Posts Tagged ‘social anxiety

27
Sep
19

Are You a True Friend/Ally or ‘Expectator’?

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ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!

This…is…Spart–  Oh, wait.  Wrong movie.  But, it did deliver the same impact-ful question/vibe.

Are you a spectator or the leading role receiving your fill of expectations?…or both?  Or, maybe you just don’t care, either way; your life is a combination of labor and minimal social entertainment, routine and not worth thinking on this level…you’re basically a pack animal.

I had this thought, this morning.  I have received plenty of expectations from people over my lifetime.  I’ve been told how smart and talented I am and what I should do with my life more often I can count.  But, I can probably count on my two hands how many “angels” I’ve met, people who really stepped up to be a friend…however tragically short that time with me was.

And, that, ladies and gents, and boys and girls of all ages, is what my life really boils down to…my productivity has been lacking due to a lack of support, acceptance and assistance.  If you get by without much of that, then maybe I’m just not like you.  Or, maybe you don’t realize what you have.  I know what I have…I just don’t feel it’s enough to make me live nearly up to the expectations I receive.  I live my life, feeling like a disappointment, no matter how I pitch myself…until I tell myself to turn a blind ear (and eye) to those who pitch expectations and just do my own thing…but doing my own thing hasn’t exactly been fruitful because it’s very lonely.

And, all introvert-ish thinking aside, all my ability to work alone and keep myself busy aside, I need people.  I need friends.  I need to know I am good in and out and acceptable, not just tell myself I am okay as I am.  It’s not superficial or looking in the wrong direction for emotional support.  I think it’s just (my) human nature showing its true colors.  But, lacking any adequate social skills, other than knowing how to speak bluntly (which isn’t always an asset…), and occasionally being a good listener (used to be more often, when I had more heart left to share)…I don’t see the means to bringing more people into my life.  And, what I keep finding isn’t filling the “job slots.”  I feel like I’m sitting in some tiny office, expected to hire a company full of subordinates, and I get no callbacks or resumes worth getting a response.  [If that makes sense; if it doesn’t I really don’t care much, anymore.  The old perfectionist, misunderstood me would be up in arms, right about now, tossing papers and fuming…and then collecting those papers because I was once a “neat freak.”]

It’s even more apparent when I try some online games…or, rather, games you can partake online (or offline) and have some kind of interaction…when there’s hardly any interaction.  Do I have to “add 100 friends” just to get a ding or a whoop?  Am I falling short by trying to pick a half-dozen people who I consider up to the task of being a cooperative player?…versus being one of the countless drones who just click LIKE and REPOST buttons in this blog-verse?  [I think, ever since I started bitching about the LIKE button, I’ve received far fewer LIKES; so add one more detail to the “this sucks” pile…not that I cared about LIKES…just, in a sad case when you get no other response…anyway.  Meh.]  Is it all just processing the day, or do people actually care about each other?  Are there ANY genuine friends in this world?  Or, do I just hear stories, like fiction on the wind?  Am I being teased with fantasy and lil wizards who have dead parents?…plenty of the convenient dead parent stories.

When I was a kid, I was “the quiet one.”  I didn’t have automatic friends show up looking for a pal.  I didn’t know how to interact with kids while staying as safe as all the adults wanted me to be.  I was afraid of getting hurt/hit; so sports and physical games were essentially out of play.  When I finally found a friend…and I am not sure how that even happened, other than two guys (and one rare girl) making some joke on the playground which broke the crucial ice…we had to talk the relationship over with our parents; I had to get an Okay to visit or have them visit me.  I had strict rules about phone calls that fluctuated daily, so I never knew where I stood; nor did the friend know how to deal with my parents.  It was a torture-some game of hit and miss time together.  So, to be fair, I couldn’t expect much.

But, there WAS that one girl…the diamond in the rough…who put up with it all and stuck by me.  And, though I didn’t actively support all of her interests…which made me a bit of a spectator but not an “expectator”…I felt I did a fair amount of being there for her…until peer pressure, I suspect, got the best of us.  Having to say, “We’re just…friends,” when your heart is saying “I love this girl, I think,” is rough.  And, the more I denied my feelings or slighted her, the worse I felt.  And, I think, deep down, she knew and felt something, too; or she was just the most loyal friend I’ve ever known.  And, we were not even in the same interest circles, other than maybe video games.  She didn’t draw.  And, I didn’t do gymnastics or think much of forestry…though I’ve grown to enjoy state parks and exploring nature.   But, we got along so well…and I adored her, madly.  She wasn’t the prettiest girl in the class, but she had more class than most; she earned my respect, and then some.  [I’m pretty sure I’ve written about her before; so I don’t want to repeat myself or go on too long about this.]

As I became a teen and adult, after a shocking sex-education class, I had far less luck with friendships and finding allies.  I had plenty of hecklers, jesters, shapeshifters and all-around-lackluster faces around me who had more fun being pests than anything friendly, especially if I didn’t approve of something they chose to do/say.   I get it…and it wasn’t exactly new to me…people changing and turning on me…but I was hoping ONE in the bunch might be as nice as that girl was.  Nope.

In the “working world,” I’ve grazed paths with pretty faces who just couldn’t find a way to fit and guys who’d rather talk sex, sports and music, of which I know less, I guess, and am not particularly into discussing.  I get a rare “We should do something together” offer which goes nowhere for whatever reason; either I can’t get ‘there’ (to where we are to meet) or the other person never follows through with an “Okay, let’s do this; when is best for both of us?”  I have gone on very few dates which all ended badly.  I’ve been a spectator to a number of sour relationships which usually involved quick sex I did not need to hear about the next day.  It’s not exactly a social-friendly atmosphere or sustaining life experience.  It kinda makes this rabbit want to eat in a different pasture; ya know?

And, breathe.  No mas.  ‘Kay?  That was a rather personal explosion and old would I just visited.

So, looking at yourself, on a regular basis, are you a spectator or avid ally/friend?

16
Sep
19

A Party Year and I Don’t Feel Festive

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Chinese astrology (and, maybe, predictions from astrology in general) is a bit like a certain brand of computer games that seems to have a mind of its own, telling me how and when to play. And, I guess, as I recently experienced a major “glitch” (troubling error), perhaps that too resembles my experiences with Chinese astrology.

I refer you back to 2015…a Wood Sheep year I thought was a sign of finding the love I have sought most of my life. I thought good things were in the near future; I just had to get out and find them. But, not long into that fateful year, I wound up in a hospital and was subject to a number of tests and treatments like a lab rat just to get me back in semi-normal functioning order. The expression “it cost me an arm and a leg” became a grim, somewhat sinister reality that year and continues to haunt me. I saw pretty faces but lost all or never had any chance of achieving a greater connection with them. So much for finding love. If there was any love that year, it was more like pity and it came with suffering.

Now, to be fair, there was no book or placemat telling me that was the year to find love. I took it upon myself to believe that from what I had grasped of/from Chinese astrology. I didn’t have a master/medium/guru to consult. I simply “divined” the possibility from what I had learned. Which, like many of my mistakes in this life, resulted in a slap-in-the-face disappointment.

