A friend at work just got hired at the Post Office. Good for him and I’m glad he’s gotten out of UPS. Sadly, he only found this out Wednesday and he starts next Monday. Wow, so much for the two-week notice. So much for giving the rest of the crew time to actually adjust to this guy leaving soon. Two full work days and he’s gone! It’s kind of shocking really.
He’s a cool dude, and over the past year I’d like to think we’ve become pretty good work buddies. He’s one of the guys that I was going to miss with our dreaded crew shift change this week, and I guess I get to miss him some more because he isn’t even going to be there after tonight. Eh, enough crying from me; I really do wish him luck and am glad that he’s found something bigger and better. I always admire when people live up to their potential. Not that his potential is to be a Postal Worker but I hope you get the idea. He’s moving forward in life.
I like to get people going-away gifts if I care for them enough and can actually think of something to get them. The last time someone left I bought a fifty-pack of Pilot G-2 pens from Amazon; she was leaving to be a hot-shot supervisor and what better gift for a supervisor than a metric fuck-ton of G-2s! (I only use G-2s, preferably the 0.03mm G-2s. The 0.05mm ones are fine while the 0.07 and 0.1mm pens just have too fat of a line when you write. They’re smooth, but they’re sloppy. I’m not joking here either: I only use G-2s and refuse, REFUSE! to use any other pen. You can take your shitty Bics and fuck right off because I have about three G-2s in my pocket at all times.) Despite this, I couldn’t really think of anything to get this guy. Nothing at all.
Then inspiration struck like lighting. Where do thoughts come from? No one knows, they just kinda appear out of nowhere and you have to be aware and lucky enough to grab one out of the ether when it appears. It’s the essence of creativity! My great idea: Skittles and Gardetto’s. Seriously.
The past few months at work we’d sit in the crew van and eat Gardetto’s and Skittles. They’re somehow the dream team of vending machine snacks. You eat the salty Gardetto’s and wash them down with the ever-so-sweet Skittles. I don’t know why this combo is so damn good but it is. We bonded over our love of Gardetto’s and Skittles!
After therapy I drove to Schnuck’s to find two massive bags of these snacks, the bigger the better. And what better place to go than a legit grocery store? Apparently I was wrong. I only found a couple of ‘large bags’ of Gardetto’s; 8.6oz bags containing a measly eight servings per bag. I bought two of these because they were so damn smaller than I wanted. The candy aisle was even more of a letdown; they didn’t have any large bags of Skittles. What the fuck Schnuck’s? What a shitty fucking store. I wasn’t about to buy the smaller vending machine sized bags in the checkout lanes and was also stubborn enough to not give up. I had only two hours until work to find a big fucking bag of Skittles and I was more determined than I’ve ever been. No one was going to fuck up my plan. No one.
Onto Walmart. Luckily Walmart being a total dogshit store has a massive selection of candy and chips. Schnuck’s is too far up their own asses being a proper grocery store to stock total bullshit items like bulk bags of Skittles. Walmart (for the first time in my life) did not disappoint. I found my big bag of Skittles — a whopping 1lb 11oz bag with who knows how many servings and calories — as well as a bigger ‘family sized’ bag of Gardetto’s. Mission Fucking Accomplished.
So this was kinda a silly and stupid post, but please appreciate how even your best and simplest ideas and plans somehow get fucked up. I’m not trying to get into a big spiel about how hard work and persistence is the key to success, but that’s actually what I’m saying. Look at me, today I’m the perfect example of it. I faced untold hardships and struggles and somehow accomplished my dream of getting a giant bag of Skittles and Gardetto’s for my friend’s last day of work. He’s gonna be eating this shit in his mail truck for weeks!
Yesterday I accidentally posted for the fourth day in a row. As before I wasn’t trying to start a blogging streak and was posting crap when I had it finished. Not drinking has put my brain into overdrive so I’m just kinda going with whatever mood I end up having. Todays mood: lethargic. I don’t really want to post anything and don’t think I have anything to post. It’ll be fun to see what happen though.
Yesterday was my first day back at work after having a week off for vacation. Yesterday was also the first day of out ‘new and improved crew rotation schedule’ and that put my anxiety into overdrive. You know how people say your mood dictates your day? Like if you’re in a good positive mood you’re more likely to have a good day? Well, first problem right there; my mood was shit from the start.
My friends tried to talk to me in the parking lot but I didn’t have much to say. I tried to carry on conversations but a week away from these people made me unable to talk to them properly. I felt like some stranger who just randomly showed up in the parking lot. That I didn’t really belong.
