The Disconnection Contagion

Be curious, not judgmental.

Walt Whitman

Well, I’ve had a few days to myself in complete solitude. Aside from the company of my two lovable pets, of course. This has given me some time to consider my relationship with socialization in general, and some of the unconscious fears or desires I may have tied up in that. I’ll be honest, I am struggling more than usual with this journal entry. I am stressing about the promise I made to post them to my blog unfiltered. What is the root of this stress? Perhaps social anxiety over how I may be judged.

For awhile I’ve been pretty back and forth on whether I’m struggling with a lack of personal autonomy or a fear of connection. It’s a dilemma, and there may be a bit of both in there. But fundamentally, I think we all have preferred survival styles or strategies for invisible trauma. Increasingly, I think mine is rooted in autonomy and subsequently affects my ability to connect. I strongly desire and attempt to reach people on a deeper level. The proverbial doors to my soul are wide open you could say, or at least willing to be open if I perceive a likewise open reception.

But that leads to another struggle. The lack of willingness from other people to connect on that same deep level. Both the hesitation to reveal themselves and, more importantly, the reluctance to fully receive another person’s being or soul with open-mindedness. Most people enter into social engagements with a sophisticated set of preconceived opinions or “lenses” obscuring their raw perception. This leads to the tendency to judge books by their cover, or people by the out-of-context details of the first impression they give.

These micro-judgements are ultimately inaccurate and limiting to the experience of who a person truly is at heart. And since these predetermined impressions are two-way, most conversations take the form of an ego dance, where both participants play the little roles they feel are expected of them. This back and forth of inauthenticity perpetuates itself. Human nature is simultaneously amusing and frustrating, is it not? The superficiality of most interactions is the ultimate inhibitor to the connection I desire.

Even as I know I fall into this pattern in my own way, I am quite sensitive to the ego dynamics of people. It is a very back-of-the-head, subconscious sort of thing. But it leaves me in anticipation of the judgment and subtle narrow-mindedness I am likely to notice. And it truly is subtle, and mostly innocent as well. Something so commonplace as to be unnoticeable to most people. But I guess my awareness or sensitivity creates the anticipation that causes my social anxiety. When you can practically see the shifting thought-patterns just by looking into a person’s eyes, it will give you anxiety too.

But here are some questions: Is the anticipation of judgement a self-fulfilling prophecy? Does it compel me to join in on the ego dance by overcompensating for the aspect of my persona or “experience” that I feel is about to be misinterpreted? Does that tendency result in inauthenticity? Does autonomy require staying true to yourself despite the risk of being misunderstood? Can you be fake by trying too hard to stay true? These are difficult questions. Welcome to the mind of a chronic self-inquirer.

A New Attempt

I thought I had given up on journaling after an absence of over one month. But today I was compelled to recommit myself. Partially, I was inspired by a very good friend who recently made a comeback in her ambitions. But I was also motivated by my own failings.

The possibility of alchemizing my pain and fears into something creative or spiritually fulfilling has always been a desire of mine. You could say that this is one instance where I am making a concerted attempt. But what are these “failings,” you ask?

Simply put, my existential indecision, or my inability to resolutely choose a direction for my life. I’ve been stuck in a purgatory between all the choices I envision myself making. This could be a decision to boldly throw my energy into creative endeavors such as writing. Or it could be something as simple as just tightening my belt and getting a job.

You see, I am eternally torn between the path I feel I should take versus the misty and dim desires of my heart. Melodrama aside, the friction is real. But the conflict resides entirely within my head. The nonexistent external pressure I perceive is simply a projection of my own fears. Overall, this has led to a sort of paralysis in my professional and social life.

I’m not where I feel I should be, despite bravely giving therapy a second chance and returning to school after five years. The fact that I’m 25 years of age and still living in my mom’s basement is a serious confidence killer. And it doesn’t help that my ever-developing spiritual insights are seemingly totally at odds with everything society represents.

But alas, this is the hand I’ve been dealt. I obviously live a very privileged life if my biggest stressors are abstract existential dilemmas. You would be right in saying that I just need to DO something or HELP someone. I firmly believe that with great privilege comes great responsibility, and this is the North Star I’ve been increasingly pursuing.

With that thought in mind, I am recommitting myself to publishing more of my informal writings in hopes of helping or inspiring someone out there. But I put emphasis on informal. I’m going to be posting my raw, unfiltered journal entries here on the blog. These writings are much less crafted, and much more personal.

I plan on returning to my usual cadence of writing every three days, but may extend that to weekly. This means that there will soon be more regular content on here. In fact, through such informality, you could say I’m returning to “traditional” blogging. Anyway, I think this is a worthy experiment. Hopefully some soul will benefit from my ramblings.