In 2004, I took a costly trip overseas to fill a big hole in my life’s “experience folder.” I followed the ways of Bruce Almighty and said (to anyone who wrinkled their nose at me when I told them what I had planned), “If you don’t like what I’m doing, you can ‘megabyte’ me.” I didn’t know much about Chinese astrology at the time but had an inkling of good feeling and built my hopes up by carefully planning everything I could. Sadly, while I was ensured a measure of safety from certain harm, plans fell apart, social experiments failed under a cloak of deceptive friendship and I returned home with a case of souvenirs which left me feeling nearly as empty as I did when I left home.

I cried for days if not weeks, nearly as long as it took me to shake the jet lag. I felt as if the monkey (year) had made a fool out of me, once again. I remember watching so many others enjoying themselves while I struggled to insert myself into the fun, somehow. It was a bit like watching a celebration on a big TV and thinking I could step through the screen; there was no logical way to fit into the picture. The party crowd was just an illusion on the other side of a glass wall; I was not welcome (unless I changed who or whatever I was/am, maybe). I took what small positives I could from that experience…it was an experience which taught me a few things I’d hopefully be able to use on future trips to avoid repeat disappointment.

Now, what does all of this have to do with the price of tea in China? Perhaps nothing.

But, this year, 2019, is said to be a year to party and enjoy the fruits of past labors. Yet, as I think of the past eleven years, I cannot fathom how or what to celebrate. I used to dismiss the disagreements with family, who seemed unable to understand my interest in, my passion for celebrations of other cultures, and find my own small way to enjoy something like the Asian moon/harvest festival.

2011 was probably the last year I can recall feeling remotely good about that. I made an effort to grow pumpkins and redeem what was lost in my youth to very strange foul weather, a freak hail storm which destroyed a precious pumpkin plant in my family’s garden in the middle of summer, as if some god threw down a lightning bolt and said, “No! You can’t have any! No pumpkins for you!” I sought out my own kind of moon cake and bought paper lanterns. I had a party for one outside while the rest of my family isolated themselves with TV and computer screens. It was both mildly amusing and deeply tragic.

This year, I feel very un-festive. I feel like…what’s the point? And, somewhat accepting my lack of company on the same wave length, I feel like leaving the lights off and the decorations packed away. The Asian moon/harvest festival just came and went, and I didn’t even check out the moon until the night my most recent upset unfolded, the cliche Friday the 13th. I didn’t find my special moon cake. And, as family talked about caramel apples, I didn’t feel as strongly as I have in the past to get a special one of my own (which usually costs more than I’ve been told makes any sense to pay).

I couldn’t care less about dressing up for Halloween, if family can get together for Thanksgiving or if there are any decorations or presents out for Christmas. I’m slowly starting to agree with all those who “bah humbug” the holidays as commercial trickery. And, that really makes me want to cry. But, perhaps, all my “dammed” tears (tears I cannot seem to shed alone and which continue to amass behind a mental dam) are merely the sound of paper tearing, paper torn by the grim reality of practical value, telling me what is merely an illusion of happiness and what is the biological function of inevitable decomposition.

It’s really difficult to stand firm on any feeling because there always seems to be that other side of the fence making some kind of noise. If you’re the festive sort, there’s someone who’s a “humbug” nearby, trying to lower your lights and silence the music. If you’re the “humbug,” there’s someone turning up their music, launching firecrackers and/or turning their home into a spectacle. It’s like, no matter where you go, there’s no peace of mind. And, if the peace people carol about cannot be found, well, that’s just tragic and tears me to the core. It makes me question everything. And, questioning everything just stops the world dead. Everything becomes a rusting amusement park strung with cobwebs.

I “hear” some factor of Virgo (and/or Pisces?) might be responsible for this recent bout with self-doubt. But, who knows for sure. Though, I do see others, even here, having similar doubts. At least, it appears the doubts are similar. But, knowing my luck, this is just another misconception, another assumed grasp of reality ready to be shaken by disagreement.

It just makes me feel lousy to think this year could be the biggest party in twelve years and I, once more, don’t feel like being part of the crowd. Imagine going the next eleven years, listening to people rave about that party back in 2019 before they bemoan the toils of the present “labor” year.

To be fair, I’m not much of a crowd person, as far as I know my core spirit (though my thoughts of such have been swayed by research of astrology). I’ve never been comfortable at loud parties with countless people…or even a family of fifteen. When I was a kid, grown-ups did all of the partying; and us kids just had to sit quietly with a present, if we were lucky to get one. We didn’t get to play much together nor with the adults. I would latch onto brief smiles from pretty older aunts and cousins and think I was at the door to some magical world…and then be forced to let it all slip away as I returned to a restricted life at home like Cinderella and try to reset my mind for school work and all the education I was being told was important. I rarely knew the true warmth of friendship; friends would appear and disappear or change into something I could no longer accept.

And, I still occasionally mourn the loss of what I consider the best friend I’ve ever had, partially blaming myself (and partially blaming her). She was the only friend who stood beside me and came to my aid when I was suffering; she checked in on me like a good nurse. Male friends were only looking for fun I could rarely supply because I didn’t share the same sort of imagination or have the latest toys. But, *she* wasn’t like that; she would have been my friend, no matter what I had or didn’t have. And, though I didn’t share all of her interests (which made me worry I wasn’t the best of friends), I was fairly content just being with her, seeing her smile and hearing her infectious laughter. Yet, we drifted apart after she denied me the growing feelings I had and went to a different school where she became involved with some guy using drugs; and, back then, that was like a cardinal sin to those of us who had been raised on anti-drug campaigns. Had I known then what I know now, I might not have shuddered at all at the realization and fought to keep her at my side (instead of letting her go and drifting into my own solitary misery). [Granted, to be fair, I was in no position to fight for someone else at the time. I was grateful to have any friend visit me and give me some sign of comfort and/or strength to fight with my own internal monsters. I couldn’t be someone’s hero when I needed my own hero…or heroine (a female hero, not the drug).]

If I had an inkling of that same good, enduring feeling (that I had with her) with another person in the past thirty years, I’d be less inclined to mope. But, sadly, I cannot say anyone could compete with her. A rare phone call or email just isn’t the same as someone who could pay me a visit and shake the tears from my branches until I could smile, again. A pen pal is a nice dessert but far from the main course I still do not have in/with me. And, I think of all the things we had yet to do together, things so many young lovers claim they’ve done (or so I hear). While many turned their focus to the pursuit of sex, I was thinking about so many other possibilities that would bring far better, enduring joy. It just never came to pass. And, at my age, it seems like a foolish notion to consider anything outside of a world of broken marriages and single parenthood, of “sloppy seconds” and “second chances,” if that, of people making desperate moves out of desperate positions only to fall back into fruitless ruts after attempting to satisfy their “sweet tooths” (or sweet teeth?). I don’t want to think any window has closed for good………..

….So, we’ve reached that point in my train of thought when I know I need to hit the breaks (Tsssh!) and regroup so I can get on with my life before I am completely and permanently derailed.

