The Mystery of Me (As Explained by Daria Morgendorffer)

On more than one occasion, people have expressed interest in knowing what goes on in my mind, seeing as I am so stubbornly silent and difficult to crack. The next time somebody expresses such an interest, I will just tell them to watch all five seasons of Daria (available for instant streaming on Amazon Prime!). Therein lies the answer to the mystery that is Matthew Gilliland.

Is there a character on television more real than Daria Morgendorffer?

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Full of sass but not lacking in class, Daria has a sharp tongue that cuts more effectively than any knife.

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But she never forgets what’s really important in life.

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Her snarky remarks and cynical attitude get her through the day, even though deep down she really does care what people think.

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So she covers her emotions with her exaggerated monotone voice and relentless pessimism.

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Even though her best friend, Jane, claims that Daria is not depressed but instead “just realistic,” it is clear that Daria’s outlook on life is anything but happy-go-lucky.

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In fact, our dear Daria seems to believe that life is inherently bad, without any hope of getting better.

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And she relentlessly claims that everybody else is to blame.

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Because she feels that other people are just inherently unreliable.

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But in one episode, Daria admits that her nonchalant attitude is just a mask for her sensitivity. She is just scared of getting hurt, so she pretends that nothing matters to her.

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Though I have explored fictional alter egos in the past, what does it say about me when the character I relate to most of all is a high school girl with thick glasses and an ill-repressed inferiority complex?

Because no matter how I look at it, there’s no escaping the truth: I am Daria Morgendorffer.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a picture of me from when I was in sixth grade, alongside a picture of Miss Morgendorffer.

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Isn’t the resemblance uncanny?

Look, I know what you’re thinking. There is no way that I’m actually Daria because the glasses I’m wearing in the picture are actually made of pipe cleaners!

But it’s not just about the looks; the true resemblance lies in our attitudes. I, like Daria, react to the world with bitterness and cynicism. This strategy allows me to pretend that I hate other people, even though the problem really is that I care too much. Unfortunately, my mind likes to convince me that everybody hates me–or, at best, that everybody is indifferent to my existence. And no matter what people say or do to prove otherwise, it is never enough.

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My mind instead shines the spotlight on the tiniest, most insignificant bit of evidence that somebody doesn’t care about me. As I focus on this evidence, I am overcome with a dark, impenetrable sadness. I’m sad that a person doesn’t love me as much as I love them. And even worse is the idea that someone once had a great deal of love for me, but that love has since faded into apathy. They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. That may be true. But in my experience, I would rather never be loved than have to deal with the pain that comes when a person stops caring about you.

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These thoughts evolve into a crippling anxiety–which may work for Daria, but it most certainly has not worked for me.

Because as much as I say I just don’t need other people…

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The truth is that I just fear how much they can hurt me.

I don’t know what you would call these thoughts and feelings–anxiety? Depression? Just my own specialized way of dealing with the pains of this world? Whatever it is, it has made me into a person I don’t recognize, a person I don’t want to be: possessive, needy, paranoid, destructive to myself and destructive to others.

It has made me feel isolated from everyone else.

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This isolation spreads to all aspects of my life. It feels like everybody else is so much more successful in life than I am. It feels like everybody else is in fast-forward while I remain in slow motion.

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Honestly, it sometimes makes it difficult for me to get up in the morning. Because life is just so much less complicated when I stay in bed.

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I hope these feelings are not permanent. I hope these feelings are just a product of the stress and instability of college life. I hope that, if these feelings continue, I will find a way to manage them more effectively. I want to be happy, despite my brain’s constant attempts to keep me from happiness.

It’s not that I’m miserable all the time. Quite the contrary, I can find happiness every day if I just look for it. But EXCUSE ME if I’m not just bustling with energy every time you see me. And SORRY if I often come off as a bit aloof. Maybe at some point I can change that about myself, but for now, that is how I deal with life. And it is probably how I will continue to deal with life until people prove to me again that they are worth trusting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Stages of Developing a TV Show Addiction

Drugs. Pornography. Either of these things can put you on the dark, dangerous path to addiction.

But there is one type of addiction that is much more subtle but equally dangerous. It can affect your brain just as drastically as drugs or pornography. And if you’re not careful, it could ruin your whole life.

Today I would like to address the very serious issue of TV show addictions.

Now, before I get started, let me just preface by saying that I don’t inherently hate television–not anymore, at least. Sure, when I got back from my church mission, there was a period of time when I would consistently refer to TV as “the devil box.”

But that’s not me anymore.

I am writing this post simply because I myself have suffered from the pains of TV show addictions.

You may scoff at the mere mention of a TV show addiction, but I urge you not to do so. Stella Dorby, president of national support group Television Addicts Anonymous (TAA), has this to say regarding frivolous attitudes toward TV show addictions:

“It’s no laughing matter. As a former TV show addict and the current president of TAA, it is my duty–no, my stewardship–to protect television addicts from those people who seek to mock and undermine the credibility of such addictions.”

As a struggling TV addict myself, I urge all of you to please heed the words of Stella Dorby. One look at her will assure you that she is an upstanding citizen of these the United States, a woman whose opinion should be taken seriously.

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Stella Dorby, President of TAA

If you don’t believe Stella Dorby (and I can’t understand why this would possibly be the case), believe me. I speak from personal experience: TV is a very real, very hazardous addiction.

Let me share what I have noticed to be the seven stages of developing a TV show addiction. If you recognize that you or somebody you know is going through these stages, I urge you to seek help before it’s too late.

Stage 1: Hearing about the show

Someone, somewhere, mentions that a show is good. You listen, but you are skeptical.

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As far as you’re concerned at this point, there’s no way a show can be as good as people make it out to be.

Stage 2: Watching the show for the first time

Despite your doubts, you decide to give the show a whirl. You watch an episode or two, and you think to myself, This isn’t bad. You might even think it’s a downright decent show.

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And you inwardly applaud the fact that the show isn’t horrible after all. Yay for life.

Stage 3: The show gets good

Either you get into the groove of the show, or the show finally gets into gear with its own groove. Before you know it, the show has become the best part of your life… which might not be saying much, but still.

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There is usually some point of the show where everything just clicks, and at this point, there’s no turning back. You may not be aware of an addiction at this point, but the seeds of addiction have definitely sprouted.

Stage 4: Binge watching

Hanging out with friends? Exercise? Meeting new people? No thanks. Just give me my stories.

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And thus the binge watching begins.

Stage 5: The secret addiction is no longer secret

Your show is definitely your top priority at this point. You spend hours isolated in your room, watching just one more episode… then another one… then another one.

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People start to notice that you’re spending a significant amount of time watching a TV show. Suspicion and mockery ensue.

Stage 6: You become too emotionally invested in the show

This particular stage calls for more examples from my personal experience with television addiction.

You have to know that, outside of the television world, I am quite the even-tempered individual. Tell me just about anything and I will almost always have the same reaction.

My reaction to a friend or family member telling me that they’re going to come visit:

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My reaction to finding out that somebody just died:

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My reaction to finding out my best friend is engaged:

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And finally, my reaction to a joke, even if I think it’s funny:

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Yes, you can say I’m a man of few emotions. Some might call me stoic, maybe even heartless.

Therefore, I can’t help but worry when TV causes me to have some irrationally extreme emotional reactions.

Like my reaction when somebody tries to talk to me while I’m watching my TV addiction:

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Or when I don’t agree with the direction the show takes:

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Some shows even make me… what’s the word? Laugh?

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And the worst reaction comes when I reach the end of a good show’s run:

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What will I watch now?

Stage 7: The most disturbing stage of all

When you have an actual dream about a TV show, you know your addiction is out of control. You might even dream about full episodes of your favorite TV shows. When you wake up and realize these dreams were not actual canonical episodes, you feel complete and utter disappointment.

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And such is the life of a television addict.

So yes, TV show addictions are real, and yes, such addictions are serious. TV is a means by which to waste away your own life in the process of becoming too invested in the lives of fictional characters.

To avoid developing a TV show addiction, please steer clear of the following shows:

Veronica Mars
Friends
The Simpsons
Scrubs
The Office
24
Lost
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Arrested Development

On the other hand… more often than not, TV is a good alternative to life. Your favorite TV characters are probably more reliable than the actual people in your life. Also, when something bad happens in a TV show, you can just tell yourself it’s not real–which isn’t really the case in real life. So when I say to steer clear of the above shows, I actually mean that you should watch all of them immediately.

