This post was originally shared on Brother Jon’s Page, nearly two years ago. It’s nice to go back every so often and reflect on how our lives have changed, even in just a span of two years. Things are getting better, everyday. I believe daily reflection is important for us all. In the past we can find many, many things for us to learn from. But, it is also important for us to not get stuck in the past. Author John Green once wrote* “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.” Nostalgia, by definition, is a longing for the past. This quote turns it around and helps show the importance of looking forward in our lives. Or, you can just ask what Dory would do. Just Keep Swimming.
For many years I’ve considered myself a sufferer of Social Anxiety Disorder. I’ve never went to the doctor to corroborate this, but I did Google and Web MD the crap out of myself a few years back. I talked to a few friends about it, who agreed that I had a problem but most told me to just “get over it”. Looking back they were actually more right than wrong, I just didn’t appreciate the way they went about it. I did/do have a problem. Some call it shyness, quietness or insecurity. There’s a little bit of each in there. I’ve developed some other poor qualities that stem from this, as well as some good ones.
Probably the worst thing that my “problem” brought about was alcoholism. I used it as a coping mechanism, a crutch and a way to forget. I started out thinking hey, if I have a couple of drinks I can act “normal”. I did act “normal”, according to some hypothetical standards I made up. I was hip, witty, fun, talkative, charming and at times even loud. I’ve come to realize that this wasn’t necessarily because of the alcohol. It came about because I was more comfortable – because I felt relaxed. There are several people I act this way around without any form of mind altering substance at all. So, those of you that know me, watch out if I ever get totally comfy around you. My actions and behavior could Blow. Your. Mind. I’m sure you already know this though. Bits and pieces surface from time to time.
I also got/get bullied a lot because of my social awkwardness. This has brought about a sort of “defense” within me. I like to look at trivia and pop culture type of stuff. If I get uncomfortable, or feel the need to put someone in their place, I will lay out some deep facts on their rear ends. I will correct someone if they are wrong. Most of the time I sound like a jerk when I’m doing it. I don’t mean to, but stuff happens. Also, I will pop out some mundane knowledge about killer beavers or something like that, to maybe take the focus off of me. If they’re thinking about that, they’re not thinking about me. Unless, of course, they’re thinking where in the heck did he find that info?
Sometimes if I’m in a room, large or small and things are going crazy (which for me means it’s a little bit louder than usual) I will shut down and not add anything to the situation, unless I’m asked a question. I turn into a people watcher. This isn’t too bad, but it does make me look kind of creepy from time to time. The good thing about this is I’ve turned into a good listener. I can listen the stuffing out of any person or situation. You have a story, my ears are open. Got a joke? I’m all hears. Want someone to talk to on the phone? Don’t call me, unless you need to unload a couple of hours worth of anecdotes. Just ask my grandparents. I don’t even know how to talk on the phone with them, like a normal human being.
Things are getting noticeably better though. Being a member of both the Jaycees and the LDS Church have really helped me. I’m more open, and a bit closer to that smart, fun, witty, charming young man I was while on a bender. Only now I can do it with a well cooked meal, and trust me, I have a lot of those these days.
What aspects of yourself can you see good and bad in?
*I believe he took this quote from his now wife, on their first date, and used it in one of his books.