I’m just too tired to go into the controversial stuff I’ve been up to today. Actually, when I think about it, I’m pretty sure my body still has a sleep-related debt from the Night Shift as it can’t be that simple, switching from one time-zone to another, it really can’t; especially since I’m no longer fuelled with caffeine. Or maybe this is what it feels to be like everyone else? You just do your job, eat your food, laugh and bitch, then hang out with friends, sleep with your lover, and plan the next thing that will ease a bit of your boredom. If so, I’m not really warming to this ‘feeling’ everyone shares; I’m kind of used to feeling weird and strangely left out. I’m still ‘odd’, probably; no doubt in a way more people seem to accept (or kindly ignore, whichever). All the same, it really is bizarre to think I could be possibly “normal” after so many years just being the complete opposite.
I used to have “Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)“, you see, a complicated form of shyness which crippled me in childhood until I was seventeen – and I’m not saying this just to sound wildly pretentious. It was something I genuinely had and only became aware of once I no longer had it. If you’re not aware what this condition actually is (and I wouldn’t be surprised; not many people want to talk about it), then let me explain: an anxiousness you feel where anything public is painfully impossible. You can’t look anyone in the eye, you stutter when you speak, you sweat at the thought of people somehow judging you, etc.
But sufferers can be affected in various ways, from fearing to write or speak in front of a crowd to avoiding public toilets or laughing at jokes, therefore what troubles one sufferer of Social Anxiety won’t necessarily trouble somebody else. For instance, writing in public never bothered me, I was fine with public transport, and I didn’t mind hanging out with friends, as long as they gave me plenty of notice (so I could build up the courage!) and went to quiet places where my voice could be heard. What I couldn’t bear, though, were things like showing humour and honesty. If I heard something funny, I’d try not to laugh because I thought that laughing was ugly. If I had an opinion, I kept it to myself, afraid that people would sneer at me. And if I felt angry? I would blame myself for the error or force the anger down to hide this unsightly emotion. And walking down the street was the most agonising of chores… I used to think that people driving their cars towards me were staring at my face and knew that I was an idiot.
Jesus, quite a head-fuck, right?
And it’s difficult to say when I started to feel like that. It had something to do with the way I grew up, I suppose. Without saying too much (because of privacy, whatever that is), I grew up in a town where Asians were downright rare, and when I say “rare”, I mean there weren’t any other Asian kids at my school except for me and my brother (until another Asian family moved in a few years down the road, but we’ll ignore them for now). Due to this being the case, the neighbours used to stare and sometimes call out randomly any Asian nationality they could think of, as if they were playing a game show with you as the prize. Back then, as a teenager trying to find their feet whilst not tripping over, this was far from the most amusing event. It was, to put it bluntly, bloody annoying. I mean, why the hell couldn’t they just ask me where the hell I was from instead of pointing me out in the street like a fucking leper?
But I’m over those issues now, I bloody am. Like I said in a previous post, my time in Japan more or less cured me – I totally recommend going to a foreign country alone as a cure for Social Anxiety. Drugs, on the other hand, are a massive no-no. The symptoms just aren’t worth the long-term effects. You won’t be in this head-fuck forever, unless you enjoy being this way and don’t want to change your image, but the condition comes and goes, depending on what you go through, so don’t do the drugs; it’s really not worth it. Introducing myself incessantly in Japanese was how I gained some confidence and overcame all those feelings of fearfulness and anxiety, and being Asian in an Asian country was certainly an advantage as I slowly escaped from my shell without anyone looking…
So how on earth am I different to other people if I’m no longer “socially anxious”? Well, think about it: if you spend so many years avoiding other people, what do you learn socially? Nothing, hardly anything. You don’t get to know all those socially useful things like how it feels to be hated as you’ve never let anyone actually know you, or how to admit you dislike someone else as you’ve never entertained any thoughts on one person. And you may find some people just too hard to comprehend because you just can’t imagine how they became that way in the first place (ie. perfectly sound due to happily married parents), or how to help them with problems you’ve only ever seen in a soap. But what you do become good at, and these are only examples from my personal experience, is how to recognise when something is troubling a stranger and empathising with those from exceptional backgrounds. You’ve been there, done that, dug the grave to go with it, and there are people out there who may grateful that you suffered, as without that suffering, how else could you grasp what they’re truthfully feeling?
Hmm… food for thought!
- 07:15 – chocolate muesli with semi-skimmed milk
- 10:30 – 1 x banana
- 11:30 – a few Maltesers
- 13:00 – beef (?) lasagne with onion rings
- 14:00 – Peanut “9Bar”
- 16:00 – small portion of dried mango
- 19:30 – Italian tortelloni with tomato, onion & cheese with salad
Plus: 3 x decaff tea; 1 x normal tea; 3 x cup of water