Monday, October 21, 2013

There IS No Lion!

I've never been a fan of scary stuff.  Though I don't mind if a movie, book, or TV show has a few frightening moments--many sci-fi/fantasy stories do--I don't like it when the whole intent of something is simply to scare anyone who reads, sees, or hears it.  I've become a little less sensitive to it as I've gotten older, but, as a kid, I even had to turn off the background music during a set of levels in a computer game designed for kids ages three through eight because it was just too eerie.  It actually used to be the main reason behind why I despised this month we're currently in, though I have since gotten over that.

Though many of us have experience with "entertainment" that did nothing but scare us, where fear is really a problem is when it keeps you from doing what should be done.  Since I am not you, I won't try to assess what your fears are keeping you from doing; that's something that only you and/or someone who knows you better than anyone else, such as a parent or spouse, would know.  Still, I realize now that I have been making up excuses for why I shouldn't do things, when the real reason was that I didn't want to.  Here are some examples:

What Whoever Wanted Me to DoThe Excuse I Gave for Not Doing ItThe Real Reason Why I Declined
Go to a convention about four hours away with a teacher and some fellow students"That's a week after a youth retreat my church is doing, and I'll just be too tired."I simply wasn't interested.
Apply for a job working at a call center"Both one of my friends and one of my aunts used to work at such a place, and they told me they got 'cussed out' on a daily basis."I didn't want a job anywhere except for the library.
Try selling my wares at a flea market"If I do that, I'm going to get taken advantage of and robbed!"I just didn't want to bother with it; trading in items to stores in my area was easier.
Meal preparation that involves touching raw meat"Back in 2004, when my mom asked me to do that, I was providentially hindered by a phone call from a friend I hadn't talked to in months! If God stopped me from doing it, it must not be what I should be doing!"It disgusted me, and I just wanted no part of it.

There is actually a Bible verse that says something about such situations: "The lazy person claims, 'There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!'" (Proverbs 22:13, NLT) Yes, you read that right: the lazy person, not the fearful person, or the smart person.  Though we all can be lazy at times--which is actually a good thing, since all of us need our sleep--being a couch potato or even a mouse potato is not a good thing.

If you're a Christian, or even if you've attended church for a while, you no doubt have heard of shut-ins; that is, people who can't leave their house at all--or, at least, without lots of assistance--even just to go to church services to the supermarket.  Last week, I was thinking about that term, and I was wondering if I was a shut-in; after all, I don't drive, and, unless I can walk to it, I usually have to hitch a ride to wherever I want or need to go, usually from one or both of my parents.  I asked my mom about it, and she said that my ability to walk places and take the bus prevented me from being one.  Now that I think about it, I realize that I was thinking that way because, even though I'm not technically a shut-in, I somewhat live like one.  Lately, I haven't been walking places like I used to, and I definitely haven't been using my city's bus system like I should.  Instead, in many cases, if I can't "get a lift" to and from where I want to go, I just wait, and end up sitting at home reading a book or watching television instead.  I'm not going to lie: That is laziness on my part.

It goes even beyond that, though; in fact, what I'm about to say might surprise you, though it's likely something that you've known all along.  In 2003, a well-meaning teacher told me of a friend whose son was thought to have the same condition I have, and he--that is, the son himself--believed that driving was not an option for him, if only because of the concentration required.  Up to that point, I had only thought of having a driver's license and car as how it would benefit me, instead of what would be required of me to actually get it.  From that point on, I fought against almost all of my friends and family members, who entirely disagreed with me when I said the same thing that other kid said.  I even went as far as intentionally failing my learner's permit test the first time I took it, and lying about it to cover it up! When I actually did get the permit, I took four lessons with a friend, only to use his requirement of me washing my mom's car--which we were using for the lessons--as an out; I claimed that the mistakes I made during the final lesson were so stupid, it was like walking into the fourth week of a high school class and not even knowing the teacher's name.  Some time later, another friend gave me some lessons, but they were stopped by him getting injured while refereeing a football game...or, at least, that's what I always said.  When I stopped and thought about it recently, I realized that we did a lesson when he was still recovering from his injury, so that must not have been it.  Even if it wasn't, he recovered from that injury years ago, yet we haven't had any lessons since, it must have been something on my part.  When my learner's permit expired, my dad wanted me to get my permit again, and I absolutely refused, only wanting to get a non-driver's ID.  However, the biggest kicker is that, later on, that same teacher who told me about her friend's son mentioned that said kid was actually driving...yet, I was still insistent that being behind the wheel of a car was not for me.  It was an accident waiting to happen; it was far too big of a risk; if I gave in to my friends and family, the end result would make them wish they never "encouraged" me.  Now, I see it for what it really was: laziness.  Instead of working hard at something that would change my life, I'd rather sit around and watch Disney Channel.  Does that not sound like a sluggard to you?

