When you look in the mirror and hate what you see...
This is one of those introspective, "likely more dramatic than it really is" personal posts. If you're here for book reviews or technical info, you can safely ignore this and move along. But writing is how I deal with things, and "my blog, my rules"...
Over the last few months, I've come to the realization that I'm really struggling with who I am. More accurately, the question is probably... who am I?
I don't like what I've let myself become physically. Body image has always been an issue for me as far back as I can remember. Being "the short fat kid" was a defining factor growing up (on a number of levels), and that has never disappeared. Even after I lost a lot of weight in my late teens/early twenties, that mental image of being "the short fat kid" still defined me. Now at the mid-point of life (with the associated re-finding of the lost weight), I've just dropped "kid". Everything else remains the same.
I grew up trying to meet expectations of others. I was the good student. I was the good child. I was interested in the things that people around me liked because that was expected. The goal was to "fit in" to be accepted. But I'm not sure I ever figured out what *I* liked and what *I* wanted. I know that on more than one occasion, I dealt with resistance by assuming I must not really want something since someone else didn't think it was a great idea.
I look at what I do in many areas of my life, and I realize I know "about" things, but in reality I don't often make the jump to actually *knowing* those things... experiencing and mastering them on a deep level. It's like I'm a mile wide and an inch deep, and I feel that after ten minutes it would be obvious to everyone that I'm not really all that interesting after all. In a three-dimensional world, I feel very one-dimensional... and it's not even an interesting dimension at that.
On a rational level, I can explain all this to myself. I'm probably having my mid-life crisis, everyone struggles with who they are, no one feels like the person that everyone else thinks they are, there are things I'm good at... I know all that. I also know that depression plays into this, and that's been a documented issue I've discussed in the past. For various reasons, I've backed off my meds. It's not because I think or thought I'm "cured", as that will never be the case. It's more along the lines of letting some level of emotions come to the surface so I can figure out what's inside.
One analogy that fits somewhat is to imagine myself standing on the edge of a large puddle. My current self looks at that puddle and thinks... that's wet. I can't see the bottom, and it looks dirty. It's probably safer to walk around it and stay dry. I can tell others about the large puddle I saw. I can read books about puddles and look up puddles online. I really know a lot about puddles in general...
What I really want to do is to just say "screw it" and jump in. I'll get wet and messy and dirty and I'll probably stub my toe or cut myself and very possibly look pretty stupid in the process... but when I get done, I'll *know* that puddle and it'll be part of me.
I'll have actually lived life instead of just reading about it and experiencing it through someone else.
2012 is winding down, and 2013 is growing larger on the horizon. I don't know what the future holds, nor does anyone else. What I do know is that I don't want to keep doing things based on what I think others expect of me. My comfort zone has become way too small. I need to trim out things I've been holding on to because they feel "safe" or "expected." I need to find the things that *I* want to do, that *I* want to make part of me because they're of interest to *me*, not someone else. I need to step out and try new things knowing full well that I'll make mistakes and look stupid when I first start. I will fail and not measure up to those who I see as "experts", but I'll ignore that because they too had to start and fail along the way. I'll find that some things I try won't be things I want to continue doing, but I want to at least say I gave it a shot. And along the way, I'll find some things that make *me* happy because *I* like doing them.
I'm not about to quit everything and hike around the world in search of myself. There *are* things in my life that make sense and that are part of me at a deeper level. But I do plan on changing things around in order to "know" things that interest me instead of just knowing *about* them. Instead of collecting information, I want to collect experiences. I don't want to scrape off the topsoil of my existence to make it look like I'm doing something. I want to take the shovel, start digging, get dirty and sweaty, and pull a few muscles in the process of finding out what's really under the surface. I want to move past knowing to doing.
Maybe that's my new motto: Knowing != Doing
Or maybe: Less Knowing, More Doing