INFERIORITY & SENSITIVITY

*Hopefully the text that follows will make my perspective clearer, but I can’t help but state from the outset that I write and share this tentatively, since I am convinced that people (if they care at all to read this in the first place) will react to what I say with rolled-eyes and an automatically-worsened opinion of me. (Is my huge lack of confidence in myself clear yet?). If you can identify with any of the following and would like to talk about it, I’ll be here.

There is an important, inspiring quotation that has stuck with me for years and years, even though I don’t think I’ve applied it to myself successfully:

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Although I’ve really always admired the sentiment behind this quotation, lately I’ve been struggling with it. To consent to a feeling is rarely – if ever – a conscious choice, and when that feeling is inferiority, it is a response to comparing ourselves with others. In an interaction with another person, the view that we are of lesser value may be communicated from them insidiously; it may only be after hundreds of small, seemingly-insignificant exchanges that we realize that the feeling of inferiority is correlated with having specific interactions with specific people. In fact, if we’ve grown up surrounded by these types of interactions and people, we may not even realize that this is unhealthy at all and should not be the norm. We learn to expect the dysfunctional, but not how to recognize it and address it or remove ourselves for our own good.

When it comes to the person who is said to be “consenting” to the inferiority, sometimes, there may not even be a single, obvious traumatic event that has resulted in that person de-valuing themselves and their feelings. Depression and anxiety may be mostly the result of brain chemistry, but we may unknowingly look for reasons we feel badly in order to dispel our confusion. Despite this, most people are aware that many others all over the world experience the same or worse stresses all the time. Although it is important to maintain perspective like this, I think that is one of the main problems with mental health “awareness” today: we are constantly undervaluing our own feelings (in relation to others) as justification for not seeking help, but this worsens the cycle of dysfunction and fuels pain and the belief that we are inferior.

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I’ve sought some help via online and in-person counselling before, but I’ll next write a bit about how I think a pretty-constant feeling of inferiority has affected me.

It’s strange: consciously, I know that I’m a pretty friendly, decent person, but I have come to realize that the default filter through which I think, make decisions and behave consists of the belief that other people’s time is more valuable than my own.

For example, I try hard to be spatially aware, not wanting to be an interruption in the path of another as they go about their day, but I’m human and fail at this sometimes. (And no, I do not mean to suggest that the “I’m human” excuse should be an acceptable one for all kinds of mistakes, but it IS an evolutionary adaptation for humans to focus on certain things in their physical environments in order to sense danger or threats. Depending on the situation or the anxieties of a person, what they have chosen to focus upon may not be the most spatially-advantageous to everyone in their immediate vicinity, but this is not necessarily their fault).

I am also insecure about most social interactions.

“Why would anyone want to spend time with me?”

“What makes me worthy of another person’s time and energy?”

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Interestingly – and frustratingly for me – when this belief that my time or personality is less worthy of being valued or respected is indeed confirmed by forces outside of my own head, I feel it intensely. I hate that I do not deal with social confrontation as well as I think I should. If someone snaps at me or just outright ignores me because someone “better” has come along to talk to, I become hyper-focused on the idea that I am less-than. I feel this physically in-the-moment, and even after, when ruminating; my face flushes, my palms get extra-sweaty, tears (mortifyingly, frustratingly) develop behind my eyes and a lump forms in my throat, which makes it even harder to say what I want to say. This is fascinating, too, because my sensitivity makes it very easy to recognize when I am being treated in a way that would merit my standing up for myself, and I desperately want to do so – I want to be and act the strong person who doesn’t take shit from anyone – but my reflex is to shut down, partly in an effort to calm myself. Maybe it is that my defense mechanism isn’t too defend myself, but perhaps to feel sorry for myself, and retreat fully back into the “safety” of my inner thoughts.

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This frame of mind also makes it extremely difficult to write this blog, and especially a post like this. I have ideas for pieces to write all the time, but they very rarely make it from my inner thoughts, to a saved memo on my phone, to a scrambled Word document, to the blog – a full-fledged post with images and maybe even GIFs and all that jazz. I am not so cultured, so well-travelled, so well-read, so experienced in those famed “ways of the world” to believe that someone would want to look to what I’ve written for any reason…

However, when I see others’ ‘chinks-in-the-armour’, others’ embarrassing moments, I feel a strong kinship with them, and I want to reach out.

