There’s no point when I remember first feeling the need to prove myself. It’s not like one day I was a child, happy and content to ride my bike across the park to the tadpole stream, then a specific moment suddenly manifested a gaping hole in my identity that begged to be filled. No scene where I suddenly become sentient and think “I’m not enough.”
I'll be writing about this tomorrow in relation to the job search. Not sure if you'd agree, but I think there are different versions of "hard." I have no problem gutting out the last mile on a difficult run. But living with uncertainty in a relationship over an indefinite period -- that's a different kind of hard. Sometimes difficulty is unnecessary, and rather than accepting the premise and grinding away at it anyway, thinking or working more creatively (and easily) is the right call. I sometimes get on a soapbox about this because I use the Peloton app for workouts, and they're always trying to convince me that I can do hard things. I know that. But sometimes the hardest thing is being kind to myself.
Wow, Latham. This is brilliant. I kept thinking of this Billy Collins poem - https://allpoetry.com/poem/14327210-On-Turning-Ten-by-Billy-Collins Like, if you could write the sequel. Thanks for the smile - Calvin & Hobbes is a national treasure. 😊
So honest Latham. I could feel my throat catch as I was reading it. Where’s our fucking man manual?
I feel this deeply. Thank you for writing it. The strange noticing as I age that there is no one at all around me experiencing the same things as me with the same past is an odd isolation. The desire to meet a new friend who is someone new who I also feel comfortable with is a moving target, and somehow feels both unlikely and destined to happen. Just strange.
Beautiful writing, Latham.
I think I know the feeling you’re describing. “The space between myself and others” used to confuse me greatly as well. Going to parties, I would feel that I didn’t know, and couldn’t even imagine, what everyone else was even talking about. I had nothing.
I didn’t understand why other men didn’t seem to like me, or to return my calls—and I resented it, which only made it worse.
I lost many lovers because I didn’t feel they understood me well enough. Whose fault was that? I couldn’t reach them them either, not deeply, not how I wanted to be held.
I don’t know if there was one single aha moment for me either, but it came by way of a deliberate combination of 1) radically changing my relationship with alcohol 2) making a concerted effort to repair my ability to create and maintain deep relationships with my fellow men 3) following my intuition at every possible turn, and more and more over time 4) lots of time outside doing physical things I love, in inspiring places and 5) a year-long hiatus from relationships with women.
After a few years of that, that space that lay between myself and others has disappeared. I have friends everywhere, and deeper friendships than ever—and the love part of my wheel of life doesn’t feel so lumpy either. I suppose it wasn’t easy, but then again it didn’t feel that hard. In fact, all of that together was pretty fucking fun, really--and the result even more so.
I hear your call, brother. I’m here—and, as it happens, I am something of a guide.
I was lonely when no one wanted to take time off work to enjoy the splendors of Montana summer at 11 am on a Wednesday. What do you mean you have to work? Seriously, don’t do that. I sometimes get frustrated when I can’t explain those feelings to anyone.
feel this so hard
I can really relate to this. I’ve been in that place for so long. At one point a few months ago, I had the thought “Have I just expanded myself right out of this world? Is my wholeness-based perspective now separating me from most of the whole?” But something is shifting in me now as I enter a new phase, and I am suddenly connecting more than ever. I just published a post about it called “Moving Into a New Home.” Thank you for sending up your beacon. I’ve often felt that is what I am doing and it’s how we find each other, and say “You are not alone.” 👋
"I'm a longer, Dottie. A rebel."
I walked a similar path, and felt the need to prove myself for a long time, until I realized that the only person my actions needed to impress was me.
But it's still solitary, and I feel this!
You captured the transition from "proving yourself" to losing that to feeling lonely so well. There's so much power in being alone, and at the same time, it sucks when other people are tied to a different schedule or even still tied to proving themselves. I related to a lot of this!
“It’s difficult feeling like an outsider, sometimes even like life forgot about me.” The second part. Exactly precisely. Just today I had this thought that it feels like I got snipped from my ancestral tree of origin and placed in some other tree, just loose. It seems like I should be here but it’s not quite right. Your phrase has such a similar quality. I think the “proving” pairs well with trying to fit. With age, at least it wanes! Own your freak flag and fly it! You never know which like-minded weirdos will notice and join you! In any case, triple points for Calvin & Hobbes. Maybe it says a lot that those books were my nightly reading material at age 10 😂
Latham, beautiful, resonating
and that is from I, already at the time that most call ‘old’
it is a word, a season
a season that there still is time to learn
one’s insides deeper and expanding and giggle the days along with wondered curiosity
thank you for your words
Timely. I am thrashing away at my job (it’s amazing though) and a PhD I don’t need, exactly, but do need as a cherry on the multi-layered cake of my careers, that took me from nobody to the epitome of me. There are voices whispering for me to stop, however, and take the opportunity to paint, at 11am in a Wednesday if I want to, and enjoy the second half of life. Thank you for your reflections. They are helpful.
Beautiful piece Latham. I continually admire and am inspired by your courage to share vulnerably.
“It’s difficult feeling like an outsider, sometimes even like life forgot about me. But I can’t ignore the stillness that comes from being alone…” resonated so much. Feeling like an outsider is an emotion I’ve struggled with my whole life and continue to. Yet also enjoying my solitude. It’s a hard duality to decode, let alone balance.
One day, I’d love to explore the splendours of summer in Montana on Wednesday at 11am.
This is a really nice, heartfelt piece, Latham. The path is not easy, and it takes a lot of bravery to acknowledge that. Thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing that with us. Do know that we are here for you online, in spirit, and in friendship. Thinking of you.
Beautiful piece, brother.