It’s nearing 4:00 AM. I’m sleepy, but my body roots itself on the couch. I mindlessly refresh my social media pages, and look at homework and writing assignments that I know I won’t be completing tonight. I feel tired, but I don’t sleep. I struggle to control this odd behavior, but deep down I already know why I’m still sitting here, and I know that I won’t be able to change it.
This behavior has been with me all my life. I’ve always found excuses to stay up late. As a kid it was video games. Now it’s homework and social media. When I’m older I’m sure I’ll find something else. I consciously oppose this behavior, but my subconscious always wins in the end. I do what I do without a thought at this point…all for a simple reason. I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of myself. When I lay there at night, in the dark, I can’t run from anything. There in the dark I’m forced to think about all of the things that I’m able to avoid during the day. Nighttime is quiet. The city itself starts to slumber, social media feeds start dying down, and the world itself comes to a halt. I struggle to find something, anything else to do instead of sleep, but after the hours pass, I realize I haven’t accomplished anything or done anything meaningful. All I do is kill time, all in the name of running.
I just don’t like the person that I am. I’ve made terrible mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt good people. I’ve pushed people away. And I have this fear, a feeling that forces itself into my brain as reality, that I won’t achieve any of my goals. The thoughts paralyze me and yet drive the adrenaline through my body as I begin to mentally and emotionally panic.
I can lay down, exhausted, and in a few moments be wide-awake. I try to fool my body by shutting my eyes, but it doesn’t help. I can’t find relaxation or sleep. All I can find is a raw, and unapologetically honest reflection of myself. And I don’t like what I see.
During the day I’m student leader, busy-bee Jayson. I walk around campus, waving hello to my friends, acquaintances, and occasionally students who know me that I unfortunately either forgot or never really met in the first place. I’m frequently complimented for my humor, positivity, and stylish outfits. It makes me feel “popular” and well liked. I’m able to take the words, smiles, and praises of others and play them on repeat over the voice in the back of my head that tries to remind me that I’m not good enough.
But night has a way of distorting that. If I lay down at night those compliments and smiles throughout the day become shallow and empty. They only complimented you because they feel bad for you. Even if they meant it, they don’t know the real you anyway. If they knew what you were really like they’d hate you. You hate you, and who knows you better than you? My mind takes over. I try to fight back, but I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own head. But it’s my head. When it’s all said and done, I’m torturing myself.
This torture leads a vicious cycle. I torture myself because I don’t like the person that I am. When I try to stop myself from torturing myself I’m ashamed at the level of self-hate I’ve allowed myself to sink to. It reminds me that I’m weak and messed up. This note rings through my head, and fuels the torture once again. This repeats and goes full-circle.
The anxiety and fear inducing trial that I deal with if I go to sleep when it is still nighttime rules my life. Every morning I swear to myself I won’t repeat this behavior, but here I am again, going through the motions. I want to change, but I don’t know how.
It shouldn’t be this terrifying for a person to come face to face with the person they really are.
I once had someone tell me, “I wish I was as happy as you always are.” That’s a laugh.