There is No Answer to Your Question, But You're Welcome to Ask Anyway
As early as I can remember I’ve longed to be someone else. I can’t recall which came first; the desire itself or the self-loathing. It has me thinking; is it inherent to compare ourselves to those around us, or are we are taught? I know there was a time I accepted myself, maybe even quite liked myself. Then again in early life you have less experience to compare anything at all to. Perhaps it’s easier for you like yourself, you don’t fully comprehend liking or not liking many things.
Whatever the case, in my early adolescent years, I just remember “being okay.” I moved around a lot as an only child which lent me a huge imagination. I very much liked to pretend, to act. Make believe was my favorite past time. It filled the gaps before I made friends in new cities. I was often my only friend a lot of the time, but I didn’t seem to mind it - at least from what I recall through the perspective of what it is to be me. My parents may have a different story.
Somewhere though, that shifted. The likeness of myself began fleeting. I can’t recall an exact date or time, but from reading my favored, hilarious childhood journal that covered my life from 1998-1999 (it was a profound year for me) I noticed I made it a point to write a list of every famous actress I’d rather be besides myself. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) took the lead, but Drew Barrymore and Traci Lords also made the cut among many other, lovely young women in Hollywood. This was just the start of what became a desperate attempt to escape being me. Later in life, it manifested in much uglier ways.
The grown ups always seemed to be comparing themselves to one another. They did it all of the time, usually amongst themselves, but there were a few pivotal moments I crept into the convo. My earliest memory of my grandma was her telling me, “One day you’ll be skinny like Andrea.” (my cousin). Another early memory was of me sitting on the doctor’s table while my parent asked him why I wasn’t a twig like all of my friends. I drew my finger across the wallpaper pretending to be invisible. I listened to the women in my family complain about every vein, blemish, or dimple that existed on their body. There was always another pound to lose or imperfection to loathe.
It occurred to me bodies weren’t something to love, much less enjoy, but something that caused a great deal of torment. How awful it must be to live in something that causes such suffering, something you must compare to others constantly, but on I went! I dove in headfirst like a good young girl and got my first eating disorder in the 5th grade.
Now it may seem like I’m blaming my elders for how I turned out. I am. Just kidding. I’m not. But I think it’s important as we begin to heal from the trauma of our lives, as light or as heavy as it may be (it’s not a competition, gang), we look back to the roots of what shaped us. I of course know the women who raised me lived under the same women-must-be-a-one-size-fits-all-to-be-valued patriarchal society just as I have. It’s my grandma, their mother, who likely told them the same things she told me regarding their weight. I understand our parents and our caretakers are humans just like we are with their own hopes, fears, and traumatic life experiences.
No one gets out alive, and no one gets out without bearing the scars it creates. The scars are the lessons; seemingly the more you have the more opportunity there was to learn. But often things don’t make much sense without some time and space between them, so had I not reached into the dirt of my past I wouldn’t be able to comprehend all of this so clearly.
We are all walking around with the weight of the pain from our past, but also our parent’s past, and their parent’s past. Our bodies hold onto this metaphorical weight as we watch it manifest in all kinds of ways.
There was a time recently during my emotional digging I was disappointed I didn’t get better guidance as a child in being Sam Hancock, exactly as she was in her body. But I see now the responsibility to be comfortable in who I am always was and always will be my own. Why should anyone else teach me how to be myself? Isn’t that my job as Sam Hancock to learn to be Sam Hancock? No one will ever be able to guide me quite the way I can, I am the expert of what it is to be myself. It feels as though I’ve been putting it off for quite some time, yet I see now in the putting off of getting to know myself I’ve been simultaneously creating myself, too. There was never a time I wasn’t on course, there were just varying times at which I chose to learn or chose to hide - all of it creating the experience of me as a whole.
