nobody at all

I’m lost among the many versions of me, unsure of who I am.  I’ve always been a chameleon of sorts.  I’ve adopted and adapted and changed over the various settings of my life.  I’ve been a student, a teacher, a player, a coach, a dealer, an addict, a raver, a dj, a worker, a leach, a father, a husband, a fraud, a thief, a criminal, a deviant, an egghead, a nerd, a braniac, a collector, an aper, a jock, a dungeon master, a magician, an asshole, a saint, a hero, a villain, a friend, a lover, a brother, a son, a loner, a jester, a writer, a storyteller, a victim, an abuser…

I steal my words from those around me.  I collect their sayings and expressions.  I mimic their mannerisms.  I incorporate my view of them into how I act around them.  I pepper my language with quotes from movies and songs.  I’m not authentic.  I’m not original.

I think there was a time, before school started, when I was truly just me, as I am supposed to be.  But then responsibilities and expectations began to twist things around.  The world requires you to conform to certain molds or it will define you as an outcast and troublemaker.  Your parents need you to behave a certain way to make their lives easier and to see you heading down a familiar path, a comfortable path.  Who I was slipped into hiding as I donned new personas to fit each of the roles I was tasked with: the faithful friend, the dutiful son, the diligent student.

Each passing year brought new settings that I had to adjust to, and I slipped further away.

I hated my life in junior high.  I was picked on and bullied until I learned to hide further within myself.  By the time high school started I had nearly perfected the practice of switching between the personas.  I could mingle with all of the main cliques.  I knew what to say, how to act.  I could laugh at one group of friends, while hanging with another.  It didn’t even feel wrong at the time because it was all about self-preservation.  I was doing what I thought everyone else was doing in order to survive.

In college I saw my opportunity to start over.  I was free of all the expectations of the friends I’d had in school, of those teachers, of my parents and our family home.  I shed myself of all the false masks, but I didn’t go looking for who I was supposed to be.  Instead, I created something that I had always wanted to be.  I was confident and arrogant.  I took what I wanted.  I didn’t ask for permission.  I hurt people.  I was two-faced, silver tongued, and backstabbing.

I’m not that person anymore.  I’m not any of the people I’ve been over the years.  I am some combination of all of them… but, still lost.  How can I balance who I’m supposed to be with who I truly am?  How do I even know the authentic me anymore?  I’m lost somewhere in the mire of the terrible choices I’ve made and the influence of others.

I’m tired.

I’m exhausted.

The exertion of constantly switching who I am has left me drained.

Who am I?

One person for my parents.  One person for my brother.  One person for my wife and child.  One person in my writing voice.  One person at work.  One person with strangers.  One person.  One person.  One person.  And nobody at all.

 

 

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102 thoughts on “nobody at all

  1. First…((hugs))…but you knew I was going to do that.

    Second, I am glad you shared this. I think a lot of people go through/are going through this and are afraid to speak up.

    What Zoe said is spot-on though…knowing and acknowledging is a huge part of the battle. It’s the not realizing until it is too late that makes it even scarier, even if that doesn’t help right now.

    “Walk through the fire to get in the clear”–another wise comment from our friend 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the hugs!

      I had wondered if this isn’t really an issue at all – just part of growing up, part of living in this world. A first world problem… It’s probably why I’ve never shared it before, because I’ve been struggling with it for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Somebody commented on a post of mine that we live in a first-world country, so it makes sense that our problems or concerns might feel that way when they are indeed very real.

        You have been through a lot of change in a reasonably short period of time, if you think about it in terms of life. Even if a lot of those changes were for the better, they still require growth which can be a pain too.

        Like

  2. I was teased in school as well, and by the time I was an upper classman, I had my act down perfectly.I am now the introverted writer who loves to make people laugh…but in the past, I also had to modify who I really am to fit in. I get this post, DJ. If it makes any difference, you are a wonderful friend. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we all base our behaviors on who’s around us. We know (mostly) where our boundaries lie with each person. Who are you? Well, that’s a question that can never truly be answered because we are ALWAYS changing. Always evolved. Each new minute brings us a new moment which will change our molding and into something new. Every happenstance impacts your very being, giving you insight you didn’t have before.

