The Problem With Needing Other People

As countless, painfully hipster Tumblr photos will tell you, the bulk of my generation is a lonely one. We’ve done it to ourselves, really. Treating screens like friends and playing make believe in our heads because all the movies and TV shows (and for the classic nerds, books) we watched (or read… obviously) growing up gave us those worlds to play in. The worlds where you’re the boss and things fit just so. It has left us a little bit shorthanded when it comes to grasping reality.

(I’m obviously not talking about everyone in my generation. There are many that never even read a book for pleasure and ended up with a lot more friends and a lot less virginity than me at this point in their lives. You people, you don’t need to read this. Bye, see ya never. This one’s for the creeps, weirdos, and losers. Antisocials Assemble!)

I have fallen victim to this trend, to myself. I have given myself over to my imagination in such vast quantities that the ‘real’ world has, at best, a tenuous grasp on my commitment to existing. In my mind, I’m a wizard, a sexy archaeologist (holla, Lara and Indy), even a scruffy-looking nerf herder, or the be-bunned lady of his life, depending on my mood. In my body, I’m the girl who lies on her mattress on the floor all day, scraping the bottom of the Nutella jar as Tom Bombadil lives a much more fulfilling, albeit fictional, life than I ever hope to know. The choice is a fairly easy one.

Except, it’s not. For all the many hours and REM cycles I can sacrifice, sucked into my latest fictional universe, there are just as many hours obligatorily spent out of doors. Or rather, just out of my bedroom door and into the scary beyond. I have to make dollars to keep my bedroom and my mattress on the floor (which is actually there by choice. I have a bed frame. I’m complicated.), and to buy breakfast foods and other essentials. So I go and assist various human beings in their lives of doing things and interacting with humans and other nonsense. It is in these necessary hours of toil that I peep through the window I regularly keep shut and curtained. The window into society. People. Community. Other words that make me uncomfortable.

I see these people that live out there in the city, and I feel feelings about them and stuff. Let me elucidate.

1) I feel wearied. Humanity, as a general rule, sucks. Now, there are plenty of individuals that have talents and many a BuzzFeed post promising to restore a presumably lost faith in the bunch, but I don’t buy it. The masses are generally only good for two things: injuring the elderly on Black Friday and driving ogres/witches/transfigured princes, etc. out of town. And I don’t appreciate either of those contributions, thank you very much.

2) I feel curious. I have a bipolar brain, self-diagnostically speaking. Not a chemical imbalance or what have you (although you never know with me), but I have a brain that will sketch and draw and dance and sing for a month, and then spend the next one researching quantum physics and the edge of the universe. I do the mental hokey pokey between right brain and left, the artist and the scientist. In my science mode, I enjoy doing small social experiments when I set myself loose upon society. In traffic, I make faces at fellow commuters. I sing to them ballads of the 1970s. The reason that I tell myself I’m doing it is purely scientific (and not a desperate plea for attention with the aid of Galileo and a little silhouetto of a man scaramouche scaramouche will you do the fandango because I’m really lonely tonight and I’ll make you breakfast). I wish to observe their reactions when a variable (i.e. me) is introduced into the equation. Thus far, it’s produced a pretty steady stream of bemused half grins and one exceptional motorcycle revving.

3) And this is the one that is hard to admit. Or not exactly that. It’s more that I feel it and then I immediately regret the decision. But I feel it anyway. What is it, you may ask. Not telling. Just kidding, I am telling. That is the whole point of this thing that I am doing right now. But back to that feeling. It’s envy. Not jealousy, as that one’s reserved for close, personal, one-on-one situations. No, it is the capital vice on Envy. I want something that they have, and I don’t want them to have it. Let me elaborate slash take away any small inkling you ever had to deem me a worthwhile and halfway decent homo sapien.

In accordance with Feeling #1 expounded upon above, I don’t have too high of an opinion about our species. I do, however, have a disproportionate opinion of myself. I deem myself as not so bad a guy. I of course have my various and asunder deep, dark shortcomings, but that’s another story and this computer doesn’t have enough imaginary ink to write it all down. But, I digress. I want some of the things other humans have and think I deserve them just as much, if not more, than the next guy. Revolutionary, yes? What I’m saying is that I, one very wont to wander off into my imagination, and happy to be so, actually craves something outside my mind. Wanna know what it is? Human connection. I know, what the fuck, right? Now I don’t want to go all Heimlich and turn into a beautiful social butterfly, but I would very much like a large, meaningful relationship. Or two. With fries.

