Who am I?

Welcome to the wall of text. Enjoy your stay.

by Coranna Howard in Self

If the existence of this pettily-titled post doesn't already tell you, I don't know “who” I am. I don't even know what that question means. It doesn't mean “by what means do I summarize who you are?”. Or at least I don't mean that. Most people just want to summarize & reduce. I want to know “who” I am to the fullest extent. I haven't been very successful on my own.

Whenever I think about myself – whenever I try to dig deeper – it's only about the anguish of the past, the indecision & ennui & loneliness of the eternal present, the dread & uncertainty of the future. It only reminds me of what I already know; it has nothing to do with finding out “who” I am. What I don't know is how I appear to others. Is that what I mean? Most of what I understand – if not about me, then about unburdening myself – comes from talking with real live humans, something I rarely get a chance to do in a meaningful degree.

I rarely talk to new people (who seem nice) unreservedly. If they're distant from family, this is more likely to happen, since there's a smaller chance of stuff seeping out and burdening them & me further. It's simply easier if it stays out of their reach. Other times I talk anyways, because the hurt can potentially rescind for a while. It's nice to feel like you're making a connection with another person, but I'm simultaneously filled with fear of scaring them away or burdening them. Maybe if I don't say these things, they'll stay. But if I say meaningless nothings, they certainly won't want to interact with me… But if I keep desperately talking about this, they're going to think I'm attached and still not want to interact with me!

I'm a tilted introvert — a person desperate for interaction, trapped in a vessel of anxiety over how I deal with others, feeling very out of place in social functions, even when I “know” the people there. I want to make a base connection with other people, to understand them, for them to understand me, but it doesn't come easily. I've never been a sympathetic person, just a selfishly aimless person hoping to figure out myself one day. I cast people I don't know as though they are already part of the dreadful monologue going on in my head. I forget boundaries and “bring them up to speed” (to make an analogy). Maybe they don't want to hear your life story, idiot.

That's when I start being cautious & fearful. Does this matter to them? Would they think this is petty? They don't owe me anything. They don't deserve this. What's that? Fantastic, now I don't understand the context of what they're talking about. It doesn't help that I'm easily distracted by background noise, and often don't fully grasp what someone says (typically because I didn't hear them entirely or process what I was hearing). My responses are weak and ingenuine. How can I expect them to want to listen to me if I can hardly listen to them? Even when I can hear and understand them, I tell myself I can hardly expect them to wait while I construct a coherent response in my head, not that I'm able to anyways, with the anxiety.

My functional responses most often occur online, where I have the freedom of my mind to actually think, undisturbed by social anxiety. It feels like the results are still inconsiderate and crude, which I imagine is due to my demented introspection. It's harder to fit yourself into other people's shoes, and my shoes are unforgivingly tattered. The latter comes out, the effects of which I'm already immune to, by nature of having been exposed to it (and worse) for my conscious life. Others, not as much? That's what I tell myself, and I feel that I'm being too raw and inconsiderate whenever I think about what I've said.

My social anxiety turns into a barer communication anxiety when I mull over what I've said. I have to try really hard to cast the majority of that mess away as unfixable. I can't go back in time. For online communication, even where I have time to think, I still end up wishing I said something different. Oops, I put them in my shoes again. That makes no sense. That was inconsiderate. I forgot to respond to something. I misinterpreted them. I put too much emphasis on something. They haven't responded; should I not have said that? I get dread & anxiety even waiting for responses to the most “normal” conversations, even when discussing things that have nothing to do with me as a person.

I believe it's my problem, but whenever I've told people how they can go about fixing a poorly-designed system, I've felt ignored or dismissed. Am I really that useless? Maybe it's just the people I've interacted with in those situations. Most of it was in a volunteer environment where no one was required to heed my ideas.

There are still boundaries I gladly set for most people, but strangely don't set for detached communities. In some parts of the Internet, people won't hurt you just for “who” you are or what has happened to you. You can say things (even things that are dangerous & dreadful to even hint at in person) into those voids, but you won't make connections. If you repeat yourself, people get bothered (as they should in person), and you end up further desensitizing & distancing yourself from what you're talking about.

If people knew everything, they'd easily think I'm depressed — or worse. If you look on the surface level, you might make a guess due to my low rate of interaction, or just assume I'm shy (I'm not; just awkward and sad). It's down there, somewhere, but I don't passively feel it. I keep my emotions fairly well contained around others (considering life … actually, as its outcome), but as a result I lose the capacity to sympathize and respond in emotionally appropriate manners (it's either nil or an explosion). I'm not smiling because I'm happy. I'm smiling because I don't want you to think something is wrong. I can't even turn it off. Stop looking at me. It probably makes me dull, and it's easy to feel that my “problems” are petty compared to others' (and oh are they ever).

