Why I may never be truly happy again: I am (possibly) chasing feelings that no longer exist.
That’s my deal. Life was different back then… my emotions were so crude when I was 18 and 19. Everything felt like the end of the world.
And now as an adult, I admit that I prefer the present day version of myself. That doesn’t take any real thought or second guessing. But it also doesn’t mean I that don’t miss the way I used to feel, because I do. I’ll get more into that in a minute.
I think back to being 11 and 12; I used to throw tantrums when Duke lost basketball games. Even regular season games. Shit, even when I was 15 or 16 I was still pretty pissed off. And I can’t really help it: I grew up thinking I was smarter than everybody else, mostly based off my public elementary school’s recommendation to my parents that I enroll in the GATE program when I was, like, six years old (for some reason); and away from school, every baseball team I ever played on finished either first or second in the league. These are trivial reasons, of course, I’m just giving you some minor backstory.
Winning, whether it’s me or me living vicariously through my sports teams, has always been most important to me. This can be a good thing… as in my competitiveness to attain high, perhaps even unrealistic, goals in my personal and professional life. In the past it has also been my greatest weakness, making every situation and relationship a power struggle between myself and an opposing party or parties. I’ve no doubt cooled my jets over the last several years, but inside it’s a sensation I know will never leave me. I want to be better than you, and you, and you. At everything. And I expect to be.
But this article is about chasing feelings. Feelings that may not even be there anymore. You know how things are usually better the first time? They just are. I reached a certain age — maybe 21 or 22 — when I realized I took a pretty unorthodox path to get where I was at, and I felt some pretty fucked up shit along the way. When once upon a time I was either on cloud nine or down in the dumps, crying, now I’m numb. The highs and lows balance out for the most part.
Some people don’t get their life lessons until they are in their late-20’s, or 30’s… based off the people I run into I assume some never learn. Some learn when they are 14 or 15. Me personally, I went through my rough patch when I was 19. When my emotions were still raw. That life experience was invaluable, and although it was the worst thing ever, both at the time and looking back on it, I wouldn’t psychologically or emotionally be the same guy if it never happened. And I like who I am.
Before I left for Virginia Tech in August, 2008, it was my summer of love. After my girlfriend at the time and I agreed we loved each other, and were in love, we took each other’s virginity one sultry July morning. And, you know what it’s like when you have sex for the first time… you just want to have sex all the time. Every morning after her mom left for work she would call me to wake me up, and I would drive over to her house and we would do everything we wanted. Then we would take a walk or go in the pool, or whatever, really. But that feeling of excitement. Like every day was Christmas morning. Who says that feeling can’t last forever?
I went crazy in February, 2009, in a Virginia Tech dorm room. Over a three-week stretch I lost 35 pounds. I was in the best gaunt shape of my life, stretching about 130 pounds over my 5’7″ frame. A few months later, I went to jail and the love of my life broke up with me. Nothing was ever the same after that, and all the happiness and ecstasy I felt has never returned. At some point I grew pretty numb overnight.
Inside, I want to feel like the potential exists for the universe to sweep me off my feet again, to drop me a present that I won’t return this time. But there is also the part of me that wonders if all those happy feelings were only a one-time shot — I had them until I didn’t have them — and I need to temper my expectations moving forward.