Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's Time for a Change...And One You Won't Believe

In the summer of 1997, I made some friends in the neighborhood.  They'd actually lived near me since late 1995, but, it took me a while to get to know them.  We played board games, computer games, video games, and even outdoor games (including sports) together, and also did other activities, like selling candy bars to raise money for their wrestling team.  However, two years after I met them, they ended up moving a great distance away, and I hardly saw them after that.  In the years that followed, I began to lose interest in activities that I used to be unable to quit talking about, including ones I did with them, such as playing outside, and ones we never did together, like attending theme parks.  Even almost two years later, during a object lesson for Bible class where we were asked to talk about the worst time in our lives, it was my friends' departure that took the cake.

People started to notice that my activities were limited, and began to become concerned.  One person--remember, I don't name names on this blog!--even said in an e-mail, "You need to do things that do NOT involve your computer or CD player!" True, not everything I did back then fell into that category--I also played video games and watched television fairly often--but, I don't think that was her point.  For a while, I thought it was about Boy Scouting, since a recent incident during a Scout meeting was part of the reason for that person's e-mail...but, now, I think it was more than just that.  She and others wanted me to be a part of the group; to do the things that my friends were doing--well, as long as they were the right things--instead of sitting off all by my lonesome, doing my own thing by my own choice.  People knew that, if I'd just things a chance instead of staunchly refusing to try everything anyone suggested, I'd be happier and more well-rounded...but, I still had one excuse after another for why I just couldn't do that.

You've probably heard me talk about how I "hate" certain things that are undoubtedly popular all over the country, if not the world: sports, dogs, theme parks, anything to do with large bodies of water, etc.  I used various excuses over the years--everything from negative past experiences to alleged phobias to supposed moral qualms to even my "condition"--as to why I didn't care for them...when, really, it was one thing and one thing only: I considered such activities or entities to be beneath me.  If you were a regular Busch Gardens attendee, a proud dog owner, an avid swimmer, or a big-time football fan, I looked down on you for it...and that's what caused me to face persecution and eventual unfriendings.  Most people don't have a problem with those who don't like the same things they do; what they have a problem with is those who think what they do makes them superior...and that's the problem I had.  It was much like the hypothetical Pharisee whom Jesus spoke of: I was thankful that I was not like those people...but, that attitude was not going to win people to Christ or even garner myself friends.

Over the years, people used to argue with me because they wanted me to join in activities that I outright refused to participate in, and it caused problems.  I've mentioned before about a teacher at my high school who was practically begging me to give Busch Gardens a chance...but, she never convinced me to, despite her insistence.  For a while, even after graduating, I felt that what she said was harassment, and thought that I should have reported her...but, now I know why she wouldn't give up: My reasoning didn't make sense; I couldn't come up with an actual legitimate reason for me to avoid it...but, I was still unwilling to budge.  Seriously, I wouldn't do something I used to talk about doing constantly because my friends moved? What kind of sense does that make? That's not even what my friends would have wanted!

Let me be honest here: Lately, I've felt like a loser.  I see my friends on Facebook doing fun things with their friends, and that rarely happens with me.  Even when it does, the friends I hang out with are much older than me; almost every time I go out to eat with other people, I'm by far the youngest one at the table.  When it comes to coeval people, I just strike out...and, I think that's my own fault.  If I hadn't spent years constantly refusing to do the things that most Christians my age consider fun and exciting, I could easily have had people to hang out with and maybe even a significant other.  Seriously, how many of you Christian ladies would want to date a guy whose idea of fun is a marathon of superhero cartoons? Didn't think so! Seriously, this way of living is doing me absolutely no good.

So, now, it's time for a change.  If I get an opportunity to do something worthwhile, I need to take it; my "entertainment" can wait.  That does apply to fun activities, such as theme parks or sporting events, but it also applies to activities that involve work, whether it be around the house or elsewhere.  I recently took a major step in the right direction by taking over mowing the lawn; now, I need to progress even further by not being afraid to work regardless of the situation.  That includes taking risks and learning new skills, such as getting my driver's license or pursuing a relationship.  Also, if I get invited to something--anything worthwhile, really--I need to at least try to take advantage of that opportunity.  I'm not going to make new friends and build relationships while sitting around watching Liv & Maddie.

However, I do have one lingering fear: that the damage has already been done.  I know that I placed myself in this situation, and I hope that I can get myself out...but I can't help but think that I may be stuck with this.  I also know that people care about me, and wouldn't want me to feel like an outcast...but, at this point, I may be one for the rest of my life.

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