On February 5, on just the second month of 2016, I hit a new low.
I was sitting alone on a bench in a city park when a stranger came up to me and asked me if he could share my seat. “Why?” I asked reluctantly, as I glanced at the the empty benches to my right.
“Sorry, I’m not a stalker, or a psychopath. I don’t even have a police record, I swear,” he said. “I just thought you might like some company. It’s the second time that I’ve passed by, and the first time was an hour and a half ago. You haven’t moved one bit and that blank stare hasn’t left your eyes. I was wondering if you were okay.”
I forced a smile and motioned for him to sit beside me.
“I’m Paul, by the way.” He said, smiling.
“Hi,” I replied, leaving out my name but politely returning the smile.
“So, are you okay?”
I wasn’t sure why or how he seemed to have expected a quick answer to such a complicated question. I scrambled for an answer in my head. A “no” would be too pessimistic, too weak, too faint-hearted. A “yes” would be a complete lie.
“You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to,” he said, filling the silence that was supposedly mine to fill. “But you know, sometimes the best people to talk to are strangers. They happen to be excellent non-judgers.” Again, a smile.
“No, it’s just… Am I okay – I honestly don’t know the answer to that.”
“What are you thinking exactly?”
“I’m starting to entertain the thought that I could be a failure. I’m trying to convince myself that I could do this, that I could succeed at what I’m trying to pursue, but I’m having a hard time believing it.”
Sometimes I imagine myself talking to someone else just to flesh out my deepest, darkest, most honest thoughts. I’m guarded that way – sometimes it takes not even my own self, but a hypothetical Paul to make me admit the way I actually feel.
I wonder about the rest of the people my age, if they ever make long-term plans, and how many of their plans ever actually work out. I wonder if they ever wonder if they will make it big, or even just make it at all, and if they do what calms them down and ties them back to this world.
Would be nice to know.