It’s the prying, pushing, and forceful way I have always tried to get what I want from the people I love. I make it known that there is nothing more in the world that I want. Their personalities. Their lifestyle. Their individuality. I have always wanted to be someone else besides myself.
It started when I was young and unaware of the world. I always wanted to be accepted by everyone. I never thought that my personality would achieve that. The need to be everyone’s friends always consumed me. To breathe what people call ‘Cool.’ That incessant need took away from my own personal character and my own style. I would cry at birthday parties because the attention wasn’t centered on me. I was embarrassed while I was doing it-even though I was only 5 years old. I wanted so badly to be front and center of attention and to make all of the world laugh. Not my strongest traits.
I spent the better part of 15-20 years trying to mock the attitudes, language, and style of people I admire. Usually within my own circle of friends. I get lost in being a chameleon. Who am I under the clothes that don’t fit right, the conversations that I don’t care about, and the music I don’t really like nut still listen to?
Over a little more than a year I have been mostly in isolation. I didn’t have the capacity to search for acceptance and love while I was entirely unsure of myself. My friends didn’t confide in me for their love because they saw that instability in me. It was work for them to have any confidence in me because I was trying to replicate other people. I was trying to grow from the outside in.
The first time I was completely aware of this is when I was about 13 or 14 years old, living in a cow-town in Upstate New York. I wanted to be Dan. Dan was an orignal human being. He oozed with talent. He was a compassionate person. He also slayed on the bass guitar and was locally known as a skateboarding legend. I wanted to wrap myself in Dan’s skin and be him. Feel the way he felt. Play the way he played. Skate the way he skated. I wanted people to gravitate towards me instead of fighting for their love, like they did for Dan.
Any psychiatric professional would probably tell me I was insane and get me fitted for the stylish ‘white-jacket and padded-room’ lifestyle.
I wore his style. Smoked the same cigarettes as him. Changed my hair to be like his. Bleached and black and always styled as if I just woke up. I picked up a leather jacket from my uncle and tried to wear it like Dan did.
He would come over to my house in the middle of winter and teach me how to play guitar. He would console me while I was having relationship problems with my first long-term girlfriend. Always picking me up from my mother and step-fathers house to go skateboard or get to band practice. He ended up being my best friend. I was trying to be his spitting-image.
During that time I lost a lot of myself. I lost myself in my relationship with him. I also became estranged in my relationship with my first long-term girlfriend. I was trying to be 2 different people without being the one person that I am. I wanted to be aloof and talented like Dan. I also wanted to be the loving boyfriend that my girlfriend needed and wanted me to be.
My tendency to fake my personality and my passions had infiltrated my life like a slow moving cancer. It started from the clothes I wear and ended in my vacant personality and failing love-life.
Surely after I completely lost myself you can only imagine what happened with the girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, she started dating Dan the evening after we broke up. How could I blame her? I was the watered down version of him. She went to the source of my inspiration. I lost my best-friend and my girlfriend because of my inherently empty personality.
Over the last ten years I have been multiple different people. Always neglecting the one person that was hiding inside of me. Myself.
I am not an over-the-top punk rocker anymore. I still like to cram into small band spaces and spit in the air while smashing into sweaty corpses, but that’s not someone I can be full time–Nor do I want to be anymore. I do want to be myself for once though. Realizing that the myself neglect has been for some time I have watched as it put a taxing amount of strain on my friends, family, and love-life.
The most difficult part of this process is being honest about myself to other people. I think many people see this in themselves too. We want the facade of a strong person. We want to guard ourselves from other people. We want to be anyone besides ourselves sometimes. For me it has spanned most of my life, and the entirety of my adult life.
It has been a long ride to accept that sense of self I have neglected. My leather jacket from my youth will always be worn, but Dan doesn’t have an influence on that anymore. That jacket has been apart of me for 10 years now. What needs to be avoided is my tendency to assimilate my personality. The jacket is not to blame here anymore. And although there’s times when I wish I had the guidance and pep talks of my old best friend, I know that he is different. So am I.
The picture of me from my youthful punk day is by Carolyn Lava. She has continued taking great photography for the last 10 years or more and you should check her out!