And to answer your question, yes, this article is a complete joke–probably in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, Back in Reality…

Every once in a while, there comes a point where we have to wake up and smell the rancid manure that is real life.

Recently I have found myself in an awkward position. I am less than eight months from graduating college, and I have no idea what I want to do once I graduate.

Should I go to graduate school or just start looking for a job right away? Should I stay in Provo, move back to Arizona, or find somewhere else completely different to live?

Maybe I should just find a random woman on the street and demand that we get married at once! After all, everyone around me is literally getting married and having babies. The other day, I was talking to a girl who was sitting behind me in class. I turned back to the front of the classroom to listen to the lecture, and the next time I looked back, the girl all of a sudden had a baby in her arms! Where did that baby come from? Did she give birth in class while I was turned the other way??? Why are people so obsessed with getting married and having babies????! Admittedly, I guess it’s all a part of religious culture. Even I have been known to make a joke or two or six thousand about being pregnant. As a result, people often claim that I’m baby hungry. But I in fact have absolutely no desire to eat any babies!!!

I think the best thing to do in such a time of uncertainty is to make a plan and then go for it. I for one like to seek God’s approval after making a plan. Other people might not take that route: that’s completely up to them! But religious or not, it is best to work toward something, even if it ends up falling through. And who knows? Maybe in the process you will be taken down another, better path.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you plan, many aspects of your life are simply out of your control. I have learned that the hard way throughout the years. Sometimes there is a distinct and even painful difference between what we expect life to be and what it actually turns out to be.

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That’s pretty much the tune I was singing last year. (No, I did not literally go around singing like Fantine. Even though I can relate to Fantine–remember that one time I went into prostitution to support my child???–I do not feel the need to walk around singing about how difficult life can be. That would be a tad melodramatic.) There were a bunch of crappy things going on that were completely out of my control, and my life pretty much fell apart at the seams. It was awesome!

But you know what? Things change. And I’m doing much much better now. I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m in a better place now. That’s not to say I have died and am blogging from heaven–I mean a better place emotionally. In fact, if I were to pick a song to describe my transition from last school year to now, it would be this:

Is it embarrassing that I feel empowered by a Katy Perry song? Perhaps. But it doesn’t matter because it definitely captures my change in attitude over the past year. So even though life didn’t go exactly as expected, I can’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Another example of unexpected outcomes was from my study abroad trip. (I know I said I’m done blogging about that, but I promise it’s relevant). I went on the study abroad just expecting to see new places and, I admit, to possibly… find love. Don’t mock me!!! There were eleven girls and two boys, OK?! The odds were definitely in my favor (like the Hunger Games)!

Instead, I left Europe with some unexpected outcomes, most of which had to do with connections. The first type of connections have to do with possible future jobs. In an economy where who you know is so important, it’s exciting to have a couple ins with employment opportunities. Even if those connections don’t amount to anything, I feel like the application process will provide me with valuable experience. And if these connections do amount to something, even better!

Of course, the main type of connection I was referring to earlier was that of interpersonal connections. I certainly have experienced that as a result of my study abroad. Even though the closest thing I got to finding love was a CONTROVERSIAL fake engagement, I established many close friendships–especially with my beloved study abroad roommate Jacob. I went to Europe looking for romance, but I ended up finding a BROMANCE! We are quite hilarious… like two peas in a pod! He is the Marcie to my Peppermint Patty… you know, minus the thick glasses and strong lesbian vibe. *

In fact, here’s a picture of us!

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Can you tell we’re best friends? Anyway, part of why I’ve been doing so great lately is because I have someone who I can talk to and just be my complete, unfiltered self around. That is really refreshing. So although I didn’t go on the study abroad expecting to find a brother, a brother I got, and I am very grateful!

That just goes to show you that our preconceived notions of life can be quite different from what ends up actually happening. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What does the future hold?

So what lies in my future? Well, if I were to choose, it would go something like this:

I will be a psychologist specializing in the study of child stars… but not in a creepy way. Instead, I will have won the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering what it is that causes child stars to eventually ride wrecking balls naked and set their dogs on fire. I will of course have come up with the solution. That combined with the prize money will enable my wife Emma Watson Gilliland and I to live in a beautiful mansion in Wales. My close friends and family will of course be living in our guest homes.

"Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!"--Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

“Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!”–Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

Assuming all that doesn’t happen, however, I’m willing to accept whatever the future has in store for me… come what may!

*This is a quote from an episode of Scrubs, as much as I’d like to claim it!

The World We Live In

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In light of the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I can’t help but take some time to reflect on the state of our world.

One of my major goals in blogging is to uplift (hence the blog’s theme of turning life’s lemons into delicious, thirst-quenching lemonade), but while I come off as generally optimistic in most of my posts, there is something I must admit: I am a closet pessimist.

used to be optimistic… when I was little. But then I was introduced to something called the world. Unfortunately, it was as soon as I went out and saw the world that I started losing faith in it. The church mission I served in the Philippines was a great learning experience, not to mention a character-builder, but unfortunately it opened my eyes to the frightening state of this world we call home.

While looking through some of the emails I sent home while on my mission, I came across a letter I had sent during what was undoubtedly the most difficult time of my mission. Something I wrote stuck out to me:

“Working in this area has really opened my eyes to the state of the world right now, which in some ways is hard to accept. Even in the lives of [those I love], I’m seeing this harsh reality. A woman… showed up to church late yesterday saying that she was late because her husband had attacked her…. But the harshest reality hits us when we’re out and about trying to [help people]. The other day, we [met] a… family whose father was stoned to death two years ago by twelve men who were drunk…”

And therein lies the answer to my pessimism.

Later on in my mission, I remember getting wind one night of a man who had held several tourists hostage on a bus. The man ended up killing many of the tourists before the police were able to stop him and rescue the survivors. As I walked home with my mission companion (side note: a mission companion is comparable to a business partner, though neither of us got paid), he was uncharacteristically quiet. Eventually he said to me, “Nakakatakot ang Pilipinas, ano?” Which is to say, “The Philippines is a scary place, isn’t it?” My response to him was this: “Nakakatakot ang mundo“–meaning, simply, “The world is a scary place.”

Who can forget September 11th? I was only 11 at the time, but I will never forget. It seems like the world has taken a drastic downturn since then, and in light of the Boston Marathon, the shootings in Connecticut and Colorado, and other terrible events, it doesn’t seem like the world is looking to improve anytime soon.

It seems that I am not the only one who realizes the tragic state of things. The entertainment industry–which admittedly can be the cause of the world’s problems at times–also seems to be calling for a solution. Here are a few quotes (some more inspirational than others) that have come to my mind over these past few days:

“Sometimes everything is just the worst.”–Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

I decided to start with the least inspirational quote of all. This quote is not exactly what you’d call uplifting, but it certainly is true at times. Luckily, the key word in this quote is sometimes. Not always. So that’s definitely something.

“How we deal with tragedy defines who we are.”–Chris Traeger, Parks and Recreation

Though the world as a whole may be taking a turn for the worst, we as individuals are not defined by the world we live in. We can rise above all the negativity that surrounds us… Admittedly, I’m still working on that myself. Any advice on how to go about doing that?

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”–Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This post would not have been complete without a few words from our favorite vampire slayer. The girl died twice, for crying out loud! If anyone knows how to overcome the odds, she does. Granted, she’s a fictitious character (but is she, really? There’s a little bit of Buffy in all of us), but the lesson remains the same: it might not be easy to live in this world, but it’s definitely possible.

So how do we stay sane in a crazy world? There’s no sure-fire answer, unfortunately, but peace can be found amidst all the chaos. I personally find peace through writing, listening to music, communicating with God, and being with those I love. Other people may have different ways of coping, and that’s completely fine–the important thing is that we cope somehow.

While the world falls apart around us, we have to ask ourselves: Are we simply surviving in this harsh world, or are we actually living? It’s all terribly cliche, yes, but it’s true. And while I may have lost my faith in mankind as a whole, I still have just a smidgen of faith in the individual.

I’m sorry, did you want some macaroni with all that cheese? Sorry if this post was too cheesy. It’s just something that came to my mind when I was about to go to sleep, and I knew I had to write about it right away. I probably should have slept instead, seeing as I’m starting to work full-time tomorrow and have a number of finals coming up, but I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead. And on that depressing note, I’ll end this depressing post.

Television: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

old-televisionWhile I was serving my two-year mission in the Philippines, I was not allowed to watch TV. After I finished my mission, it took me a while to accept TV back into my life. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that I still thought of it as being that “devil box” until just recently, when I realized I could watch Netflix at work (I have a simple and tedious desk job that allows me to do this).

After watching hours upon hours of TV on Netflix, my love for TV has officially been reignited. I still don’t watch much network TV, but internet TV has become a saving grace as far as keeping me entertained at work.

In watching so much TV online, I have come to rediscover that not all TV is bad… however, some of it still is. And some things about TV are just downright wrong. So this post is dedicated to the good, the bad, and the ugly of television.

The Good

When I see aspects of my life reflected in a show, it enhances my TV-viewing experience and makes me enjoy the show more. Call me vain if you must, but I like shows that mirror my life.

In rare cases, a show takes a mundane part of life and enhances it. Parks and Recreation achieved this recently with its recent wedding episode, where Ben and Leslie tied the knot. I’m pretty sure I got much more excited about that wedding than I ever have for an actual wedding (no offense to anyone whose wedding I attended), which is more a reflection on how pathetic my life is than anything else… but come on, what isn’t to like about a good TV wedding? You get to witness a memorable (albeit fake) moment without actually having to be in the couple’s presence. And let’s be honest, couples are the worst, so it is best to stay as far away from them as possible (just kidding to all my friends who are part of a couple, which is most of them!) The only downside is that you don’t get any wedding food.

The Bad

As much as I love online TV, I am concerned that the internet is actually killing the television industry. Shows don’t get nearly as high ratings these days because so many people (including me) just watch TV shows online the day after they air. As a result, certain shows suffer. I have noticed that some of the greatest shows out there get the short end of the stick because they are aired at such awkward times that the majority of people have no choice but to watch online. Either that, or the cursed networks keep changing the airing schedule so often that viewers cannot possibly keep track.

Some shows, like Community and Happy Endings, are hilarious, but they have been in danger of cancellation. How can such good shows struggle on network television? How have funny moments like these gone virtually unnoticed to the general public?

I just don’t understand how such good shows can struggle while other lackluster shows do so well. I won’t mention any specific shows because I do not wish to offend, but there are just some shows that I feel do not deserve to do as well as they’re doing, and then there are shows like Community and Happy Endings, which struggle despite their undeniable brilliance. Luckily, these shows are still on for now, but the injustice of past shows that were canceled too early (Freaks and Geeks, a show that only lasted one season, comes to mind) still causes rage in my small, black heart… or maybe it’s possible that I’m getting a tad too over-dramatic.  And speaking of over-dramatic, that segues perfectly into the next section…

The Ugly

Maybe it’s best for some shows to get canceled in their prime, because it beats one alternative: a show going on so long that it becomes stale. Some shows just don’t know when to end. I’m sorry, The Simpsons, but you really do need to quit before you get too much further behind. And as for Scrubs, did you really need that ninth season? The eighth season finale was the perfect series finale!

But let’s focus on what used to be (in my opinion) one of the best sitcoms of all time: The Office. It hasn’t been so great as of the past couple seasons. They really should have ended the show when Michael left. Again, that would have made the perfect series finale. But they just had to drag it on, and now the show is more like a soap opera (Dwight is in love with Angela, who has a baby with a gay senator who’s having an affair with Oscar? What is this, Days of Our Lives?) than the comedy it once was. Honestly, it’s like watching a train wreck–I want to look away, but I just can’t. But the worst part is what they’re doing to Jim and Pam. For anyone who hasn’t seen the show lately (and I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped watching long ag0), they’re starting to set it up like Jim and Pam are going to end up getting a divorce or something horrible like that. Jim just up and decides to take a job in Philadelphia without consulting Pam, and then he yells at Pam for messing up the recording of their daughter’s recital? That is so out-of-character for him. And now one of the cameramen is supposedly in love with Pam, causing an even stronger gap in the Jim-and-Pam relationship, since the cameraman is there for Pam more than Jim is now. And then you realize that this is all a waste of time because you just know that they wouldn’t break Jim and Pam up after everything they’ve gone through.

