On Change

I apologize; it’s been a while since my last post.

It’s been a crazy semester… took three psychology classes among other classes and learned a lot. I took Abnormal Psychology, which gave me a greater empathy for those with mental illness and encouraged me in my battle against anxiety (I don’t have a disorder, at least, not now). I also took Behavioral Neuroscience, an incredible, brilliantly fascinating class, and I now feel the desire more to pursue a career in research psychology. Finally, I also took the Psychology of the Holocaust, which left me at many times and now in a state of dysphoria.

I thought I found love, and despite nothing flourishing, I realized a greater confidence in myself, a greater hope that one day it will happen. The fact that people are capable of liking me and I am capable of liking others to such an extent encouraged me. For the longest time, I had the delusion in my head that the former of that sentence, people liking me, wasn’t possible. I guess all I need was affirmation that people can like me to give me confidence.

Through the Behavioral Neuroscience course, I found out that I have synesthesia (specifically, grapheme-color synesthesia and ordinal-linguistic personification synesthesia). I don’t say this to brag or to just it throw out there; finding this out confused and bewildered me. For one, it surprised me to find out that no one else perceives the world the way I do, or at least not many, and secondly, I didn’t know what to do with this new-found information. Apparently I’m different, is there any reason why? Is there any meaning behind it? Am I making too much of a big deal thinking I’m slightly different from the general population? To be honest, besides it reinvigorating my fascination with synesthesia (yes I knew about it but had no idea I had it), I’ve forgotten about it a little. I don’t know what to do with it besides keep living normally.

On a sadder note, my grandfather passed away in the middle of the semester. Besides not being extremely close to him, for several weeks I was very emotional; the smallest things would trigger me into tears and overwhelming feelings. His death made me ponder the meaning of life (sorry if that sounds snobbish), most of all, the meaning of his life. I found greater purpose in the fact that he probably found the greatest satisfaction in his family and his relationships with his loved ones.

For the longest time, I’ve worried about my place in the world. I’ve worried about how the world will remember me. I don’t want my life to be meaningless; I want it to be worth something to the people around me. I want to touch as many lives as possible. But, as I’ve realized this past semester, especially through the passing of my grandpa, that what is most important is that you’re remembered through your family, not fame.

So, in essence, I’ve come from this semester as a different person. Which is typical and cliche, I get, but few semesters of college have done this to me. I’ve come back hopefully an improved writer (because of the 9 papers I wrote for my psychology professor in those three classes). I’ve found greater meaning in my life. My anxiety has continued to lessen. My confidence and self-esteem have strengthened.

I feel the desire to tell people about what I’ve learned, and part of me feels isolated to be honest. Last year, my C. S. Lewis class professor talked about how going off to college is a bit like going away to Narnia. After several years of living in Narnia, or in our case, 16 weeks of a semester in college, we come home to find nothing’s changed.

Once again, just like the past semesters, nothing has changed.

I guess I feel the need to talk about this more, or at least, I feel this shift more, because of the invigorating and meaningful semester I had. The three things I mentioned, love, synesthesia, and my grandfather’s passing, had the strongest impact, but they weren’t the extent of everything that happened.

Coming home and having friends and family treat me the same isn’t surprising, but slightly disappointing.

I felt the need to ask family and friends if they too have synesthesia and despite describing a dozen different types, they all looked at me strange, confused by my apparent difference from them. In other cases, some didn’t even believing me (which is typical, it can be hard to believe if you don’t experience it). In my effort to feel less isolated, I only made myself feel more detached from my friends and family.

I feel a greater need to talk about genocide and the Holocaust, having realized over the semester how much of a bystander I really am and how hazardous being a bystander is. However, I haven’t found any appropriate way of discussing this, and this desire to make others more aware of events going on in the world continues to burn and grow within me.

It’s comforting and depressing all at once to find myself homesick for my college. For the longest time, I was homesick for my actual home, feeling strange and foreign at my school. Over the past year and a half, I’ve developed immensely into a more confident, less anxious, adult. I’ve found many new friends and people to hang out with; when walking from my dorm to the cafeteria, there’s hardly a time when I don’t see someone I know and say hi.

As highschool ended, my old life began to wither away. I went to college and began a whole new life for myself, and slowly, I grew more and more comfortable with my home away from home.

And now, I feel more isolated from my old friends more than ever before, making me more homesick for my school. It’s good that the transition into college has gone smoothly; it’s sad that I’m losing loved ones in the process.

Part of me doesn’t want to admit it, but I know the time I’ve lost with my family and old friends I’ll never get back. The memories I have of my childhood and highschool are solidified; whatever happened then almost certainly defines how I’m treated and seen now. What happened then defines my relationship with my family now.

I’m losing them, and it’s depressing. I’m starting to realize how dramatic and impactful this shift is; I get it’s a part of life, leaving your family behind somewhat as you transition into adulthood… I just didn’t realize all of the dynamics that play into it.

 

“So, now what?” You ask.

I don’t know.

If only this were easier.

