Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Are No Fun

Someone recently pointed out some valuable information to me. 

I was told that I am a negative, anxious ruminator who wallows in misery without aspiring to become a more positive person. Furthermore, I was told I am a constant worrier and over-analyzer who gets stuck in useless thought-patterns that only lead to unhappiness and cynicism. 

If you are wondering if this was a tough pill to swallow, yes, it was. It was even more difficult to hear this information because it came from someone who is very close to me. 

The person who so harshly and accurately declared that I am a Debbie Downer fun-hater was me.

Yeah, I called myself out on my own bullshit. 

Because I am sick of it. 

When you get to the point where you don't even want to hang out with your one guaranteed friend in life (YOU), it's time to call a self-intervention.

Please don't be mistaken – this is not the epilogue of some triumphant post-fun-hating aha moment. I am not going to tell you about how one day I woke up and bought a ticket to a weeklong beach vacay and rekindled the magic spark of my true inner being.

No, I am actually still navigating through a maze of negative thinking. Sometimes I find ways out and sometimes I get sucked back in. If it is indeed a maze - (I can't tell if that is the best analogy yet) - then it is one of those Midwest corn mazes that have been trampled by kids in Halloween costumes. Enough hooligan kids have kicked apart the maze through those later brisk weeks of autumn so that there are gaps where you can sneak out and escape. 

I think that is what it's like for me. It's this complicated labyrinth of dead corn, and sometimes I find these makeshift holes where I can momentarily step through and feel the sunshine on my face.

Those moments when I find a scratchy hole from which to escape it's like, thank GOD. Usually I get these moments in the middle of the night and it is a melancholic sigh of relief because I know they won't last for long. At some point, the maze master farmer will find out that I snuck through a hole, and she'll come find me and drag me back to the beginning. Back into the crazy corn puzzle I go, frustrated that I didn't draw a map with the escape route the last time I got out.

And this is how it goes, over and over. Wandering through twists and turns of complete and utter un-funness. 

And the absolute WORST part is that the one person there to watch me struggle and suffer – the one person who refuses to look away or temporarily suspend judgement is that meany who never leaves me alone. Me.


Cue the good news. 


I am starting to find more secret holes in the corn maze. I don't know if it's because it's now way past Halloween and this maze is disintegrating, or maybe I am just starting to learn my way through it. Other people will say it's because, "This awful Winter is almost over" but I have never been one to connect my inner-workings to the weather at all. In fact, when I am stuck in the corn maze, it's the sunny days that are the worst. I'd rather have the clouds and bad weather because it will give me more time to see if I can think my way out. 

The feeling when I kick through a hole is so good because the sensation is very calming. It's feels like when you finish a big math problem and then you flip to the back of the book to discover that YOU WERE RIGHT! Or, a more contemporary example, when you balance your checking account and it matches to exactly what is in the bank, down to the penny. There is a serenity to it. A temporary sensation of everything being right in the world, or, at least in the right place for right now.

When these moments occur, here is what happens: 

  1. Listening to (and creating) music suddenly seems like a great idea. 
  2. I get excited about the pencils at work and I get excited to lay out my clothes for the next day. 
  3. The creative thoughts flow in and out easily, like breathing.
  4. I am able to chit chat with people without faking it.
  5. I am able to laugh. (Being able to laugh again is like overcoming insomnia; you feel like you've regained some basic human privilege, like the right to walk down the street and eat an ice cream cone without getting yelled at. But note that I'm pretty sure you cannot do this in Singapore, no matter how big a hole you've managed to kick through the corn maze.)

The one thing that irks me about being No Fun is that it could have irreparable consequences if you don't get going on being More Fun. Like, what happens if you have consecutive days of feeling unfun and catatonic? It's scary. Hopefully you are a good faker and you are able to make it through the maze to the other side without tripping and falling hard.

But, until that day comes, how to Be Fun if you are lost in a maze with no holes? 

There's a few things you can try:

  • Go out on the town and be with people, even when it's the last thing you want to do.
  • Resist the urge to sit there and ruminate and instead take action. Action, action, action – it's a guaranteed win because it propels you forward.
  • Walk outside and be around other people. 
    • But, just a note here. I recommend that you squint your eyes so you don't see the people very clearly. It helps if other people just look fuzzy. That way you cannot distinguish hair styles and wardrobes and expressions of "Watch-out-I'm-an-important-young-executive-on-my-way-to-an-important-and-interesting-such-and-such (fill in the blank - happy hour, concert, volunteering opportunity, a beach party). This is also a good technique when jumping on Facebook. I often have to squint my eyes otherwise I will get sucked into the vortex of the News Feed, only to resurface half an hour later with a black eye and a racing heart.
Per usual, I don't have a solid conclusion, because this is an on-going conversation. I figured I'd throw my hat into the blogosphere of the decent to corny material out there for people seeking solace on their smart phones while lying in bed or riding the bus.

I will leave you with this TED talk that I watched tonight (thank you, Upworthy), about a woman who is hilariously honest on the topic of being a "flawed" human being. I found it massively comforting because it reminded me that there is always a choice. Like my dad always told me – we live in a self-fulfilling prophecy and each day we can make a conscious choice to be response-able for our attitude in life, no matter what kinds of shit happens (I paraphrased there a bit – my dad said it more eloquently than that).

Perhaps you relate or perhaps you are crossing my name off the invite list to your next beach party. But either way, I hope I get props for standing up and speaking out for Team No Fun. Us fun-haters stuck in the corn maze are trying, you guys, OK? 

I promise you, we really do want to bring back the party. 

And someday, we will be there; the funniest people in the room, getting our grove on and making you wet your pants laughing.

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