“THEY TOO know what it’s like to feel like a piece-o-shit gremlin/oaf who can’t function appropriately in ‘normal’ society.”

“Their stomach grumbles loudly in quiet rooms.”

“They trip on nothing on the sidewalk, and keep walking.”

“They go through a fit of choking/coughing on no identifiable thing.”

“They go to take a sip of their drink and spill some down their shirt.”

Huzzah! I am not alone!

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Being neglected – whether due to purposeful effort or not – is a horrible thing, because you are sent the message that you have been rejected on some social basis, and by definition, you are not given the chance to prove otherwise to others or even to yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, show people that you care about them. Be aware that the way you say things can really negatively affect people. Keep your good intentions in mind, and try to communicate in ways that accurately reflect them. I am not suggesting that we should all “tiptoe” around one another’s feelings, but be aware that we are social animals who greatly affect each other, and often in very subtle ways.

PEOPLE WITH ANXIETY GIVE THE BEST ADVICE

First off, I’m not sure if the title of this post is the epitome or antithesis of a humble brag, but just give me a break for a second. In one of my rare, usually-less-than-successful efforts to practice that beast of a concept that is “self-love” [yeesh (but really, I obviously need more of it]), I tried to think about how my overthinking of every. single. thing. – to a degree that is always confirmed to be unhealthy when mentioned aloud to various individuals I encounter, who respond with semi-guilty shrugs about not being able to relate to my plight o’ the day – could be spun into a positive quality.

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(Before I delve deeper into describing this thought process, I’d like to clarify that when I say “overthinking” here, I do not mean thoughtfulness or extremely high levels of philosophical thought, NO, but just a general type of thought that is not especially creative per se, but which usually is destructive to my person and causes an anxiety-ridden implosion of sorts, especially if I am having ‘one of those days’).


A specific example of such “overthinking”/self-sabotage include readily-believing, without question, that a person at the top of an escalator is pointing at me in annoyance – over what offense I do not know (nor does that matter) – only to find out they were gesticulating at their girlfriend, who was standing two steps behind me. Other general examples include imagining multiple hypotheticals in most social situations which lead me to have a total mood change (usually from good/neutral to steady irritability/sadness), and convince myself that it’s safer to avoid most other humans, and instead, keep to myself most of the time (because I obviously am terrific at self-love/forgiveness/comfort, etc., and should NOT AT ALL be kept away from myself).
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Due to keeping to myself much of the time – and apparently due to the subconscious realization that I should not be left alone with my own bloated thoughts – I consume A LOT of media, and especially media that does not allow for my direct participation, such as TV shows, films, music and podcasts.


(By this point, I’m hoping this is not reading like a cover letter but is instead effectively convincing you, reader, that I am qualified to give you media recommendations, due to the sheer amount of time and brain power that I expend in order to distract myself from myself).

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Thus, if you – like me, but to a lesser, more healthy degree – view media and entertainment as a source of distraction, please take the TV/movie/music, etc. provided throughout this blog as tried-and-true, pretty-damn-worthy-of-your-time recommendations.


(I realize that the title of this blog post is slightly misleading, but what I also mean to suggest by this post is that – due to my subconscious efforts to distract myself from myself, and instead observe the complexities of other people and their interactions – I think I may have incidentally become fit to give personal/relationship advice).

Does this make sense? Probably not.

If not, please take this as a long-winded introduction to a simple, preliminary list of podcasts that I think are very-worth listening to:

 

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For therapy/empathy: Mental Illness Happy Hour

-extended, in-depth interviews with individuals about the life events, traumas and relationships that led them to be whoever they are today

 

 

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For laughs/interviews Cashing in with T.J. Miller

-conversations between Cash Levy and his perpetual guest T.J. Miller, that always go on very-random tangents; episode titles include: ‘Butter Coma’, ‘Scratcher in the Rye’ and ‘Ear Envy’.

