The quintessential jam of my summer 2 years ago. An isolationists’ anthem. A young lady singing about why she shouldn’t be at a party (mostly because she doesn’t want to be). A good enough reason to get caught up in the moment of feelin’ yourself and not wanting to deal with the rest of a social scene that isn’t your jam.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really embraced the idea of giving little to no f#%ks. I read that this is just something that kinda happens with more experience. You begin to see what’s really worth your time and you’re able to make strong choices for yourself. People can follow along with you, or they can pass, it shouldn’t make any big impressions either way. I think that this is enhanced by pop culture though. There’s this prevalent idea that you are all you need. People come and people go, but you’re stuck with yourself, so the only person that you have to please is you. There are lots of memes out there about doing you. I mean, it’s also my personal motto for this year: “You do you!” Which really just equates to a pat on the back for thinking of yourself first. I can’t blame you for taking care of priority number 1 (yourself).
There are a lot of reasons that this might be true in some cases. Someone won’t earn money for me. No one will do my job for me, or pay my bills for me (if I were prettier, maybe I could work on getting that one reversed). Life is about the experiences that you go through. People can’t learn and grow for you. You have to do the heavy lifting for yourself on things. The world won’t give you any breaks, you have to prepare yourself for battle or for success. There are some people who think that the prosperity or struggle that you have in life is directly proportionate to the work that you do to get yourself into or out of that particular well being or hard luck. It’s true that some great lessons are ones that are impressed on you by the chances that you take, or the stretching that you do when doing something outside of your very warm and very safe comfort zone.
I’d beg to differ though. I think that there is something faulty here. There’s no way that you can have the full experience of life without others. No matter how hard you try to make it all about yourself, there’s no way that you can get by solely on your own. I don’t say this to mean that everyone has to be married or in a relationship. We need people! You can be single but still, rely on your friends and family. I don’t know of anyone that has been able to successfully cut everyone out of their lives and live a life of pure solitude (if they are, I’m sure that they’re suffering and trying not to show that they are lonely and not thriving). Somehow, we’ve decided to promote the idea that the self is greater than the group. Maybe this is just something that I’ve noticed being in America, but I find that it’s far too easy to get that validation (which I don’t agree with).
I bought into this so hard, that I used it as my only defense right out of college. My philosophy was that I was the only person who truly cared about me and my well being. I would read all this self-empowerment stuff and took it all exactly the wrong way. Instead of being willing to be vulnerable with anyone, I retreated into myself and convinced myself that I was doing the best thing. No one would be able to tell me anything that would affect me, I wouldn’t be misled or mistreated because I was taking life into my own hands. Any problems that I had would be because I put myself into them. I had no one to thank or acknowledge when I came out successful on the other side because I had made me! I was the vehicle for which this life would be best experienced. This mentality got me absolutely nowhere, but a place where I was depressed and sad for myself. I began to think that no one wanted to invest in me when really, I was just pushing all the help away and trying to shoulder things on my own.
I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to create your best self or live your best life. Those are definitely things that I want, but where I went wrong was thinking that there was any value in keeping people at a distance while I figured this out. I left a lot of people out of the “inner circle” and missed a lot of opportunities to learn the most about myself. It’s critical to have some people around to bounce ideas off of or to just get feedback from. As much as I hate dating, the great thing about it is that you can get some really specific feedback about yourself, that you absolutely cannot get from going through life solitary like. There are just so many lessons out there that a person will learn from their interactions with other people, as part of a community, whether there are romantic intentions or not. Now, in my post-therapy life, I find myself trying to slip back to the old things that kept me afloat. Now I have the tools to check myself and make sure that I am no longer making decisions without involving people. The best thing for me is to realize that I can actively choose to involve people and invite their partnership in my life.
I already caught myself just this week, wanting to have alone time with my upcoming three day weekend. My friend wanted to have a gathering for his birthday, that I immediately wanted to slink out of. Because I disliked this friend? No. He’s one of my closest friends and he will be leaving my everyday life soon, to go pursue his own happiness. I felt my personal time threatened and I couldn’t handle the idea of making room for celebrating someone else. What kind of crappy bullcheat is that, Justin? I’m a jerk, I know. I felt like I had so many people trying to get me to do something over this weekend with them, that I just wanted to curl up in my bed and ignore it all. WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF LETTING PEOPLE IN. This is exactly what I spent 2 years in therapy trying to avoid. The next morning, I apologized to said friend and let him know that I was not trying to hate on this gathering for him. He, of course, mentioned that he understood the need for personal time, but I had to call myself out. There’s no reason to be a whiny brat when people just want to enjoy their lives and include me in that.
It’s difficult to try to turn a new leaf, but hopefully, he’ll still have me at the gathering and I’ll learn to be able to cut those kinds of thoughts/reactions out faster, instead of just jumping into them. Like it or not, I need to embrace the idea that people enjoy me and want me around. It’s something that I enjoy. There’s no need to fight it. I need people in my life. That’s just what it is.
I gotta stop trying to keep to myself and wishing that I wasn’t “here”.