When I was younger, say in my early to mid 20’s, I had a pretty close knit group of friends, mostly from high school, who I hung out with pretty regularly. We were spontaneous, throwing a BBQ at the drop of a hat, and we were all very privileged, educated, 20-somethings living in Philadelphia. This time in my life started towards the end of college, but really lit up around the time I started graduate school. It was a little before I discovered the atheist community (my earlier exposure to any such community was limited to online conversations with the long defunct Knights of BAAWA. If any other atheists out there remembers them besides me, you get serious props). And while I knew of polyamory, I was monogamous, at least when I was not single.,..which I was for a considerable part of my early 20’s.
It was long before I got any grasp of who I was, what I wanted, and even knew what the problems were, let along the solutions. On any given weekend, I could be found with my buddies (mostly guys, most with money) drinking out on the town and generally being stupid young people. It was a lot of fun, mostly, but I’m glad I’m past that part of my life.
There was a point for me back then, while drinking, where I go through a personality change. I am there now more frequently while sober, which is part of my growth over the years, but back then it emerged almost exclusively after, say, 4 -5 beers. This persona I became was more social, funnier, more forward, and would talk to strangers without any sort of self-consciousness or fear. He was flirtatious, got along with everyone, although he did slur a bit. He was the me I wanted to be while sober, but couldn’t be because I was afraid.
He was “Shane.” At least that’s what one of our group dubbed that part of me as. He was this part of me, hiding inside, who was happy to be alive, and enjoyed it (often to the detriment of the “Shaun” that woke up in the morning). He was not always ideal, however, as he was also known to be a little bit of an asshole (but in a funny and friendly way, except a few rare cases when I was angry which went a different direction…that’s a post for another day, or never.). Shane was openly emotional, affectionate, and was not inhibited. It was the same part of me that would, in high school (when the nick-name originated), get naked in the back yard with some of the other hippies in the circle, passing around a pipe, bong, or joint. Hey, I went to s Quaker school, what do you expect?
(Crap, I just remembered that my mom reads this blog sometimes…)
Anyway, back to embarrassing myself publicly (you’d think I’d be used to it by now).
After some time, say my mid to late 20’s (after grad school), this character began to show up a little bit in every day life (and not because I was drunk all the time, either), and became part of “Shaun.” I was able to find this part of me more easily, as I learned to allow this part of me to surface as I grew comfortable with it. It became a perpetual part of my growing, a part that I think may have slowed too much in the least few years. I know that I have another part of me that’s buried most of the time. Ginny and Gina (and to a lesser extent Jessie and Wes) get to see this person more frequently, and he is certainly amplified after a couple of drinks, but around people I know, trust, and like, it has become the case that I no longer need “Shane,” because “Shaun” has become more and more like that person inside.
I think that all of this is great, but I’m slowly becoming more and more aware that there is more to me inside. There is another level within me that I need to explore, an urge to grab life by the horns and ride it hard. Well, that’s not exactly right. My personality is not the kind which will be consumed by burning the candle at both ends, and this is not what I mean anyway. What I mean is I feel a strong impulse, buried under emotional control and fear, that has a lot to teach me. I would very much like to know now what I’m going to know about myself in 10 years.
But right now I have two problems; I am not sure how to let it out, and I’m terrified to do so. And so I find myself thinking, this night, whether Shane might have some use. Not that I need to start drinking heavily with 20-somethings, but that I might need to start pushing myself harder to let myself explore the limits of my capabilities. I need to be more assertive, flirtatious (for a poly guy, I am very shy around women…especially if I like them), and I need to talk with more people about things that are not merely safe topics for me to talk about.
Let me explain.
I tend to talk about things like philosophy, polyamory, and atheism. I have other interests, of course , but those are the things I know well, and so I feel comfortable talking about them more than other topics. I am intimidated to talk about other things because I have this completely irrational fear about sounding stupid or dorky most of the time. It’s irrational because sometimes I do stupid shit and I’m a bit of a dork sometimes, and so the fuck what? The bottom line is that I need to engage with people more, and get over myself. And I think that finding spaces, times, and people to do so with would be a good step in figuring out how to do that.
So, I don’t want to bring back Shane, per se, but I do want to utilize the part of me that was able to tap into a deeper part of me, to be an archaeologist of my soul (as Nietzsche put it) and find what yet lies beneath these layers of control and fear. I want to do so because it will help with my anxieties (which are usually about wanting to do things I’m not doing, or doing things I don’t want to do because I have not been assertive enough) and will therefore help me be happier and more fulfilled. I want to do so because I think I will like myself better if I do.
Also, chicks totes dig that side of me, or something….
But in all seriousness, it may help me gain new friends, lovers, and partners in my life, where sitting back thinking about it is gaining me acquaintances at best. I can do better.
So, that is my project for myself for the next few months, and for the rest of my life. If you are reading this and will be seeing me regularly or at all, you might have to give me a nudge now and then and tell me to let a little Shane out of the bottle.
But for me, that starts tomorrow morning. For the moment, I need some sleep.
BTW, if you are not familiar with the reference of the title of this post, watch this clip from the movie, Shane: