Sunday, February 18, 2018

Addicted to Sticky Notes

The notion is extremely conceited. I recognize that. And I hope that my recognition serves to diminish some of the arrogance that I will inevitably pin to myself when I say that I have more thoughts than other people. There. It's out. I've done the damage, now please let me scramble to explain myself and attempt to cling on to whatever shreds of respect you might have for me.

It is all too supercilious of me to believe that other people are less complicated than me. When I fail to understand that every single person on this planet has just as many, if not more, complexities and nuances as myself, I fail to truly recognize the people around me as actual people, as humans with hearts that beat and palms that sweat. I don't want to be that person. But let me describe my alternative.

Have you ever been to the dollar section at Target? I spent a significant chunk of time and money there as a kid, and the result was an impressive collection of notepads. Let me tell you that those notepads did not go to waste. Around the age of ten, I started writing to-do lists and hour-by-hour schedules defining how I would spend my weekends and school vacations. My concern was that if I didn't have my plans in writing, then I would throw away all of my time watching television. I didn't trust myself to remember to do everything that I wanted to do.

Years ago, I mentioned that I have kept some form of journal since around the second grade. Records of conversations I had with friends, summaries of how I'd spent recent weeks, confessions of my endless insecurities, thoughts that keep passing through my brain--I have them all somewhere in some form of writing. Somehow, I had developed this fear that if I didn't write something down, I would forget it. I would lose it forever. So I felt this urgent need to write down everything happening to me, with me, or around me. Because I was desperately afraid of forgetting myself, of losing myself.

And it always feels like I'm on the brink of doing just that. I overthink who I am and why I act the way I do. What motivates me? Am I being myself or am I trying too hard to be this ideal person? But isn't trying to be the person that I want to be the same thing as being myself? Nothing I do feels natural. It all feels forced, like I'm constantly trying to execute some plan rather than just living my life.

The simple act of having thoughts like these makes my brain feel like it's running with no sign of stopping. It hurts. It gives me constant headaches and makes my heart beat faster. My fingers are always itching to do something because of it. Just to clarify, I mean all of this literally. This isn't a poetic description. My hands actually go kind of nuts. That's why I draw and write and play piano--to put my hands at ease.

The best thing I can do is write down as much as I can, because when I write down my thoughts it feels like I'm dumping them out of my head. Then for a little while, my head is empty enough to think about things like turbulent flow through a rough tube or high-pass circuit impulse responses. I mean, these things also give me headaches, but at least they're more productive.

But I digress. Let's get back to discussing that thing I said that makes me sound like an asshole. I kind of know that I don't think more than most people. But maybe I'd rather sound like an asshole than address the fact that other people have the brain capacity to deal with an endless stream of thoughts, and I just don't. I don't possess the mental strength to not be overwhelmed by my own thoughts.

Alternatively, everyone struggles the way I do, but we all just hide it from each other. Perhaps I am neither special nor stupid. But I don't like that. I've always aspired to be this great protagonist, which means I can't be normal. I have to stand out in some way, you know? I've either got to face this great disadvantage that I will eventually overcome in order to prove myself a hero, or I've got to possess this incredible trait that gives me a mark of superiority. I can't just be normal. I can't be satisfied with normal. Why else would I put so much effort into each of my outfits?

<Lucy Cartin

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