I know I shouldn’t let any of this get to me. But, I feel an inclination to mentally stab myself (not using an actual knife) for missing out on some festivities, for not making the proper moves to share in the fun, every time word of some party going on reaches my ear. I don’t buy into all the “best ever” and “bigger than ever” crap people keep pitching. But, I know there’s a party…and, even though I’m not the best party joiner…suffering from some variety of social discomfort/anxiety…I’m missing…something. I suspect what I am really missing is the joy of good companionship, of friendship and revitalizing love. But, many if not all of us feel that pull when people are enjoying themselves; don’t we? You feel like you’re on a dark street looking in on some lively, colorful crowd laughing, dancing, eating and drinking. You feel just a little like that infamous Scrooge traveling the pathways of time and space with those three eerie spirits.

But, down the road, I doubt these feelings will matter much…or they will just become “wash” in the layers of sand gathered during aging. I just…don’t want to be an old humbug. But, I also don’t see a way around it. And, that makes me quite nauseous and tense.

And, how does one go on living when the past seems so empty, when your story cannot feel as good as that of another you encounter (and it makes no sense to say it’s better than the case of some other poor chap)? When that fateful day arrives to write an obituary about yours truly, what will it say and who will write it? I currently don’t have someone I know will do myself justice in print. Nor, even if I did, can I feel good about filling this life to its fullest. Maybe I never should let such notions get into my head. Maybe everyone can only live life as full as they can or the Fates allow. Maybe I only get half a life while someone else gets twice their expected share. Maybe that’s just the way of the cosmos and beyond human understanding…and not something we humans should dare pass around as fact or expectation.

So, what if I write my own obituary? Would that matter? A little. And, still, it would feel empty. Because, aside from my good intentions and fewer deeds of service than some I’ve come to know, I see plenty of missed opportunities either thrust upon me by controlling and/or mentally abusive adults or spawned from within myself by genetic “doubts” and “fears.” And, it pains me to think of when I did take chances only to fall flat on my back and injure myself. It’s as if even trying to do something was in error. So, why try anything? It’s a question that continues to peck at me and leaves me feeling restless.

If only I could tune out the rest of the world and focus only on what is in front of me. Even if I could or would do that, could I be content or find contentment in that? Or, is it already too late?…because I’ve bitten the apple that flooded my eyes with illusions of wonder?…with ideas of what could be and pretty faces I wish I could call my friends and lovers?

11
Apr
18

Like a Sad Puppy Looking Out the Window

***

No.  You’re not going to find any sad but cute puppy pictures here.  Go clog your storage drives elsewhere.

I’m just expressing how I feel at the moment…at this stage in my life.  And, just to let you know, I’m going to get a bit long-winded; so get comfy and prepare yourself for some heavy paragraphs if you care to read.  But, if you want a more intimate look at the real me, this is about as close as you get without making the effort to reach out and connect via the pathways I provide.  I may repeat a few things from previous posts.

I feel like time is slipping away while I struggle to stand and get moving.  I hear about neighbors I don’t socialize with regularly, finding out their kids have already married and bought houses when it seems like only a few years ago they were kids playing in the backyard.  Have I actually reached THAT age?  Am I already the gray-haired elder who talks about the little ones being taller than I remember?

I’m not particularly physically handicapped.  But, I feel emotionally and mentally challenged…crippled.  I feel starved and deprived of good energies that I’d assume propel other people into action.

If someone says I just lack motivation, what does that mean?  I should be whipped like a slave?  I should throw myself in front of a bus or hit my head against a wall til I get the picture?  I just need to take more risks, more chances?  I’m not charitable enough?  I’m not “hungry” enough?  Exactly what direction should I move in to be doing this life right?  [No.  Don’t answer that one.  There are way too many people doling out answers they think are right, already.]

It’s sad to say, too, but I look forward to and sometimes rely upon emails to communicate.  I used to turn to the landline telephone.  But, reaching people isn’t always as easy, anymore, now that there are “options” and more things to distract people (rather than connect them).  I don’t mind leaving a message if I know I’ll get a response.  But, I don’t want to be the guy calling at “a bad time” and feeling like I am expecting the person to be my therapist while they are wondering when I’ll stop gabbing because they have “more important” things to do (that I could/should be doing myself).  Often enough, talking on the phone makes me feel worse, later, than I do composing a letter or email (which, for me, often turns out as long or longer than some letters I used to write).

So, when I finally do get an email or offer to email, I perk my head up a little and might even pant before responding as soon as possible.  Sometimes, I go out of my way, give it more time than most would, really try to make it into something special, something personal and considerate.  Over the years, I’ve realized that usually smells of desperation and is not–as often as I’d like–appreciated.

I try to be patient with others, particularly when they say they are sorry they cannot respond sooner/more often.  I say, “Oh, that’s okay.  You’re busy.  Take your time.”  And, then what happens?  I don’t hear from these people for weeks, months…  And, well, if it goes past a year, I pretty much assume our connection is dead.   [One sad, lonely dog, looking too hard for attention over here.]

“Back in the day,” (heh) you might write to a pen pal and wait a year for a response.  But, you were not considering that pen pal anything more than a seasonal visitor like the Easter Bunny or Kris Kringle.  You didn’t expect much from a pen pal and were grateful, hopefully, when they felt thoughtful enough to send a treat or souvenir.

I don’t look for pen pals at this stage of my life.  If my “circle” was that fulfilling but too local to satisfy my explorative interests, I might look for a stranger overseas to tell me tales.  But, these days, you don’t need a pen pal for that.  You can find people like that online!…in places like this one!  And, if they are friendly enough, you can exchange dialogue!  Isn’t that nice?  [Not that there’s much dialogue going around from what I can see.  More often, I see “award” notices, strangely worded/ignored comments from faceless strangers, brief words of vague sympathy and plenty of “snapshot” responses (the LIKES and the FOLLOWS) which are void of warmth.]

My timing and my low level of comfort with mingling are also terrible.  It seems I am always inside when others are taking walks outside.  [Again, the sad puppy looking out the windows.]  And, even if I cross paths with someone while walking, I’m in no way comfortable striking up a conversation.

For one, I don’t want to come off like an intrusion or misunderstood threat.  I don’t want to take away from the exercise or interaction someone else may be having with their exercise group/companion(s) (while I am almost always alone).  If they only have so much time to exercise, why try to or expect them to stop and gab as long as I may?

Secondly, or rather, additionally in regards to general discomfort, I am not comfortable talking on a walk or in public for more than a minute or two because I know my skin is thin and that I will break the dam wide open if given a chance.  And, the last thing I want is to get loud or breakdown among passersby who are likely to turn their heads and very quickly add to my discomfort.  What’s wrong with him?  Do you really want to know?  [Not to mention all the concerns I’d have of being rejected or “judged” for expressing or hearing something that disturbs one of us.]

What I really would like is to meet someone on a walk or online (or somewhere far more comfortable, wherever that is) and spark a conversation but take it somewhere more private so I don’t expose my “ills,” my concerns, my woes, my heavier thoughts to more people than necessary, especially to people you don’t know who are capable of doing things with your output that might shock and/or upset you.

And, I think that’s what I’ve been doing and striving to do since the internet began.  [I am pretty sure I’ve discussed my experiences with making contacts online elsewhere in my posts.  I just don’t feel like linking or repeating.  And, hey, if you really need to know, you just ask.]

