image that says getting real with michal burgunder treading the path less chosen with a picture of michal

Getting Real with Michal Burgunder: Treading the Path Less Chosen

This is a guest post for my “Getting Real” series. On this blog, we provide “pure human content,” and truly get real. I wanted to give other bloggers the opportunity to come on here and get real with me! I am so excited for the opportunity to invite other bloggers to join me and share their life experience and big feels. Interested in sending over a guest post and being part of the “Getting Real” series? Send me an email!

Now without further ado, let’s get real…

TW: Suicidal thoughts

Without exception, we all want to feel understood. That’s a no-brainer. Yet after I have given it plenty of thought, I don’t think I ever really knew how to bring about this thing: People can clearly make it happen, sure, but it’s seemingly undefinable to me. It doesn’t mean that you like the same types of food as someone else, nor that you have the same beliefs, or, strangest of all, that you are cared for by them, nor does it even mean that one’s feelings have been acknowledged about a general subject.

Most people eventually find someone they share a mutual attraction with and treat their relationship with natural priority. I haven’t had this opportunity yet, and though we all often think that most people are like us, I find that to not be the case whatsoever. Being “alone” keeps you out of one’s comfort zone, and in that way, you learn something about yourself and the world around you at all times. People make this disconnection intentionally even, to develop themselves independently from others’ influence, especially the family.

But by developing independently from others, including people one is supposedly close to, makes one lose connection or even attraction to and from them. I have found that continually swimming against the current of the way things are, versus the way I want things to be, puts me (and others) in a position where we become unique by noticing faults in others and escaping them within ourselves. We create other faults, no doubt. But worse, it unfortunately makes one fall out with those people one was close to, so that if one goes alone for long enough, the little love that we are given becomes amplified, and we become vulnerable.

When intimate feelings do occur, they are usually not mutual, as the other person is likely to be more settled in their emotions. From my own experience, I can say that misunderstanding mutual understanding feels incredibly unfair, and it can be detrimental to one’s mental and physical health. In time, I would look around myself and think: What is it that makes me so different from people that I cannot seem to connect with them at that level that they connect with each other?

I thought about this for over a literal decade. At the start, because I didn’t have an intuitive feel for who people were, I had virtually no tools to understand how others tick. But little by little, I found that behavior among people follows a given formula, and though there are plenty of unknowns, the most important thing to fill in the variables of that formula was to simply be attentive and listen. I have found immense joy in getting to know people.

Stories told by others became my main focus in order to arrive at an understanding, and because I had little guidance on what books were good or bad, I went on a journey to read and watch anything and everything I could. 1984, Harry Potter, Stephen King were all good reads, sure. But I found more connection with non-Zeitgeisty stuff, such as The Castle, The Magicians, and Thomas Ligotti, all less well known, all a little… frustrated.

Nevertheless, the more I listened to stories, the more I began to understand myself in context with the world. I noticed that my idea that I was like the other farm kids at school, who grew up surrounded by everyone they ever knew, was, in fact, totally wrong. I’ve grown up as a tri-culture kid without realizing what it meant, with my extended family living in Poland and the US. Even so, I still always felt that it didn’t quite explain everything that I was feeling.

Therapists were also all fairly ignorant about my inner life. As a kid, when whoever it was made me talk to one, it felt as though the therapist wanted me to believe there was something in need of fixing as if there was something wrong with me. Maybe that was the case. But as a kid, one does not understand spectra of morality and identity to distinguish between the way things should be and who you are.

When I finally did this introspective work myself, I realized that I had experiences (particularly since age 15) that I don’t really know anyone else to have had. This would include starting a new life by going to the US to study, for example. After that. I’ve come back, somewhat discouraged, started a completely new life, threw that life out, started a new one, threw that one out and started yet another new life, and with Covid, made one more U-turn that brought me time and time, again and again, back to my childhood bed, a thing unheard of in anyone that I know.

I was back where I started. I know that if I had found someone I would be spending my life with, much of what has happened wouldn’t have, which is often a scenario that I wish had occurred. My life would have been so much simpler had certain things not happened, and I would be dumber, more ignorant, more conservative, and I think I would have been ok with that.

I fantasize about being a person I’m not because the person I feel to be has become too multi-layered, too complex. I would love to just eat pizza and watch endless seasons of The Bachelor, not working too hard, not worrying about the things that are coming our way.

And yet, at the same time, I’ve never been this person. Being different comes with the price for being unique, an event that has not been made by one’s own choice. Others don’t know of the journey that I’ve taken, and though most of it is in the past now, at any given moment, I can’t ever recall having a role model, someone I looked up to. I never pointed at someone and admired them to no end, wanted to be like them, or have the achievements they did, unless it meant that I would be happy.

I felt the same way about many of the books I read. None of the worlds presented to me expressed how I sensed the world. It was only last year that I finally found the first book that I have truly identified with: Ice by Anna Kavan. It was the first time that a book made me feel like I was looking in a mirror, the reflection of which was my own. It was then perhaps that I felt heard. Since reading the book, because I’ve had an absurd amount of unsocial time to think and the chance to take a large number of walks with my mom, the reasons for why I felt the way I did, began to take on a crystalline and clear picture.

“What is it that you understood” one might ask. I can’t tell you. So much of it has to do with incredibly personal information, some of which I don’t have the right to express publicly. However, much of what I perceive as being wrong with me isn’t anything particular. Instead, it is everything to do with the fundamentals of how human societies are built, how cultures interact and exchange information, and how they propagate into the future.

I used to look forward to simply giving up: To finally give in to my desires, and to let the world push me into oblivion, to disvalue who I was, and to end it all.

But everyone is different, and perhaps unfortunately, I now feel the urge to carve my own way through life, slicing through emotional and societal barriers that get in my way to keep me from spiraling into a deep depression. For me, it is a road covered in misery, loneliness, endless frustration, and even hallucinatory experiences. It’s not that I like doing what I’m doing. But as far as I can tell, my circumstances don’t allow me to find a better way through life, and so, however, an unusual road I may be going down, it is a way through life that works for the person that I am. Not only that: I choose to go down this path.

And that is good enough.

Author Bio: michal with

I’ve never fit any mold that I’ve been given, so I feel the need to continue redefining myself. The few things that stayed consistent through the years however, is my enjoyment of meeting new people, and my love for learning. I also recently finished a short story collection that I am trying to find an agent for, and otherwise, build software for my profession and attach myself to small artsy projects.

You can find Michal’s blog here.

Photo by lalesh aldarwish from Pexels

One thought on “Getting Real with Michal Burgunder: Treading the Path Less Chosen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s