Sketch by Chris Al-Aswad
June 2007 – Normal, IL
My personality is based on an overcompensation. I was wounded probably at the end of my childhood and at the beginning of my adolescence. I made several observations about who I am. I must have observed that I was not as smart as a certain group, that my intelligence was middle range and also that my abilities were mediocre. For the rest of my life, I would attempt to overcompensate for a belief that I am not as intelligent as the smartest group. I always compared myself to the highest, the brightest – they were part of the exclusive club I longed to be in. Similarly, socially I was not the coolest but I watched the coolest with envy and longing. This self division occurred in me early on. I told myself I must try to become unique. I cannot be like the others. Because I saw the smart people and the cool people as unique, as special but I was only average, mediocre, like everyone else. My turbulent adolescence centered almost entirely on this blind cause to become unique in whatever I could.
I saw sameness and difference everywhere. I loathed sameness and worshiped difference – to set myself apart from the rest. Individualism became my creed. My academic obsessions – I had to overcompensate for what I believed was an overall lack of ability. My drug obsessions and self abandon – I had to overcompensate socially. I did not want to be like everyone else – extreme drug use put me into another category. I was unique because of my intensity.
All of this overcompensation and the thick protective skin it has left on me – now that I prose my pain through the character of Lethe, I feel at last I have found the key to not only his drives and insecurities but my own – and everyone’s personality to the extent that all of our personalities are overcompensation for some lack we feel from long ago that has, over the years, attained a level of truth with us. With me, I’m completely identified with my writing – this is my ultimate project to once and for all prove or compensate for my lack of ability and intelligence. We are walking overcompensations, it is as plain as day.
What does this all mean? We are not ourselves – we are a reincarnation of our past selves. The wounded child or adolescent replaying the trauma over and over again by trying to cover it up, by being what he feels deep down he is not. Is the personality not a machine of overcompensation? For my novel – and I wince to say that because the novel is the epitome of my obsession. But what if, by knowing this about myself and others, I can expose it and Lethe is the obvious over compensator – obvious to everyone (the reader) except himself. Rose too. What is the result of blind strife, self hatred, the empty core of the personality – it’s a myth each of us believes to be in the truth. By now, we’ve programmed ourselves into certain protective traits, habits – to keep us from feeling that empty core. We have all had a prolonged exposure to the empty core of our specific lack – now we structure our life on the project of becoming what we feel we are not. What then happened originally? Were those initial perceptions of our death, our lack, mistaken?