Monday, August 23, 2004

Cruel Summer

As Bananarama sang: "It's a cruel, cruel summer. Leaving me here on my own."

A long weekend, much of it spent either bored out of my skull or else going on long walks to try and stop obsessing about some things. Can't speak for anyone else, but when I'm obsessing about something, letting it go around and around in never ending circles within my mind, exercise and pop music are just about the only ways I have of coping. Oh, it won't take away the feelings themselves, or the thought and logic loops that I sometimes get mired down in, but at least for an hour or two, they go away. I'm afraid that usually means singing aloud, though, which means that I'm probably fast getting the reputation as "singing exercise walk guy" on the Arlington County trails. Oh, well.

The frustrating thing about an obsession or emotional "thought loop," as I've come to think of them, is an inability to look rationally at what's going on. Once reason has left us, we become our own worst enemies - allowing our worst and most negative selves far too much of a say over what we're feeling or thinking. Once those thoughts take hold, its tough to get out of the "loop," where the two sides of your personality, negative and positive, collide and argue with one another. I've told other people that the solution is often to simply interject as a third voice, saying: "Stop!" and set the whole thing aside, but that's always easier said than done. I remember when I first became infatuated (ie, 'had a crush') with SG (no, not the same SG that is my current friend/roommate who moved up here from Texas - this was a female SG who lived in Topeka) back in high school getting caught up in a logic loop. The worst thing was that my reason fled and, despite having everything to offer, I let my self-esteem problems at the time get the better of me. Instead, I said nothing - and it slowly killed me from the inside. There were days where I felt physically ill thinking about her. And I never said a word. Worse, I passed up other opportunities that fell before me (LH immediately comes to mind, but there were others) because I was too busy caught in an insane logic loop.

The amazing thing was, I had so little self-esteem at the time I couldn't see reality for what it was, only for my own perception of it. I was an intelligent, funny, talented, nice guy who looked pretty good for the time (heck - I'll admit it...I looked damned good - even if I look way too conservative) and was liked by plenty of girls (including SG, who considered me a friend). They would have been nuts not to go out with me. But that wasn't what I saw. No, I saw a dorky, clumsy, un-athletic, music and drama geek who was too smart for his own good, had few friends, and was a constant topic of negative gossip behind my back (none of which was true, btw...well...I was in music and drama stuff, and I wasn't the greatest athlete, but I was hardly the negative picture I painted of myself). Only hindsight has given me clarity on the issue.

Yes, this is an all too typical story of teenage infatuation, unrequited love, low self-esteem and missed opportunities. Heck - there's enough here for at least three or four John Hughes movies! But it's a good example of what I'm talking about regarding obsessions. Sometimes we can let them get the best of us and the worst thing is that our ability to see ourselves as we truly are abandons us to the negative vision we all sometimes have of ourselves. We create self-fufilling prophecy, saying that, "She won't like me because I suck," or, "I won't get that job because I'm stupid," or, "Why bother writing that novel since I have no talent." If that's all we believe, than that's all we'll be. Reality is that we are always our own worst critics, and everybody (and I mean everybody) struggles with self-esteem from time to time. It's why I have always been sympathetic towards guys who have a hard time approaching women for dates - it isn't easy putting yourself out like that.

So...I know what you're asking now...what's the point of all this rambling? I don't know, to be honest. Partly, I'm seeking justification for walking 12-15 miles over the weekend (including all the way into Georgetown on Saturday morning). I'm also trying to come to terms with these kinds of logic loops (I call them that because you end up in a never ending circle of if/but statements where you eventually run around in circles) and obsessions. I once heard (can't remember where) that obsessions were good servants, but poor masters. Anxiety can sometimes be a good thing. It can keep us from making poor decisions, force us to change bad habits, push us in new directions. But we must control it instead of allowing it to control us.

Now if only I can convince myself of the truth of such statements. ;)

As a personal aside, I think this is one of the first times I've used this forum to talk about my own personal life and my feelings on things that don't have to do with politics, history, music, movies, etc. I hope no one minds.


At 10:14 AM, Blogger EmGee said...

A little rambling never killed anyone ;-)


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