Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Yes, that’s me. I’m nobody. I was born a nobody, I lived life as a nobody, I have always been a nobody, I am still a nobody and no doubt, I will die a nobody.
I think we all strive to be somebody, to be important, to be noticed. I never have been. It seems like some people are just born to be significant, to matter, and the rest of us…well, the rest of us. I can’t explain it and wouldn’t want to even offer conjecture. When I was young, I was the kid that spent every weekend alone, was overlooked for birthday invitations, went home with an empty Valentine’s day box. I didn’t pay sports and was never invited, and yes, was the last kid picked. I was the kid that never had the girlfriend, never went to dances, was always left out of the conversations.
It’s amazing how a little bit of kindness makes such a huge impact in the life of somebody like me. In high school, with over three thousand students in the building, I would sit alone at a table in the dining area for study hall. Her name was Chrissy. She played piano at school functions, wore entirely too much perfume and was drop dead gorgeous in a geeky kind of way, and yes, she had a boyfriend. She was two years my elder and came from money of course. She was responsible for taking attendance at study hall which involved bringing around a pad of paper for everybody to sign. Normally she sat at the table with her group of friends, all juniors and seniors of course, but sometimes, just sometimes, if there was nothing “happening” with her friends she would sit with me.
This is probably the kindest act anybody had done for me throughout school. Even in graduate school I was the guy who would throw parties to which nobody showed up. Yes, I mean nobody. Eventually she coerced me to join her at their table, and they were all very sweet, until, of course, the end of the year when none of them, save Chrissy, remembered my name.
I’ve struggled to be heard throughout my life. Even in my own family I was the outcast. When they were making racist jokes about my cousin’s girlfriend, I was the one who asked them to stop because I was offended by them. Of course, they didn’t, and as it was a long trip, I got to hear several hours and hundreds of miles of these “jokes”. My family was happiest when I stayed in my room and kept quiet. When they wanted something, I was expected to perform like a circus monkey, but somehow my desires fell on deaf ears.
Nobody. Nobody to anybody.
And I know I’m not alone. There are many of us. We’re the people eating alone, staying at home, wishing somebody would reach out to us because our self-esteem won’t let us reach out to them. We blend so well into the background that most people probably don’t even realize just how common we really are. We’re an army of the lonely nobodies.
But for a nobody, I did pretty well for myself. Sure, at the moment I’m backsliding and struggling, but for a nobody that never was worthy of attention, I soared far above the clouds. I have the highest degree available, have written books, published research articles and made it to, well, at least middle management. Unfortunately, what I want the most has always eluded me; a wife, children, and yes, even a little house of my own.
Well, I kind of have one of those, but it’s anything but a cute little country home. It’s more like an abandoned hovel that should be condemned. Even I can’t live there anymore, but fortunately, I still have to make payments on it to drain what little income I actually bring in.
If you’re like me, I have good news for you. You’re not stuck. Maybe your life hasn’t gone the way you thought it would, or the way that you wish, but there are advantages to being the underdog. Flying under the radar made every success that much more powerful. Being forced to work on my own means I had to learn to work solo and there is great power in not relying on others. If I want to move to a new city, I move. If I want to go to a new place, I go. It takes time to become comfortable in your own skin, but once you do, there are no chains.
You be you. When flying into enemy space, you can get so much farther when you fly under the radar. So embrace it. Fly under the radar, and when people finally do notice you, they’ll be shocked at just how far you’ve flown.