You know those people who can go so deep in conversation so fast? There’s no icebreakers, no warm ups, no talk about the weather. For years, I thought that was me. I may have talked about weighty things, using words like, “impact,” “legacy,” and “significance” to woo people into vulnerable topics about themselves. But I see now that it was a one-way passage to the heart in an assumed two-way dialogue. See, I was intrigued by my ability to make a connection to someone without really sharing much about myself. It was like a conversationist’s version of the tango without knowing how to dance. Looking back at those times now, it was an honest mistake because I thought I was being authentic. But if an expert in sniffing out a con in a conversation were to walk up to me, my cover would have been blown years ago. I was being fake and I knew it.
To be honest, I’m being the best self that I know how to be. To be honest, I’m still learning to discover who I am. To put it another way, it’s like a baby who looks at his or her reflection in a mirror for the first time. I can’t tell you my first memory of that interaction, but I bet it was strange—to see another little human move like you do, blink at the same time that you do, and turn around at the same time to see no one else in the room. That’s kind like me, still. I have seen myself in a mirror plenty of times and every time I’m like, “Who are you?” “Why do you look like that?” “You smile weird.”
I’m really good at holding space for someone. That’s where people misread my vulnerability ability. The way I “hold space” is by showing the person that I hear them, I see them, and that they’re worth my time in the given moment. And then after collecting enough data from what was shared, I step in and repeat the things said to confirm that I was listening, I affirm, I encourage, and then I repeat the process again until it’s time to leave. Something to know about me is my ability to simplify things—complex things, mysterious things, stressful things, you name it. I engage on a deep level and bring key takeaways to the surface. I’m a sucker for one liners. I am created for decoding, unscrambling, arranging and rearranging. That’s why I’ve volunteered to help with inventory and organizing days at every job I’ve worked. When it comes to people, the skill for simplifying translates to wisdom. It’s why friends come to me for advice. I guess I’m starting to see what they’ve seen in me all along. And that brings me to a dilemma: what wisdom do I have left for my own life? Has it been used up from counseling everyone else? I am so good at holding the space for others that I have ignored my needs.
I am beginning to see that I have delayed some key personal development. I have overlooked asking basic questions to address my emotions, my doubts, my fears, and my actions. I don’t check in with myself like I do with a close friend or I did with a past lover. I’m last on the list. (Or I guess first on a different list that has only my name on it.) And even when I get to me, I’m surprised to see who’s standing there. Again, it’s like the baby in front of the mirror—I open my mouth and look at my teeth and my tongue like it’s the first time I’ve seen them.
I guess I’m starting to see what they’ve seen in me all along
Now I do plan on getting to more hopeful things. Just hang with me a little more. Geez, I’m trying to be real here.
As I was thinking what to write for this, it came to my attention that collectively (meaning more than one relationship), I’ve dated for 12 months. Yeah, that’s it. It’s not much time in my 28 years of life to practice sharing my heart to a woman who reciprocated my love for her. I look at my friends and some are going on 10 plus years of knowing their spouse intimately. I love that, I celebrate that, and the world needs to tell more of those stories…(Article title) ”Husband and Wife Know Each Other Intimately for 11 Happily Married Years and 4 months and Their Love Keeps Getting Better By The Day”…”Click here to read more about how it can be possible for you too”…I want that for me and my time will come. But let me also say that I can choose a good life outside of marriage. Okay, on with the good stuff.
See, relationships don’t define me. No woman can “complete me” (it was something I learned from Don Miller and his books. If you remember where I pulled that from, you are my favorite person). And I don’t have to wait for the next romance to practice authenticity. It can happen today. I may struggle to describe how I’m feeling (that’s a later discussion) and gosh I have a lot of growing to do. But I am a man. I am brave, independent, skilled. I am so much further than where I was. This is me.
No woman can
Speaking of me, let’s share some things about me. Currently, I made more home-cooked meals this year than I have ever made before. I am present in the conversations I’m having. I am reading the Bible daily and engage in quiet time with God. Game changer. I’m the best photographer I’ve ever been as I learn more skills with my full-time job taking photos for a firm. I started to pick up surfing (again; this time I mean it), I run 4-6 miles multiple times a week around my neighborhood, I skate on my longboard, I work out with resistance bands. (I did rock climbing for a year and I miss it. Someday when the climbing gyms reopen.) My hair is long now, like man bun length. I planted an edible and flower garden. My favorite food to grow is kale and I just planted California orange poppies from the seed. Hopefully they bloom by springtime. My brother and I built 2 wood tables and 6 benches from scratch during the first few months of COVID. The project was a useful distraction and bonding time for us. Plus, it gave us something to look forward to having guests over at our place when the time came for that. I sit around the fire a few times a week, sometimes in the morning before work. I’m songwriting more, sometimes with others. I love where I live at too. It makes coming home from my adventures easy. So there you have it, some things about me. I have had to re-evaluate my view of the “public sharing of instantaneous highlights,” aka social media, by not posting for 7 months. With how much I don’t know the latest about people I follow, it’s been liberating to break free from that daily pressure to perform. I miss the ways I expressed my art and my words. But it was a thief to my happiness, purity, creativity, and contentment. In moving to this medium of an online blog, I hope that I can express in similar and new ways without the expectation of likes, follows, and constant distractions.
In closing, I will leave you with this: I struggle to be authentic. Truth is, everyone has a different view of authenticity. In my world, I am authentic. I have just taken a lot longer to decide that in order to love and to receive love, I must speak the full truth, all of the time. I come across as quick, impulsive, reactive. And I am those things if you splice a split second of my life a few tens of thousands of times and that will be pretty accurate. But if you think on a macro level, I’m your classic late bloomer. Heck, I’m still like, “What am I supposed to do in my twenties?” and I’m turning 29 in a month. I’m okay that I’m slow to finding myself in this fast-paced world. In slowing down, I’m taking time to find my purpose. I’m entering the conflict willingly whereas before I would run from it. I am seeing now that, conflict creates character, character creates resilience, and resilience creates a hearty and heart-felt warrior who must fight the battles of life. I need to become that warrior long before I have a woman and kids to fight for.
The journey is far from over. If I were to compare my storyline to Frodo’s in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I’d say that I’m as far as his arrival to Rivendell to assemble the fellowship of the ring. The team has been formed, the mission has been spoken, and the rest is unknown. Things are going to get more serious, more risky, and more freaking awesome. But, like Frodo, I have some tricks of my own that I am yet to reveal. And, like Frodo, I may be barefoot for some of these adventures. My mind, I tell you…I don’t know what lies ahead and that’s okay. I hope that in showing up here, I can show you a little more of what’s going on in my life. I’m excited for more of the unknown to be made known. We are kept from knowing the future for reasons beyond our human minds. Okay, I better wrap this up before I lose you completely. Keep reading, learning, and browsing through this photo/word fusion space. I pray that you find yourself with messages of hope to take with you and a bit of boldness, encouragement, and inspiration.
Thanks for your time. Be kind with your story.