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  1. Here I am again, pondering the thing we call life. What should I do with my life? That's one question I've already asked in an early entry on here, and answered with "become a therapist." Would I really be suited for that job, though? Do I actually want to do it? My brain can't even handle that line of thought right now. Had an unusual day at work. I was getting overwhelmed by my anxiety again. Seems like whenever I start to get to know people, I just naturally clam up. It's a defense mechanism, for sure; no doubt ingrained in me by my years of scraping by on the outskirts of different social circles in school. Not revealing my true self was how I got by, how I got to college. I was just hiding my feelings, repressing them, hoping nobody would see me. Of course, that lack of attention that I so desperately wanted also created a deep incessant need for others' approval, if I ever did have their attention. My cat and a few friends of mine were the only ones able to see through that thin veil of impartiality. My mom, too. My brothers, sort of. Gah, I've been here before. I've effectively gone in a circle. I must have gotten too comfortable, inert, inactive. Passive. Uggh, I hate that word. "Passive" makes me think of a frickin' rock that you just pass by on a walk without even noticing it. Ah, there it is. I feel unnoticed; unappreciated. And then I start to believe that I'm actually less than, which shapes my thoughts and actions, reinforcing my belief. What caused me to feel unnoticed and unappreciated? Probably just a lack of appreciation at work. I suppose I am rather dependent on others' views of me. Today was one of those days that just felt off. People were less talkative, I was less talkative... I felt insecure for some reason. I felt like I had nothing good or useful to say, so I just kept my mouth shut. Oh, also the music was too loud for me to even attempt to hold a conversation in the first place, which kinda killed my enthusiasm early on. Yeah, that must've been it. Yeah, because later on in the shift, when the music was off, I felt more at ease. Was I overstimulated, then? And thus, confused, I felt insecure? That's possible. Adding to the overstimulation was the crowded deli kitchen. I guess I don't do well with crowded spaces. Much more at ease when people are spread out. Hmm. That's interesting; I'm fine with confining myself to a small space alone, but when I'm in it with a lot of other people, I instantly feel like I'm under attack, and I have to take up a defensive position, or take evasive action. Where did that come from? That fight or flight reaction to being in a crowded space; wanting to get away, but feeling cornered... Was it school? That same feeling I had back then, the one that made me want to hide, it still persists now. "If I don't say anything, nothing can go wrong... I just need to keep my head down, chime in occasionally, and nobody will mind that I'm here..." That's the belief that stuck with me early on, and it worked as intended. I got through middle and high school without becoming too much of a controversial figure... But, of course, it had its setbacks... I know that people are afraid of me sometimes. I can be different, "scary." I get moody after a month of being happy-go-lucky (like what happened today); I make off-color statements without meaning to; I don't know how to hold a conversation with my own friends... The list goes on. Nobody asks me if I'm okay when I'm moody, because if they do, they don't know what kind of a response they'll get. Or, if they do, they feel like they already know the pre-programmed platitude I'll give them to make them look the other way. Nobody makes an effort with me because I never really make an effort with them, outside of what's necessary, in my opinion. Bipolar sucks like that. Makes me sensitive, but not always in a good way. Maybe I'm on the autism spectrum, too? That would explain the overwhelm, the black-and-white thinking, and so on... Welp, I'm dozing off, so goooood night.
  2. Well, that was a bit of a hiatus, but I'm back. Hi. I got obsessed with D&D research for the better part of this month and last month. I think it was my perfectionism combined with a fear of disappointing my friends. I already don't get out much, and this was kind of the perfect time-suck on my days off from work. My eyes have started getting bloodshot again from all the screentime. Oof. Really just trying to fight off that numbing feeling that I get whenever I start delving too deep into something I'm obsessed about. On that note, I don't think I have OCD, but I can't be certain. My diagnosis from half a year ago (wow, time flies) was "Psychosis Unspecified." So helpful, smh. Glad I'm back here, though. I feel a warm sensation, as if I've just found a warm shelter from a chilling storm. I'm also not over-editing everything to try to make it as cohesive as possible, which is a bit comforting. Little bit of self-acceptance is nice every now and then. What in the world have I been doing these past few weeks? Oop, there goes the self-acceptance lol. Well, it's a valid question, and one that I haven't fully answered. Nah, I don't need to fill you in on all the details, just the important stuff. Okay. So, D&D delving. Had my first game over Father's Day/Juneteenth weekend, and it went well. All my research was paying off, I suppose. Everyone had a fun time, and that's what counts. Aside from that, I've just been working. Part of the reason I haven't been posting is because I'm adjusting to this new schedule. The energy usage, the expenditure of mental capacity. Didn't think a simple job like this would take this much out of me, but it has. Not to say I don't like it, though. It's a great feeling when I'm on deliveries, and I get to be amongst the throng of people enjoying themselves at the theme park. I even like the main work of it, which is just simple tasks in the deli. Make a salad, cut some fruit, put the pretzels in the oven, take this down to xyz places. The work itself is actually pretty boring, but the people there are interesting and cool. Hmm. Moral quandaries abound, though. There's a girl who's 17 and works in the deli with me. Different girl than the one in a previous entry. Starting to think I have a problem of falling for girls who are underage, sheesh. I'm 20, but I look younger, according to everyone I've asked. That may be part of the issue. Not to mention, she already has a boyfriend. How stupid my brain can be sometimes: honestly, it surprises me. Okay, but before I keep beating myself over liking a 17-year-old girl (Jesus, she's barely even a senior in high school yet, for God's sake, what am I thinking?), she clearly likes me, and I get that feeling of "lighting up" whenever I'm around her. She does this thing where she'll stare at me. I think it's to mess with my head; make me feel like I don't know what to do. At least, the way she explained it when I asked her was, "Because it's funny. I just like