Welcome to another “it’s a Kaleb tries to talk about himself in hopes of opening up to the world” episode, it’s been a while since I’ve done something like this, so here I go.
Ever since my life was thrown upside down and I, for all intents and purposes, became a single-parent to my brother I’ve gone into some deep personal retrospective, trying to make more sense out of myself all that that, in the hopes of overcoming my own mental obstacles and structural deficiencies as a human being so that I can keep stepping forward in my ongoing quest to find my place and role in this world, with the hopes of one day be able to reciprocate all the help and support I’ve received over the past years and pay it forward.
Looking back at key moments of my life and its relevant circumstances I’ve come to the realization that there’s one recurrent fear or flaw, and it’s the fact that I always had it hard to ‘fit in’ among others—and I’m not talking about my weight, but like, fitting in with a crowd or group and actually being part of it, be it family, school, work, et al. This is, I think, one of my major ‘hindrances’, if one were to catalogue it as such.
When I was a child I always preferred the solitude of my room rather than being around other kids (with one real exception), using stuff like a blanket and a pvc tube to live out the wildest adventures that my imagination concocted. I used to be rather smart, (at least according to some teachers) to the point that they made me skip pre-school and I got thrown in 1st grade 2 years before the normal curve.
Sure, it was cool and all but that decision had some lasting repercussions in my life, even to this day, as I was always younger than the rest of the classroom from that point onwards. The fact that we had to constantly move (and thus switch schools) due to economic and family situations didn’t help either, as I had to basically start from scratch as the ‘new fat kid’ over and over again, so every time I finally acclimated and began to establish friendly bonds with the other kids I had to start fresh in a new school, often halfway through a school year.
By the time we moved back to Maracaibo I had gone to 2 different schools in Punto Fijo, I got transferred from the Marist school there to the one in Maracaibo a few weeks into Fourth Grade. It took some time to ‘fit in’ with the other kids, that period of time was the one where I truly was a sociable child and not the pariah that I ended up becoming—but life and its circumstances conspired against that, and we moved from Maracaibo to Caracas in pursuit of a better life, one that never really fully materialized, going through the remained of Sixth Grade at a much smaller school.
The age difference difference became more pronounced as I started High School (again, in a different school) due to puberty and all that stuff. While my peers were going through the physical and mental changes that come along with adolescence I was still a child that liked to do ‘child stuff’ with child likes and interests and not the ‘grown up’ stuff.
That was really the time where I began to feel like the odd one out, the element in one canvas that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I didn’t care about the stuff the other kids liked, they were 2-4 years older than me, not to mention that I was still a stranger in a strange land, Caracas is not Maracaibo, and life in the capital was different—much different than what I was accustomed to.
As much as I loved to play with my imagination and live out wild and heroic adventures, wearing a worn out towel as a cape and whatnot, that was something I couldn’t do anymore. I no longer had a room of my own, we were now crammed in a small room alongside our grandmother, while my two aunts and their sons lived in the other rooms of that apartment, and ‘growing up’ was something my family tacitly demanded of me.
I did have one card to play at high school: my somewhat acceptable grasp of the English language, a vestige, perhaps, of that ‘smart kid’ version of me. This might sound lame (it prolly is), but the only time I really got to fit among the girls in 7th and 8th grade was because of music in English and the lyrics they did not understand, going as far as to translating a Bon Jovi song of all things. Another example would be that I was the only one that knew how to dupe Gen II Pokemons cause I happened to stumble upon that piece of info over the Internet, but shhh don’t tell Nintendo/Game Freak.
Circumstances like that used to be the norm, where I was temporarily summoned to a group or clique only because of what I could do for them or because I had an atypical ability that others did not possess. Like a guest appearance, if you will, once I was done I was expected to go back to my corner, (my family still does this though, they only call me when they need my help).
Perhaps that’s why my grades took a huge nosedive the moment we moved to Caracas. I stopped being that ‘smart’ kid that got top grades right around that time, the more out of place I felt, the less interest I had in studying—seriously, I went from top of my class all the way till 7th grade to the absolute rock bottom worst grades in the classroom in 8th grade. I had no motivation to study, and that snowballed over all the way towards adulthood. Not having studied as hard as I used to and having neglected my education over the past twelve years is something I still regret every day of my life—I’m paying the price of that now, and believe it or not, I ask my mom for forgiveness every day in my prayers for not having listened to her.
I just didn’t have it in me anymore.
Had I not required two surgeries to fix a bad case of ingrown toenails and to save my two big toes (which kept me bedridden and at home for some time) I would’ve continued 9th grade on that same school, but we had to move again, and I got moved to another school that was much closer. 9th grade in that place was the only time I felt good and accepted in a classroom, I started a few months late because of my recovery, but those seven months were good, and even though I was an off piece out among those kids and never really got to hang out with them outside of school, I had more people to talk to during school hours, with similar interests and all that stuff.
I should’ve stayed in that school all the way till graduation, but alas, my mom sought best to relocate me to a brand new and ‘modern’ school that’s at a mere walking distance from our apartment for the last two years of High School. Again, I was still far younger than the rest of the classroom and thus far more naive and immature, so I made the mistake of trusting someone, only to end up being assaulted at gunpoint, I only got away because someone happened to drive past at the right moment.