I’m always anxious after coming back to work from taking time off. You wouldn’t think you’d adapt to being away from work for only a week but you do. I walked in feeling like I had no idea how to do anything; it felt like ages since I was there when in reality it was only nine days. My Supervisor’s Supervisor asked me if I could train another employee how to marshall in an airplane. This is where you have two wands and wave your arms around to tell the airplane, a large cargo jet aircraft, where to park. I said, “You know I’ve been on vacation last week, are you sure you want to trust me with this? I forgot how to do everything out here.” Not really, it was my lack of confidence and anxiety at work, but I didn’t really want to train anyone on my first day back.
We got split up into our new crews and I sulked away from my friends without saying anything to go to my new crew. Another anxious surprise awaited me; my supervisor wasn’t even there! Not only was I working with a bunch of strangers/people I don’t like, but we didn’t even have a supervisor. As someone who likes order and knowing exactly where they’re supposed to be (I’m insecure as fuck) this was awful. What were we supposed to do? Just roam around without direction and find stuff to do? Luckily our Supervisor’s Supervisor took us for the first half of the day.
(Fun story: At this time we were having a ‘meeting’ going on and in my stressed-out state took a hit from my vape. We are not supposed to vape out in the open, but I needed my nicotine! One of my new crew members is a lady who’s been there for probably twenty years. She said, “Are we allowed to do that out here?” aggressively and I knew I fucked up. I said, “No…but…eh?” and she didn’t seemed too amused. It’s always fun pissing off your new crew members within the first ten minutes of work. It really cemented the vibe of the day.)
I sat in the back of the van while Supervisor’s Supervisor sat in the front with this other dude. He’s like 20-years-old and always in a positive mindset. Always happy and talkative. Apparently this guy has never drank, did drugs, been stressed, or been depressed ever. He’s just one of those guys seemingly immune to mental health problems. We probably don’t have a lot in common. He also likes country music (which I despise without any good reason) so we got to drive around and listen to that. I’m on a big Green Day kick currently, my mood is shit, and I quit drinking a week ago. I’m depressed and stressed and insecure. Country music is near the top of my ‘ten things I can’t deal with right now’ list. He’s a cool enough guy but the country music was killing me slowly. It was like an annoying paper cut on my finger that, while not too bad on its own, just made everything else in life slightly more miserable.
They did their best to talk to me but I was zoned out and depressed and couldn’t be bothered to actually carry a conversation. I replied with quick one or two word replies. I appreciated the effort from them but I wasn’t in the mood for socializing.
Break was also trash. I went back to my “old van” to see my friends. It was fun to know that you can imposter syndrome yourself with friendships as well; I never knew that was a thing! I hopped in with them, sat in the back, and noticed I didn’t lounge around like I used to. I wasn’t relaxed. I was tense. I was on edge. I sat upright on the very edge of the seat closest to the door and kept my head down. I was acting like I didn’t belong, like I wanted to be invisible, that I wasn’t supposed to be there, that these people aren’t my friends anymore, and that I’m intruding on their space. I had my own crew and van and it wasn’t there. It was twenty feet behind us and maybe I should get out, sit by myself, sulk, feel bad for myself, and listen to country music?
It’s depressing because I know that’s exactly how I am. One of my friends (one of them in the van) mentioned that whenever she feels like she’s going to be abandoned she will cut ties first to save herself feeling abandoned and damn if that isn’t spot on for me as well. Ever since we got the new rotation list I’ve wanted to cut ties with these people and isolate as much as possible. But I’m well aware that this is good old Jeremy sabotage tactics and I’m never happy when I’m inevitably successful. A tiny part of me was saying, “No, they’re your friends; quit acting like everyone hates you! You took a big step by inviting yourself into the van, not being awkward, and just being around people! Good job!” It’s a very tiny, weak voice, but I guess it’s good I hear it in the first place.
I started talking a bit and acting like my regular old self and then their supervisor showed up and I had to get the fuck out.
And the rest of the night was trash but whatever. By that time I had no expectations to be crushed. I found my friends at the timeclock after our plane left and took the ride to the parking lot with them. I didn’t say anything feeling like the imposter again — the only guy in their van that wasn’t actually on their crew, some bum just hitching a ride because they don’t want to walk — but tried to feel like I was doing something right. Taking some sort of risk or going outside my massive comfort zone to actually improve myself.
