You know when you just have ‘one of those days’? A day that starts with you oversleeping, when the slightest thing can send you into a tailspin and if you get 5 minutes to yourself you use them to pick apart your life and find all the blame you can get hold of and lump it squarely on your own shoulders… Oh, you don’t get those days? Just me then…
Today has been one of those days…
I am in my own created isolation. I am no longer with my girlfriend of almost 7 years. I live at least 40 miles from anyone that might consider me a friend and I’ve near exhausted my family with my discontent.
In a moment of introspection this evening I had something of an epiphany about myself and my inner workings: I know I’m lazy, I will drive when others will walk and I’ll procrastinate to put off exercise that I’d planned to do. I won’t send messages to friends when I know it’s been too long since we last spoke and I’ll bitch and moan that my life isn’t perfect but I’ll do nothing to take steps to improve it.
Today, however, I realised that there is a new element to my laziness, that it went deeper than I thought possible. I will not adapt my behaviour in any given situation to allow other people to engage with me… I have just spent about 15 minutes Googling an appropriate adjective and after going through the synonyms of ‘narcissistic’ and ‘egocentric’ the nearest thing I’ve got is ‘aloof’ which doesn’t sound as bad as some of the others. I won’t fake a smile if I’m feeling contemplative, I won’t ask how people are if it’s only to exchange pleasantries, I won’t bite my tongue even if what I’ll say might not go down so well. I’m sure all of these things wouldn’t kill me if I were to do them, but I don’t… I’m not sure I’ve ever done them and if I ever did, I’ve long forgotten what the compulsion was to do so…
I’ve met a few people recently who, I’ve felt, were just smiling because to do anything other than smile would be too revealing, too honest, and they weren’t prepared for the world outside to know what they were truly feeling. I’ve never been one for wearing that kind of mask that imitates emotion, I feel that it is too flimsy and the real you shows around the edges anyway, so I don’t bother.
The upshot of this realisation was that I started to wonder how many people were like me… How many people are honest about how they feel at all times, and I don’t mean people who are a walking soliloquy on their inner-most feelings but I mean people who don’t mask their emotions, who can’t just smile so that the world sees them smiling and thinks there’s nothing wrong, I can’t be the only one who lets it all hang out and blow everyone else.
…but what if it isn’t that common? What if I’m dooming myself to a life of relative solitude because the way I am pushes people away, or doesn’t even allow them to come close in the first place?
What if all the reasons I cited as the cause of my recent break-up are just things that ‘normal’ people just ‘smile‘ about and get on with their day whilst seething inside? Should I have adapted for my ex, should I have tried harder to accept her for who she was and should I have endeavoured to change some of the things she didn’t like about me so that we could stay together? Would ‘normal’ people have done that?
I put a post on Facebook earlier today which said that I struggle to be disingenuous, that I don’t do things because I feel obliged or pressured by social norms to do, I do things in my life because I want to. What this has meant is I haven’t had to TRY at any point in my life to make social interaction work for me, if a social encounter has gone awry I haven’t blamed myself, I’ve accepted it and moved on. I had a philosophy tutor in college who once told me that I was ‘coasting through life’ and that I had no motivation to achieve something that was even just slightly out of my reach. I thought I understood what he meant at the time but maybe he saw more than I gave him credit for all those years ago. I’ll repeat what I said a few sentences ago, I’ve never had to try for anything in life. I’ve got a fast metabolism so, even though I lead a sedentary life I’m still pretty thin, I’m naturally quite intelligent so I’ve coasted through school, college, and to some extent university (but that was a vocational course and I am lucky that I already had some skill in the field before I started the course – which, again, allowed me to coast through most of the first two years) I fell into my first job because there were only three candidates and I was the only one who was actually qualified to the correct standard, I got my second job because, of the three candidates, they needed to hire two people and the third candidate was rubbish. Now I work for myself so even more coasting (I’m pretty sure I could drum up more work if I put my mind to it but apparently I’m writing a blog instead)
Please bear with the following metaphor: I’m in a canoe flowing with the river currents and up until recently it was a pretty comfortable ride. Recently though it’s started to get rough; I get the sensation there’s something akin to a waterfall up ahead and I’m pretty sure I didn’t bring a paddle. I’m unsure whether I can make a paddle out of the things that I did bring with me and to be honest I’ve never even used one before, it’s been so long that I can’t be sure I’d make something that even looked or functioned like a paddle.
I think I’m at a time in my life where it’s either I carry on letting myself get swept along by the river and risk the waterfall or ditch the canoe and start afresh, make a new canoe and proper paddles. I suppose I could try and make do with what I’ve got on board and hope that I can muddle through. Either way I’m going to get wet, the question is whether I let that happen to me or I do things on my own terms and make a conscious decision to make a change.
The final question is simply… Can I make that change?
~ keep the peace ~