I am thirty-six years old and three months shy of my thirty-seventh birthday. I am a young man whose grey hair, life experience and old soul belie my age. I am a man who will not dye my hair and who will not hide my wrinkles or scars because in each lies a moment of my life that is essential in comprising the whole of me.

I am spiritual, yet skeptical. I am someone who has deep faith in God, so much so I have emblems of my Roman Catholic heritage tattooed on my body. I am, however, a man whose faith sometimes falters as I question why the events of my life transpire and seemingly conspire to burden me. I am a man who, despite the knowledge that I will overcome these burdens, can still succumb to the overwhelming weight thrust upon my shoulders.

I am deeply passionate. I am someone who believes that emotion is not a weakness but rather the cornerstone to a foundation built of passion and empathy. I am firmly entrenched in the belief that without these things in equal parts a person is doomed to a life of anger and misery. I am a man who wears my heart on my sleeve without embarrassment or guilt because if you cannot see my heart you cannot see me.

I am frustrated. I am the type of person who, when I see my friends in pain, wishes nothing more than to be able to absorb that pain into myself and relieve them of the ails that befall them. I am disturbed beyond words because in more instances than not, I cannot, and I too suffer as they do. I am the person who will still try, still share a smile, still extend my hand or offer my shoulder because I know my friends would do the same for me.

I am insecure. I am accomplished yet I question my abilities though I know in my heart I am capable and able. I am someone who sometimes fears things that I should not fear because I have been ingrained with self loathing and doubt. I am someone who knows better and I am slowly awakening from the fog that’s enveloped me and I appreciate the confidence and support that assists me.

I am lucky. I am blessed with family and friends who are able to see all that I am and love me still. I am healthy, I am embraced, and I am welcomed. I am grateful for the wonderful things in my life and I am forever thankful that it is those things that guide me, enlighten me, and propel me.

I am fearful. I am weary of a future untold and I am often worried by that which I cannot control. I am bolstered by the fact that there exists a common ground upon which we stand, and it is uncertainty. I am someone who like you possesses the wherewithal to reach out in an effort to find balance and I will stand beside those who are willing to stand beside me as we venture forth.

I am saddened. I am weakened by the actions of others and the effect those actions have on those that I love. I am wounded by the ostensible loss of friendships long held or those barely begun. I am something less than I was by virtue of that which has been taken from me, but I am sure that in time sorrow will wane and be fully replaced by the joy that has begun to well within me.

I am strong. I am cognizant that my moments of weakness will pass in time. I am able to reflect upon and analyze the events of my life and, though I may not always understand them, I am able to accept them. I am allowed by the grace of God the ability to find the words to express myself when they are needed most. I am shameless in sharing those words with you because you, each of you, are a part of me. I am afraid neither of rejection nor ridicule because I know you will read these words without judgment.

I am humbled. I am truly humbled by your friendship, your love, and your understanding. I am and forever will be hopeful that I will always be able to return to you the incredible gifts you have given me. I am aware that at times we will all stumble and wander from our paths, but that our paths will fatefully intertwine again. I am certain of one thing above all others, that my perseverance is the product of you.

I am, simply, me.

“J.J.” Goodman is a lawyer with a writing problem. As a partner in a mid-sized law firm in western New York, J.J. often finds himself under the taxing weight of responsibility and expectation. Luckily, J.J.discovered a passion for writing at an early age and has carried that passion throughout his life. Now he finds great solace and an escape from the stress that normally envelopes him in the words that he’s able to put to paper (or, in this case, on that screen in front of you). Having gone through a series of life changing events in the last several years, J.J. has realized that life is too short to be dishonest, whether with others or with yourself. Currently between homes in two cities, J.J. doesn’t have time to write much, and hopes that when he does he makes it count.

Column and bio written by J.J. Goodman

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