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The Debilitation of Loneliness

12 Nov

I’ve been in a very strange place as of late.

I’m currently more than half way done with the fall semester of my sophomore year at college and I’d been thinking that things have been decent overall, all matters of privilege and opportunities considered. I’m on route to discovering what I want to do with my life, I have a good amount of extracurriculars, and my classes are going reasonably well. But this whole semester, the same question has sprouted up, time and time again: who am I?

I’ve always held the belief that in life, you don’t find yourself; you create yourself. But I’ve felt such a disconnect lately from the things I’ve always told myself that I wanted, and what I am currently passionate about. I’m left feeling unsure of who I am, who I want to become, and how I can go about becoming that person.

Earlier today, I had a moment of stunning clarity: I am very lonely. I’ve only been slightly cognizant of this fact the entire semester, but shook it off because the feeling came and went and I told myself to focus on the moments when it was gone. But now I realize that when I step back and examine what my life has been these past few months, I haven’t been living; I’ve merely been surviving day by day. I became so complacent in my routine that I hadn’t even realized how meaningless it sometimes was. It was the mundane tasks that I occupied myself with; go to this class. Then go grab a to-go box for lunch. Then go here. Then you have some free time to spend in your room on the computer. Stepping back, it all seems so tedious and unfulfilling. I barely see the friends I made last year. Things have been rocky with the friends I had from before. My brain feels like such a jumble sometimes and I can barely figure out where to even begin in order to sort it out.

I don’t think I have depression. But I think because I have been subconsciously refusing to acknowledge how lonely I’ve been, the negative emotion has been leaking out in more general ways. I’ve constantly felt unmotivated, unenergized, and dulled down. I’ve been focusing so much on the exterior package of how others perceive me, and I analyze every aspect of myself constantly to make sure there are no cracks in the image. I’m so controlled that sometimes I feel like my body is a puppet, and I am observing myself interact with others within my mind and approving the things I say as I say them. When people ask me questions, such as how I am doing, sometimes I feel that instead of being genuine, I say what I want to be true, or what I think others will want to hear. I think I may occasionally answer that way because I don’t even know how I’m doing; everything feels distant and dulled. It all blends together as the same. I’ve been lacking passion and excitement, and I am now considering that this all ties into how I have been having less human contact lately, or at least meaningful human contact. I feel tired very often; if I were asked to take a nap at any time of the day, I would probably be willing.

Usually I try to write my blog posts in a way that allows me to vent and then wrap it up by considering some options to solve the problem. I’m not sure I know how to do that, though. The obvious answer is to make more efforts to spend time with friends, and seek out meaningful interactions as opposed to unfulfilling, fleeting moments. But I’m worried that I don’t really know how to meaningfully interact with others, at least not right now; how can I share with others the core of who I am, if I am not even sure of that myself? How can I describe my passions, my aspirations, and my day-to-day affairs if they just feel like words that spill from my mouth by habit, rather than interest?

I might write a follow-up soon, now that I’ve become cognizant of all this and can start sorting through it internally. I guess for now, I’m going to seek out more outlets to make my life meaningful as opposed to following routines that have become comfortable but aren’t fulfilling.

Floating

25 Oct

To be honest, the first thought that came in my mind when I decided to write this was “Ugh. Like clock-work, here comes my biyearly angst ridden blog post.” And still here I sit, at 1:30 a.m. in my dorm room, typing. And since I have yet to write a proper college post, I owe it to my (..3?) faithful readers to update as well as share (cough, complain about) aspects of my life now.

I’m doing well at college. Sure, my grades are a bit rocky right now, but at least I can connect it to my study ethic that still hasn’t quite developed. I want to read more and I’ve watched way more How I Met Your Mother than I’d care to admit in the past few weeks, but I haven’t hit rock bottom or anything. My classes aren’t awful, the food is decent, my dorm room has never felt more homey, and my social groups are diverse and interesting. Even the showers aren’t so horrifying anymore.

My problem, which is the root of this blog post, has more to do with my social woes. Before coming to college, I never really considered myself as shy. I knew that I wasn’t the best at making conversation, but I spent so much time being talkative around familiar people that I convinced myself that I was only a bit quiet until one gets to know me. But now that I’m surrounded by so many new people, I’m realizing more than ever that yes, I am the epitome of shy. Shy doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t know how to speak in front of others, or that they are terrified of others; this was the social norm I had been using to define the word to avoid its application to myself. But the truth is, shy simply means someone who is quite quiet unless spoken directly to, intimidated by larger groups and one to hold their tongue often in front of new people.

