JOURNAL ENTRY: Sunday 2 June 2019

My lack of physical human contact has become quite apparent today. I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling a bit lost and not really known what to do with myself. I’ve managed to occupy my time throughout the day, but what I really wanted was some human interaction.

It’s probably been about a month since I stopped meeting up with PJ, one of my recovery buddies, everyday. Before my writing became a full time thing, we used to meet up and work the steps together, go for walks and generally just hang out and talk. As my book writing’s become more serious, I’ve decided to make it part of my daily routine, rather than just ad hoc, which meant cutting back on more recreational activities during the week. It’s now got to the point where I haven’t even spoken with him for over 2 weeks.

I don’t feel like I’m intentionally isolating myself, but at the same time I’m not being hugely sociable. I like to believe that I’m OK on my own, and most of the time I am, but there does come a point where I feel like I need a change of scenery. The challenge that I face is that I don’t like large crowds of people, so I’m not a huge fan of going out at the weekends. I prefer more serene and peaceful surrounding. I put this down to my (social) anxiety, but it’s also a personal preference. I like a long walks with a close friend, as opposed to a noisy get together with a group of people. I’m naturally a quiet person. My voice is soft and I feel like I have to shout to be heard when I’m in noisy places and that in itself makes me feel uncomfortable.

If I delve a little deeper I find fear.

I’m enjoying writing this daily JOURNAL. Part of the process of putting something out into the world, that is personal to me, feels like a connection of sorts. I’m finding that once it’s written and published though, that I’m left wanting more. I could go online, but I’m not a huge fan of social media. What I would like to do, is play some online Xbox games and interact with people that way. I know this isn’t physical contact, but it does feel like it would be enough for me at the moment. However, this is where the fear kicks in. This would be a really interesting process to explore this stuff, as I’m sure the fear is irrational.

OK, so the first thing that pops into my head is that it’s two way communication in real time, and I feel like that puts me on the spot. Second, I’ve never done it before and have no idea what to expect. Thirdly, I have no idea what other online players might be like. Forth, most of the online games are looter/shooters and I’m not a huge fan of these types of games. And I guess lastly, I’d be no good and so people wouldn’t want to play with me.

Right, let’s rationalise these fears.

  1. I am capable of holding a conversation in real time and I’m pretty sure that most games don’t require you to have an actual headset and to talk to people. It’s more about pointing, clicking and responding.
  2. The only way to become familiar with something new is to just do it.
  3. These people are only accessible through the Xbox online community, so I’m not in any physical danger and I have the ability to block anyone that I feel threatened by.
  4. This is about compromise. The game that I’m thinking of playing is Apex Legends, because it’s new and popular at the moment, but there are other games out there that might be more in tune with my playing style. A bit more research on this topic might help here.
  5. Practice. I’ve been playing Xbox pretty regularly for 6-7 months now, so I can’t be the worst player in the world and should, with a little practice, be able to hold my own.

Finally, there is this niggling perfectionist ideal that I have in my head. I want everything to be perfect from the outset, but that’s not how things actually work. It takes patience and practice in order to make progress. First Attempt Is Learning. It’s OK to just be OK.

Ultimately, what have I got to lose? If I don’t like it then I don’t have to keep playing or I can play something else and who knows, I may even end up meeting people that I get along with a making some online buddies…

In summary, I know that online connections are no substitute for actual, real face time, but this could be a gap filler. It’s not always possible to meet up with friends, so it’s about finding compromises and happy mediums. I still need to make the effort to get out of the house and meet up with my friends, but the odd hour or two online might just take the pressure off a bit when I’m feeling like I could do with some interaction that isn’t with an AI.

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