Friday, April 13, 2007

Introspection

"When I revisit the past, it's a blast...I've just got to move on..."

John Frusciante, "A Firm Kick"

Doesn't matter what kind of life you've led, no matter which culture, religion, race, sexual orientation or geographic area you're part of, everyone brings with them a lifetime's worth of baggage. Things that have happened in your past that make you the person you are. The difference lies in the amount of baggage that people decide to carry with them. Think of life like taking a long and fulfilling trip. Don't bring enough baggage with you, and you're bound to have forgotten something that you will unequivocably need. Try to bring too much baggage, and you'll never be allowed on the plane...that is, if you can even get out of your house.

The worst thing about baggage, and I've been guilty of this in the past, is when you meet someone and you share your baggage, hoping that that person will help you carry it. But they already have their own baggage, and were hoping that you could help with theirs. And you end up fighting over a pile of baggage, when you really should be enjoying your trip.

I can't tell you how many people I've met over the years who still live as though they're in high school. Frankly, I don't understand how people can pigeonhole themselves like that. Years of evolution should have taken place since then, but people still slip into their high-school archetypes - the slacker, the jock, the nerd, the smelly kid.

It's true that when you're in high school, where you fit in the hierarchy takes on a disproportionately important place in your thoughts, because you don't know anything else. High school drove me nuts, because the friends I had in 9th grade ditched me and I was the worst sort of loser you could be...eating lunch by myself on the steps in the summer, or in the bathroom in the wintertime. For a while, nothing helped. I was branded the smart kid. Didn't matter that I was a decent basketball player, a hell of a volleyball player, and could run circles around most people on the soccer field. I would never be a jock. That's just how it would be. Such is life when you're 6 feet tall and 128 lbs.

It really gnawed away at me, until perspective set in in my last year of high school. So what if I was rejected, I'm making a big deal over a 5-year period of my life. Over a lifetime, there are so many opportunities to start over. To learn and move on. To evolve. Yet most never do.

How many athletes from small towns get scholarships to go to larger schools in the city, get freaked out because they aren't the big fish in the small pond anymore, then move back home, get a job at the local processing/power/sanitation plant, eke out an existence and spend all their time drinking and reminiscing about the old times?

How many people were the butt of jokes in high school, and because of it, developed ticks and psychoses that haunt them long into adulthood? These people are mired in a self-fulfilling prophecy, wallowing in self-pity and anytime they have a chance to meet someone new, they latch onto them like a drowning man onto a life preserver. I've been that drowning man, and it's a horrible, helpless feeling. But I've also been that life preserver, and honestly, that probably feels worse. Even though you know you're responsible for keeping that person afloat, you yourself are getting crushed by the insane amounts of baggage. So you pull a Kate Winslet and kick Leo the fuck off the floating suitcase. Well, sort of like that, but a lot less fun than it sounds.

So what to do? Every once in a while, you have to open up that baggage and look inside. And some of it is ugly, like old bellbottoms. And some of it doesn't fit anymore. And you have to take stock of it, keep what you need, and leave the rest behind. Got made fun of and beat up in high school? You aren't alone. Most people in high school are jerks. But either those jerks reform, get picked on by bigger jerks, or stay jerks in their little world while you move on. They don't matter anymore. And hey, be honest with yourself, you probably got made fun of for a reason. I was tall and gangly, wore glasses, had bad hair and acne, seemingly incurable dandruff, bad breath and I wore outdated clothes. If I was in someone else's shoes, I'd have made fun of me too. But I filled out, got nicer glasses (or I wear contacts on occasion), my skin cleared up, I've gone through so much Head & Shoulders that I should own stock in Johnson & Johnson, and I updated my wardrobe. How about my bad breath? Turns out it was caused by stress and when I took care of all those other things and people stopped making fun of me, that went away too.

I choose not to let my past limit my future. I don't deny those experiences, but they have to be used to grow and develop, not as an excuse to inhibit growth and development.

1 Comments:

At April 24, 2007, Blogger Dan Cloney said...

articluate mothafucka ;-)

 

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