life and how you've grown/matured.
Probably should have PMed a mod to see if this thread is fair game here: most of the topics here seem to be of a lighthearted nature and this thread might tread into a more austere demesne, but I digress. I don't see a reason as to why this wouldn't be allowed, so I'm posting it. Feel free to lock this if it's overly personal or something. My apologies if this is in the wrong area, too.
All of that aside, have any of you ever looked back on a certain point in your lives and thought, "Man, I was such an ass a year ago. I'm glad that I've matured since then."? Don't lie, you have. Or you've felt the reverse, at least. I guess that the aim of this thread is for people to give a brief autobiography of sorts and tell how you've changed on your personal odyssey through life. This should be immediately obvious but just as a disclaimer: don't post anything that you aren't comfortable with disclosing. Since I don't think it would be fair for me to ask you all to post without giving you parts of my life, I'll give an example:
Hi, I'm Scheisskopf, a seventeen-year-old poet dilettante from the Midwest. I have a few major problems, each of which I'd like to discuss in detail: my search for happiness and my asociality and the resultant arrant social awkwardness. Again, I'll explain everything in the subsequent paragraphs.
I feel as if everything that I've ever done in my life has been to seek validation from other people. From every paper that I write to every phrase that I say, most of what I've done for childhood seems to have been for approbation. I was, and for the most part still am, a people-pleaser. I like getting reactions out of people and seeing how they react to things. And for about sixteen years of my meandering seventeen years of existence, this is how I've found my happiness: by pleasing others. Pleasing my mom, pleasing my friends, pleasing people that I'd never even met before online -- that was of paramount importance to me. It was about a week ago that I realized this, and I'm not sure how or why I came to this realization. I think it was about religion. Now, I'm aware of what happens with Internet forums and religion, so I won't go into detail with this, but I was - for let's say fourteen years - a Christian. I've broken out of the religion now, not as a puerile protest against God, it's just that my faith felt so... hollow. I never felt the personal connection with God that my family members or my peers felt, even though I tried, but practiced the religion to please my family. They still don't know that I'm an atheist, but we get along well.
Anyways, we have more to talk about here.
For the past four years, I've been struggling on and off with what I would call depression. The sentiment is this stomach-level feeling of indignation, frustration, and hopelessness that has overstayed its welcome. It hit its peak (or trough, if you want) in late October/early November with the climax ending up with me home alone with a sharp knife and a bored mind thinking of what I could do with that knife. I then decided that it wasn't even worth the trouble to self-mutilate because my life isn't even that bad. After that incident, I realized that I had to somehow do something. So I started smiling. In private, of course, so no one could see me. And I laughed, too. I laughed at jokes. I laughed at how absurd it was to feel as terrible as I did in my condition. I mean, I've got it far from bad; I'm a lower-middle class black kid living in America - actually, we should probably just go with "lower-class". Okay, that's kind of bad. I haven't seen my dad in almost a decade, but I hardly even noticed his absence after I cried on my seventh birthday because he wasn't there.
But the reason why I wrote that very long paragraph wasn't to say that I was depressed and to complain about that. It wasn't severe. If you would have guessed, it's because during that period of time, I think that I realized that I had spent far too much time pleasing others and not much time doing things that would make me happy. If we're to compare depression to a lion, then I am a running gazelle at whom the lion claws and sometimes grazes (that isn't meant to be taken seriously - it's 2:30 AM at the time of writing this and I need some humor, bear with me). The feeling is still in me: in fact, I last felt it two weeks ago for maybe four or five days. Now, I'm taking steps in a more positive direction. I'm finding hobbies that I like: I'm writing poetry, I'm running, and, if all goes according to plan, I'll probably get an acoustic guitar this summer. I'm making friends, too - and this, my readers, is my segue into the next part of this.
