My late father used to say something to that effect, although I’m not sure he worded it exactly like that. Which is strange because we’re both what I would consider loners. We have a few close friends, but for the most part, we keep to ourselves and can be considered shy/standoffish.
Along the same lines, I was convinced for many years – up until very recently, in fact – that I wasn’t very likable. I know I can be bristly and that I love my solitude. I just assumed people either didn’t know what to make of me or just plain didn’t like me.
There are two sides to this train of thought. One side is that, until recently, I had absolutely no confidence. I was overweight and very unhappy. I’m not saying I think that people didn’t like me because of my appearance or because I was depressed, not at all. I’m saying that being both physically and mentally unhealthy left me with almost no confidence in myself and because of this, I shut people out. On the other side, I was led to believe that I wasn’t likable by someone very close to me at that time. When you’re told you’re a ‘drag’ or a ‘downer’ so many times, you start to believe it. And I did…until about three years ago.
Three years ago, I began working at my current job. Previously, I’d worked in places where my coworkers were a bit older and more conservative than me. At my current job, I work in an environment where individuality and creativity are encouraged, not to mention that my co-workers are either closer to my age and/or share many of my same beliefs/ideals. It was at my current job where I met my best friend and I began to look at everything differently. The world, myself, writing, reading/books, etc. Suddenly, I began to dare to believe that, maybe I could really be myself and people would still like me.
Fast forward three years and I know that to be a fact. No, not everyone likes me. Not everyone agrees with me. Not everyone understands why I do what I do (eating a vegan diet and reading/writing m/m romance are the first things that come to mind, lol). And that’s okay. I can accept that because finally, I’m completely 100% myself. From head to toe, heart and soul, I feel like I am finally who I was always supposed to be.
And do you know what’s happened? I have more meaningful acquaintances and friendships than I ever have.
And do you want to know how I know that? Because of the support I’ve had while writing this book. I remember being terrified to reveal the genre of my book. I truly thought I’d lose friends and/or that people would look at me differently. Well, I’m here to tell you that, not only have I maintained my friendships, but the people I’ve asked to help me – with research or other aspects of the writing process – have done it without a second thought. I can honestly say that three years ago, I never would’ve told anyone what I’m doing, let alone been confident enough to ask people I know and respect to help me. I never would’ve believed they would want to, as low as my self-esteem and confidence were back then. Hell, I likely never would’ve embarked on this venture to begin with back then. To write as honestly and pour everything into something like I have, you have to believe in every word.
Case in point: Last week, I was talking to one of the friends I’ve made by being an Alter Bridge fan and I realized something. You see, I’ve made several friends by being a part of their fan base (I don’t know what it is, but they really do seem to attract some of the coolest people as fans). The first friend I made, I dismissed as a fluke. The proverbial cards fell just right and I found a person a lot like myself. And then I made a few others, people who remember me when they see me, who actually comment on my Facebook posts and come up to me when we’re at the same concerts to talk. Again, I’d chalked it up to dumb luck. We all get excited for the same things, it’s bound to happen. And then this person reached out and we find out we have quite a lot in common. I drove home on Friday night almost in tears because it finally sank in. People like me. People want to be friends with me. And why? Because I’m being exactly who I am with them. I’m not pretending to be something else, not forcing myself to like things I don’t, not living under someone else’s thumb. I’ve found these people because they love and are passionate about something I love and am passionate about. Maybe this isn’t groundbreaking to anyone else, but I never dreamed this for myself.
Thank you to everyone who has already helped me, encouraged me, and indulged me. You have no idea how much it means to me.