At first, I knew I wanted to write. When I was a young teenager, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but I had no idea how to take things seriously, because, at that age, who does? But it never occurred to me that all of those dreams and senseless young banter would drive me to subconsciously, almost terrifying-ly autonomously, gravitate towards that goal. Like I had no plan in mind, at first, but subliminally I was trying to walk the walk and talk the talk, but I just kind of resented myself, at that young age, for not understanding my goals, and why I wasn’t like my idols. I doubted myself, felt that dreadful self-loathing of that typical time of change and confusion.
But most of all, I didn’t understand. No one explained to me the importance of direction, planning, and dreaming. There was no guru on top of the mountain when I was a teenager, just a side-scrolling adventure game that was the ‘90’s, and the harsh reality that is the anarchy of the real world. To a teenager that is an experience of true Fear, watching yourself slowly grow up into a world that is full of convoluted education, convoluted social life, convoluted media and politics, and nearly every imaginable trick and obstacle that the agents of chaos can throw in your path.
It’s tough work, just being a person. It’s the hardest thing many of us will ever do, just surviving in a world of nature and chaos that isn’t “out for our survival”, to put it one way, like we are for ourselves. I want to put it blatantly – it’s almost as if the whole world is trying to kill us, or at least break us psychologically. At least, during those precious years, that’s how it feels.
Then it’s as if no time passes at all, stuck in limbo from the moment the fear awakens at about fifteen years of age – and suddenly you’re eighteen, in a blur, nineteen, twenty. Where did that time go? Where was I during the hours that passed by during those years? I remember shameless weekends, inappropriate high school parties, and many other sorts of meaningless wandering I did before… before something unknown came to me.
It never dawned on me suddenly, but came to me slowly, in brief episodes of thought that I didn’t understand. Sometimes I’d feel it at one of those parties, mocking me from the back of my head, like the inverse of what I was seeing, behind me where I couldn’t see it. What are you doing here? What is your purpose, right now, in this place? How have I led myself to come here? I even felt it alone, when I didn’t even know what to do with myself. What am I doing? Am I in control? Is this what I want to be doing?
It’s a shame to be young and getting older without much to do in your spare time. People need hobbies, to steadily work on hobby skills and improve for their own enjoyment. It tethers you to something meaningful inside of yourself, which is the only way you’ll ever stop searching for meaning in others. If you do something well, you add value to yourself. Personal value is the most important, to feel pride and know that you are capable, because through this you will shine in a way that others don’t. It’s not so much a special way, as in superior to others – that’s a grave mistake, thinking that way – but it is a unique way that suits you to shine in a specific way. A person’s unique set of skills, hobby or professional, are what keep us from straying.
Which is exactly what I had done. I had strayed, leaving my dream in the middle of the path. I had not been led away, I won’t give anyone the shame or the satisfaction of thinking they made that decision for me. I had strayed because I didn’t understand, didn’t even see the path. I had no idea who I was, where I was going, or whether or not I was in control of my own two legs. I remember a time, when I was even younger, when a chill would run down my spine and I’d think an unfathomable thought, “I’m alive.” I knew I was alive, even as I strayed, but there was something more I had to prove to myself, and the social scene at that time on St. Mary’s County’s strip of 5 and 235 was underage drinking, and whatever shenanigans we got into, or could get into – I won’t list them.
But what dawned on me during that time wasn’t just that people needed hobbies, it was much more than that. I was realizing that I wasn’t just alive, but I was full of life. ‘Alive’ didn’t just mean I got to be a person, got to speak and walk and exist as a character in the grand story of everything. It meant I was filled with pure, natural life. Emotions and unique thoughts existed in me, as well as something that I had taken for granted my entire life, something I think most people forget they have – a human brain.
Therein lies ultimate potential. There is nothing greater, nothing that can even match the power of the human brain. I know there is a popular believe that God is dictating this world, but He must be doing it through the great minds of the centuries. Fitting, as it’s awe-inspiring, the power of the human brain. It will remember and sort one-hundred thousand small tasks and bits of information, but forget the pin to your ATM. Repeat that pin number to yourself everyday for one week, however, and you’ll never forget it for the rest of your life. It’s the human brain, as well as the unlimited reservoir of potential, that finally dawned on me, after teasing me along so far off the path.
Suddenly I was in my early twenties, where I am as I write this, and I finally get it. I couldn’t continue without first taking the time to know what I was up against. I was ready to be a writer at twelve years old, but I was so ridiculously naive that it makes my ears turn a bit green just thinking about it. I forgive myself, and I’ve long grown out of the childish self-loathing. I don’t flog myself for anything I’ve done in the past, because I know it was a different me. I was so unenlightened, like a lightbulb waiting to click on so a good idea can be symbolized.
Looking over my ten year career as a young person, and then a slightly older wandering soul, I saw scraps of paper littering the floor of my once active MySpace, my old accounts on the forums of the internet, old documents in e-mails I had sent to myself in early high school. Brief excerpts from stories I had half formed in my head, limericks for songs, little poems of little value. I had left a trail of thoughts, which I now discovered in wonder, as if discovering tid-bits of a second life that I had been living without my knowing. Had I really abandon my dreams at the roadside when I strayed, or were they subliminally driving me the entire time? I don’t know, but somehow they had manifested themselves in the physical world without me understanding exactly how.
I had made a slight footprint in the right direction, unconsciously, even while searching for myself in the quicksand. There was a modest start waiting for me when I finally realized that it was time for me to do something with not just my life, but the life inside of me, the ultimate potential. They call it “getting wasted” for a reason. It’s because it’s a waste. I don’t shun alcohol, but I know that there are many, of all ages, who are wasting their true potential. There is a shining, cosmic power in each of us, and many will never realize it.
Don’t be afraid to use words like “I believe…” and “anything’s possible”, and “fight for my dream.” Don’t let a bunch of bad tattoos and wall hangings convince you that these words are silly. Inside of anyone, and everyone, there is the potential to be anything, do anything, or at least aspire towards it. This is the God, this is the super power, this is the American Dream! It’s inside your head, waiting to be born through expression. You shine uniquely, like no other person, like a hundred billion suns, and chances are, you don’t even see it, blinded by your own doubt.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, and thank you. Now, I’d like you to say the last line out loud with me, and I hope it echoes, and grows into a chorus that will bring tears to anyone who understands that it’s not something to be laughed at anymore, and that your goals are as real as you make them…
Now say it.