Κυριακή, 4 Αυγούστου 2013

Ever-lurking loneliness

During vacations with friends and while reading a book by Francoise Dolto talking about loneliness, I realised a few things. For starters the quite easy realisation that you don’t need to be alone to be lonely. Easy, much talked about but very important for the points of this text. On a more refined note, this realisation makes a much bigger impact when it’s accompanied by another one; loneliness is a feeling caused by ourselves. No one can cause us to feel lonely. One can argue about the inaccuracy of the statement and attribute the loneliness we feel to a situation, or the people that surround us or circumstances. These are nothing but side-factors. The true cause is within ourselves. Fond as I am of examples here’s one; While writing these lines, I’m with friends in a beautiful home, one of them is sleeping, another one is doodling on a piece of paper and two of them are playing music. The type of music I don’t mind, and I quite enjoy when heard live, but nonetheless music I do not know much about, or have heard a lot of. Both of them musicians, are talking either about technicalities of the songs they are playing or just having fun playing songs they both know and generally having fun.
I am tone deaf, I have no rhythm and obviously I can’t play any musical instruments. I tried following the feeling, the climate of the moment but felt that I failed. I couldn’t follow on any instrument, I can’t sing, even if I could I wouldn’t know the lyrics and the music I very much enjoy is as far as it could be from what I’m listening to at the moment, but that is of little importance. The thing that matters is that I feel inadequate to participate, and this feeling annoys me, hurts me, and bugs me in my innermost self, into my very core.

Maybe I sound a bit too intense so I’ll load you with a bit of background. I grew up in a family of four people (that would be my immediate family) and six cousins. All of the cousins but one are musicians, or at least know how to play a musical instrument. My father has a deep love for music, which thankfully he passed onto me. I’ve always wished I could play a musical instrument and have had a few tries, which all either due to lack of discipline or due to the fact I didn’t actually like what I was doing, failed. I should also probably mention here that I’ve always felt that I let down my older brother by not learning a musical instrument as we could have spent hours upon hours playing together, writing shit, jamming or just talking about music on a deeper level. My brother has nothing to do with the feeling, it is purely mine, the only –in lack of a better term- “fault” I can charge my brother with, is being older than me, and naturally me looking up to him. So a desire to fit in was left a desire, it was never fulfilled. Which brings me to the intensity of my current feelings. They are that loud inside me because they bring up my insecurities, they bring up my “I wish I was more like them” side. I hate that side, its mean, angry and full of disappointment ‘cause it never gets what it wants. I feel left out, when I’m not. I’m between beloved friends and family, I’m in a place I love and enjoy being in and this feeling of inadequacy, of misfit fills me and stops me from enjoying the moment and not caring.

This brings me to my earlier statement; “No one can cause us to feel lonely”. I feel lonely, even though I’m between beloved people, even though I’m having a good time, even though I can honestly say I’m enjoying myself, I’m in a time in my life where I’m at the peak of everything I’ve ever done, yet a moment where my lack of –let’s call it musical talent for the sake of the argument-, a mere moment is enough to surface my insecurities, and make me feel belittled. Makes me wonder about the fragility of a psychological state.

Τρίτη, 2 Ιουλίου 2013

Where I lay my head is Home

After a bit longer than a week back home, I find myself thinking of the famous saying, in this case through Metallica's adaptation of it in Wherever I may roam. Well, I would like to think myself as an ever-changing, ever-adapting, unaffected by places or people, free from the worthless sentimentalities of nostalgia for good times person. I would like to, but I fail to. I can't. I apparently am not that person. 

I've come to that realisation since I left my home to go study abroad, and despite it not affecting me when I'm away, around new friends doing fun, interesting, boring, every-day, stuff it first crept up as a feeling from its shitty hole to bug me in mid to late June. Picture this; First year of uni is done, I've exceeded my academic expectations but more importantly I've progressed as a person and I've dug myself out of a hole that was keeping me from enjoying life. A year of such a psychological importance is at an end, I've now visited my brother and friends in the UK, I've had a meet with other friends that I hadn't seen in a long time, and I'm all up and great. Everything is beyond great, yet something bugs me, something I've recognised as one of the many demons I carry, much like everyone else does. I've recognised it but as expected I'm trying to deny its existence, I don't want to acknowledge its presence, because doing so, means I'll have to deal with it and I'd rather leave it for a tad later. Combined with the unfamiliar feeling of endless cloudy skies and showering rain through June, one of such persistence only the UK can offer, it finally got to me. Give in? Surrender to it? Let it pour my inner self and accept it? Nope; deny the fuck out of it. I don't want it there, it's messing me up, and it’s wrinkling my ideal year. Piss off demon, piss off!

