In middle school, I used to stab people in the back with colored pencils and sever ties with old friends via death threats sent via AOL emails.
One time, I told an art teacher of mine that I was, “depressed and I tried to kill myself recently.”
It was a joke, but she didn’t find it particularly funny so she told the administration and I had to have a long talk with them and my mom.
My mom was worried but I wasn’t because, again, it was a joke.
In high school, I was the awkward shut-out kid who kinda wandered around in a few different friend circles and always sought attention from women but never found it.
One time, one of my friends smacked me in the face because I was probably being a piece of shit to him and then I grabbed him, threw him against the wall in the cafeteria and slammed his head against the wall.
Not particularly hard, but still.
He was the one who ultimately ended up apologizing for pushing me to that point.
It’s weird how some people respond to abuse because I should have been the one apologizing.
In college, I was a loner for a long, long time.
Socially awkward and alone, most of the time.
I had a handful of friends and most of them were women, but when it came to having a social circle who I could hang out with and who I spent time with regularly, I didn’t have anyone to call on.
(At least for the first two years, I’d say.)
And now, I’d define myself as somebody who’s pretty well connected in the world around me. Someone who can curry favor with a number of high-ranking people and yet, if that part of me died tomorrow and nobody returned my calls it wouldn’t really matter.
In a lot of ways, we’re born into chaos and simply have to make sense of it all.
And then we die.
Your body, your words.
I got a tattoo recently because it felt like the right thing to do at the time.
I never thought I’d become that guy who gets a tattoo but, again, it felt like the right thing to do.
(And, more and more, it seems like the cool thing to do in my friend circles. I’m cool now, right?!)
It’s a circle, on my lower forearm — in half of the circle, is a line maze. You know, those ones from a book as a kid that would take you several days to finish.
On the other side, I’d call it more of a dot-maze but I’m not exactly 100% sure what I think it is quite yet.
(Isn’t that weird? I got something placed on my body permanently and I’m not even 100% sure what it is?)
And then through the middle?
A line, kinda like a comet.
To me, it signifies the ‘path of least resistance’.
About once a year, or once every six months I go through this complete identity crisis.
Who the fuck am I?! I’ll think.
The first time that happened was immediately after college and I was making cash-money while working in sales and spending just as much, too.
Expensive dinners, expensive things, everything.
I decided to abort that life, at some point, and leave for Denver.
And holy shit was that discovery process, brutal.
I had no friends for a long, long time.
Or, at least nobody who I’d consider a close friend in Colorado.
So I had to figure out who I was without friends.
I still don’t really know, sometimes.
Sometimes people discover who you are for you if you’ll let them.
At some point, I started on the paleo diet, worked out regularly and got into the best shape I’d been in, I think, since high school.
It was empowering.
“Whoa, Kilcoyne!” One of my female friends commented, and she started touching my arms.
(It’s cool for friends to do this — strangers, though? Fuck that. The last time a female stranger tried to touch my butt in my public I snapped at her.)
And the insecure part of me who never felt good looking enough or fit enough or confident enough started to die out because it just had to.
Then, I met somebody who was polyamorous and by the nature of the relationship I was all of a sudden in a polyamorous relationship and that took a long time to get used to.
(And maybe I never really did get used to it.)
So, I became the guy who doesn’t spend nearly as much brain-space defining himself by whether or not he’s having sex with somebody or in a relationship with somebody.
(Though, as with most things, if you have to point it out, is it really true?)
Who isn’t nearly as insecure or mystified by women or relationships or people in general as he used to be.
Maybe, maybe not.
And now, the guy with the [normal] tattoo, too.
Adjusting to the new you.
I had to exert some self-restraint this time because every bone in my body (including, ahem) was telling me that I wanted to fuck her.
That I wanted to explore parts of her body beyond her mouth.
“We can’t have sex tonight,” she said and the old me would have been thrilled, but the new me?
Not so much.
Kinda disappointed, actually.