And yet… as ugly as the whole thing is, I have to admit it’s not all that far-fetched. People change; often they regress instead of progress. Honestly, people are the worst. I’m just kidding, but it’s not uncommon for someone to act completely different from the person you thought them to be. So I guess the creators of The Office can’t be completely discredited for choosing to take their characters in this direction, but that doesn’t make the whole thing any less ugly. After all, comedies are supposed to be an escape from real life, not a reminder of just how depressing real life can be.

23 Goals While I’m 23

I’m happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.  It’s miserable and magical…

Those are the feelings that, according to Taylor Swift, come with “feeling 22.”

And I must say, I’d have to agree.  That is exactly how 22 felt.

But as of today, I am done feeling 22.

So what does that mean?  Well… nothing, really.  Honestly, how different can 23 be from 22?  On the other hand, a new year marks new beginnings, and since I “forgot” to make new year’s resolutions at the start of 2013, I thought I’d take this opportunity to come up with 23 goals I have while I’m 23.

23

  1. Tell people what I want, and do what I can to get it!  I’m tired of being that passive guy who never lets his opinion be heard because he doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.  Over the years I have had a difficult time getting people to read my mind, so it’s about time I’m more forthright with people in expressing my opinions.  If I don’t like the way you’re treating me, then I’m going to tell you.  This may cause some people to be offended, but as a wise man once said: “Are you offended?  I don’t care.”  I’m not going to let people walk all over me anymore.  And that brings me to my second goal.
  2.  Be more direct.  I tend to beat around the bush like no other when I’m trying to express something that might qualify as being even slightly uncomfortable.  But there was one glorious night a couple of years ago when I was able to be direct and to-the-point, and it was awesome.  I would like to be able to do that all the time from now on.images
  3. Enjoy my alone time.  This year, I want to reacquaint with an old friend.  He’s someone I’ve known my whole life, and when he’s at his best, he’s pretty cool.  His name?  Matthew Gilliland.  When I was little, I loved to be alone.  I could entertain myself for hours and hours using just my imagination.  In recent years, however, I have found it more difficult to get along with myself.  But since nobody likes you when you’re 23, I need to learn to like myself better in preparation for turning 24, when people will start liking me again.  (I’m aware that this last paragraph must sound really depressing, but it’s all in good fun, I promise.)
  4. Keep up with my blog more.  I have already kind of started this one.  I think I must have already written more blogs in the first two months of this year than I did all last year combined.  And if I had planned things a little bit better, this could have easily been my 23rd post, which would have brought things together quite nicely.  Anyway, I hope to continue my consistent blogging as the year continues, especially considering major upcoming events like my Europe study abroad and my wedding.  OK, I’m not really planning on getting married.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
  5.  Catch up with old friends.  I want to be better at keeping in contact with my friends, especially my friends from home as well as those from my mission… even if it is just through Facebook.  
  6. Go to Europe.  Even if something freaky happens and I end up not continuing with the study abroad program, I am determined to go to Europe this year!  Even if it means losing a ton of money, which makes me anxious just thinking about it.
  7. Simpsons_couch-1-Spend quality time with my family.  Ugh, I wish there was a less cheesy way to say that.  Cue the Full House music, please.  I’m in somewhat of a difficult position to do this right now, seeing as I’m living in Utah and my whole family is currently in Arizona, but I will definitely go back as much as circumstances allow… even if that’s just a couple weeks in the summer and then the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.  I see my family as one of my most reliable support groups, and I will do anything to maintain that… even if we are actually not so much like the Tanners from Full House but more like the Simpsons: violent and dysfunctional.
  8. Give myself to the Lord.  This is kind of broad, but honestly this is as specific as I feel I can get at the moment.  I have tried most of my life to just do things my own way, but after almost 23 years of doing it, I must say that I understand what Taylor Swift means when she says “This is exhausting.”  It’s time to quit trying to drive myself down the highway of life and let Jesus take the wheel!