Oh but it won't. I The demon knows what it’s doing and almost like a being with its own intelligence and sense of purpose it carries out its mission with relentless precision aiming straight to where it hurts more; my self-doubt. Fucker knows the game.

New picture; I'm in the plane flying back home, just took off and I'm looking down as the plane gains altitude, listening to music, gazing down on buildings, cars and people becoming smaller and smaller, I'm soaring back home. Soaring. I let my guard down for a fraction of a millisecond and the little demon does the trick, he's past my massive walls of denial, and they crumble down with the sound of my resigned realisation; I miss home. Fuck.

Wait, wait, wait! That's good, 'cause I'm going back home, for a full three months. It is fucking amazing that I'm feeling this way, I get to experience the closure of missing something and finally getting it. Nope. Shut up logic reasoning, this is feeling we're talking about, you have no power here! Logic - Feelings 0-1. I miss home, and I'm overwhelmed by feelings of joy ‘cause I'm going home confronted by feelings of disappointment for missing home. How do I expect to make my whole "study and probably end up living abroad" thing work if I miss home after just the first year, which was great as well? What if the year was fucked up? What if the uni was shit, the people were crap and nothing was great? What then? Well it wasn't so no point pondering over things that could have been but weren't. Logic - Feelings 1-1.

So I land home. Get the luggage, meet the people that are picking me up despite the late of the hour and head back home. Have a good night's -or I should say day's as it's six in the morning- sleep, rest and wake up refreshed. Meet with friends I haven't seen for too long, get together, talk, have fun and there it is; I shouldn't be enjoying this as much as I am, 'cause I shouldn't have been missing this as much as I have been. Logic - Feelings 1-2. Damnit! Let me enjoy this you dick of a demon, go away! Nah uh, here to stay the little fucker.

And then, emotional revelation, out of fucking nowhere, out of the deep dark blue there it is; Acceptance. I miss home. So what? I'm supposed to. It would be stupid to try and deny the nostalgic feelings for home(duh!), it's where I grew up, where I built my life, where I became the person that took the decision to leave and find purpose elsewhere, it is part of me as much as my arms or legs. Feeling homesick is only natural. I'm not rationalizing this, in this argument logic lost before the argument even started, it had no place there from the start.

I feel the demon walking away, straight out of myself, peeking over his shoulder with a grin on its face, taking off his costume, pulling a halo out of his pocket, placing it over his head and then spreading his wings and flying away. My demons are my angels as soon as I accept them as part of me. Little fuckers. Logic - Feelings 1-3, just the way I like it.

Παρασκευή, 24 Μαΐου 2013

Learned Helplessness, Learned Depression

So there's this study done by Carol Dweck, that talks about the learned helplessness theory. In very simple words, it talks about how children learn to think they are helpless. It's not as grim as it sounds, it is merely referring to the nature Vs. nurture problem but mainly focused on the learning side of life. It talks about residing in one's talents instead of hard work. So for instance an athlete that is really talented in a sport, as a child learned that he or she is talented on the specific sport, but let's say not as good as math, and there's nothing to be done about that. This is the learned helplessness, the "nothing to be done" part. One has strong points and weak points, the strong points are talent so no hard work needed there, while the weak points are unchangeable. There is evidence that supports this theory, and since the publication of the study, it is widely accepted as a possibility.

So here's my bit on this. If children can learn and carry to adolescence and adulthood this learned helplessness, that defines a big portion of their mindset and their identity, what of learned depression? I'll elaborate; I found myself thinking I was happy, and life was good for me. I'm in a good Uni, studying what I like, I've got loving friends back home and here, I've got money to spend, time to waste and as this academic year is coming to an end, I've got no regrets. I'm afraid to share that feeling though, because other people are not as lucky as I am, they don't have money to spend, their lives have not taken them to a path they enjoy, they have personal, financial and any other kind of problems. The whole world is at war, the middle-east is rising and falling ten times each day, there are beheadings in the middle of London, tornados in the US, there's recession everywhere and altogether, the world is not a happy place. 

So how dare I, in the midst of all this, how dare I to be happy, and claim that I'm leading a good life? It is insensitive, arrogant and karma will get me and bite me in the ass. I should be depressed, I should be sad, lonely and hopeless. Yet I am not. Shame on me! This is how I feel, that my happiness is a sin. I am not a religious person, but I did grow up in a country that is vastly defined by our religion and the role it played -along with the church- in the shaping of our homeland and our people. So no matter how hard I try, there's always going to be a part of me that flashbacks to my childhood, thinking for a moment if I am a sinner. Of course my logic and reason comes in and I don't think about it twice, but it's always there. I've been brought up with mistaken beliefs about happiness and joy, they are sins, not in themselves, but one man can't be as happy as I currently am without having done something wrong.

