April 10, 2012

Angst is Not Exclusive to Teenagers

"And in that moment, I swear we were infinite."

- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Be warned: this post is ridiculously long. I don't know why or how it got off course at some point, but it did. If you know me, however, you expect that anyway.

Interestingly enough, I have never been a wallflower. And yet I relate to that book so much. I also, just like every other angst-filled pre-pubescent, fell in love with The Catcher in the Rye and, being female and all, fell deeply in love with Holden Caulfield as well. When I picked up that book in the Bookmobile by my house in the summer before seventh grade, I had no idea what I was in for. It was funny that I even checked it out because it has a boring white cover and no synopsis on the back.

This is going to sound strange, but I just started to cry a little bit because typing out that sentence, while simultaneously listening to Your Hand in Mine (Goodbye) by Explosions in the Sky, just brought me to this realization... (Explosions in the Sky has a funny way of helping me come to realizations and relive the very moments I wanted to talk about when I started this post. Thank you, Pandora. You're so timely.) I just realized that I love the boring white covers in life. I used to be attracted by flashy things that seemed so exciting but ended up having no substance; finally, after many experiences pointed this out to me, I learned that the seemingly boring white covers often contain the greatest stories. And I don't want a Facebook-sized synopsis of a person. I want to actually put in the work to get to know them. I want to know things about them that people have to put real time into the person to learn rather than having the same knowledge base as anyone else who reads their Twitter or Facebook or, say, blog.

The people I would never expect certain things from always have a way of surprising me. I love surprises. And I love a challenge. Boring white covers present both almost every time. Of course, I don't literally mean people who look boring and/or white. All I'm getting at is that I like to get to know people and discover the things that make them who they are rather than losing interest before even flipping open to the first page. I see most people as mysteries, not necessarily to be solved but to at least investigate to find out more.

Sometimes I wish I had realized all of that sooner. That I had appreciated people I probably looked right past at times. That I had reveled in the unpredictability of people. Of life. I should have allowed myself to be proven wrong more often.

I think I've always been a deep feeler and a person who lives within the moment for the most part, though my mind may have a habit of taking me elsewhere with worry or self-consciousness. I think I pick up on a lot of the things that go unsaid. And I live most of my life wondering if I'm making it all up or if I really did read the other person correctly. Were they really thinking what I thought they were? Did they really want to say what I think they did? When they looked my way, were we actually exchanging the same thoughts? Am I really picking up on what they're thinking? Or is it just what the movie in my head has decided is going on?

It's hard to say. It could so easily go either way. My brother tells me that I read into things too much. I told him I just read things, period. I'm not trying to say I'm psychic, and I'm certainly not trying to say I'm always right. I guess what I'm saying is that I think I have something useful, but it may just as well be all in my head. I may be dead wrong.

That's the problem with intangible talents. There's no proof. I don't look people in the face and say, "Are you feeling ____ and thinking _____ right now?" And even if I did, there's no telling whether they'd be honest. I mean, I think language, as much as I freaking love it, complicates things. There are so many primal, instinctual, involuntary messages that we send each other a thousand times a day. And we dismiss them. We only point to written and spoken words to prove our points and use as evidence of one thing or another. We almost completely neglect body language, exchanges of glances, slight changes in facial expression, the change of the energy in the room. And when we don't dismiss them, people tell us we're over-analyzing or reading into things too much.

It's so funny, too, because we can control and manipulate our words, but our faces and bodies often give us away. They're our quickest, purest form of communication, and yet we rely on the words that have been filtered by our minds to deliver the majority of our messages. This is why I find it hard to believe almost any account of any interaction between two people. There is so much subtext in every interaction and so much back story that plays into whatever may have gone on, that it's difficult to make definitive judgment calls about almost anything. Sometimes I find this infuriating, but mostly I think it's comforting. It's nice to focus on the big picture and mostly see the details as symptoms of it.

I think one of my all-time favorite quotes and one thing that I subconsciously live my life by every day is from Maya Angelou who said, "I've learned that people will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel." This is true for me, at least. I don't dwell on people's past actions. Even people who have hurt me at one time or another (regardless of whether or not I ever rehash what they said or did). I always, after I have spouted off at the mouth even, in the quiet of my own room, come to the realization that even people who have hurt me are not horrible, mean people. We all make mistakes, and I certainly hope people would go easy on me for mine, so I had better do the same for others. I don't always succeed at it, but that is honestly what I think and try to do.

I think my main thing is that I want people to feel understood. I think that's all any of us really wants. So any chance I get to be someone who helps another person feel just a little less alone is a chance I never pass up. I want people to feel okay. I want them to know that they are enough. As broken and flawed as we all are, we are also beautiful in so many ways. Just like this terribly disjointed post with its incomplete thoughts, there's something there, hopefully, to be enjoyed. To relate to.

