turns out, you need other people, and that’s how it’s supposed to be

Any expert is a proxy that will simplify the books and knowledge you don’t want to spend the time learning about. Theoretically, you could become the foremost expert on North Eastern moss, but we trust the sites on Google that break it down more effectively into what we need to know. Trust is involved for so many of our actions because we are limited individuals. There is only so much time in the day, and only so much effort and focus we can exert. When we find ourselves at a loss, we ask. Or rather, we should ask.

Even though we are social creatures that thrive and require social connections, we also have a deep desire to be independent. We want to be able to exist without our social matrix. “Surviving in the Wilderness” videos get so many views because we want to know that we could do it. We want to know that we aren’t dependent on others, that we have value in and of ourselves. The issue with that line of thought is that almost all of our values matter in relation to other people. We want to be individuals, almost in spite of our relation to a network, but that in itself creates a relationship. We value other people, even though we may claim that other’s opinions don’t matter.

So, what do we do? Give up any semblance of individuality and commit to the needs of the whole without complaint?

Absolutely not. We need other people, but that doesn’t destroy the value of the individual. Some differences, some values should not be thrown away just because the majority disagrees. It is good and important that we want to be independent. By interacting with the group and offering up the differences we have, we both gain value as an individual and support the whole. Sometimes we don’t realize how we have value, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Simply by living and experiencing things, we can offer different perspectives, different natural abilities,  and even just being there to listen to others can do incredible good.

We can do great things as individuals but pretending like we don’t need other people will only make us miserable. So ask others when you don’t know what to do. If no one knows, then take your best guess and maybe you’ll be able to help someone else that falls into the same situation.

Getting out there

Fantastic opportunities don’t show up out of nowhere. They show up at certain times and places, and we need to be there in those times and places. The more interactions we have with people, the more likely it is we will connect, and learn a thing or two about something that’s outside our comfort zone. As to say, it is only by getting out, talking to people, and challenging ourselves that we get opportunities.

That being said, it’s hard. Rates of Anxiety and Depression are soaring, partly influenced by the increased use of social media. By plain genetics, being introverted means that dealing with people for long amounts of time is draining, instead of being fulfilling for extroverts. There’s lots of opportunities online, so for those who look hard it enough, it may seem pointless to get out there physically. Yet, when we meet people in person, we have a stronger connection to them. Interacting with people in person is far more uncontrolled, but that also makes it more interesting and fulfilling when things turn out well.

Putting yourself out there also includes putting yourself out there physically. Traveling can be scary and confusing. Walking around outside genuinely isn’t as fun as scrolling through social media in most cases. But it’s healthy and good, even as we dread it. We make the idea of things blow up greater than they really are, when truly, it’s going to be okay. Lots of people are awkward, and only a few know what they’re doing socially. Overthinking is easy to fall into, but it’s a common phenomenon. However, the basics of communication are pretty clear, we just overcomplicate it. If you’re unsure, ask a question. If you’re angry, explain why. If you’re tired, say so. If you don’t know what to say, then literally say, “I’m not sure what to say right now”, and maybe talk a little about why, or ask a question so the other person can speak. Getting out and talking is hard, but it’s also far easier than you’ve been remembering it because we encode the bad instances far more than the neutral or good ones. You can do this.

caffeine is not a goddess (on its own)

Caffeine affects people in different ways. For some, it heightens the senses, attention, and just about everything else. I’ve heard a surprising number claim that it makes them sleepy. For others, it has no effect at all, and personally, it makes me sick and jittery in high quantities. Caffeine coffee addicts might be tempted to think that caffeine is some sort of miracle that grants focus, but it’s not just the caffeine. It’s the way your body reacts to the caffeine.

In a similar way, even when two people seem to be in the same situation, they’re not. Biologically, they cannot be the same person, which makes them different at the very least on genetic level. But then add our experiences, our psychological state, our associations of that situation, and all bets are off. There’s no guarantee that the way we see things are 100% the whole truth, and most certainly that usually isn’t the case. Such as the way the symptoms of anxiousness and cues of dislike are similar, we can miss the intentions of other people. We can read ‘anger’ when there’s really only ‘uncomfortable’. We aren’t omniscient, and we can take comfort in that thought. Not-knowing keeps our lives interesting and meaningful in our journey to understanding more of it.

