Several years ago, I traveled to Huntington Beach, California to visit a friend of mine. A friend I had stood next to in line for about four hours at a rock concert, and through a series of bizarre events, had ended up talking with him online also. He is still my very good friend to this day, but that is neither here nor there.
When I made this trek to Huntington Beach, I barely knew this man. I had spoken to him online, but how many of us really know someone we speak to online? I was recently divorced, and two seconds away from becoming a complete recluse, so I figured, why not? After a harrowing flight (even though it was just an hour–it was stupid) and getting insanely annihilated the first night I was in town, I felt like I wasn’t off to a great start. I felt out of my element, which was the point, but still. I was confused, an emotional basket case, and felt lost–both in this town and my life.
My friend threw a house party while I was there, and I felt supremely out of place. I’d had a thing for his brother for awhile, and that was super awkward. Not to mention, I knew NO ONE, which is the first thing to drive me to a bottle. My anxiety was in high gear, and I was taking shots in the kitchen. I was sad. Sad about my life, sad about my friend’s brother being a douchebag, sad about ending up where I was. I felt like I was finished at twenty-six. Like I had lived my life out and there was nothing left. Not only that, but I felt exposed. I wanted to go home. I was three days into a bunch of strangers and I was over it. I wanted my predictability, my normal, sane life. I felt like I was out of control, and I didn’t know what to do with it.
Right at that moment, my friend Travis came into the kitchen, where I was pounding shots and bordering on tears. He asked, “What’s wrong?” I took my shot and shook my head. He braced his arms on either side of me, fencing me me, which I couldn’t handle. “No, what’s wrong?” he prodded.
Tears burned my eyes and I turned around to face him, hating that he was trapping me, hating that I was there, hating my ex for putting me here in the first place, hating everything. “What does it matter?” I cried. “You’re just going to think I’m crazy.” It was my lot in life. I was used to it. It sucked, but it was true.
To my surprise, my friend just shrugged. “So?” he asked. “All great artists are crazy. Do you think the musicians you admire got where they are by not being crazy? You’re a writer. Of course you are crazy. So what?”
At that moment, I swear that man started to radiate light. Because no one has ever validated me in such a way, still…to this day. It didn’t matter that I was an emotional wreck. Because I was me, and that was part of me. It was ok. I was ok. I can never express in words just how much that meant and still means to me.
That one comment changed my life. It changed my direction and my course, and it made me realize I had met one of the most amazing people I had ever known–and still know. My point in all of this? Go outside your comfort zone. I guarantee you will learn something about yourself. And you may even end up with a great friend along the way.