The Versions of Me, of You, of Us

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I’ve recently finished a book called The Versions of Us, a title which sounded interesting enough to make me read the back cover, then buy it. There were three intercalated stories which actually related the same story, but, well, different versions of it. This article though is not going to be a book review – the book is just a background, a pretext to write, a mere inspiration for giving my thoughts some depth and direction.

A similar idea was written in some of my previous articles. One of them described multiple versions of me, but chronological versions, the ones you need to go through one by one – just as I explained here, such an event is called in computer science the depth first search, in which you just keep moving forward without looking left or right. But the opposite is called the breadth first search, in which all the possibilities are evaluated before taking the next step. And these versions of me, corresponding to breath first search, would be far more complicated that the chronological versions.

Back to the book, the two main characters are an aspiring painter and an aspiring writer, occupations which both require a large amount of creativity, and lots of patience and practice. But creativity and imagination are exactly what’s needed to have your mind wandering, in my case not to find answers for What if…? questions, but to find the questions themselves: which were the turning points in my life so far, what were the precise decisions which made me take this specific path in life?

The reason I’m not thinking about the answers, about different possible lives that I could be living, is that I don’t like being trapped in the past, nor in a future that will never happen. Not that it makes me sad to think about different versions, cause it doesn’t (or does it?), but it’s a bitter-sweet sensation, the kind that’s too strange to be classified as either sad or happy. Like this song here.

An alternative life was mentioned during a fantasy movie I was watching some time ago. Just a brief idea, but enough to make me think – and perhaps also make one of the guys I was watching it with, think. The main hero’s crush, which is, unfortunately for him, not a mutual crush, tells him something that sounds cliché but at the same time really profound: Maybe in a parallel universe we end up being together. And the worst thing was not watching the friendzoned hero’s sad eyes and sensing his broken heart, but knowing that the exact same situation was happening between two of the people whose eyes were silently glued to the screen.

So, yeah. I guess saying Yes instead of No is always a (major) change of events, a new opportunity which could push you on a whole different path in live. But no regrets means the right choice was made, I think. Cause that’s one thing that keeps us from being happy, regrets. Comparing ourselves with others and with other versions of us. Asking ourselves What if…? and then fantasising about a better path in life, when actually there’s no assurance that the current path is worse that the hypothetical one.

And the same happens about accepting an invitation to going out, to dinner, to a movie or whatever. In those seconds before answering, make sure you realise that, as strange as it may sound, that answer may push you away from a path and onto another. Choosing your high-school profile, your university course, your friends and job – anything is just another step on a specific path which will later form the current and authentic version of yourself – all the others are just possibilities that slowly disappear into time.

Of course, it is not always us who make the decision. Maybe the guy I never knew would have answered the way I thought I wanted him to. But that’s part of his versions, not mine, and unfortunately we can’t really know much about the versions of others that don’t involve us. Cause all the others around us have their own power of choice, and all the paths together create a spider web which is by itself so complex, that one shouldn’t even try to think about all the other versions of it…

What’s more, apart from the other persons there’s also something else that contributes to moving on a particular path: chance. There’s always a chance for something to happen, and some say that the more you fear it, the highest the chance for it to actually occur. And something such as unwanted pregnancy seems to be quite a major turning point into one’s life, so how can one not fear it?… (don’t worry, not a major book spoiler).

A situation when a complex life with lots of choices can be explored is… in computer games 🙂 Cause you can choose a path, or how to answer to someone, or not kill another character and then load the game and explore other possible versions of it. But you can’t really do that in real life, so you just have to live with whatever decisions you make, or do your best to move on a desired path.

Somehow thinking about this topic reminded me of the animated movie Hercules, or more specifically the sequence when he risks his life to save the girl from death, and becomes immortal – I still remember his life thread turning into a material that couldn’t be cut anymore. To be honest I’m not entirely sure how this relates to the rest of the article, but the idea is that we always have a choice for the overall life we’re living: our decisions, thoughts, how we act and react will define us, and in the end we’re just going to live the version of us that we shape ourselves.

Maybe another version of me was perfect for another version of you. Or is, or will be… Who knows?

This Is Not About Crushes.

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I wanted to write about crushes. Then lots of stuff happened recently and I kept postponing it, so right now I don’t feel like writing about crushes. Not today.

I’d rather listen to the rain while laying in my bed, and watching the wallpaper on my phone crying with raindrops. It makes me sad in a way, but I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t cry again too soon. I remember my first article from more than a year ago, where I talked about rain… That article was the start of me explaining to myself how crushed I felt, when a mutual crush ended after a while. That’s the thing with crushes, they crush you in a way. And if they don’t, you either fall in love or fall out of love, but you’re still getting crushed sooner or later. Can you have a crush on someone who has crushed you already? Probably not. It would be insane, I guess.