Whenever I find someone who I feel I could make a connection with, all of that unravels. Then we don't see each-other for a long time, usually because life just makes it that way. If I see them again, the fear still sets in, and I'm afraid of burdening them by continuing my dreadful exposition. Why should they have to listen to this? Do they even remember what I said? Nothing resolves, and I don't figure out who I am to them. It doesn't help to ask, since you are asking something that people can't be genuine about unless they know you very well. No one knows me well. I don't know me well. An insipid hyperbole from someone who thinks they know me is worse than an ingenuine sense given by someone who doesn't quite know me, but is still closer than those who think they do. I will never, ever, trust the former.

With the latter kind of people, I imagine I come off as immensely sad, since the stuff I pull up drags volatile, old emotions along with it. I'm not passively sad, I just keep all of it bottled up. It'd be nice to figure out “who” I am without having to bring up any of that, but it'd make me think the “who” is still ingenuine. There's a lot of stuff down there that makes up my personage.

“Get a therapist” I hear you say. Perhaps even from the onset. Do you know why I don't have one? If I did, I would have to admit that I've been thoroughly screwed up for a long time. Remember how I said it's easier if it stays out of the reach of people who already know me. Admitting it, even hinting at it (with something as dreadful as a “seeing a therapist”, no less), would be unbearably disheartening. Even if it didn't unravel for them, some of them would have all the more skittish interactions with me, afraid they'll trigger something, which in itself meta-triggers. I'm still human, you know. Do you think you've helped? You've only made it worse throughout my life. Bringing up old baggage with people I know would be a disaster. An utter disaster.

Not to mention I'd be diseased by the thought that this person is just trying to get into my head to bypass all of the muck and reset the mains. There's something innately disturbing about psychotherapy, to me. Everything would still be petty, but they wouldn't be allowed to be genuine. They have a job to do, a living to make, just like everyone else. I'm not looking for cheap catharsis or deadpan “understanding”, I want to know what all of this makes me to others.

Am I a trustworthy person? (I hope so.) Are my opinions useful? (Don't seem to be.) Am I helpful? (Only as a slave.) Do I have a purpose? (What?) Am I lovable? Am I actually capable of loving? (In theory.) Can I “connect” with others and make reasonable relationships where I'm not a thorn to the other person? (I dream of it.) Will I ever resolve my burdens and stop bothering people about them? I don't trust any of that to actually be resolved outside of interaction with people who can be genuine about them. I'll take a cup of natural, please. A side of someone I already know telling me sweet hyperbolic nothings? No thanks.

If someone were to just directly answer those questions, I wouldn't accept it. Being told “you are X/Y” isn't an answer; seeing how others interact with you and talk to others about you – genuinely – is. The people who can talk “about” me to others don't really know me, thus perpetuating a fake personage I now have the burden of upholding or meticulously deconstructing. No, going to San Francisco was never a thing until very recently, and please stop telling people that. But can everyone know “who” I am? Is that safe? At least don't give them the false personage. He's an impossible standard. I hate him.

The future isn't always dreadfully uncertain. At times it can be dreadfully uncertain in an exciting manner. If I leave, maybe then I can find humans who can help with this dumb quest. Unfortunately, I don't trust the future. It's an inimical, deceitful chimera. It's not an exciting dread when you know it's going to disintegrate, or when you can see that it's only going to be more of the same eternal present.

How do you even find productivity or creativity in the sight of that? The little bit of fiction writing that I've done over the past few years (which, as I should note, has decreased) has had no actual drive or purpose. I don't write knowing what I'm going to write. It just comes out from circumstance and dull logical or random processes to fill the void around the previous weird idea (ad infinitum). Sometimes I get little spouts of random joy and write ridiculous fluff like “All out” and “Quiddlopolis”, which only serve to flip my weird little switches with their absurdity. Part 2 of the latter has been a draft since last August. I haven't felt that way for a while, to say the least, and now I have the task of upholding the previous narrative.

It certainly didn't help that I was (until now) doing a job which was endlessly mind-dulling, in an environment at odds with my modus operandi and curious-creative core. The actual work itself might've been bearable if it wasn't for every idiot that ever touched code. Between the earlier random (and otherwise subconscious) distraction of working remote and later 10-12 hour workdays, I certainly didn't have the energy or time to coax the will or desire to do much of anything wholesome. I wasn't even able to realize until recently that I was exceedingly sad-happy when I (nearly-) unreservedly talked to someone I just met. Someone that I'm now fearful of further exposing myself to because of their closeness to people that know me, but also someone I feel uncensored and comfortable with.