  9. Keep my Taylor Swift blog references to a minimum.  As of this post, I have decided that I have quoted/mentioned Taylor Swift far too often in my blog.  It has to stop.  I think I need serious help… an intervention, maybe.
  10. Serve the crap out of everyone.  Not literally, of course… that would be awkward and gross.  But all stupid jokes aside, I really do want to serve more.  Maybe then I can stop focusing so much on my own problems.
  11. Exercise… all year this time.  It seems like I’m always good at exercising during the summertime.  But then the winter comes along and my exercising comes to an end.  But since I will be living much closer to my school’s free gym next year, maybe I can actually motivate myself to exercise during all four seasons while I’m 23.
  12. Write in my journal at least once a week.  Whether my future kids like it or not, they will be able to read a detailed account of what their dad was like at the age of 23.
  13. Use my disappointments to my advantage.  I will not let myself be affected by the disappointments in life.  Instead, I will turn those disappointments into opportunities.  For example, in the not-too-unlikely scenario that I get a C in one of my classes this semester, I will celebrate my first-ever C by having a C-party.  Included will be C-shaped cake and foods that start with a C (chicken, carrots).  And then I will hang a banner that reads: “C’s get degrees!”  Actually, that sounds like too much effort… effort that would probably be better used trying to make sure I don’t get a C in that class.  But you get the idea.
  14. 100_5710Work, work, work.  No two-month breaks from work this year.  If I want to survive the financial toll this study abroad trip is going to take on me, I need to work as much as I can (and maybe even take a second job).  Also I need to do an internship or two before I graduate if I want to impress prospective future employers.  If I were to adopt a motto for this year, it would be this: work hard and play hard.
  15. Make a bucket list.  This may sound morbid, but for a while I’ve been wanting to make a list of things to do before I die.  After all, I’m not getting any younger!  Literally… I actually just recently aged a whole year.
  16. Maintain/improve my Tagalog.  Once upon a time, I lived in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog every day.  Now that I live in America, I rarely speak Tagalog more than once a week.  I am finding that my Tagalog skills are suffering as a result.  So I am going to do everything I can do to use my beloved second language, including speaking, writing, and praying in Tagalog.  I also want to finish reading my Tagalog Book of Mormon.    Ayaw kong makalimutan kasi ang aking pangalawang linguwahe.
  17. Go on another camping trip.  My twelve-year-old self would have literally thrown up at such a suggestion, but I actually like camping now as long as it doesn’t last for more than a night or two.  And as long as it’s nice outside.IMG_0261
  18. Quit hiding my true self from others.  I once had a companion point out that I was “good at hiding.”  He was not talking about physically hiding, and I think anyone who has played hide and seek with me could attest to that.  What he meant is that I put up a front so convincing that it is difficult for other people to see the real me.  Well, I’m tired of doing that.  I need to start being who I am and not caring how other people react.   If other people don’t like it, they can leave me alone.   I’m done hiding.  After all, I’m getting a bit too old to play hide and seek.  Actually, if I’m being honest with myself, I’d kill for a game of hide and seek right now…
  19. Get back into photography.  As I touched on briefly in my last post, I finally have a camera again, which gives me the perfect chance to take some legit pictures… especially when I go to Europe!
  20. Go on a road trip with friends.  I fully expect to go on at least one road trip with my family this year because we have already planned one (we’re going to Disneyland!!!  No, seriously.)  But there is just something about taking road trips with friends.  So I feel like I need to go on at least one this year.  Even if it means that one of those friends will inevitably end up married in the near future.  Confused?  Stay tuned for my not-too-distant-future post about how everyone around me tends to get married.
  21. Stress management.  I want to be more optimistic this year.  I want to allow just a small part of the day to let myself be stressed, then spend the rest of my time thinking positive thoughts.  I want to not worry so much and allow myself to be happy.  It won’t be easy, but since I would like to actually live another 23 years, I think it will be worth it to better handle the everyday stresses of life.
  22. Make mistakes.  This should be easy!  So maybe I should say that I want to become more comfortable making mistakes.  After all, it is trohugh our mstiakes taht we lraen, rghit?
  23. Move on.  Last but not least, it is the simplest goal to say and yet the hardest to do.  I feel like I’m still hung up a lot on the past, but I will work this year to move past all that.

