This is an update correlating to a previous post about my social problems and lack of interests in life. I moved to a new location in an attempt at clarity and change, and to some extent have gained some, but I still have a question. THIS IS A VERY VERY LONG POST, like 25+ paragraphs long, so thanks out to those who take time to read it.
I hope this isn't too long, but this topic is a follow-up to a previous one I made before, the link is here
Thanks out to anyone who replied in that topic.
It's been half a year since that topic started, so my apologies if this topic seems like a repeat but I wanted to get fresh responses. And as stated, this is going to be LONG
because I don't want to leave out details.
Let me explain my new circumstances:
As shown in my last topic, I was getting fed up with my lack of an active life and how it was affecting my social life. After making a weak effort at trying a few new things and getting easily discouraged and giving up, I decided I needed to make a more forceful change.
My father had suggested some time ago that I could go to Hong Kong if I want and learn my home language, Cantonese. So on a whim I decided to go and stay there for as long as necessary to learn the language, with the goals of:
1) Having at least some goal, to get myself moving, and feel like I'm doing something useful. Hence, learning Cantonese.
2) I wanted to see whether moving to a different area and meeting supposedly completely different people would have any effect on my social problem.
3) I wanted to be able to pretend I had a fresh start, and not have to think about anything related to the friends who weren't really friends or other regretful memories I had in my home area.
So last year, in September, I arrived. After getting settled in, I immediately applied for Cantonese classes, but I was too late for full-time because of my arriving on a whim, so I took a part-time. Being awful at self-studying to make up for the lack of a full-time class (Experience made me wary that I would not have the self control to do it), I decided I needed more to fill my schedule and I took up running/exercising again for the first time since high school and also signed up for a martial arts class for every evening.
I settled down fairly quickly because despite the fact that a ton of people couldn't even understand my language, when I asked myself how I felt one week after arriving I immediately knew that it felt the exact same as in the US because I only had one friend there anyways. I made a point to get to know everybody in my class -- an actor who was dedicated to his family, a Korean banker, a teacher, etc. As it was part-time the crowd was generally quite a bit older than I and all had jobs, but I attempted to get to know them anyways. I also got in touch with a few peers my brother had met in his university and recommended to me.
Much to my dismay, the same problems occurred again. I felt that same lack of connection, and while I was hanging out with one of my classmates, wondering why the hell I was even there if I didn't have fun hanging out with him, I thought to myself: Am I trying too hard? Is making friends really supposed to be this difficult?
I realized the answer was no. Friends become friends because they naturally like each other's qualities, not because they tried insanely hard to be interesting to each other. Because I had such difficulty finding someone who was genuinely interested in me I had, over the previous years, come to the conclusion that I simply had to be more interesting.
After all, I was always somewhat well known in every community I got involved in because of my odd personality and, I'm assuming, looks (I've always thought I was quite a bit better looking than the average Chinese guy). It was difficult to believe that after going through all these people throughout my life, that maybe they all just didn't get along with me, and that I didn't really have a problem myself.
Back to my point: I asked myself that if I wasn't supposed to try so hard to make friends, then why in the world was I doing it? Why was I hanging out with people that I felt like I didn't even want to be with? The answer was obvious, I wanted at least some company.
So I decided to reach a compromise: I would still hang out with people to fulfill my desire of company, but even if I felt it was my own personality that was hindering a possible friendship, I wouldn't push myself. I understood that "just being myself" would mean I would be subject to more of the "feeling left out" feeling, but in the past 10 years I had definitely tried my hardest to be an entertaining, lovable friend and I didn't exactly come out with much to show for it, so, at least for the time being, I probably should just settle for company, accept that I might be lonely for a while, and keep myself open to the possibility that there are people out there that I don't have to pour everything into just to be friends.
After sleeping on it, I noticed the following day that the deep, self-deprecating shadow that always seemed to haunt me even in my happy moments, was gone. I wondered if it was just a temporary relief, like had happened innumerable times during my depressions after reaching small epiphanies and then plunging back into depression again a few days/weeks later. But the peaceful feeling persisted. If I were to try put it into words, I'd say that though I was neither happy or sad, perhaps I was simply accepting of the circumstances for once.
This is the first conclusion I have reached: my compromise, and the open-mindedness to the possibility that maybe I just need to keep looking.
Fast forward to the present. As of now, I'm now enrolled as a full-time student, giving me access to many more classmates and the main campus, and thus, a much more involved social surrounding. My martial arts school has people coming in from different countries all the time and I meet new people almost every week there. I've probably been acquainted with at least 50 people since arriving here, and I hang out with my classmates and a few other acquaintances on a regular basis.