I sometimes get a little clingy in these situations and when somebody doesn’t want to have sex with me, I’m disappointed.
In middle-school, I was so deathly afraid of girls that I wouldn’t even talk to my “girlfriend” in 6th grade in-person.
That was too terrifying, for me.
(She broke up with me with a stupid fucking poem.)
In high-school, the same.
It’d take gallons of liquid courage before I’d even muster up an ounce of courage to do anything related to interacting with women on some level.
The first time I ever even kissed a girl was in France on a class trip and I was so drunk at the time that I nearly threw up all over myself.
In college, it was more of the same: I’ve always had this sorta invisible barrier preventing me from connecting with people on a deep level.
Like I was hiding something.
(And the truth is, I was.)
That’s changed, more recently.
I love connecting with new people, now.
I love kissing new people.
I invite sex into my life, whereas I previously avoided that at pretty much every and all costs.
If I’m into somebody, there’s little beyond that occasional crippling fear of rejection that will prevent me from at least asking, “can I kiss you, like, right now?”
So, it’s been an adjustment.
(But that also means that I get pretty easily attached because for me, even when I kiss someone that means I kinda fall in love with them a little bit.)
Nobody teaches you how to be an entirely different person.
So, when you start to find yourself doing things that you always thought you’d never, in a million years, be able to do, it’s an adjustment period.
A spiritual death.
We don’t ever really change, though.
I’ve been telling myself and friends that, “I don’t really drink as much anymore,” with an air of pomp.
Except in the last week, I drank practically every night of the week.
This time, I wasn’t alone, though.
I was with friends.
New friends, love interests, old friends, etc.
In New York, it felt like being hungover was simply a right-of-passage in my day-to-day.
That, getting inadequate sleep was simply the norm.
Now, I’d like to believe that I’ve moved on from that and the truth is, I have, but I’m still very much the same person, too.
I love to go out with friends and get drunk.
I love to eat unhealthy food late at night and into the wee hours of the morning.
And I still bite my nails, a lot of the time.
That ‘small’ version of ourselves — the one that shrinks when facing difficult odds, that shies away from monumental tasks — doesn’t ever completely go away.
I was out at a bar with a friend of mine and he fancied this girl from afar and thought she was cute and wanted to talk to her.
But he was too nervous.
The new me would have walked up to her, said something like, “hey, this is embarrassing, but…” and invited her to join us.
Because though those things are anxiety-inducing, still, they don’t petrify me as much as they used to.
But I didn’t.
I was too nervous, too.
We left without saying a word.
Both of us probably cursing ourselves for not having the courage to just say something, anything, you know?
That’s okay, I thought.
And we moved on with our lives and went to a different bar and thought none the wiser.
Who am I?! I thought.
I think it’s normal to ask yourself that question.
And that, if you feel like you’ve totally figured that out you’re either full of shit or a sociopath.
I have a friend (more an acquaintance, really) who says he’s 100% comfortable with who he is all of the time and that he’s figured shit out.
He also routinely cheats on his girlfriend and fabricates complete stories and personal anecdotes in order to overcompensate for some weird, twisted self-esteem issues.
One time we were at a bar together and he was peering across the room at a beautiful girl and he said, “I could fuck that girl any day of the week,” and I thought he was lying so I called his bluff.
“Okay, then go talk to her,” I said.
And he said, “no, man, I’m just chilling right now,” and then I prodded him a little more and eventually he snapped.
“What the fuck is your problem, man?!” he said.
And I called his bluff.
He left the bar, not 15 minutes later, just fuming.
Nobody likes it when you call them out on their bullshit but sometimes it’s necessary.
I left the bar not a few minutes later and didn’t even make half an effort to try and talk to any women because hitting on women at bars is definitely not me.
I know that’s not really my thing, so I don’t force it.
Most of the time I don’t really know who the fuck I am, but in that moment I had a brief lapse of clarity.
At least I’m not as fucked up as him, I thought.
That’s really the only barometer we have to judge ourselves by, anyway.