At the age of 27, I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to get to know myself. Which has been a strange, frustrating, silly, exciting, and confusing time.
Now let me be clear: I haven’t passed 27 years intentionally not getting to know myself; instead, I spent that time attempting to mold myself into the person I wanted to be.
And, embarrassingly enough, a lot of what shaped that goal revolved around what I thought would make me cool. Like listening to cool music, reading cool books, having cool hobbies, meeting cool people, going to cool places, having cool stories — you get the idea.
With some distance and perspective, I’m able to recognize the irony that the more one tries to be cool the less cool one actually is.
So here I am, facing myself honestly. Looking at myself through the clearest lense I have available, and as I peel away each layer, I must also confront the self-deception behind it.
And in-turn, I become more aware of the fact that I am simply not “cool.”
Now, when I say this, people usually counter it with sympathetic reassurance that I’m cool in my own way. Which I totally appreciate, but I don’t make this declaration from a place of self-deprecation. Instead, it brings me one step closer to the reality of who I am and how I relate to the world.
Because in order to be okay with myself, I need to be okay with not being:
- someone people make note of when she walks into the room
- someone people are naturally magnetized to who oozes ease and confidence
- someone who refers to herself as artist, which is met with a communal head nod, because goddammit, she matches their image of an artiste flawlessly
Instead, I’m the person at the party who gauges the maximum amount of time I can spend at the food table without people making note. And although I’m mildly comfortable with engaging strangers, the most comfortable place for me in a large gathering would be the corner of the room where I can act more as observer than participant.
I have a fucked up sense of humor. Which I blame on my father who laughs most heartily at the inherent dysfunction of humanity — the dark, ridiculous, silly aspects of human behavior, the parts we try to hide from the outside world or ignore all together. I find it cathartic when people voice those nagging thoughts, those unpleasant feelings, because it provides a much-needed release and relief in knowing that I’m not the only functioning crazy person in the world.
Oh, and I’m frustratingly sensitive, which annoys the crap out of me. I’m grateful when I’m able to not take insignificant, seemingly negative comments or actions personally. Because my brain seeks opportunities to interpret moments as negative or critical so that I can judge myself and others, feel misunderstood or unfairly treated. It’s incredibly silly. And once I’m able to get distance from those feelings, I can laugh at myself. But in the moment, the nagging feels inescapable.
Because on top of being sensitive, I’m obsessive. I will replay an awkward interaction between me and a stranger for days until I’m on the brink of insanity. Like when I was at a coffee shop and misheard an anecdote from the barista and responded with something that in context made no sense, which I did not realize until replaying the interaction after the fact. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to clarify an insignificant miscommunication with a stranger, but it usually results in an even more awkward encounter. Because often they don’t even remember the initial interaction, so by the time I’ve reminded them, I realize they’re only entertaining my rambling out of kindness, and by the end of it all, I question why I even attempt human interaction in the first place.
This inclination towards sensitivity and obsessiveness in-turn influences my moods, which are frustratingly unpredictable. I can be having a pleasant day with nothing in particular on my mind/concerning me, and then suddenly, with no clear external source, a dark cloud enters, and I lose the ability to see beyond it. And then maybe I cry a little. (Note: This is something I’m working on through meditation/mindfulness, because I’ve found that my ability to adopt a positive attitude is more within reach than I like to believe at times. Because that’s work, and work is the last thing I want to do when I’m feeling funky.)
I have little patience for small talk 95% of the time. It genuinely pains me to seek superficial conversation for the sake of simply exchanging words. Now, let me clarify — I do genuinely enjoy talking about the weather, especially now that I live in New Orleans and am constantly confused by the turns it takes. And I also appreciate discussing seemingly insignificant details of life. But talking without seeking a true connection grates on me, feels like a waste of time and energy.
With that, I’m officially over talking about myself. And if you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re over it too.
As a reward for making it through my ranting self-reflection, here’s a groovy Father John Misty song from his new album.
And if that’s not your vibe, how about a fun tune off the new Leon Bridges album.