I have another hour until I have to head on in for Day Two of Shit Week. My mood is mildly better than yesterday. I always have anxiety about going back to work so part of it is expected. The first day of anything new, like the new crews, is also the worst; at least I have some idea for what to expect today. Thanks for listening to this rant guys. I know I usually don’t post rambly journalesque shit but it’s kind of therapeutic to write about the shit that bothers you the most.
There was a time when I thought I was a closeted extrovert. For those who don’t know extroverts are people who get their batteries recharged from social interaction. They’re the people that sit at home bored losing their minds and then go hang out with people to pick themselves up. There were a few times where social interaction put me in a manic mood, like when you have a deep conversation with a friend or really connect with someone. Maybe that is me? Maybe I’m an extrovert?
I always thought I was an introvert because I was shy. But shy and introverted are two different things and I suppose you can have shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. (Who the hell are those people anyways? Anyone have examples?) Also being introverted doesn’t mean you hate social interaction and I think this causes a bunch of introverts like myself some problems. I love social interaction but end up thinking something like, “But I’m introverted. I don’t like people. Why do I feel lonely?” You can see where the problem is hopefully.
After this week I’m certain I’m an introvert. I’ve been as close to a social butterfly this week as I possibly can be and I’m exhausted. Part of it is probably due to not drinking and recovering from that mess, but a lot of it is from socializing.
Therapy last Friday wasn’t good. I admitted to drinking and feeling miserable and noted how damn insecure I was about the upcoming shift change at work and possibly losing friendships that I cherish. She gave an obvious suggestion: keep in touch with them over vacation. You know, show that I value them as friends. That was my ‘homework’ assignment for this past week. Just be somewhat social and “check in” on my friends while I’m away.
What I found was eye-opening. I knew I had severe anxiety at texting people and I regularly won’t respond to a text I deem “important” for fear of saying the wrong thing, or not wording what I want to say perfectly, or maybe because I’m scared they won’t reply back. Sometimes I’ll need to be drunk to have the courage to reply, and that leads to “drunken-text anxiety” the following morning. Let’s make this clear too; these are just regular texts to friends and nothing more. Texting a love interest and having anxiety is understandable but I’m just an anxious mess apparently.
So I dove into texting and trying to hang out with a few friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I was forcing myself to reply to messages in less than a day and practiced just, you know, replying like a sane and relaxed human being. And you know what? It actually worked! By the end of the week I was texting and replying like a fucking champ with all the casualness in the world. If I didn’t get a reply, oh well, who gives a shit? The conversation was probably over anyways.
My friend from North Carolina moved back this week and I texted him asking if he needed help moving. He said that’d be cool so I drove over Thursday to help. His parents had already moved most of his stuff up to his second floor apartment and I only helped with a TV and it’s stand. His parents are super cool people so interacting with them wasn’t too bad, but the anxiety was still there. Hanging out with this guy is easy mode because he’s about the most outgoing and extroverted guy in the world. It reminds me of how extroverts in high school sometimes adopt the quiet, introverted kids to be their friends. But I’m proud I did some work to actually reach out to him and helping is always fun. As an introvert you can’t count on the extroverts to do the work all the time.
My wife and I drove to Davenport Iowa to see my sister and her girlfriend Friday. I need to write a post about how much I hate driving, or did my past drunken self already do that? We were only there for two hours and I was dead for about half the time, once again partly due to not drinking, partly due to the two hour car ride, and partly due to socializing. Shit, even socializing with my sister drains my battery. Meeting her girlfriend for the second time was also stressful, but she’s an extrovert (I think) and better at carrying a conversation than the other three of us, so talking to her was enjoyable, but still draining. I did my best to ask her about herself because introverts can’t rely on the extroverts to always make the conversation. We made it back home after another two hours and I sat on the couch dead for a half hour before jumping into Kerbal Space Program to recharge them batteries.
Aaannnd yesterday. I hung out with a guy I used to work with a decade ago. We have a fun backstory beyond that; we used to date sisters! I never talked to him at the time but he got hired at UPS and we became friends by association. “Oh, you’re the guy that’s dating my crazy ex’s sister. Cool!” Eventually they broke up so now we get to bond over having crazy ex-girlfriend sisters. Yeah, to hell with them.
He wanted to hang out two months ago but I blew him off and disappeared into the ether like I do. I texted him earlier this week admitting as much. “Hey dude, sorry I disappeared for a few months there but I’m on vacation this week. Want to get together and do something?” Man look at me, being the guy asking people to hang out! He came over today and we talked outside for an hour before grabbing some food. I tried my best to be “present” in the conversation but damn do I have almost zero energy to work with. My social battery came from a five-year-old phone apparently. We only hung out for three hours but once again I sat on the couch and just spaced out after he left. I’m so damn tired and exhausted even though I did nothing physical at all.
