‘Nobody thinks what I think’
– Kitchen Sink by Twenty One Pilots.
For most of my life I’ve felt unseen. Others see me as the person they want me to be and not for who I really am; Despite knowing this it can cause me to doubt myself. It’s frustrating and can feel like a fight getting others to listen. I attempted to seek understanding and comfort for this, but discovered that no matter how much I tried to explain my feelings noone was able to quite grasp them. These people have had different upbringings to me. Their minds don’t work like mine. Our beliefs and perceptions don’t match. Some experiences are hard to understand unless you’ve been through them yourself. I’ve found that it’s easy to jump to wrong conclusions based on how you think you’d feel if you went through the same thing.
My own experiences have taught me that what I feel is less important than everybody else and that my thoughts need to be validated to feel real. This mindset is risky as it relies on others to give you what you need. It’s setting you up for a lifetime of resentment. I have difficulties speaking up about what I want and it seemed selfish to me when others just took without asking or offering. They cannot understand my demons because they do not carry those same unhelpful beliefs. They might have been happy to have shared with me if I’d simply asked, but negative responses for doing so in the past have taught me that it’s safer to keep quiet. Unfortunately this is a common problem, and it’s not our fault that we have such difficulties. I also respect people that can go out and get what they want instead of just complaining about it.
Following a creative pursuit can require a lot of resilience. I love hearing the stories of other creative individuals regardless of their interests because creative anxiety is a common issue linked to many disciplines. There’s no easy way to deal with it, but neither is it an unusual problem. When we create something we are pouring much of ourselves into the project and it can be difficult to emotionally detach from the outcome. We might have been working on that same project for a long time and could have made sacrifices to bring it to completion. We risk leaving ourselves open to criticism as we attempt to share our ideas with others, hoping that they’ll understand what we are trying to accomplish.
On the games programming course I did there was only myself and one other that had come from a creative background. Everybody else had taken maths and science courses prior to starting. This knocked my confidence as I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit in. However, there were definitely some areas where my different mindset was a benefit. Some of our classes required us to create animations. I got a fair bit of attention for my work as only a few of us had the skills to give it a good go. Something that I heard a lot of was, ‘I could never draw like you do. I’m not creative at all.’ I appreciate the compliment, but it’s a bit of an odd thing to say when you think about it, considering that it was coming from people that hadn’t even tried to draw. If you don’t try to draw, well of course you’re never going to be good at it.
I picked up a cheap book a while ago called ‘The Art Of Happiness‘ by Howard C. Cutter and HH Dalai Lama. I had developed an interest in mindfulness and was keen to learn more. I only got around to reading it last week, and it’s been far more interesting than I expected. The book explores several topics such as compassion, suffering and anxiety, and compares Eastern and Western viewpoints. We can discover new values by exposing ourselves to ideas from outside the place we grew up. Where we live can have a stronger impact on our minds than we realize. I was discussing this idea with a lecturer who also claimed that they had to use different approaches for students from other countries because the Western way of doing things was very different to what they were use to.
To not take others for granted is obvious advice, it’s unpleasant to feel like it’s happening to us and something we know we shouldn’t do to others. The chaos of life can make it difficult for us to make time for others however, and this can result in sending out the wrong impression. Often it is those closest to us that we treat the worst as we feel safe that they’ll continue to stick by us. We can feel insecure when it comes to new acquaintances and so will tread more carefully. This can make it appear as if a loved one is happier in the company of others than they are in our own, but rather oddly this can actually mean that they feel more at ease around us. They don’t feel the need to put on a front and pretend; What we get is the real them, for better or for worse.
I like watching mystery diagnosis shows. It’s really interesting to see what unusual conditions others are living with and the conclusions they come to. Unfortunately they don’t always manage to find the answers they seek, either because what they have isn’t curable or just that no doctor seems to be able to give a satisfactory answer despite running test after test. I saw one recently in which the doctors kept ruling out physical explanations in favour of a psychological one. On hearing this suggestion they were instantly dismayed and shut themselves off to anything else the doctor had to say. To them the problems they are dealing with feel very real and so there had to be something physically wrong with them. I’ve seen this type of reaction before, where as soon as a psychological cause is suggested they feel like they’re being told that it’s all in their head and so therefore they are to blame for their condition. In some cases they might even feel like they’re being accused of putting it on for attention. It might be that they’re right in wanting to continue pursuing further explanations. Doctors can get it wrong, or sometimes it feels like they throw the psychological explanation at you as an easy option when they’re not sure what else to consider. It’s therefore important to take your own health into your hands and push for answers if you deem it necessary. Try not to close off any potential options just in case.
I mentioned in my last post “You’re Too Sensitive” that while I was at school my teachers had encouraged me to take courses for self-esteem. I went to a really bad school, but I believe that in this case they had the best intentions. It was interesting to look back now with what I know. It was popular for a while to focus on self-esteem, but it never worked for me. I tried courses and read books about it, and even though the advice was sound I never noticed any changes as a result of following it. Last year I learnt about another option called Mindfulness and for the first time my attempts resulted in a noticeable benefit. I felt happier and was finding it easier to motivate myself. I still struggle with bad anxiety, but I’m dealing with it better than I use to.