Seeing Red (Originally Published 4/24/12)

I keep mentioning this to some of you but most of you don't know what I'm talking about. My friends who have known me for many years know this to be true.

I want to share with you a bit of what it was like inside my head when I thought in a negative manner.

First off, I was immature. And insecure. And lonely (romantically, I guess, but mostly in need of companionship by any definition).

These are not excuses, this is background info.

So, when all of those things are true, as they are for many teenagers, you need good people around you. But most people have good friends. You need more than for them to exist. You need to have a healthy relationship with them. And the rest of life ought to be positive too.

On and off from 2001 to February 2009, I lived in occasional fear of being tossed aside or ignored by peers. How it started was normal angst, but I internalized it, pitied myself, and blamed myself for all of it.

There were respites from this. I had fun days, weeks, months. And 2006 was a very good year overall. But it wasn't until 2009 that I finally realized I needed to fix it all and I needed to do it by myself; it wasn't just going to solve itself.

There was anger and resentment and jealousy coursing through me. Never violence, never the thought of harming someone else. But definitely isolation, definitely fright. I did gain great, valuable friends through luck and circumstance, and though I was, and remain, loyal, I wasn't as good to them as I could have been.

I certainly didn't hold my tongue or pick my battles. Any disagreement could lead to unpleasant arguments. And most weekends – especially in college – I never really wanted to go to sleep on Saturdays because it meant I would have to wait four-plus days before I could attempt to feel positive again.

I didn't have the real capability to feel happy for peers because I wondered what the hell was so broken with me that I couldn't achieve these things myself. And, sure, I dragged myself through my first two years and academically excelled my last two years at Princeton. Got a bachelor's degree at 20.

But I had all this hanging on me. My back was all knotted up for years and the stress made sleeping difficult. The fact that, of course, my life was not difficult objectively just added guilt to the mix so it made for a poisonous brew I drank most days.

I tell you this not for the sake of sympathy, which I do not think I need or deserve.

But to explain to you why I write peace and love at the end of each of these (because I mean it), why I am so determinedly goal-oriented even in social matters (because setting and reaching goals kept me afloat when little else did), and why I try very hard to stay positive.

This is not to say I never get into arguments now. I will never be that guy. And if you get in my way on the subway, yeah, I might want to kick you. Because you deserve it :)

I am, however, continuously taking pains not to be angry. Not to be self-pitying. Not to feel like my life is lacking.

My life will be over-stuffed for the next few months, like every spring, and yeah, I can't figure out the dating thing.

But so long as I don't have a catastrophe, I will remain positive, I will continue to push forward, and I will continue not to even feel the anger that used to surround me.

It's not like quitting smoking where you crave it all the time. I don't even yearn to let out anger these days. It's not in me anymore.

Anger works for some people, I suppose. But anger hurts me, and it hurt me for years. So I continue to do what I can to make sure it doesn't come back.

And if you see me slip up – I am no saint, it will occur – let me know, and help me get back to the positivity.

Thanks for listening.

Peace and love,


Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality