It’s been a while since I’ve reflected on my progress here, and the reasons why are a little complicated. On the surface level, I think I’m embarrassed to admit that I never made good on my last Progress Report, where I vowed to look into volunteering at my local community arts center. I still plan on doing this, but it’s a little embarrassing that even three weeks later I haven’t gotten around to it. I think posting these plans should keep me honest about actually doing them, but it doesn’t work if I’m not properly updating my progress. I may need to make these reports regularly just to motivate me to tackle some of these more challenging projects, so I’ll experiment with scheduling these for a while.
On a deeper level, I think this blog is having a bit of an identity crisis. I intended to catalogue my trials as I attempt to overcome my poseurphobia, but that often means dredging up some not-so-pleasant truths. This ends up taking some of my posts to kind of dark places, and forces them to act as a confessional or a journal. I’m not too bothered by the thought of my closest friends reading these, or even the anonymous internet masses, but the thought of people acquaintances or coworkers knowing these pretty private thoughts makes me a little uncomfortable, which I think is understandable. This has led to me pulling my punches in the last few posts, not digging as deep as I had been, and wrapping them up with pat conclusions about how to get better or why I don’t need to change. Part of this tendency may have come from the fact that I haven’t been doing these progress reports and have wanted a way to bring closure to these threads, but it paints an unrealistic picture of my phobia and the challenges I face in overcoming it.
On the other side of the identity crisis is my newfound concern that the posts should be entertaining. Part of this is I like entertaining my friends, but I think the other part is that I’m a little too driven about increasing my readership. In my mind, easy jokes about nerds are more fun to read than a kind of unsettling account of someone’s relationship with alcohol, so I may have been steering the blog in that direction. I think I had a much better balance when I started this blog, which I bet has something to do with the fact that I was often considering society’s relationship to the subject as much as my own.
My interest in more readers has also led to a desire to get these posted earlier and earlier, which often means I’m spending less and less time writing them (which means less and less time thinking about them). Work has also gotten steadily busier, to the point that I barely have any time to work on these there anyway. This is hardly a bad thing — I probably shouldn’t be doing this at work in the first place — but it does mean I’ve had to adjust my writing patterns. This week, I’ve experimented with writing posts ahead of time, which has been working pretty well, and I think is going to have to be the model I adopt, even if I didn’t like it.
All of this meta-blogging claptrap aside, I actually have made some progress over the last couple weeks. My girlfriend was out of town last weekend, so I went to a bar with one of my roommates. Even the abstract thought of going to a bar with someone I know as well as my roommate (that is, not very well) makes me a little anxious, but we actually had a pretty good time. It was fun to just talk for a while, and we ended up meeting some interesting people. I’ve also found a comfortable niche at work, and feel like I can be myself there. Maybe it’s bad that this is a process that takes me the better part of three months, but hey, progress is progress.
The best piece of progress I have to report, however, is related to a small gathering my girlfriend and I went to last night. This was a very low-anxiety situation for me — less than a dozen people sitting in a room talking, and the vast majority had attended my college, so there was always a well of people and things to talk about — but the progress here wasn’t so much about the achievement of being there and enjoying myself as it is about what it made me realize: I like friends. This may sound impossibly dumb, and I don’t think the idea of liking friends is even a little revelatory other than that I haven’t had a long, rambling conversation like that in a very long time. In addition to being caught up on everyone’s lives, the conversation veered from lolcats to the twin prime conjecture to crop circles (just to name a few), and was saturated with a general feeling of warmth and friendliness. My reclusive nature has driven me away from get-togethers in general, but I actually enjoy them quite a bit. Calling the realization something so simple “progress” may sound dumb, but it was something I clearly needed. Baby steps!