In Your Own Skin

Remember Middle School? Remember High School? I have a collection of memories from both of them where I can recall only a few things that I enjoyed and a ton that I really did not enjoy.

Consistent themes of angst, anxiety, and some strange form of psychosis probably top the list during those periods of time. I did not love those periods of my life nor did I really love who I was as a person (does anyone, ever?).

I can distinctly remember feeling completely uncomfortable in my own skin, as they say, and simultaneously pining some unknown loss of my youthful ignorance (i.e. bliss) and begging for the day when I would be beyond this mess of an age and into some more stable form of self-acceptance.

I had no idea it would take so long.

It would take another decade (or so) before I would be able to look someone in the face and tell them that I generally felt comfortable in my own skin.

Sure, there are days that I fight off the demons of insecurity (boy, are they ever-present…) but the days of calm self-confidence and being in a state of peace (although it can feel tenuous at times) are now more often than not and I’m terribly grateful for the respite.

I was asked last night after another local event, at which I gave a short talk about blogging, whether I was really that comfortable with being so candid about who I am and what I do and being open to sharing my sometimes “different” perspectives on life, and work, spirituality, autism, relationships, and everything in between.

I told him that I was but he remarked that it couldn’t possibly have been that way since the very beginning and I conceded that he was indeed correct – the evolution of my public writing since 2001 to where it is today is simply that – in a state of perpetual change, evolution, and maturation just as I have matured as a young adult into who I am today.

It is fascinating to note though that when I first began to write I thought nothing of the content of what I wrote in light of the consequences of how it might be perceived. I publicly published some thoughts that were, although candid, unfiltered and relentlessly immature; I wrote things about people and organizations and even my work (and my boss at the time) that if shared today would probably warrant quick removal and certainly some negative backlash.

I didn’t care (or as I would have said at the time, I don’t give a wooooday!) and the motive was to simply share my thoughts as they came to me with very little self-editing and very little care about the reception of those thoughts by others. It was wholly a selfish enterprise and very much for my own amusement. Thankfully the eyes that gazed about this writing were very few and far between.

It’s funny how so many things change and how so many things actually stay the same as I still write for myself as the chief objective. The only difference is that there is a certain amount of care in my writing, a finesse if you will, and certainly more structure and poise and even perhaps a level of calculated precision that doesn’t limit the abundance of my so-called authenticity but does meter it out in a way that’s consumable and decent.

In other words, my writing has matured as I have matured and it has, in its own way, begun to feel a bit more comfortable in its own skin (if writing and prose were to wear itself together).

That doesn’t mean the fear of publishing is any less real nor the necessary gathering of courage to share it has disappeared as the internal machinations against my mind continue to cycle every time I sit down the write. I assume this will never change.

But I am in love with writing and it is my art. Saying this aloud is more agreeable than it has ever been and as an artist I cannot stop making my art.

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