And if it is my task to learn to accept and create myself, it is everyone else’s duty to do the same with themselves. Parents included. They do us a great favor getting us here you know - to the planet and into this life we never asked for (or did we and we just can’t recall?). We walk around quietly or not-so-quietly blaming them for all of our woes, but seldom do we give them credit for our triumphs. We have both good and not so good qualities to us, but if it's your parents fault for your shit, then it's their fault for your amazingness, too. But just maybe, they actually had a smaller role in all of it than we care to admit. I say this of course as an extremely privileged person whose parents loved her all they could. But it’s a thought to consider when reclaiming one’s own power:
Whose job is it to be me?
Whose job is it to show up?
Whose job is it take ownership of how one goes about in the world now that these words are even coming out of my mouth?
We love to place blame where we can and take all of the credit everywhere else. Who doesn’t love a good scapegoat? But I’ve learned that’s a dead end road. There is much sitting feeling sorry for oneself there, and it’s such a waste - self-pity. Pity in general. Without knowing one another, sometimes at all, we wish to either be one another or we feel sorry for one another.
We often exist on the surface of our lives, even though we all have great depths. We either hold them near and dear fearful of sharing, or bury them beneath us. Even if you appear to be obsessed with yourself, your house, your girlish good looks, or your above average dick I’m not sold. Deep down we’re all shaking in our little boots, wondering, who the fuck am I and what does it all mean? No matter how we try to shut out the fear of what it is to live and then die, it lurks behind each and every move we make; it lingers in every cell of our body that’s dying as you read this now.
So why waste one more minute wishing it away? Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe this is just my privilege speaking on my behalf. Maybe it seems I don’t know enough or haven’t lived hard or long enough to speak on the subject matter of what it means to want to be exactly who you are. Maybe I’m a phony, bullshit shell of a human just trying to be liked. But then again, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’ve arrived exactly where I need to be so I may speak on such a topic. Maybe it’s taken a lot of work in fact. Maybe it took giving up my most favorite past time of drinking alcohol and blacking out. Maybe I’ve been to the brinks of hell, addicted to copious amounts of drugs, looking for meaning in any substance or other human that crossed my path. Maybe all of these experiences are exactly what brought me back to myself. Maybe I never needed to wish to be anyone else because I was enough the entire fucking time. But maybe this is how I know this now.
Maybe everything is everything, maybe it's all the same. And maybe, just maybe, this:
Nothing is going to save you.
Not therapy. Not the guy with the big dick. Not the woman whose allowed you to feel love again. Not microdosing. Not running. Not eating healthy. Not taking drugs or drinking drinks. Not the house. Not the lawn. Not pretending to be them, or pretending to be yourself.
Not loving. Not hating.
Not believing in and not condemning.
Nothing will save you, not even you will save yourself.
What do you think there is to be saved from?
Is it life, or is it death?
We look for the answer.
We search high and we search low.
Is it living or is it dying we fear most?
Is it existing or ceasing to that drives the need to know?
But what exactly is it you need to know?
What is it you can't bear to not know?
It's no mistake nor is it on purpose that you're here.
You are just happening.
And somewhere once you were told or taught or began believing that life wasn't this incredibly rare, strange, wondrous, painful happening.
One that you will never comprehend how or why you received.
Because there is no true essence of you to grasp it.
You are everything.
You are nothing.
And when you pretend go grasp this you may see that there is no giver of the gift other than the gift itself.
You are the gift.
It is life.
It is death.
And it is the same.
Look long enough and you will see there is nothing to be saved from.
There is nothing then to save you.
You are just here, being.
You are alive. For now. And when the season of your human life is over you will die.
And that will be that.
You will transform into whatever comes next, but you cannot know until it happens.
You cannot know anything until it happens.
Only experience offers an answer.
We become a great many things in this life, and all of it is relevant and all of it matters for the sake that we are here for it.
Because of it, we are here.
You don't need saving from it.
You are the happening.
Right now, always.
The free advice that you just didn't take:
Watch the sunrise.
Drink some tea.
Tell someone you love them.
Tell yourself this is all fleeting.
Repeat with your whole heart over and over again until there is nothing left.