I had never really put much time into thinking about anything, that is until I read Excellent Sheep this winter. That got me reflecting on the person I used to be merely half a year from where I stand today. I felt like I had my whole life together. Like I was going somewhere—somewhere where I thought I wanted to be, somewhere where I thought I was different. But oh god was I wrong—I really had no clue why. I might’ve had some sense of direction when it came to picking a career of my liking but I was so very lost inside.

As I read the couple first pages of the book I stumbled upon; “Look beneath the façade of affable confidence and seamlessness well-adjustment that today’s elite students have learned to project, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness, and aimlessness and isolation.” (W. Deresiewicz, chapter 1) and I realized I was part of the herd, those who feared failure but were afraid to show it. Afraid that others wouldn’t look at me the same way, afraid that they would see me as weak, which made me afraid to share with others my true feelings and thoughts, believing that they wouldn’t be able to understand. Believing that I needed that mask of perfection to hide my fears which led me to doubt myself and what I was capable of. This sent me spiralling into another direction, finding, doing something that would help me achieve whatever it is I wanted to achieve but little did I know I was headed in the wrong direction the whole time.

I met someone when summer. Around the time when I pretended to know who I was and what I was going to do with my life but without even knowing it was as lost as most kids our age were; someone who taught me a lot about life. He was a young guy with an old soul really and it was lucky of me to have met him, even though the timing wasn’t quite right. In a quick half year he taught me some valuable lessons — whether he knew or not — throughout the time he was part of my life for. Three, to be exact. Three things I’d never paid much attention to or was quick to disregard but became crystal clear as soon as I got my hands on Excellent Sheep.

  1. I’d always been very good at socialising, at talking to people and making friends, but most of my problems, my feelings, I’d keep to myself. I didn’t know whether I did this because I felt like everybody else had perfect lives, that they wouldn’t be able to relate to me at all, or because I was just scared of people thinking differently of me, not looking at me the same way they used to; in the end it all came down to nothing but plain emptiness. I had never been the one to share much with many — something which a psychologist I used to go to told me about; she told me about this time when I was around 10 and it was the first time I’d ever been to her office, she said I came in and told her I wasn’t about to talk to a stranger and sat in complete silence for the whole hour until I was picked up — but knowingly or not, he slowly gained my full trust, and slowly I let him into my life, sharing little things and secrets that I’d never trusted anyone with before, and finally feeling safe doing so. He helped me be comfortable and accept all those things and by sharing them with him he helped me have a better understanding of most of them. And this was the first lesson he taught me. That you’re never alone, and that showing frailty doesn’t make you weak.
  2. I used to doubt myself a lot, in every sense you can imagine, and I used to devalue what I was capable of, what I am capable of, and by doing so I was limiting myself. I was only doing what I thought I could do and I wasn’t trying to do anything better than that. I thought that that was my full potential. Nobody had ever pushed me — at least in a positive way — to do any better than what I was doing, not even myself. And nobody had ever really believed in me at all but somehow, someway I can’t explain, he influenced me for the better. Seeing things in me I couldn’t and had never before seen myself. He taught me how to value myself as a whole and without even trying he got me in the right path— hopefully — right in time before I go off to college.
  3. When he came into my life I was quite lost to be a hundred percent honest. I thought that the way I could achieve what I wanted was by going off to a good college, studying a career of my interest and growing up, becoming an adult. I was lost in the frenzy. But I was so wrong; I did not know what I really wanted, because I didn’t know what I could have. I thought that by growing up I would figure it out but I was terribly wrong. One of the best things that he gave me was his friendship, and with that came all the perks of him — I wouldn’t be able to put it any other way. He made me see the world from a different perspective, we went to places I would’ve never thought of going, he even got me to try new things I would’ve never even thought of trying (like a “Spartan” training session) and he taught me unconsciously that happiness is key. It helps you know the why of a situation and helps you keep yourself in the right path for the right reasons. Happiness is everything, and without it, anything, everything you can do is quite meaningless.

Overall, he’s taught me many more things really, and if I was ever about to write about all of them, I think that I could make a novel longer than the bible since our story begun before we even met each other. But I can definitely say I am eternally grateful for all the things he made me see, and the positive impact he had in my life. I can’t say that I know where I’m headed at the moment, I am still in part lost, but at least I have come to know myself and my purpose here.