Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My brain and I haven't been getting along

I came to the rather embarrassing realization today that I have apparently dug myself so deep into my introverted hole that the very thought of being social, in the most general sense of "What plans might I make in service of getting out more and interacting with people?" is now sufficient to drive me into fits of social anxiety. Wonderful. Actual people are no longer necessary, allowing me to cut out the middleman and process anxiety at least 30% more efficiently, possibly even more during off-peak hours when demand for interaction is less.

The contentment of my long relationship - or comfort, at least - appears to have largely kept a lid on the viscous, simmering muck I've allowed to build up in the interstices of my brain not devoted to putting words together in unnecessarily long compound sentences, resenting authority, or memorizing and applying a vast catalogue of facts about beer. With that restraint now removed, I find myself at loose ends much of the time, with very little idea what to do with myself and a great deal of angst about that fact.

I realize this is nothing unusual, mind you; it seems like the majority of people I know profess to being socially stunted in some way or another, and certainly our popular media portray a plenitude of individuals with social neuroses. Nevertheless, it comes as something of a rude shock, and so stands out as an exception in my individual experience. I have always considered myself a bit shy, introverted, eccentric, and intellectual, but basically functional. To suddenly find that, on my own, I possess only a few ragged tatters of a social life and a massive mental block regarding the skills I need to repair or rebuild it has hit me pretty hard.

There are reasons, of course; there are always reasons. In some ways I am typical of my generation, or at least the stereotypes of my generation: broken home, poor relationship with step-parent, raised in ways that were well-meaning but often inconsistent and occasionally neglectful, hereditary disposition toward depression. I was the fat kid in middle school and the awkward loner in high school. I rather expect that if I had lived a few years later, I'd have been on some sort of school-shooting watch list, but Columbine was slightly after my public school tenure. In any case, there were factors in my development that left me feeling both powerless and unwanted, and, behaviorist that I am, I can't discount those as formative influences even though there is a substantial emotional component to my makeup that wants to self-blame for every problem I've ever had.

The fact is, though, that that's all in the past, and I have to live in the present. (I've heard some very interesting discussions on that sort of topic recently, incidentally, not least an interview with Tom Clark, Director of the Center for Naturalism, on Point of Inquiry in which is discussed the illusion of the self, free will, and scientific naturalism.) Yes, I'm temporarily on antidepressants, and yes, I have seen a behavioral therapist in the past and will probably again. I don't like to be one of those people with Issues, and I don't intend to be one of those people with Issues for long, but I'm also not the sort to just ignore real issues - especially not issues that affect those around me. I may procrastinate and I may fail to look out for my own best interest sometimes, but I still know the right thing to do when I see it.

I also, apparently, know how to digress. If ever there was an e/n post on this blog, I guess this is it.

I intend to make myself get out and hang out with people who have fun, even if the things they do don't sound like fun to me. I figure there is certainly room for me to learn.


GourmetAnarchy said...

Last Post!

Will said...

sounds familiar but completely different.

and now IT'S

/not the last post

Will said...

also, don't let your social situation, any illness, or even things as close as sexual identity define you. (this comes from a not-so-flaming but very OUT gay man.)

you are consciousness itself living in this situation.

that is our ultimate identity.


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