I do want to make a few things clear.  First off: Though I'm not going to let my lazy attitude keep me from what needs to be done, I will still be mindful of my premonitions.  Some Christians argue that, after the last part of the Bible was written, God quit talking to anyone, even His followers, outside of the Word.  I don't believe that; I think there are things that a sort of inner voice--which has to be God--has told me that I wouldn't have known otherwise.  For example: One Friday in 2011, I was at the library volunteering, when I saw the courier--that is, the guy who transports items from one library to another--bring in a box of inter-library loans.  I didn't open, touch, or even go near it, but I knew that one of the items I had requested was in there...and it was.  The same thing happened all the way back in 2001, when, as "navigator" for a youth retreat four hours away, I told the driver to turn somewhere, even though I hadn't seen the street sign long enough to read it, because something told me that was the right street...and it was.  God had to be behind that; frankly, I'd like to see some atheist try to use psychology or science to come up with some other reason, because I know they'd only fail miserably.  If God tells me something, even if it's not in the Bible, why shouldn't I listen?

Second off: Refusing to succumb to my "fears"--aka my laziness--does not mean that I'll be doing all the activities I've been avoiding for years.  Most of you probably know that I don't like theme parks, sports, scary entertainment, or anything to do with large bodies of water.  That isn't a fear; it isn't a conviction; it's just that I can't stand them.  You all can take part in them to your heart's content; I won't stop you.  I just don't want to take part in them myself, though I'm glad that those of you who can do so, if all that makes you happy.

Third off: This isn't going to be an immediate change.  I once read a quotation on Plugged In's Culture Clips where it talked about the "time" it takes to do something in a movie or on television versus in real life.  Sitcom characters often solve problems within half-an-hour; the crews on home improvement shows transform a room or even a whole house in an hour; movie characters go from jerks to kind individuals--or vice versa--within the space of two hours.  Of course, the actual chronology is usually longer than that, and who wants to watch an episode that's forty-eight hours long?  Still, it doesn't change the fact that--in some people, at least--it causes a desire for instant gratification.  The quick speeds of technology only makes the problem worse; on my first computer--a Commodore 64--it took at least a minute or two to load any sort of application.  Nowadays, that's a minute or two too long; people, especially of my generation, want it here and now.  All that has made many folks--including myself--impatient with pretty much anything, even change in ourselves.  If it doesn't happen immediately, it's just not going to.  What some people don't realize is that all the technology in the world can't make changes in lifestyles, habits, or personalities any quicker; they take time, and not just two hours like in the movies.  If I'm going to try new things--driving, using mass transit, etc.--I have to work my way up.

In conclusion, let me say this: On the way home from my second failed attempt--this one not on purpose--to get my learner's permit, I tried to explain to my brother-in-law why driving wasn't an option.  I say "tried" because I ended up stammering a lot, I spent much of the time saying essentially nothing, and what I did say was immediately refuted by him.  When I told him that me driving was just too big of a risk--especially in the wake of my sister's death just a month or two prior--he told me an age-old saying: "Those who never took a risk never got anywhere."  You also might have heard similar sayings, such as, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," and "No guts, no glory."  Those are all true; now, it's time that I started applying them to my life.  Fear that's rooted in laziness is not of God; in fact, 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."  Maybe the "lion in the road" Solomon's sluggard talked about was actually Satan; with the Lion of Judah on my side, though, I have no reason to be afraid.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Why So Dogmatic?" I'll Tell You Why!

Most people study at least one foreign language during their school years, usually in middle/junior high school or later.  Still others grow up in a bilingual household or world, where two languages are spoken and understood by all residents of the home or by pretty much everyone one comes in contact with.  Whatever your experience with various languages, it's obvious to pretty much anyone that learning one language is hard when you're used to the rules and sounds of another.  I took Spanish from seventh grade through tenth grade, and my classmates and I thought it was going to be easy; just one semester proved us wrong.  Though I do remember some of what I learned during those four years, it's mostly vocabulary, as I never did get the conjugations down fully.  I'm sure others of you who have taken any such classes--whether Spanish, French, Latin, or even ASL--probably know exactly what I mean; a coeval friend once told me that the only thing he remembered from high school Spanish class was how to ask permission to use the restroom.

It's also true with the different "languages" computers use.  Most of you who are involved in the tech field know that, since Macs have run on Intel processors for several years now, it makes it easy and natural for a computer with an apple printed on the front to run the "other" operating system.  What you might not know is that Windows/PC emulators have been available since the 90's; they just tended to run sluggishly at first, as the processor was trying to speak a "language" that wasn't its native one.  The Mac OS I currently have--10.6, aka Snow Leopard--is the last one that can run pre-Intel OS X programs, which actually comes in very handy.  I have a version of Print Shop that my mom bought for a previous Mac all the way back in 2004, and I am glad that it runs on the Mac I have now, because I do not want to shell out a whole bunch of money to get a new version of software that I already have.  The only problem? Though it runs moderately well, it is a bit slow, which is because the Intel processor is speaking a non-Intel "language" whenever I use that program.

Why do I bring that up? Here's why: Anyone who knows me knows that "cool" and "hip" are not languages that I speak or have ever spoken.  Though I've had coeval friends pretty much my entire life, I was never in the "in crowd," as my tastes in...well, pretty much everything were not the same as my classmates or other peers.  I'm pretty sure the last personal fad I went through that was considered cool by people my own age was Pok√©mon, and that was over a decade ago.  Sure, I made attempts to be "cool" and "hip," but they were simply futile; there was no way I could actually "fit in," not that I would truly have wanted to in the first place.  When it came to my tastes, and in other areas as well, I was pretty much speaking a "language" all my own.

As most of you either would expect or already know, I was met with criticism for all that.  Why couldn't I get my driver's license? Why did I like the things that my peers considered "childish"? What was stopping me from doing what "everyone else" was doing? True, the lion's share of that was from teenagers--and, therefore, a largely immature source--but right much of it was from adults of various ages, most if not all of whom should have known better.  Regardless of who said what, it ended up giving me thicker skin and made me all the more hesitant to do what anyone said.

In my last post, I shared this quotation from a former friend: "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong.  Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore." Ever since I first read those words about 1.5 years ago, I have been pondering what she meant, and trying to figure out whether or not she had a worthwhile point.  Now, I have come to a conclusion: Though I'm sure her intentions were good, the point she was trying to make is nothing short of invalid.  In my case, I have to be "dogmatic," because, as the old saying says: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."  I'll tell you right now that I do not want to be guilted or manipulated into taking part in activities--watching/playing sports, consuming morally objectionable entertainment, attending theme parks, anything involving large bodies of water, etc.--that are completely contrary to my tastes.  You can do that if you want; I'm not going to stop you.  I just want no part of it, because I know that I'm not going to enjoy it, despite others' claims to the contrary.  If I weren't as "dogmatic" as my former friend claimed I was/am, I'd have given up many of the things that I have become known for, such as Disney Channel/Nickelodeon, bargain hunting, being crafty, and the like, and would have succumbed to the audacious pleas from others who tried to get me to attend the beach or play football with them, even after I made it perfectly clear to them I wasn't the least bit interested.

A few months ago, I did a blog post where I said that, if you tell me that I'm not going to do something--or that I shouldn't do something--and your argument lacks sufficient backup, all you have done is made me even more determined to do whatever.  That comes as a result of years of people telling me, "You should ______!", and/or "You shouldn't _____!", without any reasons other than, "It's what everybody else is doing!", "It isn't appropriate for someone your age to do that!", or some other meaningless little platitude that has never and will never work on me.  I've realized that people are going to find fault no matter what I do.

Besides which, I'm pretty sure most of my true friends don't care about all that one way or the other.  Though they may not be fans of the same entities I am or have the same hobbies I do, they're still happy for me, because they know what I do makes me happy.  Back in 2007, I mentioned to a rather negative acquaintance that I had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during commercial breaks of ABC's airing of The Princess Diaries, to which he/she replied, "What would your guy friends think if they knew you were watching The Princess Diaries?" I'll tell you what they would think: They wouldn't care, and they definitely wouldn't make fun of me for it; if they did, they would be immature, and they wouldn't be my friends.  To be honest, I tried the same tactic on my mom once; around 1996, a show came on Disney Channel called Salute to the American Teacher, and, when my mom refused to watch it, I told her that it meant that she "didn't support the American teacher," to which she replied, "Yes, I do, [Siobhan]; I work for the school system!" (At the time, she was working as a school nurse.) Later on, either the same or a similar program came on the Mouse network, and I told her that I was going to tell the school's principal--aka her boss--that she didn't want to watch it.  My mom's reply? "She wouldn't care, [Siobhan]." Looking back, I think she was right; if I'd notified the principal, I probably would have gotten myself in trouble for wasting her time with such a paltry matter.  My guy friends would likely think less of the aforementioned individual for being a tattletale instead of thinking less of me for watching that movie; in fact, it was a former drill sergeant--no joke!--who recommended Ella Enchanted to me, and that's what led to me becoming an Anne Hathaway fan, and, therefore, watching that Princess movie.

In conclusion, I will say this: At a friend's Eagle Scout Court of Honor, I heard one of the adult leaders tell this story:

A man and his son were once going with their donkey to market. As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them and said, "You fool, what's a donkey for but to ride upon?"

So, the man put the boy on the donkey and they went on their way...but soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said, "See that lazy youngster? He lets his father walk while he rides!"

So, the man ordered his son to get off and got on the donkey himself...but they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other, "Shame on that lazy lout for letting his poor little son trudge along!"

The man did not know what to do, but he eventually took his son up before him on the donkey.  By this time they had come to the town and the people passing by began to jeer and point at them.  The man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at, and they replied: "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours; you and your hulking son?"

The man and his son got off and tried to decide what to do.  After much thinking, and then decided to cut down a pole, tie the donkey's feet to it, and raise the pole and the donkey to their shoulders.  They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge when the donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the boy to drop his end of the pole.  In the struggle, the donkey fell over the bridge, and, since his front feet were tied together, he drowned.

"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them, "that you cannot please everyone."

As I and countless others have said, people are going to find fault no matter what I do.  I know that some people aren't pleased with what I decide to do, but that is their problem.  I realized years ago that I have to do what God wants, regardless of what whoever else or whatever else might tell me to do.  Now, I'm off; I've got books to read and TV shows to watch.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Either Way, I'm Doomed

I write this with a heavy heart; lately, I have been emotionally struggling for more than one reason.  I can't figure out what the problem is exactly--do I need more medication? Do I need to adjust my diet? Am I just going through a rough patch right now?--but, lately, I just haven't been very happy, and nothing, not even my favorite entertainment or a trip to IHOP, seems to be able to fix it.

What's the problem? There's actually more than one, but the biggest one is this: I can't decide whether or not I am making the right decisions when it comes to important areas of my life, especially driving.  For years, I was sure that being behind the wheel of a car was nothing more than an accident waiting to happen.  Friends and family went out of their way to encourage me to give it a shot; one of my aunts even went as far as sending me a card--through regular mail, not e-mail--out of the blue to suggest I try taking lessons with a friend again.  Even one of the last things a now-former friend said to me before we became incommunicado was such an encouragement.  During that time, I built up a wall--okay, not literally, but you get my point--against anything that anyone said on that topic that was contrary to my opinion.

