like a bat outta hell

May 17, 2024

I’ve lately found myself sitting with both a longing for and complete fear of spending time alone. Which isn’t entirely unusual for me. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who can be very comfortably by myself. But I suppose there’s a difference between being alone and feeling alone and how those different states affect me. For one, being alone means I have freedom. Freedom of choice and, in some cases, freedom from consequence. At least insofar that being alone means being able to avoid the criticism and needs of others. But I can recognize that being alone is not purely beneficial. Being alone can make activities more boring. Choosing to go to dinner alone instead of with friends. Wanting to share a funny story or idea with no around to hear it. Lying alone in bed at night. But in feeling alone I find myself challenged with a whole different set of problems.

I guess I believe that being alone is a choice. I can choose to be with friends. I can choose to go on a date. I can choose to make plans and talk to stranger and do whatever else it is that people do to stay in touch with other people. But when I feel alone, that opportunity of choice feels irrelevant. It feels as though it’s completely without consequence and that I am instead forced to surrender to the mercy of the cosmos or, probably more appropriately, the misfiring chemical reponses in my brain.

Because for me, feeling alone seems so terminal. It seems so indefinite and unrelenting. It feels like a constriction on my ability to have some sense of belonging or purpose or forward trajectory. I end up feeling stuck like a cog filled with thick glue between it’s projections trying desperately to continue turning but feeling completely unable to.

But I guess like with the cog, some sense of forward motion often does break through that thick bondage. Sometimes I feel that if I can continue to move forward I will invariably feel less alone, and more belonging, and more purposeful (or at least more intentional). Is this what it means to be moving for the sake of motion? Maybe. But maybe that’s ok. Maybe it’s enough to see that things still need to be done. Emails needs to be responded too. Workouts need to be had. Meals need to be prepped.

Maybe loneliness is just some stateful reponse to something I don’t really understand. “Hey man, you feel lonely now because you don’t have something!” And then I learn to live without that thing or I get lucky enough to find something that I never realized how badly I wanted it. Either way, I suppose, there’s always something new to learn from the cycle. Right?

johari and the peeping tom

May 15, 2024

In psychology there’s a concept known as the Johari window, which is a two-by-two matrix where each quadrant represents some level of how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. Each quadrant is filled with characteristics about ourselves to help identify whatever it is we know about who we are against what others do or do not know about us. As a team building exercise it works by allowing people to better understand their strengths and weaknesses; facade and blindspots.

But I was introduced to Johari’s window in a therapeutic way that’s left me feeling out of the loop about whatever it is I’m supposed to understand about myself. And that has, in turn, caused me to think a bit too much about what the people around me are scribbling into the boxes of my delicate, sensitive window. 

The reality of that insecurity is really a result of my desire to convince myself that I am a lot more than what I’ve been telling myself that I am. I struggle to believe that I’m a good, diligent worker who is making an impact at work. I’m a lazy student for not studying four hours a night. I’m a bad friend for sometimes not having the energy or focus or even just the vibes to be cool to have around. I’m a cringy dork who wears his heart on his sleeve and gets too sad sometimes to be a worthwhile boyfriend. 

Maybe there’s elements of truth in those things. The pragmatic part of me is aware that most of those things are not the truth. But when other people can see things about me that defeat those arguments I make about myself, I end up struggling to see the blind spot they are pointing at. Or maybe I’m too stubborn to turn my head to look. There’s comfort in self sabotage after all.

It’s a complicated problem to have. It turns out that if you see yourself as an imposter in most parts of your life, you find ways to fulfill that identity. Often by becoming more guarded, more distant, and more unsure of yourself. Or at least, that’s how it’s been for me in the past. 

But now I’m here, with a fresh bottle of windex and a crisp linen-free cloth and I’m ready to clean off all of the grease and dirt I’ve let build up on my window. Or at least, that’s how I’m trying to be here. I’m trying to be my most authentic and forgiving self. I’m trying to only compare myself as I am against the worst version of who I could be. Or maybe not even the worst version. Maybe just a version that isn’t particularly great. A version of myself that feels very lame. How’s that going? I dunno. Each day presents a new set of opportunities to practice. I don’t expect to suddenly and spontaneously combust into a radiating ball of self-promoting energy. But I can chip away at feeling a little more aware and a little more okay with myself every time.