making you uncomfortable." She said it in a joking and more flirty way than that gives off in plain text. Based on her flirty tone, I think that's just an excuse to play with my feelings and lead me on for entertainment. But, there's also an attraction factor, I can tell. So, she's not just toying with me for sadistic fun. There's something else there. I know that also because we always have great, easy conversations. It's like I don't even have to try with her, in a good way. It's the opposite of stressful. I can poke fun at her knowing she'll poke fun right back, and neither of us will be hurt or offended, because it's all just good fun. I can kind of let my guard down, which is nice. Not too much, of course, because there's still the fact that we can't date, but on the perspective that we're just good friends, I can kinda relax. Still, when we actually make eye contact, whether it's when I notice her staring at me or we're having a conversation, I can't help but get that feeling that I don't want to look away. As if a laser beam is magnetically pulling me towards her eyes, and her eyes are guided towards mine. I've only had that with two other girls in my life before, and I know how I felt about them: absolutely in love. And it was reciprocated! I think that's what's so intoxicating about it: the feeling of being appreciated and admired, just as much as you appreciate and admire the other person. But, no matter how easily our conversation flows, or how magnetic our attraction is to each other, or how much I wish she were 18 and didn't have a boyfriend, the facts remain. It's kind of hopeless. I say "kind of" because I always try to acknowledge the slim possibility of something that far-fetched actually coming to pass. It'd be like trying to make a landing on the moon without knowing how to orbit a spaceship around it first. I'd just hurtle out into space, or directly crash into the moon. Worst case scenario, I get halfway there and realize I should have done some better calculations before I left, and then the disaster happens. The moon in this case is the actual relationship being "a thing." Woefully inadequate description there, but it's supposed to mean, in my eyes, that we're dating, going steady, and planning to be together long-term. Ugh, if only, if only, right? Well, no point in fantasizing about that 3% chance that we may actually work out in the end. Just gotta focus on the present and keep a respectful distance. I should hang out with my other friends more, too, so I don't become reliant on my clique-y friendship with her. Wish I had done that when I was dating my ex. Live and learn, I guess. But enough ramblings about a doomed fantasy. I'm gonna do a gratefulness journal, because I feel like I should, and I want to take my mind off of her for a while. 3 modern commodities I'm grateful I have access to: - running water (hot and cold) - convenient, good-smelling soap - washing machine I guess I really like being fresh and clean in the morning. Anyway, I should go to bed; get ready for that next shower and workday and so on.
  3. Thanks for that really thoughtful reply, @DanielG. I'm glad my story resonated with ya, truly. And yeah, line cooks are kinda bonkers XD. Somehow we get through it, though! @LordFederickRamsayI was hoping make another addition to the list, after thinking more about my last suggestion. Again, they're just suggestions based on my experience, and there's no one-size-fits-all way to make friends. It's all highly variable depending on circumstance. Still, I hope you find it helpful in some way, if you're interested. Okay, here we go... Option 4: I realized that I also made friends just by doing nice/generous stuff for people. In this case, I'm borrowing from Buddhism's teachings on generosity (in Sanskrit, alobha). In this belief system, generosity is one of the three "wholesome qualities." The idea is that it's is the opposite of greed, and is therefore "wholesome." I feel like it's important to know how much you can reasonably give, though. For example, I've been the type of person who wants to help as many people as possible, all at once. (That's another one of Buddhism's core teachings, actually. Walking the "middle path." Maybe I'm actually Buddhist, idk. It's just helpful for me.) Everyone has a limit to how much they can give. I've found myself in countless situations where I dropped my boundaries and burnt myself out, Giving Tree style. So, I just thought I'd mention that, in the hopes that you don't make the same mistakes I did (and still do, sometimes). Option 5: Including people in conversations/supporting/standing up for people if they need it. One common way I do this is with a simple question: "Idk, what does (person Z) think?" Shows that I respect them. Honestly, that's probably how I made most of my friends/good acquaintances. How I met them was usually just by circumstance, but how I came to know them was usually by putting in an effort to be there for them if they needed it. Or, vice versa: they were there for me when I was in need. Before I go on another rant, I think I'll just do a brief gratefulness journal for today. I'm feeling stressed out, and maybe it'll make me feel better. Some books I'm grateful for reading: - Beloved, by Toni Morrison. - Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. - All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. - The Anthropocene Reviewed, by John Green. - How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use, by Randy J. Paterson, PhD. - The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. - Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss. That was my favorite book when I was little. I'd reread it over and over again. I even watched the show on Netflix a couple of years ago. I have to admit, it was well-made, and I really enjoyed it, even as a young adult. It's got 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, not surprisingly. Nice to watch a good, wholesome show every now and then. Alright, I do kind of feel better now. I wonder why I was stressed in the first place, though? Ah, well, I did have to call in sick for two days of work this weekend, including today. I was worried I might be sick for longer, and upset that I wasn't there to prove myself to my colleagues during this busy weekend (Memorial Day weekend in the States). Wanted to help them out, show them that I can be reliable on busy days and slow days. Ah, it's fine. They probably forgot I even existed for half the time. I often forget that most of the time, people are just busy worrying about themselves and their own problems in our society. Not that there aren't truly altruistic people out there, but that's besides the point. I just mean to say that it's unreasonable to assume that I'd be on people's minds if I've only known them for a few days at work, making basic small-talk, chopping fruit together. Ha, alright, that's enough out of me for one day. "It goes out fast, and comes back slow," indeed. Gotta take a break. K, gooooooood night.