And there’s the whole visiting my Gramma/Uncle/Aunt/Cousin that I mentioned in this post. It was the same thing: an hour of mild conversation followed by me getting sleepy and lethargic and wanting to go home and play video games. But it’s family so it’s not that big of an achievement.
Achievement. Yes, I think that’s what it is. It sounds silly but a week ago I was stressed about vacation, being bored, feeling lonely, being forgotten by my work friends, and drinking to mask it all up. I sobered up and even if that was shitty and stressful by itself I still managed to face the anxiety and stress of social rejection and text people. It’s not that bad either; what exactly am I so worried about? And I really went above and beyond by hanging out with a few friends and family members that I haven’t seen in quite a long time. I think today I’m going to be a total introvert and just relax. Maybe read a book or play video games or garden of all things.
A few days ago I became legitimately depressed while playing Stardew Valley. It was both kinda funny and sad at how awful I felt over the game; I didn’t know whether I should laugh about it or feel depressed by being depressed by a video game, let alone Stardew Valley. This incident also shined some light on my own personality and the lack of self confidence I have in life. This post will probably be deeper than you might expect from a Stardew Valley inspired post, but here goes.
Here’s where I give a shitty overview of the game in case people don’t know what I’m talking about: Stardew Valley is a game where you farm stuff and live in a tiny village. You can talk to, befriend, and even marry some of the residents in the town. I don’t know how important all of that is to the main story of the game, but the game does stress the aspect of community, which freshens it up from being only a farming simulator. Anyway, it’s also a cutesy, 2D top down, “kiddie game” as one of my friends described it. This almost makes the incident worse because as stated it’s a kids game: It shouldn’t punch me right in the feels, especially as directly as it did.
There’s a community dance (The Flower Dance) that happens in the forest around day 25. It’s an optional thing to do so whatever, no big deal. I went to the dance because I’m trying to be the friendly new guy in town who is trying his damndest to fit in and be accepted in the community. I should also say that up to this point in the game I’ve been a very diligent and socially-isolated farmer: I’m toiling away in my fields every single day either chopping wood for fertilizer, planting/harvesting/watering the crops, or running into town to buy more seeds. While some people might be fucking around socializing in town all day, I’m trying to turn my farm into the most fantastic farm ever and give the community something to be proud of. Because fuck the JoJa Corporation and Capitalism in general. I’m all about seizing the means of production, even if I haven’t told Mayor Lewis any of my intentions yet…
So Jeremy who is the new resident of Stardew Valley — let’s call him in-game Jeremy — shows up to the dance and starts talking to people. Some of the townsfolk he sort of knowns, and others appear to be new faces. Mayor Lewis allows in-game Jeremy to decide when the dance should actually start (since the game sort of revolves around in-game Jeremy for some terrible reason. Unbeknownst to in-game Jeremy he is, in fact, the player character. The story literally revolves around him). After talking to most of the people, in-game Jeremy realizes that he can ask people to dance with him. Oh shit! He accidentally discovered this when he asked the emo gothic guy to dance with him. Luckily he said no but it was still awkward. (“Hey bro, you want to dance with me? No homo tho, I just think those skinny jeans look really good on you. Your ass is…wow.”) In-game Jeremy then proceeds to confidently ask the females, being picky at first but then growing desperate and asking anyone — even the trashy, alcoholic Pam but you can’t actually ask her — if they would like to dance. They usually replied with something like this:
“Oh! Oh! I’m sorry…I, er…have plans to ask someone else.”
“I’m flattered! But…no.”
“That’s flattering…but I’m gonna have to say no. Sorry.”
“I’ll be honest. I don’t want to dance with you.”
Holy fuck game, thanks for the hefty dose of rejection. So in-game Jeremy, with no one to dance with, finally walks up to Mayor Lewis and gives him the go-ahead to start the dance. In game Jeremy wants to just get the stupid-ass dance over with so he can head back home and go to sleep. He’s sick of these people, their rejection, and their unappreciation of him, his hard work, and his farm.
After the dance in-game Jeremy goes to his house and goes to bed. It’s night and there’s nothing to do. He almost thought about watering the crops before bed, but fuck the plants too, they can wait. In the morning, in-game Jeremy stares at the crops and doesn’t actually want to do any work, but he sure as fuck isn’t going to town today to socialize with those assholes. He doesn’t want to work on the crops but there’s nothing else to do with his life so he begrudgingly gets to work. Watering. Weeding. Planting. Harvesting. Urgh. Not that anyone appreciates it. “Fuck this place,” In-game Jeremy says as he toils in the fields the day after the dance.
