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Life’s little insecurities

I’ve tried to come up with all sorts of different topics to write about, failing brilliantly at each of them. As I sit at my desk at home, my mind goes blank and I start to sweat with consternation and dismay dripping from my armpits. I worry terribly that by agreeing to write a weekly column I’ve made some egregious misstep, and in the peak of a panic, I think, “God, who’s going to want to read about my petty problems and sad, boring life?”

Well, if you’re reading this now, then let me apologize. It probably won’t be pretty, and if you tune in next week, I’d question whether you have better things to do with your time.

I’ve got to tell myself anyone who calls her or himself a “writer” goes through these types of minor mental episodes. The dread of a looming deadline, frustration of fragmented sentences and dead-end thoughts, a deflating sense of self-esteem and far too many wisecracks that are neither wise nor very “cracky.”

There’s a great fear of putting yourself in the public eye and being seen for what you really are: a dullard. And now to make matters worse, with television, social media and other stuff, there are millions of “voices” and “talking heads” out there opining on everything from geopolitical catastrophes to feline fashion. I guess, in my opinion, most of it is garbage. But what do I know? I’m no expert.

I’m just a guy with a keyboard.

The fact of life is that everyone has some kind of insecurity, right? (I should probably doublecheck that with a licensed therapist.) Maybe some insecurities are prolonged, and others are linked to specific traits about ourselves, but it’s a human emotion and one that I think changes as we age. Insecurities develop in children and get worse in our teen years, then maybe some of them start fading away as we get older and stop caring so much, like popping your dentures out in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe that’s just poor manners, but I’m not sure, I’m no psychoanalyst.

In all seriousness, self-deprecating humor is a positive thing and really means I’m comfortable with myself. Some people might say it’s a way to “cover up” real insecurities, but for me, it’s more a practice in humility. Believe me, I saw it on TV.

The guy who can’t laugh at himself is the one you have to worry about. Somebody cracks wise at him and he gets red-faced and angry, and who knows what type of atrocities he might commit. If you poke fun at me, I might get red-faced and sweaty, but it’s because I’m embarrassed. Truth is, I’m pretty shy and introverted. The spotlight is generally to be avoided, and public speaking is something I reserve for funerals and special occasions.

I started out hoping this column could be humorous, but that fell flat once I realized most of my jokes were only funny to me. Then, I had hoped I could make this column insightful and thoughtful, something a person would read at breakfast with a cup of coffee and turn to their spouse and exclaim with fervor, “Man, that is deep!” But let’s face it, compared to some of you highbrows out there, I’m probably about as deep as a frying pan.

I am funny though. My mom told me once a long time ago.

And my wife thinks I’m thoughtful, too. For Christmas last year, I bought her a new vacuum because I broke the one we had before.

“You must have thought really hard about this one,” she said to me sarcastically. She’s like me and doesn’t know how to use sarcasm very well, but I could tell by the way she chuckled to herself that she was pleased with the gift.

So, I guess this column will be whatever it becomes. If you read between the lines, maybe you’ll find a message. Then again, maybe not. I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t have all the answers. That’s why I named the column I’m No Expert.

Is there a message in this one, something I’m trying to covertly convey? You tell me. Remember, you have to read between the lines.

Go ahead and try it. Stare between the text and keep your eyes fixed there for a while. What do you see? Nothing but white space? I knew it. Exactly as I planned. “Man, that is deep!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan Jarvi is city editor at The Mining Journal. He lives in Marquette with his wife, Sarah, and their dog Tino. Contact him at rjarvi@miningjournal.net.