I’ve started this post about 12 to 15 times and every single time I have the urge to write a sentence about how hard it is to put everything into words. Today I’m acknowledging, there’s no easy way for me to start this post. So here, you can have this useless paragraph chock-full of my own obsessive self awareness.
Around this time two years ago I was going through a really difficult breakup. One that woefully dug up every tenuous root of in life and left me hating the person I’d become. I was drinking way too much and floating through life like a sloppy clumsy shell of a person. I woke up every morning feeling like a body with no purpose, realizing that I hadn’t felt like myself since I moved to Los Angeles in the first place.
The sad truth is that I wasn’t myself. I was desperately searching for an identity that was with me all along, hiding almost. I wanted to be part of the big creative machine, I wanted to share a unique perspective, I wanted to live in an entertaining world that I helped to create. I wanted to make people laugh, I thought it was my purpose. I thought if I really put my mind to it, I could create outstanding animated comedy.
Slowly but surely, I broke off parts of myself and let them die. I became so obsessed with being the person I thought my bosses wanted me to be, I ceased to have a personality. I lived in fear for my job, every single day I woke up afraid I’d get fired for something that hadn’t happened yet. I lived in perpetual anxiety, juggling however many tasks my bosses placed upon me. I hated myself when I wasn’t good enough, and they constantly told me that I wasn’t good enough. So I constantly hated myself.
You can’t fully live your life when you hate yourself. You’ll always be slugging forward, yearning for the next opportunity to escape. Drinking copious amounts of whatever liquor I could get my hands on was my personal escape. I had a lack of “off switch” which was terrible for my brain and overall health. I wasn’t nice to myself for almost five years.
Whether it be binge drinking, restrictive eating, binge eating, or over-exercising… I was a complete asshole to myself for about five consecutive years.
So how do you just magically stop yourself from implosion? How do you turn off that constant negativity? How do you quiet the criticism?
You figure out what drives you.
This sounds like bullshit from a self-help book, but I really mean it. Your version of success isn’t the same as someone else’s. Your dream job, dream home, and dream partner are all different. There is no template for what is going to fulfill you and make you feel whole, you just have to keep trying to see what fits for you. WARNING: This process feels pretty similar to being run over by an SUV repeatedly, but that’s okay: it’s supposed to.
During my studies in Becoming a Human Being 101 I learned that playing a team sport was the missing ingredient in my life. In hindsight, I never found a passion for soccer, basketball or track. I had nothing that drove me other than being naturally gifted. I enjoyed so many aspects of being an athlete, but I didn’t love the game.
With football, I don’t care how frustrated, angry, depressed, exhausted, confused, maniacal, and obscene I get. I don’t care that I turn into a sputtering overly caffeinated monster no matter what context I play in. I don’t care that my physicality rubs people the wrong way (plz appreciate that humor.) I I will always look forward to stepping on the field again. Every single struggle is worth it because I get to keep playing football. I understand that I am obsessed, I understand that it’s not traditional, but when the fuck have I ever been traditional at any point in my life?
I’d say if anything I was hypnotized by the game because I was so infatuated with a man who shared this passion. I knew from the moment I first got my ass kicked by him in coed flag football that he was special to me. Not because of his appearance (he was wearing neon leggings and a skull cap the first time I spotted him) but because of the way he carried himself (despite looking like a clown.) The blind confidence with which he dissected my shitty defense, the no-mercy sportsmanship even though we were losing unequivocally… There was something special about this pompous asshole that drew me in. Against my better judgement.
Now, a year or so later, I’m living with that pompous asshole. He has taken me under his beefy wing and showed me a world within Los Angeles that I didn’t know existed. He brought out the girl I remembered from high school… The girl with a concerning amount of tenacity and aggression (an amount that could require intense psychological intervention without proper supervision.) The girl who wore clothing that matched her mood. The girl who laughs so hard she snorts and then chokes on her own spit. The girl who constantly wants to create and express herself.
Whatever obstacles I face in this life, I am comfortable. I am confident that I can handle anything that comes my way. I am unafraid, I am safe. I am myself.