Philanthro-me: Part 2 (Ages 10-20)

“Giving as a Social Strategy”

Just before I turned 10, my next closest-aged sibling ran away from home.  She was 16, and she had somehow managed to make her way from Kansas City to Key West where she fell victim to a bullet which had not been intended for her. I didn’t cry at her funeral, but I also didn’t believe she was dead. Yet somehow that event left me with a very real sense that I would not live to see the age of 20.

My low self-esteem was counterproductive to my misguided attempts to find love. In tenth grade I found kindred spirits amidst the “partying” crowd, and boys began to take more notice of me. I was a master chameleon, adapting myself to what I believed and hoped a love interest would find most desirable.  In other words, their interests and hobbies became my interests and hobbies. Ultimately, I was more like an extra appendage than I was a partner: A poser-extraordinaire.

More than anything, I believed that my body was my most significant “offering”, so I pretty much gave it away in my desperate quest to feel like I mattered for a little while.  I believed that if I ever got genuinely tired of trying to please other people, I could always just kill myself: a recurring sentiment that paradoxically kept me going in the emptiest of times as far back as I can remember.

Throughout my teen years, I would give up my claim on the future, and try in vain to matter each day.  I would give silence, in hopes of being heard. I would give my body, in hopes of finding love. I would give understanding, in hopes of being valued. I would give up hope, in hopes of easing my despair. 

(to be continued . . . )
 

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