Warts and allThe Gay Boy Next Door Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
Social Chaos: The Gay Boy Next Door
Writing a column is like living life; trying to be or focusing on too many things at once leaves everyone confused. While it feels limiting to only deal with one subject at a time, it’s essential to crafting anything remotely intelligible. Unfortunately, it’s just not in my nature.
As a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, I like exploring my every interest and thought simultaneously. This way of living helps build adaptability, but it also sometimes makes me feel like I have a multiple personality disorder. Worse, it leaves me constantly feeling fractured and craving true love and intimacy.
Now of course no one is of singular personality and purpose. I might feel like a Frankenstein monster of traits, ambitions, moods and feelings, but so does everyone else. That said, not everyone spreads themselves thin and constantly tries to flex every brain muscle simultaneously.
Some people acknowledge their many sides and potentials, but focus and develop some aspects much more heavily than others. Meanwhile, some, like me, choose to work on everything and pursue all goals at once while trying to find balance and adaptability in a wide range of situations.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
For people like me, simultaneously working on too many aspects of personality and passion can slow down the development of specific traits. It can feel nice to be wholly in touch with oneself and balanced, but without intense specialization of purpose it’s much harder to choose a life path, stay committed to it, and advance quickly to better paying jobs. This can make life significantly more stressful and complex.
It can also be very disappointing for a jack-of-all-trades type personality to discover that most people want to see or interact with only certain parts of him or her at any given time. I’ve quickly learned that the full span of my internal diversity does not interest acquaintances, coworkers or even most friends. People want stereotypes, characters, columns, or snapshots of personalities and feelings, but rarely does anyone want to learn or love it all.
Even when people think they want to know someone completely, their desires usually come preloaded with expectations and projections. It’s incredibly rare to meet someone who genuinely understands or wants intimacy. That means to love someone for the good, the bad and the ugly … or as my therapist once said, “warts and all.”
Work in a professional setting is the perfect, everyday example of a lack of intimacy. Part of being a successful corporate employee is suppressing individuality and becoming part of a cohesive and productive structure. It is essential to use discretion and professionalism to advance.
Most bosses don’t want to know about personal reasons for long-term goals, crazy Friday nights, romances, broken cars or illnesses. They only care about how these things affect numbers, productivity and what an employee is hired to do. It is therefore an employee’s responsibility to only reveal or demonstrate the parts of his or her personality that the supervisor wants to see, a mere fraction of his or her whole self.
This, of course, is difficult for people like me who thrive on self-expression, full-span individuality and who constantly crave intimacy. After being away from corporate life for some time, I always have an adjustment period as I reacquaint myself with the process. Having learned to stand out as a way of succeeding, showing just a part of who I am and not knowing if that is necessarily good enough, can be really difficult for me.
More to the point, it’s incredibly tiring to feel like I have to hide a part of myself for eight to 12 hours a day, then go home and become an entirely different person for the friends or fans who expect something else of me.
I’m just a boy next door and I find the process exhausting. I can only imagine what it would be like for a celebrity, CEO, politician or Superman!
In the end, I always manage to strike a balance of self and stage, but I remain cognizant of the separations in my actions and conversation. I know who wants what, and I do my best to make everyone happy. I never talk about my personal life with coworkers (though I promise they know I’m gay), and I don’t talk about work at home or in social settings (and not just because I’m legally obligated). Separate identities just naturally form and, although fully functional, are somewhat disjointed.
This isn’t really a problem since it builds adaptability and openness to change – the key to survival according to Charles Darwin. It’s also wonderfully satisfying to take on many projects, jobs and adventures, and feel like I have a life worth living.
And since I don’t ever expect, or necessarily want, true intimacy with my acquaintances or coworkers, I’m still going to be searching for that in a partner or friend.
While I occasionally write and reflect on the cracks in myself, I know that I am whole and wholly worth loving. I might only be able to write about one subject at a time, but maybe one day (after many, many columns) someone will want to know and love me, warts and all.
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