When the world is going through so much, it’s hard for me to focus on myself and continue with my project. Once I started thinking about it more, maybe it took a move to a new country, a global pandemic, and isolation to make me finally focus on myself.
Part of my avoidance in dealing with my issues helped reinforce qualities I already had, which helped divert the attention from me away. I doubled-down on focusing on others’ needs to deflect any resemblance of needing anything myself. This behavior went on for much of my life. Looking back, I’m shocked that I lasted so long with such little effort put into my own needs. With the project, it was the first time I actively chose to focus on myself. I know I can’t change the past, but documenting my journey at this point, with all that is going on in the world, still feels ill-timed. Unfortunately, I’m scared that if I stop now, I will never regain the courage to restart at a later date, and therein lies some of the problem. Mental health isn’t something that should be stopped and started; it should be one of the constants in everyone’s life.
Time is another constant variable, always moving forward, giving us an urgency that we may feel without us realizing it. We have no control over time, or at least science hasn’t figured out how to control it yet. The related factor that we can control is timing, but we can only control how we time our actions, and the rest is beyond us.
Timing has always been an issue for me primarily because I naturally processed at a different pace than others. My life has always been hectic, and in many ways, my becoming an adult was accelerated. My mind was able to calculate fast, and I could think through layers of analysis to get to a conclusion quickly. I could make a decision, having thought through ten or more scenarios in seconds. There were two issues with this superpower. First, it was so intrinsic to my being that I often couldn’t explain that process to anyone to validate my answer quickly; it was like a blackout, and it would take me a while to start the thought process over and be able to explain; this has had an impact on even my professional life at this point. Secondly, I was always at a different point in my life than those around me. I was usually aware of the disconnect, but I couldn’t stop myself from continuing on my path; otherwise, an inauthentic and unnatural feeling would consume me.
Not all events with lasting impact happen on a large scale. Some of the experiences with the most influential or longest standing effect on my life occurred over minutes or a few days. During my travels, I always end up in conversations with strangers who seem to gravitate and need to say something to me. Whether on a plane, a street corner, sitting on a bench or standing at a lookout, people usually approached me and asked for help both directly and indirectly. In some cases, people shared very personal information after knowing me only moments, and it was inspiring. Even so, I never internalized that courage or did anything with that gift of inspiration.
In each of those instances, I felt like I was at the right moment and the right time, but it was a timing I had no influence over. It was like a coincidence, but they left a lasting impression. To this day, I still think about these moments with those people and wonder if what we discussed improved after we met, I am genuinely still wondering if we would ever cross paths again so I can find out how they were. With this being how I felt for people I spent minutes with, imagine the scale of this feeling when I spend days or more with people.
After spending time with people and seeing them open to give a glimpse of who they are naturally, it makes it difficult to reconcile when they recoil and go back to hiding behind their facade or protective layer built to keep themselves safe. We all have them, and we all play peek-a-boo from time to time, letting our vulnerable self out and then retreating to safer ground. The process of reconciling two very different sides of others can make a person question their sanity.
Back in the day, we relied solely on memories, journaled written words, and conversations to figure it out. Today, with much of the social interactions being online and in text format, we have almost a complete record of our communications, giving us a transcript of sorts to re-read and analyze to validate our feelings and thought processes. We can look back at the transcript and see where we were or weren’t wrong in our recollection and see where we may have contradicted ourselves at one point or another. In rare cases, this can be validating. In others, it can keep us in a suspended moment, which can suck our energy and keep us from progressing emotionally and physically.
Looking back, the way I view these discrepancies is that the timing was right for brief moments, and the factors circulating both of you seemed to align. As time passes and you continue interacting at the pace your body and mind tell you to, so are they, but with the additional factors that come into play in the following days, the timing may no longer feel right. Circumstances change, people change, and our mental states adjust as we interact with more and more people in the in-between. It’s a natural part of life. What happens in the future, should not diminish what manifested in the moments you had together. I think it’s natural to look back and understand it better to avoid the feeling of loss, however painful and strong.
Sometimes I want to reach out to someone and say “Let’s forget what we’ve said and go back to how it was” or “I’m sorry” or “I miss you,” but in the wrong moment for the person receiving it, these can be offputting regardless of how much you sincerely mean them. There is no way to know how they would be accepted, so there is no benefit in trying to figure it out. You will only exhaust your mental resources and most likely lose sleep.
The issue I have with these feelings of wanting to reconnect is that they rarely subside. Sometimes I want to reach out and say, “I thought things through, and I agree with what you said now, and I wish I had said…” but the ego won’t let us admit when we were wrong or may not have responded in the way we should have. We don’t get do-overs or take-backs. We also don’t know how the other has been since the disagreement or friction point. There is no way to see if they have completely moved on from it, and you, or if you will expose yourself as being stuck in a moment that has long passed and they have forgotten. We’d like to think we leave a lasting impression and meant something to everyone we meet, but that isn’t realistic.
Unfortunately, it seems easy for other people to disconnect and move on to the next plug and play; this may be a sign of the times with so many options readily available to queue up at your service. I’ve always valued people more than that, though I have had my moments contradicting this sentiment in the past.
While processing this subject matter, I didn’t have any revelations, unfortunately. I didn’t find any clarity in thinking it through, and it will continue to be something I work through in time. I don’t think I will ever change in my desire to reach out to those who have disconnected from my life, but since there is no way to know how it will be received, I think this is one burden I will need to find other tools to subside the urge and move past.