By the time I entered college it was the same thing, the inevitable conclusion to the story. I was 15 and everyone else was 18 or older, only that I now had trust issues and was burnt out of it all.
There was a rather surprising resurgence of that ‘brilliant’ Christian of times past, but it was at odds and hindered by the teenage cynicism and astounding lack of motivation—the duality and clash between opposing elements like that are often what define me, and finding a mental balance between those polarized forces has been perhaps my longest and unchecked struggle.
When fitting among my family, well, it’s complex…
Let’s start with my Father’s side, what can I say, those Italians sure had it in for my mom, how dare she marry my dad and all that. That unjust scorn and borderline racism spilled over towards the treatment they gave my brother and I—we were deemed inferior at their eyes, and as such, I was treated as a lesser being even by my cousins and the other kids of other Italian families living in Punto Fijo.
There’s a reason we moved to return to our rightful home of Maracaibo, and it was because my mom had enough of that.
As for my mom’s side of my family, larger in numbers and while more human and Zulian, it’s very prone to petty drama and not without flaw (then again, which family is?). The same feeling of not really fitting in persists, exacerbated by a serious dispute between two of my uncles that split the family apart, forcing you to choose a side. Depending on who you ask, I may be catalogued among the ‘abnormal’ or ‘autistic’ group of my cousins because I don’t adhere to their curve and warped perceptions of life. It’s not about molding yourself to fit in a determined spot, one should be as one is.
On the jobs I’ve had in the past it’s kind of the same story, but after years of struggling with feeling out of place at school and family I never sought to try and meld with the crowd and instead focused on doing my job, that’s what I was being paid for anyways. That doesn’t mean I was not a friendly person, quite the opposite.
I never really talked with anyone about this, perhaps I should’ve, ah well, what’s done is done, I never gave it much thought in the past and kept living like that, thinking that was my fate.It was not until the events of GamerGate and all the other stuff that transpired over the years (both in this country and in my personal life) that I found acceptance once more, that I truly felt like I fit in a group, and that I could belong in something or someplace.
Fast forward a little and here I am, with friends that I now consider part of my family, and having met and talked with so many people from all corners of the world—to other friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike, it’s been a blast, now and always. All the good and bad stuff that I’ve experienced over the past years has really given me the push to get out there and do something with my life after being aimless for so long.
That’s something I’d like for my brother as well, as he’s basically shut in that little world of his, but his case is a more complex case than mine. Hopefully once we finally get our visas and start a new life he’ll get something positive like that for him.
I hope that we both get to leave a positive mark in the world.
Imposter Syndrome is a thing that I find to be very tangible in my psyche as of late—in this crucial moment of my nascent writing career, and it’s probably related to all of this, the new manifestation of that out of place feeling.
I have no qualms and are very upfront when I say that my education is rather deficient, and I only have myself to blame for that. Like I mentioned earlier,0 I constantly regret not listening to my mother during my angsty aimless early 20s regarding my education and now I’m in constant penance of that.
Even though I don’t have much when it comes to college or university education I do have managed to accrue an ever expanding skill set, but in a Jack of all trades and master of none kind of way.
I would be lying if I said that doubts and personal fears that I can sum up as “am I good enough to do this?” or “do I actually deserve to be here” cloud and hinder my day to day activities every now and then. Even now, with Sword of the Nation and the overall project that Sword is a part of, I’m almost done with a fourth iteration of the draft and I still doubt myself on its quality and worthiness as well as my capacity as a writer in the field.
Writing was something I basically took to cope with the crumbling reality that I lived through, from my mom’s rare cancer diagnosis, her passing, the still ongoing collapse of Venezuela, and I suppose to steer away from a ‘the computer guy’ stigma that never bought me much happiness.
Is writing perhaps, the absolute and definitive resurgence of the once brilliant kid that I was? Who knows. It’s weird, but I’m too socially inept and shy to talk about personal subjects such as this with other people in person or even through voice, there’s a certain freedom that comes with this, it’s a medium that allows me to not just open up, but to create great stuff such as Sword, Sins, and Soul of the nation (and beyond).
I’m at last getting tangible stuff done and creating great things, even getting my voice heard (or read rather), but I’m always at odds with my mind and doubt if I’m good enough. These are personal issues that I need to work harder on, the same goes with my health, and weight, but that’s another personal complex for another time. I just keep neglecting myself and focusing on the greater plan of escaping and building a new life for my brother because, in my perception, that’s more important than my physical looks right now.
The road has been bumpy, and every time I get one step closer life throws ten new obstacles at me. Now this pandemic and the ongoing quarantine in Venezuela has fucked my shit up, I have no subtler way to put it.
But for the first time in my life I feel like I’m on a good path, I feel like I’m finally where I should be, and that I’m finally close to finding my spot in this grand and complex puzzle that we call life.
Between Sword and other projects that I’m still not in the liberty to say, between the friends I’ve made and the ones that I now consider my family, and between the promise I made to my mother to build a new life for my brother I finally feel like I have the strength and means to build a foundation that will allow me to become a force of good, and who knows, maybe even find happiness at last.
I don’t know how to wrap this up beyond saying that water is back (for now) and that I should probably start cleaning things up and getting the most out of it before it gets inevitably cut once more, so yeah…until the next one.