I feel like I may actually be headed in the right direction with my self-image. It hit me after my wife was asking me about the strange fact that I turned sort of introverted at my fairly recent high school reunion.
"I thought you would be going around to all the small groups that formed talking to everyone," were her exact words.
Part of me thought, "Yeah, why didn't I?" and part of me thought and ultimately answered my wife with, "They're still the popular kids, the jocks and the drama club and I was none of the above. I don't think I'd know what to say. I was an am still a dork." I guess I was even answering her as if I was still 16.
Now I'm not a defeatist about myself, since I just called myself a "dork", I don't see a negative connotation to the word. No, I'm fine with the fact that I can fit in some defined category of people that some person thought up. I have, though, changed a good bit since high school and have a lot I could and would share if prompted; I like talking about where I work, my hobbies, my life since high school, I'm a much more interesting dork compared to back then, in my humble opinion. But did I really want to try to share this with people who cared less about me back then? Would they simply hear me talking, or really listen? Furthermore, did I want to hear their life stories?
In the end alcohol was a catalyst (if it had to be something, why not alcohol?) to eventually being warmly approached by people I didn't think would come near me that night. I'll admit, it was nice, even though slurred and set on a progressively louder background noise. Every conversation brought back good memories and laughs, and I found they also served as a way of reminding me of where I came from, who I was, what I gave up, what shaped me, etc etc.
After coming out of the time warp, it felt nice to get in the car with my wife and head back into reality, back to 2010. Not everything is perfect here and now, but at least I know at this point, and feel comfortable with, who I am.