Breaking The Perpetual Loop of the Small Town Time-Stamp

There are days when I keep imagining what other people in my small tiny town are saying about me.

You’re not the good guy you pretend to be.  I know who you really are. I know what you’re about. You’re not fooling anyone.

I get into a mental chokehold, a constant tortured paralysis, not allowing myself any joy for too long, because I feel that’s a righteous punishment.

Are we all doomed to our former selves, time-stamped to who we used to be?  Will this loop of self-condemnation never end?

No one likes to flip a page because cynicism appeals to our laziness. It’s less work to bury someone under their baggage than to help them unpack.

But if you were to sit down with me for an hour over coffee, maybe you’d understand a bit more. That we have the same hopes, dreams, passions, and ambitions. That we are not so different. That we’ve both failed. We both have a past. That we love children, love dogs, love good movies, enjoy coffee, laugh at viral videos, and weep at tragic headlines. That we share fears, addictions, complexes, and worries. You’d certainly see horrible things in me, but perhaps you’d feel love instead of judgment, unless you’ve forgotten what love really is.

And you’d see we are both multi-dimensional people who fight the same battles with our multiple split selves, and that you and I are not stock archetypes from a backyard Disney vault. We are real, gritty, imperfect: just people.

Maybe you’d hear the honest struggle, and recognize that we are both breathing human beings who don’t always get it right: and that my failures should not give you a weaponized filter to suffocate everything else I do.

— J.S.

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