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Who Are You?

 



"It's difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No one really feels self-confident deep down because it's an artificial idea. Really, people aren't that worried about what you're doing or what you're saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you."




This painting is one of my favorites, and it honestly brings me so much joy. It reminds me of a romanticized past, a time where even the guilty displayed a sort of rare innocence. A time of strange repressions and connectedness. A time of purity, where even in sadness or tepid despair, one was always there for their neighbors, friends, and family. A time where we were all connected, in a seemingly disconnected world, technologically. A time where more efforts were put into loving someone and making sure everyone was okay. A time where relationships were the priority, and everything else was for the sake of that relationship, so it can last a lifetime.



* * * *



I've been chatting with an amazing friend quite frequently, lately. We met online, in the least unlikely of places you could ever imagine meeting someone you would soon come to consider as part of your family. Love, in the purest sense of the word, is funny like that. Friendship sneaks up on you, like a cat to a rat, or a moth to a flame.



It's interesting, though, that friendships teach you more about yourself than you would think. For instance, when I was asked "What makes you laugh and what makes you cry?", among other questions, I realized, at that moment, I only knew myself on a very superficial basis, and the answers I was able to give were only half true. Not because I was omitting some obscure truth or in the name of being deceitful, but because, plain and simple, I don't spend enough "real" time with myself; and behind closed doors is the only time you are actually you. But, perhaps, "true" is not the right word. Something that is not of real substance, I suppose.



So much of the time, our world neutralizes our identity, because as Russell Brand says, the world is ill-equipped to deal with the realism of true identity and character, and the challenges that come with 'being human.' As a result, we are but vessels, identity on standby, being productive civilians who are nothing but a number, like a body at a morgue, or rats on a ship.



The more I began to think about how to respond to the questions, the more I learned that there's very little that can truly tell who I am. I am infinite and ever-changing, and a different version of myself exists in the lives of everyone who knows me. That, then, means that I am not what I write or say, but what I do at any given moment.



But that's not such a bad thing, mind you. I realized that there's no definitive answer, and if I ever for a moment mistakenly thought there was, I was only living as a facade, and would immediately stop growing.



She did get me thinking, though, and in that sense, her message symbolically meant that there was something about me to love and learn from. I believe it's like that for everyone, though. If I saw myself in her eyes, or if she saw herself from my eyes, or if anyone changes places in general, with someone else, we would not be recognizable. That's because so much of who we think we are is actually false, stemming from clouded judgment and the need to only show our highlight reels to those we love, so that our flaws may not scare them away.



Ironically, that was not what I did. In my view, I had overshared in the sense that I generally talk to most people very shortly. "How was your day?" "Alright." "How did you sleep." "Fine." People will often say "Wow, that was so detailed!" I am made fun of a lot for it, as it's my way to remain distant from people.



In the words of Sheldon Cooper, "No. You've opened my eyes to the truth. Amy has made me a more affectionate, open-minded person. And that stops now." Though our relationship is not in the romance spectrum, it's pretty much what I humorously think whenever I have to respond. Yet, my heart decides it desires to share with its friend." Sick behavior, right? Nobody believes it, but I'm just bloody evil.



I think that in reality, life is just a series of events devoid of any meaning whatsoever, but it is in our spiritual connectedness that we create a meaning for which to live. Many Buddhists believe that the only purpose for life is to be of service, abiding by the Buddhist principle that life is suffering, and really it's in the silver lining, detached from erratic emotions, desire, and expectations. That reality can only be obtained by someone who is disconnected from what we call humanity, nowadays.



Selfish in my fear is what I am, to the extreme. I have lived with the battle between confidence and anxiety for as long as I have lived. Early on, I would have panic attacks just from telling someone bits about my life. It got in the way of my ability to work, and I still get anxious every time I hit the "reply" button to this friend. Why? No clue. I couldn't care less about what others may think, and yet...



What I did realize, though, is that this isn't anxiety, but the vulnerability that comes with a thing called genuine friendship. I hate every minute of the feeling (vulnerability) to the point where some nights I lay awake thinking "I shouldn't have shared that." I kid you not, some moments end up with panic. Our friendship brings me to tears of joy, at times. I do love, however, every minute of getting to learn about my dear friend. Strange, isn't it? How some feelings are so terrible, yet you endure because the relationship seems worth it over your initial, harsh, discomfort, or fear.



Why is this so? I thought. There could be a million reasons for it. I'm not afraid of loss, but perhaps I am afraid of love in friendship. I relate to Sheldon Cooper in a lot of ways. When I asked my sponsor this question, he said,



"Mickey, you're extremely intelligent, really, but I think that's your problem. Intellect gets in your way. You don't let love in, and you don't have faith that good can possibly come to you. You can't think like a soldier when it comes to love, or friendship. You've got to stop fighting. Your addiction proves it. You overthink a lot instead of just letting yourself receive the love from God and other people. It's just because you know you can't control how things go. So until you stop being so afraid of love, I'm afraid you'll continue to relapse and choose fear over faith."



That response made me smile, but also made me realize another one of my defects of character. We aren't the characters we create, but the person in the green room. When we are anxious or distant from others, we are taking their inventory for them, mistakenly.



That is to say, if I am anxious about someone's view of me, I am almost writing for them.



For instance, let's say I'm anxious about Tom's opinion of me. I write for them, "I'm Tom, and one of my defects of character is that I am not able to love my friend because they overshare." You're putting your own mistaken words in the mouth of someone else.



It's been like that for most of my life, even at work, where I would undermine my own ability, yet in reality, have all the confidence in the world.



Why, then, do I do this? Why do we do this in general? Again, there could be a lot of reasons, but for me, I think it's because I am far more afraid of love than any brutal trauma you could ever think of.




“My dad's philosophy was (and I think still is) that life is a malevolent force, which seeks to destroy you, and you have to struggle with it. Only those who are hard enough will succeed. Most people get crushed, but if you fight, in the end life will go, "Fucking hell. This one's serious. Let him through.”




I think it pretty much sums up my circumstance. In the end, I am my own worst enemy, seeking to sabotage any good feelings I have, as it is foreign to me.



What are the rules of friendship, and to life outside of superficiality? I am, after all, a guru of only three things:


  • Techie and geeky stuff.
  • Overthinking.
  • Being an adaptive learner in the job world.


“Say I feel all sad and self-indulgent, then get stung by a wasp, my misery feels quite abstract and I long just to be in spiritual pain once more - 'damn you tiny assassin, clad in yellow and black, how I crave my former innocence where melancholy was my only trial'.”



At the end of the day, I learned that letting life happen is the only way to survive it. When your opponent is the sea, you must be the mountain. Simply put, be adaptable and stop thinking, and start doing it. Friendship, like many other great things, is way too precious to turn away from.



"You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world, and as you walk through those doors today, you will only have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart."


I choose confidence, and the principles of AA. Acceptance, always, no thinking, no judgment, no defense. Just acceptance.


Plus, I wager that the beginning of anything really is just a stage, a foundation on which the relationship is to thrive upon, so we all eventually set in and become our natural nature.



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