But anyway, I said this would not about crushes. It makes me sad, trying to write about crushes. And not because of my first mutual crush, but because of more recent events. Unfortunate events that came in a series (speaking about that, I could probably think about a few characters from books I felt attracted to, in a way. But that’s another story, other kind of ‘crushes’); and it’s strange that usually people are happy to talk about crushes, right? Like, they’re eyes become little hearts and this kind of stuff (at least in cartoons). And I guess there’s a phase which may resemble that metaphor, but it’s only a matter of time until you get to the next stage: either accepting that there’s nothing going on, or falling in love. And to be honest I’m not sure which is worse.

But I’m not talking about crushes, I’m talking about me and how I realised that maybe there was something a little more special about him. Maybe it was because he seemed to understand my thoughts and I could be myself when I was with him. Maybe it was the fact that he wrote back to me, in a way that no one did before. (I was waiting for someone else to write back at some point long ago, but in the meantime I gave up waiting.) Maybe because he was using the phrase ‘to be completely honest’, maybe because he was hard to read and I had no idea if I was amongst his thoughts; or maybe I was feeling lonely, which is a lie, cause the verb should be in present tense. But anyway, it’s hard to have a crush on someone, it’s even harder to tell them and the hardest thing to do is accept their decision. I survived though, it’s OK. I guess it’s better to know what the other feels about you, before you fall too hard. You can’t afford to fall too hard – you don’t want to be crushed by all the thoughts and dreams and future plans that may include him, right? Don’t let him crush you by being present in your mind if you’re not sure there’s a chance, as little as it may be, for things to work out.

But anyway, I don’t really feel like talking about crushes. Not when I can still hear the words ‘So… I guess you’ll write another article now’ which came from someone who was having a crush on me. And I was refusing him, I explained the situation (lame excuses, I guess), but it was hard. It’s hard to explain why things wouldn’t work out when you actually care about that person, it’s hard to continue and live the everyday life knowing he’s not looking at you with the same eyes he had beforehand, it’s hard to ask him the name of England’s Eurovision song, without blinking when hearing the answer. But again, I admire the courage to speak the truth, and I do believe that it’s better to be honest and talk about feelings rather than slowly getting crushed by the amount of them. But you can get crushed if someone has a crush on you, just like the phrase says. You get crushed by their attention, and I may be weird, but I don’t feel at ease when I get too much unwanted attention. It makes me back off and slowly start rejecting people, and yeah… Better to understand the message than becoming a freak, I guess.

Perhaps I’m just too picky, or I feel so alone that it’s hard to realise if I actually want the crush thingie to work, or it’s just the loneliness that may induce feelings. I don’t know. Is it nice to have a crush? Well, when I was younger (and yes, I’m still young) I guess it was sweet. But not anymore. Now it’s just strange, and hard, and sad, and then either everything or nothing at all: nothing if you fall out of love, everything if you get crushed. There’s also the case when things work out, of course, but more importantly, do they continue to work out in the future? You can fall out of love if that’s the wrong person you were falling in love with. And that’s OK as well.

But I’m not picky. I just don’t have a clear idea about what I want, but I start getting more ideas about what I do not want. Does that count as picky? If you say you feel lonely, but refuse anyone who wants to come closer to you? I don’t know. I used to think that no one ever had a crush on me, just because I didn’t know anyone that would. But then things changed, and I’m not sure which is worse: that no one has a crush on you, or that some have, but they’re not your type. And on top of that, you don’t even know your type. You have that first mutual crush for comparison, but it’s wrong to compare guys, it’s wrong to compare relationships, it’s wrong to compare you from the past with you from the present, cause things change and perhaps you’ll never find someone having all his good parts, plus all the other good parts that would make a relationship work this time. So why keep comparing, then? Why think that because a guy lacks something your first crush did not, it makes the guy less likely to be worth even trying? Cause the truth is, you don’t know anything before you try. But before that, your intuition comes, and then your standards, and then your non-types, and then the realisation that the amount of feelings you have for that person are below the minimum necessary to decide it may be worth a try. Sometimes that’s wrong, of course, but it’s you who decide what to choose.

This article was supposed to be about anything else than crushes, but the truth is when you are physically crushed by a physical object, it’s hard to think about anything else, right? The same is with having a crush. Or with trying not to imagine a pink elephant if someone tells you not to imagine a pink elephant. It’s all about the mind and imagination, in the end. That’s where the feelings are, but how can you control your feelings when you see him with someone else, except you just saw wrong and it was not him at all? You can’t control if you have a crush or not, if you wait half asleep near the phone or not, can you? ‘You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world…but you do have some say in who hurts you.‘ I guess that’s true.

