The Greatest Gift

The best gift I’ve ever received was the one I gave myself:

the permission to decide who gets to be in my life.

As a kid, people used to call me stuck up, among other names. I wouldn’t hang with kids who did drugs, I wouldn’t sit with those who were mean to others, i.e. bullies.  I had no interest in the “cool kids”, who never really struck me as truly cool at all…

In all fairness, I had some leverage back then. Even as a kid, I had an amount of confidence that I know a lot of people don’t grow up with. Some would say, I was lucky in that sense. But was it luck?

I spent a lot of time alone. I started writing in a journal and did a lot of role-playing in my daily entries. I’d write out a story of what would happen if I did hang out with this person or that group. Inevitably, the story would end up in some bad horrible situation where I was drugged out, arrested or killed. Part a fantastic imagination, part too much reading/tv watching and the other part, fact of where I was growing up.  Either way, writing out the pros and cons helped justify why I didn’t want to hang out with people I didn’t like. Period.

Teenage Carmen chillin’

I spent a lot of time being sad and worried I was making a mistake. People whom I admired like my 7th-grade teacher and other mentors would tell me that I can’t live in fear. There was concern that some of the choices I was making to stay away from even “good” people was mostly because I was afraid of being part of a group.

I was becoming a loner. But, in my heart, my body, my soul, everything about me knew it was right to stay away from these types of people – and so I listened to that instinct. It wasn’t easy. And being hated by my peers sucked most days. And yet, I will always opt for being alone than being around people I do not like, trust or feel comfortable around.

So, to recap:

  • The best gift I have ever given myself is learning to listen to my inner voice and not participate with people who are not worthy of my time and effort. This is even more true today.
  • Learning to think things through, via journal writing for me, was instrumental in my processing the pros and cons of any situation so I can feel comfortable that I made the right decision.  Still part of my daily process and very true today. 
  • Yes, there were times when I was alone. My choices led to the consequences of not having friends for a minute.  But I embraced those times to work on myself, by reading, by writing, by understanding that I’d rather be by myself than in a group full of people and still be completely alone. Absolutely still true today! 

Best gift from a friend in Boston – yes, I have one in pink too!

Being around the wrong people is not going to make your life better. The wrong people will only confirm over and over again that they are the wrong people. And you will absorb that negativity daily.

There’s a quote that is always attributed to Robin Williams, but it’s actually not something he said as an individual, but a character he played in the movie, World’s Greatest Dad, written and directed by Bob Goldthwait – the quote is brilliant:

“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

Yes, the greatest gift I ever received was the one I gave myself: the permission to decide who gets to be in my life.

Stay beautiful,


5 thoughts on “The Greatest Gift

  1. Me, I opened myself to the black kids in my school that were a minority. They taught me how to box, sing and dance and use a bit of rhythm in each endeavor.

    Not too many of the other white kids enjoyed such a camaraderie that I had developed and it was part of what I believe was their misfortune.

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    • I love this! I can totally tell you were that kind of guy. Awesome. (And yeah, I’m always sad for people who don’t venture out to meet others unlike themselves, it truly is their misfortune).

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