A side note: I am working intermittently on messy primer to the metaphysics of my worldview, tentatively titled Lux et Veritas. It has taken a long while, but the end is in sight. It’s pretty much an amalgamation of preexisting ideas that I feel are intuitively cohesive. Nothing truly inventive, but necessary to pass on. Authenticity exists, even if originality does not.

Journaling Update

Back in February I wrote a post detailing my plans to take up the arduous yet cathartic task of journaling. I am here to say that for the most part, this goal has been met with success. Sure, there were some missed days and uncompleted entries. But this was something I kept at in hopes of instilling discipline and a better state of flow in my life. I was surprised to discover that once my pen hit paper (or in this case pencil hit iPad), I enjoyed the process immensely. Knowing that I would be my own audience gave me an unbridled sense of freedom. There are things I etched down in journals that I never would have had the courage to blog about.

So here I am to say that this is an endeavor I am going to keep up, making it a permanent ritual in my life. Journaling has helped me dispel many of the half-baked musings and anxieties that haunt my mind at the end of each day. Everything in my head is nebulous—an interconnected web that solidifies near my point of focus and fades away into ambiguity at the periphery. This area of inexactness is what causes the greatest source of stress in my life. Having a regular outlet to pen down this junk gives me focus and perspective. Really, it’s a tool that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, but especially those with a chaotic mind such as mine.

All of the magic happens on my iPad with a trusty Apple Pencil. In the beginning I considered using an old-fashioned composition notebook to scrawl my scratchings. There is nothing more grounding and conducive to the ever elusive “flow state” than hand writing your notes. And the tangibility of a notebook devoted to a single purpose has its charm. Yet I am an ardent lover of convenient and intuitive technology, so my iPad is now fulfilling an unforeseen destiny. My journals are cloud synced, locked by facial recognition, and ready to peruse at a moment’s notice on ALL of my devices. Not that I do so, of course, which leads to my next point.

I generally don’t like looking back on my past journals. This flies in the face of my expectations, which were conditioned by my love for rereading old blog entries. But what I decide to pen down at the end of each day, for my own eyes, is an altogether different beast than the articles I craft for an audience. The words are rougher, the ideas rawer, and my integrity fully intact. I am not presenting myself, if you will. I have true freedom to be as messy, honest, and insecure as I please. Such is the beauty of having a personal journal. But generally speaking, looking back reopens a can of worms that I have already sealed shut. There is no need to stuff back into my head the anxieties I have already dispelled. This brings to mind an image of Dumbledore pulling strands of memory out of his head and into his pensieve.

This does not mean I find looking back totally useless. I have a plan at the end of each year to read through all of my entries. I can see how much I’ve grown and changed throughout the months. It’s hard to imagine a better way to get this kind of perspective. The second part of my plan is to write a “year in review” post detailing my highlights and conclusions. And finally, I will permanently delete all of my journals to make a fresh start for the new year. Out with the old, and in with the new. I am always looking for a new self-improvement project. This little experiment has turned into something I wish to make a solid fixture in my life. Healthy habits and rituals are a proper step in getting back on my feet and climbing out of this pit of purposelessness.

A Journal Entry

I’ve decided to embark on a sort of experimental journey. Too often than not, my writing is hindered by an obsession for quality and unattainable perfection. This does nothing but keep me from publishing as much as I should, and it ingrains my practice with an overall sense of dissatisfaction. I need this to change for both professional and psychological reasons. I need to be able to remove the friction I feel when trying to put my thoughts on paper. This crusade for sculpting perfect sentences with perfect vocabulary is akin to not seeing the forest for the trees.

I started writing because I could paint an overall picture of what my imagination or subconscious was conjuring. Getting lost in the specifics of verbiage and technicality is a complete block for the state of “flow” I am trying to achieve. In Jungian terms, this would be due to an over-reliance on Ti, or introverted thinking. As this function happens to be tertiary in my cognitive stack, it is not quite the healthiest mindset for my personality type. Instead, I need to be engaging my auxiliary Fe, or extroverted feeling, to achieve the cathartic momentum and “flow” I am striving for.

The beautiful thing about writing is the infinite paths I can take to reach a conclusion. There is no black and white, or right and wrong. This gorgeous variability I experience is based in the extroverted feeling nature of my expression. Of course, this is all within the context of my dominant function, introverted intuition. But this deep dive into psychological types is leading us astray from the point of this entry.

To put it concisely, I need to stop being such a perfectionist with my work. I need to incorporate a more stream-of-consciousness style of writing. By starting regular journal entries where I let loose my spontaneity, I hope to become a better creator — one that is much more in touch with his intuition/feelings and less overwhelmed by the chaos of his mind. Wish me luck on this journey into unknown waters. I don’t know what to expect with this experiment, and neither should you.

Note: This idea came to me after being inspired by one of my favorite MBTI related sites, Stellar Maze. The specific article is geared toward how INFJs can activate their auxiliary Fe. I have linked it here.