Gosh, all I really want right now is to stand up in the back of a truck driving along PCH on a summer night, blast some soul-wrenching music, and stay up talking all night with a friend or two on the beach. That sounds so good to me. To be transported, even for a moment, back to a time when I felt infinite, too. I know how horribly emo I sound right now, but, damn it, that's what I want at the moment. I want that smell of bonfire and sea salt that gives hope of what's to come. I want to sneak in my house and lay on my bed in my bathing suit with the windows open and a warm breeze flowing through my room. I want to over-analyze life and write something poetic like I used to when I was 16, 17, 18.

I remember a time when I posted something I had written online, and my older sister commented that I shouldn't stop writing or thinking the way that I did because she had stopped. When did I stop? Why?

I so badly wanted this post to be meaningful to someone else. I wanted someone to relate and feel like they were back in one of those endless summers where they related to feeling like a wallflower and wanting to catch somebody in the rye. I hate how cliche it is to like those books and characters and coming-of-age stories. But I just can't get enough of it. Growing up was so fun. I wish it didn't have to feel like I'm supposed to be finished with that part of life because I don't think we're ever finished growing up. I think we're just supposed to grow. As much as we can for as long as we can.

I miss being interesting to other people. You know when you're a teenager, and you want to soak up everything there is to know about a new friend or love interest? And everything they do seems amazing, and you can't get enough? I miss connecting with people in that way. I don't think being in a relationship or being married means that you can't keep forming friendships with other people. I think the world often looks at you like you should feel satisfied, content, complete. I'm not finished. I'm happy and grateful, but I know there's more to come. I hope there's more to come.

This isn't nearly everything I was trying to say. But I guess it will have to do for now. Every time I write a post, I feel like the most self-centered person in the world. But, in reality, my intention is to connect with other people through just being honest about what I'm thinking and feeling and experiencing. I know it doesn't always come out as well as I know it could, but I can't help the fact that Holden made me fall in love with the stream of consciousness. And my consciousness isn't always the most amazing thing to be a part of. But I know there's more to come. I hope there's more to come.

Edit: This is where I would usually apologize for writing such an angsty, novel-length blog post that totally defeats the purpose of writing a blog post since blog posts should be a fraction of the size of this particular post. But not this time. No way. I'm not apologizing. You didn't have to read all of this. Thanks if you did, but it's mostly for you. I write for myself, sure, but mostly I hope someone gets something out of it. That's what I always hope for when I read someone else's blog post. I want to find some connection to them, and then I want to let them know, "You are not alone!" But maybe that's just selfish to do for someone else what I think I would want rather than thinking about what they might want instead. We once debated in a philosophy class for hours trying to figure out what in the world could ever truly be a selfless act. It was really depressing and made me feel like nice things didn't matter because I was probably just doing nice things out of selfishness or to make other people like me. But I refuse to believe that we can't be kind for the sake of it. Otherwise that would just always leave me feeling like nothing I did was genuine. And, for someone who wants to be that more than anything, it would seem inconsistent to do things that weren't genuine. So screw that. I'll do what I feel like, even if someone thinks my doing something nice is for any reason other than helping someone out or making someone happy or whatever the hell reason I have. Man, I am so annoying. I swear I'm not always thinking about this stuff. It just comes out once every month or two in the form of word vomit. Some people are at their worst with alcohol and drugs. I'm at my most ridiculous when I mix 2am, instrumental music, and blogging.

1 comment:

  1. Like I’ve told you before I am always able to relate to at least one thing you write about in each of your posts. I think that like you, I definitely over-analyze a ton of things, situations, people’s reactions, pretty much all the stuff you mentioned. I think that at least for me, that comes from the fact that I feel incredibly self-aware most of the time.

    I feel like I know how I react in certain situations or the way I come across when I’m with other people. It's like I'm so aware of what's going on with me, I can't help but notice the way other people are coming across as well. I think when you’re really observant like that and really aware of your surroundings, as well as the way other people perceive you or how you present yourself, it’s hard not to over-analyze.

    And I also feel like often, it’s those overly analytical, observant people like you who are the most compelling writers because you’re so in touch with the things around you. I can also totally relate to the feeling of wanting to connect with people. I don’t think anyone would write a blog if that wasn’t something they wanted.

    Everyone wants to feel like they’re writing for a larger purpose, beyond their own personal fulfillment. And you do a good job of that. You are relatable and intelligent in your posts and even if you jump around between topics, there’s still always something to connect with, and I’m not just speaking for myself. I think a lot of people can relate to what you share, as well as the way you share it. Sorry for matching your long post with an excessively long comment : )