“I’m an introverted extrovert.”
I’d tell people this with a toothy grin. But what the fuck did that even mean? Nothing really. It was a bullshit category for a bullshit sense of self-worth. I wanted a label, and this one made me feel special. Made me feel unique. Gave me a mask to hide behind. It was almost liberating. But most people just looked at me with a raised eyebrow whenever I mentioned it. The best part was that it helped me to sink further into my own shell. I blanketed myself with another layer of distance.
I wasn’t always like this, however. This sounds cliché, but High school was the catalyst. Things were going fine. I had a plan. I had a girlfriend. I had a future with rainbows and pots of gold. Then one day I didn’t have any of those things. All I did have were three conflicting points of view. I can’t say that it was all her fault, but she certainly kicked my brain in the balls.
“No-one loves a balding teen"
“It’s not your fault.”
“Do it. Kill yourself.
No-one will care.”
“At least wait until you’re finished reading
Lord of the Rings.”
“I told you – no-one loves
a balding teen.”
“Don’t forget what your dad said. Puberty
is just a time for your hormones to act up.
Your thoughts are messed up by hormones.”
“Just do it already!”
“Where’s the other guy?”
“Who cares? Just do IT!”
I’m glad I decided to wait for another reply. When I looked back much later on I noticed the dust ridden sign:
“Out to lunch. Back in 12 years.”
At least he had the decency to come back to lock the door and leave me a final kernel of helpful advice.
Of course, even the end of High School didn’t make a difference. I tried to focus on my education in order to rebuild a dream. I’ve never touched the stuff, but my ego began to take the hardest drugs available. Cue the years of:
“Tell me something I don’t know!”
“Y’know, your sister has schizophrenia.
Pretty good chance you’re a nut bag too.”
I started to believe my own lies. I really did become useless. I buried my loves. I exsanguinated my hopes. I turned my dreams into roadblock sized nightmares. Every single spark in my body was doused. I started simply living from day to day. I had no idea what I wanted anymore, no idea where to go. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t talented. I hid. Slithered. I only put half of my arse behind everything I did. Hell, even the High School cleaning job was exciting. And that job was boring as fuck.
And then a friend of mine told me how low she had gotten. Much lower than myself. Her contemplations and plans were far darker. More gut-wrenching. It was like she punched me right in the heart. The storm clouds in my own mind were pushed aside. I wouldn’t say I became a new man. That’s not only terribly clichéd, but it’s also a lie. In reality, I became the man I already was. I simply learned instead how to discard the mask of bullshit, the suit of lies, the shoes of self-deception. It took a while, but I stopped hiding behind paranoid walls:
“Shit, I should have said that differently.”
“They think you’re a dick.”
“I’ve gotta remember to say it better next time.”
“Get your shit together and think before you speak.”
Eventually, I realised that I wasn’t a dick. My subconscious, however, had somehow become an arsehole. Once I started combating my paranoia, things started looking brighter. I dropkicked my second-guessing. I blasted my frozen heart with a flamethrower. I took a sword to my soul. I started to compartmentalise what was really hurtful, and what was simply something to ignore. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I finally put some earplugs in and decided to ignore the dickhead voice on my shoulder.
“I told you, no-one loves
a balding man-child.”
“Did anyone hear that?”
“Hey, don’t you forget about me!”
“Seriously, can anyone hear a buzzing sound?”
“I can’t hear anything over the
sound of how awesome you are.”
“That’s exactly what I thought.”