But still, if Z. has a crush on Y. , and Y has a crush on X., then what should Y.ou do? Keep going forward and aim high, on X., or turn around and wait for Z.? Keep your dignity and all the promises you made to yourself, regarding which type ‘the one’ should fit in, or not fit in? Or realise not everything is black and white only? I don’t know. Right now I’m not sure of anything, to be completely honest. Not even of this article’s title.

Come On, Don’t Be Shy…

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I was thinking about an idea from my previous post, that we tend to postpone tasks and leave them until tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and so on. But there are some certain tasks that you will never do, and you’ve already missed the chance. Why? Because, sadly, you’re too shy…

Most certainly there has been at least one situation in your life when you couldn’t say anything, because you felt too shy (and if you can’t remember any situation, you’re either too confident, or have a short memory). Being shy is not exactly a problem, but most certainly not being shy has more advantages. Think about the process of making new friends, for instance. Shy people will obviously tend not to socialise that much, they won’t probably start any conversation, cause they are too shy to introduce themselves to people. And the others will perhaps just ignore them, until someone will realise they need a chance as well. Shy people are better listeners, and they can have really good opinions, if someone asks them. But what if they don’t ask? Then it’s the shy person who should take a deep breath and start talking.

Actually this leads me to another situation: getting a job. The employer searches, indeed, for someone who is smart and capable to do the job, but they may as well want to find someone who is keen to share their ideas, who can speak to their mind and perhaps come with a better solution than the one proposed by the employer. They want someone who is not afraid of saying what they think, in case it’s something wrong. Cause as least they’ve tried. And that’s the thing with being shy: you lose so many opportunities.

Whether it’s just about getting to know those people who may become your closest friends, if you actually go and talk to them now, or something more challenging – like having the courage to let that special person know your feelings -, shyness can be overpassed. You just have to believe in yourself. Cause what’s the worse that could happen? They may laugh at your new idea, they may ignore you when you try to speak to them, they may not like you, and that person may reject you. But at least you’ve tried. At least you now know what’s the situation, and now you can get over it, or approach it differently. Indeed things may change just because you had the courage to speak your mind – for instance, your friendship may never be the same now that you finally said what you felt, and it didn’t work. But hey, rather than having regrets in the future and thinking ‘What if…?‘, shouldn’t you take the chance you have now?

I don’t consider myself a shy person. If I had been shy, or some other specific persons had, then I wouldn’t have been through everything that made me realise I have to write this blog. I admit, however, that I had moments when I felt shy, and I’m pretty sure there’ll be others as well. I felt shy when I hesitated to say the answer in class, not being confident that it was indeed the right answer; I felt shy when I had to talk to someone I liked; I felt shy even in front of my screen, with a specific chat conversation that waited for my response. Actually it’s interesting to see how different we speak when we chat online rather than taking in person. Interesting, but quite common – at least I suppose I’m not the only one who finds some things easier to say when typing. And it shouldn’t be like that.

I’ve never heard about netiquette until someone told me to be aware of these Internet rules, or etiquette. Basically it looks like you shouldn’t say anything online that you wouldn’t be able to say face to face. And it makes sense, but I suppose you could at least have a starting point online. I still remember how I used to write long messages in Notepad++, read them 10 times and change them twice, before pasting them in the right chat window. And then forcing myself to press Send. And then waiting impatiently while the other was typing, and thinking about what I was going to say (write) next. I wasn’t that shy; though I was unaware that once spoken (sent), words cannot be forgotten, just forgiven. (a nice quote which isn’t mine)

So it’s easy not to be shy online, but you know what’s the hardest thing to do, that we’re not always aware of? It’s hard not to change your personality while chatting online. It’s hard to stay the same person that you actually are in real life, it’s hard to make sure that you respect the netiquette for each and every line you say. It’s not impossible, though. I’d say that chatting can indeed be a starting point, but once you’ve overpassed your shyness online, you really have to struggle and talk to that person face to face, in the same way you did online. The only thing is to try and be confident. And certainly not only online, or else you’re going to become dependent on this other ‘you‘, the online one, and the more time you spend chatting, the less probable it is that you will indeed try and be like that in real life.

So, if you can’t speak those words, think twice before typing them. Make sure you’re not going to make a huge mistake, that cannot be forgotten even if you delete the whole conversation. Make sure you’re still yourself, and that you take a chance when you have it, preferably when you’re speaking face to face, not online. Once upon a time, I was unable to say something to a guy until our paths in life split, and then, aware of the fact that it was too late, I still managed to get over my shyness and tell him (online, sadly). Lesson learned: never wait until the last moment, it may be too late and you may regret your shyness for a long, long period of time 🙂 Better late than never, but now may be the best.