I don’t or can’t expect someone I just met to welcome me into their home or car (and that doesn’t sound too smart to begin with, anyway). I really don’t know where to go to make this happen.  Nor do I have any bright idea or motivation to make myself more comfortable.  It’s one thing when you have a friend or “wingman” with you.  It’s a whole other to feel as fragile as I do and try to go it alone.  I mean, I am sure people do it and have done it.  And, if it comes down to it, I’ll figure out a way.  But, time is passing by so quickly, and I am still spinning my tires.

It sure would be nice if more people reached out to me, too.  Ya know?  I feel worse thinking the world is only going to get better if I make it better for myself (and others).  For all the stories I read of people making things happen, starting businesses and such, I don’t see people reaching out to me.  I keep getting the feeling like I’m different and have to do the leg work for others.  They might have tons of offers or be going through applications/resumes like some location seeking employees.  But, I remain the lone applicant just hoping to make a dent, to get my foot in a door.  [Stop looking like that, sad puppy man!]

Am I just living in some TV show or video game?  Is this just a 4D world in which I have the controller to make things happen?  Have I been so bewildered by the simulations that I forgot I am Player One?

Some would say I just need to get busy or be busier with my life.  When you’re busy, you don’t think as much (about these things).  And, while that may be true, do I want to busy myself with work that does nothing other than feed the careless, wasteful impulses of others (just because someone chooses to make a business of that, because someone convinced them this was profitable) or work for someone who sells a lie built around fear/doubt?

Oh, sure, I could get very busy.  I could not make any money and devote my life to charity because the world sure needs plenty of help.  But, I am terribly afraid of my social and general anxieties getting in the way, of ending up penniless and dependent upon some system I don’t necessarily understand or like.  It’s not like I would be good at balancing charity with doing everything I need to support myself.  I’d more likely give my all and wind up with nothing…or give so little that I feel like a cheapskate/miser.  It is all a bit too risky for me.  [Yet, charity sounds better than some alternatives.]

Sigh.  Woof!

 

 

 

 

02
Mar
18

A Family Imbalanced

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I am, once again, working through some deep-seeded feelings and–if you the reader so decide to give it–get some input.  In this age of short attention spans, I consider it amazing if the average reader can digest all I have to say.  [So, pat yourself on the back if you do.  And, if you’ve read similar thoughts in previous posts of mine, bare with me; it wouldn’t surprise me if I repeated.

NOTE:  If all you do is click LIKE on this post, I will be annoyed because I don’t know what you hope to achieve by doing that.  And, I will feel like a spectacle, standing in public in my underwear.

What inspired this purging of the soul?  Recent events in which I have been giving much of my time and energy to my family and seen little in return.  Sometimes my offers of assistance and input are rejected, with or without mention of how I should live my life differently.  That reaction seems to run in the family (myself included, under certain circumstances).  I just wish someone would step up and say, “Now, what can I do to help YOU?” Or, “How are you coming with ___?  Need any help?”

I seem to be more willing to help my family (and anyone who triggers sympathy in me) than they are willing (and/or able) to help me.  Granted, they have loaded their hands with fairly full lives of their own while I struggle to “get myself together.”  I cannot offer much more than my helping hands, remaining mobility, “over-thinking” and sympathetic brain (for working out all of those little mental wrinkles that plague those with failing memories or certain problems that need solving)…and patience.  And, if a member of my family did anything that shocked or upset my “code,” I might be less willing to offer help.

[IE If someone chose to get drunk and go broke, I might have a hard time offering financial or even emotional support.  That is, in part, because I’ve never let myself be so careless and cannot relate; I don’t feel like I have the “coping skills” to deal with that situation.  I could easily hand over money and risk leaving myself in financial danger, but I am resistant–for whatever reason–to do so.  And, I’ll get more into that sort of situation in a moment.]

It’s actually somewhat amazing I am willing to help my family, at all, when, some years ago, I was at a serious crossroads with the core of my being, and my family essentially looked the other way, treating me like a misfit of society who didn’t want to “go with the flow.”  [Which is ironic after years of chasing fads only to be told this behavior was costly and pointless.]  I realize solitude and defending myself so long has depleted my resistance and left me more in need of human contact and cooperation.

Long ago, in my late teens, I wanted a fresh start, a makeover of sorts.  And, if anyone supported the entities that rubbed me the wrong way, I withdrew from those supporters to defend myself, rather than accept people simply telling me I am crazy for being so troubled by something they saw as harmless.  [This came with trusting professionals with my life and feeling my life was threatened by those professionals.]  All I knew at the time was I needed to purge my being of what felt like a serious mistake, similar to atoning for a sin.  And, my family, my foundation, my roots, stood in the way.

[You might hear or read sources that say you should “be” and “love” yourself.  I have felt unable to do that thoroughly because I continually run into opposition, including family.  If you like metaphors, it’s sort of like being a young bird wanting to fly and having your wings either torn to shreds or weakened by lack of proper nutrition.]

Now, this endured for many years, me unable to trust my family with just about anything and feeling misunderstood.  I had no privacy, no freedom to maintain a room of my own (design) as I saw fit.  [If I left the house, I’d return home many days to find my possessions rearranged, altered or missing.  Thus, each time I wanted to leave home, I couldn’t help being concerned and was denied the option to use locks to secure my space.]  I survived by doing what I had been told to do since I was little…keep myself busy.  But, this wasn’t advancing my life in any good way I could see.  When I wanted to have “adult” discussions, no one could cope with my rapid-firing concerns/hesitation.  And, if they felt like bringing up old news–like that time I was trying to put behind me–any chance of cooperation went down in emotional flames rather quickly.

[Again, ironic, considering another member of the immediate family has had several makeovers and never once had to worry about his own room being invaded/rearranged.]

A bothersome pattern involves me buckling whenever I hesitate to try/do something and seek input from family.  I’m reluctant to ask, worrying about the response I may get.  And, if the response comes with some measure of judgment, objection, insult/offense or resistance, I give up the quest for assistance/input and recoil into a troubling state of helplessness.

Add to this my inability to do just about anything for myself, including stepping outside my comfort zone (if you can even call what I had comforting) to meet new people, to socialize, and I am a rather handicapped individual going nowhere.  Before I stopped going (and began fighting to defend my decision), I couldn’t even go to mass/church with family without feeling lacking in their acceptance, feeling a bit like a reject and enemy.  The church was supposed to be my sanctuary, and it couldn’t be; not with my family and social anxieties.

This is just the tip of the emotional iceberg.  And, after giving these thoughts a few hours of my time, I am feeling lost in thought and depleted.  So, without knowing what else to say, I will stop here.  If I feel up to it, later, I will revise/add to these thoughts.

* I am writing this in addition to a previous post about lacking love and friendship. *

 

08
Feb
18

The Impact of (Lacking) Friendship

****

I’m going to start of this thought train with a very vital question.  Does anyone else know what it is like to go 30+ years without a solid, reliable, comforting friendship in one’s life?  Does anyone have any idea…if you have a circle or even just two good friends…can you imagine the impact on a life of not having a reassuring friendship for 30+ years?

