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Finding Myself

I can be a little shy at times.

It takes me a few minutes to warm up to people and I’m not the type of person that will strike up a conversation with a stranger. Which means, I’m usually the one of the receiving end of a beginning conversation and that is exactly where I found myself while standing in line to meet Bruce Campbell at Wizard World Chicago in August of 2016.

The friends I attended the con with were focused on meeting the cast of Daredevil, so they had left me on my own. I was on a strict budget, but I had centered the entire trip around meeting Bruce Campbell for the second time, and it was mere minutes away from happening.

As I stood in line, I noticed a woman in front of me who kept looking up and down the line. She was around my age at the time (early thirties) and looked like your everyday mom. She made eye contact with me and smiled, “Yea… these are my people.”

We chatted a bit while standing in line about Bruce Campbell and her son, and I wish I had been a bit more outgoing at the time and exchanged social media. I think we would have been good friends.

I think about this random lady occasionally, and today is one of those days. This girl next door was a huge Evil Dead fan, and you would never know it from looking at her. There were no tattoos, no goth makeup, not even an Evil Dead t-shirt, but she was happy, content, and excited to be surrounded by fellow fans.

I, on the other hand, have spent the past twenty years feeling shame about my interests. It comes and goes in waves. I’ll get excited and enjoy some fandom, and then I’ll remember that I’m an adult and I should be studying philosophy or working on becoming a better person. I think about what men my age are expected to be doing, and sometimes I even do it (like watch football when I’d rather watch some old 80’s movie).

I could sit here and blame this on this person or that parent, and while some opinions and comments have definitely played a part, at the end of the day it’s me who is in control. For some reason, I’m stuck in this cycle where I throw off my shame shackles and proclaim I need to just like what I like, and then I go back into the dark corner and lock myself up a few months later.

The problem with this yo-yoing is that it affects my mental health. For example, I was struggling last spring with some anger issues. I decided one weekend I’m going to watch some old 80’s horror. I give myself a little chore of watching the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Then I spent the next three months enjoying each weekend, looking forward to finding new/old movies to watch, and just being me.

Then my birthday came up. I handled it well and I think in a way I felt like it was time to move gracefully into my forties. I put the horror movies away and began cleaning up my life. Organize this, clean up that, shut down this blog, redirect my attention here, look for a new job there, pick up old hobbies, etc.

Fast forward to a few weeks later and I start feeling bad again.

Something isn’t right. Depression creeps in, so I double down on being a grown-up and living a peaceful existence. But it only gets worse. I don’t find myself getting excited about anything because what is there to be excited about? I lose interest in TV shows and movies, and focus on reading more, but I can feel myself slipping down this slippery slope and I just don’t know what to do.

Then by chance, I find myself watching an old favorite movie, sitcom, or playing a video game and something clicks inside me. Suddenly, I remember my people, like the woman from Wizard World. Folks who accepted me for liking what I liked, so why do I dislike myself so much?

I guess I just worry at times that I’m wasting my life, but is it truly a waste if you are enjoying what you are doing? What is the alternative? I sit around and try and find something else to be interested in? Do I do things that are less interesting?

I think there is a delusional part of me that still thinks, “If I just work hard enough, I can be Batman” and maybe, I’m always reaching for that. Leaving the door open to abandoning my interests in pursuit of something more noble. But let’s be honest, I’m an overweight, forty-year-old man, and I’ll never be Batman. I think what I need to realize is, it’s okay to not be Batman. It’s okay to just be some random guy in the back, who’s watching TV, and staying the heck out of Batman and The Joker’s way. It’s definitely safer.

Growing up, I used to hear all the “You can be anything you want to be” comments and I still struggle to reconcile that with the real world. It feels like I’m disappointing myself if I choose to be unremarkable. But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to realize that it’s okay. Maybe I won’t have an exciting career. Maybe I’ll never be able to afford a house. Maybe I won’t ever finish a book or a movie, and you know what? That’s okay. Because I didn’t come out of the womb with a checklist attached. I guess the question I must ask myself is, when I’m on my deathbed will I have any regrets about not doing something? If there is, I guess I should try and work towards that.

And maybe, I just need to chill out a bit. Channel The Dude a bit. Stop putting so much pressure on myself to get so much done. Just try and enjoy life for a while and stop worrying about the numbers (age, money, how many things I get done, etc.)

Published inSelf-Reflection

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