Tag Archives: Personal Growth

Values Suck

Last session the therapist once again stressed the importance of having personal values. It sounded dumb to me — of course I have values — but when I really try to pinpoint what those values are I don’t have much to say. I’ve already written about values and never really followed through with what I said in that post. I figured I’d get around to it later or something, actually pinpointing the values I actually hold, but I never did.

I always loved math for how clear and simple it is. You just follow the rules. Everyone knows how to add, subtract, multiply and it’s such a beautifully cold and rigorous subject that doesn’t leave any room for interpretation. Values seem totally opposite of this and I find myself struggling to find any real values I have. Do I even have values? Any values? Or am I just a blank slate of absolute nothingness? A strong value system seems so nebulous and undefinable that my brain struggles to process it. In some ways I think my brain is too logically-wired to even grasp the concept of what a value is, like I’m doomed to think in terms of logic, rules, precepts, theories, and postulates with zero ability to be abstract and/or creative.

It’s the same as always: personal growth requires you to go outside of your safe zone to make any progress. As someone as insecure as myself I’ve always struggled with this. It’s easier to sit in my safe zone than to take any risks or make any effort to progress, and the way you get over this problem is to have values to chase after.

An example from a few weeks ago. I said I was working the election, and I had reasons to do so, but was terrified by the newness of the situation and was losing sleep over the anxiety of it all. What did I do? I didn’t go. I cowarded out. I totally bitched out and didn’t go. My wife told me to go, that it’d be good for me and I’d grow as a person, but no. Fuck that. Let me sit in my state of failure. I’ll grow as a person in the future, but for right now let me wallow in cowardice.

And the second example: Friday at work we had training on a piece of equipment I’d operated for over five years. I’m basically one of the few experts at operating this thing, and it should’ve been natural for me to take charge and actually teach my 20 coworkers or so. But I’m terrified of people and talking and once again, like the election I cowarded out. I let my supervisor do the training (who had only operated this piece of equipment once) and said very little, hiding the massive wealth of information in my head out of fear of speaking in front of a group of people.

My point? Strong values seem to be the driving force to get you to actually do something new. Before the election I considered my values something like this: doing something for the greater good, serving a purpose greater than myself, etc. But apparently these weren’t strong enough to get me to go outside my comfort zone. The values weren’t powerful enough to make me grow. And with the whole training thing: isn’t one of my supposed values a love of teaching people and passing on my knowledge? Once again helping the greater good by spreading knowledge? And isn’t that why I want to be a flight instructor in the first place? Apparently, but once again these values aren’t strong enough for me to take risks and head out of my comfort zone even amongst people I work with, feel comfortable around, and ‘understand.’ It’s always easier to hide in cowardice and put personal growth and your values into the indefinite future, something that you’ll eventually get around to but never seem to actually do.

I had an appointment last Friday but my therapist apparently lives with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID. So she’s out and I didn’t get to elaborate on what I feel was a minor breakthrough over the past few weeks and I’m on my own for a month or so. But I’m feeling confident going forward.

One thing she always seems to force me to do is make some sort of goal or mantra for the next few weeks/month. It makes sense — if you give yourself a goal you have something to work towards, some direction — and in her absence and with no direction I think I’ve found something to hold onto, something that I can legitimately call a “value” I hold: Don’t be a fucking coward. I hate when others are cowards, seemingly unable to fix even the most obvious issues in their lives, and I silently scream to myself, “Just do what you need to do! Why are people so scared and terrified of progress and change!” Your feelings towards others have a way of forcing you to look into the mirror though; as much as I hate cowardice in others I have the creeping suspicion that I’m the biggest coward of them all. Cowardice is my way to hide in my safe space and to find comfort rather than be uncomfortable and grow. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long that it seems natural, but now that I think of it I hide in cowardice too much. It’s holding me back. Sure it’s comfortable and safe, but this isn’t the way forward in life.

