attention, talking, and time

Talking to people is important. That might seem like a no-brainer, but the number one way to make yourself miserable is to shut yourself off. The stresses from social anxiety, for example, may make talking to people seem absolutely impossible, but it doesn’t matter if it’s awkward. Humans are awkward, we misunderstand each other all the time.

All of the awkward conversations you’ve had are still conversations, and even if it seems like you’ll never get better, it’s the first necessary step. Even if a relationship doesn’t work out, the experience is important. If a happy memory is special, what is about it that makes it so important? Feelings are fleeting, and we need all of them. Happy memories are special partly because we like being happy. However, all the rest of our emotions can define a moment and also make it important. The sad moments, these also are integral to who we are.

As radical as it may seem, ordinary moments can also be special. If you consider how we experience time, you might realize that our attention drastically changes how we feel. “A watched pot never boils”, because by staring at something and waiting, it feels longer. “Time flies when you’re having fun” because when we don’t pay attention to it, we don’t mind how fast life is going. If we want to live a full life, that means paying attention. It means being mindful of how we live our lives and living it with purpose. Even the most nihilistic people can find a reason to live and have a beautiful life. If you feel the universe doesn’t give you a purpose, then you’re free to make one up. By being physically a part of this world, we are necessarily a part of it, so go be awkward and exist to the best of your ability.

 

 

spacetime is bread and sensation can be surprisingly scary

Sensation is an interesting experience, partly because it’s one of our only experiences. If we want to, we can become aware of our entire body. We can become aware of the noises occurring around us. Our skin, our eyes, it can feel the temperature of the air around us, in different waves. Spacetime is such an incredible concept because the more we think about temporality and spatial reality as a giant loaf that encompasses our existence, the more we think of ourselves as a point in that amorphous blob.

Awareness of sensation is so revolutionary for the mind to experience because it forces us to flip our orientation: we are not the center of the universe. We are a part in a much greater whole. People can differ on what sort of whole it is, or the medium in which it exists, but besides the solipsists, most people agree that we are not the only thing that exists. As terrifying as this may be, it can also be comforting.

If you mess up, life will go on. If you’re awkward and fumble in a social situation, the people you fumble in front of will probably forget about it within the next five minutes. No one obsesses at night about someone else’s social faux pas, they obsess about their own. For most individuals, other people will generally respect you and not wish ill upon you. If someone is unusually cruel and prejudiced based upon your basic attributes (things that you can’t change or don’t have an influence on the kind of person you are, morally), their judgment is irrational.

Generally, people don’t care. It’s the default. However, the actions you take have an influence on others, and you can make people care. You are here right now. Your decisions are your own. We make mistakes and then we try to fix them and avoid doing the same in the future. You are here right now, and you, this point in spacetime, are pretty amazing.

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.