So it’s been a month, and things have been going pretty well for me. There’s a lot going on in my head, and I’m going to try to get some of it down here.
For one, I finished my first semester of MSW work at USC. Well, not actually at USC, I’m in their online program – which is great, but every time I tell people, I can see the belief in the credibility of the program disappear. “Oh, you go to USC? Awesome, that’s a great school!” “Yeah, I’m in their online social work program, it’s pretty cool…” “Oh, online? How…”-slowly backs away – “fascinating…”. And it is quite a change from being in a physical classroom. For one, people only ever see me from about the chest up, so if you’re short on time, you can just throw whatever pants you have handy before you get in front of your webcam. On the other hand, unless you are almost at death’s door, there’s no good excuse to miss class. Anyway, I really enjoyed my classes – well, I really enjoyed my human behavior class, but my social policy class was less in my wheelhouse. I think I want to work on a more personal basis once I get into the social work field. I got pretty good grades on all my assignments, so I assume my semester grades will be good, and so I’ll be heading into my second semester in January.
So lately there’s been a lot of stuff that’s been really disturbing on the news, both close to home and abroad. I’m not going to get into specifics – they aren’t hard to find. But seeing all this negativity, day after day, in violence and neglect and hatred, is really hard, especially now that we’re in the Christmas season – a season that is supposed to be about hope. And I’ve noticed this creeping up a lot in the ways I choose to entertain myself, as well. I like watching shows and movies that tend to have little in the way of hope. The Walking Dead. Arrow. Jessica Jones. Even one of my favorite comedy shows, How I Met your Mother, is full of false hope for the main character, Ted – again and again, he gets let down in his love life, because he is obsessed with a woman he keeps going after who wants almost none of the same things he does, and he breaks up with many other women, several of whom would be better for him, because he can’t get over the initial interest he is still obsessed with 8 years later. I can’t bring myself to watch the last episode because of the enormous letdown I hear it is.Now, many of these are good entertainment, and sometimes they are even great TV – Jessica Jones, I felt, was one of the best TV series I’ve seen in a while, but it’s brutally dark and feels very hopeless. IT took me three years to watch anything past the first season of the Walking Dead because it’s so depressing.
Hope is very important for depression. I’ve found that it is one of the things that disappears first, and without hope, your life slowly begins to lose all meaning. You stop caring about things like eating, showering, spending time with your friends, going to work, even getting out of bed. So it’s a little weird that all these shows I like are so seemingly devoid of it. When I watched The Flash, it was weird, because while it takes place in the same narrative space as Arrow, it’s about a guy who has hope. He has superpowers, and he has fun with them, he enjoys what he does. Don’t get me wrong there’s still a lot of drama, but this is a show fundamentally about a guy enjoying learning how to be the fastest man alive. So I think I’m going to try something for December – I’m going to try to only post, or repost, things on social media that make me feel excited, or hopeful,or happy. I don’t want to ignore the plight of others, because I know it’s important to be aware of the things that are wrong in the world, but I also feel that it is important for me, for my well-being, to try to be a little more purposefully hopeful. It’s not a huge step, but it’s one that I feel like I can accomplish easily, and that will increase my mood for the Christmas season.
So, onwards from hope is friendship. I know I’ve gone on about this in the past. Friendship is very important to me, and I think I tend to define it in a much more binary fashion than a lot of people. There are people I know, who I am on speaking terms with and have pleasant conversations with, and then there are my friends, the people who I would do basically anything for. I don’t tend to have a lot of gray area in between, and I think that can be pretty weird for some people, especially if they make the jump from acquaintance to friend, because all of a sudden I’m going from “Hey, how are you?” to “Did those people insult you? Because if you want them dead, I can make that happen.” I kind of wonder what that changeover must be like, realizing that this person you’ve been getting to know is now, because of the crossing of some arbitrary line in my head, willing to do basically anything to help you out. I’ve been trying to see if I can’t have a little more gray area in between, but what I’ve found is that adding gray area just makes it harder for me to get to know people, because I constantly feel uncomfortable asking what I feel is the next along the progression – going from asking about people’s days to seeing if people want to hang out sometime is a lot harder for me, oddly. And I think that with some people, they just find that leap too much, the trust placed in them too great, like I want something huge out of friendship besides a good friend to hang out with, have decent, sometimes excessively deep and/or philosophical conversation with, and maybe play some video games or something. It’s just the process I’ve always had, and I constantly feel like I’m missing a step or doing something wrong – which is probably why two years after getting out of Menninger, many of my attempts to gather people for fun events like movies or games tend to end rather anticlimactically.
I’m pretty sure that something is going wrong, but I’m not sure what. Maybe I’m doing it, or maybe the other people are expecting some sort of cue that I miss because I don’t know to make it. Maybe I’m missing the cue that they’re trying to be friends because I don’t see things the same way, relationship-wise – which may also be why I have such trouble asking women out, come to think of it. I have a lot of difficulty in casual social situations, especially with new people, because I feel there’s such a leap between general small talk and the full-on nerdity of my usual train of thought. Some people keep trying to suggest I go to new places and get acquainted with new people, but then the problem starts all over, because first I have to feel comfortable enough with them to even talk at all, then to start getting into the everyday stuff, and then slowly open the floodgates to talking about my huge nerd-on for RPGs, Fallout, Captain America… and if you’ve met me and talked to me int he last two years, you probably have some idea what that’s like because some days I’ve practically monosyllabic, while others it’s hard to shut me up if you say the right combination of words. Weird, right? And I have no idea if other people feel this way, or if I’m just really awkward getting to know people. For some people, like my sister, it seems easy, but I don’t know if it is because it comes easy to her – like reading does to me – or she is just so practiced at it that it seems easy, and her head is going through the same gymnastics mine is.
But the gist here is, if you’re trying to get to know me and I come off like I’m being an ass or avoiding you, it may very well be because I have no idea what to say or how to say it, and I think too much of you to let loose the full fury of my geekitude without some warning. Only I’m not so good with the warning, so I generally just smile, nod, and choke back the questions I was about to ask about what you’re reading (by an author I love), what game you’re playing (that I thought was awesome), or the new movie that just came out (that I really really really want to see, but probably won’t because I hate seeing movies alone and I’m feeling too freaked out to see if you want to go see it with me).
Well, unless I actually don’t like you, in which case I’m probably just being a passive-aggressive jerk. But odds are if you’re reading this, that’s probably not true of you.