Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Good morning, Mr. Fennell. How are you today?"

The man smiles at me and presents his hand as though it is a homecoming gift from an old friend.

His gaze gives off the thin facsimile of warmth and concern, but there is no real emotion behind his eyes.

I reach for his hand to participate in this distant and impersonal greeting, preparing my answer.

A thought whispers an imperative into my ears.

"Tell him the truth," it says.

"Stop lying to people."

Our hands clasp, somewhat awkwardly.

"I have never been worse, each and every day. I don't even know what happiness is anymore. Every day, the majority of my energy is dedicated to finding reasons to keep myself alive. Most of the time, I don't find any. Every morning, I get out of bed silently reciting my unconvincing mantra: 'I am myself, not someone else.' Every night, I get back into bed not believing those words for a second. I have to take medication just to gain control of my own mind long enough to finish the things that I start, a fact which has haunted me so ferociously throughout my entire life that it has taken until this year for me to finally overcome the fear of its implications and talk to a doctor about it. Even with the medication, I still must sacrifice almost every facet of my social and personal life in dedication to a major towards which I no longer harbor any of the passions that I once did. I isolate myself despite hating the feeling of being alone. I am constantly frustrated with the world around me, and can feel the creeping grasp of alcoholism inching ever closer with each disquieting thought. I analyze constantly. Sensory information is immediately broken down into its most primitive of mechanical components and reconstructed in my vision as slow-motion, detailed replays of each event, regardless of how desperately I try to simply be a part of the world without tearing it apart. I hate this life. I hate this mind. I hate this constant struggle, and I wish that there was something more."

After a most fractional duration of time that seems to me like an eternity, I give the man's hand one firm shake and speak at last.

"I am doing just fine today. How about yourself?"


  1. You are not alone.

    I think everyone has a fake response to this inquiry. I'm not even sure the inquirer honestly gives a shit the majority of the time.

    You seem like an introvert, why not coddle that trait and do something for YOU? It is common for introverts to feel lonely and become desperate for some sort of attention, be it on a subconscious or conscious level. My advice to you, as someone of a similar personality type, is to instead make some room for "me" time. I understand you are in a difficult major, and unfortunately your degree is too important in this society for me to advise skimping out on school work, but maybe it might do you some good to cut ties and focus on something that makes YOU happy. Maybe your unhappiness stems from the people you associate yourself with.

    Sometimes you need to drop connections with family in friends in order to achieve in life. You cannot possibly hope to maintain every relationship you have ever had in life. Life is constantly changing, as are the people all around you. It's an uncomfortable but very factual part of life.
    Perhaps some mental time off would do you some good.

    You certainly seem to have a knack for writing, maybe try to focus your efforts towards that front? Keep in mind that an engineering degree provides infinitely more opportunities than an English degree pretty much across the board. I'm sure you can find some sort of career that involves writing with your degree, be it at a technical or fictional level, that you and your talents can thrive in. Do not limit yourself in what you do. I have seen your writing on this blog, and it is very impressive.

    This period of your life is the period in which you really start to find yourself. Maybe you AREN'T who you think you are? Maybe you aren't even who others think you are? In the next few years, I'm sure that you will be faced with some very difficult decisions. As a friend, I assure you that if you truly reflect on your soul and your true desires as you make these decisions, and ignore any sort of lust, power, or money that may be involved, you will find your true happiness and be at peace with yourself.

  2. I'd like to apologize for taking so long to respond to this. I wanted to take some time to think about how to adequately respond.

    Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to leave such meaningful feedback. It really means a lot.

    Secondly, yes, I have been doing things here and there to try to make my life more centered around what I feel that I need. For example, I recently deleted my facebook. I need some time away from the machinery.

    As far as associations go, I don't associate myself with many people. I'm kind of picky about who I really open up to in my personal life, and as a result, I don't have a huge group of friends. I'm not saying this is bad; I'm perfectly fine with it. But because of this I don't think that it's my associations that are causing me stress right now.

    I am definitely spending a lot of time right now cultivating my writing. It's been a very good thing for me, and I'm glad that I've picked it back up as a hobby. I'm hoping that soon I will have the time and ability to look into writing as more than just a personal hobby, but for now it just needs to stay here and in my notebooks.

    As far as not being who I think I am, I'd like to defer you to this post:


    I have been stricken recently with the idea of writing engineering textbooks that are actually engaging. I feel like there is something wrong with the way the books I've used so far approach the material, primarily because there is no feeling behind the text on the pages.

    I would love to write passionate, exciting textbooks that are aimed at getting people excited about the material rather than just presenting it. But I dunno. It's just an idea right now.

    Again, thank you for your thoughtful response and advice. I hope that you continue to read.