Ladies and gentleman, step right up. What I’m about to tell you should come as no shock. It should be no great surprise that I worked the circus. Of course I did, it was only a matter of time. Call it fate, destiny or just really bad life choices. My work history pointed to this happening. It’s been on a downward trajectory for some time now, much like the human cannon ball loosing to gravity. We both plummet into the circus. I’m sure the human cannon ball wishes the cannon could shoot him somewhere far away, possibly into another life. But gravity and . ‘Universoul Circus hiring event, open interviews.’ I was desperate so I clicked on it to find a location and time. The open interview was inside of a nice hotel. That’s an obscure piece of information but I thought maybe you would want to know. It wasn’t really an interview. Just a on the spot background check to make sure I wasn’t a criminal on the lam. As far as everything else like asking questions to see if I was qualified apparently they didn’t give a shit. I had a clean background, that was more than enough. The lady conducting the interview handed me back my drivers license and social security card and I was on my way with a piece of paper showing proper dress code and my first day. Dress code was a white button down dress shirt, black dress pants and a red tie. I had the dress pants already, they were a little tight around the waist but I had them. I needed a white dress shirt and red tie. I borrowed both from my brother in law who thought me working the circus was the funniest thing he has ever heard. I had to agree, plus it’s hard to bounce back from working at the circus. Its like any momentum you had comes to a screeching stop when you work the circus. money to buy a shirt or tie so I borrowed one of my brother in laws white dress shirts. He has a closet full of them for his job. The only problem is the dress shirts are a little large. I wear medium, the smallest he had was a double xl. It was like wearing a table cloth. My pants were a little to small also so the look was very confusing. There would be open interviews The circus was setting up shop in the Bronx, better.
It’s been a while since I posted anything new. I know all of you have been eagerly waiting on the edge of your seats for months, anticipating a new blog post. And by ‘all of you’ I mean my imaginary audience. Well, wait no longer friends (who says friends like that? Some news reporter I think?) I have big news! I’ve been living in NYC for about 4 months now. I have grown a tremendous amount since I have moved here, for better or for worse. Living in the city forces you to adapt to certain things. Some of these adaptations are beneficial and some are just a pain in the ass. For starters I’ve learned to how to feel comfortable riding the subway. This in turn makes me feel kind of comfortable around people. If your not comfortable around people the subway will essentially be hell. I spent my first few weeks on the subway wondering if people were looking at me. I eventually realized they where looking past me. You play a lot of eye pinball, glancing from one person to the next until you find a spot where you can look in peace. This means I’m not stressing about what to do with myself on the train. Where to look, how to position yourself and look unassuming. For one, I realize steps I need to work on to open up to others. I can feel myself opening up like a flower in the spring, poetic I know. I feel like this is the spring of my life, blooming for the first time. I realized something. I haven’t smiled authentically in a very long time. I got in such a pattern of suppressing everything I forgot the bliss of not giving a shit. The bliss of just smiling. Smiling is the best thing that ever happened to me. I also realized how negative and irrational my thought patterns were. I went to a meditation class and learned about the negative bias. We have a tendency to remember bad shit over good shit, for evolutionary purposes. One little bad thing can cast a dark shadow over a good day. The meditation class taught us to focus on the positives, to really shine a light on the good things that happen in your life. Evolutionally speaking its much easier to be a negative Nancy than a positive Pete. Positive Pete probably would have gotten eaten by a saber tooth tiger while negative Nancy would have procreated and passed here negative genes on. You know what else I’ve realized, I like smiling. It feels fucking fantastic! I was walking in Central Park the other day with a giant grin on my face. Bliss doesn’t give a shit. I was smiling at passerby instead of studying each and every face for any tell tale sign they are judging me. I would have made shit up that they were judging me, that’s how negative my negative bias was. Human’s bad, that’s essentially what my inner cave man voice has been telling me most of my life. This developed through a combination of me focusing on the all the bad shit that’s happened to me by people, quite a bit. But there has also been a lot of good things also. It’s all pointless anyway because its the past. I can ruminate and speculate all I want about the past, it doesn’t change anything. With change comes infinite possibilities of positivity. It’s time to upgrade my primitive mind for the modern world, human’s good! But it’s a very gradual process to let myself open up. Sometimes it can be frustrating because my mind has a way of locking me out emotionally. My way of telling myself not to open up, because it’s scary. Because my mind thinks I shouldn’t trust people. Change is scary, although not quite as scary as a saber tooth tiger. My primitive mind and old negative thought patterns still hold a firm grip on my psyche. Understanding all this stuff is the first step to understanding, acceptance and change. my old way of thinking was irrational but it’s still my mind thinking its protecting me when it’s really hurting me. have moments where I can smile and be