Off the bat, those two "defining features'' might seem contradictory. But I am here to tell you, I am living, breathing, self deprecating proof that that notion could not be farther from the truth. I am a self proclaimed loser. What does that mean you might ask? Allow me to explain. I have one best friend, my sister who lives in LA across the country from me. I do most things alone except for when I'm with my cat, 21 (she is a girl). I am not in any clubs and do not have any particular daily routine. I wake up when I want which since the quarantine has been somewhere between 12:00pm and 3:00pm, but to be fair is not much different from what I did before the world stopped as we knew it. I go outside weekly, not daily (do not worry I go to class). I do not have very many passions or hobbies. Basically, all that is to say I am a complete and total nobody and I have never been happier. Now I have not always been accepting of the idea of being a loser or a nobody. In fact, at one point I probably would have kicked you if you had tried to call me either one of those things (I briefly took taekwondo.) Once upon a time, I did feel special. I had more best friends than I could count on one hand. I had a daily routine which always kept me preoccupied. I played the sport I love for an NCSU club team with an awesome group of girls. I had what a lot of people would have called a pretty "healthy" lifestyle. To be clear, I am not saying there is anything wrong with having multiple best friends or having a particular daily routine, I plan on adopting a new one as I learn and grow. What I am saying is wrong is that while I was leading my so-called "healthy" life, I had never felt more alone and more confused even when surrounded by the people closest to me. To me, the worst part was how long it took me to realize how I had been feeling which ended up being 18 of the 19 years of my life.
My previous best friends, the people I hung out with every day, were also the people I went to high school with. Being constantly surrounded by what has always been familiar to you can blur your view of the world. There is something so special and appealing about wanting to stick with what you know. It provides comfort and stability with people who feel like home, it reassures you that you are not and never have been alone, and honestly it can make your life feel like your living a movie. On paper, it sounds like a dream and I think that is exactly why it did not last, it was not real and I was not me. How could I have not been me? Easy. I had never gotten to know myself because I had never let myself be alone. It was not until I was forced to spend time alone that I gave myself the chance to really self reflect.
There are a lot of reasons my previous friendships did not last and if I am being honest a lot of those reasons had to do with me. I did not know what a friend actually meant to me, I was always just so thankful to be surrounded by the people I was surrounded by. I did not talk about the things that bothered me or hurt me, I always figured nobody wanted to talk about those things because they were not important. I did not tell people how I was really feeling, most of the time I did not know how I was really feeling and therefore never questioned it and rarely brought it up. The list of things I did not do could go on and on, but what lead me farther away from getting to know myself was my almost instinctive decision to relinquish my responsibility for my feelings and attribute them to the people around me. It was never that I was simply feeling insecure, it was that all my friends were prettier than me which made me insecure. It was not that I did not feel good enough, it was that somehow everyone around me was better. It was not that I had difficulty trusting people, it was that that person (for whatever reason) could not be trusted. When you detach yourself from your feelings, you lose an important part of yourself that is crucial to your identity. When you lose your sense of identity, you end up feeling sad, alone, angry, confused, or ultimately just not yourself. So how does one avoid this? How does one be the perfect friend and live a perfect life being perfectly themselves without ever feeling any of those feelings we all secretly either want to bury down or emphatically express? Simple. You can't.
Murphy's Law states: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong typically at the worst possible time. This means it is basically scientifically proven that we will all get screwed over at some point and therefore will have to feel the consequences. My advice? Embrace your feelings (the good, the bad, and the totally crazy.) Allow them to give you further insight into who you are. Rather than denying you feel a certain way, ask yourself why you feel the need to deny the feeling in the first place. Rather than trying to control how you feel, accept the fact that you (like everyone else) cannot control your feelings but are instead responsible for your reactions. In my experience, accepting my feelings and not really caring that I feel them has been more freeing to me than anything else I have attempted.
You might be asking yourself why you should even consider listening to the ramblings of a self proclaimed loser. My answer to that fair and reasonable question is this: do not if you do not want to. Instead, recognize the fact you are questioning anything at all and continue to ask yourself how you want to live your life for yourself and what that might feel like and look like for you. The world has recently shutdown. Use this time to re-evaluate your world and how it makes you feel. If you are not sure you like something, try something different! If you are feeling confused or uncertain try asking yourself why (if at all) you are uncomfortable with feeling those things in the first place. The world (though temporarily closed) is your oyster, use this time to think about what you want to do in it and how you want to live it in it. Full disclosure, you will not come up with a solid answer for a while and it will take a lot of trial and error. Fuller disclosure, you may never get a solid answer. However, getting an answer is not the point of this article or the point of being yourself. Being yourself means being comfortable with not really knowing what that means but being willing to figure it out. Being yourself means doing things you never thought you would do which furthers your sense of identity. Being yourself means stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to clarify what exactly your comfort zone is. Being you means living your life for yourself and with yourself whatever that means for you. "When you stop learning you lose who you are." Do not lose who you are because when you are gone who is really left?
Signed: One happy loser!