If I was someone who had at least two friends upon which I could go to with anything and actually hang out on a regular basis, feel like there was nothing taboo or that would earn me some measure of rejection, I would probably be speechless to find someone who had no good friends for that long.

Obviously, I am having a personal crisis moment.  I have these now and then about friendship.  The last time I felt I had a solid friendship, I was 13; and that friend decided to date a “frenemy” (friend who became a sort of enemy/indifferent classmate) and say we’d never be more than friends though I was hoping she and I would be more than friends, after knowing each other so long and growing together and after having feelings I didn’t even understand long before they were a topic in sex education.  I was roughly 7 years old when I knew I felt something for this girl who became a good friend.

I had male friends, too.  But, usually, one at a time, and they were not the best friendships because most of my focus was on what we had to share, video games, trading cards, whatever.  Sure, we could joke and hang out together, but not as often as I would have liked.  [And, there’s another reason behind that I won’t go into, today.  One that was not of my control/choice.]  For some reason, I couldn’t have more than one male friend at a time.  It was like one would rub me the wrong way or he’d get tired of my cautiousness and find someone more fun to visit.  So, out the door one would go, and, somehow, another slipped into place.  I don’t even know how I made these friends.  I think we just sat together at lunchtime and, while talking about video games or some kind of toys, decided we should consult our parents about getting together.

As for my best female friend, we met through a summer group and stuck together through school.  It was almost like we were two trees growing side-by-side.  And, I remember the distinct difference between the guy friends and the girl friend.  The girl friend was more sympathetic on her own while the guy friends found discussing feelings a bit uncomfortable.

I regularly had to curb what I said with the guys whenever they turned stone-silent and looked away.  Even as a kid, I had too much to think about or say, not necessarily being chatty at the time…because I was still one of the “quiet ones” back then.  I didn’t get chatty til my teens when I had to fight for my life, different from the days with bullies when I sometimes settled things with my fist or foot.  [The cornered cat scratched back, back then.]

As I got older, friends became even harder to find and keep.  In high school, I was under a ton of internal turmoil for a handful of reasons.  And, if the guys didn’t know how to deal with that when I was little, they were not much if any better as teenagers.  And, the girls were suddenly like deer in the eyes of wildcats.  The laws of the jungle were taking hold of my peers, and here I was contemplating the meaning of life and where my future was headed.  I might as well have been a lamppost in the forest.  The friendships I managed to make with the old system of common interests fizzled as soon as I became emotional or found my “friend” was supporting a cause or theology I did not respect.  I had to make moral choices, and that left me out in the cold, time and time, again.  No one came to my aid.  Peers didn’t reach out any better than I did.  [I probably would have been more social if I wasn’t consumed with anxiety and depression.]

Even professionals could only do so much; they didn’t understand.  A pill was not the answer; it might mess with my head and distract some part of me from functioning, but I cannot live the rest of my life like that and still feel human or true to my faith.  And, a pill is not the answer to a family situation that’s problematic.

[You can’t make everything better just by twisting my brain into some alien configuration that gets “better channels.”  My family did not have the answer nor accept me as I was.   A pill is not going to change that; talking just to me isn’t going to change that. And, distancing myself from family is only going to make me feel more alone and inadequate without a friendship to fill the gaps.

If people cannot cope with my intense persona, do I honestly think a pill that shuts me up is going to make that all better or allow me to see and use the “tools” someone thinks are the answer?  Some might say, “You don’t know until you try.”  Wanna be a guinea pig and deal with all the hazardous side-effects while trying to find the “right pill for you?”  Be my guest.  I hope you live long enough to toss the pill bottle when you finally feel better before you have other medical issues, possibly from liver or kidney sediment.  I hope the pill spares you from dealing with real emotional matters and when whoever upsets you gets on your nerves, again.  Or, if you’re one of those real lucky ones who DO “level out” just right…well, I’ve got nothing to say about that.]

So began the age of “no one understands.”

Then we get to adulthood and the workforce and how people don’t really mature much, even if they sound and look more mature.  Or, if there were more mature people, I had lost comprehension of maturity and was not seeing them beyond the trees of the forest I occupied.  I might read about someone with a “better” life without knowing all the facts and listen when others point to those people and say, “Look; they can do it.  Why can’t you?”

I manage to get along with coworkers.  I even get brave enough to put offers on the table.  And, on a rare occasion, someone makes me an offer.   But, what happens to those offers?  Not much.  If I get my hopes up, they seem to disappear or go south.  If I hesitate or brush it off, I hear, “Why didn’t you take me up on my offer?”  Um, maybe because I didn’t want to get my hopes up for the first result I mentioned?  Or, maybe you didn’t bring it up twice even though I can mention the same desire/wish a dozen times just to get a faint chuckle and/or a “yea” before it gets ignored.

Have I made any solid friendship with coworkers?  Not really.  I mean, sure, we got along and talked off and on at work for over 10 years.  I can email and call a few just to say hi and “catch up.”  And, no doubt, we’re all good at telling each other what they should do.

But, do we hang out or do anything outside of work?  Oh, no, because there was something wrong with me or my abilities.  Or, as unfortunate as it might be, we both have limitations that get in the way.  And, maybe, I don’t want to be the single, lonely guy poking his nose into a family or married situation when I am unsure of what is good timing or proper to suggest without offense.  [And, I don’t mean I was ogling someone’s wife, either.  But, if I was befriending a guy with an attractive wife, sure, I may feel attracted and then have to watch myself, which does add pressure to the situation.]  I don’t want to be the guy who “has too much time on his hands” and gets plenty of suggestions what to do with myself when I want to spend time with or have someone go over something important with me, who happens to have their hands full with family or their own social life, as if I would be a bother.

So, I am supposed to be a fully functional, professional and well-adjusted adult on his own, not letting what others say or do get to me, doing everything on my own as if I don’t have to interact with anyone yet somehow do whatever is “normal” to avoid being an outsider.  It’s like no one can explain how good friendship works….it just does.  It’s just like Life cereal.  Why does Mikey like it?  He just does.  And, Nike just does it.  So, why can’t I?

Well, if anyone wonders why I am progressing so slowly in terms of a “normal adult life” yet sitting with this “amazing brain” of mine, hopefully this current rant will shed some light on the matter and not drive potential friends further away.

 

16
May
17

My Response to “Self-Esteem Issues in Ohio” (Dear Abby)

*****
[Letter titled “Being Lifelong Target of Ridicule Eats at Self-Esteem.]

“Self-Esteem…in Ohio” is in their 30s and coming to terms with social/dating difficulties stemming from a lifetime of ridicule and, quite likely, manipulation, claiming to be more comfortable putting him/her self down than doing what makes him/her happy.

I’d say he/she is in an emotional rut, passing through a sad storm.  Sometimes we write things in the moment we are most emotional and it passes.  Sometimes the problem/feeling lingers.

Dear Abby suggests professional therapy.  I feel this is too easy to recommend without a sound system of assuring the doctor-patient relationship will work.  In a way, finding a good therapist is like dating except more expensive.  Heck, even online dating sites charge less per month to gamble with them.   So, isn’t a therapist asking more than a hundred bucks an hour for you to repeat your life history, before they remotely understand your problems, compounding the problem?