So this is what I mean from learned helplessness to learned depression. It seems that I am not allowed to be happy. On the authority of the world. Whether the carrier of the message of depression is religion, the 6 o'clock news, the person next door that's not doing that well, my own self, it doesn't matter who the messenger is, the message is always the same; You can't be happy, not in this world, here we are depressed.

I will not let the world drag me down, in a pool of self-loathing and depression, for now I am happy and I'm going to savour this feeling, I am going to milk the fuck out of it. Just so I am clear, I am not going to go to a homeless shelter and mock people 'cause I have a home and they don't, there's savouring and enjoying and then there's being a right prick. I'm not going to be a dick about it, but my personal feeling, my emotion is that of happiness and joy, and I'd like to share that with people so I'm going to do just that.

So fuck you world. I am happy. Yes amidst all this blood, gore and fear, amidst all this insecurity about the future, I dare to say I am happy.

Παρασκευή, 4 Ιανουαρίου 2013

I am mine

I am mine

Faithful to my traditions, I haven't posted in this blog for almost a year now. I tried to avoid making this into a habit but I seem to have failed. Well, I'll have to try harder, another habit to shake off. Afterall, I've shaken so many lately this one's ought to be easy, if not easy then at least the process will be enjoyable. Which makes me wonder, are we anything more than our habits? I think we are a bit more, we are our efforts to shake off or maintain our habits, our trials and errors, and repeats, and resolutions, and succeses. But this is me wondering off and pondering, a subject for another time maybe.

Why am I posting then, after almost a year? Do I have the need to? No, this time it's different. I have the desire to. It is a strange feeling after so long. I started this blog because I wanted to write thigns down, and then it slowly turned into a necessary process for me to go through a period in my life that wasn't that bright or shinny. So from a desire it turned into a need. From the casual drink every now and again it turned into the drink before you go to bed every night, clearly not in frequency but of equal importance. So writing out of desire rather than need is something I haven't done in a long time, and I missed it.

Things have changed in my life. And change is something I haven't always welcomed. Ah but this change, this change has been a revelation, this change has been something out of this world, refreshing, renewing and full of realities meeting and exceeding expectations. Since the last time I wrote, I find myself in a completely different state and space. Space might not be as important as state, but then again, one wouldn't exist without the other and vise versa. I live abroad now, for the past few months yet for the first time I feel home. To any of you that know me, this shouldn't come as a surprise or a disrespectful statement. I miss you dearly and a part of me wishes that I had you all with me, but our memories and moments will have to suffice until the time we make new ones again. On the contrary, to any of you how know me, this is probably something you saw coming. Sadly, I was not built, raised, taught, call it what you like for the place I was born in. Relocation is merely the means and not the goal. The goal remains the same, happiness. Unfortunately I do not think I could have achieved happiness, in both my previous space or state. So relocation was the road that has led to the state, and state shall be the door to the goal. All this might seem a bit cryptic, or vague to those of you that do not know the details of the past year or so, but indulge me please, I hope that by the end of this post I will have found the words to make you understand, if not the details, at least the necessary events.

I suppose the best way is to treat this, is as a timeline. Then again, it is me, and despite my fathers' efforts I have never been as organised as he would like me to be and in all fairness I have not been as organised as I would like me to be. So it will be a line alright, but not nessecarily a timeline. This whole revelation and change I rambled on in the last paragraph started in therapy. I discovered, not without help, (credit where credit is due), that I have a need to form, maintain and develop relationships with meaning. Maybe it sounds poetic or romantic, but then again I do belive that it is a romantic approach of life that keeps us sane and humane in an ever-cynical world. So with that realisation, everything I had done up to that point, academicly or not would not be enough for me to be happy in my life. I had to pick a new path, a new field to dive into, and so I did. I picked psychology as a field and went forth to pursue a degree in it. Through a lengthy process, through countless doubts, fears, through overcoming those fears only for new ones to be formed in my head, I can now call myself a psychology student in a UK university. It might not seem as much, but I cannot stretch the importance of both the process and the result of that adventure, for an adventure it was, or at least it felt and still feels like one. So after applications and recommendation letters and days upon days of waiting, I was accepted. The days upon days of waiting were replaced with days upon days of planning and preparing. After all was said and done, I was off. I was off to uni, and off to a new life, off to a new place, off to a new state.

That is were I currently am, studying psychology in a UK university. I cannot tell what will come, I can make an estimated guess, but then again estiamted guesses are not as fun as simple guesses and not as efficient as knowledge, so I will not. What I know is this, I found home. In people, in places, in organisations, in tedious, dull, boring everyday things. I found home, away from home. A part of my mind and body will always crave the joys my birthplace has offerede me, and hopefully will continue to offer me, but the better part of it, found a home. A place and a state I can thrive in. And I am thankful and ever grateful to the people that made it possible for me to find this home. Thank you.