just a’ trav’ling through this world of woe

(i originally wrote this just over a week ago, but i never got around to freeing it. now i am.)
i think i was a fairly well-adjusted kid. i think. i mean early on: pre-school and elementary. i was smart and able to learn quickly. so i was good at things i tried, generally without too much effort. that got praise from my elders, as well as respect from my peers. at least it seemed that way. and i didn’t care about girls, really. it seemed pretty easy to make friends and have fun and be happy.
somewhere in junior high things started to change. my peers no longer respected or liked me because i was smart, and i didn’t feel compelled enough to do whatever was popular or cool just to be liked (such as drink (or at least talk about it), listen to heavy metal, and dress/look like whatever was popular then). the innocent, easily-formed friendships of youth withered. my dad was concerned because i hung out with the “loser” kids instead of the popular ones. (maybe it’s because i was a loser kid, although i didn’t think of myself as one at the time.) i started to be interested in girls but i didn’t really want to admit it, and i was terrified of proclaiming my interest in a girl and being shot down. in sixth grade for my birthday my parents told me i could take one friend on our out-of-town birthday excursion. i picked this guy friend of mine, but they leaned on me to pick a girl so i eventually gave in and did that. it was my first “date”. it was with jennifer (take note, she’ll pop back up later). in 7th grade, my parents forced me to send a corsage to a girl for a football game. they told me they were paying for it, and if i didn’t pick a girl they would pick one for me. (wtf?!) anyway, i picked a girl who was dating a guy (having been narrowed down to her or jennifer), and she broke up with him to date me. at the football game. i hadn’t really meant for it to be a declaration of my affection like that, although i did dig her — what with her junior high farrah fawcett looks (hair, smile, etc.). i had no clue how to talk to her. so i didn’t. after three or four days, she wrote me a letter to let me know it was a mistake and she was getting back with her old boyfriend. (why he didn’t kick my 4ss at the time, i don’t know. i figured he was going to.) man, i wish i still had that letter.
once i went into high school all of these phenomenon just intensified. pretty much everyone knew me, i think most people thought i was a nice enough person. but i think most praise and respect came from adults who looked upon me as a perhaps slightly quirky but good kid who was smart and would make a good citizen, friend, boyfriend, husband, etc. i had some good times in high school, but i had a lot of bad times. i generally felt like an outsider who for most of the time had few if any close friends. it started in 9th grade, when it felt like my “best” friend from years past sort of dropped me when a new guy moved into town. i felt by myself a lot. i was by myself a lot. so much so that i looked forward to going to school because i was interacting with people there. otherwise, i was pretty much by myself (as far as friends). but the tv was my friend…i watched a lot of tv. i probably always had a fear of rejection, but all of this built it into a huge overwhelming weight, pressing down on me and smothering me even as i tried to find ways to deal with it. the fear of being rejected by a girl i liked equally intensified. i finally overcame that one time my junior year to ask jennifer to the prom (yes, same one), and she said yes which put me on cloud nine. but it didn’t really mean as much to her and she quickly moved on to other guys. a lesson i duly took note of. i had some good friends my last couple of years, but i also kept feeling more ostracized and left out by society at large (such as it exists in high school). my good grades were having a harder time making me feel good about myself and who i was.
college sort of helped me to have a bigger pool of people to choose from, so i was able to find more people i felt like i could identify with. but in a lot of ways it was still the same thing — i knew a lot of people, i think they generally thought i was a nice enough guy, but they didn’t really think about me unless i was around. i felt like i wasn’t included. plus i no longer had the same level of respect or praise of adults. there were reasons: i was in a difficult scholastic program, my grades weren’t as good and weren’t as easy to come by, i was sort of an “adult” already, plus i’d pushed the envelope much further as far as finding my own identity and not being like the crowd. (i.e. i looked/dressed “weird”. not a big deal at most colleges, but i was at Texas a&m.) i was more happy in myself, finding an identity i liked — but it didn’t do much to garner me friends. in my 2nd or 3rd year of college, i had a bad experience where i no longer felt i belonged in a church community i’d previously felt like i was a