Take risks, take chances, speak your mind, be true to yourself, whatever that means. Looking back on my life I’ve realized that I’m terribly lucky; any crazy idea I end up with seems to have worked at least slightly. There has been no massive failure or life-changing mess that’s occurred. Looking back I have the ghost of an idea that says, “I’ve got this. What’s my fucking problem?” Have faith in yourself and your intuition. Maybe you’re a damn hero in disguise, someone who can pull off whatever they set their mind too, and maybe I’m one of them if only I’d force myself to get around to doing whatever. There shouldn’t be any fear or terror in life. Sure everything is shit, but if it actually is shit, what’s the big deal about taking risks? Why’s the fear of failure so great when failure in life is everywhere? It’s just another thing you have to deal with, something as passive as the weather and rain, not life-threatening or failure-inducing, but only something you have to deal with.

Going forward I’m not going to be a coward. At least I’ll try not to be one. I’m not going to be scared of life, and if I am I’ll acknowledge it and move through it towards something greater. It might be the first value I’ve ever fully established but it surely won’t be the last. Don’t be a coward. Face life with the bravery and fierceness like Samwise and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Personal Flaws or Personal Strengths?

I see my therapist every two weeks now. It happened by accident a few months ago when she was off on vacation but we’ve kept to a biweekly schedule since. I think this is the plan all along, although I’m still new to all of this stuff. It makes sense if they think you’re improving that they ween you off of their support. As you grow stronger you don’t need them anymore and can function all on your own.

(Fun Fact: ‘biweekly’ can mean either twice a week, or every two weeks. I guess rely on context clues to figure out which one is being implied!)

I was surprised when I was able to stick to this biweekly schedule after the past two weeks. When I was picked up by the cops and hauled to talk to a counselor two weeks ago, they suggested I make an appointment with my therapist to help me work through my current predicament. I agreed to this but mostly so I could get the hell out of there. Not like they had any leverage over me once I left. After I hauled my camping supplies back home and started to drink heavily, I did think about scheduling another appointment. But no. Something in me was stubborn and wanted to face reality and my problems on my own, even if I was limping along in life with alcoholism. Maybe that says something good about my mindset; even in the depths of feeling like total shit I still had confidence that I’d get through it and I could talk to the therapist about it in a week and a half. That’s what I did and I saw her last Friday.

The thing I like most about therapy is how she doesn’t bark commands at me or tell me exactly what I’m doing wrong. It’s easier to get people to listen to you if you feel like they’re learning shit on their own. This is why arguing on social media never works; calling someone out on their flaws, even if true, won’t make them very receptive to your views or opinions. The therapist does this wonderfully and I wish everyone would someone adopt this technique. She guides me along and kinda hints at solutions but never tells me exactly what I’m doing wrong. She allows me to realize things on my own which really helps a person interalize their realizations.

This post is about one of these realization friday. Something about one of my flaws. About how I’m never happy and at peace. This is most relevant with relationships in this case, but it applies everywhere. I’m not happy at work; I think I can be happier elsewhere. I’m not happy writing because I think I could do a better job at it. Take this blog and my views over the past few months for another perfect example. One of my goals this year was to have 1,000 monthly views which I finally cracked last month. I think I ended with 1,200 or so. I was happy for a few days but then it disappeared. I did it, sure, but now what should I do? This month has over 2,000 views already, and think about that. I doubled my goal for this year and how do I feel about it? Perfectly fucking blah. I’m so happy and thankful, but I know it’s a temporary feeling. Those two writing awards I received years ago in college? Cool at the time, but so what? I haven’t won any awards recently so it seems silly to still feel good about them. Oooo, I finally got my commercial pilot’s license last July? Same thing as always; I felt good for a few days and then stressed out and wondered what my next step should be. As soon as I achieve something the happiness wanes and I need to do something else. I’m seriously never happy.

Now that I think of it, a friend at work asked a question that most people seemed to find very enlightening to think about. It went something like this. “Imagine you are 50. You’ve made all the money you’ve wanted to make. You’re happily married or in whatever situation you hope to be in. You’re drinking your favorite beverage on the porch in your dream home watching the sun either set or rise, whatever. Life is perfect. You’ve made it. What music are you listening to? What are you feeling at the time? What are your current thoughts?” I think there was more to it but this was a month ago so I forgotten about the details. The general gist should be fine.

