This song always seems to take me back to a darker time in my life. A time I think has ultimately shaped the way I view the world and how I interact with it on a daily basis.
For years I struggled to define who I was. I found my self worth was intrinsically wrapped up in the things I did, like music, or sports, or academics. My value, what I had to offer people, why people wanted to be my friend, seem tied in with all of that stuff. This gave me the perception that if I wasn’t good at this stuff, no one would like me.
There is fundamental flaw in this mindset: If things don’t go well, you’re perceived value drops.
If someone didn’t like a song I wrote, I felt like they didn’t like me. It felt like an attack on me as a person. If someone didn’t like the sport I was playing, or worse, they pointed out a few flaws in the way I played it, I felt I had nothing to offer them.
Over an extended period of time, like say, from the age of 5 to 19, this kind of thinking brings with it some dangerous, and for many, life ending consequences.
Just months before my 20th birthday a small series of events collided leaving me in a state of severe depression, which I struggled with for 3 long years. Over night, I went from being the guy who was up for just about anything, to the guy who didn’t leave the house without an explicit purpose. While there were many complicated reasons that lead this dark time, the struggle to find acceptance, to find my place in the bigger picture, was a huge part of the equation.
A similar thing happened shortly after moving to the US. Suddenly, everything I knew and did was gone. I was in a new place, with few friends and no real way to vent and cope with the stresses that come with that. Which is why I threw myself head first at Bowling, then later Volleyball Coaching as soon as the opportunity arose.
Sadly, the shadow of depression never truly leaves, you just learn to manage it. To this day, I struggle with depression on a regular basis. Just ask my wife. She is forced to deal with the often irrational consequences of that period of my life almost daily and for that, I am sorry. But I am also thankful., Her patience over the years can mean only one of two things: Either she really loves me, or she’s really crazy. Perhaps the former is proof of the latter. Ha ha!
As self destructive as it might seem, I find a small measure of comfort in my small visits to those times. It reminds that things have been much worse, but it also reminds me that I am not the things I do. And that’s an important distinction to make. I can honestly say I am largely content with who I am today.
I don’t NEED music to define me.
I don’t NEED sports to give me value.
I still enjoy both immensely, but they are no longer the crutches on which I lean just to keep one foot moving in front of the other.
I’ve found my children have given me license to leave a lot of that kind of thinking behind. That’s not to say I want to live through them. Nor is it to say that I don’t still struggle with self-esteem and self-image. It just means the way I perceive a lot of this stuff has changed.
Kids have a way of doing that with a lot of things. Their mere existence makes you view everything in a different light. Some stuff disappears. Others appear more important.But mostly, things just look different.