Ever since I realised just how selfish people around me - particularly my parents - are, I've started growing solid disdain for anything related to the ego. For years I've been battling this innate enemy of humanity's in the effort to grow into a person devoid of selfishness... until, one day, a friend of mine noted that in this battle I became what I fought: a person isolated from others, bitter at others' success and jealous of their happiness, eager for compliments yet much more - for anything that would prove to me that I'm just a pathetic, incompetent, unable piece of meat.
If you don't know it, this is how selfish people think: their self-hatred is projected upon others and fueled by every mistake or bad choice they make - and they unconsciously do those plenty. Bad choices - eating and drinking sugary foods, lack of exercise and any sort of outside help (to the point of refusal to accept the help offered for free), among others - might be recognized but are looked over, as if brain turns its judgement system off for the time.
With a lifetime of imbibing such behavior, I can't say that I'm free from it - but in this moment of clarity I have decided to do something that myself two years ago would never agree to do: I will talk about myself and how I feel.
Before I start, I must note that this is not a writing of self-pity. As the rare moment of clarity arises, I can not deny myself the opportunity to let my mind out, to express myself.
* * *
I used to think about myself as a person capable of achieving anything on my own, without the help of others, even friends who have been in the situations similar to mine, - and as such, I projected this idea upon others without giving it a thought. It made me mad when people made mistakes that I had considered obvious or stupid because, I thought to myself, I would never do that, because I'm so damn great I could turn mountains upside down if I wanted to... if. I've already been talking about it, in fact, in a post with a message that had without my knowledge but with full consent of reality turned into a twisted mirror shape of itself.
As I became more accepting of myself and my thoughts - especially those I used to dismiss immediately ("I mustn't be feeling this, it's against my ideal of myself") or gave to justifying ("Well, everybody makes mistakes", as if it somehow made the fact of the mistake go away and me re-emerge glorious and spotless) - I unconsciously did the same for others. People being different is no longer a concern of mine if I didn't understand their point of view, and despite sounding completely ordinary to many of you reading it, it is an achievement for me.
You may have noticed that I talk about myself as someone unique and important therefore. My uniqueness or lack of it is still a struggle of mine which I can't easily overcome, for I have no idea just how different people might be: not enough data on hands. I was surprised to hear when my classmate - who was a clever girl, no doubt - rejoiced in making herself look smarter than me in class. "What?", I thought to myself. "H-- Am I that smart, then?". Not to lie to myself or others: I knew I was a clever fellow from early on, ever since I was able to finish the first four years of school with straight highest scores, - but this moment made me realise that other people, too, thought I was smart.
They never told me about it before or after, and their approval and appreciation I cared for far more than those of the adults who did shower me in compliments - things far too generic for me to care about. It was exciting to learn that, other than not accepting me into their social circles or even as much as talking to me most of the time, they also thought I was smart - a trait that mattered most to me at the time, since up until then I've built my whole self-esteem on the intelligence and cleverness that I've possessed.
* * *
I've always had troubles belonging to the groups I was forced into: school, online forums (I've forced myself, arguably, trying to find like-minded individuals), even university where I thought I'd be an adult at last. It came so far that I used to refer to myself as an alien - a Martian, to be precise, for every alien lifeforms seems to come from Mars - among my friends. I thought of myself as non-belonging so much that referring to myself as a different biological species seemed appropriate. Granted, it sounds closer to a pledge for caring, and, I must admit, such thoughts have crossed my mind more than a few times, but it's not why I say it.
If I say I've never had friends, I would lie, so I won't say that. It used to be true until I met a girl in my university class with whom I've became the closest I've ever been to a human being. Even then, to say she was my only friend would be to pay disrespect to those people who cared about me throughout my life - most of them I've met online and have never seen in person. The point is - I had very few friends, and this fact made me care deeply about each and every one of them... at least, that's what I thought until recently - until now, in fact.
What it comes down it is the fact that I've always had troubles relating to other human beings. Everybody seemed to be alienated by me, nobody would ever come up and just start a conversation or even pay attention to me as I tried to join into one of those spontaniously-formed groups one gets to see when there are too few people to split into groups more fitting to them (on the sidenote: those are the groups I've had most delight with, for they've not only openly expressed themselves - their real personalities that I didn't get to see ordinarily - but they would express the sides I'd never see otherwise). Living like this, when you can only seem to allow yourself to talk to the few brave or needy enough (not to blame them: I was the latter, too) to join me - or, rather, let me join them - is... very lonely. When the only person you can talk to daily doesn't understand stories and tales the way you do, you're only left to talk about the superficial - and you do, just to keep their company.