The few people I heard answer the question actually answered it. I kinda frowned thinking about it and when asked said the premise was totally off for me. I knew I’d never have that singular moment where life was totally complete, finished, and I was content and happy. If I was in this spot I’d still be antsy always looking for some other project or goal to work towards. I’ve basically accepted this fact about myself: I’ll never be happy because I need goals to chase and such. Or maybe since I’m never satisfied I need goals to chase. I don’t know which one drives the other really, which one is the carrot and which one is the horse.

Enter the therapist appointment. I don’t know if she said anything, but I’m sure she did, and I came to the realization that, hey, wait, what if this major flaw of mine is a good thing? Something bothers me when I see people totally stagnant in life with no goals, dreams, or hobbies. I wonder if this bothers them. Do people really sit around and enjoy the weather? Do others really rest, relax, and chill? Really? You can even view it in a darker way as well. Think of hopeless alcoholics who drink daily working a job they hate and they just exist in that environment for literal decades. Does this bother them? And does it bother them enough where they want to change it? For some people this answer is certainly “no,” and this is frightening to me. It sounds like someone whose soul is dead and they’re only physically alive. Honestly, this was myself last week, but it wore me down. Something seemed off. Something within me didn’t like the entire affair. I was giving in to being lazy, giving into my current situation, giving up on life, and content with just existing as a drunkard with no dreams or goals. And I don’t want to be that way.

This flaw I have about always needing something else, if viewed correctly, or as the therapist mentioned “directed,” it’s an amazing gift to have. It keeps me from giving into the dreariness of life, or the blandness of not moving forward. It manifests in negative ways in relationships obviously, but knowing my tendencies could help me redirect the energy into a positive way. What I always thought was a flaw — maybe I just had to learn to be happy with where I am — also can manifest as a drive for more that if used right is an amazing gift that many others might not have. Sure this causes me a great deal of suffering, but so what?

Usually we view our traits as totally positives or totally negatives with little thought about the contexts we apply to them. Being “giving” is usually viewed as a good trait, but it can also be a flaw. If you’re so giving to others that you gladly give money away to bums at the expense of yourself or your family, this is bad. “Greedy” sounds bad, but it might also allow you to save money and have a large safety net of cash on hand. This might be old information for those wiser than myself, but I’m pretty happy I stumbled upon this little gem. So think about the traits you have, whether positive or negative, and try to see them from a slightly less biased perspective. Many of the negative ones might be awesome traits that can be used to benefit yourself and others. One of my flaws, always needing more, might be a blessing in disguise that I only thought was a flaw. It’s all on how you view and use your traits I guess.

Now the question is how to use this apparent gift of mine? Well, I have this blog post to show for my efforts. That’s a start…

Gratitude is Actually Pretty Cool

First, let me do a quick update on the state of my blog. After my streak last month I haven’t done a damn thing here in April. I think this is only the third or fourth post this month. I was prepared for my views to tank due to my lack of consistent posting, but the universe has decided to totally fuck me over once again and has me on track to maybe reach that mythical goal of 1,000 despite the minimal effort I’ve put into blogging recently. The past 25 days of April I didn’t care — I’d save my effort for another month to reach my goal — but now I find myself wondering if maybe I can pull it off with some desperate posting in the next four or five days. I suddenly give a damn again and I’m upset about it.

I’m proud of this though. I’m proud of myself. As much as I like to shit on myself, I can allow myself to be proud of it. And I’m thankful for those who stumble upon my content and actually read/enjoy it. Which leads me to the actual topic of this post: gratitude.

A friend at work who I consider my impromptu unofficial self-help/self-discovery guru started some fitness plan with a few other coworkers. Luckily I wasn’t included in the actual program because I’m a total slacker, but she was thoughtful enough to email me the .pfds of the program. If I wanted to I could get off my ass and ‘unofficially’ do the entire thing, but once again my motivation was/is shit and I couldn’t pull it off. And I don’t think I want to pull it off either. I have a hard enough time writing blog posts and stories to take on the task of getting my entire life in order. I’m a slacker and I fully admit to it, something about loving yourself despite your flaws.

