We all carry emotional baggages with us. Someone once said, "Our childhood experiences pretty much define how we're going to think and behave as adults." I think there's a lot of wisdom in that. Gawd, as well-adjusted as I'd like people to believe, I carry plenty of baggages with me. I try to explore these baggages in my stories, not as personal catharsis but, rather, as observations and universal themes such as "acceptance" or "respect" or "expectations." I think most people could identify with these baggages.
As a child, I always felt that I could never be good enough. I tried so hard to be perfect, so that my parents and my peers would like and even respect me. I beleived that love had to be earned, not given, and once you earned love, you had to keep at it because it was not eternal or unconditional. As a child, I felt that everything was based on conditions, whether they were good grades, nice manners or awards and honors. Kids like me competed in everything, and everything had a price, including love. When I was a kid, I didn't know or feel that my parents loved me unconditionally (I know better now). I was an overachiever, because a large part of me knew I wasn't perfect, and I had to compensate for that imperfection. I was never the brightest, strongest, fastest, most hard-working kid, and my parents always made sure I knew that. Whenever I fell short, I either had to try harder, or to lie and cover up. A lot of times, the easiest thing for me to do is to deceive my parents (because I was naturally lazy). My brother got disciplined all the time because he wasn't as smart or as (apparently) hard-working as I was. So, to avoid his fate (and the belief I had that he wasn't very well loved by my parents), I wanted to be everything my brother couldn't be. To earn their love, I'd do anything.
Now that I am an adult, I still feel that way, and this feeling extends far beyond my family circle. I continue to have a nagging feeling that if I'm not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, or nice enough, goshdarnit, people WON'T like me. And people not liking me would be the worst punishment in the world, sometimes worse than death.
As my first novel is coming out, this feeling continues to nag me. What if I'm not good enough? What if my parents don't approve what I'm doing? Here I am, practically a middle-age man, and I'm scared of whether my parents would still love me if they find out I'm a failure.
So why do we still carry these baggages with us if we recognize them? Why is it so hard for us to toss them over the side of the road and be rid of them? What does it take for us to stand tall and proud without the extra poundage? Does it involve years of therapy and/or mind-altering pills? What?
My stories explore these questions, and sometimes I present idealized answers. But in real life, I suppose I'm still searching for the real answers. And I can't wait to reach enlightenment. Some day.