*****

Well, before I get started, I had a flashback to a time not too long ago when I found and visited the Dear Abby archives/website. I found the digital copy of the letter and a loooooooooooooooong line of responses from other people, reminding me of the old chatroom and message board days. There are many who have the same responses and a handful claiming to be in similar shoes. So, anything I could say wouldn’t be much different. And, I am not sure the “discussion” is any better than comments on YouTube, as they may be hard to read/filter.

On that note, I WILL still offer some thoughts and personal experience. After all, I am not a man of few words, usually. And, if I get carried away, it might be too much for the comment trail space. I might get more attention at the source. Yet, this is just as good, writing out my thoughts, self therapy, if nothing else.

If you can handle it, please take the time to read my “radically reduced” response (which, after two drafts, is still quite long). [I am slowly learning to curb myself and save some information for more appropriate, more fruitful settings. The general public viewing space is not the same as controlled group therapy.]

But, if you reader(s) care to sift through the website comments, go HERE.

*****

First off, I was surprised I didn’t think to ask it myself. Are you a man or woman suffering from this? I presumed you were a man like me which prompted me to respond. Some of what you said struck such a resounding tone with my own troubles.

Secondly, as I know I can say more than can fit in a few lines, if you read what I have to say and want to discuss these matters (perhaps more privately), my mailbox is open.

I’ll try to group my thoughts to address various topics…and keep the details brief.

LABELS

I don’t like to say I have a condition or disease as this only makes matters worse than if I simply think of my troubles as clouds overhead which can be diminished or replaced with sun, now and then. Better to think of the bad times as foul weather that will pass, I say.

ESTEEM AND/OR ANXIETY

I don’t consider what I suffer from as low self-esteem but, rather, social anxiety, a fear to engage people beyond a certain trust level. It’s not as bad as a gal I know who freaks out if a guy approaches her to be more than a friend. I can mingle with certain people if the “water” is inviting enough. I typically have little to no trouble talking to people who I don’t consider relationship prospects, but I cannot seem to approach any woman I find attractive. And, if I do begin talking with one who then turns out to be more than I can handle (or fear she will find fault with me), it becomes a real dire situation to get out of the mess. So, I tend to run through the scenario beforehand and avoid even a kind greeting or more than “Hi.” [I set myself up to fail before trying.]

I’ve tried various methods of countering my anxieties. One, which has yet to work well though I love the idea, is delivering thoughts on paper. Rather than speaking with the person directly or trying to get an email address/phone number (as some seem to make appear so easy), I would write my thoughts in a note and pass it to the person or get someone to pass it to the person. I never passed notes in school, ironically. But, I’ve done it on the job (hoping to avoid a boss telling me not to socialize on the job by inviting the person I wanted to speak with to find me after work).

You’ve probably heard the bits about loving yourself before you love another and being comfortable alone, too. I don’t know what to think of these philosophies, but they give me a headache.

I was a kid who spend adequate time alone because Mom and Dad were not available or interested in what I liked to do, other than art, and I couldn’t do art all of the time. [That’s a whole other ball of wax, source of childhood trauma.] I could occupy myself and say I was okay. But, as I matured, I needed some social connection. I had heard “no man is an island” and took it to heart. I just wasn’t very good at getting off my island and joining the natives of another. And, no one was going to show me the ropes without sounding suspicious.

We’ve likely both been “okay” on our own long enough. How long do we have to go alone before we connect with someone? Right? And, how do we define loving ourselves? How do we know we pass the test and can move on to the next step, loving someone else? Who verifies our abilities?

TALKING DOWN ABOUT ONESELF

I don’t recall doing this in my youth. What I do recall wasn’t so much me talking about myself as it was conveying what others had said/done about me. I guess it was my way of taking a punch instead of fighting back. I’m not exactly a fighter, but as the saying goes, “corner a cat and get scratched.” [I’ve had my moments when I lashed back at those who went too far.]

However, as I entered my teens, I started to seriously wonder what was wrong with me. I can relate to what you say about not making yourself happy. For the longest time, I have put up with crap, figuring I could do no better. I would not say I have low standards by any stretch, but I have taken chances without making sure the decision was right in my gut. And, usually, when I don’t follow my desires, I run into trouble. Yet, if I only listened to my inner voice, I’d probably be more anti-social than I already am, because, I suspect, some of the voices inside me have been shoved in there by my family and peers. And, why do I want to listen to them?

THERAPY AND SELF-HELP BOOKS/EXPERTS

Whenever someone has no better advice or assistance to offer, I see this often. “Get professional help.” As if it were so simple. If you’re lucky, insurance may cover some or all of it. But, I doubt it. And, from my experience, it was more harm than help, especially when my family did whatever the professionals prescribed without considering its impact on me. As a minor, I was not to be trusted; I might as well have had rabies or be told I was due to be “put down.” In short, my trust in therapy ended when the last pill I was convinced to take nearly ended my life. When professional help goes that far the wrong way, you either get mad or you die obeying strangers.

I’ve encountered many “self-help” books, too, by self-proclaimed life-experts. I would snort at these quite hastily, wondering what makes anyone an expert on life when they are still living and learning as I am. Especially, if that life expert is younger than me. After all, what is the sense of life experience if someone can live it all before another? Just because one tree figures out how to produce apples faster than another does not make it wiser or all-knowing about fruit production. [This logic might also be applied to the medicine field and how pill manufacturers fail to grasp the concept of every body being potentially different; we can’t all be lab rats just to satisfy someone’s curiosity.]

Maybe I am not being fair. Maybe there are still good therapists in this world. But, I have yet to meet one. And, after my horrible experience, I am inclined to reject the idea.

If you DO consider professional help (in other words, advice and/or assistance from someone outside the circle that knows you already), I hope you can do as much research as possible and defer the expense.

I think therapy works when we accept someone’s way of thinking into our own. I’ve read some self-help books that have fairly good ideas. I just have a hard time trusting my soul to a book instead of someone I can see with my own eyes and hold with my hands. [I suppose this could have people questioning my ability to believe in a god, my religion. After all, what is faith in a god other than trusting stories passed down about someone I cannot see or hold?] So, if you tell yourself to have faith in the words of another, it’s likely you’ll adapt and do your best to make that work.

I guess, because I’ve “been there, done that,” it’s hard for me to trust, again.

Suggestions for countering these problems:

1) Well, I already gave one about labeling conditions/difficulties.

2) As for the lack of confidence to engage others or feel better about ourselves, I wish I could find a good therapy group, if I cannot do better at making friends on my own. I’m not likely to seek such a group out, sadly. I have doubts about therapy and professionals but DO think a group is better than one-on-one.

I had brief experience with group therapy and campfire discussions. But, I could feel, rather quickly, a sense of community. When everyone in the group contributes, there is less likelihood of distrust. You slowly let your guard down and accept not being alone with the problem. I had a good time with my senior (high school) retreat when the group was able to divulge personal trials. Suddenly, those who appeared flawless were just as fragile as I, and I wanted to reach out to them, to hug them. [Sadly, the trip did not end as well as it started.]

HOWEVER, be sure you are in the right group and gauge your experience day-by-day. Because, I was placed with one group who had different problems than my own, and it made no sense for me to spill my emotions to people who could barely speak for themselves and/or comprehend my woes.

