“last night I was
east with them
and west within
trying to be for you
what you want to see”
– Ben Folds – Best Imitation of Myself
Time for the rubber to hit the road, the pen to hit the paper… It’s time for me to finally spill some of these thoughts that I have been unable to put words to. I have tried to share parts of this before, but I feel like it’s never come out in full. My wife doesn’t even know some of these feelings. Not because I’m hiding from her, but rather because I have not known how to explain… I’m going to do my best now. I’m making this so public, because I feel like anyone who knows me/wants to know me/has known me should hear this.
I feel like a complete, total, utter fraud.
In this journey of life we so often search for the things that define us. Whether that is a passion, a belief, a cause, or countless other frivolous things. We tend to take a collection of all these things, paste them on a canvas, and present them to the world as who we “are.” For a time in my life, many years ago, if someone looked at those things on my canvas, they would see a passionate, sometimes radical, Christian, someone who always wanted deep conversation with others, someone who fought for the causes of those who were in need, and a spatter of other fun interests. As college ended, I pasted up new images to try to add some color to my life palette. Whether that was frequently going out to the bar, trying to seem like a more “progressive” Christian, loosening my morals a bit among some other nasty habits. My collage became very crowded… Sometimes with things that even seemed to contradict each other. Recently, I feel as though many of the things in this personality collage have dried up and fell off the canvas, leaving just some base level interests of roller coasters, music, weather, and technology behind, along with small traces of all the things that have been there before. In between those remaining clippings, are blank, yellowed, spaces. People close to me, mainly my wife, have tried to understand what lies in those spaces. Where is the passion I once had? Where is the spontaneity that once made me such a “fun” person? Why is nothing sticking anymore? As I have thought about this, I think the problem is the canvas itself… Me.
As I look at this tattered, confused work of art, I feel that I have always used the things I present to the world to cover up the things that I want to hide from the rest of the world. As I drift from situation to situation, I adapt to the people I’m around and paste up some things that make me fit in with them. Some of the things I show to others are things that really interest me, and others I really don’t care about at all. The more I can put up, the less chance there is of them seeing me for who I really am. So who is that person?
I frequently feel: Insecure. Inadequate. Discontent. Scared. Stressed. Depressed. Desperate. Lost.
I know that sounds rather bleak, and it is, but don’t get me wrong, those aren’t the only things I feel. I still do find joys in life. I don’t walk around all day feeling like a miserable zombie. It just seems at the end of the day, as I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling in the darkened room, I fight to keep those negative feelings at bay. It’s those feelings I hide from so many, and it was those feelings tonight that brought me to the computer. I am so afraid of rejection. I desperately seek affirmation and admiration from others, sometimes in excess. In my life, when I didn’t find those things, I have sought comfort in some very dark things. Things in my past that disgust me to even think about…
So I’m sure if you have read this far, you probably are regretting reading this “buzz-kill” of a post. On a positive note, the reality is I know that hope is out there. I know that something has brought me this far. I am just so damn tired of covering myself up with all of these things that aren’t connected to the core of me. I want to have passions that really drive me. I want to have confidence when someone asks me the terrifying question “Tell me about yourself.” My wife has been wonderful. She has seen the real me more than anyone, but not as much as she should. She always tries to really find out the things that are bothering me. She always tries to encourage me. I am so thankful for that. In these times when she is away (visiting family), I realize how much she really is a part of me. I couldn’t imagine life without her, and I am so sorry for the times where I haven’t been able to “be myself” around her.
Here’s the reality. I know very little about politics (even though I just tweeted about Health Care tonight). I have danced around a stage, doing my best “Will Farrell” impression with the cowbell, when inside, I struggled with feeling self-conscious about my weight, and whether people laughed because I was funny, or because I looked like a complete fool. I can think of many times I was performing in theatre productions where all I could think about was if people could see that I was sweating through my costume (I sweat a lot)… On the more serious side, my faith in Christ is so stale that I feel like a cliché every time I even speak the name of Jesus. I donated money to an AIDS fund for several years, and never even knew that much about the disease. I supported a child through Compassion International for those same years, and never even once bothered to write him (I’m so sorry Saitoti)
I just want to be real… I don’t even know if I know how to do that. I suppose tonight was a good start. I feel like I’ve done deep posts like this before, only to go back to the way things were. I don’t want that to be the case. I want change. I am tired of hiding.
One thing I know for sure, is those of you who are my friends, I love you and care for you all very much. I’m sorry for the times I have been fake around you (even if you didn’t know it at the time). Even when my canvas looked like something a 2 year old tore up and put together, many of you still saw it as a beautiful work of art, even though it clearly was a mess. You all mean so much to me, and you deserve the “real me”. So that’s who is writing this tonight. I have a lot of trash to clean up. I need a clean canvas. My faith tells me that God is always willing to give me that chance. I ask the same of you. I start tonight with a clean canvas. I just pray that as I start over, that the work of art that is created is not one covered with items that hide, but rather things that truly exemplify who I am, for better or worse… I want my canvas to display things that are really impacting me, instead of those things that mask me.
Right now this canvas has some dark colors on it, and some clear signs of hurting. In addition, some of the things on it aren’t very deep or intelligent (yes I am still a complete roller coaster nerd). But it is me. In addition, I believe in God… unapologetically… I can’t explain everything about my faith, and I certainly have my doubts, but it is a part of me that I don’t want to stuff away anymore. My faith may seem silly and frivolous to some, but it is an integral part of my life, and I want to start living my life in a way that shows that (talking to God again would be a good start). I also need to understand this whole health care thing more (almost 2000 pages of fun)… but yeah… Hi, I’m Josh Miser… nice to meet you (again).