    We all wear many hats. Each hat requires different things of us. You just need to decide which hats are more important to wear than others, because you can’t wear them all at the same time. Not productively, anyhow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting perspective…
      I completely agree that we are always changing and evolving based on our experiences and the people in our lives… but at the core, doesn’t there need to be some basic entity – something that never changes regardless of everything else in our lives?
      I have a friend who is true to that core persona through all the facets of his life. He is the same with his parents as he is with his friends as he is with his family as he is with his coworkers. What you see is what you get always.
      I thought that was an ideal to strive for… to always be true to yourself like that. Am I wrong?

      Liked by 1 person

      • If that’s what you want, you should go for it. But in my experience, who am surrounded by dictates my actions. For example, I would not try to engage my father in the type of silly banter you and I share because 1) he doesn’t get it and 2) he’d probably criticize it. I don’t honestly care much what he would think about it, but I choose not to put myself in a position where I’m going to have to defend myself from his scorn because I loathe confrontation. That’s not ideal, but it is what it is.

        Furthermore, I, as you know, have a very dirty sense of humor and a foul mouth, two facets of my personality my children don’t see. They will hear those words from me when I think they’re ready for them, but never before.

        While I’m at work, certain behaviors are expected of me. If I decided to tell that one user he really IS an idiot, sure I’d be true to myself, but I’d also be out of a job and thus letting my children (and bill collectors) down.

        Should things be this way? No. We should all be able to be ourselves 100% of the time without fear of consequence. Sadly, that is not the reality we share. I cannot yet teach my children my love of cursing because then I’d be getting phone calls from the school. I can’t let my natural sense of humor flow in front of my father because he’d end up pissing me off with his criticisms and then we’d fight.

        So I’ve learned to constantly choose the lesser of two evils in the guise of changing hats. One of the reasons I prize my anonymity here in the sphere is so I don’t have to don all those hats. I can be me without fear of my actions having any direct consequence on my life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “So I’ve learned to constantly choose the lesser of two evils in the guise of changing hats.” This was exactly how I’ve been living… and it’s just exhausting…
        I understand what you are saying. I see the merits in being able to adapt so I can excel in all the different avenues of my life. And I agree that it shouldn’t have to be that way. I guess, this week, I’m just wishing there was a way to bring all the different mes together.

        Like

      • Other than winning the lottery?
        Well, I was toying with the idea of becoming a famous author… but, that would mean people would actually have to buy my books. Plus, then I’d have fan expectations to live up to. I don’t think I could pull off the reclusive/abrasive author that everyone hates and celebrates at the same time.

        Like

  4. I am a mimicker as well, it has just been my way. Growing up with three brothers, I tried hard to be like them so I fit in and could play with them. From there I continued to mimic people to the point, like you, that I never developed my own personality. To the extent that I pick up accents quickly and I am guessing that is irritating to people. lol I think it is just a certain trait some of us have to adjust quickly to different people. It has taken a tragic event in my life to make me see that I didn’t know who I was. What were my hobbies? Depended on the boyfriend I was with at the time. Only recently have I started to consciously stop being everything to everyone and find who I am and what makes me happy.

    I hope you can identify yourself too. Stop putting on all those hats and trust that people will still find you interesting and worth knowing, as yourself.

    Like

    • Thank you!
      Yes, exactly. I’ve been so busy trying to fit in, trying to hide away, or trying to make those around me happy that I’ve never figured out who I am among all the hats I wear.
      I’m sure that people will still find me interesting once I settle into who I truly am. I’m a likeable guy… but, that could just be the Jester talking. 😉

      Like

  5. Hey DJ. Despite the title, you are someone. You are a loving husband and father. You are a great friend. You are The Jester, for crying out loud. Yes, some of the personas you have listed aren’t pretty and I’m more than a bit relieved that ax murder isn’t on the list. To me, you are someone.

    I also did, and to some extent, do the mirror, or what I think you might like. It is exhausting. It took me 40 years to meet someone with whom I could almost totally be my raw and honest self. I say almost because of that one thing?…at band camp? That ended today as our primary correspondence was work chat. I’m truly at a loss. I’m not going to do the mirror anymore. If you don’t like what you see, stop looking and move along. Hugs to you, dear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the hugs, and the work warning. I’d heard rumors about being monitored around here too… and, well, it’s probably too late for me if that is the case. But, still, going to curb a few habits here and there. So, again, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting piece of writing, and intersting reactions to it as well. I too have felt like this, but that might have just been a part of puberty. Sometimes it still seems like my opinion is just a gathering of everyone’s opinion. I combine them all, and look! There’s my opinion. “Being yourself” though is a risky thing to say. You are always the product of your environment and the people you meet. Everything has an influence on you, and often you can trace it. Maybe that is why it is so hard to find your “true self”?