No situation is entirely equal because people are never exactly the same, and that means we can’t actually accurately compare ourselves to others without some sort of intensive scientific methodology. There will always be people who don’t like you. There will always be people you don’t like. There will always be a problem to grumble and be up in arms about, but that doesn’t mean you have to grumble and be up in arms about it. Our choices are important. We can be both positive and realistic.

right now

The best time to exist is right now. There are pros and cons to every era, but at the end of the day, if you’re reading this, you are most likely significantly more wealthy than a majority of the people on this earth. That’s not to say that you somehow don’t have problems, but they are different in a variety of ways. Having food, water, and shelter, for those reasons alone, makes us so incredibly lucky.

And at times, it’s hard to accept the fact that we are lucky. Politics are crazy, we may suffer internally and emotionally, we might have difficult relationships! There are plenty of things that are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is right. We have a choice to be grateful. We can choose to be thankful for what we have.

You haven’t reached tomorrow yet. Yesterday is already gone. What we have to work with is the present. So let’s use it! Other people may have opinions on how you live your life, but in the end, it’s not their life is it? It’s smart to listen to what other people have to say, but listening doesn’t mean following the whims of anyone who comes into your path. Furthermore, if you’re tied down with what they Might think, you’re fulfilling only a tiny segment of who you could be.

This is right now, take it and live it.

similar and not

We’re all a bit crazy. In our own way, we have the things that we can’t let go. We have our quirks that keep us from being completely normal. We each have our personalities and past experiences– but really, we’re usually actually quite alike.

We want to be content with our lives, we usually aren’t. We want to be connected to people, but we don’t want to be ignored or typical. We want to be okay, but also better than okay. There’s a lot of difference in what we consider to be “okay”, and someone who is homeless probably values a space to live as more important than someone who has always had one. In addition, we may be more or less ambitious, and in different parts of our lives.

People are not the same. We are separated from a large number of people because of geography, culture, politics, etc. Our experiences are different which makes our personalities and perspectives different. Yet, no matter how different people appear to be, we can understand the emotions of others. Do we understand everything intimately? No. But having empathy makes us able to understand at least a smidgen of their feelings, if we’re able to let go of our reservations.

So understand, or try. Don’t be afraid to relate to other people and their positions. Our emotions are what bind us together.

what a fan

A fan works, in the simplest terms, by little weird curvy blades swhooshing around really fast. In many ways, this should be our goal in life! To have a cycle and a goal and to carry it all out for the sake of someone besides ourselves. As we know from history, stories, and psychology, we are our best selves when we are focused on other people.

When we get overwhelmed with life, it’s usually because we aren’t looking at it from a community perspective. We see our own problems the easiest because they are the most salient to us. We know that we were late because we had a crazy morning that resulted in spilled coffee and the like. However, how willing are we to take that perspective for someone else who comes in late? We don’t see the morning, we just see the entrance and we assume that they must not care as much.

In a similar way, we can become consumed with this idea that if our plans aren’t fulfilled or carried out, everything will be over. We make our own life the be all end all. But how realistic is that? It’s actually a glorious thing that we aren’t the center of the universe. It means that we can ask other people for help. It means we can find a place to go if the worst case scenario rolls out. It means that even if our personal point A to point B can’t be connected, that we can make another plan. And maybe going from point C to point D is something you wouldn’t have expected to make you as happy as it does!

Other people exist. It’s a bit annoying at times, but it’s also an incredible gift if we have the right mindset. It helps us, but it also means that we can help other people, and that’s something really precious.

wait, I should shut up?

The best kind of people are those that know how to shut up and listen. They’re a rare breed. It’s so uncommon to find someone who listens well because we each want to tell our own stories.

Therefore, listening is vital to you, the listener. Shockingly enough, there’s always gaps in our knowledge, things we can learn about. Even the people we know, talking about things we’ve heard before– we can miss the details. We can also be reminded about what other peoples’ lives are like. No one’s life story is exactly the same, but learning about what other people are doing may help you learn how to deal with similar problems.

Listening is most important however, because it’s a core component of our relationships. You can tell when the other person isn’t listening, and that lack of respect isn’t easily forgotten. By paying attention and caring about what the other person says, we are watering the garden of our relationships. Most people are the sorts of plants that need to be watered every day. Shutting up and hearing what the other person has to say is a skill that helps make sure we don’t get too prideful– there are all of these other wonderful people we could appreciate!

There is a joy in listening, because we never know quite exactly what they’ll say; even the closest people to us can surprise us. We are living a life with so many unknowns, and the only way to grow and learn is by seeing what other people have seen.

