I hate Fridays

I fucking hate Fridays.

Sorry, let me rephrase.

I don’t hate Fridays, not on principle. Rather, I hate the ones when I don’t have a plan for the evening.

Let me be even more clear.

The feeling I get on unplanned Friday evenings is equivalent to that of staring at a bottomless pit of existential loneliness. It sounds absurd and dramatic, and for the longest time I’ve countered this feeling with good-ol’ distractions like Facebook, but now that I’ve had some time to ponder on it, I’m beginning to think that a large part of it is driven by the intense need to be around people all the time (self-diagnosed as extroversion).

Yes, there’s a ton of social conditioning behind this; yes, in the age of Instagram and Spanchat, people put unnecessary pressure upon themselves to do something fun on Fridays. Blah blah blah. I get it, and that’s already something I’m working towards. I’d like to think though that this is a combination of nature vs. nurture, and there are intrinsic traits to the nature of growing up in a certain environment which I haven’t rid myself of yet.

Don’t get me wrong. Being an extrovert has its advantages. It’s easy to last through parties without tiring yourself, especially in big groups. You’re re-energized by the people around you, and it’s a great way to feel like people want you in their presence as a means of sating your ego, because it’s just so goddamn wonderful to feel relevant.

The flipside, however, is that this constant need to be around people is nigh impossible to fulfill all the time. I often recover from a stressful day by voicing out my thoughts and talking it through. So when I don’t have a chance to do so, my brain gets paralysed by a drivel of thoughts which ultimately lead me to the conclusion that I am often quite lonely.

Loneliness is a strange sensation. It isn’t specifically the absence of people that bothers you, but rather the reasons that your brain comes up with to justify why they’re absent from your life. Was it because they had other plans? Was it because they didn’t want to include you? Was it something you did? Was it something you didn’t do? Or are they simply spending time with their significant others? Shouldn’t you be having a companion as well? Why don’t you have a companion? Is that really why you need a companion — to spend some lonely Friday nights with? Why can’t you just be happy on your own? etc. It’s a funny little loop, like a broken tape recorder on repeat. Only now, most of the buttons are beyond repair, and the best you can do is lower the volume with some meaningless distractions (Thank you Netflix).

The problem with entertaining such thoughts, of course, is that a lot of times they’re just not true. My friend circle is wonderful, I have a family whom I love even if I may not aways like them, I am lucky enough to have multiple friends spread throughout the globe and across different timezones, and in general I’d like to believe that I am more often than not a somewhat important part of their lives. It’s bizarre, but the reality is that a lot of my aforementioned thoughts are simply figments of my imagination.

Solve For Happy’, a book which attempts to crack the code on human happiness, explains this a little. It suggests that our brains can’t help but go into this loop when we sit idle. We think about the past and the future; we think about the things we could’ve done and the things we may be missing on. We have trouble anchoring ourselves to the present; we have to capture the moment somehow, to relive it, to improve it, or to simply distract ourselves from it. Experiencing the moment just isn’t enough; we want to bottle it up and put it into something tangible — something we can look back to in a few years and say: ‘Huh, I did that, I was there. This made me feel something.’. We often spend more time fantasising about what our life could and should look like, rather than actually living it.

Is there a real solution to this symptom, apart from the whole “live in the present” nonsense? I don’t know. The book does provide its own take, suggesting that the thoughts that our brain provides are not always our own, but simply reactions to the stimuli we receive through the day. Often, it helps to take a step back and determine where they come from; if your brain suggests that you’re lonely, instead of accepting it as a fact, question where the thought comes from. The same goes for attraction, hate, regret, happiness, sorrow, and all the other emotional rollercoasters that we face on a daily basis.

And until the time you can master your thoughts — focus a little more on being present, perhaps give your thoughts a little less weight, and if all that doesn’t work, maybe ask for a bit of help, instead of trying to solve it all on your own — from friends, families, dogs, cats, therapists, etc. etc. I often tend to shy away from discussing my problems, simply because I think that I may be relying too much on someone else, and that it’s a burden upon them to walk this through with me, because — you know — it’s hard to need people. But I guess this is a gentle reminder that they probably need you a little bit too.

And that little bit probably makes our species a tad more special.

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Shitij Nigam

Shitij Nigam

writing about stuff I find funny or interesting or absurd or irritating but mostly all of the above

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