Sometimes when I'm in a situation (at work, for example) where I have to be "on" and need to be pleasant to others I'll be thinking inside, "Why the f--- am I doing this?" I often see myself at a distance, interacting, smoozing, smiling, saying the right things, but wanting more than anything to have it over with.

Oh, I'm good at this stuff. I can sparkle in a crowd and appear to be so interested, yet inside I'm thinking that I just want to be anyplace but where I am. I can play the role to the hilt, but I honestly don't know where the "real" me and the "acting" me begin or end. Am I really who I'm pretending to be? Or am I acting like someone that I'd rather be? Do I even know?

Anyone who knows me would affirm that I've got my stuff together. I appear rational, level-headed, capable, and personable. Since those are all attributes that got me through the rough waters of childhood and adolescence, they have served me well. But what about the little boy whose potential, enthusiasm, and spontaneity got interrupted or side-tracked. What would he have been like today?

Sometimes I would just like to not be "on" all the time. Can I ever stop being so mature, so "together," so resonsible? Why must I always be the one on whom everyone relies? Why do I like it when I am recognized for those qualities? Why do I get pissed when I'm juggling a zillion tasks and nobody seems to notice that I'm doing several things simultaneously (and with great stress) in order to make sure things get done or come out right? When is enough really enough?

Dynamite Don