Sorry if this sounds dramatic, but it’s such an obvious shift that it’s almost sickening to me.

Reconnecting with family and friends is possible, but I know this shift in our relationships will continue to drift apart. It pains me to try, so desperately, to rekindle that intimacy and continue to fail. I mean, I’m close to my family and friends, it’s just that I know not being around them will slowly get easier and easier. I’ve gone from an anxious, homesick kid, to a confident, independent adult. Which…which is good.

I guess it’s bittersweet, really.

 

So, in general, this semester has left me in a state of dsyphoria in some cases and a state of well-being and fulfillment in others.

In my desire to find a girlfriend and find love, I wondered if I was just feeling pressure from friends to start dating. I realized, eventually, what I desired most is just a really, really close friend, a best friend. All my best friends have either moved or we’ve lost touch with each other; I just want someone who I’ll be best friends with my whole life.

I find a comfort in all of that. I have had several major anxieties over the years, and in each one, God has come through, eventually. I have a reassurance that God will come through in this case too.

Again, I’ll mention synesthesia, sorry. I think it’s such a big deal to me because I learned of synesthesia maybe 5-7 years ago. It was partially the thing that propelled me into psychology. For a long time, I almost wished I had it. As a kid and now, I read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies. I’ve always been drawn to stories of heroes who found out they have special abilities and use their abilities for the greater good. Stories about seemingly ordinary people who realize they can be something greater. Tales of people who think they’re normal and lead meaningless lives and then realize they are meant for so much more.

And then, I learn in Behavioral Neuroscience that there are two different types of synesthetes: in the case of grapheme-color synesthesia, projectors actually see the colors they associate with letters and numbers, associators see the colors in their mind’s-eye. I took a synesthesia test by David Eagleman (a brilliant neuroscientist), and it confirmed that I was a synesthete. Apparently I was an associator this whole time; I just didn’t look deep enough into the science of it all.

TL;DR, apparently I am different. Special? I dunno. For the longest time, I thought what I did, associate colors and personalities with letters, numbers, months, and weekdays, was completely normal. I see reality much different from the majority of the population. This knowledge messed with my mind quite a bit. For a split second, I was filled with euphoric joy; the 10-year-old part of my brain rationalized my new realization as evidence that I was special. The older part of my brain was filled with dread, not wanting to tell anyone, not wanting to be seen as weird or different.

Despite knowing what some people’s reactions would be like, I told a bunch of friends, trying to find someone like me, someone with synesthesia. And as predicted, some were blown away by the experiences I described, looking at me strange; meanwhile, others didn’t believe me.

The psychologist in me is geeking out, the kid in me is all-too enthusiastic, and the rational part of me doesn’t want to make it a big deal. I didn’t realize being different felt so weird.

So, it’s been a strange semester. It’s odd, a lot of things that had bothered me at the beginning of my last semester and during this semester have started to resolve as the year has begun to end. My grievances with some old friends have been taken care of. My anxiety has gone from intense, almost panic attack levels, to barely existent. Classes I had trouble with have been resolved in one way or another. At the beginning of the year, I worried if I would ever find friends and close group to hang out with, and again, every day I see someone I know, I never eat a meal alone.

Sorry if none of that comprehensible. Unfortunately, I’m think I’m in the habit of using this blog has an outlet for thoughts that need written down. That isn’t a bad intention; it just wasn’t my original one.

But, my head is clearer now since the beginning of this year. I look back and remember how foggy and panic-stricken the cavity of my brain was, and while my anxiety isn’t completely gone, while I’m not completely confident, while the year isn’t ending on the brightest notes, it was a good year. I’m happy.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t think associating personality with days, etc is weird. Not normal in today’s culture, but think about it: where did we get things like Thor’s day, Freya’s day, Saturn’s day? Modern man is increasingly shallow and unspiritual in a lot of ways (except for the ‘new age’ religion stuff which is scary if you look into the origins of it…)

    It is unfortunately normal for friendships to move on and change. It’s hard to hold on to old ones especially if they were formed out of convenience (neighbors, classmates, etc) rather than true commonality and bonds. However those of us with Si as a tertiary function have a tendency to want to hold on to the past and remember thosr important to us throughout our lives. I had a ‘friend’ at work for a while, who was almost horrified at the thought that I, now approaching mid-30s (😱) would still care and be interested in the well being and current day doings of friends I had 20 years ago. I knew when he said ‘I don’t want you checking into me in 5 years!’ that not only did that friendship have an expiration date, but it was coming up quick. (After I no longer worked with him I gradually realized he was a much less good friend than I had thought in many ways – very disrespectful and always had to make sharp jabs at my weak points – even when I had to work with him again for a couple months, as soon as I got a little friendly it was the same thing.. No, thank you! I don’t need that.. Nobody needs that)…
    Went off on a tangent but my point was your bittersweet reminiscing is typical, unavoidable and kinda just how things are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I managed not to check the notify box. Sorry about the double comment. Need to see if there is a way to make it default…. XD

    Liked by 1 person

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