I'm thinking about my life and I think I've always sort of taken on the role of the nice guy. I've always known this, but never really thought about how it plays into all the nooks and crannies of my life. I used to date girls who otherwise never would have dated. I used to befriend guys that didn't really have any other friends. I was the guy in school who was nice to everyone, but never quite felt like I deserved the respect of the kids I admired the most.
I figured my best chance of belonging was with the nerdy kids--the smart ones and the musicians. I fit right in with those "band fags"--the kids that held hands in a circle and shared inspirational thoughts before each performance. Like angels with one wing, we told each other, we had to embrace to fly. So, there we were, pimply skinny nerds, hugging and feeling loved. It was good stuff.
On the academic front, I always felt like I didn't measure up to the really smart cool kids. I still remember with a chuckle the time I took a standardized test and was so afraid that I would do so poorly that my smart friends would make fun of me, and then I inadvertently scored higher than anyone in my school had scored in years. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been scared of rejection. Hee.
I think being nice gave me a bit of an unrealistic view of myself and how I should interact with others. I thought I had to always defer to the needs of everyone else and that I had to prove perpetually and always that I was a "good" kid. It made it hard for me when I needed some space to figure things out, but didn't feel like I could ever be honest enough with my parents (or my friends!) to show my vulnerabilities. So I just weathered it alone most of the time.
Life was lonely and secret and motivated by a mix of generosity, kindness, secret failure, and overall a show of having things all together.