I have plenty of time to watch things, read things, play things. But very often, when something new comes out, I don’t. When everyone around me is getting really hyped up about this new show on Netflix, or a new book, most of the time I don’t watch or read whatever it is. Why? Because I’m scared of them.
Maybe I’m scared of wasting my time, though that would be silly because as I’ve just noted, I’ve got the time. It could be laziness, but I think often calling myself lazy is the thing that I do to disguise feeling other things that I just don’t quite understand. Something else, then. But what? Well, here are a few things that on reflection, I think lead to me not wanting to try new things.
Old things are comfortable.
No one really likes change.
Sure, there are some outliers who do, and we all have flurries of craving newness from time to time, but I think generally if you come down to it we like things to be steady and stable and the same. We like the same music we’ve listened to for years, the same food we eat every week, the same house we’ve lived in.
And as silly as it might seem, new books and films and television shows are new things that changes our lives. New obsessions and uses of our time that transform us. Those new things can disappoint us, or worse replace those precious things we’ve loved for so long. Basically, new things make us scared.
I know I could enjoy it, and part of me always wants to let myself down.
So here’s the difficult one. Depression (and to a lesser extent anxiety) often come with this streak of self-sabotage. It certainly does for me. And where in the past I would enact this by abandoning things when they got hard, or leaning heavily on times where things went wrong, in this instance it’s a bit more tame.
But it’s still the same thing. I’m still avoiding doing something that I know I could enjoy, deliberately, because if I did enjoy it then that would look a bit too much like being kind to myself. This is one of the hardest things to talk about, because I always feel very self-centred when I talk or think about my self-loathing. It feels petty and small and irrelevant in comparison to the troubles of the world.
Which is especially hard, because it’s one of the worst parts of depression to deal with, and one of the ones that can eat you up the most if you don’t talk about it. Hence…talking about it!
I’m scared of what I don’t know.
And this is what it really comes down to.
I’ve written before about having nightmares where there is something I don’t understand. About waking up from those nightmares terrified, in full fight or flight mode. I am so utterly afraid of things I do not understand. Things I do not know. And what is less known than something new?
All of the things I’ve talked about are part of this. Not liking change? Fear of the unknown. Wanting to let myself down? Because I’m afraid I might enjoy it. I’m afraid of the things that I don’t know, and that pervades everything, and that’s the real reason I’m talking about this. It might seem a weird thing to choose as the subject of a blog post, but it’s such a fundamental thing about how depression and anxiety pervade everything.
We fear what we don’t understand. But when we manage to break through that? It’s pretty amazing.
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