I feel like an only a lot.
Like I’m the only person feeling the way I feel right now. The only person thinking about the situation I’m in. The only one wondering why I’m wondering about what I’m wondering.
The only one expecting something from me. The only me there is.
If it wasn’t for me, who would I be?
Am I someone worth being the only of?
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I feel like my progress toward becoming more and more of an only has accelerated since I turned 50. Mostly, I think, because I abandoned an identity I’d grown used to being; the founder, president and majority owner of a company. An entrepreneur. A leader? Abandoned seems appropriate because my choice was deliberate and intentional. A conscious decision to sell the company, and the life, that had defined me for two decades.
I needed a new identify to replace the old one I’d discarded. A problem, maybe, but I’d been working on it – off and on – for some time. And the choice was mine, ultimately and only. The best kind of choice.
I was no longer an am. I became a ‘was’.
Which is what I wanted. To become a ‘was’ that is. An am whose old meaning was abandoned, purposely and carefully. Left behind, like a cicada shell that’s been shed on the branch of a tree or sometimes on the sidewalk. A visual of yesterday’s self, soon to disappear.
Can it be possible that, in a world of nearly eight billion people, I could ever be an only? Is the individuality of a snowflake in an infinite storm of snowflakes an individual possibility for me?
The odds seem long. The chances slim.
Am I the only one who’s uncomfortable in networking situations? The only one who’s confident and anxious at the same time? The only one who enjoys people, but favors being alone? The only one who wins a lot, but never wins enough?
The only one like me?
I still love the ‘we’ part of being in a family, having a tribe, being part of a team. I want to be liked. Loved. Counted On. A Friend. I don’t want to be an only all the time.
Being an only isn’t about being number one. It’s not about rewards, trophies or recognition. Not for me. It’s about being and knowing me. Questioning myself. Pursuing people and things that interest me. Staying curious. Growing. Using my imagination.
Trimming the fat from my life.
Focusing on my only. My snowflake, my fingerprint, my genome, my number. Hiding in plain sight. Being unique in a mass.
Being my only. The best only I can be.
*I owe the inspiration for this story to David Goggins, whose fantastic book, “Can’t Hurt Me,” is a must read. Or at least I found it to be that for me.