From what I have seen, there’s something we’re all obsessed with and before you go there, its not sex. We all want to belong and at the same time, we want to be special. I want to be special. I want to be special to myself, and I also want to be special to the psychiatric wards at all hospitals. I would also settle for being special for people I consider to be an important part of my everyday life. When I think about people on at least a weekly basis, and I don’t think twice about doing something for them, and saying nice things to them while I’m drunk, I would very much like those people to think of me as someone special. Its about the same logic as “Unforgettable” which not coincidentally, is one of my favorite songs.
We all want to be liked by the people we like, right? And I think at some level, all of us are afraid that it’s a trick – that you’re one of the unfortunate people whom friends talk about behind your back. That one day, you’re going to turn a corner and everybody is going to be there, like its an intervention, and it begins with, “We’re all here because we abhor you and think you should stop trying to do anything.” At least I feel that way sometimes, and Charlie McDonnell and Michael Aranda and Hank Green, all assure me that its not an abnormal feeling. That doubt is a part of the lifelong process of creating yourself from scratch every day, every week, year after year, with person after person. But then, I suppose when you really get down to it, this idea of everyone you give two fucks about dispassionately informing you of their indifference and their loathing is one of the doubts with a capital D. As far as I’m concerned, the only doubt bigger than that one is my own massive doubts about my capabilities.
To wit, I will be figuring out as I write about the many neuroses I have. I will intersperse this with neuroses I believe other people have more than me. You can play a guessing game and figure out who has the most acute case of each of these. This way, you can follow my example in not ending up in the green pastures of insanity, and merely have a rest stop in the hills of absurdity. I know you’re at the edge of your seat with excitement. You should take a Xanax. I’m watching Silver Linings Playbook as I write.
The first major fear is of course the one I spoke of just now. The fear that everyone I like will one day turn around and inform me that what we had is not really worth any time and they don’t really care. For the few friends who do read this blog, let me assure you, this has nothing to do with you. As with most problems that concern me, this is all about me. I have this fear from early adolescence. I think everyone does – I just have a bit of it left over. Don’t get me wrong, its not something I worry about every day. More like on a quarterly basis, or around times when I feel useless and I subconsciously project that onto other people.
I deal with this by remembering all the times I have been an asshole to my friends. This makes me feel better because it reminds me that my friends have stuck around when I’ve been a huge pain, so logically they would probably stick around for normal days when the only thing wrong is that the moon is in the wrong place in the sky. Or that you feel like an ugly person. Another thing that helps in this situation is this thing called sleeping. Self doubt is self doubt, but doubting your friends usually comes around when la vie is not en rose (I know that’s probably incorrect usage – blogger’s poetic license to desecrate languages) and you really need some serotonin. Also, watching Grey’s Anatomy and crying deeply helps.
Chop chop to the next neuroses – fear that all people I come in contact with can see through bravado into the part that makes me want to curl up in the fetal position sometimes. This of course has a lot to do with career plans. I am very afraid of what will happen what with unconventional and risky career choices and sometimes the fear is a bit paralyzing. It’s nothing like the fear of not knowing what you want to do when everyone else seems to, but still pretty bad. Add to that the people who seem to think you have it together, and the fear that they will find out how afraid you are is a pretty toilet feeling. One way of dealing with this is to be loud mouthed and vocal. Pretend you have it covered and that you’re never afraid. Make sure everyone notices you as you do things that exhibit very clearly that you don’t care, you’re not afraid and you have everything under control.
While there is some merit in this strategy, it could backfire very easily if one is surrounded by people who are able to observe you for more than two days. After two days, if you’re still too loud and obnoxious, people in their amateur shrink ways will know you’re full of shit. I recommend a different strategy to get through this – ignore it, keep working at what you have to work at, and tell jokes about the fear. It helps because then people know it exists, you don’t have to hide it, and you’re not deluding yourself into believing that people can’t see you’re nervous. My personal favorite is – “I’m meant to be poor. It’s practically a requirement in my future career as ‘struggling writer’”.
I’m constantly afraid someone will find out when I’m going commando. Its something I do every now and then to take the edge off. Underwear is restraining and sort of purposeless if you’re twenty two and have some basic hygiene. I recommend a long loose sweatshirt for this.
I’m afraid people will find out about white lies I have told in the past, whether its in exaggerating stories or lies I told to excuse myself, including but not limited to – “My parents refused to let me”, “No, I’m sure he’s a nice person”, “Sure, I like your boyfriend”, “I can see why other people are friends with him/ her”, “I read that book”, “I have to go because I have to go pee”, “I don’t really care”, “I don’t like porn”, “I’m sick so I can’t do that”, “No, I never fantasized about that”.
For this, there is nothing you can do. You can not lie as much, but that’s just crazy. If and when shit hits the fan with one or more of these lies, the best thing to do would be to own up and immediately apologize if need be. Or you could make up an even more elaborate lie.
I’m afraid I’m not as smart as I’d like to be. One day, I’ll realize that all the things I have cultivated and trained my brain to be good at are useless, a sham. Even worse, that the things I think my brain is actually good at, its not really good at. Which basically puts my whole existence and perception of myself into question. The way I deal with this is to read a book.
In this unfortunate and unimaginative world, people ask me only too often why I read books. The answer I came up with recently was taken from Paths of Glory – because it’s there. But it’s a bit more than that. I read because when I read, I understand more about anything and everything than when I listen to someone speak. When I read, I understand the significance of my life and the insignificance of it in the measure of billions of years of lives lived.
Reading means that I find out how people thousands of years before now thought and felt and did things like I did, and it also means I find out what is unique about me. Reading means I find information and it also means I find people, even those who are not real or dead and buried, who felt like me and thought like me and made the same mistakes as I did – which means that I’m not alone. Which means that I’m only as smart or as dumb as anyone else and I really don’t have to be afraid. Really, reading a good book or watching a good movie is a solution to all neuroses.
Also, there’s alcohol. And music.
I finished Silver Linings Playbook. The strangest thing about that movie is that I can’t find anything wrong with it and I want to watch it again and again. Note that I didn’t say it’s an excellent movie and I loved it and it gave me goosebumps at times, which is what I say about Les Miserables. I liked watching Silver Linings Playbook and there was no part of it that I didn’t like. This has never happened before.
I’m currently reading a really old copy of O. Henry’s short stories. It smells amazing. I also love how there are some lines in stories that you know are going to be special – “It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.”
I may not be able to write something tomorrow. I’m dull and bored.