  4. Ha, yeah, maybe you're right. I just didn't know any better. Plus, demonizing a past version of myself isn't very helpful for me. I like to believe that my views of my past selves constantly impact how I view my present self, and I have plenty to criticize about myself. In an earlier journal, I wrote about how, with bipolar depression and anxiety and whatever else I may have, it can be easy to slip into a perpetual state of self-loathing and regret, if I let my feelings take over. It turns into envy, sometimes, too. Might not have mentioned that before. Whenever I felt left out of friend groups, I would just naturally feel jealous about that connection that my other friends had with each other. Like, "What's wrong with me? Why can't I have that kind of connection with people? Is it just how I am as a person?" I start to question how I can even be happy at all, if I can't win over certain people. It's a strange thing, now that I think of it. Trying to "win people over," as if I have to constantly make a concerted effort to get people to like me. It's instinctual, though. I have a sort of persona that I use and maintain, just in long-term social settings, like at school, or at my job. It's a "goofy, fun, and kinda stupid" persona, that I use to make people feel more comfortable around me. It masks my depression and mental/emotional turmoil (the real source of many of my mistakes and shortcomings) with a facade of stupidity. It's why some people (who I generally try to avoid now) have compared me to a golden retriever. I'm definitely not that. I think I'm more of a... y'know, a human being, and not a dog? I can see the positive side of that comparison: loyalty, compassion, and goofiness/cuteness. But the nature of our relationship made me filter all that positive stuff out. Didn't sit right with me when I realized I was sort of in a pet-like position with these "friends." I felt like I wasn't getting a seat at the table, that nobody wanted to hear my opinion. I felt left out, but still dragged around on a leash just for comfort, or whatever else a pet provides people. What did I do about it? I stopped hanging out with them, simple as that. But nothing's ever that simple. That's a story for another time, though. Anyway, that "golden retriever" persona is just another flawed defense mechanism, and I'm fully aware of it. It often still controls my behavior, though. Hard to shake off something that's been instilled in me since I was little. I've been raised to believe that I have to be tolerant of other people, but intolerant of myself, especially when it comes to how mental illness plays a role in my life. I've obviously made progress towards self-acceptance, otherwise I wouldn't be here writing about this. But, I also have the veil of anonymity here, so I feel comfortable just being myself, y'know? I can also go back and edit things that I wanted to explain more or rephrase. It's easy to just be here, as opposed to in-person social settings. No need to think about eye-contact, body language, or any other myriad of social cues that I may overlook. It's just words being words. And I can reread them as many times as I want, until I feel satisfied that I fully comprehend them, and I've worked out an approach to respond to them. I'm not slow, I just usually struggle to put things the right way quickly. I'm careful, at least when I'm not in a manic or hypomanic state. Another factor in my persona usage: I did also just generally avoid social situations for much of my life, if I could. I usually just played videogames instead. Didn't have much practice with social situations, I guess. I don't actively seek them out, either, even now. I always dread having to be in social situations. Usually they turn out fine, but other times, I "break character," so to speak, and it's really difficult to regain people's trust after that. I'll be in a manic, unstable state, and I say something out of character. My happy-go-lucky persona just fizzles out, and I feel exhausted; brain-foggy, mortified... The regret settles in, and I don't know what to say or do. Maybe that's why I've always been an outsider: I usually don't just show up as "me;" I'm always trying to be "some other version of me" that I think is more appealing to people. People appreciate authenticity, but I just feel incapable of it, if I don't know them really well. It's almost like I live a double-life. I like to think I'm honest, but under social pressures to be the "golden retriever" version of me, I suppose I'm not always honest about who I am, really. Like I said earlier, here, on this forum, I don't feel any pressure at all to conform to any social standards. So, I can be completely open and honest. "Me." I can tell my story and not feel like I'd scare anyone away, since many of the people who come here have been through the same shit I've been through. But at school and work, I feel the need to hide that darker side of myself so that I don't scare people away. I mean, if everyone I worked with knew that I was hospitalized (full-on 5150'd) for paranoid hallucinations less than a year ago, I'd probably be fired on the spot. It might not matter if I explained how I've recovered. I use a knife every day to cut food, and I might be considered a risk to my colleagues. I realize that this may just be my catastrophizing happening, but it's entirely possible, and I like to prepare for every possibility. Speaking of potentially scaring people away, though, I did let slip, in a tired/hypomanic state the other night, that I've been to a psych ward. I don't know why I said it. It was after a full 8-hour shift, and I was tired...smh. What scares people away from me in social settings, though, is the way I say stuff. In this case, when we were all done closing up the kitchen, we were talking about how we never see the outside world while we're working in the "back of the house." It reminded me of this purgatory-like experience I had at a mental health facility. So, I briefly explained that, but in a way that seemed kinda psycho-y. Mentioned how there was no sun, no windows, no clocks, nothing. One of my colleagues was like, "So you've been to a psych ward?" And I responded, "Oh, no, that was before the psych ward." And then I didn't get the opportunity to explain myself before everyone started heading out. Whyyy, why do I have to say things like that, at the least appropriate time? Out of context, it may have seemed like I just hardcore dissociated and my perception of reality was extremely distorted. But it really was a frickin' purgatory-like place, that mental health facility! Ugh. Another one of those regrettable moments where I "break character" and look like a freak. I really hope my colleagues just forget I ever said that. Alright, I'm too tired to keep writing, and I have work in the morning, so I'm just gonna hit the hay. Gooood night.
