I came to a rather stark realization this morning: I don’t exist. At least, not in the way that everyone else around me seems to. So many people seem to have at least a vague understanding of who they are and what they are about, but I’ve spent my entire life struggling with what I want and who I am. After so much soul searching in trying to figure out what might make me happy in life, I realize that there is one thing that defines me as a person: the stories I’ve immersed myself in from the very beginning.
From fantasy novels as a kid to online roleplaying games as a young adult to binge-watching my favorite Dungeons and Dragons stream Critical Role over these last few years, as well as the hundreds of movies and television series I’ve experienced along the way, my entire life has been a strong desire to escape this mundane world we live in to experience something new and fascinating. I have lived through many adventures and stories in my own imagination, participating vicariously in lives far more interesting than anything I could ever find in the real world.
It is because of this that I struggle to find any passion here in the actual life I’m living day to day. The things I do outside of my personal time delving into new stories and worlds are the things I have to do to allow myself the ability to stay in that space. I’ve always wondered why I tend to detest almost everything, especially the relatively good jobs that I’ve had, and it now makes so much sense: because they take me away from the worlds I crave so much. My anxiety on the job or doing other “real” things comes down to that yearning to return to that space within myself that satisfies a burning desire for the next amazing story.
The consequences of this way of living are very costly, not so much to me but for the people who have wandered into and out of my life. While I have a strong desire for those relationships I’ve had, including the one I seem to be losing now, nothing trumps my need to experience something new and exciting. The idea of settling down into a mundane routine of the same things and the same people and the same grindy existence for the rest of my life repulses me beyond what I can bear. It is this inevitable boredom that causes me end up with everything in my life fading into the background in pursuit of the next amazing thing.
This way of being is in direct opposition to the lessons that life has taught me over the years. My upbringing and time in military service brought a pragmatism to my naturally dreamlike state, teaching me the skills and abilities I need to maintain what is necessary to not starve on the street. Like every double-edged sword in life, it helps me survive while at the same time stunting everything about me that brings passion. How many opportunities have I missed out on because my rational side told me they were ridiculous? Was I even capable of recognizing them even if they happened?
The honest truth is that I don’t know how to be a “normal” person, and I’m not really sure that I want to be. Everything about me is a desire to escape the boredom of the mundane. My entire time in the military was a struggle against conforming to the will of others, and my time since then has been a continuation of this internal rage against anything approaching sublimating myself in favor of what others demand from me. I don’t know how to be the kind of person who is satisfied with everyday life, but my life experiences have molded me into someone who doesn’t know how to break free from it. It is a gridlock of wanting something I don’t know how to reach.
This is the silent wailing of an echo of reality, a person who doesn’t really exist here in the real world, but in that ethereal place where imagination meets the soul. It is there where I find contentment, where I’m able to free myself from the bonds of all the things I hate about life; where I can separate myself from a world that holds no meaning for me and live the kinds of lives I always dreamed about. How can I be content with anything else after that?
I can’t help but hold out hope that I can somehow shed the kind of life I’ve led so far and figure out a way to make my life about the stories that have meant so much to me over the years. There is no way for me to know at this point in my life what that might look like, but I can say with absolute certainty that I will jump at the opportunity to move into a space that allows me to make my life about shaping something beyond what we have here in this life. Whether that’s through acting or writing or whatever I have the talent for, I yearn for the next phase of my life to be completely different from what I’ve had so far.
So the question is: can I?