By Bret Wolfe
Monthly Column Exclusively at JasonCurious.com
Column #2: “Flaws and All”
“Bret, I hear that your ten-year high school reunion is coming up! Are you excited about it all? How have you changed? What realizations have you come to you recently as you reflect? And how in the hell are you going to relate this column to Porn! ”
All very good questions; especially that last bit. With my High School reunion looming on the horizon, I knew that I wanted to address how we, as people, change and yet do not really modify the basic uncertainties we have over the course of our lives. Yes. I realize that makes little sense but I have a feeling you understand what I am trying to say. Trust me, I will expand upon it more. So how am I going to relate this all to porn? Even I was trying to figure that one out.
Funny enough it was on my way to the recent GayVN ceremony that I had an enlightening moment; something struck me particularly funny. I had this sudden wave of panic, this absolute sense of uneasiness that only continued to grow as I eventually entered to the club to the ceremony. My first instinct was to assume that it was your run of the mill nervousness. I was up for several awards including the highly prestigious “Best Newcomer” and my competition was stiff (no pun intended). But yet, I was not nervous. I am a performer intuitively, so my body was never one that felt the strains of nerves. If anything, it was that “nervous energy” that had helped push me further. I had always used it to my advantage. So what was this feeling?
Then it happened. As I was chatting with a fellow nominee it dawned on me that I had had this overwhelming feeling before. I had been in a position somewhat similar to this. I found my mind wandering back in time and I could not believe the revelation that was blooming in my head. It was not nervousness or fear that was encasing itself around me. It was something so very simple; yet extremely awkward.
I was afraid of not being accepted by my peers.
It was apprehension over the fact that I did not want to appear a loser in front of my colleagues and my friends. I wanted to be a complete part of the world that I had thrown myself into and did not want to just fade into the background. But what was upsetting me the most was the fact that the last time I had felt this way was back in high school; hadn’t I gotten over this? It had been ten years of amazing personal growth. I certainly did not need to be reminded of all these “wonderful” emotions. All of the salient revelations in my life had been made years prior… how perfect was the timing on this one? I still desperately craved acceptance. Is this completely pathetic – or is it so very human?
My teenage years were a difficult process, as I am sure they are for most. I struggled with my identity and my self-esteem. As many of you know I was overweight and reserved. I certainly wasn’t the one that you would pick out of the crowd. I was all personality, and I motivated my self by getting involved in theatre. By the end of my senior year, I had done over 26 school and community theatre productions. I was always cast as the sidekick, brother, best friend to the lead. Looking back, the casting was appropriate. At the time, there was only frustration at not being able to play the lead. But as a sidekick and supporting player I was confident in my work and thrilled to be doing something that I loved. But that is never enough, is it?
In the spring of the ’93, as my class prepared for graduation, our local high school drama league prepared for their annual awards event. I was president of the Thespian Society and was excited about out final night out as a collective group of “Drama Geeks” – This was also the night for us to shine. We would hopefully be recognized for the accomplishments we had made to our theatre department. And be acknowledged for our love and commitment of the trade. Bright lights, clapping hands, names called, great food – no award.
The evening ended; 26 school and community theatre productions and nothing for my commitment. Years later I would of course recognize that the award/reward was that I was able to do something I truly loved. We eventually grow up and recognize what truly is important to us, what really makes us happy. So those feelings, that need to impress, subsides… doesn’t it?
“You like me, you really like me.” Words spoken by a true example of what my essay is about. I thought that the feelings I felt in high school evaporated with my growing and strengthening self-esteem. I thought that the insecurities that I had in my youth would no longer haunt me in my adulthood. But as I walked into the GayVN ceremony, as I felt that strange yet familiar feeling rise within me, I realized that it never truly goes away. I sat there thinking to myself, “Oh God. It’s going to be high school all over again”. Bright lights, clapping hands, names called, great food – an award. It is truly a blessing to be recognized by your friends and peers when it is for something that you love to do.
The thing that shocked me about this whole experience, as I prepare to go to my impending high school reunion, is that I had to admit that some of my basic fears are still stay with me today. My need to impress and succeed is still important to me. I am still unsure if this is a good or bad thing. Admitting to oneself that your fears and flaws are an acceptable part of humanity and the human condition. I suppose the next step is creating a better understanding of why. Our parents tell us that we don’t need anybody’s approval. We grow up and say wholeheartedly we don’t need anybody’s approval.
Still, the feelings came back to me that night.
Good or bad, I have a feeling that we do need that approval. I know I do.
Is that so hard to admit?
Bret Wolfe …flaws and all.
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