part of. it was very painful, but is unfortunately an experience i’ve now had numerous times over the years. early on i found friendships online (starting back in 1988…long before most people even knew what “online” meant), but they’re not really real, are they? the fact i never really dated for almost all of my 7 years in college (haha…the 7 year plan) also consumed me a lot. i was surrounded by good-looking girls who were dating material, and i never managed to do sh!t. it felt humiliating and demeaning. i beat myself up over it a lot. that kind of stuff is a feedback loop — the more it happens, the more amplified each passing amount of time becomes. is it surprising it makes you wonder what’s wrong with you? to be convinced something is wrong with you, even if you can’t put your finger on it or really figure it out?
once out of college, i lived in my hometown for about a year, then moved to houston for a job. for the most part, work life has been like school life. people seem to generally like me, as such, but it doesn’t really go much further than that. just like in junior high, just like in high school, just like in college, so it is now. i feel like i can easily build superficial/low-level friendships, but it’s very rare for me to have much beyond that. i don’t care about having a filled social calendar and a ton of friends, i never have. but there have only been a few times in my life where i felt like i had a few close friends, and we regularly did stuff together. generally, i feel alone, and i spend my time alone.
as much as this is true about friendships, it is amplified 50 times regarding relationships. i don’t think i’m anything amazing, but i think i’m a good guy. i’ve had a lot of people tell me throughout the years that i’m a great guy, i’m interesting, i’d make a great husband and father, etc. but in my single years (which are most of them) i don’t see results from those comments, so obviously something is askew. whether it’s because i project something negative because of my fears or not, it is easy to look back throughout my life and see that i am generally left out and forgotten in social circles. it’s also easy to see that i didn’t and don’t have whatever things make women attracted to men — confidence, cockiness, good looks, snappy dressing, pheromones, whatever. much less whatever it is that gets women to show interest. (obviously i don’t mean that never has any woman ever been attracted to me. but it would seem the few ones that are attracted to me (and i’m interested in as well) are broken in some way, and thus their attraction devices must be broken as well. (how’s that for self-defeating? 🙂
and so time moves forward, and with a few exceptions here and there my life maintains a steady bearing. i know it would be easier on me if i didn’t care about friendships, or community, or relationships — but it’s just not how i’m wired. i’m an introvert, i lack confidence and self-esteem in some areas, but unfortunately i care a lot about the areas in which my psyche and personality work against me. i had hoped things had changed forever with tamara, but it was just temporary. (i got a chance to date jennifer yet again though.) and recently i had hopes change might be coming again, but i now feel i’m back where i usually am. which is sad and disappointing, and hopefully explains a lot of my recent negative introspection. give me some time…maybe i’ll come back around.
i know dark clouds will gather o’er me
i know my pathway’s rough and steep;
but golden fields lie out before me
where weary eyes no more shall weep.
(from “poor wayfaring stranger”, traditional)

1 comment on “just a’ trav’ling through this world of woe”

  1. that is a scary dream (it would make a good, albeit terrifying movie script). It sounds very similar to an episode of Tales from the Crypt that I watched years ago (I don’t normally watch that kind of thing). But, whereas the Tales from the Crypt episode turned out cheesy, your dream is quite scary. In the show, this guy moved into a new apartment, only to be constantly subjected to the neighbor’s phone ringing off the hook at all hours of the day and night. Later, he finds out that no one lives next door. So, he goes into the apartment, which was empty except for a single telephone (the old standard Bell telephone from the 70’s and 80’s). Then the phone starts ringing and he runs across the room and picks it up. While he’s talking to the operator, he notices that the phone cord isn’t actually plugged in at which point he starts freaking out. (Here’s where it gets cheesy) So he starts running for the door, then the door slams shut on its own. The phone starts wobbling across the floor towards him (yes, the phone is chasing him) and the handset starts flying off the hook towards his head, which he dodges several times. Eventually, the handset is successfully wraps around his neck, thus ending the episode.
    So, when are you going to come to Taiwan?

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