Cartoon of Adam Avitable on a dock

The Mysterious Identity of Adam Heath Avitable

Cartoon of Adam Avitable on a dock

I’ve long felt strange about a particular issue of mine: I don’t have a good sense of identity from within a vacuum. What I mean by that is that unless I see myself reflected in the eyes of others, I don’t really know who I am.

This may be a common situation with entertainers and actors and comedians, but I have no idea. Something I think is funny isn’t really funny unless other people laugh. I can’t be proud of something until it receives praise from friends and strangers alike. I can’t tell if I’ve gone too far or crossed lines without being informed as such. This issue of identity can lead to me becoming needy for the approval and laughter of others and desperate for a response from someone (anyone) to guide me.

I have been actively working on isolating and understanding my own opinions, free from any other perspective, so that I can develop an identity. It’s a process that is simple but hard for me to do. I ask myself questions. Did I enjoy doing that activity/saying those things/being in that situation/identifying as that type? Would I have said or done or been what I had even if there was no audience? Does that make me happy or sad or fulfilled or angry? Was my reason for doing/saying/being because I wanted to or because I wanted to hear what others would say?

The past few years have been particularly hard on this issue of identity. My entire dynamic shifted and my world turned on end. My ability to trust and love was damaged, repaired, and almost destroyed again. I’ve gotten sick of picking up the pieces and trying to reassemble them every time. It’s at a point where I need to just be unbreakable by the actions of others. If I can figure out who I am and what I like and why I do the things I do from within a vacuum, I can protect myself from the fickleness and disloyalty of the world.

So, who am I?

Who is Adam Heath Avitable?

From what I can tell, he’s that guy who . . .

Always shows up when he says he will, because it’s important to him to be dependable.

Can be controlling and anal-retentive because he always wants everything to go perfectly.

Loves to talk on the phone because texting and emailing and tweeting will never replace the quality of a long conversation.

Has learned to prize honesty over his ability to manipulate people because transparency is important to him.

Would never do something to harm someone he cared about even if they don’t feel the same.

Gives way too many chances because he believes that most people are inherently good.

Can get obsessed and consumed because he never knows when something will end.

Falls in love easier than he should because he’s more fragile than he seems.

Never shies away from having hard conversations or finding the words to say to those who need to hear them.

Wants to make the world laugh because of the Bill Cosby records he listened to as a boy.

Will move mountains for the important people in his life because they deserve to have whatever they need or want.

Knows that he’s not perfect but still wants to be.

Isn’t always the rock of support that he pretends to be.

Wants to be famous so that he can take care of those who mean the most to him.

Will always think before saying something irrational or mean because he knows it would hurt someone.

Respects people who respect themselves, who value their friendships, who don’t tear others down to feel better about who they are, and who are honest and open.

Lives by his own moral code because sometimes rules must be broken for the greater good.

Wants to be in a healthy, happy, fulfilling relationship because he’s ready to try it again.

Doesn’t understand boundaries and hates that this frustrates people.

Believes in romance and true love and soul mates.

Will tell you anything if you ask, because he doesn’t want to have anything to hide.

Would be a Republican if social issues weren’t so important to him, and can’t understand how anyone can choose fiscal concerns over issues that are about people and their lives.

Is the person you want in your corner because he will defend you unilaterally and aggressively.

Has an overactive imagination which can be a curse more than a blessing.

Is harder on himself than anyone could ever be, because it’s important to try to succeed and do your best.

Learns from his mistakes and is grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Believes in something bigger but thinks that organized religion is the antithesis to intelligent thought and discourse.

Regrets every second of pain or hurt he’s caused anyone, but would be/do/say it again if it was necessary.

Realizes that maybe he does know who he is after all.

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56 Replies to “The Mysterious Identity of Adam Heath Avitable”

  1. Megan

    Sounds like a great guy to me.

    I like that you are introspective; I don’t know that many guys who are. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Perfect is… meh. Also? Nonexistent. But striving to be the best we can be is what life is about. Or it should be.

  2. Poppy

    Just want to make one comment before I finish reading the post: Being unbreakable by the actions of others is REALLY HARD, and I don’t think humans will ever be able to attain this 100% of the time.