About a year ago, however, those walls started to crack, and they still haven't been repaired.  Part of me thinks that, by not driving, I'm doing myself a major disservice and just succumbing to fear and laziness...yet, another part of me believes that such thinking is actually smart, and that "everyone else," despite their great intentions, actually don't realize what they're saying.  When I think back on right many of the disagreeing statements people made on the topic, my response--whether I actually said it or simply thought it--still makes sense to me.  Here are some perfect examples:

Their ClaimsMy Response
"My uncle has Asperger Syndrome, and he drives; if he can, so can you."Asperger Syndrome is a spectrum disorder, which means that no two cases are the same.  As a special ed teacher, you should know that; you are letting your emotions overpower your rational thinking.  Besides which, some Biblical scholars would argue that the "if he can do it, so can I" attitude nearly cost Peter his life. (See Matthew 14:30 for the basis of that opinion.)
[After I talked about my bad concentration causing me to lose at video games]
"But...there's a lot of electricity involved in video games; you could get electrocuted!"
When was the last time you heard of someone getting electrocuted while simply sitting there playing Nintendo or PlayStation? If that were even remotely likely, don't you think the video game manufacturers and/or the federal government would do something about it? That's ridiculous!
By the just lost this argument for life; I don't want to hear anything else you have to say on this matter.
"______ learned how to drive, and, if he can, anyone can."Not only is that belief troublesome--Matthew 14:30, as mentioned above--but, I'm pretty sure that the person you speak of has no sort of medical condition, whereas I do.
"Unless there is another medical concern I don’t know about, why haven’t you learned to drive? Even if you take the bus back and forth to work, you should learn to drive in case of an emergency."No, an emergency would be the absolute worst time for me to be behind the wheel of a car; it would be like handing a loaded pistol to a guy with anger management issues while he is positively livid.  When I get into stressful situations, I tend to "freak the freak out," which means I shouldn't be operating anything dangerous, including a car.
"The Bible says, 'All things are possible with God,' and, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Don't you believe that?"I've read the entire New Testament twice, so, I know those verses.  What you don't realize is that you have the completely wrong idea about what they mean.  Just because something is "possible" doesn't mean it will happen; what's that song we sing about how God could have sent ten thousand angels...but he didn't? As for the other one, what Paul is really talking about is being content in any circumstance.
Plus, there's a verse you are ignoring: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." While I believe that God looks out for me, I can't expect him to save me when I'm simply being reckless, which would be what I'd be doing if I did something that I was "providentially hindered" from previously.

Do my responses make sense to you? They're essentially the same ones I have been giving people for years when they make such claims.  Still, I can't fight the feeling that I'm still in the wrong, despite my insistence to the contrary.  It seems like either way, I'm doomed.  If I do try to drive, I'm testing God and will likely end up dead; if I don't, I miss out on much of what life has to offer, and lose opportunities for jobs, not to mention the chance that I could end up homeless.

One of the qualities of some people with A.S. is indecisiveness; they can't decide whether or not they want something, or what they want in the first place.  Sometimes, I can be the exact opposite; there are times where I go into MovieStop or the library and know exactly what I want to get off the shelf.  Of course, there are times where said item(s) is/are unavailable, and then I have to choose another course of action.  Other times, though, even after I've made my decision and can't change it, I wonder whether or not I made the right choice.  With this whole driving thing, I'd like to be sure I've made the right choice...but have I?

Some time ago, I told one of my friends something I believed about myself, and she said, "Are you sure that you haven't been told this so much, you are beginning to think it's true?" Honestly, sometimes I feel that's what happened with me and driving; I accepted that it just wasn't for me, but eventually gave in--to a degree, anyway--to all the encouragement that others dished out on a regular basis.

