I want to write a blog post and I feel like I mostly just want to word vomit, but I actually want to express some things, but I don’t even know where to start or where I even want to go. First sentence is already a mess. Let’s meander, then, I guess. Maybe mosey? I’m stalling. If you stick with me to the end, however long this ends up, thank you.
So I’ve been trying to be more social. I mentioned once about wanting to be able to someday write as much of the scope of human existence as I could get my hands on, but I’ve been so wrapped up the last– several years???– with trying to just go about the business of daily existing that currently the scope I have is pretty narrowly centered around the ancient art of living in a kind of quiet desperation. Only, I’m a fair bit shit at being quiet and I’ve long since (LONG SINCE BEFORE) been sick of desperation AND I’m impatient and have exactly zero interest in doing anything about that impatience with regards to living life. So my latest act of wild emotional flailing (probably flail fail, to be honest) has been an attempt to be social.
My partner in crime and I are usually quite happy as little hermits, mostly keeping to the pair of us at home or going out to eat and then going home, interspersed with little jaunts where the whole adventure is a minor change of scenery with a spritz of human interaction (i.e. meeting up with friendly acquaintances or actual friends in a common setting with an activity between us). It’s almost routine at this point. Not that those things are unpleasant or dull, but I feel the walls of my bubble and I feel like only just touching them like that has left them dingy and hard to see beyond. I’ve started out small. I’ve made an effort to take interest in strangers. Just maybe one or two that have become friends / potential friends. And I’ve joined groups online of people with shared interests where I’ve been trying to interact rather just lurk and read and quietly applaud or send sympathy from the shadows of the internet. I’ve had conversations! And cheered directly! And commiserated! And sent hugs and checked in and cared! It’s been a good experience thus far. It’s been exhausting. Ah! And we went out with one of our dearest friends at an unusual hour to an unusual place! This was also a good experience, even though there wasn’t really anyone much there, but we got to kind of make friends with the bartender? And another fellow sort of showed us around. It’s a step. Maybe we’ll go back and try to be social people again.
These forays have shown me a few things about myself, but this is the biggest one: I’ve developed a greater ability to make eye contact and hold conversations that once upon a time would have been unfathomable to me. I think a lot of that is just somewhere along the lines learning through trial by long series of fires (as you do) that I am a capable enough person to function well enough as a passable grown-up, passable human, but I think it’s also due to a tiny concerted effort to not hide from people. My inclination has always been DON’T LOOK AT ME, DON’T SEE ME, IF I CAN’T SEE YOU, YOU CAN’T SEE ME, just as much literally as metaphorically. (No joke. I couldn’t manage to even order for myself in fast food places. It was pretty awful.) It’s hard to build human connections that way. It’s hard to learn new stories and learn about different people and love people in any real way that way. I don’t know if it was to protect myself or what, but it made doing anything at all really difficult. It’s not that I was never sick of it. I hated being that way. It took me way too long to just push myself to even acknowledge other people in public places and allow myself to be okay with them acknowledging me. And then I needed to push myself to actually speak. If I ever write anything from all this, I’ll probably call it “Evolution of a Floor Lamp”. I strove and succeeded in being as unnoticeable and functional as furniture you stick in the corner. I would be out of the way and useful enough and as little of a burden as possible. Useful is an improvement, right?
I thought I was doing great to be able to do that much, but following Amanda Fucking Palmer, and feeling the connection through her to so many other people who she impacted just as much as she had me, made me realize I was still just poorly mimicking the motions of connection. She built this community around her through her music, through just reaching out, of people who for the most part make it our mission to act with love and compassion and kindness and to see each other, to make the effort to see everyone we meet. I didn’t feel like the way I was allowed me to really be part of that, so little by little I tried to meet people’s eyes and hear them. I tried to be not just honest, but as open as possible in every interaction. And most of all I tried to be kind. Not just by not being a dick, but by vocalizing honest gratitude, appreciation, affection; by taking action to express to everyone that they’re important enough, that they’re worth effort/ time/ energy. I can see in each moment people relax a little and become more willing to work together with me. It’s surprising and exciting every time still. I didn’t realize how much it was changing me until now.
I still feel like me and I still feel horribly shy a lot of times. I’m still absurdly proud of myself when I order food in person or over the phone and I don’t immediately want to burst into tears or spend the next hour under a table. I’m still me. I’m just me with more and stronger abilities. I’m me who can actually be WITH you, as much as you’ll have me. I want to be with you. Just be. As exhausting as this all is, I’m happy with it. I’ll keep stretching my bubble to find you. I like to think you’re reaching out, too. It’s a pretty great adventure, I think.