I’m a happy guy, but I wasn’t always that way.

I was a reserved kid who played piano, read books, and did well in school.

I was also kind of a weirdo.

As weirdos often do, I grew weary of the social friction my weirdness created and sought to conform.

The net result was an adolescent with little confidence and an underdeveloped sense of self, whose highschool experience was characterized by isolation and anger.

University was different. It was a wonderful and formative experience, during which I gained confidence and formed powerful friendships.

Unfortunately, just before the final month of my freshman year, my life was derailed by the shocking discovery that I had cancer and needed to leave school immediately for treatment.

Lingering health issues hindered my second year of university. I was depressed and always tired, and barely attended class.

As that dreary school year neared its end, I found renewed energy and began enjoying life again.

Only to have the wind knocked out of me by the news that the cancer had returned, and I needed to leave school immediately (again) for an aggressive cycle of chemotherapy.

The boredom of sitting through chemo and watching life from the sidelines birthed in me a spiteful ferocity.

Who was fate to keep me from experiencing life the same way as my healthy peers?

I returned for my third year of university with maniacal energy. I partied too much, slept too little, and eventually exhausted myself into a state of depression like I’d never experienced before.

I accepted a prescription for anti-depressants (hated them) and started to feel trapped by my new identity – foggy headed, scared, unhealthy, a grossly distorted reflection of the person I should have turned out to be.

Like before, the only answer that offered any solace was time.

In fourth year, I started participating in class. I began dating again. I picked up my guitar more often. I learned how to eat properly.

And I began reading voraciously, finding a link to my younger, happier self through timeless words on ink marked pages.

When happiness returned to my life, it returned like I’d never known it before.

Poignant and vivid – a palpable beauty hanging in the air – gratitude illuminating every moment that would otherwise be taken for granted.

Through those rough, formative years, I learned how to treat my mind and body with respect.

I learned what was (is) important to me.

I love my family, friends, and girlfriend. I love music. I love the outdoors.

And I love reading.

It strikes me that so many authors have shown great vulnerability and generosity, exposing their souls to be examined by strangers. Their bodies may expire but their words live forever, and in those words I find one of life’s greatest pleasures.

THAT is why I started Self Actual. If even a single other is impacted by the words I share, my goal is fulfilled.

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