There are a few points I want to make.  First off: Getting a permit and then getting positively assessed does not mean that I am worthy of driving.  My mom once told a story about how a supposed "expert" on wheelchairs made my oldest sister pay the price; when that quack refused to let my eldest sibling have a reclining wheelchair on the grounds of her "need[ing] good body posture," my mom was critical of that decision for years after the fact.  Frankly, I'm afraid that I won't meet the requirements necessary to get my license, but I'll still get a positive assessment just because the person testing me feels sorry for me, since I'm a quarter-century old and never had my license.  I can't have that.

Second off: There is no way I could do anything that would likely lead to my own death at such a young age.  During my lifetime, my mom has lost both of her parents, her firstborn, her youngest sibling, her last remaining aunt, her sister-in-law, and some good friends, including one who died just last week.  My dad also lost a sibling a few years ago.  I know that I shouldn't be afraid of death--after all, I'm a Christian--but, even if I were to just keel over before I stopped typing this, I know that it would be too much for my parents to bear.  I can't help but feel that me being behind the wheel of a car would lead to just that.

Third off: You don't have to be afraid to express your opinions on things.  A former friend once said, "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong.  Being so dogmatic can lead people to just agree without sharing their own ideas and opinions, because they don’t want to argue anymore."  She was proven right last July when I did a post on this same topic and only got one comment, which only received a "like" from me.  I was quite sure that people were going to be commenting like crazy, disagreeing with what I had to say; honestly, I think my almost-lack of responses was because people just didn't want to discuss it anymore.  Isn't that what online forums are supposed to be all about: discussions and expressing of opinions? I will caution you that, if you do have a different opinion, you'd better have sufficient backup, because I can't consider the other side of the coin without it.

All right; it's after midnight here, and I need some sleep.  Pray for me to make the right decision, okay?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who Are My People?

I have to be honest: For the past few days, I have been on the verge of tears.  It just seems like I've been having one bad day after another, and my emotions have been gripping me like crazy.  Saturday night, I got so upset over something that I threw the book I was going to read onto the floor, and you know I don't believe in abusing media, especially literature.  The next few days weren't the best, as I panicked and fretted over a completely pointless matter.  Earlier today, I went from being proud to being downcast without anyone saying anything to me.  I don't know what's to be done with my emotions, but I still feel compelled to post this, here we go.

One of the things that people have always wanted me to do is to "hang out" with folks around my age.  There were times, usually at church youth outings, where the leader(s) had to force me to do just that, if only because I would rather not have done so.  Now that I'm past those days, I still do have a social group...just not of people my age.  Oh, sure, my church has a "twenty to forty" group, but it's a considerable distance away, and, since I lack a driver's license and my parents work long hours, I really don't have any way to get there.  That isn't the first time such a thing has happened; I was attending such a group that was sponsored by another church, but had to cease going because the location of the meetings changed, and it was inconvenient for anyone attending to pick me up, because of their close proximity to said meeting place and me being outside of that area.   So, as unfortunate as it would seem to some, I don't have a "social group" of coeval folks to hang out and do stuff with; honestly, I haven't since I lost contact with my friends Korrey and Kevin around 2000.

So, does that mean that I get no social interaction? Of course not! Some of you may not know this, but, at least once every two weeks, my parents go out to dinner with some friend(s), and usually invite me along.  True, those people are usually my parents' age or older, but, honestly, I don't mind it one bit; in fact, I think that is just the way God wants it.  If it weren't meant to be that way, He would provide some way for me to have a "social group" of coeval folks, and He hasn't.

You may wonder: Why would that be the case? Don't I need such interaction? I'll explain it to you, using my usual multiple point style.  First off: I have found that I often can't deal with the immaturity that people my own age often exhibit.  Usually, the reason I ended up sitting by myself--or, at least, not with my coevals--was because someone said something that upset me.  I was once at a social function where we were playing a "guess who this middle name belongs to" game, and someone there guessed mine because, to quote her, "That's a white boy name, and you're as white as they come." I didn't cry or stomp out of the room, but, when they had food later, I got some and found a spot to sit and eat it outside, away from anyone, because it upset me so much.  True, that may have been when I was in high school, but, these days, adults of all ages are getting more and more immature.  I once heard of a case where, during a gathering of young adults, a guy threw a milkshake at someone, and, based on a Facebook comment I saw yesterday, people still remember it; his wife has even said, "He will never live that down!"  If I were a member of that group, I would have refused to come back at that point, even if I wasn't the "victim" of said guy's projectile.  Yet, I have never gotten such a feeling from interacting with older people.

