Geek in Afghanistan » Uncategorized » I Like All My Friends For the Wrong Reasons

I Like All My Friends For the Wrong Reasons

I think about my friends all the time here.

Usually, when I was back in the States, I would think about them as well. I’d say, “Oh, I wish Jens was here. He’d like this table.” “Oh, I bet Jason knows this musician.”, “Oh, there’s a barber. I wish Jon Huckins was here.” A lot of my friends names start with “J”.

But I miss my friends for a lot of wrong reasons. I wish I could see them so I could feel better, so I could talk with them on a level I’m used to. I don’t have any rich relationships here; I thought I lived an aestethic life before. Oh no. I live with surface relationships here.

I have hardly anyone to talk to in regards to books or theology, friendship or the issues of the soul. Or Lost.

Now that I’m traveling from base to base, it’s like I’m the new kid at the school. “Hey, where’s the DFAC? Where’s the MWR? The gym?” Granted, people are friendly, but you don’t have the opportunity to talk and get to know people. The guys I live with are alright. One is a loner. One keeps his distance and the other treats me like an 11 year old. My choices are not great.

Because of our schedules, we just can’t see people “regularly”.

It’s like I’m living my life in an airport. Everyone is either coming or going. Even if they are staying for awhile, I’m on the move.

For example, I’m at this base for another couple of days (a 4 star in my book) and then I’m home for a couple of days. Then I go to a 1 star base for a bit. Then another base a couple of days later.

I’m not complaining. I enjoy the teaching (it is rote, though, same slides, same topic, same thing. A bit Groundhog day.) and I enjoy the travel .

But here’s the key: time goes by much, much quicker. The countdown on the left hand side moves much faster for me when I’m on the move.

I’m only missing my friends right now because I want to be taken care of, loved and appreciated. I want to talk to them about their lives, and tell them about this place, the desolation.

┬áLike I’ve said in earlier entries, this journey is taking the crutches I’ve depended on and throwing them in the furnace. Not one by one. These crutches have been pulled out all at once and I’ve fallen hard.

Here’s just a list of what I depend on to be liked (by friends, family and God.)

My humor—it is just not relevant here. I’ve noticed I don’t really get in to my humor-mode with people who have tough exteriors. I’m a bit intimidated.

My education—Doesn’t mean anything. I’m here to train on radiation, safety and using technical equipment. I live and die by that. Had a strong win today, but I’m still struggling.

My spiritual background—No one cares.

My charm—ditto.

All my accumulated experience at 39 isn’t really worth much here. I mean, I have the teaching thing down. That gets me respect. I know the science, but all the self esteem builders have been shorted out and taken away.

I now have to actually face the insecure Ryan.

This is not pleasing at all.

All the shields and masks have been taken away. I have no clout, no backup plan and nowhere, I mean nowhere to run.

And I want to run to my friends. I need to be reminded how funny I am and special. I want to have some pizza and beer and make someone laugh. “Oh, Ryan. You are so clever. Where have you been?”

“Afghanistan!” Ha ha ha.

So I’m drawing and dwelling on my faith. I’m reminding myself that my self-esteem does not fluctuate based on how I land a joke, but on God views me. The laughter is like a short snort of cocaine to my value. But the value God has placed on me never runs out and I don’t have to chase it or earn it. That sounds so cheesy and trite. I know. I can’t articulate it well without it sounding small.

But I think the key to my freedom, to love freely, without needing something reciprocated is in that value, in who I actually am.

A big part of this Afghanistan journey is that right there: stripping away all the fake Ryan from the true Ryan.

I called this a “reboot” of my life, but instead it’s an overhaul, a gutting, a transformation, an upheaval.

And I have to tell you—-it’s really hard.



  1. Tyler
    2012/06/07 at 19:32

    Ryan. This is the stuff of legend. Keep writing about your experiences. Most of us
    Live our life as “actors” instead of the real deal. You are learning and growing into more of the “real deal” and you will find your friends ALREADY care for you without condition. You don’t need to entertain us to be important to us. We just like being with you. You know why? Because you are loved.

    • Ryan (Author)
      2012/06/07 at 20:02

      I think it’s writing out the Psalms every day, man.