  5. Whoa! That was intimate! I appreciate you sharing that, man. Facing those difficult memories, emotions, and that uncertainty... Talking about things that are hard to talk about openly... Sharing what you're feeling in the moment and accepting it... I really commend you, my friend! Reminds me of that one quote I shared before, "Even should I scar my work with doubt, hesitation, chaos... certainly, that's a beauty all its own. Your life is no worse for its own scars. Your truest beauty lies in them, and I hope you tell me their stories someday." - Yusuke (from Persona 5) Your stories are beautiful, dude. I know I sound like a hippy, but I truly mean it when I say it. Again, thank you for sharing this. First of all, I completely agree that there are shades of grey that Cam doesn't adequately address in his videos. Even the main process of quitting gaming altogether in his book seems like a recipe for disaster for addicted gamers, in my opinion. Going cold turkey is an extreme experience for anyone with an addiction, whether it's about gaming or a substance, or anything else. Without a good support system, which many people who struggle with addiction don't have, it seems damn near impossible. I was lucky to have my friends and family supporting me. But even so, I probably would have relapsed if I hadn't gotten to the end of that Fire Emblems game before I quit, too. It gave me a sense of finality to gaming, kinda like turning the page to a new chapter. With endlessly repayable, competitive, strategic, semi-social, action-packed games, though, like Fortnite, and for me Smash Bros., it's designed not to have any end in sight. In other words, I get why you ended up watching that video about Fortnite, and didn't feel bad about it. I could watch a Smash video and still feel that rush from playing, my brain working out the strategies, admiring the skill, wanting so badly to be that good, almost like I had never quit at all. Now that I don't have my Switch, though, I can't play Smash anymore, and I inevitably have to do something else. Your gaming PC is like my Switch, I think. Just seeing my Switch gave me a little tweak in my brain, like a meth addict seeing a bunch of crystals on display for them. Drove me nuts. If it's anything like this for you, I really hope you can get rid of your gaming PC. Maybe just sell it to a hardware store for parts if you can't find anyone to buy it? Or sell it for cheap to a friend of yours, like I did with my Switch? It's your decision, and of course you don't have to sell it. After all, it does have the specs for video editing, and other powerful software, it seems. Will you realistically be using that software if you don't have anyone else to use it with, though? If you're on the fence about selling it, I know it hurts!! You built it yourself, and have spent so much time on it. But it's an unhealthy relationship, right? If it's controlling your life, ya just gotta break up with it. That part Cam is right about, at the very least. Another thing he may be right about is socializing. Makin' friends in person, who you can hang out with and enjoy that time with. Maybe it's just one or two friends at first, but sometimes that's all a person needs! Someone to hang out with; who we can be ourselves around. When you meet 'em, you just know. I also recommend having solid friendships before going out and trying to date, too. People you can fall back on if your dating doesn't go well. I say this, because I was in a position like yours once, with very few good, reliable friends. When I broke up with my ex, it felt like the only ones I had in my corner were my cat and my mom, at times. I was in such a state of emotional turmoil... and of course gaming was my only solace, apart from maybe movies and shows. All very solo activities. I can say with certainty that if I hadn't been excessively gaming back then, I would have made more of an effort to make close friends. I wish I had known these ways of making good friends, which I know now. Based on my experience with coming out of my anti-social shell, here are a few suggestions that I give from my own life experience (and feel free to completely ignore them if you want, no pressure): Option 1: 1. Try to find a common goal/interest that you both have, and talk about it a bit. For instance, I think we both like writing! And, in our writing, we both pursue the goals of exploring our memories and finding our way in life; breaking out of our videogame prisons; finding the grey areas in an uncertain world; trying to express what we're feeling in a way that makes sense; finding release in just accepting our thoughts as they play out in the writing. 1a. You can ask them what they're interested in, or what they like to do in their spare time, or what they like to do for fun? Even if your interests don't exactly align, people love it when you express a genuine interest in what they like, and maybe you'll end up bonding over something else! 2. Share contact info, and schedule a normal time to get together and bond over it! We both share our stories with each other, and have formed a bond through that. Just imagine if there were people you could share your stories, thoughts, etc with in person! In this freestyle format, or with poetry, or via whatever medium you wanna use. 2a. If there's a club you can join, in this case, a creative writing club, poetry club, etc feel free to join it and encourage that other person to join too (if they're not already in it)! This is just one example of any number of possible interests you have. For me in high school, my "shared goal/interest" group was band/marching band. We all wanted to make music and having fun. Got me through so much, even if I wasn't super close with everyone. In college, I found friends who were all interested in the environment and social justice in some way. Now, I find that group with my D&D friends and my work colleagues. At a theme park, everyone there wants to have a good time and enjoy themselves, even the employees. Talking about what we do for fun is therefore just a natural topic for us. At the pub where you work, maybe you can ask about a favorite drink or a crazy night someone had when they were drunk. Or, maybe you can find that shared interest in acting, or something else entirely. Option 2: 1. Make an observation about them. "I notice..." With you, I notice you write really eloquently. 2. Maybe ask them about it. "I wonder..." Is there a certain way you wanna feel when you're writing? What's it like to put yourself in the audience's shoes when you read through and edit it? What's your ideal writing soundtrack, if you have one? 3. If it reminds you of something, make that connection and tell them about it! "It reminds me of..." Your raw, authentic storytelling reminds me of Toni Morrison, the author of one of my favorite books. I learned this strategy from, oddly enough, one of my environmental studies-focused classes. They're called the "John Muir Laws," "three prompts for deeper nature observation." (Muir was the guy who convinced Teddy Roosevelt to institute the national park system in America.) Whether it's a little detail, or something more general, a lot of people appreciate it when you express your awareness of them. Recognition! Very applicable word there. "Getting-to-know-again." Respect! "Look-back-at." Thoughtful people like yourself often second-guess themselves. Don't worry, that's your brain trying to tell you something. I notice...(thought/feeling) I wonder...(why think/feel that?) It reminds me of... (Aha, it might be because of ABC factors). Option 3: 1. Make a fair deal with them. Not in a superficial way, but in a way that's more like, "Hey, I'll help you with something you find really important/fun, and maybe you could help me out with XYZ thing." This method can be a solid follow-up once you know a common goal. Whewww, wrote a lot there. Hope it was helpful, but hey, don't worry if you forget it, or didn't read it all. The answers are within you, if you ever want to find them. All you gotta do is listen to your mind and your feelings, ask why, and thank your brain for providing that important (usually coded/puzzle-like) message to you. Alright, g'night.
  6. @LordFederickRamsay, my dad was/is always kind of lukewarm/passive-aggressive/manipulative, rather than "hot and cold." He was a prosecutor for a long time. I think that rubbed off on him quite a bit. All that arguing, trying to find his opponent's weaknesses in their defense, always on the attack. He's got a predator mind, ngl. Kinda creeps me out how he's always trying to put on a sweet facade so that he can just be a piece of shit later, once people let their guard down. It's hard to describe specific instances, since it just happened/happens alllll the timmmeee, y'know? But if I had to think of one example of his form of being an ass that happens a lot, it's his gradual revealing of his true nature. He's always on his best behavior to people's faces at first. Then, once he gets to know them, he starts treating them badly, but in a way that makes him seem like the victim. He constantly tries to create a power dynamic in some way. He's got an inferiority complex, I think, so he tries to make himself feel better by making himself more powerful over others. For example, let's say someone does something that hits one of his high-strung nerves, and they apologize. But then my dad, instead of just taking the apology, like "no problem, you're fine!" he starts picking at their shame like a scab once he sees the opportunity. Makes them more vulnerable so that he has the upper hand. His tactics differ depending on the "opponent" he's "facing," but it all ends up with the same result: he ends up in a position where he has control over other people, based on guilt and/or shame, and then starts using that power to get what he wants out of people. Usually he just wants (as far as I can tell) the attention, or the feeling of having just that little bit of power in a relationship. Why? Idk, maybe he just feels powerless in his personal life for whatever reason, or insecure. He collects guns and knives and tries to act all manly and conservative, but he's really just a guy who's afraid. That's where I can relate to him a bit, what with my worrying about others' opinions of me. But at least I don't try to manipulate people in order to feel better about myself or gain power over them. Conversations about money and plans are a common way for him to gain leverage over me and my siblings. Guilt trips us, tries to reason everything his way, makes himself look like the victim; basically uses every trick in the manipulative book. Kinda the definition of toxic, unfortunately. Thankful that I don't have to live with him anymore. That was hell for me. Anyway, does that answer your question, George? Sorry, I know I kinda rambled on a bit there. Hope it was in some way helpful for you. @Zoe, I appreciate your kind words. I know I was just a little demon child, and I didn't know any better, but it's nice to hear someone else affirm that belief. Ha, I just remembered, I literally bit a kid once because he took my milk carton and my seat. Kid was kind of a bully, and I felt like I was serving him justice, I guess. Weird how I remember what I was feeling at the time, since I was so little. How could I forget, though, right? I mean, who forgets a moment in their life when they bit the class bully in retaliation? Ha, man, he was so shocked, it was kinda hilarious thinking back on it. But of course, totally unacceptable, and I did get in trouble. One other thing I remember, while my mind is here I suppose, I was explaining how the drinking fountain worked to some classmates of mine. Buuut, I didn't have a clue how it actually worked. So I just said that the water that you don't drink gets recycled, and then more water comes through the pipes, or something like that. I probably wasn't too far off with my guess, but I was stating it like it was fact. Not really the most humble thing to do. I think I was trying to gain people's admiration or approval, as if being "the smart kid" would make me more valuable in my classmates' eyes, no matter how much I fudged my "facts." Yeesh, glad I can always fact-check everything now. Thankful for my handy dandy phone and whatnot. The training in school that I got to parse out the truth from the misinformation or "almost-truth." How to find credible resources, and never make a claim if I can't back it up with concrete evidence and solid reasoning. Thanks English class. Do you remember any "little demon" moments you had as a kid, too? I'd love to hear it if you're willing to share that. Just fun to hear those kinds of stories and relate and stuff. Gonna try to just read and respond to people's journals for a bit. I feel like I need to get outside of my own experiences and talk to y'all about yours! I love hearing your stories, too, and relating to them, so it'll be fun. Gotta go to work tomorrow, and I guess I sorta already covered my gratefulness journal in my responses to you guys, so I'm gonna hit the hay. Gooooood night.
  7. Instead of a gratefulness journal, I wanna write about some things that I'm worried about. Hopefully I'll feel less worried about them if I can just see them in writing as they are. Worried about: - not getting along with some people at work. I tend to exaggerate small bad moments with people in my mind. Catastrophizing kept me from getting into trouble with my overly sensitive dad. If I always feared the worst, I could always be on guard against it. Long story short, I'm just afraid of other people's opinions of me. I mentioned this in response to something @Zoe said in her journal about "compulsive people-pleasing." I felt that so deeply. I haven't always been Mr. Goody Two-Shoes, though. There was a time when I was little, like 5 to 8 years old, when I was kind of an arrogant little prick, to put it lightly. I framed one of my friends for something stupid I did, and got away with it. I (lightly) slapped a girl with chubby cheeks, because I thought it was funny to see her face jiggle. She didn't fight back or anything, so I thought it was fine. Of course, it wasn't fine, but 5-year-old me didn't know any better. At least until I got the scolding of a lifetime. I would try to correct people's grammar/spelling and play the know-it-all, even if I had no clue what I was talking about. I would also just straight up pathologically lie to people. God, I was a little demon child sometimes. I think I started getting better in middle school, when I realized how stupid I was acting. Don't know exactly how, but I think I just mellowed out to try to make more friends, or at least not be enemies with people. Guilt and shame shaped me at that age. Translated into anxiety and depression, and so on. I still have some residual arrogance and know-it-all-ness, but I can control it most of the time now. I just have to watch out for when I'm in a manic state, since it's easy to become arrogant like that. I'm too tired to write more, so I'm going to sleep now. Gooooood night.
  8. Another mini-gratefulness journal, since I have an early shift tomorrow: Grateful for... - having a job with so many great perks. I'll be even more grateful once I get paid though:) - the berries I just ate as a late-night snack. Crazy to think our ancestors used to have to forage for those, and now we just pick 'em up at the grocery store. Thankful for all of the farm workers who grew and harvested the berries, as well. And the grocery store and its employees. Plenty to be grateful about there. - this community. I'd probably still be gaming if I hadn't come here. Thanks everybody. Just knowing we're all in this together is a big help for me. Yeah, sounds cheesy, but it's true. K, gouda night. 🧀
  9. Ha, I feel that whole compulsive "people pleasing" thing a lot myself. It's a habit I developed in high school. Always yearning for good grades, people's approval, etc., 'cause I was always an "outsider." Working hard was my way of trying to set a good example for the younger kids, as well as a way to make sure I was still respected by my peers and teachers, I thought. So funny how I always view others based on their inherent value as people, whereas I see myself based solely upon my efforts sometimes. Part of why my "gaming shame" was so bad. iykyk. I was respected, I would say, but I made a lot of sacrifices, including my mental and physical health, and having any ability to form close relationships with people. Gaming made it worse, too. Dungeon Master research and world-building is a great example. I always find one more thing that might just make the setting/characters/themes a little more interesting, and the constant satisfaction of "aha" moments keeps me at it. Very similar to videogames in that way. The only difference with my DM research and gaming is that I'm trying to find real people's approval instead of virtual/imagined people. Can be stressful, and I'm still learning to approach it from a healthier standpoint. What keeps me in check most of the time though is a sort of mantra that I recite to myself: "It goes out fast, and comes back slow." Reminds me that I expend lots of energy and lose track of time, especially when I'm doing stuff for other people. Thus, when I notice it happening/has happened, I gotta decide to take time for myself to recover, even if it doesn't feel like I need it. Could be anything as simple as taking a sip of water, eating a snack, or excusing myself for a bit. Or, something more relaxing and/or hobby-based if I'm at home/have time. "It goes out fast, and comes back slow." Oh! Jeez, see, there I go again, rambling. That's another "going out fast"/losing track of time moment. Apologies for the lengthy response! Hope it was helpful/relatable in some way. Oh, and don't worry about the clarinet stuff. I know it's expensive to get good equipment, but if you don't wanna spend a bunch of money, feel free to just get whatever's cheapest, or whatever. It's your life, my friend! Apologies if I made you feel pressured in any way. Whatever you decide, you got this👍 (Quick song recommendation before I go, too: "Careless Love" performed by Dr. Michael White. It's a classic blues song that's been adapted by a lot of different artists. There are a couple versions from him, but I especially like the one with brass in it. It's got New Orleans jazz vibes! Speaking of which, New Orleans jazz is a clarinet goldmine if you wanna hear more of it.)
  10. Mini-gratefulness journal: - I've come a long way from being stuck in bed, devoid of all emotion. Thankful for all the people who have helped me along on the journey. - My colleagues are all great so far. Fun to be around and talk to. Excited to see them again; grateful for the inspiration they give me to keep on the path to my goals. - I got the day off for celebrating my brother's graduation from college this Friday. So glad I get to be there for him on his big day. Alrighty. G'night.
  11. Gratefulness journal for today: 3 general things: - The Internet, my wifi, and my computer. I wanna make that one group of things I'm grateful for. I was doing a lot of research for my D&D campaign, mainly on Eberron, since I may wanna incorporate some interesting concepts into my campaign. Specifically, I'm picking out ideas that may mesh with my themes and setting, like a world-origin story, different countries on one big continent, histories of different races, lost civilizations, or portals to other planes, etc. Grabbed an idea from Critical Role as well, to build on a monk villain I'm making. "Way of the Cobalt Soul." Very similar to a basic acolyte background, it's just got some more flavor, abilities and lore to it that I can use. Gotta sleep soon, so I'm gonna just do the next 2 things real quick. - My bed. It's comfy and I get good, restful sleep on it. - My kitchen and the food I can make in it. Glad I have a microwave. Seriously, it saved my life when I was depressed and could barely do anything, let alone cook. K, goooood night.
  12. A few general experiences I'm grateful for today: - Met all (or at least a lot) of new colleagues at the "Deli"/kitchen, and, once again, everyone was uber chill. They appreciated my goofy jokes and were mostly not awkward at all, which was nice. There's one older guy who's a little strange, (just gives off some strange vibes) but... Idk, maybe I just don't know him well enough yet? I don't wanna shy away from him, though. That's what really makes "strange" people "strangers," most of the time: just not knowing them, not including them. I know that for a fact, since I've experienced it myself. I'll sum it up by saying most of my "friends" during middle and high school were just a last resort to avoid being a total outcast. It's not that I disliked them, rather that I just didn't connect with them that much. I sat with them at lunch, and I was in band with some of them. Never really hung out outside of school, though. Always felt left out of the "inner circle," y'know? Like there was something was lacking, something missing from the bonds between us. Had a few close friends, but even then, very limited time together away from school. I was too busy gaming, watching Netflix, and focusing on my studies, band, and my goal to get into a good college. This experience of always being an "outsider" has really impacted who I am today. I honestly think it's more difficult for me to know that someone's not being included and do nothing about it. Gives me a bad feeling. For me, feeling left out is the worst. Conversely, feeling included is the best! So, I try to make everyone feel included in social situations. That's why, when I got to college, I kind of "assembled the Avengers," and contributed a lot to forming a few close friend groups. It took considerable effort to kinda be the "plan-suggester/connecting everyone/inclusivity guy," but it was worth it. I even ended up rooming with some of them in my second year. It did take time away from my studies, but I've made my peace with it. Made the right choices (aside from excessive gaming), met some great people, had some fantastic experiences. Whenever I feel pangs of regret about it, I just ask myself, "What're a few bad grades gonna be in the long run, versus a few lifelong friends?" Nothin'. May cost me more money in the short term, but friendships like that are priceless in my eyes. I will balance my focus more in the near future, though. Can't just hang out with friends all the time and not get my work done. Or game all the rest of the time. Now that I'm not gaming's outta the equation, it should be a piece of cake. Hopefully. - Had some good chicken tenders for lunch, and a root beer. Trying to avoid soda in general, since it's bad for my teeth and overall health, but I let myself have a treat every now and then. Can't have caffeine, though. Makes me jittery. That's why I like root beer. Caffeine free. Just has a bunch of syrupy sugar, instead, I guess. - Noticed that someone at the deli, my supervisor, I think, had an Otter Pop. It's a long popsicle that you eat out of its plastic wrapping, in case you've never seen one before. Comes in all sorts of flavors and colors. I'm grateful I saw him eating it, because it brought back some good childhood memories. Otter Pops, man... Every little event in the "after-school program," in elementary and middle school, had Otter Pops. A little fair one time, with carnival and party games all over the place, some kids' birthdays, end-of-the-school year celebrations, movie nights, dances... Huh. It's all coming back to me... Alright, can't reminisce all night, so one last thing; then sleep: - Got to help some guests at the theme park take group photos. I was doing a food delivery, and along the way, I noticed that one person was being left out. (Hey, full circle!) Of course, I came to the rescue, and offered to help them take a photo with everyone in it. They were, elated? I guess that's the word? Showered me in compliments, like "Oh, you're an angel! You're the best!" I replied, joking as if I was a super hero who just saved the day, "Just doing my job, folks!" And I made them laugh right before the picture, so the smiles were genuine! Wow, I think theme park work really suits me. For now... We'll see what I say a week from now, after Memorial Day weekend! I've got high hopes for it, though, still, based on my past few days. Allllright, goooooooooooooood night.
  13. Today, I'm grateful for: - My first day on the job, actually working, and I had a good time. I mainly did dishes and cleaning, since they haven't fully trained me for my position yet. I'll be doing food prep in the "deli," which is just a big kitchen. - My colleagues are chill! It was a bit awkward introducing myself to some people, but with others I got along great, I think. One of my supervisors and I talked about how he studied Japanese history, and plays Smash Bros with his girlfriend. He mains Samus, and has Elite Smash ranking for that character. And I was like, alright, well I got Elite Smash Mega Man, so ha. I did also let him know that I stopped playing videogames altogether, though, since I was just playing way too much. He was very understanding about it. Had a good time talkin' with him about other topics, too. Just a cool dude in general. Oh, I even got one girl's Instagram! Just as friends, not romantically. I was initially trying to be romantic (we were obviously connecting on that level), until she told me she was actually 17. I was super surprised! I was like "Whaaat? You look like you're my age!" We both kinda felt bummed out about it, but as a "mature" 20-year-old dude, I was eventually just like, "Hey, no problem, I'm cool with just being friends!" She agreed with that, and now we're buds! We work in totally different departments, but maybe we'll run into each other every now and then, have a fun little chat or something. Guess it's back to square one on the dating scene, though. Well, plenty of fish in the sea, right? Someone my age, hopefully? Jeez. Let's put that on the backburner for now, though. I'd rather focus on making a bunch of great friends first, before starting a relationship, anyway. Wouldn't do me any good to start dating anyone without having friends to back me up and help me out. Been there, done that, in high school. Didn't really have any close friends when I was dating my ex. Just need to have other people to spend time with, y'know? Alright, alright, onto the third thing. - Grateful for the manager who was really helpful and set aside time for me. She even gave me longer hours, which I know may sound bad at first (more work, ugh) but it was a sign of trust, in my opinion. One little restaurant at the theme park was short on staff, and it was a busy Saturday afternoon, so the supervisors put me on dish duty, like I mentioned earlier. Had a sorta fun time. I like working in the dish room because I can hum and sing to myself, and not really bother anyone. All the clanging from the metal trays and stuff drowns it out for the most part. - One more person to mention: my Uber driver who got me to work this morning. Guy had a lot of wisdom to share. One thing was, he recommended that I do Uber driving gigs once I have my own car. Said the schedule would be completely on my own terms, and wished he had something like that when he was in college. I really appreciated the suggestion. Always good to be able to plan around academics instead of my job. Just makes life easier. Seems like I always learn something new whenever I talk to an Uber driver. This guy, though, was by far the best Uber driver I've ever had, and had the best sense of humor. Kept it real with me, too. Helped me feel psyched up for the day ahead of me. It's amazing how much of an impact one 15-minute-long conversation can have on my day. I made sure to give him a tip and rate him five stars to show my appreciation. Alright, alright, gotta hit the hay. Got work tomorrow, so goooood night.
  14. Gratefulness journal for today: - I've reached Day 11 of no videogames! Now that I think of it, that's not a big milestone at all. But, it feels good to know it, at least. - Had a game night with my friends tonight. Didn't play D&D, because I'm not ready to DM yet, but we did do some improv games and skribl.io. (It's like online Pictionary.) I pulled the improv games from a book called Truth in Comedy. My oldest sibling gave that to me for my birthday a couple of years ago. They're really good at improv, and they said that book helped them learn the basics. They knew I wanted to DM eventually, so they thought it'd help a bit. It has helped! One of the games we played was a game I sort of made up using a concept in the book, which I call "Object Subject." It's a roleplay game, where: 1. One person describes any object they want, in great detail. 2. Then, they set the scene in which the object is located. 3. Then, that person can either roleplay as the object, or they can describe what happens around the object, as the other players interact with it. It's like D&D lite! I chose the object, which was a bowl of minestrone. I described the ceramic bowl and the contents of the soup. Then I said it was sitting at the bar. (I'll be paraphrasing what happened after that, so I don't make this entry too long.) Man, my friends got so creative with it XD One of them was like, "Ey, can I buy ya a drink?" to the minestrone, and I said, "The minestrone bubbles affirmatively." Eventually the bartender came by with the drink, and another one of my friends asked "if the soup was even old enough to drink." I responded by saying, "An ID card (with a picture of the bowl of minestrone on it) floats up to the surface of the soup, saying that it's 22 years old." After that, they were like, "Ew, doesn't that mean you're moldy? How many times have you been reheated?" The minestrone bubbled in an offended way, and arranged some penne pasta in the shape of the number "8." It was very moldy. The bartender tried to defend the minestrone, saying it was his best customer, and they shouldn't be insulting it. "Ey, are ya tryna drive away my best customer? Come on, give the minestrone a break! Ey, minestrone, if these guys are botherin' ya, I can always move ya to another seat. Or I could kick these fools outta here." The minestrone didn't have time to respond before my friends were like, "Can we microwave you? I mean, look at you, you're all moldy." The bartender, fed up with them, said, "Ey, didn't ya read the sign? 'No microwaving the other customers!'" My friends went ahead and did it anyway, and the bartender (I) just let 'em do it, cuz I wanted to see what'd happen. One of my friends put the minestrone in the microwave for three minutes, stirring it every 60 seconds. When I asked, "What are you stirring it with?" He said with his finger. The minestrone died in the microwave, making weird scream-like sounds. It was immobile after that. And the bartender was like, "Ey, I warned ya, but ya still did it anyway. Now look what ya did. Sheesh. My best customer." And then he just shook his head and went back to cleaning the counter. What a weird game. It was really fun, though, just because of the sheer absurdity of it. I hope we have just as much fun when I'm DM-ing our actual campaign. Definitely gonna reference that little skit in there somewhere. Like, their characters could happen upon a whole memorial service in honor of the bowl of minestrone. There'd be candles and flowers and photos of the minestrone at the bar XD. The bartender would be giving a eulogy with tears in his eyes. "That bowl of minestrone was my best customer. And I failed to protect it. I... May it rest in peace." Then he switches gears entirely, as if he wasn't just crying a second ago. "Alright, now who wants a drink! Open until 2 AM tonight, 25% off everything in remembrance of the bowl of minestrone!" Then, if the players want, they could go to the minestrone's burial, or go to the bar, or whatever they wanna do! Ah, I hope I get to do that. Wow, ended up writing way more than I thought I would. Time flies when I'm remembering something fun. Alright, I got work tomorrow, so I should hit the hay. Goooood night.