The program seems to consists of three major aspects of health: eating right, working out, and getting your mindset straight. I’m sure you can imagine which one I put the most emphasis on. I think mental health is the cornerstone for any healthy life because if you feel like shit and are constantly depressed you can’t pull anything else together. You mental state is how you process the world — it is your reality — so even if you have the perfect life depression will make you blind to that fact. And while you can eat healthy or exercise when fighting depression everything is a constant struggle that you must use pure willpower to make any progress. For me at least, mental health always take precedence over anything else.

Not that all aspects of health don’t work together in synergy (God, I hate that word). Exercise as well as healthy eating can help your mental state. I also think everyone is well aware of what the need to improve on with those; sitting on the couch eating cheeseburgers all day is not healthy. Improving your mental state is really vague and hard to work on, a lot harder than not eating cheeseburgers/pizza all day.

I read the ‘gratitude’ .pdf and liked the gist of it. The reasoning behind it seems to be that if you start your day off by making a list and actually thinking about what you’re grateful for you’ll improve your entire outlook for the day. You put your brain into a positive mental state which sows tiny seeds that can grow throughout the day. Not that shitty things still don’t happen, but you’re much more likely to think about your gratitude and hold a positive mindset during these times if you’ve written down something earlier.

I used to sort of do these things on the drive to work. Kinda hype myself up for the day. Tell myself that it’ll be a good day, or look in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this. It’ll be a good day. Stop worrying.” In the bathroom a few days ago at work I looked in the mirror and said, “I look good today. I feel good today. Let’s do this.” Tiny shit like that. Obviously anything as spontaneous as this works somewhat, but not as well as anything with structure would do. This ‘gratitude journal’ seemed like the structure that I needed while having stumbled upon the general idea of ‘the power of positive thought’ earlier. Maybe I’d give it a shot.

So I did, begrudgingly. Listed three things I was grateful for. Listed two ways to make the day better. And came home from work and listed three things that were good during the day. And a singular way to make the next day better. Whatever. Bedtime, hours of Reddit, and eventually sleep as the sun came up. The following day I dragged my ass back to the computer to start day two. This time I made a dedicated .doc file for my journal and wrote the questions down so I could simply copy and paste them into the next day’s entry.

I knew it would work, but damn if it isn’t nice to surprise your persistent inner pessimist that it actually does work. It’s so uplifting after a “bad day” to sit down at the computer and uncover two things that actually were good about it. We fixate on the bad so much that it dictates our entire mood for some reason. Capping the day off by writing down two nice things brings your mind back into positive territory where you can enjoy the fact that good shit does infact happen. Daily, too. Wow, who would’ve thought? Days are always a mixed bag of good and bad, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad and you admit that it was a “good day”, but most of the time we only see the bad. By writing down the good you’re forced to acknowledge it.

And writing down positive things at the start of the day also helps, but in a more subtle way. You start the day by acknowledging the good you have and this uplifts your mood slightly during the day. I’m not going to say it fixes the day for you, but it does add that little edge-up on life that might make the difference between you totally spiraling into anxiety/depression/anger or letting it die and wither away before it really gets a hold on your mental state.

Today was the fourth day I’ve done it, and there’s another nice aspect of it; by plopping down at my computer to write things that I’m grateful for I’m setting myself up to actually write. The hardest part about writing seems to be getting the computer and turning it on, and a gratituide journal takes care of this for you. I didn’t really want to write this post, but I had my computer open and had already typed in the journal, so going to WordPress and actually writing was much easier.

As a challenge to anyone who reads this, what are you grateful for? See if you can list three things that you’re grateful for and see if your mood improves slightly during the day. And at the end of the day, try writing down a few good things about the day. Every day offers gems and it’s only our incessant focusing on the shit that makes us think there are no gems in life: every single day has gems if you care to notice them.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Conversing Sucks: Limited Conversation Points

Trying to conserve valuable ‘conversation points’ is a struggle.

Note: In the chase for record monthly viewers this month (I need about 55 more views), I’ve finally gotten my shit together and and posted two days in a row! Sometimes you just hit that stride where you write a blog post that flows so easily and wonderfully that it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. This is one of them, and why there is a new post so soon; I actually haven’t gotten my shit together.

