News, Views, Happiness Pursued

Kid #2

Listening to Me Almighty 

by | Jan 13, 2022

In last January’s column [“Heartbreakin’”] I wrote about feeling really rejected when I had felt like I was being my best self, by giving so much of myself away. I can’t say I feel like a better version of myself now, but I can say I don’t believe I can be my best self by giving myself away. It is so tempting to think something external will fix us: a relationship, friends, family, a new job, whatever. But really, everything that truly needs “fixing” tends to be internal. I can’t fix myself by disappearing into someone else. 

Glennon Doyle wrote in her book, Untamed, something like: I am always so desperate to shout “Here I am!” and be seen, and at the same time to fade away into nothing. Don’t we all so desperately want to be found and understood, while also completely giving ourselves away to something greater? Life, unfortunately, is lived much less enjoyably passively.

It’s been so, so sucky to realize I won’t address the things I dislike about myself by putting myself into different situations. They require real mental work. You’ve gotta actually, actively think about them, which is something I try to avoid like the plague. And it is so, so enticing to slip away into nothingness, especially in the cold, gray winter. 

But it has also been a nice thing to realize. It’s nice to look back to just a year ago and feel like in some ways I’ve made real progress. I am still learning new things about myself and life — if not every day, then at least bi-weekly. 

I’ll admit to being a bit of a Swifty, and Taylor has this song, “Nothing New,” in which she asks, “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?” Sweet baby Jesus, ain’t that the truth. Man, I knew everything at 18. I went into college all on my high horse and feeling like I didn’t have diddly left to learn, like I had a pretty good idea of who I was. 

And that was kinda true until COVID, when I got pushed further out of my comfort zone. And suddenly I’m about to be 21 and I don’t know a damn thing. I’m fucking clueless. All I know is I hurt people and I hate it and other people hurt people and I hate it and I make people laugh and I like it and I like my dog and my girlfriend and brownie sundaes and a good story. But otherwise, I don’t know shit. So I’m feeling pretty lost. I would love to attribute that to the changing world, but if Ms. Swift felt that way too a decade ago, and if other folks feel that way — well, then, I guess that’s growing up, huh? I guess that’s just being a person. 

And there is something pretty cool about that, about learning all the time. Like, I’ve learned that giving everything I’ve got won’t make someone stay, and won’t make me happy. Actually, it’ll make me miserable. I’ve learned that making myself miserable for other people doesn’t make me a good person. I’ve learned that other people are so much more fucked up than I am, so I should stop worrying constantly about being a dick. I’ve learned that I actually don’t have to worry about being a dick, because my body will know right away when I’ve opened my trap erroneously, and it’ll carry that awful feeling with it all day. I’ve learned that what people do and say to me has nothing to do with me. And I’ve learned that I really have to think. I can’t just distract, distract, distract, as tempting and addicting as that is. 

Now we all must focus more on ourselves, I feel. That is the only way to make it through some rough times. Nobody is going to fight for your happiness like you, and at the end of the day you’re the only one who can secure your own happiness. 

Even though I feel as though I’ve learned a lot about myself, it’s really all stuff I’ve already known. We know ourselves pretty well. We just, as Doyle says, need to listen to that knowing. She calls that knowing God. I’ll call it me almighty, ’cause me almighty been knowing. She’s known what’s up and what I need for fucking years now. I just don’t listen so good. And I’ll bet you know pretty well what you need, too. 

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