I draw a metaphorical ring around myself and what’s inside is … the phrase in the title. Perhaps. I seem to be having something of an identity crisis: as a committed “JOAT” (Jack Of All Trades) I realize that I’ve never gone far enough in to anything to finally feel comfortable being considered, well, that thing. So what’s left?
For a long time, I was a kid obsessed with facts, especially scientific ones, and I’d pipe up with them (annoyingly, I’m guessing) at the dinner table. Which seems, you know, a sign of a curious and intelligent child. I did well in school but I was never put into any sort of accelerated program, at least not for long.
That didn’t change until later high school, and I finally got plumped into the accelerated classes, some of them with the kids from my class and some of them with the kids from the class immediately behind mine. I had, perhaps confusingly, bloomed late, I guess, but now I was the one getting the highest scores in AP Chemistry, not those other kids.
Then what might have been a healthful, satisfying, lasting drive to math and science got knocked askew by the theater, which I tried because my guidance counselor thought I should have some extracurricular activities on my record to make me look more “well-rounded” for colleges I would apply to. I saw the logic of this, but …
… then I discovered that, what with the prancing around on stage and all, and having lost weight to boot, young women were actually starting to pay attention to me. And I had for all the years since puberty latched onto my face like an alien assumed that this could never happen: I was the vaguely smart, overweight, smelly awkward kid over there — the very opposite of “what girls liked.”
Given the solidity of that belief, the moment when one of the HS cheerleaders glided over to me at my locker and said “you were SO GOOD in the play last night! I didn’t even know you could talk!” made rather an impression on me. I’d hate to tell that woman that she destroyed my life — I mean, it wasn’t her, really, but …
My current identity crisis has been prompted by the memory of several episodes in my adult life for which I cannot for the life of me find an explanation. These are typically situations in which I had an opportunity and utterly failed to rise to it — not through ill luck, but through a lack of action that is to me today disturbing, confusing and inexplicable. So I look at the me in those memories and … don’t recognize him, I suppose.
So is THAT me? A non-actor, in two senses of that portmanteau? I hope not.
Sometimes I still don’t know what to do with this life I have on my hands. This isn’t what I wanted to write.