*WARNING! This blog contains a potentially lethal amount of rambling and probably less than your recommended daily dose of coherence.*

My senior year of high school was almost a complete academic waste.  The thing is, I'm pretty smart.  Smart enough that when we had an assembly my freshman year explaining the new block schedule and what our credit requirements would be, I was able to figure out how many real classes I'd have to take for the next three years so that I could goof off the fourth.

And goof off I did.

I saved up my electives and easy required credits (like 'computers' and 'life skills') so that senior year I didn't have a single math, science, or English class.  Instead I took Cooking 101, Sewing Skills, Intro to Guitar, Weightlifting.  I took a keyboarding class to fulfill my computers requirement, and because I could already type 80+ WPM I finished the entire semester's worth of lessons in the first week, so until graduation sixth period was naptime.

Without doubt, my favorite class that year was LitMag (the literary magazine staff).  It was easily the most work-intensive class I had that year.  I had more assignments in that class in a week than I had in most of all my other classes put together.

But oh my god it was fun.

You know how they say that people are layered, like onions ("And sometimes there's a third, even deeper layer, and that one is the same as the top one.  Like with pie.")?  The old adage is that sometimes you have to peel away these layers to get to the true person underneath.

Sorry, centuries of poetic thought, but I must disagree with you.  I don't believe that inside everyone, deep down, is the core of who they really are.  People aren't onions.  People aren't pie.  People are Voltron from the Power Rangers.

Let me explain.

When the Power Rangers needed to fight a big enemy, they'd all hop in their animal-shaped robots.  And, when the battle got really tough, they'd combine all of their robots together to make Voltron.


Voltron was, in and of itself, one complete entity.  However, it was made up of five different people, all working together to make one whole.

Now, call me a schizophrenic, but I tend to think that rather than having one core "true self" hidden under all these onion pie flavored layers, we have lots of "true selves".  People are far too complex.  I don't think it's possible to ever completely know somebody, not even yourself.  So instead of peeling away the layers as they get to know us, people instead get to know the separate parts of you one by one.

When people express themselves artistically, they have to allow themselves to be somewhat vulnerable.  You have to really feel what you're trying to say, or else it simply isn't going to connect with your audience.  My preferred art form is writing.  Anyone who writes regularly understands that there comes a point where, in order for your writing to actually mean something, you have to expose yourself a little bit.

Because after you get arrested for flashing people in the park, you'll have something highly meaningful to write about.

Har har.

I'm hilarious.

Back on track.

Totally unnecessary picture of a mostly naked Neil Hopkins playing with Voltron.

Part of what was so fun about LitMag was knowing there was a part of me I couldn't hide from the rest of them.  I've never been very at-ease in large groups of people, especially when I barely knew any of them.  But the other kids in LitMag read literally hundreds of pieces I wrote, just as I read theirs.

You can't do that without really getting to know a part of someone.

What I discovered as the school year went on was that the part of me that was in my writing was the very part that I was working so hard to hide from people.  It was the part of me that was dark, and scared, and bitter.  It was the part of me that didn't understand the world around me, the part that would hide in the shadows, away from the things that were, and wait for the things I wanted to be.

And it was such a relief to know that despite the fact that I could so easily tuck it away and out of sight from most people, there were a dozen kids in school whom I barely knew that I could never hide it from.  They weren't disgusted by it, or afraid of it.  They didn't judge me for it.  They embraced it.

They knew I was morbid and twisted and possibly a little crazy, and they accepted it.  And then we would all laugh about it.  I'd let them see the me that I was ashamed of, they'd shrug and say, 'Okay, now let's move on.' 

About twelve years ago I began battling demons that it took me until very recently to face head-on.  I've long been able to credit certain individuals for helping me through tough times - people that I doubt have any idea what an impact they've had on my life.  But until reflecting on it recently, I never realized that the kids in LitMag with me were some of these helpful people, as well.

If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have told you that that part of me would probably be dominant for most of my life.  But the truth is, exposing it didn't make the darkness stronger - it weakened it.  The part of me that still wants to hide in the shadows is still here.  She shows up every now and then, and I let her.  Because in the end, she and I both know that she won't stay long.  Not anymore.

Every now and then I look back on this, and try to remind myself that letting people in can be a good thing.  It's something I'm trying to do more often - opening myself up, not being terrified of what people will think or say when I'm at my most vulnerable.  Writing this blog is kind of a part of that.

I had a blog before that was all about me trying to make people think of me in a certain way.  I was always trying to be funny, always trying to be clever, but I was rarely just being me.  Part of the reason I named this blog "Truth, or Something Like It" is because I wanted to hold myself accountable for telling the truth here.  I wanted to be honest about myself, who I am, what I think, how I feel....

After all, it's just a stupid blog, right?  Nothing to be afraid of.

One more time, just because it's cute.

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