Just as predicted, I still can't connect with people, and I'm still always "just there" when hanging out with friends. Though I am no longer troubled by my lack of ability to hold a conversation/connect, and my current situation is far better than previously, my compromise does not mean that I want to give up looking for a decent friend. I may not be agonizing over my predicament anymore, but that sure as hell doesn't mean I think feeling lonely is satisfactory.
So on to explaining my second conclusion. If you've read this far already, I hope you've had a nice drink to accompany you, or maybe a fuzzy cat, chinchilla, or chinchilla cat to pet or something. Anyways:
I have done a lot of thinking on the replies to my last post. In my last post many replies were skeptical that I honestly had nothing to talk about. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. Regardless, I'll try to explain a bit more of my personality, and also write a conversation similar to one I had today, perhaps it will give a better look.
(At lunch table with classmates/students from other classes)
Me: *Sits down, having just gotten lunch*
Lily: ...so, I go to Starbucks all the time, and there's always this guy...*tells story, finishes*
Me: (Genuinely entertained) *Laughs* That's cute. Why did you talk to him anyways?
Lily: Oh, I like to study there a lot. He's just always there.
Me: Oh, that's cool. (I consider whether to ask why she likes studying there, but Lily doesn't look interested in further describing her reasons there. In fact, she looks a bit put off that I managed to direct the conversation away from her entertaining story without making an interesting opinion about it.)
Randy: Haha, you know what you should have done instead? ...*carries on conversation, chatter is directed away from me*
Lily: Oh, that reminds me of...*etc etc*
That's generally how quickly any topic or story gets shot down when talking with me, regardless of the person. I usually ask an open-ended question about the other person because I cannot think of any other reply, story, or memory that would usually have any relation to the topic at hand. As much as I'd like to give a colorful comment/opinion about what I thought about her story, "That's cute," is as interesting as most of my opinions get about most topics. Mainly because...
I am generally very simple and agreeable about everything, possibly to a fault. I do not have a favorite movie/tv show/song/book, though I can list plenty that I have enjoyed. I have never looked up to anyone as a role model and generally find most people agreeable/understandable to some extent, which is why my opinions are so stale and are rarely sought out by others. I despise shopping for things such as clothes because I always think "Hmm, that looks decent," and can never pick what I want to buy because they all seem to look ok, and they all seem to be somewhat comfortable. I like so many different kinds of foods that I never really seem to know what my favorite one is. I do not mind physically uncomfortable circumstances, such as fasting for a week without food or sleeping on a bench not even long enough for half of my body in freezing temperatures with only a ski jacket.
Even during my depression, I rarely would even think to myself that I disliked something, aside from my current circumstances and anything that goes against my general ethical views. I have only had, to my knowledge, one person who ever disliked me in my life, and he later became slightly friendly when he realized I did not reciprocate the feelings and that we shared many mutual friends.
So I think everything is so-so, or that everyone has their reasons for saying/doing this or that, basically. I don't question things much. When I compare it to how most people I know generally react to situations, I wonder if that is why people find me rather uninteresting or unexcitable.
In addition, my sense of humor is generally very dry and not very witty, so I also tend to take things too literally and have killed innumerable jokes before or reacted in a manner too casual or self-conscious whenever I was the butt of them. A very noticeable pattern to me throughout every social group I've been in is that people generally stop being playful with me very quickly as soon as they get to know me a little, even if they were initially. I'm pretty sure that tells me that I probably don't connect well with them.
So if my opinion is generally not very interesting, and I'm not very fun to play around with or to tell stories to, then that means, at least to basically all the people I've met so far, that I don't really have any appeals in terms of being a friend someone respects/finds interesting (Reasonable and/or interesting opinions), or as a friend someone likes to hang out and have fun with(Playful/Humorous).
So if that's the case, that leaves me the option of being the last kind of friend, the kind that you can come to with problems to talk about and the kind that will help you if you ask for a favor. It's ironic, because I've always considered this one of my strongest traits and I when I was younger I always thought that I could still get by and make good friends with this, at least.
I've made plenty of friends in this respect over the course of my life. The good feeling between us remains, but as soon as the other friend's problems no longer need my ear/assistance, we had nothing to talk about any longer. Needless to say I have many friends like this who I have barely talked to over the previous years, both because of this lack of connection on a relative level and because of life's chores getting in the way.
Thinking about all this, I conclude that it may also be possible that I really do need to improve/change on some aspects of my personality.
So, weighing these two conclusions that I have reached:
What is my priority right now? Do I continue to seek more and more people, regardless of circumstance? Do I focus on meeting as many people as I can? Would there be some chance that there is actually somebody out there that would actually enjoy hanging out with me as I am now?
Or do I focus on searching for an interest, and by doing so, meet other people who share the same interests, and possibly connect with them through that interest? Will that somehow break through this apparent "personality wall" that I always have?
....is there some other option I have not considered?
Thanks out for reading.