completely open and then my brain will literally shut it down. Close it off, to where it thinks it’s protecting me when it is actually hurting me. It’s not like you can just become magically enlightened, but I can see how you can work towards it. When I smile and am open to others I can I was feeling guilty for not being able to open up, over and over and over again. I forgive myself 🙂 Sometimes I get in these moods where I want to scream at the top of my lungs, this is good. It’s my body telling me I need to open up to the universe. have been so closed off I forgot what Like the pedals of a lotus flower popping open my true colors. I can feel myself shedding this old skin. Not really even a skin, a shell. This hard exterior that I used to hide behind so no one could hurt me. Masking my emotions so I could keep my distance. I’m gradually breaking that wall down, I don’t need it anymore. It takes time though because I am so used to acting the other way. am
I have a long history with suppression. I wrote journal entries about it years ago so its not anything new, but it’s intensity has grown. Suppression used to be something I could brush off, cast aside like it’s nothing. Not anymore… I want to be me yet I’m suppressing who I truly am for a straight faced emotionless cripple. It’s probably the worst feeling in the world to suppress because it leads to guilt and shame. I feel guilty about not being able to fully open up to my family and I have no one else in my life I cant fully open up to because I don’t have any friends. When your in this cycle like I was for all my life things become very difficult. When there’s no one in your life to fully open up to, it’s hard. Having social anxiety never gave me much of an opportunity to open up to others, it was very hard and still is. But when I feel good and am socializing with classmates I feel truly free. Free from social anxiety and all its false anxiety provoking thoughts, free from suppressing who I truly am, free to be myself. And for someone who has lived a very sheltered social life, trust me it feels fucking great! It’s hard to go back living that sheltered suppressed life, poisonous really. I need to express myself. I need to yell at top of my lungs, I don’t give a fuck. I need to have friendships and relationships. I need to just be who I am. I am a complex emotional man (was that from a light beer commercial?), I am poetic and have a great sense of humor and love laughing. I can be goofy and sometimes feel like everything in the world is absolutely perfect. Not when I live at home though. I love my family and know that they love me, but I need space to try things out, to experiment and play. I’ve never had space but I need it like oxygen, I’m gasping for air. I cant suppress myself any more, who I truly am. Suppression blankets my inner fire, it eats me away from the inside out. For me to be happy out there on my own for an extended period of time I can work on me, nourish me and strengthen myself. I can be a better son, brother, uncle, cousin, grandson, nephew… Fuck I can be a better person. Sitting at home with nothing but toxic thoughts of guilt and shame and a plethora of bullshit negative emotions because I cant be myself isn’t right. I don’t deserve to dwell on negative shit like that, no one does. So here’s to me finishing up my welding class so I can get a job away from home and grow.
This post is an attempt for me to explain how I felt today at school. Instead of my normal social anxiety, I felt confident… but very awkward. I was able to be lucid in my thoughts and words but there was a blockage, I wasn’t able to be myself. I’m normally a very open person showing everything (including oodles of anxiety) but today I felt empty, void of any human emotions. I was able to communicate effectively to achieve only what was needed, there was nothing left to make me laugh or smile or have any feeling whatsoever. There was nothing inside of me for anybody to attach to, like talking to a reptile. It would have been much easier to walk around class today stone faced and distant but of course I have to make myself look like nothings wrong so I pasted on some visage of a smile as not to draw attention. It’s mentally tiring trying to appear outwardly like nothing is wrong. But I assure you everyone could see through that pseudo smile, they could see the emptiness in my eyes and that made me feel oddly self conscious. There were a couple times today when I felt like myself, I could literally feel positive energy rushing into my head giving me the ability to be human again. These good vibrations left about as quickly as they came though leaving me just a shell again. It’s amazing because when I felt good a couple times today my perspective on everything completely changed, it’s like I was looking through a new set of eyes. I felt social able, and this energy attracted people to talk to me. I could read imperceptible social cues and everything seemed to come naturally during conversation but as soon as the positive energy left I felt empty again, like a shell, and people avoided me like the plague. Does anyone else ever feel this way? If so, is there anything you do that make it better
My mom, sister and her two kids left for the beach yesterday, leaving the whole house to me for a week… Party at my place! (forever alone style). I couldn’t go with them because I have school on weekdays. I do have to admit the peace and quite is nice, I’m enjoying it. A normal morning for me is rushing out the door before my two nephews ages 3 and 4 wake up. Sometimes if I’m running a bit late my sister (still in bed) asks so kindly if I can get the boys some cereal, sure. But it’s never just cereal, then they want milk and this and that… Their good kids and I love them but holy shit, some of the tantrums are epic! When they get really loud I go for a walk and can hear them halfway down the block. This peace and quite is like a calm before the storm, when my family returns home.
