@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Maybe you were a nobody once, and maybe that’s how you liked it. For an introverted wallflower, it was the dream. Being a nobody wasn’t easy, make no mistake. It took work to go unnoticed. Maybe the fact that you were small, non-threatening, and quiet helped to be a nobody. And as you got a little older, maybe, you were repressing some denial that you actually wanted to be somebody, but you weren’t sure who, so until then, you’d settle for nobody. Because it’s better to be no one than someone untrue. Better to be nobody than to be someone because of someone else, or society, or family, or friends. Because being nobody, a shadow, allowed you to dream, allowed you not to seek what you want, but rather to eliminate what you don’t want, which is quite a lot. Which is almost everything. And so, being nobody is comfortable, but everything has a cost.
So, maybe, you get a little older. And maybe your best friends are misfits. Maybe they’re nobodies too, but not by choice. They would like to be somebody. Everybody wants to be somebody. But not you. You will be a nobody till you die, and that’s how you want it. And everyone will say at your death, what a special somebody you were, and they will all be full of shit. Maybe. Maybe not. Surely you will always be somebody to some. And that was the problem, wasn’t it. A nobody is not a lost soul, just somewhat off the way, tucked into corners. No one truly knows a nobody.
The nobody goes to college and doesn’t make any friends. Because that’s what nobodies do. Nobody drinks and gets high, not to forget who they are, to remember who you are. The somebodies. The false somebodies, and swears to never be that way. To be a nobody, forever. Till the day you die. And then, and only then, people swear you were somebody. Somebody you were not.
But then one day, well, maybe not one day… maybe many days, built up over the course of time. Things rarely change in one day. There are build ups, and growth, and regression, all of which would seem fatalistic to somebodies, but not nobodies, because nobodies are paying attention. It’s easy to pay attention when you’re not trying to be somebody. Clarity is a gift reserved for the nobodies, a gift you’d rather never lose. But things change in a day. Even though, it wasn’t a day, it was over the course of a short lifetime. Not when you realized there was somebody you wanted to be, you realized it a long time ago, you just accepted it one day, for whatever reason. Even though you were scared. Even though it meant giving up being nobody.
Maybe becoming a comedian is the most vulnerable of all the arts. Maybe it isn’t. But a painter can hide behind a canvas, a musician behind a guitar, a writer behind a notebook. A comedian is somebody who exposes themselves and tries to elicit an involuntary reaction, the best reaction: laughter. A comedian is somebody sometimes not liked, and often not understood by the crowd. The crowds believe they understand you. They think they know you well, because, over time, after hundreds of shows, you’re able to make light of the absurdism of the world, and people relate and think you’re one of them. But you’re not.
Then, maybe, somewhere along the way you miss the anonymity of being a nobody. Or that, maybe, being somebody, even the somebody you dreamed of, it’s not what you imagined. Maybe there’s an alien feeling within you, and you’re uncertain what that means. And then, one day, you’re talking to somebody. Not just somebody, but somebody you admire, who you want to be more like, who you want to be your friend. And they are. And they tell you, you’ve got to be more you on stage. More vulnerable. Tear down those walls a little bit. Being a sharp joke writer is only part of it.
You think about that a lot. You think that, maybe, you’re unable to be vulnerable on stage because you lack vulnerability in life, because you’re still protecting your identity as a nobody. You keep asking yourself why, but that’s the wrong question. How. How is the better question.
And then this happens. This very blog. This very portal into the nobody. In attempts to help oneself. Because your life is the only one worth saving. Not because you’re somebody. And not because you’re nobody either. Definitely not because you’re uninterested in helping others. Because we can only ever save ourselves. That’s a battle worth winning. Maybe, just maybe, being vulnerable here will spill over there, and you will be better, stronger, and be the somebody you need to be. Not the somebody they want you to be. The somebody a nobody admires.
A lot happens. And also, nothing happens. Life takes you up and down. That’s life. The battle to save yourself is never finite. It returns again and again. You struggle with the urge to run away, and go back to being a nobody. Before it’s too late. But maybe it already is. You do get better. As a comic. As a writer. As a person? That’s debatable.
Once you thought being a nobody was blissful solitude. Now you know that being somebody, a true somebody, there are so few who actually know you, even though many think they do, and that is the very definition of loneliness. Your family, they knew who you were. Your peers, they only know what you’ve let them see, which is very little. Your friends, the truest ones, the few, they know best, but you’re cold to them too. And maybe one day, you’re getting high with the best of any of them, and you lament this lack of connectivity in your world, and he says, “that’s your fault. That’s your fault for not opening your fucking heart to people.” And maybe you laugh at this, but maybe you actually want to cry.
For a long time, maybe you thought, quite falsely, that writing and publicly posting would allow a window to the somebody you are becoming, when it has done the opposite. Maybe, you had warning signs, with online stalkers, who claimed to know you, to love you, to understand you, based on nothing. Based on jokes and words written when up or down, sober or intoxicated, exaggerated or without the most important details. You have no control over anything. Least of all how people see you. Damned to be somebody you’re not to many, and the more you try to explain the more you’re misunderstood. And maybe, just maybe, you desire to go back to being nobody.
But you don’t. Because fuck them. Fuck that and fuck everybody. Being a misfit is something you’ve been proud of. So fuck the world. You’ll drink to that. Double fisting, cheers to yourself, night after night after night. It doesn’t bother you. Maybe, you even like it this way.
Maybe one day you fall in love with the wrong person. And maybe, you hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it. Someone you don’t even know. Maybe you think this makes you a real piece of shit. But maybe you’re just a broken somebody like everyone else. Flawed. Then, you really wish you could go back to being nobody. Because nobodies don’t hurt people, nor do they heavily invest in matters of the heart. Nobodies don’t get heartbroken, or break others in the same way. How much simpler life was when you were a nobody. And yet… how much worse, to deny yourself of certain highs and even more certain lows.
Maybe you’re crazy, insane, out of your goddamn mind. Maybe that’s the somebody you always were and destined to be. Maybe you’re just waiting to hear back about a script. A book. An audition. And maybe, you’re just dying not to be nobody anymore. Maybe the thought of being nobody scares you just as much, if not more, than being somebody. Maybe you just want to be somebody who creates something beautiful, something funny, something worth remembering.
Maybe, just maybe, when you look up at the moon at night you remember that you are nobody. Nobody at all. Always have been. Always will be. Just like everyone else. Just a little bleep in the universe and you will be dead soon enough, so stop wishing it upon yourself. And, when you die, many will claim you were somebody to them, and who’s to say they are wrong? Hopefully, you were somebody who brought light to them, just as the moon does in the night. And the one thing you always treasured most: laughter.
It’s not that no one else looks at the moon at night and contemplates existence. There are others who do the same. Other somebodies, other nobodies, others who are affected by the tide, aware, and ask why. It’s not that nobody cares. Maybe, just maybe, being a somebody means caring too much.