came to understand the disparity.
It’s sad, but who I am beginning to understand just who, the person everyone can see and experience with their eyes, am, and how he is perceived. When I compare my growing understanding of that with who I have always seen myself as, I recognize that my self-appraisal is a pittance of who I really am.
There are some other factors that I won’t get into even here, but I really tore myself to shreds through that five years of relationship, break-up and depression recovery, and I did it all to myself. In fact, this is internal behavior that I’ve always done. I’ve always had confidence and self-image issues. I think it is hard to not develop that stuff when you’re a shy, soft-spoken kid. Even before you start school, you get drowned out by the louder, comfortable ones who feed off of everyone’s energy. Or maybe it was me just being a weird kid, but I can remember thinking I was inadequate at a young age because I was always overshadowed.
Overshadowed by my best and longest friend, as he excelled at everything. He was stronger, faster, funnier, not only better looking, but the kid that every girl had a crush on in 3rd grade. Not only was he a good singer, he wasn’t too shy to even sing in front of anyone.
The list goes on, but basically as a kid, I remember always feeling overshadowed by everyone, and my closest company was the prime example.
It never changed as I grew up, even if it became ever obvious that these self-perceptions I had were simply not true. And I always let myself used my best friends as the biggest scapegoats for my weak thought process. I won’t say that my confidence has always been pathetic, but as I found things to be confident in, it was as delicate as a feather in a hurricane. That delicacy can take someone who put more hours into basketball and had more natural athleticism than 99% of the population and send him to the bench at his worst mental moments, but usually just made him just another player.
Confidence can make us feel and seem superhuman, but just as easily it can strip and leave us naked and powerless.
I never had a girlfriend in high school. I never even got Valentines from anyone throughout all of school. Even when I got to college and had numerous girls I had mutual interest in at once, I always felt like it should be impossible to be attracted to me. I am not saying I felt ugly, just that nobody should be attracted to me. Here’s a secret, if you feel like you shouldn’t be attractive to anyone, you’re not even going to be able to subconsciously attract someone, which is most of the game.
Let’s step further back, though, because I am not trying to tell some emo high school angst sob story, because that’s not what this is about. From my late teens to the present day, I’ve always felt that when I meet people that they instantly dislike me. When someone is nice to me, I am having a gory inner battle trying to convince myself that what I’m convinced of is stupid, because it is. Yet, if someone is even being nice or being very forward with me, I am instinctively convinced that they are simply going to extremes to humor me, which is funny, because they likely are that naturally inclined to want to be my friend, yet I feel like they dislike me more than I feel like the average person does.
A lot of these internal struggles have been embedded so deep and for so long, that a lot of times it feels like I have been hardwired that way. I now understand that in the past, for instance, high school, even when I was very social and popular and so on, that I was merely using external machinations to channel my messed up wiring as opposed to trying to actually fix the real problems.
For instance, when I get tired, which is early and often, it is very hard for me to be properly and normally social. As a younger person, I just accepted this was how I am, and let myself be useless when that happened. What I know now is that maybe I am this way, but accepting the excuse of being tired is a crutch to let myself be lazy and get out of things that I got a bad taste in my mouth for as a child, as opposed to finding out how to better them and co-exist with them. Now, I might get tired, but I still make an effort to not only be normal, but excel socially in all ways. So what if I don’t feel like it. Sometimes my muscles and joints don’t always feel like running like I know they can, but should that be a reason to get on a basketball court or soccer field and merely walk around? Nah.
So now I recognize all these things. I acknowledge them. And here it is:
Those 2 years of depression I let myself fall into reversed the clock years. In a lot of ways, I ended up back in the mindset I had as a 17, 15, 12, 8, and 5 year old, in all sorts of ways.
My life is great now. Inch for inch, pound for pound, I don’t things have ever been this good internally and externally. Yet, I’m still stuck, because of that whole mind’s eye thing. In my alone time, I seriously practice very basic social skills and other things that most of us normally develop in the socialization process– in fact– most of these things I properly developed, yet let shrivel up during those hard years. It’s ridiculous, but I have to. I could either settle for it, or have to humble myself to actually work on it and fix it.
I’m a marionette. I can pull the strings, and throw my voice and kind of come off as a human thing, but when it comes to the next step, I am not authentic, and I can’t do it.
My first year after the break-up, 2011, I went through a phase where there were several girls that I ended up straight up using and being shallow. And I wanted to. And I didn’t want to feel anything. And I didn’t. And then I did. And then it felt just as terrible as when I was on the thinner side of the scale.
Since then, I’ve become wedged between both ends of the animal. I don’t really know if I can let myself to commit anything, yet when I want at least someone to be forward with, I don’t think I can go back to feeling like such a dirtball again.
And this is the type of stuff that still bleeds into that hesitation I feel. I hesitate asking a best friend to hang out or come over say because there is still that fading reverberation in my head that people just don’t like me. And it’s a little louder for a new friend. It’s a little louder for a cute girl. It’s a shriek when it’s a cute girl that I want to meet. And so on.
And there I was, staring at myself. And I couldn’t comprehend what I was looking at. It wasn’t who I felt I was looking at in my mind’s eye all those years– even this year, when I can wholly admit that I am at my best looking, happiest, most free, best-everything– who I saw was someone who looks very likable, who can be expressive, who is handsome, who is more or less normal.
It’s just weird. It took sitting down and writing through some of the pipes and inner workings to really piece together how my self-perception can be so perverted, so dead wrong.
And I have to wonder what all these new people in my life think about me. If they notice there are large pieces of me missing or what.
Either way, nothing has ever come easy in my life. I’m just going to keep trying to fix my mind’s eye poor vision, even if I have to regularly spend an hour a night being vain.