#5 — Can I Love Myself?
I wish I were a little bit taller, a baller, maybe not so stuck in mental squalor.
*drops mic* *looks around to see if anyone sees the glow coming off this scruffy, smelly, motorcycling lyrical genius*
If I can’t love myself, who can?
I write to you from an overly-bougie hostel just off the awfully bumpy, motorycle challenge course that are the cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala.
Backpackers, J.Crew tourists, and too many beautiful people come and go with stasified yet high energy as they prusue their plans of either seeing the entire town, getting the perfect selfie, and climbing the volcano looming over the town (for the perfect selfie) or sitting on their phones sipping on high-priced green drinks that look like salads in a cup with a touch of Instagram on top.
I didn’t realize this place was this fancy so I am stuck with a dozen eggs, 2 tomatoes, and an onion that I will not be able to cook due to the lack of a real kitchen for hostel dwellers to use…
I turn inward.
As I sit here watching the beautiful, happy, confident-looking people go to and froe with all the poise of those without much to worry about in life apart from whether the sun will appear for their sunset vineyard tour or not, I turn inward.
I feel the uncertainty, stress, weight, discomfort, and ugliness that is me.
Me is ugliness (ha ha).
Sun-kissed skin and pretty, unwrinkled (unless wrinkles are fashionable), airy clothing whisks by on all sides as I sit on my laptop and hope the internet will speed up enough for me to look at Google Maps, Booking.com, and my Instagram all at once while knowing in the back of my mind that the 4-hours of video editing waiting for me are not going anywhere…
I turn inward to avoid fixating on all the things life could be.
I turn inward to see who I actually am and why I am not what I see around me.
I turn inward to try to remember who I have chosen to be and if I can still be proud of that person in the face of all the other ways of being flitting about around me that look so beautiful, confident, purposeful, content, relaxed, and sunkissed (I burn more easily than a piece of paper held over a candle, folks).
Waiting to transform.
I realized, sitting in my 5'11" “bed” on the floor of a loft with a roof so low I had to bend over Gollum-style to move about, that I have spent my life wishing to become someone I am not.
I use the pretty words:
But in reality, I have been looking past and beyond the real change taking place in myself, straining my neck to see up and above looking for some future transformation into the beautiful, confident, competent, courageous, social butterfly that I so intensely want to become.
I’ve been waiting to transform into a Monarch when I am a moth. (I am not putting myself down, merely making a contrast)
The slow realization of this tragically misplaced attention on some unrealistic future version of myself that could be if only I push a little harder, survive a little longer, get a little luckier… has settled in over the last two years.
But the first meaningful mental articulation of the difference between wishing to be someone different and being honest with who I am, then taking what steps are realistic to improve upon that person that I already am took place in that cramped loft in the hostel in Flores, Guatemala.
I love the moth that I am.
The contrast between the chatty, drinking, partying, going out, laughing, and loudly-talking people and the me that sat quietly with headphones in at a table, laptop plugged in, video editing software open in front of me as I tried to get a few minutes of editing done before my 3-day old headache made it impossible could not be more clear.
One of these is not quite like the other.
I have not been like the others for as long as I can remember.
I can chat up a stranger, seem as social and gregarious as the best of them, be the life of the party.
But the truth is my default, my modus operandi, my comfort zone places me by myself, thinking, reading, writing, or working on what matters to me (videos, podcasts, writing, work I have agreed to).
I used to think I was broken for being stuck on my laptop working while the world literally around me drank, laughed, and generally had a great time.
I used to try so hard to be different because I thought what I was, who I was, was lacking, was broken, was flawed.
Now I am realizing that I can, I should, and I do love the moth that I am even around such lively color as the Monarchs drinking loudly a table or two over from mine.
Maybe even especially around the lively Monarchs.
To sit with oneself.
That one quote,
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone…”
perfectly captures the struggle with which I am finally starting to come to terms.
To sit quietly by myself in a room full of people partying and being together with their friends… it can hurt if you think you should be like them.
It can hurt if you let yourself believe you should be anyone other than who you are.
To accept who I am is not mutually exclusive with a desire and intent to continue to grow into a better person.
To be a quiet, introverted person more comfortable working on their laptop than drinking and partying does not mean it won’t be good for me to push myself and join the party here and there.
To realize I am a moth and not a Monarch does not preclude beautiful, meaningful change from taking place in my life as a product of intentional effort over the course of my life.
This trip will change me.
When I first began to let the daydreams about riding a motorcycle from Colorado->California-> Patagonia take more serious shape in my mind and life, one of the primary motivating factors was the knowledge that this trip… if undertaken, would change me.
It would change the man, the human that I am and will be for the rest of whatever years I have left on this earth.
This trip will change me in ways I cannot predict.
And I am obsessed with that!
One of those changes seems to be a growing realization that I love the man that I am.
I love the human that I am.
I love the man I can become with time and effort.
I can love myself even if I am not like the world around me.
I can love myself even if I do things differently, even if I struggle with the simplest of things, even if I could name 1,001 things I wish were different about who I am.
I can love myself and I can acknowledge that no matter what I might say about my struggles, inabilities, insufficiencies…
I am finding ways to take another step forward.
I am finding ways to chase dreams that might scare the shit out of me but still seem like the right thing to do with my time, energy, and resources.
I am finding ways to live my life.
After all, no one is going to live for me.