The Way I Am

By Damian C. Reynolds

December 7, 2014. That’s when I became a member of the Zeta Nu Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. I love my brothers. As we joke with one another, we playfully ask each other, “Why are you this way?”

I thought about that question recently.

I grew up in Valdosta, Georgia, and graduated with honors from a predominantly black high school. Playing the alto saxophone in marching band and jazz band along with running track kept me out of trouble. Rap cyphers and spoken word poetry allowed me to be true to myself.

I accept my flaws as well as I accept my great attributes.

Everything is breezy when I’m happy, but you should proceed with caution when I’m not. I once broke a chair after step practice because I thought we sounded terrible. When I unveiled myself at my neophyte presentation, my uncle told me he’s never heard me speak so much.

That’s because I’m mellow 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time can be divided in half. Fifteen percent goes toward the extreme happiness, and the other 15 percent goes toward the extreme anger.

I’m a walking paradox.

I sometimes say what’s on my mind too often because I know closed mouths don’t get fed. But, I downplay my accomplishments because I don’t like the spotlight. I know I can be sensitive, but I’ve developed thick skin.

I pride myself on being a private individual, refusing to give out voluntary information, but I have no problem using my experiences to help others (if someone asks).

Sometimes my passion overpowers my rationale.

I have a difficult time understanding that not everyone has the same heart as me. I can depend on a handful of people. I have been disappointed repeatedly, so I have a hard time opening up. I hate being around large groups of people. I can tell in less than a minute if I want to be bothered by anyone.

I’m an acquired taste.

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I turn 22 soon, and it took me almost 22 years to accept who I am. I don’t have that kind of time to convince someone else. What you see is what you get. I know how to acknowledge my flaws and my wrongdoings now more than ever.

Many people can handle the 85 percent where there’s no conflict, but only few stick around for the hurricane. I constantly meet people who ask me to be myself when they mean they want the good parts.

I told one girl she was getting on my nerves, she only contacted me when she needs me, and treated me as an afterthought any other time. I refused to admit this initially, but I was hurt. I was hurt because I thought she was a close friend, and I didn’t want to be treated like an afterthought.

After she told me I hurt her feelings, she told me that I’m difficult to please and that I hold her to a high standard.

She’s right.

I do hold her to a high standard. I hold all my friends to a high standard, and I hold myself to an equally high standard. The difference between her and my other close friends is effort. I applaud effort. They’re not perfect, but they make an effort to understand pieces of me.

I am this way because I learned to embrace myself and not care so much about what others think. I know what I bring to the table. I welcome anyone to have a seat at the table.

However, I know few people want to stick around to experience the full dish that is Damian C. Reynolds because they can only handle 85 percent of the meal.

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