I have been asked the same question throughout my life everywhere I go. This deceiving little question has followed me around from room to room, chair to chair. Near everyone I sit down and talk to is confused by the way I get frustrated when they ask me any variant of the same damn question. I have a memory of one of the first people asking me the little menace. It was fourth grade and I had just fainted in the cafeteria for a irrelevant reason I can no longer remember. I was escorted out of the cafe and found myself in the nurse with a number of various eyes looking down on me. At some point, one of them asked me to tell them about myself. For some reason this really frustrated me to the point where I almost couldn’t hide the emotion from escaping me. Elementary school was not lacking in scenarios such as this one, in fact, at some point my parents asked numerous doctors what was wrong with me. They came up with some name of a condition, the name honestly is of no importance to me but I think it started with a G.
Childhood for me wasn’t quite as carefree and fun as you might associate the word “childhood” with. See, I have this… thing. If you want the technical term for what’s wrong with me, it’s a dopamine deficiency issue. Dopamine is the chemical that makes your body feel happiness or pleasure. Everybody creates dopamine naturally and when you do activities that you enjoy your body kickstarts more dopamine production. For whatever reason I have a deficiency of this stuff which apparently can cause an overwhelming number of mental side affects. It did. If you want to read more about dopamine and what a dopamine defiency can cause, Click Here.
My middle school years were the roughest for me. I had very little friends mainly because I just didn’t care enough to try and make some. Life was very plain, and often times, sad. My mother and grandmother both have genetic issues with anxiety that have affected both of them their whole life. There is no need for me to ask any doctors if I have this disorder as well. I had well over my fair share of nights spent on my parents floor in late elementary-early middle school unable to sleep because I was just scared. I wasn’t necessarily scared of anything specific usually, just scared. I didn’t like who I was and I didn’t like life. I started to value life less and less until the point where I really didn’t consider myself human. I felt so much different, so ashamed of what I was. I felt so ashamed in fact that I felt obliged to hide these feelings from my parents. I shut myself out from my family and put on a mask disguising my inner self and doing my best to keep my inner feelings in. I did it to protect myself and my family. I was old enough to the point where I knew how much therapy would cost and I was well aware of what emotional toll this would take on my parents. They loved me and supported me through everything and wanted the best for me. There was no way I would be able to look them in the eyes and tell them any of what I sit here and write.
During 7th grade I managed to land myself a girlfriend. She was very sweet and extremely kind, yet she had a darker past. Her home life was less than amazing and her mother had died when she was young. I ended up getting attached to this girl in a middle-schooler sort of way, and when we broke up it was very hard on me. Even at that young of an age she was able to teach me so much about myself and the world. With her I realized that I cannot drift through life alone. I need someone there for me. One thing I was never able to tell this girl was about how deep my darkness was. I shared with her some feelings of sadness and isolation, yet I was too scared to open up completely about how I really felt.
My first two years of high school were static and uneventful. I had taken up interest in online gaming, specifically Call of Duty. COD allowed me to interact with people who also enjoyed the game as well as get away from the demons floating around in my head. I was also really good at it which helped. For a good two year span my life consisted of school and COD. All of my friends live in different states, countries even, and I knew all of them by their screen names. At some point during my freshman year my mother felt obliged to just get me out of the house and get moving. Against my will, she enrolled me in a popular workout trend known as Crossfit. At first I absolutely despised going to the place because it took away from my Xbox time and I was awful at it. Every single workout exhausted me and I could never lift anything close to what would be acceptable. It took about a month before I actually did not mind going to Crossfit. After about 6 months I started to get decent at it. I found Crossfit as a way to better myself physically and continue to make myself stronger in more ways than one. I soon became passionate about making myself strong in every possible way, emotionally, mentally, physically, every aspect. Working out is now one of my top values along with nutrition because wellness has become so important in my life, but the road to get here was not without obstacles.
My most eventful year of high school was definitely my junior year. It started out with a bang when my parents found out about much of what I had been hiding for so many years. This, of course, made me feel like that much more of a let down. I was quickly sent to a therapist my family already knew about and much of what you would expect happened. I decided I would tell this dude things, why the hell not. He swore to not tell my parents so that was a plus. While I couldn’t stand going to this guy and hated that my parents had to spend so much money for me to go, I found that what he was doing actually seemed to be helping.