I’ve met a lot of people here at school. I’ve made a lot of friends, too. But the problem is that I don’t feel as though I’ve really connected with them. I’m starting to fear that by lacking the ability to hold proper, one-on-one conversations with people has given me a shallow relationship with everyone I’ve befriended so far. This may seem backwards, but because of my social ineptness, I’m more comfortable with a group of 3-6 than with only one other person. With a larger group (of people I know, of course), the tone is always light and joking. It’s always fun and there are more people to fill silent gaps. This definitely means that it takes much longer for everyone in the group to become close to one another, but that’s how I made all of my high school best friends-over a very long amount of time. When I have to be alone with another person, it makes it so much more difficult.

Watching other people develop close relationships so quickly, to tell the truth, has been extremely hard. Social groups have already gotten very connected, and social media makes it so much worse when every facet of new, deeper connections are shown off every day. I’m not a very open, vulnerable person (the thought that a new friend could be reading this right now makes me want to crawl into a hole). I can’t ‘share life stories’ or discover inner secrets a couple weeks into knowing someone; I expose myself a piece at a time, potentially over years. It’s not like I have some huge secrets to reveal or anything, but the idea of seeming weak or needy or even whiny to someone I don’t know that well yet is horrifying. I don’t like to attract attention to myself in general, because I could be judged or embarrassed or ostracized forever (this contributes to the initial shyness thing).

I like having a few, close friends, as opposed to a large group of distant friends. But in a community where it feels like (at least on the surface) every one else is making large groups of close friends, I don’t quite know how to handle that. I hate going to things, even dinners, that I wasn’t invited to. I hate hearing stories about places I wasn’t at, seeing pictures of people I didn’t hang out with, and even conversations I wasn’t made a part of. Intrinsically I feel like I should be trying harder, changing something about how I interact with others, but I also don’t want to try too hard. I don’t want to change my personality in order to achieve something. I guess now I have to find the line between going out of my comfort zone, and not compromising my true self.

Well, this was quite a long and venting rant post. I’m pretty sure a lot of random things got thrown in and it’s chaotic, and a little (a lot) embarrassing if it were to get in the wrong hands. But now I’m curious if anyone else has been in this kind of social standstill. Let me know if you also have trouble connecting with others on a deeper level, and feel free to let me know how you’re doing in general!

How to Always Have Enough Change

19 Aug

Via romanianmum.com

This is probably one of the most irrelevant and unrealistic posts I will ever write, but I figured it’d be fun to know and share with others. The secret to always having enough change for something isn’t in the amount of coins you have; it’s in the type of coins you have. Obviously no one is going to refill their wallet with this exact change combination every time they go shopping, which is why I said it’s unrealistic, but let’s proceed anyways, shall we?

The magic formula for always having exact change is the following:

4 pennies

1 nickel

4 dimes

3 quarters

The concept is simple enough; for each coin, that is the exact number of coins you need before it turns into the next type of tender. For example, if you had any more than 1 nickel, you would just use a dime. Therefore you will never need more than 1 nickel in your wallet, ever, so long as you carry dimes as well. I’m not exactly a rocket scientist for ‘coming up with this’, it’s just an obvious technique I picked up as a cashier. So if you ever find your wallet over-filled with coins and you don’t know which to keep and which to take to the bank, just keep enough to fulfill the magic combination!

And thus concludes the most random blog post I have ever written.

Thoughts Regarding Cory Monteith

15 Jul

This post is going to address the passing of Cory Monteith and my feelings about it; I know the topic is very sensitive still so please read with your own discretion. This blog has always been about venting my own emotions, never just commenting on recent events to get more views, so as a huge fan of Glee this post is likely to be all over the place.

As others have said before over and over again, it just doesn’t feel real. I’ve read about his death and I’ve seen the phrase “rip cory” probably hundreds of times by now, but the lasting implications of what that means is just impossible for me to grasp right now. I’ve gotten used to thinking, oh, he’s dead, but does that mean that from a week from now, he’ll still be dead? A year from now, still dead. Fifty years from now, still forever known as 31 years old, never to have married or had kids or become an even bigger star. The fact that he will forever and always be trapped in this week is inconceivable right now. And as this is my first glimpse of grief, I guess this is just a normal phase. If I think about the finality and truth of the situation, I break down. Just like I did when I found out, while still in a cloud of my dazed shock and disbelief.

