Friday, January 24, 2014

Patiently Waiting...Only to Be Disappointed

Of all the shows I've been a fan of over the years, few have had even close to as much influence on me as Growing Pains.  Though it may have aired its final episode when I was only four years old, reruns on the Disney Channel during the late 90's made me a die-hard fan of the show.  I even saw parts of myself in the three older kids--Mike, Carol, and Ben--and talked about the show to anyone who would listen, even driving my immediate family members nuts by rambling incessantly about it.  I originally became a fan of it back in 1997, but moved on from it in 1998 because I thought I'd seen all of the episodes; there was a resurgence of my fandom in 2002 thanks to reruns being on ABC Family, though that was short-lived, only because it got replaced with 7th Heaven, much to my chagrin.  In 2005, I received exciting news from Growing Pains was going to be released on DVD.  It was actually quite odd: The first news of it came from a Dallas Cowboys website, where they talked about Alan Thicke visiting the team during training for the upcoming season, and made a passing reference to the show's upcoming release. confirmed it with Warner Home Video, and, in February 2006, the first season was released on DVD.

As you'd expect, I got my hands on that season set as soon as I could...only to be disappointed in what I got.  Maybe the sitcom was undergoing its own growing pains, but the first season wasn't as innocent or as funny as I remembered it being on the Disney Channel.  That was likely because most of the ones I remembered them showing were ones much later in the series, but, I found it difficult to get through, and ended up trading it in to MovieStop when I was done.  I still kept tabs on the series, and figured Warner would release the later seasons soon after...but, when 2007, 2008, and 2009 came and went without any word, I doubted they'd release any further seasons.  I was actually a bit surprised when I came home from church one night in 2010 to an announcement that they were releasing the second season of GP...but I had still lost interest, and never put it on my Christmas lists or even attempted to purchase it on eBay after its release.  In 2012, Amazon's Video on Demand service made the two reunion movies available, and Warner themselves released the third season in 2013; still, I have my doubts that the studio will get around to releasing the remaining seasons--five in all--before the DVD ends up becoming obsolete, not that it matters much to me anyway, as I have moved on with my life.

Okay, so...what does all that have to do with anything? I'll tell you: You probably know that, for quite a while, I have been lamenting my lack of a relationship.  Most of you also likely know that many people around my age--including most of my friends--are already married or soon will be, which is a direct contrast to my lifelong single status.  People have suggested all kinds of things, but none of them brought any change on that front:
  • One high school teacher told me that I'd likely find a date in college...but all of the friends I made there were guys! (Sounds unlike me, but it's true.)
  • In order to encourage me to go to a school I didn't want to go to, a friend who was formerly in the military told me that she was hesitant to get deployed to Korea...but that was where she met her husband.  However, when I went to said school, though I made friends, most of them ended up unfriending me eventually, and one girl was making romantic advances on me, even though her Facebook clearly said she already had a significant other. (Even I knew that was a red flag!)
  • When I lamented about the loss of my "best friend" Emily, another friend told me about a nearby church that had a small group for young adults, and I attended for a while...but, even though I made friends, a few of them unfriended me, and one who took a special liking to me now lives on the other side of the country, whereas the other one was already engaged before we met.  Not only that, but, my lack of a driver's license made it inconvenient for me to get there, so, I had to stop attending after a while.
Frankly, I'm doubting that a relationship is in my future; it seems to me that, just like the release of the entire series of Growing Pains, if it was going to happen, it would have done so by now.  So, that means that--for the time being, anyway--I'm going to be flying solo, though I have plenty of other people to help me out, such as those who are reading this.

However, there is another way to look at the analogy: It's obvious I waited for a while for Growing Pains to be released, right? Yet, I couldn't have been more disappointed in the first season! So, even if one day, I do end up in a relationship...who's to say I'll like it? When you think of a "bad" relationship, your mind probably immediately goes to one that is abusive or adulterous...but it can still be unenjoyable even if it's neither of those.  If both parties aren't enjoying the relationship, then, frankly, it shouldn't exist.

Regardless of all that, a life without romance is--for me, anyway--quite hard to accept.  You may think that's a product of Facebook, but, honestly, I first asked a girl out in 2003, before Zuckerberg's website even existed.  Sure, when I think about it, I can think of all sorts of advantages of being single: being able to have more female friends, not having someone tag along with me everywhere, not worrying about making anyone jealous when I interact with random ladies, the freedom to do what I want whenever I want without worrying about how someone else feels, etc.  Still, I think it's partly because of the well-meaning words of friends and other encouragers.  Many times--even going back to high school--I was told that I definitely would have a significant other at some point.  One girl even told me that just after rejecting me.  Another friend said, "You deserve a great girl, and I promise that one day you'll have one!" There's plenty more of that where those came from...but, they all turned up for naught, as every girl I asked out rejected me, and the ones who took a liking to me had some reason why I couldn't date them: they were already taken, their religious beliefs contradicted mine, there was too much physical distance between us, or, they just weren't interested.  Honestly, I think those "encouraging words" ended up being harmful, as they ended up giving me hope for something that likely isn't going to happen.

What I wonder is: Why am I focusing on this? There was a time--okay, back in high school, but it still happened--when I didn't need a relationship to be happy; if I spent most evenings with the television set and my computer as my sole companions, that was fine.  Sure, I knew that there were friends of mine who went out and did things with each other, and that I wasn't invited, but I didn't let it get to me; I just stayed home and watched the Disney Channel without any qualms.  Where is that now? What happened to that? My mom said it this way: "You used to be fine doing your own thing; now, you're obsessed with getting other people's opinions about what you're doing." What changed? Why am I sitting around wanting to do what others are doing, instead of doing what I myself want to do? Honestly, I'm not sure.