When we trust our phones more than people

We depend on our phones as an extention of our memory. The “youth of today” are not as capable of doing basic math in their heads because what’s the point when you have a calculator with you at all times? We don’t need to remember the author and title, we just need to remember enough key words to find a source again. While we might not like to admit it, a majority of us in the industrialized world rely on smartphones to augment our cognition. It’s external storage of knowledge. Whether this is bad or good or both is besides the point however; the real question is why can we rely on our phones and not other people?

The easy answer is that it’s less work. Phones don’t demand emotional support, and even their “alone time” of update installations only takes about 20 minutes every few months. The cellular device operates in a manner that optimizes it’s usefulness to the individual owner. Relationships are much harder. Relationships involve emotions and a wide variety of factors we can’t easily pin down all the time. Relationships also involve humans, where the effort is expected to be reciprocal. 

We rely on phones because there’s very little chance it will come back to haunt us. People are difficult to deal with, and so it’s much easier to just rely on something without any extra baggage. But frankly, we need the extra baggage of dealing with people. Our relationships are important, more than any material thing. When we rely on people, it makes us vulnerable. But we need to be vulnerable or we suffer alone. So talk to those you care about. Forgive petty arguments. Take the time to listen to each other. Depending on others is uncomfortable because it means you can’t be selfish, and that’s frightening, but it’s worth it.  

Make music but make friends first

As physics has progressed as a field, we’ve gradually realized that basically everything is made of waves. Light, gravity, even physical objects are frequencies in some aspect. So actually, it makes sense that sound waves connect to us, because that’s the nature of our reality. Somehow mixes of rhythms and notes with a variety of volumes can speak volumes to our sense of self. Music is the closest thing we have to magic, and it can be absolutely amazing. The focus word there is “can”. If you’ve ever heard any normal children’s choir, you can attest that not everyone can reach the level of magic through music. 

What’s even more amazing is the parents somehow seeing past the horrid screeching at looking at their child with pride. Here you have something that can move people to tears, inspire billions, convince people to give up higher paying jobs, and instead it’s a wreck. But it doesn’t matter because it’s parents caring about what their children do.

Music is incredibly important, in so many ways. Yet it’s power depends on making us feel connected to other people. Songs are great because the emotions it gives you make you feel less alone in feeling them. As to say, music is great because it means that people have felt the same way you have. We need people. We need annoying people to remind us that patience is a virtue. We need beautiful friends to encourage us. We need authority to keep order and challenge when corrupt. There are lots of marvelous things, topics to delve into and analyze, but we should never forget that things aren’t as important as our relationships with others. 

“I want to die. lol.”

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The most beautiful part of any day is the fact that it exists. Particularly among the younger generations who’ve grown up alongside social media and computer technology, there’s a generally negative culture. Posting something means you are motivated emotionally to do so, and in most instances, we tend to feel more motivated by negative emotions than positive ones. That means what’s going onto our walls and blogs reflects those same emotions. There are jokes about the void, nihilism, and the ‘sweet embrace of death’ because we deal with these heavy feelings through humor. Linguistically, we’ve developed a form of hyperbolic speech contrasted with minor events and appropriated entire concepts into slang like “same”. However, we can get easily overwhelmed by this constant stream and begin to cultivate unhealthy thought processes.

Just take a moment to pause yourself and think about what you see everyday. We like to think of ourselves as unaffected by propaganda compared to the normal population (It’s called the third-person effect) but the truth is that, statistically speaking, you are affected by the media. There’s a whole slew of phenomenon and theories about it, but spending hours on social media has an impact on your psychological health. I am not immune, you are not immune, your friends aren’t immune; it’s just a result of living. It’s not always a bad thing either, but it is always good to be aware of what we are reading.

When you read these jokes and are surrounded with an atmosphere that mocks existence, it can be easy to feel purposeless. However, the existence of existence is important. Some claim that it would be better to not have been born at all. If you weren’t born, after all, then you would’t feel all the pain of living. You also wouldn’t even be able to appreciate nonexistence. Because we are, because we exist, we can feel every emotion. We can feel the positive feelings as well as the negative ones. We can laugh at stupid jokes and feel idiotic for not seeing something obvious. Existence and nonexistence aren’t comparable. Existence means being able to do something and grow past the difficulties. Existence means that you have the opportunity to both screw up your life, and also to fix it.

 

 

Davison, W. (1983). “The third-person effect in communication”. Public Opinion Quarterly. 47 (1): 1–15. doi:10.1086/268763