  2. 2012/06/07 at 19:46

    Ryan, I don’t want to inundate you with comments each time you post, but truly, yours is the first blog I read every day. I can’t explain it really, but I love the way you write. I find myself laughing hard sometimes at your wit and humor, and it really blesses me. It even influences the way I wrote my last blog and encourages me to write more. Thank you for that. You got a little brother here who values and appreciates you to no end, and I know I’m a thousand miles away and didn’t develop the bond with you that would have been nice when we were close, but somehow, through the openness of your heart, I am loving and praying for you more. I praise God for that. You’d love these old people I’m working with, by the way, except perhaps the smelly diapers and small ejaculations of smelly gas transmitted through dirty pants and underwear. Praying for you

    • Ryan (Author)
      2012/06/07 at 20:01


      You have no idea how much that means. I mean, you have published about 40 books, done the tour, spoken to millions, and been in the Olympics. So I’m humbled man.

      Seriously, it means a lot. I don’t know why I’m pouring out my heart like this, but it’s been great. And I’m finding a level of honesty I never have experienced.

      I’m praying for your recovery. And if you are faking this whole thing for attention, man, you are awesome.


      • 2012/06/07 at 20:08

        haha, maybe the special olympics but don’t remind me. And I would take anonymity over exposure if it meant my damn liver was functioning well. But I do like the pitty party; sometimes I wake up and think, what problems should I make up today so that people would love me more. Oh if that were only true…

  3. 2012/06/07 at 19:56


    • Ryan (Author)
      2012/06/07 at 20:02

      Thanks, man.

  4. Tricia slowiak
    2012/06/07 at 20:12

    Ryan my friend ~ He will build you up through this. I know the journey sucks (for lack of a better word), but the transformation in your heart and soul will be amazing. Be honest with Him and though it feels like He may be breaking you with these truths, you will grown in ways you cannot imagine. Thank you for your honesty with us in this. Love you more.

  5. 2012/06/07 at 20:31

    How great is the love the Father has lavashed on us that we should be called, children of God.

    I love that you “get it” that God loved you enough to do a total renovation of you life, keep letting Him, submit it all.

    PS: When I moved from my last job (8 years) to my new one I had no one to talk about LOST with either. (It was right between season 4 and 5 killer!) I had had a friend named Gary and we would spend a large chunk of Thurs. morning re-hashing LOST…losing that really was a time of mourning, NO ONE watched it at my new work ;-)

  6. Sue
    2012/06/08 at 2:01

    Ryan, your post today is a great reminder to me! I’ve just started a new job, new client group and am daily faced with how new everything is, and therefore how much I rely on the wrong things to evaluate my self worth (quick answers, accuracy, original flashes of humor – however infrequent they might be, etc). Thanks for the challenge, and the encouragement.

    and for the record, your’s is the ONLY blog I’m reading regularly (almost daily) – I find myself being curious about what Ryan has to say today! Thanks brother!!


    • Sue
      2012/06/08 at 2:02

      oh my – very poor grammar! I paused mid comment for about 2 hours! Good thing I’m not a blogger!

  7. Erika
    2012/06/08 at 3:33

    Hi Ryan,

    I have been reading blogs by people in Afghanistan because I’m deciding whether to accept a job that would take me there. From reading, I know about the geography, and what to take (or not), and a little bit about the political structure and of course the soldiers’ take on the conflict, but nobody talks about the separation and reassessment of your place in the world. Thanks for the new perspective. Hang in there–you will find your place.

  8. Matt
    2012/06/08 at 6:07

    Dude, talk about timely. Jr. was just posting on Facebook yesterday about how he was going to “make a change over the summer” because a friend or friends were teasing him. I told him to only make the change if it was a change he wanted to make anyway, but he doesn’t always listend to Dad. Thanks for being you, and for sharing it.

  9. Andrea aka Lark
    2012/06/12 at 3:16

    LOVE YOU, keep writing and I’ll keep reading even if I don’t always comment. :) Overhauls are always better once there complete in the middle of a renovation, no one really wants to live at the house, but once it’s done, you can’t resist but being in the house as much as possible. As a fellow overhauler, getting gutted, by moving to Redding where I knew no one… it was worth loosing a lot of what I thought I needed for who I am today. LOVE xoxoxoxo

    ps I watched Sherlock for the first time this weekend.

    • Ryan (Author)
      2012/06/12 at 12:09

      Thanks. Let’s you and I hang soon.