3) I have repeatedly tried something over my lifetime which doesn’t exactly accomplish much other than shaking an emotional load off my shoulders. Whenever someone made me feel “less than” or hounded me (like a bully), I would concoct a tall tale. [This probably contributed to some calling me a liar at the wrong time, like the “boy who cried wolf.”] It’s sort of like the advice some give about wild animal encounters; you make yourself look big. That’s what I did without attempting to be cooler or dress differently (as many would do). I talked big and fabricated details, hoping to steer away whatever was looming over me like a plague. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better about myself, but it helps to steer the threats away.

Consider this a last resort strategy. Some days, I’d just want to get home and unwind. And, I’d tell myself this strategy accomplished the bottom line. It got me out of the line of fire. But, if the problem didn’t stop

4) I like how people describe Conan O’Brien as having “self-deprecating humor.” People like him are able to stay modest and have a sense of humor about themselves, so it’s less likely to get or feel hurt. In some foreign films, you might hear “fight fire with fire” or “counter poison with poison.” Even in common medicine, a vaccine is often a re-built virus used to counter another.

So, rather than simply shoot yourself down, have a sense of humor about your shortcomings. Find a way to turn a negative into a joke. So, at least, if you DO find yourself in an awkward situation, you can make light of it. And, try not to let yourself wonder if your date thinks you suffer from anything just because you make jokes or put yourself down. Don’t double the weight already on your mind.

5) Think outside the dating box. If you view a date in any particular way and figure it’s a hopeless case, try designing a different date (like drawing a new map for how to walk through a park or a new menu for your favorite restaurant). [IE Some expect sex on a third date. I don’t care for this “rule.” I must assure myself I don’t have to follow it and set my own rules. And, if my date doesn’t agree, I don’t have to continue dating that person.  Of course, I may be good at designing, but I lack the drive or self-assurance to put my designs into reality/action.  Which is why I see myself as a good interior decorator.  hehe  I design the room but don’t necessarily have to do all the remodeling.]

I’ll take a chance in saying something about my dating history.  I’ve probably gone on a handful of dates, altogether.  My first date was as much a disaster as it was a relief.  I was once accused of standing someone up and ran into an emotional dispute IN PUBLIC (which I dread) as a result of me pursuing the relationship that, apparently, wasn’t to be.

I do better befriending a person and then trying to arrange times we can hang out together casually, instead of trying to follow some schedule every few days, weeks or months.  [And, the people I usually befriend come from my workplace.  I don’t go to “normal” hangouts to meet people because I don’t have a group of friends to join me.]  I’ve “dated” people through emails and chat rooms before meeting them in person.  I can’t say I’ve had much success, but it certainly feels better getting what you can for free or little money than paying some agency of faceless strangers to hopefully find you a match.  My methods are not conventional.  But, I’m not sending disturbing nude images to people just to get a rise out of them, either (like some who deter people from trying anything online).

6) Exercise is good. I agree with those who recommend exercise for improving psychology and the mood. [Posture and what we do with our hands also play a part.]  I didn’t get it until my twenties. In school, I wasn’t exactly lazy, but I didn’t do anything to “work out” other than play video games and the occasional sport practice by my own rules. I never lifted a weight or ran a mile (which proved to be a cause of great distress and embarrassment). But, once I started walking to get groceries, etc., I found myself melting pounds and stress away. I recommend bringing a headset radio/MP3 player to give yourself something to “suck” on and tune out the traffic. But, if you like walking among nature and listening to every little sound, have at it. I tend to dwell on negative thoughts without my music.

7) Diet may be a factor.  Consider what you eat regularly but don’t guilt yourself for enjoying the occasional comfort food.  A few tips in this area:

a) Moderation is a very important word.  If you find yourself eating a whole bag of chips or candy, stop.  Nor do you need to eat a whole head of lettuce in a day to say you’ve had your veggies.  Have a little of every food group or flavor type, and your taste buds will feel fuller sooner.

b) There are self-help books that talk about how what we eat impacts both physical and mental health.  Look into Ayurvedic medicine, the use of herbs and various food groups to address internal issues like nerves.  I’ve heard pumpkin seeds and shrimp are good for countering nerves, but I’ve seen minor results, at best.

c) Know your body type.  Some people are just genetically built to change weight/shape as the seasons shift.  Some, like me, don’t gain weight much because of a hyper metabolism.  Others are designed to be stout.  Once you know your type, accept it.  [I would presume this is a step to that “self love” requirement, but it’s not often someone will address it this way.]

8) If you haven’t already, consider looking into astrology and figuring out who to avoid, who to approach and what you can do to appeal to those you do approach.  You might be surprised by what clicks with another person, finding new connections/commonalities.  I personally find the subject full of possibilities and creatively inspiring.  But, that may just be because of my “sign.” 🙂

9) When all else fails or seems too complicated, don’t forget to take deep breaths and blow the negative thoughts and clutter from your mind.  I’ve had many bouts with panic attacks.  [Another topic for another time.]  Some nights, I’d go to bed worried I’ll forget something important that just crossed my mind.  I need to have faith and tell myself what matters will be there when I wake.

10) Art is often my therapy.  I can craft in many forms.  There is no specific yoga pose or martial art I have to follow.  I just have to pray for creative inspiration and appreciate it when it comes.  There’s a whole study on the use of mandalas and adult coloring books you might investigate.  Or, try what my family call “doodle challenges” in which one person draws a line or shape, and another (or yourself if you really must do this alone) turns that shape or line into something.  It’s sort of like finding shapes in the clouds.  [This is not directly helpful to dating, but it may be good for clearing the distressful clutter from your mind/heart.]

[I’m sure I’ll think of more and reconsider some of my verbiage in good time.  🙂  Again, if interested, I’m willing to compare notes via email and, eventually, other means.]

 

I normally copy this to a special blog page I created as an archive.  But, it doesn’t seem to be working, today, in case anyone wonders why the response isn’t there (or the link here).]

28
Feb
17

My Response to “Bored Life in Wisconsin” (Dear Abby)

*****
You can find my response to this and other letters on the designated page. But, while you’re here, have a read.

Bored Life is a fifteen year-old teenager suffering from a mix of social anxiety and depression. It’s uncertain if this person is a boy or girl. But, they are clearly at a crossroad in life, lacking friendship and comfortable chats with peers, questioning acceptance of their chosen hobbies, wanting desperately to improve their situation. [I didn’t know kids (or “young adults”) still play Dungeons and Dragons.]

Abby suggests joining some groups to stimulate social activity. And, that’s sound advice (even I have yet to follow). But, I suspect this teen is resistant to joining (as I was/am). And, that may be why he/she is having such difficulty. I will speak from experience and, hopefully, provide some reassurance. But, considering my ongoing struggles, I can’t promise much. Still, it may shed some light on the paid advisor for future cases.

————–

Bored Life? I’m going to give you more than something or “anything.” Not just advice but also some of my own experience with what you are facing.

Lesson number one. Don’t ever say you’re bored or boring. Because, to the people that matter in your life, you’re not.

