“How many friends have I really got? You can count ’em on one hand…”
– “How Many Friends,” The Who
“You’ve been looking sad a lot lately,” a co-worker noted recently, and if I were to venture a guess, it’s because I have been sad a lot lately. I shouldn’t be, since life is ok and things aren’t horrible at the moment. I’m not homeless, I’m not starving, I’m not unemployed, I’m not alone or unloved or even unliked (ok, maybe I’m mostly unliked). Things aren’t, say, unbelievably amazing, and I’m not blown away by the level of success I’m achieving in my life (if there’s even a level of success I’d feel satisfied with, which is a topic for another day). Overall, there’s no real rationale for my morose demeanor or downtrodden feelings.
Actually, that’s not true. I know where a lot of this shit festers, and why I often feel so shitty about myself and who I am: it’s the fact that I have, like, two or three friends in the entire world. I’m talking about friends, like legit companions, who you speak with (semi)regularly, who you make time to see and spend time with, with whom you’re happy to share an intimate bond. People who you look forward to chilling with because you like them and, maybe more importantly, they like you too. My friend rolodex is slim to none because, as I noted above, no one really likes me, and I’m not going to let anyone’s opinion of me dictate our relationship, or let anyone set me up for an emotional letdown. I dictate any relationship, and I don’t need friends. I’m a motherfucking lone wolf, who doesn’t need or expect to find a surprise wolf pack in the future. Why bother? It’s gonna hurt me…
People always talk about how it’s difficult to make new friends as an adult, how it’s a weird process to find someone new that you’re interested in bringing into your world, then hoping they feel the same way. It’s a scary thing, this vulnerable procedure where you put yourself out there in hopes of finding a genuine human connection. But as we grow and evolve, it’s necessary to branch out socially, something only compounded by the well-established fact that it’s impossible to stay close with all the friends we make throughout our lives. Adulthood intrudes, responsibilities pile up, and the things we found so important as our younger selves fade into the background.
The thing is, when I said I’m a lone wolf? That’s bullshit. I have no friends because no one likes me, and no one ever tries or wants to develop any sort of relationship beyond the superficial. If they do reach out, it has to be some sort of trick or some innate pity coming forth. Why would anyone want to be more than a casual acquaintance, or more than just a friendly coworker, with me? I’m a loser, a no-fun, good-for-nothing nobody that only brings misery and sorrow to those around him. I’m a worthless piece of shit who deserves to have no friends and deserves to feel like a loser, a husk of a human who is destined to be a loner forever. Maybe I didn’t actually choose to be a misanthrope, but I’ll be goddamned if I don’t let the world think I am.
But you know what? Even that’s just a crock of shit excuse. A couple months back, one of my other coworkers invited me for a drink after our shift. We have a good working relationship, get along well, and seemed to have a decent amount of similar interests, so they offered to move things past a surface, professional encounter. What did I do? Accepted the invitation but didn’t go, of course. I didn’t even let them know I wasn’t coming, didn’t talk to them afterwards, and just ignored the situation entirely. Yet when this coworker wasn’t quite as outgoing or forthcoming with their offers for comradery, I was bitter. I was offended, like they were rejecting me, and regressed further from my true self when at work. These people don’t want or need me or my friendship? Fuck ‘em. I take care of myself.
When I objectively think about scenarios like that, which wasn’t the first (nor, unfortunately, the last) time I’ve essentially burned a bridge of friendship before crossing it, it’s easy to see why I have no friends. I wish at times I was different, that I was an outgoing extrovert who was comfortable in my own skin, that I wasn’t so shellshocked with the prospect of doing anything but sitting in my apartment alone. Being so fucking self-conscious all the time, being so unsure of yourself you choose to avoid all human contact in favor of reclusion, is a horrible way to live life. There may be people out there who are truly happy living solitary lives with few to no comrades, but I’m not one of them. While I enjoy my solitude, I need friends and family to survive. I can’t make it on my own, and maybe just admitting this will help me become more of the person I want and need to be.
A big reason why I haven’t written very much over the part six months is this feeling of repetition. Everything I write feels like a listless variation of the same thing, or idea, or thought that I’ve already written and elaborated on. There’s no new ground or insight I’m able to find, nothing that I haven’t already touched upon. This isn’t just a waste of my time, it’s a waste of everyone else’s, too, even the people who don’t care to read a single word I’ve written.
But come on now, let’s be real here: I’ve only begun to broach life with mental illness, of those overbearing feelings of being crazy and alone and forgotten by the world. There’s so much fucking ground left for me to cover on this topic, and so many stones left unturned in my quest to understand, and successfully manage, my often times crippling depression and anxiety. These depression essays are painful to write, but cathartic all the same, and rewardingly energizing in a way nothing else has ever been. Maybe I should make a point to continue finding angles to dissect and discuss my continuing mental health difficulties. Until next time…