One of the most important things I’ve learned recently in my attempts to better myself and my life was something that Steve Chandler said in his motivational book and that was that we tend to define out personalities in high school and that those childhood fears, those adolescent worries, become part of our personality for the rest of our lives. In order to change and grow into a more successful person, you have to create the adult you, the new you, one who is happy with who you are and who does not care about what other people think.
I’ve never really been one to worry about what people think, fitting in has never been a goal of mine. Yet just like scared and cowardly people, I was wearing the same suit of armor I built in high school. When I was 15 I dropped out of high school. The stress and bullying became too much for me, I couldn’t fit in and I couldn’t find anything about school that made me happy. But what I hated the most was the disrespect and abuse I suffered. I wanted, more than anything else, for that to end.
I made a choice then to become someone else. I knew I could either physically improve my body to make me tougher and stronger or I could improve my mind to be smarter and more aware. So for two years I read every book I could get my hands on. I read Sun Tzu, the Tao of Jeet Kun Do, I exercised and trained for fights I knew were coming. I read psychology books and medical books on pressure points, self-esteem and the roots of bullying. When I went back to school at 17 I was only one year behind but I was years ahead mentality than I was before. Suddenly these kids were open books to me, like a trained Jedi I could break them down mentally and physically and I was fearless. For the first time, I had power.
Yet power is addictive, incredibly addictive. That personality, that power, was based on that time and that place. I never changed from that person. I WAS, up until recently, proud to be that person and proud to carry that weight around. After all, I was untouchable and fearless. Yet as years went by, way too many years, I suddenly found myself held back by it. I could not run in that suit and eventually I could not breathe in it either. It’s hard to take that armor off. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was afraid, I AM afraid, that the minute the suit is off all the sharp knives of my enemies will be sharpened and ready, that they will let loose the volleys of arrows they’ve been holding onto. Why worry? Why fear NOW, after all this time?
When I dropped comics from my life, when I dropped the worry, stress, obsession and unhappiness with the entire industry that I was carrying, I felt freed. I felt better than I did working on books. The reason why was because the comics were a crutch I’d used, a tool that helped me as a child to feel like I was a part of something on the fringe, they made me unique and special. Yet that, too, was an illusion. If I can leave that first piece of my personality behind, perhaps I can leave ALL the pieces behind. Maybe then I can find out who is really under all this armor.