And that might be another thing people have trouble with. Why am I so devastated? Well to anyone who may have been teased or met confusion for sobbing over a celebrity, here’s the thing. It’s okay to be upset. Being sad for a week or even month may seem ‘reserved’ for people you actually know, but celebrities and idols are people who are loved and adored. Just because they are a celebrity and you are a fan doesn’t mean that there’s a rift in the universe where you aren’t both just humans. There has been an actual death concerning an actual person. There are losses and we all feel them. We feel for his family, his friends, and his girlfriend. We feel for his work, his passions, his achievements, his sense of lighthearted humor, and his love of life. Gleeks, we are a family and we have lost one of our own. It’s okay to just not be okay right now, because he’s not just an actor.

To any of my irl friends who didn’t know yet, I have been devastated by the news since I heard yesterday afternoon. I’ll probably be depressed for a couple of weeks at the least as the truth of it really sinks in, and yes I’ll feel this way because a celebrity died. He was young and he had a wonderful life full of opportunities to live. But now all I can hope is that where he is now is at least as wonderful as he is.

Discovering the Secrets of the Universe

9 Jun

It has been approximately 30 minutes since I finished reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Santo. Since then, I have teared up, wiggled around in my bed, paced my house in the middle of the night, and felt the urge to write a blog post. I guess you can see how I ended up here in my basement at 1 am.

I guess you could say this book isn’t that remarkable. It’s pretty clear-cut and simple, but there’s a raw kind of beauty to it that makes you know that it isn’t something you can just pass by easily. The dialogue cuts into you as you read, the emotions are laid bare for you to soak up, and it just makes you feel. The message of loving someone wholly, on an emotional level before even considering a physical level, sneaks up on you enough that the ending is surprising but pleasing (The ending may also seem like a bit of a jump, but Ari isn’t that great at sharing his emotions, so maybe he wasn’t telling us about everything going on in that head of his). Ari’s tale of growing up as a teenager is laughingly dramatic at times (he’s perfect at being an angst-filled teen) but also so relatable and perfect at capturing emotions and experiences we’ve all gone through at some point, or will go through eventually.

When I first started reading the book, I texted my friend that this is such a great book to get into the mood for summer. Boy, what an understatement. This book is such a great book to get into the mood for growing up. I have the urge to do more things, to start living properly. The moment I finished, I thought that I wanted to write a review for it. I thought that I wanted to write a review for every book I ever read.

‘So in essence, become more like Thomas?’ I thought to myself. (I have some friends who you know, perhaps like me. They are all very intelligent and wonderful. Thomas obsessively reads, writes reviews, and then catalogs those reviews.)

Actually, what a strange and accurate thought that was.

Write more reviews? Check

Read more? Check

Write more in general? Check

Spend less time online and on television? Check

Workout more? Check

Think more, care more deeply about everything? Check

But even if I copy my friends actions, I wouldn’t be copying their personalities. I wouldn’t lose any part of myself or imitate any part of themselves through certain actions. I would still have my own unique and lovely personality. And I think that’s wonderful.

Okay, it’s still 1 a.m. and the thoughts this book has inspired may have turned a bit weird. Time to go to sleep and not try to find Aristotle and Dante fanfiction. Ante? Daristotle?

Alright, alright. Goodnight.

…Who?

4 Jun

In my school’s yearbook, there’s a superlative for “Most Memorable”. If there were one for “Least Memorable”, I would take the cake for sure.

I knew it had been happening all 4 years of high school, and perhaps all my life, but I really do just drift by wherever I go. I never go out of my way to make an impression, or add an input, or start a conversation, and that has led to me not having deep connections with the majority of people in my life. This especially pertains to people who are not same-aged peers at my school.

At work, I’m quiet. The most someone could describe me as is nice. When I received a customized letter from my teacher, it was filled with generic greeting card statements about how I am a “hard worker” and “quiet but observant”. At my orchestra senior banquet, as I was called onto stage to hear my personalized superlative, I got the “etiquette” award. After 4 years of having an orchestra teacher, the most she could say about me was that I was nice.

I know that it’s okay to not be comfortable reaching out to people to make connections. Going out of my way to establish relationships is not an easy thing for me, and I know it’ll get better over time. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting to see others be praised and lauded by respected adults who couldn’t say one unique thing about me if they tried. It still hurts when I can never be the creative one, the shining star, the one who they know is destined for glory.