    Either way I hope you will soon find what you’re searching for. And thanks for sharing this, because it’s good to know that are more people who feel the same 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, I know that we will always be a product of the people and experiences of our lives… and it’s actually a good thing for us to continually change, to grow, to adapt, to become better people, and learning from those around us is a great way to do that. But, I think it goes to an extreme when I’m not just incorporating the bits and pieces I want from those around me, but I’m changing into a completely different person depending on who I’m interacting with at any given time… There should be one persona that I am (that can change as I learn and grow) but that I stay no matter who I’m talking to.

      Like

  7. I’m lost with you.
    Stuck between who I was, who I am, and who I should be.
    Totally adrift.

    What TD says makes a lot of sense. And that’s what I try for, in many respects. But, it’s exhausting. I can’t be raunchy and inappropriate around my kid. But occasionally? It slips in. I’ve been curbing that behavior around him for TEN YEARS. Dude, that’s exhausting.

    I wrote this in my post about Lou Reed. I’m too old and tired for the life I had, and too young and vibrant for the one I’m stuck in now.

    Maybe, being lost is being found. Maybe, being adrift is how I am grounded. I don’t know.

    I hope your life gets easier.
    I hope mine does, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I hope your life gets easier.
      I hope mine does, too.”

      Ditto, my friend.

      Yes, TD’s comments make sense. But, they also kind of knocked the wind out of me too. Because I desperately wanted to think that there was a way to just be one person all the time and stop with this madness of being a different person depending on who I am with. I’m exhausted with the charade, with keeping all my identities organized and separate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dude, I don’t even SOUND the same with different people

        Put me in a room of African Americans, and I start spouting ebonics. I sound freakin’ ridiculous.

        Maybe, being someone different all the time IS who we are.

        Like

      • We are chameleons…
        It would be freeing to know that for sure. To have some sort of confirmation that being a shifter like that is who we are supposed to be…
        I’m not sure it would be any less exhausting though.
        I bet you are good with accents too. There was a time when I could mimic a whole slew of accents. When I’m singing along to songs I don’t sing in my voice, I mimic the singers voice. When quoting movies I use the actor’s voice as best I can.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think people are more similar than different. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a lot of what you see when you look around are people living behind a persona. The fact that you realize it is the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Which version of “you” do you like the best, do you feel most comfortable being? I’d hazard a guess that it’s being father to the Little Prince and husband to the Queen – but am prepared to be wrong! Whichever persona is the one that you feel most comfortable with, that’s the one to work on and to bring into the other situations.

    Although we all do this to an extent. The person I am with my family is not the same person I am with the Sisters, and the person I am when I’m on my own with a particular Sister will be different again. I think that because of your life experiences, you’re maybe just more aware of the differences in how we have to behave to survive in this world.

    Like

    • I wonder if the real answer is that I am all of them at once, and I should just stop inhibiting them depending on the situations. I should stop worrying about how I will be perceived and just be honest/original/myself all the time…

      Like

  10. I read this and it had me thinking back to a time when I did this same thing every moment of the day. As I’ve gotten older I am more true to my core personality. I still have to tweak it a bit, the real me is a little, let’s call it honest :), but I have gotten to a point where I feel I am who I am.I agree with you that it’s exhausting trying to constantly re-mold myself into being a different me for different people. Sadly, I don’t always like parts of who I am and find myself trying to slip into the old habit and find a new skin. I don’t think that’s for other people though. I think that’s for me.
    I love this post and think it’s very courageous of you to write these words for the world to see. There are a lot of people that feel this way and do the exact same thing but would never admit it. It feels freeing to say this here, a little load lifted. So thank you.

    Like

    • Thank you, too, for leaving the comment and letting me know I’m not alone. I’m glad you’ve gotten to a place where you are who you are. That gives me hope that I can get there too.

      Like

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