As I read your letter, I am checking off all the points that may match not just my teenage years but also my adult life. Repetitive schedule (including the details you gave)? Check. Depressed? Check. Inability to drive? Check. Trouble talking to others–aka social anxiety–double check. Parents that don’t go anywhere/do anything to stimulate your mind…nor, apparently, your bond/relationship with them? [Which may be something we want to discuss, later.] Double check. No friends with whom you can hang out/feel at ease with in person? Double check and an exclamation point!

Right now–and for who knows how long–you don’t have a “crowd.” You don’t have your niche. You’re a rare purple song bird in a forest full of blue and pink ones. You could perch next to a group and give your two cents. But, that would leave your comfort zone. And, once out of that comfort zone, you fear you’ll get hurt. Right? Who or what will protect you when you are completely exposed to the public and responsible for your words/actions.

Let’s tackle those key notes separately.

1) Your comfort zone/crowd.
This is what suits your desires/interests. It’s what you feel most at ease doing. This includes those “boring” activities you indulge, homework and drawing. When you get older, people start associating this with a career and raising children. Those become zones into which people lock themselves and struggle to escape. Some run away, producing single parents and questionable resumes.

Here’s the first ray of light I’d like to shed your way. What may seem boring today could be seen as a sign of dedicated study and achievement, later. And, perhaps, in the future, your work will pay off with attracting the niche crowd you’ve wanted, allowing you to filter out those who are not what they appear. [And, there will be your share of those, as well.]

Surely, you are not the only person in your world who is focused on homework, drawing and video games. Quite likely, there are others who are just about as secluded as you. And, that is why you don’t see each other or pair up. You are in your own corners, feeling similar doubts and concerns. Yet, even though you may have the same interests, there’s also the matter of personality differences.

2) Fear of painful exposure.
When we aren’t naturally adept to or taught at an early age to socialize, it becomes more and more like a stiff joint we haven’t moved in a while. It’s painful and/or difficult to stretch. It feels alien and uncertain, scary, even. What if we make the wrong move and do more harm? Leaving one’s comfort zone, trying new things…these can become painful to imagine. And, who doesn’t want to avoid pain?…except maybe those who preach “No pain, no gain.”

There are those that seem to make life appear easy. Jocks flock with jocks and hide any emotional responses they may have. Glam queens gab with other glam queens, and one is usually prettier than the rest for a reason. But, just because these people hang out and/or play together doesn’t mean they’re good friends. They may be avoiding your discomfort simply by staying busy. When they go home, life may not be as fun as they appear in school. School becomes their escape from solitude, family troubles and responsibility. It’s a different sort of comfort zone that seems high risk to people like you and me. It’s the fast lane while we coast in the slow lane.

3) Responsibility and taking chances.
Even I will admit (though I’m genetically inclined to deny) I have moments when I don’t want to be responsible for what happens. Companies satisfy this fear by posting “disclaimers” and “warnings,” all manners of fine print to ward off punishment should their business fail to satisfy the consumer and/or do greater harm. There may be something in the human genetic matrix that detests responsibility. But, if you know anything about Spider-Man, you likely know what Uncle Ben taught him.

Our great power is being the dominant species of this planet. Our responsibility is how we wield that power. We cannot be entirely careless with our actions. What we say and do impacts others.

Yet, we cannot take NO action or risk, either. If we try nothing, we achieve nothing. [But, don’t be so quick to dismiss what you DO try. Sometimes and some people will think you do nothing when, in fact, you ARE doing something that just isn’t apparent.]

One of the hard lessons of adulthood is taking steps to make progress (or even maintain what already exists) and being responsible for what results. If something goes wrong and it’s genuinely our fault, we need to take what comes with this negative result or defend ourselves if the punishment seems unjust. There will be other times when what occurs is just coincidence or cosmic fate, an “accident” we may not have been able to prevent. And, we need to learn to “roll with the punches;” accept failure or lesser achievement, regroup and try, again.

As I say, I am in a similar rut as you and not adept to making improvements/changes. But, many years after being in your shoes, I’ve gathered various tidbits of insight, therapy and wisdom from various sources. Right now, you’re at the start space on the board game of adulthood. Or, maybe, three steps from the start. I took a bit of a detour along one of those chutes or ladders and am not much closer to the finish line. But, I feel “wiser” for the experience. And, every step outside my comfort zone I am able to make, I get a tiny bit less afraid…even if I sometimes meet with what might be seen as disaster.

If I may, I have a few questions I hope aren’t too bothersome.

1) Who got you interested in Dungeons and Dragons? As I said earlier, I didn’t think anyone (especially your age) still played such games. I thought that was reserved for people from my and older generations.

I myself never played but have studied maps and guides. They were sources of artistic inspiration in my youth. I can remember being about seven or eight when I drew a picture of a warrior fending off “yellow mold” (and “black pudding” in another drawing) with a spear or sword.

2) You’ve NEVER had a crush on anyone? I could see not kissing or dating. But, not even a strong feeling about another person?

I had those feelings as early as four years old. I was given some unpleasant labels in my youth and in my teens which did not help me make friends and made approaching the concept of a romantic relationship almost impossible. I knew I wanted more than friendship with at least one girl. But, neither my parents nor my peers were any help in making my wishes come true. Instead, they made life more difficult and made me curl up in my “corner.”

Granted, there was one kid in my class who seemed the sort you claim to be. He had no interest in girls. Nor was he admittedly gay. I’d call him asexual because he was obsessed with annoying details in everything and never once said anything flattering about a boy/man or girl/woman, never showed any interest. If you asked him about such feelings, he’d pick a verbal fight and insult you.

There may be a strange blessing in this absence of “passion.” You could be spared the trials others face because they cannot control their “lust.” You could avoid the distractions and penalties (unplanned parenthood, for one) and get ahead in other areas of living. Then, down the road, those feelings you’ve been without might surface (at “the right time”). Yet, you are feeling discomfort because this difference makes relating to others less likely.

You make a point of mentioning how having feelings for someone can be a big part of interacting/talking with peers. [Can I just say I have not known any teen your age to even use the word “peers” in a sentence? That strikes me as unusual, too. I’d say “classmates,” “fellow students” or “other kids in my school.” But, peers?]

And, I can relate to that, too. I am pretty sure that’s why I was given the labels I received; I didn’t feel comfortable talking about “banging” that girl/guy or how much I wanted to grab some girl’s breasts. [Nor could I gossip about past relationships I didn’t have.] I felt guys who did this were juvenile. I didn’t necessarily say or think I was better than them–as many would argue against me–but I didn’t want to be like them. I chose a different path and was humiliated for it.

My struggles were amplified by factors I never saw coming. I was outnumbered and overwhelmed. I was at war with family. And, all of that slowed down any progress I could make so badly that I could see everyone else walking away and getting ahead in life. I continue to question my decisions and why I had to fight those battles. Could I have avoided the conflicts somehow? Could I have ignored the “jerks” and focused better on those who mattered? Why did I make the decisions I made?

I seem to recall writing a letter like yours back when I was your age (except I made it clear I had feelings for a number of girls and was distraught for losing contact with at least one). I did not find or receive any response. Hopefully, you’ll find my words and get some good out of them.




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