For reason that are uncomfortably clear to me, I have trouble being authentic.
I spoke with a friend last night about everything and nothing and came away, as I often do in talks with her, feeling ashamed and stupid. Part of this is a long standing problem with my perception of myself in terms of her; rather than seeing us as equals, I am convinced of her superiority to me in almost every way. While I liked and admired her in high school, where we met, I did not know till later that she looked up to me, that she saw in me something awesome, grand, fierce. That something that she saw in me has proven untrue: over time, I have been revealed as shallow, crass, simple minded, unaware, unengaged, boring, afraid. I wasn’t trying to be something more than what I was back then, I was just as afraid and uncomfortable in my own skin then as I am now. But the sting of realizing that she is disappointed in me remains.
During those painful middle school years which would be better bleached by amnesia but are instead burned into the mainframe of the brain, I remember this sign on the sex education class wall that informed us of the importance of being ourselves. Specifically, it said that others people would like us. The treachery of that sign, of the way it suggests you can simply reach out and become the person you are, still haunts me.