For as long as I can remember, I've felt lonely. And I guess a little loneliness is fine. Suffering is, after all, one of the defining features of the human experience. I've never felt as if I totally fit in, either. As if I'm always playing second fiddle to someone else. It's silly for me to want to be preferred over someone else, I guess, but I don't feel that way often. My cousins always had each other so they didn't really need me much when they were over, and when they weren't over, I felt lonely because I've never had friends visit my house and I'm an only child. In elementary school, this feeling that I was only "second-best" was often confirmed in my mind by silly things and it was only strengthened in middle school. Of course, by third grade, I stopped speaking to people - even if I didn't have a very close friend, I still liked to talk and would often get poor behavior marks in school. So to eschew that, I simply stopped talking much at all. At the beginning of middle school, I was a shy, forgetful, bumbling child. I made a few friends there at the end of my middle school career, even if our conversations were very short. But middle school was the time when my emotions were in overflow. I was more awkward than ever before, developed crushes, etc. And yet, I repressed these emotions and never told people how I felt. I didn't have a medium through which I could express my feelings, so I became frustrated. I believe that that frustration, along with how alone I felt for most of middle school, led to me being so upset and estranged and hopeless. I legitimately had no idea how to start a conversation at one point. But I think that having a hobby like writing poetry has helped me in these past few months: I was inspired by a spoken-word poet, Rives (and I guess Phil Kaye), to start writing. It's an oddly cathartic experience, one that releases long-pent up emotions. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an outlet. Even if my poems are mediocre at best, they still make me feel happy.
During high school, specifically this year, I have learned that you have to start conversations with people and that it is imperative that you be honest and open in order to make friends. People will not walk up to you and start talking - or if they do, it's certainly not often. Fortunately, I had a more open and receptive group of people around me that I could have ever expected, and so I've made more new friends than I would have imagined. Despite the fact that I still do have some anxiety with groups of more than three people, I feel like I've made some progress with becoming... well, social. I have people who like me despite my glaringly obvious flaws. Which is awesome. They've inspired me, as they are all far better people than I am or probably ever will be, and they've made me overall a happy person, despite the vicissitudes of mood to which I'm sometimes a victim. Having friends kind of makes me want to extend myself to a person who doesn't have any.
I will admit that I'm still going through some issues, though: I have trouble being the one to go out there and make friends, and I worry that I'm a novelty to my friends because I never usually speak or on some level that I'm not cognizant of yet. Yet these are both issues that stem from childhood that I haven't bothered to fix yet. But overall, I guess I'm in a pretty good position right now. Even if I'm still susceptible to bouts of hopelessness punctuated by anger and almost manic happiness, I'm definitely doing a lot better than I was before. In a plurality of cases, it is imperative that one realizes that he or she is not entirely a victim. There are some things that you could have done that, if you had done them, would have made your life a lot better. It is just important to recognize future events like this and make sure that you don't pass them up. That's what I've learned, at least.
By the way, I'm sorry that there are some lacunae here; I'll revise them in the morning. So, anyways, Bulbagarden, what's your story? It doesn't have to be anything in particular; it can be funny, tragic, upsetting, or whatever. It doesn't have to -- and, in fact, shouldn't -- be just like mine. Just tell what you have to tell.
Re: life and how you've grown.
I'm glad you've made such progress, Scheisskopf. I'm always proud to see the improvements people here on Bulbagarden have made even when I haven't witnessed it first hand, and I just know that with your attitude you won't have any shortage of friends or outlets in future. I wish I had your bravery to just try things even if I'm not good at them; I'm a bit of a jack of all trades so it's tough to feel like anything I want to pursue is worth doing. I'm such a perfectionist that I can't be happy with something just being a hobby/outlet; I must be good at it, otherwise it isn't worth doing/it's a waste of time and I certainly won't enjoy it. It's something I picked up pretty quickly from my dad, but I hope I can break free of it.
As for me, well, I don't personally feel I've changed too much over my seventeen years of life so far. But, like you, I have been a people-pleaser. I grew up with a strict, psychologically abusive and controlling father but I didn't know any different or any better. I spent my childhood seeking his approval; anything I achieved would, at best, be calmly received as "what is expected of you" by him; this left me constantly waiting for the achievement that would finally make him seem proud of me. I was geared up for academics because that is what I had talent with and was told I'd be good for later on in life and I never really made a single decision just for myself on my own desire when it came to anything but what videogame to play. My dad was the kind of person who'd sway, guilt or scare you into making the decision he wanted and then tell you later on if it went wrong that it was your fault/your decision. I was - and still am - a bookish, easily scared and indecisive kid inside. To this day I still need others' approval/confirmation that my opinions/decisions, huge or minute, are okay; I tend to pick one person I respect and treat their opinion as the law with that kind of stuff. I hope to really get through to myself one day that my own approval is just as valid as anyone else's and is what really matters - unless I really don't know better than the person I have consulted, of course.
