It’s Only Weird if You Make it Weird – embracing vulnerability

By Emily;

It’s only weird if you make it weird.

Is it, though? Like Actually?

This is a phrase that I mutter to myself at least once a week, as I do many phrases. However this one is unique in that, no matter how many times I beat myself over the head with it, I find it virtually impossible to believe.

I know we typically refrain from using names in this blog, but I feel pretty safe in telling this story because I find it unlikely this person’s potential future race for president is harmed by this anecdote (and if it is, I solemnly promise to edit this post). But remember Paul Bailey? He’s a very iconic sort of person, and was especially iconic to a young impressionable pre-youth group E.

One of my earliest memories of Paul Bailey (you have to use his full name it just doesn’t work otherwise) is when he was joking around with some pals (his oldest brother was there also), and he said “yeah whenever I feel uncomfortable in a given situation, I do absolutely everything in my power to make everyone else in the situation as uncomfortable as possible.” From where I was standing in my corner by the air hockey table not quite feeling up to actually joining this conversation, I gave a weak, horrified laugh, and then pretended to read whatever poster was closest to me.

In retrospect, what I think Paul Bailey meant by “make everyone as uncomfortable as possible” was probably closer along the lines of “exacerbate a weird moment until it crosses the threshold where everyone finds it funny and then suddenly we’re all laughing and no one feels weird.” which, if anyone could do that with aplomb, it’s Paul Bailey. But I didn’t quite grasp that nuance at the time. Instead, I just imagined someone so immune to social anxiety that they would just walk up to a group of people having a good time, pick a person, and happily make prolonged eye contact with them without saying anything.

Continue reading “It’s Only Weird if You Make it Weird – embracing vulnerability”

The State of Loneliness

Reflections on coming to terms with loneliness, by AEJ, first published on her site.

Loneliness is a difficult emotion because it isn’t just synonymous with isolation. We can feel lonely without being alone. It’s hard to understand why we feel so disconnected when we’re socially active with others. We can have a myriad of friends, but these friends don’t necessarily appease the solitude. It’s frustrating to feel empty when you’re in a room full of people, and you may, as I do, conclude there’s something wrong with you. 

I don’t have many friends, and that’s fine. I’m comfortable with my introversion now, and I don’t think I could handle popularity. I used to like the idea of being close to many people, but that gradually fell out of fashion the older I grew. I keep an intimate group of companions today, which I know and love well, and I don’t think that should ever be a bad thing; grateful doesn’t come close to the way I feel for this amazing company.

Despite the friendship group I’m blessed to have, I don’t always feel like I belong there, and I don’t mean in terms of common interests, and it’s definitely not something to do with how my friends treat or have treated me. I believe, in simple terms, the detachment is my fault. The loneliness I feel is an internal deficit. I’m insecure and uncomfortable sharing myself with others. The former response primarily concerns people I know, and the latter is saved for acquaintances and strangers.

Ever since I was little, I feared rejection from others, and this dread continues to be an issue in adulthood, trying to feel safe in my current relationships is impossible because I assume people will leave me, there is apprehension for them “finding me out”, realising I’m not worthy. I may think my insecurities remain internal, but from an outsiders point of view, I may physically withdraw or incidentally push someone away. Making new friends is hard too, and approaching someone unfamiliar regularly feels pointless because I can never give them my authentic self. I don’t trust people, and I rarely express my opinions, convinced I’ll be ostracised for them. And with all these mental factors considered, loneliness appears.

I don’t think we’re educated enough on loneliness because we often misunderstand it; solitude is not just situational. Loneliness is subjective. We can feel lonely for many reasons and it doesn’t just depend on our physical state or environments. We could be at a party or hanging out with friends and still feel forlorn, we don’t have to be alone to feel lonely, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for experiencing it, either.

I used to feel a lot of shame for my own solitude because with what I had, friendships, a good environment and my youth, the loneliness felt inappropriate. It’s sad to think that even whilst experiencing an emotion, we can trick ourselves into thinking it’s something else entirely because we don’t believe we meet the standard/s to feel it. Well, hitting the bar or not, I do feel lonely, and I’m not afraid to admit that. In going forward, I hope to resolve these feelings for the sake of my current relationships and those I go on to make. After all, the first step in recovery is admitting to your problems.

by AEJ,