Speaking of censorship, I've been censoring “who” I am since before I even had conscious thoughts about it. My interests, my beliefs, my ideals — all of that is censored to them because I'm afraid that they won't like them, will no longer talk to me, or increase my burdens without even considering it. Maintain the status quo, because a negative deviation will make it worse. It's easier to uncensor myself away from people I know, or with people who I can't lose because I don't even have them. The self-censorship is only going to go away when I have actual freedom of myself, and I certainly don't have it here.

I'm comfortable in silence. The “background” sound of day and fluctuating probabilities of others' lives incessantly invade my mind. I've found that most of my creativity and productivity comes when the only consistent things I can hear are my keyboard and the various fans in my room — in other words, white noise, glorious ambiance uncorrupted by humans and their infectious negative emotions.

At night, I am scarcely bothered by others. My mind is freed from most worries (oh, cool, they did that less stupidly than I expected; oh, cool, they didn't die), even though, were these worries to be validated, I'd be mostly as indifferent as ever. Indifference is a cheap defense mechanism, but it works most of the time. Its weak cap can be blown by “normal” levels of others' negative emotions, which I don't witness nearly as much as I used to.

I think I'm comfortable in loneliness, too, but not because I like being alone. I like being away from that. I trust you see the distinction. When I was a young'un('er), I used to escape to the forest or ride my bike to nowhere to get away. I remember being very cozy out in a snowstorm where you could hardly see some 10 meters ahead. I was called back (from quite a distance), as usual, cutting my awayness short. I've always found innate comfort in the midst of a snowswept environment, and even though I hate the cold, it brings a peculiar kind of warmth.

Nowadays I only derive similar feelings from the innate, homely joy from trains' horns & cozy rumble (which remind me of my apparent childhood obsession with trains and similar earlier feelings described not by any kind of interest) and the occasional gaze up at the night sky. The former reminds me of less burdensome times, and the latter reminds me how immeasurably awesome the universe is and how immeasurably pathetic mine is. Sometimes I hear the rumble of a train when there isn't any. I think they'll always remind me of peace.

I thought everyone could change, but most of them can't or just don't. It might seem like they change at times, but they're still the same person underneath. No one can rid themselves of all the baggage that comes with growing up on Earth. In or beneath society. That ghastly personage still comes out, or never leaves the base level of the person's external behavior. Most “change” is extra fluff layered on top; a façade.

I used to have an unrelenting zeal to make stuff (or so I tell myself). Now I'd be lucky to feel that. Now I just hope to make a multi-year, stupidly complex software project functional and complete selfish writings like this, deluding myself that anything I do improves my worth. I used to be able ignore everything by hanging out with a friend, to which it wouldn't've mattered if they knew everything, even though we rarely interacted at that level. Now I just sit in regret that I was never able to “connect”. I don't think I ever really considered that I could tell those kinds of people things. I was just happy to be with them, even though what we were doing was sub-social and non-normative (in stark contrast to what they'd do when interacting with any of their other friends).

I often feel detached from my physical form and my given identity. Oh, this is my body. So I look like that. It's probably mostly my fault for donning indifference and sealing things up. I don't identify with my birth name, and now the processing of someone calling my name is somewhat slower than it should be, if it even registers. I have to prepare that identity so that I don't fall short of the false personage.

Sometimes I think I have gender dysphoria – that my behaviors and feelings are more “feminine” than not – but honestly it's just a desperate solace to justify why I'm broken, even if some of it is true. I'm so heterogametic that the mere suggestion is insulting to my body.

I tell myself I'd still be gynephilic if I were female, but that's not how life works. If I were biologically XX, I wouldn't be me. It completely resets the timeline, and it'd be practically impossible to reach even a vague resemblance of the one I have now. It's a hopeless, pointless venture, much like wishing you didn't do X or could redo Y in your childhood. I could just solve everything if I could go back in time and do it differently. But then you're not you. And you can't anyways, so what difference does it make? Why are you even thinking about this? My gender shouldn't matter.

I like to think I accept that, but I don't. It seeps back through and really frustrates me. Why am I like this? Why does it bother me so much?

Why am I writing this? I think it's due to having no peers who I feel completely comfortable with. Most of them I'm either afraid of losing or I think they wouldn't be able to offer anything. It feels weird to even consider them as people that could help, and I know they have plenty of their own pain already. I write chaff like this to hope I figure something out, but I usually don't. It's the same as introspection, except it's a public vulnerability, and potentially one that will find its way to the wrong hands. Somehow that doesn't deter me. If I intend to post what I write, I write at a meta level instead of writing about what actually ails me, so it is different from introspection. All of that is going on in the back of my mind, but I'm outputting something completely different.

I don't answer any questions, I just get better at talking about them.

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