Now, hear me out here: I do realize that not all people around my age--or, really, of any age--are immature.  I know a young lady who is still a teenager, but happens to be one of the most mature individuals I have ever met.  Other people I have known--of all ages--have exhibited maturity that far surpassed that of their peers.  Still, I can't tolerate immature behavior, even from just one person; it seems that there is one in every bunch.

Second off: If I've gone this long without having some sort of "social group"...why would I need one now? In case you didn't see it above, I haven't had a "group" to hang out with since around 2000.  Sure, I had friends in middle and high school, but most of them were ones that I never did anything outside of school or church with.  Oftentimes, I would hear about outings that they went on after the fact, which meant that I wasn't invited.  It was the same way with that group sponsored by the nearby church; though I attended the meetings regularly, some of the other outings they had were ones I didn't know about or realize I had missed until I saw the photos on Facebook, and it wasn't all that long until I became unable to attend at all.

Let me be clear: I do feel that a social life--or, at least, being able to interact with others--is important.  When my oldest sister was alive, my mom had long--as in over a hundred minutes--phone conversations with the same people every week, because she had no other way to have such interaction.  However, focusing on it too much can be a problem; my sister once botched an interview for a internship somewhere because she told the interviewer that she was worried about how it would affect her social life.  Many of you probably had similar missteps when you were new to the working world; still, my point is that your social life shouldn't be an obsession.

Third off: My tastes are simply not the same as coeval folks'. I know that many of you immediately thought of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon when you read those words, and that is part of it.  Still, some of my tastes aren't like kids'; they're like older adults'.  When we have had yard sales at our house, it always seems like the majority of people who come are at least old enough to be my parent, if not older.  Sure, they may have a kid or grandchild in tow, but said young person likely wouldn't be there otherwise.  I've even had elderly people buy some of my items! Seriously, how many people around my age do you know who enjoy bargain hunting? Didn't think so.

Not only that, but, when it comes to people my age, their priorities usually lie in at least one of four areas: school, work, their relationship, and their kid(s).  However, I'm done with school, I only work three days a week, and, I have no plans to get into a relationship or have kids; if Demi Lovato is the closest thing I have to a significant other, I'm fine with that.  Since I have quite a bit of spare time, my interests--entertainment, bargain hunting, etc.--take the place of a relationship and kids.  That's not to say that I wish I had those things; honestly, I sometimes wonder how some parents or even childless married people can do what they do on a daily basis.

My last point before my conclusion: I think I need to learn to be less social.  I've always been known for being talkative; people used to get annoyed with me because I just wouldn't shut up.  There have also been times where I lost friends just because I shot off at the mouth.  Even some embarrassing moments could have been avoided if I'd just kept to myself.  All that is evidence that I simply need to be more introverted.  If that means more entertainment time, so be it.  Frankly, I think introverts are underrated; if more people could just remain quiet, we'd have less problems on this planet.

Now, for my conclusion: Now that you've read what I have to say, you probably see my point(s) and agree with me, right? Great; now, I just have one more person to convince: myself.  I can sit here and type out messages like this that sound great and get "applauded" by my friends and even random commentators...but, it always seems like I end up not convinced of what I've said.  Being on Facebook provides a window into other people's lives, including social events, relationships, and other things that many people would consider "normal" for my age, but of which I have no part.  I've thought for a very long time that it would be easier to accept the fact that I'm not getting my driver's license if everybody and their mother didn't "encourage" me to get it.  It's the same with social events with coeval people; though I know it is for the best that I don't take part in all that, sometimes, when I see photos or other references to them on Facebook or elsewhere, I feel as if I am missing out, and start to become jealous, which isn't good.  Frankly, if this is what God wants for me, I should have peace with it...but I don't, and I'm afraid I never will, and that just makes me want to cry.