I try my hardest to avoid any confrontation whatsoever. Example… I went to low’s today to pick up some pavers and cement, I’m building a patio for my mom. Being a complete novice at landscaping I went to YouTube for some advice before I left. I loaded a ton of pavers onto one of those awkward blue cart things and went looking for cement. I wasn’t expecting to find a whole aisle it. With so many choices I had no idea what the fuck to get. It’s like if someone told you to buy cereal, well thanks for being specific… asshole. Of course there were associates who could have helped me but nooo, I didn’t ask for help. Not because of any other reason other than I simply didn’t want to talk to anyone. It’s not that I ‘didn’t feel like talking’ that would imply that I could talk in the first place. My self esteem and confidence levels are very low and sometimes I become too self conscious to talk. I become so focused on my face flushing for instance that its hard to concentrate on anything else. It’s easier to avoid… I think that’s why I’ve never seen anyone else with social anxiety because they are also avoiding. People with social anxiety hide in plain site, constantly guarding themselves.
Seeing how it’s a Saturday and the weather outside perfect I wasn’t about to squander the day away in the gloomy confines of my moms house watching TV or aimlessly browsing the internet. I’ve been feeling rather optimistic these past couple days so I wanted to keep the momentum going. After waking up and eating some toast I went for a long run which felt great. OK, off to a good start. Then I drove 15 minutes to downtown Watkins Glen, a tourist trap swarming with people, Seneca Lake in the background full of buzzing boats. I wanted to challenge myself being around strangers and pay close attention to my thought process. As soon as I parked my car I began to feel self conscious. I had this lingering feeling people were paying close attention to me, judging me as I walked around. Even though I knew my thoughts were irrational (Of course I have no idea what other people are actually thinking) I just couldn’t get comfortable, at all. I became slightly paranoid and everyday glances from strangers began to look malicious in intent. When I feel uncomfortable around people I don’t know what to do with myself and cant bare making eye contact, my posture slouches and a feeling of utter incompetence sweeps over me. It wasn’t long before I felt the need to escape, fight or flight response taking control. I became very flustered. And that makes me even more anxious because then my thought process shifts to ‘ok now I know people are looking at me for sure, whys everyone looking at me!, they think I must be about to do something bad’ etc. etc. thoughts spiraling into an endless chaotic loop. It wasn’t pretty… I had enough after only 15 minutes and literally ran back to my car. What a damn shame, all I wanted to do was walk around and take in the a beautiful day and Instead I retreated home like a zoo animal returning to its cage. It’s frustrating because even though I knew my thoughts were irrational I felt utterly powerless to correct them. I tried mentally affirming ‘I’m safe’ over and over but it’s like taking a sugar pill. I need to be able to feel comfortable around people…
Whenever I feel anxious, angry or any degree of unpleasant emotions start bubbling up I run. Any strenuous cardio will do, but running in particular seems to work best for me. Sprinting until I cant go another step, resting a second, then repeating until I’m physically and mentally exhausted. Or jump roping (another favorite) over and over until my arms and calves burn and I’m left completely fatigued. It might sound like torture and it kind of is but all my anxiety dissolves away and I’m left feeling plain good (thanks endorphins) with a sense of accomplishment. I pushed myself! Running through the pain, jumping one last time, It’s a mental and physical challenge that didn’t stop me. Pain was the obstacle and I pushed through it, I transcended pain into purpose (goal setting) and pleasure (endorphins). Sure it would have been easier to chase my worries away with a couple swigs of jack and yea I would have been feeling better for about 30 minutes but that’s about it. After the alcohol wares off and that shitty stale tired feeling takes over I would feel twice as worse with no sense of accomplishment whatsoever. I would probably go to bed feeling like shit and probably wake up feeling the same (hangovers suck). Sometimes when I run I think about my social anxiety and all the negative impacts it’s had on my life. I envision the pain (side cramp, tired legs, fatigue) is social anxiety and I keep running, faster. I don’t let that pain hold me back and you know what? After I recover and stretch I feel fucking fantastic.
I read a very interesting tidbit the other day about a new way of treating social anxiety. I was browsing through a scientific magazine at Barns and Nobles skimming over all those little paragraph factoids like ‘did you know’ or ‘studies show that’. Not really absorbing one particular thing over the next until my eyes caught the words social anxiety. So of course I back tracked to the beginning of the little paragraph and began to read. In the article a test subject was given one of those virtual reality headsets to wear than made him feel invisible, when he looked down it appeared as though he had no body (where can I get one of these!) After preforming a battery of tests with the virtual reality headset the subject almost takes this air upon himself that yes, he is in fact invisible man. Alas walking into the girls locker room would be a very unfortunate mistake. The subject was then told to take off the virtual reality headset and preform in front of an audience. Test’s showed that his heart rate and nervousness were down considerably compared to other test subjects who were not ‘invisible’ before preforming. The article reinforces what those of us with social anxiety know, invincibility would be awesome! If I started having a panic attack I would be like ‘fuck this, I’m out’ then disappear for a bit. I know a lot of people with social anxiety including myself say we feel invisible to others, but shouldn’t that work to our advantage then? I wonder what would happen if a group of test subjects with social anxiety were told to preform (good luck with that!) in front of a blind audience. I would preform like a champ knowing nobody could see me. What about you guys? I think I’ll pretend to be invisible or imagine all my class mates are blind tomorrow at school and see if it helps.