I’m an introvert, and a classic one at that. I’m also a shy introvert and while most people think the two words are interchangeable apparently they’re not. But even knowing that I don’t think I’ve ever come across an obviously outgoing introvert and sometimes think they’re a myth. I don’t even know what a person like this would even look or act like. I’ve probably came across them numerous times and just never knew what I was supposed to be looking for. I rambled a bit there, but shy and introverted. That’s the type of person I am. INTJ. Possible Type 5 enneagram. But that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

I should also say that I have some suspected and undiagnosed problems with social anxiety. I’m always wondering how people are “supposed to act” and find myself overthinking any and every remotely social situation I find, or even imagine, myself being in. If anything makes this painfully clear it should be this very blog post where I’ve written 2,000 words about talking to people. This social anxiety has never been properly diagnosed so the degree and even the fact of it is questionable. I don’t know, but it sure feels like I have social anxiety and if I don’t I do feel sorry for those that do have real social anxiety. This also brings up that age old question of whether people are more alike or different from each other. Maybe everyone feels this way and I’m blowing it out of proportion? Or maybe it really is a problem with me as an individual? The only person’s brain I can be inside is my own.

I’m a firm believe of something like a “social interaction point scale” or whatever it’s actually called (I’m sure it has a proper name). The idea is this: we all have an allotted amount of social interaction “points” that we can use within a day and once these are spent, well, I don’t really know what happens. Maybe you shut down like a robot that ran out of electrical power where you can’t talk or interact at all. Or maybe you just get really moody and while you can still force yourself to interact you can’t “deal with it” anymore. You turn grumpy and bitchy and start yelling at people, being curt, or just giving them constant side-eye. This “point system” makes perfect sense to the introverts such as myself. After talking to people, especially certain people I work with, I find myself mentally and even physically exhausted. I feel drained. As for how this “point system” works for extroverts who are energized by social interaction I have no clue. Maybe social interactions add points while time melts them away. Like a clock always ticking down to zero. But I don’t know. Remember, stuck in my own head and all of that.

And the fact is that people vary wildly in how draining or invigorating they are to talk to. You have to give the diversity of people credit; with people you will never find yourself feeling like you ever “have them figured out.” Every single person I talk to is different and unique in their own way and I’m not talking about lifestyle, physical traits, beliefs, or whatever, even though all of these differences are real. I’m talking about conversations. Talking to a person is always a unique experience and there are always subtle conversational differences between even similar people.

Some people I can talk to enthusiastically and easily for hours on end; it’s like they don’t make a dent to my social interaction point total. These conversations are always interesting and fulfilling even if the topic being discussed is something mundane. It’s like something clicks between myself and the other person. Sometimes I even think these people might add points which sometimes throws my whole identity as an introvert into question. Maybe I’m an extrovert with certain people and it’s only others that I find draining? Hmm. And obviously on the other side of the spectrum are those unique and special people whom I hate talking to. They’re instantly draining and I can never pinpoint exactly why. It’s like our personalities are so goddamn different that there is no meaningful conversation going on at all. I will literally find myself spacing out while making the damndest effort to pay attention out of the sheer politeness of being a respectable human being. It’s not that I don’t want to pay attention to them, it’s that I literally can’t. My brain won’t allow it. It goes into rest mode. Sleep mode. Hibernation. Whatever you want to call it. My go-to example here is a conversation I had with a well-meaning lady at work a year ago. She literally talked to me for twenty minutes about how she did her laundry. Yes, laundry. How she separated the clothes based on color/shade, washed them, relaxed while folding the clothes, and found the entire process to be almost an escape from the hassles of everyday life. Seriously. I couldn’t take it. Twenty minutes.

And there are all the grey areas in between that you can dream of. Some people I feel submissive talking towards, they lead the conversation and are in charge, and other conversations I feel dominant in, the rare conversation that I lead. There are fun conversationalist, serious conversationalists, the people who like to constantly joke no matter what, or the people who constantly bitch about stuff. There are people who you can’t actually talk to but can only talk at, they provide nothing in the way of actual two-sided conversation. And there are some people who can only talk about themselves. No matter what, these people play a complex game of conversational chess to take any topic, sentence, theme you’re talking about and make it about themself in as little back-and-forth motions as required. Obviously they’re exhausting to talk to as the conversation is blatantly one-sided. And you’re not being paid therapist wages to listen to them whine, bitch, and complain either.

