I read a book one time called The Other Wes Moore. It was one of those times you get a book and you feel like it was written just with you in mind. The Other Wes Moore is a narrative non-fiction story that chronicles the lives of two young African-American men that share the same name: Wes Moore. The author was inspired to write this story because of this fact and their similar start in Baltimore, Maryland. While one Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison, the author Wes Moore became a Rhodes Scholar and a best-selling author. Moore’s purpose in writing the story is to examine how two people with such similar backgrounds can end up with completely different lives.
If you know me, you know that I share a similar experience with Wes. I grew in a small town and there was kid a few years older than me with the same name. This kid was the captain of the football team and lots of my football playing friends thought he was the superhuman. I tried to not follow him closely, but I learned a few things about this guy that I wasn’t proud of. He was a bit of drinker (who wasn’t) but he got a full ride to a D1 school for football but couldn’t get in cause he didn’t finish high school. A couple of these details might not be correct, but that is what I remember when I was a 13 year old kid. I have built this person up to be a monster, a terrible person, and someone who had a chance to do something and failed.
Even hanging out with my friends I had known for years I would always feel like I was the afterthought. Like, everyone in the room was their own person, but I was the Other MS. I had to stand out by trying to be the craziest or funniest or drunkest, instead of just being me.
One time in high school while driving around with friends we got pulled over, I got dragged out of the car and put in handcuffs and they were yelling at me for violating my probation. It was a bizarre experience, but it was something I just dealt with.
Even now, at 38 years old my wife will be telling someone she is married to MS and they say “ohh” and have a look of disgust on their face and she has to be say “No, the other one.” It is such a weird thing that when it happens I feel like that 12 year old kid who just feels like he doesn’t belong.
This story is much longer for sure, there are a ton more examples of what I went thru mentally with this in the back of my mind all the time. In fact I could probably write the sequel to The Other Wes Moore. There is a happy ending. I am my own person, but I still get dragged into those feelings every once in a while. I’m able to use all the good in my life to get back to even on those occasions.
Even the most put together person, and I’m saying I am close to that, will have down moments, but as my guy Chuck Nolan in Cast Away says “I gotta keep breathing. Tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”.
Keep your head above water. It will all be worth it someday, maybe even tomorrow.