This is how I learned to accept the company of people I hated - just because they payed attention to me, even if the attention was in form of snarky remarks about the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I act and the way I am. I got this with my mother's milk - if I had any: from what I know, I'm not certain - but the environment I was in reinforced the idea that I must be fit to someone's interests and expectations of me to be worthy of their appreciation, let alone love. This is how I got into the weird relationship with a girl where I was both the manipulated and the manipulator: I accepted the lowly treatment and got the girl submitted to it because it appeared normal to me - not to say that for the first time in my life, I had control over somebody rather than being controlled. I often catch myself thinking that it can't be that bad considering that I have no recollection of feeling something in particular; after we separated - my desire - I thought that plenty of times, only to reinforce to myself why I wanted to no longer let it go. It took time to realise that I, too, was a mess of a person back then, but I'm grateful to have learned that - along with that it's neither normal nor good to be in this kind of relationship.
* * *
It's hard to be human when you have no idea what is expected of you. I tried many things: being submissive, aggressive, outspoken, silent, outgoing (for as much as my introversion allows me) and alone - some put out meaningful results, some only protruded my growing anger over how it all doesn't seem to work. It turned out, quite unhelpfully, that there's rarely any sensible indication of what you've achieved, as people tend to stay silent about what they feel, no matter how much pain it causes. It doesn't help that they don't want to cause this pain to others, because those little disappointments in results are what makes us better persons.
I had to learn about it from my new friend's reaction when she decided to hid the rumours she heard about me and the other friend, a girl; I had to press, because she seemed very bothered by what she held back, and after she told me what was it that disturbed her so much (long story short, it were sex rumours) she admitted that her main motivation to stop with it in the first place was not to hurt my feelings.
She came from a family of a narcissistic mother, so of course she grew up to be overly conscious and sensitive to whatever she says. In one way or another, most of us are shaped in the way she was, though most often not quite as severily. Expressing emotions - particularly those of great strength and those that can hurt others (which, of course, is never true: people choose to be hurt) - is almost forbidden where I grew up, and from what I know, it's not limited to one country. Because a few persons couldn't hold up to what others truly think of them, many learn from the young age that being yourself is bad.
I'm not to blame the world, of course: I know how pointless it is, for the world will never bend to one's effortless wishes. Often, however, it seems that more honesty will not hurt the world, even if a few will have to go through learning about what some people really think of them.
* * *
It's both exciting and terrifying to learn that one can't hold on to the world alone for long. We need people around us, not only to have someone to chat or discuss favourite book with, but to be there for - and for them to be there for us when all seems hopeless and the future - dire.
It's exciting because I've managed to learn a new piece of information that would allow me to fit in more, to be more of a human, to be more relatable, accessible to others. This is what I've been craving for for as long as I live, and finally, another piece of the puzzle.
It's terrifying because I have to make contact with people, reach out to them, which means - risk my ego's integrity. For many it's a fear they can't overcome because of the shelter they've built for themselves to live in. It's no longer a bubble, for it can be bursted fairly easily: it's a bunker, with concrete walls and metal doors to not let anyone who can possibly hurt one in. To speak ill of such seemingly-silly fears is to pay disrespect to people who wish, genuinly, to make contact - but are mortified by the prospective of having their heart broken, so do consider before you judge the closed one.
It is a concern for me, too: reaching out to people is a tiring experience after which I have to recharge - that is, to get into that safe haven where I may not be disturbed and may rest for a while, doing things I like. It takes incredible amounts of energy away - the simple act of talking to a stranger. To give you an idea, I'm more terrified of talking to a stranger than I am of running a marathon or finishing writing a book, both of which are experiences I'm highly opposed to receiving. Still, I do my best, asking for directions when I'm lost or writing private messages online to people I'd like to talk to ("at a risk of appearing a stalker", my mind rushes to tell me) and wish that more people would respond ("How pathetic, Jesus Christ!..").
* * *
What's more daunting is that, despite the online wisdom that seems to appear often enough, I can rarely feel my own success. Doing a new thing seems to give more pleasure than doing better at the old thing, even if the old thing is writing, the craft I've chosen. Often, I prefer not to pursue what I know I'd enjoy - writing, making music, singing, hell, talking to people - because the judgement mechanism of the brain lets itself down for the duration, just like with the bad choices. It's an odd experience - wanting to do something and then being as if flown by a river of thought towards something that gives a spoonful of short-time pleasure in return for the mindless hours: eating chips and drinking overly-sweet juice while watching the seemingly infinite amounts of YouTube videos, sleeping, masturbating...
In this state, it is suprising how much inspiration could one phrase of support give. One sincere sentence - "You can do this" - from an Internet stranger whom I'll probably never meet in reality will do wonders to my motivation, for for once, someone has faith in me when I have none left. It's astonishing just how much can one phrase do, and it makes one wonder why aren't we telling it to others more often. Experience is a powerful factor: if most often we've learned to let ourselves down, it is what many of us are left with - because nobody has time for someone who's not willing to spend their to cura ipsum.
Do you realize how self-centered, if not masturbative, your writing comes across?