I have a few points I would like to make.  First off: I know that change won't happen instantly...but I don't want to tune out my future.  When I get to a point where I desire change, I usually respond by sitting down and watching the Disney Channel, or reading a book, or doing another one of my favorite pastimes instead of something that would bring about change.  Sometimes, I feel like I'm just "tuning out" my future...but, if no opportunities to make big changes in my life are present at the moment, what am I supposed to do? That doesn't mean that I should refuse opportunities to bring about change if they do come along...but they don't grow on trees, if you know what I mean.

Second off: I think some of you have the wrong idea about the whole celebrity crush deal. When I first started crushing on celebrities that were relatively coeval to me, it's true that I actually wanted to date and marry them.  I told anyone who would listen that I was going to marry Hilary Duff one day...but, I ended up realizing that was folly.  It ended up becoming just something to tide me over until I actually found a significant other, much like one would eat a light snack, such as cheese and crackers, to satiate his/her hunger before consuming a full square meal.  Unfortunately, that period ended up lasting a long time, as it has been well over a decade since the whole thing started, and there's been no dates for me in sight.  Whether the whole celebrity crush thing is still going, however, is subject to interpretation.

That said, however, I do realize that obsessing over famous people was likely not the answer to my problem.  Some years ago, on the dc Talk message board I've mentioned previously, I told everyone on there that I was giving up the celebrity crushes.  I even took their advice and deleted all the pictures of Anne Hathaway and friends from my hard drive.  They told me that, even if the girl I was trying to pursue rejected me, I still didn't need a bunch of famous young ladies; what I needed was to spend time getting closer to God, and becoming more ready to be in a relationship, should one come along.  Unfortunately, I felt they didn't know what they were talking about, and, when I got rejected, I went on a quest to find all the photos I'd previously deleted.  My problem was--and still is--that I didn't--and still don't--understand what they meant by "getting closer to God and being more ready to be in a relationship".  Sure, I believe in God, and I'm much better versed in the Word than I was during my school years...but I still don't feel that peace that such faith seems to bring to millions of others worldwide.  Even reading the Bible every day for over two years hasn't changed much.  Inner peace, it would seem, is just another abstract human concept which I will never understand.

Third off: Right now, I shouldn't be pursuing a relationship anyway. When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher wanted to show us a video of Julius Caesar, which we were studying at the time...but there were some technical issues with the tape.  In an attempt to fix it, he turned the closed captioning on, which did absolutely nothing to stop the skipping.  To this day, I'm not really sure why he thought turning the "CC" mode on would fix anything; if the tape was messed up, the captions would be, too.  He needed to either get a new copy of the movie, or try it on another VCR.  I bring that up for one reason: With all the problems I have, adding a significant other to the mix would be just like turning the closed captions on helped that Shakespeare videotape: no help at all.  My aforementioned former "best friend" Emily was once in a relationship with a guy who was constantly down in the dumps, and she confessed to me that she spent much of her life savings buying him things to make him happy, before realizing the relationship was headed nowhere and calling it quits.  The last thing I need is to foul up some young lady's life by dating her when I myself am chronically unhappy; until I get my own issues worked out--which could take a while--I need to not worry about dating.

My last point before my conclusion: Though I understand--and will hopefully soon accept--my lack of a relationship, I still fear loneliness.  Since graduating from high school in 2006, I have lost--or lost contact with--friends of all ages, as well as extended family members whom I loved like friends.  Though some of that may have been a product of unfriending, quite of few of those folks died, left Facebook, or moved away without any way for me to keep in contact with them.  Even for those friends who do have Facebook and didn't unfriend me, talking through instant messages or over the phone just isn't the same as face-to-face conversation.  Some of you may be quick to mention video chat, but, not only will no one do that with me--and you have no idea what a blow to my self-esteem that is!--you also can't hug someone, or shake his/her hand, or pat him/her on the back with such technology.  When it comes to those people who I do see face to face, there likely will come a time when I won't anymore.  Many of the people I talk to regularly at church are much older than me, ranging from a few years difference to old enough to be my grandparents.  Though there's nothing wrong with having a diverse set of friends--I like it that way!--they're not getting any younger, and they could easily pass away or leave town, no matter how old they are or their claims to the contrary.  The area in which I live in is very military-heavy, which means that many people--including at my church--live here for a mere few years, and then move on to another location, sometimes outside of the country.  Even those who aren't military end up leaving quite quickly at times; the young couple who hosted the high school group at my old church moved to this area in 2003, and, at one of the meetings, I made a passing reference to the fact that they'd likely be moving soon, because everybody at that church did.  One of them said, "We're not military; you're going to be dealing with us for quite a while,"...but, they went back to their home state in 2007.  Whether by death, relocation, or other circumstances, I don't want to lose my friends.  Even in the past few years, friends have invited me to social events, made me crafts, given me special birthday gifts and greetings, etc., and, for that, I salute them; still, there's the nagging feeling that, at any time, it could end, even by circumstances that are outside my control.

All right, here's my short conclusion: In order to deal with this chronic unhappiness and frustration, my psychologist is trying me on a different dosage of my medication.  If you don't mind, pray that it will be for the better.  Now, I'm done.

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