A few days later, still feeling shitty but not quite as shitty, in-game Jeremy realizes that it’s Emily’s birthday, and that he should give her a gift. Maybe a flower? After he picks a few flowers and heads into town he stops and thinks, “Is she even going to like this? She probably won’t even give a shit if I give her a gift or not. If anything it’ll be the wrong gift and she’ll hate me.” In-game Jeremy goes up to the “shipping bin” where you place products your farm has created, and chucks the flowers into that. Emily has no idea in-game Jeremy was even going to give her a gift and goes about her day knowing nothing of the conflict that occured in in-game Jeremy’s head or the gift that she almost received. In-game Jeremy continues to sulk and overthink things as he tends to his garden daily. “Pretty sure all those fuckers hate me,” he thinks to himself.
The next day in-game Jeremy finally drags his ass into town. He ran into Haley, a young and beautiful blonde lady who lives in town. He tries talking to her, just to say “Hi” or “How’s your day going?” The game informed in-game Jeremy that:
“HALEY IS IGNORING YOU“
Jesus Christ, Stardew Valley is depressing as fuck.
In-game Jeremy then stops into Pierre’s store to find some rope for a noose, but sadly Pierre doesn’t sell rope. Not that in-game Jeremy has unlocked the noose-crafting recipe anyways. In-game Jeremy, as depressed as he is, is hopelessly stuck in the world with no way to escape.
While I was trying to strike a clear difference between me — IRL Jeremy — and my avatar in-game (in-game Jeremy) I found it kinda difficult to do in practice. When you play a game that is as absorbing as Stardew you kinda become the player character and this is a good thing. (“This game really makes you feel like Spiderman!”) While in-game Jeremy felt like shit over being rejected by everyone in town, it also became difficult for IRL Jeremy to also not feel rejected, even if there was no reason to feel that way. While IRL Jeremy was laughing at the brutal and consistent nature of in-game Jeremy’s rejection something inside was also being stirred around. The vague shadow of repressed memories, fears of total social rejection, and loneliness from high school/college swam at the corners of my IRL consciousness. What if everyone I know actually hates me? What do people say about me when I’m not around? Am I really as awkward as I think I am? Does anyone actually appreciate me? It was kinda scary. Faced with the “fun, kid-friendly” story and graphics of Stardew Valley, it almost seemed surreal in a way. This game was making me feel like shit about my own life and had me questioning all my real relationships and my worth in the world.
I also felt bitter and angry towards the damn in-game townsfolk; these people aren’t even real and I was pissed at them! Logically it made sense that no one wanted to dance with in-game Jeremy because he was the new guy in town who has only been around for 25 days (or like 2.5 months if you take Stardew time in terms of a year) and who wasn’t being social at all and made zero effort to interact with anyone. The townsfolk basically saw in-game Jeremy as a recluse farmer who never talks to people but then shows up and creepily asks every person available to dance. No shit they said no! If I was a video game NPC like these people I’d also say no too! In-game Jeremy — you socially-inept idiot — you have to make actual effort in relationships for them to work. And if that isn’t hitting things a bit close for IRL Jeremy as well. I found myself questioning how much effort I put into friendships and if I expect other people to do all the work. Or do I just show up and expect people to like me when I do nothing likeable at all? Do I show enough interest in other people? Or am I self-centered asshole that metaphorically is a recluse farmer who tends his fields all day? Once again I wasn’t expecting goddamn life lessons from Stardew but here we are.
I’m complaining here but you have to give the game credit: usually people play video games just to kill time, to have fun, or to escape the real world for a little bit. To feel some progress in a game world to counteract the utter difficulty and lack of progress in the real world. It’s a rare game that somehow acts as a mirror and puts yourself up there on display for you to analyze, especially if said game is usually viewed as a “kids game.” This allows you to lower your defenses and to be vulnerable without you being aware that it’s happening, and not realizing that you’re about to get utterly punched in the feels so aggressively that it resonates with your actual self. Stardew Valley made in-game Jeremy feel like a loser who would never properly fit in with the townsfolk even if he really wanted to, and that made IRL Jeremy also feel the same way, constantly searching for approval, community, and appreciation. The depressive mood didn’t last for long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was twenty minutes that I was not prepared for at all. It was an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t at all ready for. Fuck you Stardew Valley for being such a good game.