I can't say much has really happened that's changed me, because to be honest, I'm still the shy, stumbling wallflower I was twelve years ago when I started to be bullied, but I've learned to force myself to make jokes and speak louder and so on so that I'm not always so sidelined/left out. What did that was the fact that I got to twelve and was tired of being bullied. I took it upon myself to make jokes about myself and others too so that the bullies wouldn't have me as such a target any more. I became dry and sarcastic - not the hugely popular one in the class, no, but always counted on for a witty or disdainful remark or two and even banter with the staff. I loved making people laugh even when it meant I got less work done. But I got away with it because I had a good reputation with the teachers from my previous years and the fact that when push came to shove I still just wanted to make people think well of me, staff just as much as students.
This desperation for approval only temporarily changed when I got into my first relationship almost two years ago as I was about to turn sixteen. Now, these past two years have been a whirlwind, if I am honest. The relationship lasted about a year before it started to run on empty and the other person did nothing about it. While it lasted, it made me have faith I never had in life and others. It made me open, happy, optimistic and caring - all of the things I either was before and was too shy to show or the things I wanted to become but couldn't take seriously. I was happy and I wanted to share that with everyone. When the relationship failed, I spiralled into depression riddled with low self esteem and social anxieties again, but my love for making others happy and feeling like I belonged was far increased by then and to this day I still feel endlessly empty of companionship and worth, searching for those senses of being wanted and appreciated and belonging again. Every so often my friends will say something or include me in some way or just do something that triggers the realisation lasting for, oh, just a few seconds, that I am not alone in the world, that I do exist, that my friends have not forgotten, that they do care. That I matter. But other than that, I spend my time in a sort of pseudo-reality, never entirely sure if the people I'm talking to sincerely care about me, if they value me, if I really make them happy. If they're even real.
I'm currently struggling to figure out what to do with my life. I know I can't keep beating myself up for the fact that I can't focus on education right now, and I know that I could get a job if I tried - I went to an interview yesterday and found out I'm on the shortlist. It's the first interview I've ever been to for a job. But I don't want to be tied down to a job even though it'd be the simplest, safest and most productive choice for me right now. I'm as indecisive as ever; I still desperately ask all of my friends what they think I should do even though I know that what I need to do is to stop fussing, chill out, keep busy and just let myself come to and figure out my own interests and motivations again. But I know I have changed and grown in one way - courage. Where I used to accept how my father and bullies treated me and accept that it must just be my fault/that I deserved it, since I stood up to my dad a few months back I have, well, grown a pair. My dad disowned me as a result of me calling him out on how he treated us and hasn't seen or acknowledged me since. Although I'm sad not to have a dad any more, I'm capable of accepting that he's clearly not someone I want around anyway.
This ability to dismiss others' actions/words as reflections of what I am or what I deserve has extended to others, too. I have respect for myself now. I won't accept people speaking badly of me without question any more. If I argue with someone and they take anger out on me, I refuse to accept what they are saying as true. Because I know that even if I seem a weak person, integrity and empathy are my greatest strengths. I have never intentionally/knowingly been mean or inconsiderate. I'm only learning to be able to put myself first. I'm still struggling with inferiority complexes, particularly when I find myself comparing myself to other girls (even when friends assure me I am definitely not inferior in any way), but as it turns out, it's always been that people saying critical things to me have almost always been wrong/speaking in the heat of the moment. The criticisms I know are correct are related to the fact that I am such a worrier and so caught up in fussing about/feeling for my friends and even strangers and animals that I don't leave much concern/energy for myself, but I'm not sure I can or will stop that. I think that it's selfish and cowardly to tell yourself to stop caring/worrying for others so much just for your own sake or for efficiency (I honestly think people caring more about themselves than others is one of the biggest problems in the world right now), but I hope I can overcome that one day, since as my friends say, I am gonna have to change myself or change the entire world, and I don't see the world becoming any less selfish/insensitive as a whole any time soon. Yet people still wonder why the most intelligent/insightful people are often so unhappy in the world.
I don't know what I'm doing or what kind of person I am, but all I know is that all of my friends say I have a good heart and am one of the most genuinely nice, insightful and respectable people they know while my mother maintains that I have been more conscientious and brave than she or my older sister ever would have been. I have a long way to go, but the way I figure it is that if I've already got what I like to consider substance, bravery, soul or just the kind of understanding others with easier lives/less perceptive or empathetic personalities can't have, I am already in possession of what is really needed to make a good difference in the world. I won't accept injustices any more; I may well still be painfully shy and scared in real life, but when push comes to shove the development I am proudest of in my life so far is the ability to stand up for the little guy, whether that little guy is me or anybody else. I don't want to back down to injustices any more - my father was the biggest, scariest person I knew and I stood up to him even with him shouting in my face, so I certainly won't take it from anyone else any more.