I used to deal with conversations I’d found myself stuck in just because it’s the right thing to do. People are people and you should respect them and whatever other feely-good bullshit you want to spout off. Something like they enrich the world. I believe this stuff — seriously — I’m just terrible at taking the high and noble road and actually implementing it into my actions. Basically the general theme of what I was bitching about in the enlightenment post; I have the right ideas and I’m just a terrible person in general. But lately I’ve had a twisted revelation that throws all niceness out of the window, a sort of blatant acceptance of who I am as a person, as douchebaggy as it is. Given my point system theory here, why would I want to sacrifice my precious and limited points talking to someone that drains them? Why aren’t I selective with my points? When there are a handful of people whom I love to talk to, why wouldn’t I save my points so I can spend them where I’m happiest? It isn’t a radical idea, but might be radical to me being as shy and introverted as I am, but I can actually decide who I talk to if I wanted or needed to. I’m not obligated to talk to anyone.

To hell if we don’t do this in every other aspect of life when it doesn’t involve people. I don’t sit down and watch random movies that I’m not interested in “just to watch them.” With books — especially with books as they require a lot of time — I don’t force myself to read things I’m not enjoying or slough through some bullshit book to prove a point. Video games, music, YouTube videos, and food, with almost everything we are immensely discriminating towards because we have no reason not to be. I’m not advocating staying ignorant and tucked firmly inside your comfort zone at all times, but you need to know what you enjoy and be decisive with the time that is given to you. You can’t piss your time away doing everyone else’s interests for them and no one expects you to. It makes sense and no one would shit on you for being this way. We’re picky about our time and we treat it like the precious resource it is.

And so back to conversations. We (or maybe just myself? Who knows.) aren’t very picky with how we spend our precious and limited conversation time/points and the only reason I see this being any different from anything else is because people are involved. Once again I invoke the “people are special, unique, and beautiful” outlook here that I agree with; it’s easy to stop reading a terrible book and there is no real personal insult to anyone by doing so but it’s much more difficult and possibly insulting to stop talking to a person because they’re awful to talk to. I don’t think it has to be this blatant thought, you don’t have to flat out tell someone, “Look, I just can’t talk to you right now. My mind is seriously shutting down and won’t let me pay attention to anything you’re saying. But it’s not your fault it’s mine!” That’d be terrible to do. But you know how conversations are; they’re fluid and chesslike, a game of back-and-forth and give-and-take where one thing you say leads the other person to say something. If you’re sort of aware and talented you can always find a way out of nearly everything. A convenient excuse to use the bathroom, or directing the topic away from something terrible to something more interesting usually works. Or passing your “conversational baton” to another person, swapping conversational roles with the unknowing, ignorant sucker standing next to you allowing for your selfish escape, your points saved up and your motivation mostly intact.

As stated at the end of this post, I have a friend who likes to rip my worldview apart in a fiery outburst of his usual optimism. When complaining about all of this to him, he pointed out that the places we feel most angry, upset, and awful are the places where we have the most room for improvement. This is the direction of optimal growth and possibilities. These things that piss me off, the boring conversations where my brain shuts the fuck off, are like a giant neon arrow sign saying, “Jeremy, this is where you need to go to have personal growth. RIGHT HERE.” If only I could face my fears, realize that this is something that just irks the fuck out of me, maybe I could learn to deal with it and grow as a person. What would happen if I got over my anger of talking to these certain people? Would I even have anything to complain about anymore? Could I learn to love and accept these people as they are? Maybe this is my path of personal growth and peace with humanity and the universe? Maybe.

But I just hate talking to certain people. And my points are precious. And maybe I’m just a terrible person because I want to drop these conversations faster than I drop a boring-ass book. Maybe I’m just not wired for it, and as the wise prophets on Facebook say, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.” I mean that in the most goddamn sarcastic way possible: I’m joking. That saying is stupid. Maybe I should sacrifice some conversation points in the pursuit of personal wisdom and growth. But damn is it difficult to do.