I want to make something of myself. I want to be the kind of person who others look at and think, she will do something great with her time on this planet. I don’t want to be the quiet nice girl in the corner who follows the rules and absorbs others like a sponge. I want to be recognized as an individual who has valuable thoughts in her mind, that wants to make a difference. And yes, I already do have a pretty great head on my shoulders. But what use is it if it never leaves my head, to be shared with the world?

I’m going to college this fall. If I continue to be passive to the world around me, and passive to my education, I will never achieve success. Yes, I’ll get a degree, and I’ll get a job eventually. But I don’t want to be just another worker in the world, making the cogs spin smoothly in the factory of our lives. Call me selfish, but for once I just want to be more than a mere piece of the game. I want to be one of the main characters; the action figure everyone fights over to have. (Have I used one too many metaphors yet? No?)

It may be a superficial dream of mine that I’ve had since I was a child, but I sincerely do want to be acknowledged by others. It’s a vain thing indeed, but my self-confidence is raised not only when I do something great, but when others recognize that it was great. I have yet to achieve self-actualization, but you know, that’s okay. At least I can admit to myself and to strangers on the internet that hey, being lauded does feel great, and just because I feel that way doesn’t make me a bad person. It would also help to learn to accept praise from friends, even though I know they say nice things just because they’re pretending to like me they want me to feel better.

So, here’s to trying harder to not be afraid to be heard. To speak confidently, even though I might be wrong at times. To not be embarrassed when I make a fool of myself, because at least I stood up.

Hi there. My name is Shilpa. And don’t you forget it.

Inadequacy

15 Apr

My eyes scan across the page. My eyebrows furrow as I desperately attempt to remember anything pertaining to what the question is asking. The book thumps as I toss it aside, uncompleted as I’m already reaching for the laptop. My eyes are blinking back tears.

My thought process? I can’t finish the homework-heck, I can barely begin it. Answering another question would be having to mark another question wrong later. How can I finish something when all that’s left to do after is find out how horribly I did?

For those of you who read my posts regularly, you know that I’ve made quite a few posts about procrastination. It’s been quite a problem in my life. But hopefully it hasn’t come across as whiny; I am making an attempt to discover the root of my problems and how to fix them. I believe that a large part of procrastination comes from not wanting to deal with failure.

I grew up believing that I was intelligent; in fact, I believed that I was very intelligent. I didn’t have that many friends, I wore glasses, I had braces, and most of my friends didn’t score or test as well as I did. All of those combined made me feel like quite a nerd, and as part of the package I considered myself smart. But as I got older, the classes became harder. In high school, I found people who not only did as well as myself, but better. I happened to become best friends with people who others regard as literally the smartest people in our grade. I was no longer on top.

The second horrible mix to the equation-I’m a very prideful person. I may write more about this later, but I absolutely loathe showing weakness to anyone. I  always try to hide sadness or immaturity, and for some reason I can’t stand letting others know if I’m suffering. Maybe I feel that it makes me pathetic. Maybe I feel that I lose some dignity or self-worth, or that I become something to pity if I’m weak in any way.

So when I’m faced with challenges in school that I don’t think I can overcome, my pride takes over and I simply stop trying. Some part of my brain is saying, isn’t it easier to never try than to look someone in the eye and be forced to tell them that I’ve failed? That I couldn’t do it? That I wasn’t smart enough, or adequate enough, to do what others can?

When other students can finish a homework assignment in 30 minutes that takes me an hour to do, I feel like an idiot. I beat myself up over having to struggle longer and harder on what others can do with ease. For some reason, a part of me equates time and effort to intelligence. If I’m staring work in the face that I’m having trouble understanding, I avoid it rather than attempt it. If I actually try at something, it’s giving others the ability to see my weak spots and potentially judge me for them. It’s like a clear road map of right and wrongs answers for others, saying “hey, this is what you’re better than me at”.

Part of this problem has morphed from the way the education system has been structured, and part of it is simply from my own insecurity problems. But finding a flaw is the first step to fixing it. I know deep down that intelligence isn’t the most important thing in the world. But in our society, it’s insanely difficult to avoid stimuli that do nothing but reaffirm that myth. I also know that getting jealous of others or upset that others are better at something I used to pride myself on is ridiculously pompous and, well, douchy. So here’s to hoping that bit by bit, I’ll truly accept that my self-worth is not defined by a letter or a number, but that I’ll be darned if I keep stopping myself from learning.