    As an example: Yesterday I was very upset over something that Dave (didn’t actually do) did to me, because it reminded me of pain from my ex. I had no previous recollection of this pain, had no idea I hadn’t processed and handled this pain until it surfaced. It took me by surprise. And, so, my point to make is: I don’t think you can brace yourself for everyone’s actions future actions, to make yourself unbreakable, because you won’t be able to predict what previous actions will be triggered by future ones. Or something.

    Ok, on to the rest of the post.

  3. Nuala Reilly

    “I can’t be proud of something until it receives praise from friends and strangers alike.”
    “Gives way too many chances because he believes that most people are inherently good.”
    I could go on tossing your own words back at you but basically I think you may be the bizarro version of me (because I don’t have balls)
    Or I am of you (because you don’t have boobs)
    Either way, whenever I read one of your posts like this, all soulful and stuff, I just want to give you such a hug.

  4. Faiqa

    This is great. Something to think about — it’s hard to know what you look like without looking at your reflection. What others think is important — we just have to be careful that it’s not THE most important thing and that we’re careful as to who “others” are. In short, what I think of you matters and I think you’re great. Carry on.

  5. Lynda

    I don’t think I discovered who I was until I decided to get a divorce. My mind was in a funny place for a while too. The guy I met seemed pretty great, but I was too shy and under confident to talk to him much. Hopefully some other time! Like maybe if you travel a bit further north next time you are in the Bay Area.

  6. Dre

    I think you have a very firm grasp on who you are. You are more consistent in your “youness” than most. But I do think you seek approval from others. I want to see you be proud of exactly who you are, regardless of what anyone thinks – I think you’re well on your way to that, by the way. One of the most admirable traits you have, one that I value more than just about anything in others, is that you strive to improve yourself. To understand yourself and always be the best you that you can be. But on that note, perfection is what will be your downfall, if you don’t stop chasing it. Perfect doesn’t exist, love. Just spend each day being your best and stop killing yourself trying to be perfect. You are AMAZING!! **smooches**

  7. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    Oh. My. God.

    I just read and re-read this post in my reader about a zillion times and came to two conclusions.

    1) If Adam would inject estrogen and have a sex change, he’d be me.
    2) If I would free-base testosterone and have a sex change, I’d be Adam.

    Seriously? Because I’m not even kidding. We’re the same. damned. person.

    You’re the Princess Diana to my Wonder Woman. I’m the Clark Kent to your Superman.

    It’s. Eerie.

  8. Bonnie B.

    “Gives way too many chances because he believes that most people are inherently good.”

    As someone who doesn’t know you personally and has only read your blog for the last few years, this one surprised me. Not sure why. But I enjoyed reading about the introspective side of you.

    • Avitable

      @Bonnie B., I have a problem with the rampant idiocy of the world and the apathy and groupthink that occurs when people won’t think for themselves, but I’m not a cynic at heart. I want to believe that if you can show someone the truth, they’ll do the right thing.

  9. happyhippierose

    self-awareness is such a valuable thing. i’ve gone through phases in which i’ve defined myself based on others, i really know what you mean. a joke isn’t funny unless certain people laugh, an idea isn’t great until others approve.

    after a particularly bad breakup, i went though a serious period of learning how to like and appreciate myself, by myself.

    knowing who you are when you’re all alone is important and awesome. and can yield surprising results! i’ve always assumed that i’m an extrovert, because i’m not shy and i’m good at performing.

    turns out i’m actually an introvert, and when i treat my life accordingly – life is much better for me =)

    • happyhippierose


      I HIT ENTER TOO SOON. Or send, whatever.

      Adam, I think it’s awesome that you’re learning to understand yourself in a stand alone sense.

      It’s shocking and interesting to read your confessions here and to know this all about you. To me, you’ve always possessed such a strong sense of self – you’ve always been a strong personality, an imposing character. So it’s really brave of you. This is such an honest and vulnerable post, and I think it’s brave to publish such content.

  10. Robin

    Other than the whole “talking on the phone thing” I think if I lived near you we’d get along well. I love having people around me that are open and honest and it’s something I love finding in new people that come into my life.

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