 

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For THE MOST laughs/interviews (you don’t need any reason to listen to this, JUST DO): Ronna & Beverly

-improvised conversations between (and interviews of other comedians by) two stereotypically-Jewish, middle-aged women characters, both of whom have consistent, richly-detailed backstories about their friendship and respective family lives

FRIENDSHIP…..THE GOOD KIND

I’ve been debating with myself for a couple of months now about whether or not to publish the following post about friendship. Throughout that time, I have added thoughts, asked myself what my main point is, and continued to think back on and analyze the social experiences I’ve had – to the same, frighteningly-anxious extent that I normally do – and I haven’t reached a ground-breaking conclusion. I’ve also tried to analyze the part I’ve played in the social experiences I’ve had, and whether or not what I’ve felt is based on mostly-flawed interpretations on my part. Unfortunately, this is a near-impossible task, as social interactions often result in self-fulfilling prophecies, wherein an individual assumes something about the person with whom they’re interacting, thus encouraging behaviour in that person that they might not otherwise have displayed but which fulfills that assumption.

Rarely is it that one person is clearly in the wrong, but what seems to matter most is the level of consideration of their interaction-partner’s feelings that they’ve shown. Sometimes, what can sting the most is someone not caring enough to initiate or continue a conversation with you, invite you to spend time with them, and on and on. In all honesty, sometimes my motives for writing were passive-aggressive reactions to a real interaction I’d had that day, but through it all (hopefully) runs a theme of curiosity and appreciation of just what makes good-quality friendships.

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What do I know? Not much. But one thing that is pretty much beyond-a-doubt true is that small talk is terrible. How about, instead of being interested in meeting new people just for the sake of brief meetings of many, we take greater care to learn about people when we do have the chance to do so? You know the relatively recent campaign on red carpets at awards shows, “Ask her more”? The crux of this campaign is simple yet brilliant; make the effort to ask more than just shallow, surface-questions of people with whom you interact in your day-to-day life. Instead of clinging to seconds-worth of social interactions that you’ll have forgotten by the next day, invest more time and thought into who you encounter; you never know what you’ll learn or how close to that person you’ll become.

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Don’t waste your time on fake friendships. Just because someone shares some of the same opinions as you, or enjoys some of the same things as you does not automatically make them a good friend. Really good friendships are not about mere convenience; if you happen to be in the same place, around the same people, or even involved in the same conversation, this does not mean that a person will share the same consideration for your feelings as you would for them, which is a pretty fucking-important quality in a friend. A good friend makes you truly feel that they are interested in what you have to say and in who you are as a person, they do not just show interest in you until someone they find more interesting comes along.

We sometimes forget that we need to be understood, just as we can lose the understanding that we deserve to have this need fulfilled.

In collaboration with the more damaging messages that society broadcasts, our individual psychologies can work to trick us into believing and carrying out the opposite – that we do not, in fact, deserve to embrace and share our vulnerabilities – facilitating the ultimate crimes against humanity, crimes that are subtle but which leave us feeling deafeningly-isolated and inferior.

The chances of anyone being here and surviving to feel this moment and the ground beneath your feet are truly insane. Try to really know the people who have beaten those same odds.

What do YOU think about friendship?

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A TRIBUTE TO SOCKS

In the event of socks ever becoming obsolete in humans’ lives, I’d like to take this opportunity to outline and question what they do, and how they come to do what they do.

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http://blog.freepeople.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Untitled-61.jpg

Socks are great things. They are woven, soft and meant solely to keep people comfortable, whether in terms of warmth or in terms of hygiene, by protecting people’s feet from the disgusting environment that is a shoe, or vice versa.

Generally, for adults, socks are marketed as one-size-fits-all; they are one of the very few low-stress, low-self-esteem-affecting garments which people wear on a daily basis. Some socks are made of thick, plush material, and others continue to be worn even when threadbare. Sometimes, people wear multiple pairs of socks at once. Socks can allow people to slide across their floors, either causing satisfied-joy or panic/surprise at losing one’s footing while walking.

Socks are usually hidden from view, but sometimes are not; they can be a form of expression, or plain and boring. Who gets to create the designs on socks? How many people have become involved in a single sock design? How much brainstorming is involved? Has the design of a mass-produced sock ever been highly-conceptual? Imagine: ‘the sock that inspired a revolution.’

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Socks come in pairs but are often mismatched, and sometimes purposely. The concept of keeping a pair of matching socks together – and not losing one – has evaded people since the inception of the sock. Has this ever given someone nightmares, this idea of losing a sock and never being able to reunite it with its twin? Has anyone ever had a dream about a sock(s)? What would dreaming about socks mean for a person’s psychological state and/or stability?

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http://cdn.ndtv.com/tech/images/gadgets/black-socks-635.jpg

Socks are humbling, comforting things and deserve more appreciation.