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And that’s it.  I’m glad I did this, even if it is ridiculously long.  I feel really hopeful about my 23rd year now.  This is going to be the year of Matthew!

My Fictional Alter-Egos

Fiction is a wonderful thing.  Whether it be in the form of a book, movie, or TV show, fiction has the ability to take us to places and situations we could never experience in reality.

Yet there is something to be said about relating to a story.  I personally am a sucker for any sort of fiction that I can relate to my own life.  For example, even though there were times when I hated school with a fiery passion (mostly in middle school), I always like TV episodes where the characters were at school, because I could relate to it.  Perhaps that’s why I love watching Boy Meets World so much whenever I’m living at home.

Call me vain if you must, but if I can’t relate to fiction, I eventually lose interest.  I can maybe enjoy it for a little while, but it will not have the same lasting impact for me as other more relatable fiction.  24, for example, is a show I really got into in the past; however, since I have not recently faked my own death or saved my daughter from a rogue cougar, I cannot really relate to that show on a long-term basis.  No offense, Kiefer Sutherland.  (Please don’t kill me.)

The point is that when I find fiction that makes it easy to relate to the characters and their experiences, it’s almost like I’ve made new friends in those characters… which is a depressing glimpse into how few real-life friends I have, but I digress.

If I’m being honest, the characters with whom I relate the most are those in half-hour sitcoms.  And every once in a while, I find myself relating to a character so much that one of two things happen:

  1. I genuinely see myself in that character, or
  2. I’m filled with admiration and wish that I could see myself in that character.

And now, after what has possibly been the longest introduction ever written… like, ever

… I will get to the main point of this post.  Below I will list some fictional characters, exclusively from half-hour TV sitcoms, who I have deemed to be my “fictional alter-egos.”  Some of them might be wishful thinking, but I think I’ve done pretty well in picking characters who I feel genuinely embody one or more of my main characteristics.

Chandler Bing–Friends

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This one is a no-brainer for me.  Sarcasm?  Check.  Fear of commitment?  Check.  Seemingly eternal bachelor status?  Double check.  Luckily, Chandler eventually left bachelorhood and found himself a wife.  I can only hope that someday soon I’ll find my own Monica… though hopefully she won’t be as neurotic and controlling.

Ben Wyatt–Parks and Recreation

CIN8aHmm, let’s just quickly break down the qualities that Ben and I share:

  • He is extremely awkward in certain social situations.  Sound familiar?  Don’t answer that.
  • Again, there’s the sarcasm.  Lots of people are sarcastic, but only Ben’s constant sarcasm can come close to matching mine.
  • His nerdy obsession led to him writing a Star Trek fan-fiction.  My nerdy obsession led me to write a Harry Potter fan-fiction (or seven).  This was back in high school, but the nerd wounds still sting.
  • There’s a scene in one episode where Leslie touches his shoulder from behind, and he jumps so much that he hits his head against the wall.  Anyone who has caught me off-guard will know that I have similar reactions when people even lay a finger on me unexpectedly.

Jim Halpert–The Office

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I’m almost afraid to include a character who is so universally loved, but I can genuinely relate to him.  It’s hard to say how because I haven’t watched the show for so long, but if I remember correctly, he is the token nice guy with a knack for jokes, often at the expense of others.  I love telling jokes at the expense of others!  Nothing brings me greater joy.  Plus he has priceless facial expressions… just like me!  Actually, I wouldn’t know that, since I never see my own facial expressions, but the way I imagine them is hilarious.  But I, like Jim, would be upset if any of my jokes went too far and actually offended another person.

George Michael–Arrested Development2x02_The_One_Where_They_Build_a_House_(017)

As much as I’d hate to admit it, yes… I see myself in George Michael.  A lot.  And more people have compared me to him (or even Michael Cera in general) than to any of the above characters.  He’s extremely awkward but good-natured, much like yours truly.  And though I have never been in love with a cousin, I can’t help but relate to George in many other ways, especially in the scene where he watches his father’s company gets robbed and barely reacts to it.  My lack of emotions and slow response time would probably cause me to react the same way in such a situation.

So there you have it.  Those are just some of my fictional alter-egos.  There are many more, I’m sure–not only from TV shows, but movies and books as well.  What fictional characters do you relate to?