But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here
“Creep” by radiohead
2019, it was a rough year. My life was in major transition once again. I took an early retirement package because I really had to. It was not about retirement, but it threw me into a question of what is next. Ageism played a factor, which forced me to think differently about how I would earn income. At the same time, my then wife called it quits to a 20-year marriage. As a devoted family man, I was devastated. Frankly, it made sense for her, but it had the impact of a Mack truck hitting me when I was already feeling lost. So I did what I normally do, I hunkered down, focused on my responsibilities, and kept going, while my emotional life was in chaos.
This is NOT to gather your pity or condolences, but instead a chance to share another amazing story of self-discovery. You see, it is in these dark and turbulent times that chaos is at work, disrupting the status-quo. Choices are made, which are the typical responses; fight, flight or acceptance. Following a traumatic upbringing and troubled early life, I had made the choice to be a victim-no-more, and instead to take charge of my life. Life had dealt me lemons, so I learned how to make lemonade. In my early 30’s, I hung up my corporate shingle, put a backpack on, and “volun-traveled” across the globe, in search for the meaning of life. The experience was amazing and I found such meaning, becoming the kernel of hope and belief that I needed to go on. This story was captured in my book, “Discovering Michael: An Inspirational Guide to Personal Growth and Self-Discovery”
I returned with my desire to start a family, which I did. It was tough to return to a “normal” life since I had changed, but it was necessary to support my family. So once again, I had put on my facade, learned to play the game, so that I could maintain a job, an income. I found joy in my career but that feeling that has been forever with me, was still plaguing me. I did not fit in. I was different, not in a better or worse way, just different than the norm. But, I had learned well to hunker down, focus on my responsibilities, and keep going.
As I healed from the divorce and discovered a way to keep me and the kids financially afloat, I wondered what was next. My purpose for now is clear, to support me and the kids so that they can launch into their lives with a loving and supportive homestead. But the question remained, who the f#$* am I?
With some time off from the hectic pace of my life, pieces of the puzzle began to emerge, allowing for another stage of self-discovery, now getting much closer to the core of who I am. I watched the documentary, “Charged” about a man who nearly died from a crazy story of being hit with 2400 volts. He was deformed and then healed, yet at the end, shared some amazing realizations from this journey. I could so much relate to what he shared. With his magic words, I realized once again the importance of accepting me for who I am.
I watched the movie “Ithaca” where a young man of 14 was thrown into learning about the challenges of life as he delivered regret telegrams to mothers that their son had died in the war, and then had to deliver the same telegram to his own mother for his brother was also killed in action. There were so many great lines about life in this movie.
But then it all came together as I listened to some music. I was learning to appreciate music more from my son, an aspiring musician, who taught me the intricacies of music. I stumbled upon a song, “Creep” by radiohead, and it was then that I had realized something so important to me. I know I am a spiritual being living a human life, but did not fully understand who I was. I kept focusing on the feelings of being alone and disrupted by the craziness of life around me.
My realizations: I never fit in, and I never will. I am different for reasons I am unsure. From the earliest childhood moments I can recall, I was thinking differently than others were. I believed that this was due to something being wrong with me, which plagued so much of my earlier life. One memory typifies this difference. I was a young teen, hanging with the popular boys at the base of the water tower, downing some beers. The conversation was the usual; sports, girls and cars. I was as usual, quiet and contemplative. When one of the guys asked me what I was thinking about, I stated, “What does infinity really mean, what is one-inch beyond the end of infinity?” The guys all laughed, thinking that I was joking. This is actually how I had adapted to my high school years, becoming the joker to find a way to fit in.
The truth for me….”I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo” Okay, so maybe I would choose a different word than creep, but weirdo suffices. It recognizes that I am different, which is why I rarely feel like I fit in, why I live a quiet life, and why I do not venture out too often. I do not do well with superficial conversation, and am tired of trying to fit in. It feels like the weight I had put on my shoulders of being someone other than I am, has now lifted with this realization.
So, as I continue to go about my duties and responsibilities, I may have to wear a facade, but maybe, just maybe, I can create a sense of community among us misfits. I see us every day out there on the streets or like me in professional roles. Maybe there I can learn how to be the weirdo that I truly am!
Michael speaks on the topic of Personal Growth and Self-Discovery, related to his award winning book. More information can be found on http://www.discoveringmichael.com