It's New Year's Eve! This blog was originally posted on GrownAssGeek.com last year. I think it's worth reposting, if only to remind myself to keep improving and shooting for my goals.
Future Ben: How To Make Friends with a Better Version of Yourself
"January," as recently expressed by a girl walking past me on Haight Street, "is a time for self-reflection....especially when it's a New Moon and you're a Capricorn." I am pretty sure the second half of that sentence doesn't mean anything, but I agree with the January part. So in the spirit of self-reflection I want to introduce you to someone who tries to stay out of the spotlight but has really made a huge difference in my life these last few years.
Please say hello to my good friend, Future-Ben.
The first time I can recall meeting Future-Ben was Halloween, 2010. I had recently come out of a 13 year marriage and was living alone for the first time in...well ever. This time in my life was like one long New Years Day, a time when it was necessary to focus on who I want to be and what I want to do with my life. For the first time, I was realizing that these choices are mine alone to make. Any feelings of sadness or loneliness were mostly wiped away by a sense of giddy hopefulness that can only come from hitting rock-bottom and witnessing yourself bounce skyward.
My new Bay Area friends had invited me out for Halloween. The plan was to take their 11 year-old trick-or-treating in the Oakland Hills, then we adults would hit up a spooky art show opening in San Francisco's Mission district. I didn't have a "costume." I just wanted to look good. I had one suit that a friend had given to me when I was Best Man in his wedding. That worked. I had a short beard for the first time ever (facial hair was previously forbidden) so I shaved it into an old-timey chops and mustache configuration and slicked back my hair. Who was this character? I didn't know. He was just some dapper guy who's ballsy and weird enough to rock some ridiculous facial hair. I was dressed like a guy who's far more confident and attractive than I was.
As the night went on I felt a strange comfort and confidence in this character. I realized, "I want to be this guy all the time. Why can't I? I'm a single dude in the San Francisco Bay area. I can be whoever I want!" This wasn't any sort of fanciful character. I had merely dressed as the fearless, charming man I wanted to present to The World every day, Future-Ben.
Future-Ben became a character my friends and I joked about a lot during this time. It was great because Future-Ben was a reflection of all my goals and potential during a time when Present-Ben was a lonely-but-hopeful dude sleeping on a borrowed pool floaty. We all can benefit from having an inner friend who is the best version of ourselves, someone we can look up to and work towards becoming over time. Somehow when you start looking like a person who has his shit together, you find yourself acting like, then slowly becoming a person who has his shit together. A Halloween outfit, a suit you found at Goodwill, even some decent socks that didn't come in a 12-pack, these things can be a spark that lights a fire under your ass to become a better man.
I just do my best impression of Future-Ben every day. When something I want to do seems to difficult, and I'm tempted to do a half-assed job I think, "What would the version of me who has his shit together do?" That makes it easier to see what I need to do, difficult or not. Then I do my best to make that happen. The person I am today is more like Future-Ben of 2010 than the still timid guy who dressed up for one night then slept alone on the floor of a box-filled apartment. But Future-Ben keeps evolving ahead of me, so I still have a long way to go.