Around the same time in my life I got my driver’s license and a job. Of course I had to have the first crash, right? Rain had just started to fall and I was pushing my little pickup truck perhaps a bit too fast so I wouldn’t be late to work. I had fallen asleep after getting home from school and slept through my alarm, something I do to this day. Anway, all it took was one fishtail and one over-correction on my part to do 9,000 dollars in damage and total the car my parents had so graciously let me call my own. They were not happy when it was totaled. Not long after is when what I consider rock bottom hit. One night everything just got to me. Not too long ago a good friend of mine turned on me, now the car incident, everything just got to me and I decided I had had enough of it, and enough of life. That was February 11th, 2016. On the 12th I made the decision that life was worth living. Not too long afterwards life got better. I switched to the first medicine that actually worked and I found a girl that really cared about me more than I cared about myself.
It’s been over a year now which is crazy. I’m now in the best spot of my life and being happy actually feels amazing, yet I’m stuck with a dilemma that I’m not sure I will ever answer. If I am too answer who I am, how much of me is what I have been through and my dark side versus where I am today? I know some part of me will always be dark and I like that about myself. I do not want to be controlled by my past and I refuse to let that happen, yet I’m so new to this new way of living that it still doesn’t really feel like me. I think over time my definition of myself will shift into something different than my past as I discover more of my passions; I am already on my way to being much more aware of what my true self probably looks like.
One of the biggest parts of my life in the past and no doubt in the future is music. I have always connected so well to music of all types. I have the ability to any genre of music if I choose to do. One of my all time favorite bands is Twenty-One Pilots, and not the music you hear of them on the radio. I’m talking the old stuff, the good stuff. Their first 3 albums deserve more attention than their most recent, it’s unfortunate that the other way around is true. The music they wrote was so relatable for me, it was like Tyler Joseph was writing the songs for me and about me. I credit them with sparking my interest for poetry and philosophy because their lyrics were so deep and powerful that I wanted to be able to write with that ability.
Another miscellaneous passion of mine is basketball. Simply dribbling a basketball calms me down and watching the sport just makes me so happy. I could talk all day about basketball analytics, players, teams, anything really, but what makes me really love the sport is the culture. Much of the basketball community is not white and privileged like myself which is actually a really nice change from the community I live in. I don’t always feel comfortable in the state that I live primarily because of this state’s beliefs.
Perhaps my biggest discovery about myself in the past few years is my overall base set of values and political beliefs. Growing up, my parents did their absolute best not to talk about any politics around me due to their semi-conflicting beliefs. They are both Christians, yet they have different views on christianity and therefore could not agree on a church to attend regularly. Thus, I grew up with very little knowledge on the issues of religion and politics in the world and was never swayed to believe one way or another by my parents. As I reached high school and started taking classes that demanded higher level thinking and also told me the horrors of the world, I realized I value individualism and equal opportunity. Not being swayed by anyone has caused me to not only be atheistic but also nihilistic. These qualities often receive negative connotations by many religious people and I cannot understand why. I believe that people have the right to do whatever they want within reason, and it really bothers me that I live in a society where we value certain people over others and restrict other people due to our own invalid fears.
Though I have not even lived 18 years of my life out I can honestly say I have a pretty good grip on who I am. If I were to sum it up in just a paragraph, I would say it like this; I am a combination my experiences and all of the invaluable lessons I have learned from so many wonderful people in my life. I take away something from every person I form a relationship with, and I think I resemble each of those people in some way. I would love to sit here and name all of the qualities I have taken from certain people because I find it so fascinating but I will keep it short. First and foremost, I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my parents and sister who have stuck with me through thick and thin. I have also formed an incredible bond with my therapist who has had me think in ways I would never have thought to. Lastly I would like to acknowledge my amazing girlfriend who motivates and truly inspires me to work hard and be as successful as I can. There are so many more people out there that I will never forget who have shaped me to be who I am today and I would never change a thing. I love all of you so dearly and I am so thankful for the life I have been given.