Throughout my teen years, I always thought I was more mature than most of the people my age. I scoffed at the “teen angst” I witnessed, the occasional drug use and the fascination of getting drunk. Maybe that was partly due to the fact that I grew up in a dysfunctional family, got criticized a lot at a young age and had to build a slightly thicker skin, or because I was exposed to my brother’s suicide attempt and mental illness at the age of 11. Or maybe it’s because of something innate within me that just drove a greater curiosity of people, the way they think, why they think what they think, and how I felt I was ultimately understood, if at all. I got obsessed with the idea of deeper meaning when I was 13 and got frustrated with what felt to be endless superficiality that surrounded me on a day to day basis. People my age felt so mundane and trite. I had to find interest somewhere else, or at least with people who could entertain my thoughts.

So that might be why today, when I meet people who have a harder demeanor, who appear to be extremely tough and rigid, I always kind of wonder about them and what drives them to be the way they are. What are they hiding? What experiences have they had that have contributed to the way they carry themselves? There’s no way they could be that hard behind closed doors. We’re all humans with feelings. We share them outwardly in varying degrees. But at our core, when no one else is scrutinizing or judging us, we all seek the exact same thing: to be loved, to be understood, to be wanted. Everyone wants some level of attention, of human contact, of human touch.

I don’t seek to understand or get close to everyone; well, that would be quite exhausting. I’m more thinking about people who have that type of demeanor but have openly reached out to me to be there for me, to provide some level of solace to me when I haven’t been in the brightest places, or when I haven’t actually asked for any attention or support.

Maybe that’s what makes me a little dysfunctional myself. In trying to understand this about others, maybe inside, I just have a desire to “save people,” to help them get to a happier and more open state. Maybe Ed’s struggles and death feed into that. If I couldn’t help him, maybe I could help others? Maybe that’s part of what my actual purpose in life is. I’m still figuring it out.

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