By Brian Rentas
In most contexts, I hate talking about myself. Whether during a job interview, a date with a lovely suitor, or even when striking up a conversation with a potential new friend, I find my heart ramping up its beats-per-second any time I am given an opportunity to open up about myself. My palms get clammy, beads of sweat visibly flow down my forehead and a tingle runs down my spine when confronted with the task of describing myself beyond the usual questions of what I do, and where I grew up.
For whatever reason, I’ve always conflated an eagerness to put yourself out there as a wholly self-serving act – I’m more curious about discovering the passions, the hobbies, the ticks and the idiosyncrasies of another person than I’ve ever been into the idea of exposing myself.
Hell, I’m utterly fascinated by the act of getting to know a new person – which makes my nervousness all the more confusing to me. You can’t make a friend, or make any sort of connection, without a combination of giving and taking, I tell myself.
But giving myself up to someone? Allowing someone to truly see my vulnerabilities, the whole countless lot of them? Even just writing about it is putting a lump the size of Texas in my throat.
There’s always one topic, however, that I don’t mind broaching and engaging with – how goddamn prideful I am when it comes to the work that I do. Ask anyone who has known me for some time, and the first thing they’ll comment on is how busy I keep myself.
Actually, I take that back – the first thing they’ll comment on is my immense love for anything that can be described as emo. The second thing will probably be about how involved I try to keep myself.
In college, I often had semesters where I balanced a full class load with one or two part-time jobs, an internship, an editor position on the school newspaper – as long as I had the time to go to each and every concert I wanted to attend, I couldn’t care less how hectic my schedule was. I woke up with an urgency to do good shit, and I went to sleep complacent that I did in fact hit my goal.
Even now, between Punk Out, my full-time job and hosting events and concerts whenever I can, I rarely have the time to be lazy. If I take a night to myself to catch up on a television show from the comfort of my bed, I have a tendency of beating myself up. The more time I spend watching TV, the less time I spend crossing off things from my to-do list, making baby steps toward my goals, or developing myself into a better person today than I was yesterday.
What I’ve become more aware of over the last handful of months is that I use my work ethic as a means to hide myself away from people. I bury myself in work, because I love talking about what I do – I shy away from opening up about myself in non-work related instances because… well, I’m quite terrified that people will not like the person that I am, that I’ve become.
I’ve even noticed a great deal of distance between myself and many of my closest friends -- I convince myself way too quickly that my friends don’t want to be bothered by the things that are keeping me up at night. That feeling, though I know with great certainty only exists in my mind and no one elses, eventually turns into a sickeningly bitter resentment toward the people that care most about me. As the process continues, the distance between us grows wider and wider, up until the point where I can no longer look at the people I cherish the most in the same light.
As I write this, I realize the ridiculousness of my claims. I let the things that bother me the most fester rather than exposing them to the people who want so desperately to hear them, and I acknowledge that it’s an issue. But for me, there’s a barrier between where I am as a person and where I want to be, and that barrier grows larger and larger with each passing day.
And you know what I also realize? With this all being said, the idea of exposing myself in a way that shows my vulnerabilities is a fuck-ton less frightening than the idea of pushing all the people that love me away.
Here’s to me making an attempt to allow myself to be vulnerable. Here’s to me realizing that being insecure, flawed, and imperfect makes me human, and nothing more.
Here's hoping I can make that stick.
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