The need for this hits me so abruptly sometimes that it seems like all that would ever matter ever. It is poignant and crippling, the sudden realization that you do not want to be alone when you were perfectly contented just moments ago. This realization of the need for human connection abruptly pulls me from my weightless fantastical world and grounds me in this unpoetic, rambling, and dingy reality. But still, I need it, and sometimes I downright want it. And, going on to the part that will make you think much less of me, I don’t think many of the people that have it deserve it. Honestly, people “connect” with other people willy nilly, and very much of the time leave a trail of human wreckage in their wake. And then the wreckage wrecks other wreckage, and we basically have a large, like really tangled web of heartbreak and VD. These are the reckless organisms I think I am better qualified than to love. Commence the human rights, equality, and white privilege hatred. Bring it on. Although, I am delightfully tan-ish, despite the repeated indoor VHS marathon that has become my life. What I’m really just trying to get across is that I want love, I want a chance at togetherness, a chance I see so many squander.

But how do you relationship? My life has not prepared me for this. And I blame technology! Because it’s not my fault, I’m a victim! Woe is me! I’m shitting you (such a gross idiom), I do blame myself. Call me Tommy Tibbles. “You’re Tommy Tibbles.” I know.

This brings me (finally) to the point of all this. There is a dichotomy in me, and in those other people I imagine to be out there on the end of all those nostalgia-filtered Tumblr posts: The handwritten confessions of relentless, unspoken, unrequited love. The heartbreak typed out on the back of a gas station receipt. All the ones hash tagged ‘depression’ or ‘alone’ or ‘why me’ or ‘tw:whining.’ We teeter between needing and not wanting, between desperate longing and determined lone wolf-edness. We want this connection, but don’t extend our sex braid tentacles to make them. Maybe we’re scared for the safety of our sex braid tentacles. Maybe we think no one will like our sex braid tentacles. Maybe our sex braid tentacles are too fat or too desperate or too smelly or too sexy braidy tentacley. There’s an endless number of possible reasons. A cornucopia of self-esteem and social anxiety issues. It’s not a very good excuse, but it’s ours.

But where does leave us? Do we risk it, go out in the world with our stomachs in our throats and our palms sweaty and our brains screaming, “ABORT! ABORT! These people don’t like you and — yeah, great, you totally just spit a fleck of tater tot onto that person’s shirt. They totally noticed. Go get stabbed by a ring wraith and die now”? Do we do that? Or do we hide, bury that pesky need for love down somewhere behind the pancreas, and drown our sorrows in solo midnight Missy Elliot dance parties, pretending that we’re Katniss and that Peeta finally stopped being such a pussy and loves us and everything’s wonderful.

And that’s another thing: why do we idolize and wish to be all of these various protagonists? Their situations are generally total shit. They’re poetic and wonderfully contained, plot outlined shit, but still, lots of shit. (Another time, Me, get to the end of this thought and then write another thing about this stupid theory that just bounced into your head and will probably fall apart before you form a complete discourse on it. Idiot.)

Basically, we have a choice. Do or do not do. Carpe diem or carpe whatever’s in the fridge before watching the rest of Star Trek Season Three. We all know this choice, it’s silly to think we don’t. The problem lies in the making of it. The weighing and measuring of the risks on either side. Some days, the outside risks seem unbearable and we spend another day apart, alone. Other days, there’s that little fucker that comes into your life unexpectedly and makes you want to live again. And on days after that, that same fucker will drop you like a newborn giraffe (kerplop) because you don’t know how to relationship. You are too much and not enough, and can’t seem to find that magical balance that makes all those other pretty people socially acceptable and so totally kewl and tells them that it’s not socially acceptable to use that spelling of cool outside of MySpace messages in 2004.

Tl;dr? People suck, I wish they didn’t. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Markus Spiske

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