Building a Better Me

“Everybody loves the new me. Everybody loves the better me.” —Alice Donut

Apparently I am in the possession of a personality people find off-putting. This bit of information has come to my attention through a variety of secondary sources, mostly dinner parties and other outings to which I received no invitation. Of course, I use the phrase “off-putting” because it sounds better than the actual words friends and acquaintances uttered in regards to me. Since this is a family publication, I will not reprint them here, as to not mar the quality of these pages.

Reprintable words to which my personality has been attached:

“Grumpy,” “moody,” “unpleasant,” “difficult to put up with,” “unresponsive to kindness,” “hostile to cheeriness,” “untrusting of smiles,” “alienated by optimism,” “cynical of good fortune,” “downright dismissive of pep and bounce,” and so on.

Am I guilty of these allegations? Mostly. Is it my fault? Sure. Should I be upset by their low opinions of my character? I go back and forth.

Do I wish my friends and acquaintances would say good things about me? That the exact opposite were accurate? That the following words were spoken with truth about me:

“Happy,” “level-headed,” “pleasant,” “good to have around,” “supportive of kindness,” “cheerleading of cheeriness,” “in cahoots with smiles,” “optimistic of optimism,” “goody-exclaiming of good fortune,” “full of vim and vigor when it comes to pep and bounce,” and so on.

The real question isn’t whether or not I can be more open to the lighter side of life. It’s whether or not I could do so without feeling like a total phony. My disposition doesn’t lean towards happiness. I don’t dwell on the jauntier aspects of life. If all a sudden I became a Ned Flanders clone, I think people might be concerned.

But for the sake of struggle—since life is nothing but—I have been attempting at least to become a shade brighter in my demeanor. Due to regular exercise and a vegan diet filled with mostly vegetables, I am slated to live at least another five decades. And I don’t want to be a huge bummer that whole time.

I’m not going to lie; harboring optimism is a struggle. I feel like I’m brimming with inner turmoil as the old me fights with the new me for dominance. In the worst of times—or during periods of extreme inconvenience—the old me lashes out and demands that the new me admit the world is nothing but darkness and despair. The old me grabs the new me and tries to choke the life out of it. “Go back to hell whence you came, new me! There is nothing but despair here!”

New me is too polite to say anything.

I have documented several instances of these internal quarrels in the diary of my soul. On the pages of this very publication, they are appearing in print for the first time.

I vs. I,

The Man I Wish to Become against The Man I Truly Am

Round One:

Caught in Traffic

The Response of New Me: “This is a good chance to practice patience and take in the scenery.” [Breathes deeply, thinks happy thoughts.]

The Response of Old Me: “Where the fuck are all these cars coming from? God damn it! Why do people keep breeding?” [Clenches teeth, thinks about sweet relief of death.]

Current score:

New Me – 4

Old Me – 893


Round Two:

Missing the Light Rail and Having to Wait for the Next One

The Response of New Me: “Perhaps I will utilize this gift of time to catch up on my emails.” [Takes out phone, replies to emails.]

The Response of Old Me: “I will never get this time back.” [Thinks of all the things he could be doing. Hates.]

Current score:

New me – 2

Old me – 1,482


Round Three:

Not being able to sleep

The Response of New Me: “This is a grand opportunity to do some quality reflection on life.” [Ponders current events. Attempts to engage in current understanding of meditation.]

The Response of Old Me: “Life is so fucking pointless. So fucking pointless. Fucking pointless. Pointless.” [Tosses. Turns. Hates.]

New Me – 0.5

Old Me – Lost count after several thousand


Round Four:

Not getting enough time to work on writing/music/etc.

The Response of New Me: “No big deal, I’ll get to it soon.” [Thinks about articles/songs for when he’ll have a chance to work on them.]

The Response of Old Me: “How does anyone have time?” [Thinks about all the people who waste time. Hates. Stews.]

New Me: 0

Old Me: Lots and lots.


As you can see, Old Me is an asshole, and he’s winning. On the bright side, the very low New Me scores occurred recently. So there’s that.


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