Growing up the youngest of four boys taught me a few things:
The first thing I learned was I can never win. Being the youngest meant I was always the smallest and the weakest. No matter what I tried there was always someone stronger, faster or smarter than me. Every game I played I’d lose. If we had a team and lost, I’d get blamed. Even if we won, it would be in spite of me. I was always the scapegoat, the weak link, the runt. Eventually I stopped playing and tried to participate in other ways. If it was sports, I’d volunteer to be the ref. If we played war, I’d be the doc. I’d be anything to stay out of the competition. But it went even deeper than that. I developed a phobia of conflict. At the first sign of any tension, I would turn and run because I knew I would lose and get ridiculed. I even adopted the personal mantra “every opportunity is another chance to fail”.
The second thing I learned was I was nothing special. Most people have at least one thing they can leverage to make them special. They are good-looking, smart, funny, charismatic, athletic, artistic and so on. And the lucky people are more than one. It seems like everyone around me had something they could call their own. But I had nothing. I wasn’t good looking, wasn’t funny, had no ability in sports or science, I wasn’t artistic or good with words. See my Author Page and you’ll get the idea. I had nothing to make me feel good about who I was. The only thing I was good at was making a list of my own faults.
The third thing I learned was that girls are aliens. Having no sisters meant I was never around girls at all. I had no idea what they were really like. And since all my friends were weaklings and nerds like me, we never hung out with any girls. They were as alien to me as, well, aliens. Combine that with the fact that I was not good looking, not athletic, not outgoing and afraid of conflict, and, well you get the picture. Girls to me were like rainbows. They were amazing and beautiful when seen from a distance, but if I ever tried to get up close, they would always disappear.
The forth thing I learned was that dreams are just that, dreams. My father always wanted to be a musician. I used to listen to him play guitar and he was actually really good at it. But he had kids too early in life and had to settle for a career in insurance to support his family. Seeing my father giving up on his dream had an impact on me as well. I grew up thinking dreams were not something you could actually achieve. Dreams were unattainable. So as I grew up and started having my own dreams, I never pursued them. I never took chances. Why would I? I was afraid of conflict and failure anyway, remember? So I went to a local college, studied what I thought was a safe subject and got an easy job and worked my way up. What I was passionate about never even entered the picture. I took the path of least resistance.
Let’s be clear. I don’t blame anyone for where I ended up. Many people play the victim and blame their parents or society or even God for how they ended up in life. I guess it’s easier to blame than to accept. I don’t blame anyone. It’s not my brothers’ fault. It’s not my dad’s fault. It’s not society’s fault. It’s not God’s fault. And you know what? It’s not even my fault. Blaming someone, even yourself, doesn’t do anything accept make you bitter and resentful.
I also don’t say all this to get sympathy or to paint a sad-sack picture of myself. There are way too many ‘woe-is-me’ sites out there where losers pity themselves. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. In fact, I want just the opposite. I want people to tell me to suck it up, get off my ass and make my life better. Everyone has issues to overcome. My dad used to say: You are who you are not because of how you grew up but in spite of how you grew up.
The point of starting this blog is to better understand who I am. Maybe then I can accept who I am and maybe, just maybe, I could even like who I am. I mean, how can I expect someone else out there to love me for who I am if I don’t even love myself? Maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong. The only way to find the truth is to not to search on the outside, but to search on the inside.
I know, it was a sappy ending, but I had to take it.