After much reflection, I've come to a conclusion on some internal issues I've been dealing with. This is an explanation of those issues, as I have come to interpret them.
In elementary school, I was the nerdy outsider. You know, the kid nobody wants to sit with? The one with the glasses and the 2-inch thick Star Wars book? The kid that always comes in dead last when running the mile, or that can't catch a ball to save his life. That was me. I had a couple of good friends, but mostly people didn't really like me. For the most part, I was OK with this, but as is always the case, the grass is always greener on the other side, and I wished I was more popular.
Enter high school. I knew that my social high school career would hinge heavily on my first impression, so I decided I was going to adopt a nickname and attempt to just be myself. So, I introduced myself as "Archie," and I did my best not to be reserved or shy. I tried to assert myself as an alpha-male (no small feat considering it was an all-male school!). I succeeded. From that day and on through the rest of the four years that comprised my high school career, I was well-known, generally well-liked, and accepted.
But something happened. "Archie" grew to be its own creature. "Archie" was the party personality. The guy who would do things on a dare, or dance in public. He was playfully boisterous, and interested in most everything. He played football, he pwned n00bs in Halo, he wrote poetry, and he did theater. "Archie" became more of a mask that I wore than the person I was, though I didn't realize it at the time, and I enjoyed the attention.
Over time, I began to notice that I was at odds with my behavior. I came to realize that I was "acting the part" of that fun-loving guy, rather than voicing my own concerns or doing more of what I wanted to do. Don't get me wrong, I would speak up and offer alternatives if I didn't want to do something, but I wouldn't go so far as to sit out if the group did something I wasn't interested in. The exception to this is smoking, drugs, and drinking, as I refused to even try these things. Eventually, it got to the point that I wasn't sure who I was anymore.
Then came college. College is where I had the most personality growth. By the start of Freshman year, I had already realized that Archie was a mask, and had decided to drop the name and go back to being me. This is the interesting part: The true me was not the quiet introvert from elementary school, nor was it the loud, charismatic extrovert of high school. The true me was a juxtaposition of the two. Somewhere, between those two points on the spectrum, was me. The REAL me. So, college was (and is) an attempt to reconcile the two personalities.
I would introduce myself to new people without pause, but I would stick with the group that was the floor I lived on, or the roommates in my apartment and their friends for most of my social activity. I came to realize that I did not care what the world thought of me. Not in the way that goth or emo individuals say they "don't care" about other's opinions, but in the way that I didn't require the approval of others' for my own validation. I came to realize that I liked me for who I was, and that it wasn't worth changing myself to get others to accept me. If they accepted me, great! If they didn't, well there were always others I could go to.
I found that middle-ground between having just a couple of great friends (who I still have) and having a lot of not-so-great friends. I found my roommates. I found my girlfriend. I found my close friends from high school and elementary school. I found what truly made me feel happy and accepted and fulfilled.
So why, if I don't need validation, am I writing all this? For you, dear reader. I don't expect this will give you an epiphany, or reveal to you some great secret truth, but hopefully it might shed some light on some part of your own life. Maybe give you something to work towards? Whatever you take from this, it is my most sincere hope that you take it and use it constructively. Find yourself! Find your balance! Find what makes you complete and you will find true happiness!