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how are people dealing with stress with the virus going around?
The internet is a funny thing, I spent most of my childhood completely absorbed by it and perhaps more so than any other place, by this community. I had just started discovering it and feeling outcasted and appalled by my surroundings it's where I took my refuge. Along the way I made many friends and acquaintances, I made it my goal to constantly connect with everyone no matter who they were. By doing this it gave me some sense of hope, I felt like I could be well known, appreciated and get to learn about so many new things from all over. Every once in a while get to brighten people’s days just as they had done for me by letting me in. The online world was my oyster, full with possibilities for me to explore. Somewhere I felt I could be who I wanted to be.
But times change, as I got older I was eventually able to get out of the circumstances that lead me to using this as my escape. This resulted in many new realizations for me. While I used to consider myself an open person, the truth is I was quite closed off in my way of thinking. My highest points online had been my lowest offline. All the time I spent here vigorously trying to interact with people came at a trade off. Daytime and nighttime melded together, downing energy drinks and chips, living by night in my room and being half a
Slowly as I saw people leaving and the online community transitioned, combined with the outreach from friends offline, I started the climb out of my hole. It was slow at first, the occasional day every couple of weeks where I’d be invited out of my bubble to hang out. It felt a bit scary but also exciting and over time this grew into a bond. People liked me, for my apparent lack of tact. I was very genuine in the way I acted, probably because I didn’t know any other way to act. Having been left mostly to my own devices for so long, carving out my own routine, I had grown accustomed to something different from the people around me.
Through this experience I started to make a lot of discoveries about myself and others. Started becoming physically healthier, set new life goals and through many rocky experiences, slowly dealt with my fear of others. I feel like deep inside people long for mostly the same things. Everyone wants to be acknowledged, to have meaningful connections and to feel like they’re worth something to themselves and others. No matter how much some put on a front at some level this rings true. Once I finally started to internalize this perspective my fear started to dissipate. I didn't really need to fear others. it lead into an addiction, a need to make up for all those years spent online. To establish new goals. All those years of feeling ridiculed gave me some sort of vengeance, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, to make people acknowledge me and feel like I was fitting in.
Maybe in some ways I've succeeded with that, it’s hard to tell. I’m young and there's still a lot left untold at this point in my life. What I can say however is that I seem to have lost something along the way. Places like this site, which once filled me with joy, now give me such a bittersweet feeling. I'm no longer filled with the sense of wonder that I once was. Maybe that's natural. Most of the connections I've made on here and many other parts of the internet have either withered away completely, or are a husk of what they used to be. I suppose that's an inevitable fact of life. You grow older, times change and people move on. One can only hope that you managed to contribute something positive to the people you’ve met along the way.
In many ways, nostalgia for those old days makes me long back, even though I know I'm never going to feel the same way I once did. At times I still have periods of holing myself away from people outside the internet and trying to escape yet again. Either by trying to reconnect with people I used to know, or to find somewhere new where I can join in. Trying to rekindle that feeling I once had, and every once in a while I succeed just a little bit before reality inevitably sets in and I realize what I’m really doing. The more I think about it, in hindsight it feels crazy that I was able to get so much satisfaction from interacting with people, without ever physically seeing them, hearing their voice or anything of the sort. Feeling such a deep connection with people through text and images. Who was really hiding behind the screen on the other side? In most cases I had no idea outside of how they portrayed themselves. But maybe that was part of the charm, because it kept me feeling that sense of wonder.
Now it almost feels like I'm on the other side. In my repeated attempts to connect with the outside world, I've become more and more comfortable. I’ve habituated to this new environment to where its become my new normal. Increasingly, I’ve started to feel alienated online, like I've lost my ability to truly interact with everyone else dwelling here like I used to. In those instances where I try, it all feels so fake. I can't shake the feeling that I'm annoying people with the way I act at times. Is that actually the case? I don't know. But feeling this way makes me sad, I always hoped one day I’d feel at home at both sides of the screen but it seems like it’s more akin to a path where you’re pushed to make a choice. Something many users before me have done as they up and left. I don’t blame them for it at all, on the contrary I’m happy they were able to make that choice and I hope they’re in a good place.
I realize this might make it seem like I'm quite regretful of how invested I've been on here. In truth, I would actually say it's somewhat the opposite. It's easy to sit here in hindsight and think about what you could've done differently in your life, the chances you didn’t take either because you were scared or didn’t realize they were there to begin with. We're all guilty of it. However I try to think of everything as a learning experience. I think there are certainly good things that have come out of my teen years spent here and I'm thankful for having been able to get to know so many people all over. It helped me through a lot of dark times in my life, when I was dealing with a lot of difficult circumstances that I wasn’t able to get out of on my own. Despite my terribly shoddy memory I can still find many fond moments to look back on and at times I’ve scrolled through old interactions and felt really emotional. All of this has certainly opened my perspective on a lot of things, and I'm sure many of those characteristics I still retain in some way.
It has however come to a point where I feel like I'm at a crossroads. No longer feeling a part of the groups I used to be, I’ve realized there’s no one keeping me on here other than myself. The few relationships I’ve partially maintained over the years, feel like they’ve withered away until it’s finally just the force of habit that’s making me return. The sense of familiarity is there when I interact with people, but there's no real fulfillment anymore. I no longer feel like I’m adding anything to these people’s lives nor am I getting much out of it. I guess that’s because I’ve diverged so much from who I used to be and no longer have the same perspective I used to.
As I hole myself away from the people I’ve grown to care about, I can’t help but ask myself why exactly it is that I’ve kept doing this now that I no longer have a reason to. It’s a question I’ve kept asking myself over and over. At times arriving at the conclusion that it’s just the way I am as an introvert and people need to accept it, but at other times feeling like there’s something more to it. Like there’s something I need to reevaluate about myself. I still can’t really tell, maybe it’s a bit of both. Along with a big dose of overthinking (as you can tell that’s one trait I’ve retained all these years). In any case, I feel what I need to do is dedicate myself to what I find important rather than looking for something that doesn’t exist. Right now that’s tending to offline relationships I have. To no longer entertain the notion that I’m being held back, or to use my “real life” circumstances as a point of frustration.
I’m going to attempt to spend more time with friends and tend to the close relatives I have left while they’re still in the flesh. I will continue to work towards my ambitions. My will to learn and to stand out never quite left, and even as I’ve become less idealistic over the years, I’m still driven by the idea of making my mark on the world. Eventually I might move past that, but I want to think that I’ll be able to channel that will to connect with people into something good. To do something that feels just as meaningful to others as it is to myself. I feel like I’m starting to discover ways to do that in my studies and my hobbies and it’s something I want to continue doing.
So as you can probably tell, I’m saying goodbye to this place for now. Hopefully not permanently, escaping is something I want to do less of from here on out. Maybe one day I’ll return. But at that point I will hopefully be in a much different stage of my life. I’m greatly appreciative for everyone who let me be a part of your reality even if it was just for a brief while and we haven’t spoken in many years. I hope you too will find what you desire in life, whether that be online or offline. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to catch up and reminisce.