On Living in My Own World

Sometimes I worry about myself. By no means is it an all-consuming worry, nor does it affect any part of my daily routine. (Uh, I think that would be really bad… I believe the clinical term is “depression” or “generalized anxiety disorder”– thanks Intro to Psych! Guess I did retain some information.) But as with most worries, it’s there, and every once in a while something happens that makes a tiny alarm go off in my head.

For all intents and purposes, I’m going to call the root of this worry the “Living in My Own World” syndrome. As I’ve grown older and subsequently more self-aware, I’ve realized just how much I do live in my own world– a world in which I can revel in my obsessions and like what I like and fastidiously organize music/books/TV shows/films in a way that makes sense to me and me only. OK, that kind of makes me sound psychotic, maybe just ignore that. But looking back on my childhood, it’s been a function of who I am ever since I was a toddler. My mom tells me stories about how my preschool teachers were concerned that I was always playing by myself, so, you know, clearly this “syndrome” was encoded in my genes or whatever.

A lot of the time my family/friends like to joke about my antisocial tendencies, and I have no problem with that (my friend once compared me to Major Major Major Major from Catch-22 and I thought it was the most hilarious thing ever), but in all seriousness I don’t think antisocial is the correct way to describe me. You see, I genuinely enjoy socializing with people! I enjoy going out and being a typical college kid! Here’s the catch, though: I also enjoy alone time. It’s when I can recede into my own world and really be myself.

When I was in elementary school, I kept multiple diaries at a time to record everything I was thinking or doing throughout the day. Whenever I pull out those diaries to read up on my childhood, I’m always thoroughly amused at how detailed and neurotic and imaginative I was as a kid. Below are some diary entries that I scanned from my fourth grade journal. I would show you the entries in which I wrote down the full names of everyone present in class, the names of everyone absent, and the precise reasons why they were absent, but THAT WOULD JUST BE CREEPY.

And my personal favorite: (pre-teen angst for the win…)

My old journals are also replete with unfinished fantasy novels about teenage girls who venture into magical lands. I never actually showed anyone these stories, as they weren’t really meant for others to see (although I’m totally fine with showing them eight years later). In a way, I think writing these stories was my eleven-year-old brain’s way of constructing a separate world for myself.

This next scan is a snippet of a script I wrote for the show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when I was a wee one. I remember that I was planning on sending it to Disney, whose television execs would have obviously thought it was brilliant. I don’t have anything insightful to say about this other than I just read the script over, and it’s actually kind of good. Also, there are some intense marginal notes going on here. This is serious stuff, guyzzz.

I guess I’ve just always had a preoccupation with recording things, even to this day (case in point: this blog). Doing so not only helps me make sense of the world around me, but also the little world inside my head. I mean, I still keep a journal for stuff that doesn’t make it onto this blog. Two years ago I wrote an entry that I look at now and know I will prize forever, because it lists all the memories and thoughts and feelings that I associate with each Death Cab record. At the time – the peak of my Death Cab infatuation – it was the only way I could think of that would help me understand Death Cab’s importance to me. And I’m so glad I did that when I was feeling overwhelmed and confused by my obsession with their music, because I now realize that I got into Death Cab at a major phase in my adolescence. I’m going to want to have that entry around when I’m old and nostalgic, since Death Cab has pretty much defined my teenage years. I won’t post the entry here because I don’t want it floating around on the interweb, but I will leave you with the assurance that IT EXISTS.

So, going back to the “Living in My Own World” syndrome– as you can see, it was a very real thing for me when I was a kid and is a very real thing for me now. Except now, my world consists of my particular taste in pop culture… those special movies and TV shows and records and books that I live inside of. This is a world that I have of late found myself delving further and further into. I think there’s definitely a point of no return when it comes to liking “obscure” (ugh) stuff.

I’m going to preface what I’m about to say by telling you that I am a very happy person. Despite my sarcastic and sometimes grumpy exterior, I have everything I could ever want, love and adore everyone that’s in my life, and would never for a million dollars replace any of those people. I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends and family I have. GOT THAT? Good. But, I’ve got to be honest: sometimes it makes me feel a little isolated and sad that I don’t really have any friends that share my pop culture interests/obsessions, or to put it simply, live in the same world as me.

On the one hand, having “different” (double ugh) taste makes me feel like a true individual– someone who doesn’t automatically take what mainstream society hands to me. On the other hand, I feel like it just alienates me from 99 percent of people that I interact with on a daily basis. With my quiet personality, it’s already so easy for me to unintentionally shut people out. Add in the weirdness of the world I’ve built for myself, and it’s that much harder to connect with people. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I really don’t want to end up just disappearing into my own little world like Enid from Ghost World. And I really don’t want to end up a recluse like Seymour either.

For now I’d just like to think that if I’ve made it to 18 (ahem, 19 in a few days, yay birthdays!) and am still capable of, like, interacting with human beings and am always improving at it, then I must be doing something right. I may be known to immerse myself in my own world, but you know what? I’m managing in the outside one just fine.