Martin Lopez / Highlander

Reserved, quiet, introverted; however you paint it, there’s the handful of us that can go through the day kept away from the world. Armed with blankets, headphones and a 10-hour mix of background music, we can pass the time in singular comfort — well, that’s been my method of decompression, at least, ever since we were issued the stay-at-home order. Even before then, too.

But as the days continue blurring together, with the walls of this house-turned-bunker, I’ve had plenty of time to meditate on my modus operandi. I’ve realized that what I’ve taken for a desire to be alone may have ended up misinterpreted and misrecognized — for better or worse. So, as I listen to instrumental Studio Ghibli soundtracks, in the dead of an unusually hot night, I’d like to divulge my realizations. Perhaps something of use can be gleaned from a lonely man’s musings.

I regret neglecting my friends. It’s possible that many of them don’t interpret their relationship with me as such. But I can’t stop thinking about the times I was asked to hang out for lunch or a night out, and the skewed ratio of instances I said yes to no. I remember when I would have preferred being shut away at a desk, eating Panda Express while watching a cooking video. I remember meeting friends by chance at the HUB and promising that our clique would find the time to catch up again, maybe at the mall or downtown. I remember forgetting the promises.

And I can’t forget the number of memories I never made.

Some friends are graduating this year. Others are transfer students looking to go home soon. You’re usually saddened at seeing friends off because you’ll miss the good times that can’t be shared anymore. I’ve instead cheated myself; I’m saddened by the lack of good times to miss, on top of not having the chance to fix it.

I think that through all of this, I’ve forgotten what a friend is. If I had to keep it simple, I’d say it’s “someone you enjoy spending time with and are happy to see enjoy time with you.” It’s not actualized if time’s not spent with friends to start, but the panacea is obvious; either stimulate the time-spending yourself (with practice), or say “yes” the next time someone else stimulates it.

So why is it that I know how to make memories, but continually refrained?

I might not be introverted; I think I’m just complacent. And that’s a problem to me. Self-love and care is one thing; self-indulgence is another. Instead of getting boba with friends, I might choose to nap. I might choose to play Minecraft instead of streaming a movie with others. No night on the town for me; I’ll just nap again. I’m so spoiled by the easy-to-get pleasures that I forgo any other options, perhaps options that are more spiritually nutritional.

It can’t be healthy to keep relying on the self-pleasures alone; at this point for me, it might be an addiction. More than that, it might now be my only way of living, willingly cut off from the world while I live in my own, but that scares me.

I’m fine with being an introvert, but I don’t want to be a hermit. I’m scared that it’s the case now, and that it’ll grow worse. The complacency has become a hindrance to my growth and I’m worried that I’ll never be anything more than a self-serving shut-in.

It’s so easy to take everything you want and need into a little den, let the world pass you by and to do nothing more. Even with all of this free time, I can’t find the motivation to do anything important or productive, be it look for an internship or plan out my life’s course for the next 10 years. I fear becoming the guy in his mom’s basement.

Can I just not discipline myself? Am I just too stressed? Are my chosen methods to destress ineffective? Maybe it’s none of these (which I doubt), maybe it’s all of them (and I believe it is), but why can I just not bring myself to change? I want to be better, so why don’t I try?

It’s because I’ve only ever asked myself those questions.

You need to reach out when you realize you need help. Being stuck in your head, as I’ve been, will never give you the answers you need. In my experience you only end up overthinking everything but the kitchen sink, and then the kitchen sink. And then its pipes. And its faucet. The stress built up is horrifically self-destructive.

At the time of writing I still don’t know the answers. I’d share them if I could but even then, I know that they are different for everyone. But the answers are out there, and you deserve to find them. Be it through therapy or by confiding in your friends, it begins with a connection beyond yourself.

To the friends I’ve said I’ve neglected, I want to assure you: I am grateful for every memory spent together, big and small, and as few as they might have been. It’s those moments that we look back on so many years down the line, sometimes when you least expect it, and might even tear up over.

I also want to assure you that I will improve myself. It won’t be today and not tomorrow, but soon enough I’ll have brought out the best parts of myself that I’ve hidden away or never even knew about. My own life, and my relationships with friends past, present and future, will be all the better for it.
And to everyone reading: the world wants the best for you. I want the best for you. Your friends and family want the best for you. Just reach out your hand, timid as it might be: I promise that we’ll reach back with open arms.