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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Introverted Extrovert: A True Story

Today I would like to tell you a story about an introverted extrovert.

You might be asking yourself, what is an introverted extrovert? Introverted extroverts are people who, from an outsider’s perspective, can only be described as introverts… that is, they’re quiet, introspective, and they often keep to themselves. On the inside, however, they long for strong relationships, and they need to be around other people in order to feel truly valued. Basically, they are introverted by nature, but extroverted by nurture. They would prefer to live an extroverted life, but they just don’t know exactly how to go about it.

This, my friend(s), is my story. am an introverted extrovert.

To illustrate just how complicated such a lifestyle can be, here are some posters I found on the internet.

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So how do you care for an introverted extrovert? By using a combination of strategies from each list. But nobody would ever do that, because nobody expects a person to be both introverted and extroverted.

I, however, do not believe that anyone is completely introverted or completely extroverted. We all have a little bit of both in us–that’s my opinion, at least. There might be just a few exceptions to that rule, but not many.

My journey to introverted extroversion has been a long, arduous one. When I was little, I had such a vivid imagination that I didn’t really need friends. I was perfectly fine just hanging out with myself. I had friends, but they were just an added luxury–not a necessity. As I grew older, and especially when I started college, I developed the need to associate with others. Naturally, as soon as I developed this need, I found it much more difficult to actually make friends. Isn’t that how it always goes, though? The more you need something, the harder it is to get it. That is just one of the unfair things about life.

introvert (1)I started feeling the need to have friends in sixth grade. I was about 11 years old, otherwise known as that awkward “pre-teen” phase. My friendship-making skills have improved drastically for yours truly since then, but I still find that incessant need to constantly associate with others, as if the amount of time I spend with others actually determines my worth!

In all honesty, I wish I could go back to my childhood mentality. I valued solitude back then. It didn’t matter if I was by myself or surrounded by loved ones–it was all the same to me. I was living in an introverted world, and I was an introverted boy.

I’m still introverted, but modern society does not value introversion. So I feel an increasing pressure to become more extroverted because that’s what society teaches us is acceptable. College especially seems to emphasize this perspective. It almost seems like college students are always expected to be social, just like they are expected to stress over schoolwork or eat pizza five times a week. I want to enjoy solitude again, but an extroverted version of myself has been created as a result of my college-student status. This new extroverted self is constantly fighting against my introverted self. It would be so sad if you had to stay in tonight, my extroverted self says. (Just to clarify, though, I do not actually hear distinct voices in my head, so please don’t refer me to a psychiatrist after reading this post.)introvert-vs-extrovert

I find it especially difficult to be introverted on a Friday or Saturday night. On any other given night, I’m usually fine going about my normal, introverted life. But on the weekends, my extroverted self screams at me (again, not literally) that I need to do something social. I physically can’t allow myself to spend a Friday or Saturday night by my lonesome. I’ve tried it before, and I always make plans at the last minute in order to escape the shame of an evening in solitude. The younger version of me would shake his head in disgust at my desperate need for weekend company… then he would most likely try to strangle me (I was a surprisingly violent child). Why, why can’t I just spend a weekend night alone? Why can’t I just take some time off from being social? Why can’t I just throw a me party every once in a while?

Unfortunately, it feels as though a me party is simply out of the question. Thus is my life as an introverted extrovert. It’s rough trying to live a life that goes against what comes to me naturally. I wonder if other people experience a similar dilemma in their lives? Maybe I’m crazy (and many people have suggested that I probably am), but I kind of doubt I’m alone in this one.

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If anyone else suffers from the introverted extrovert dilemma, there is hope. As much as I think Hannah Montana is the worst, I think we should take her advice and get the best of both worlds! We can work on exploring the extroverted side of life while still embracing our inner introversion. There is nothing wrong with being who you are, after all–unless who you are is a serial killer.

A quote comes to mind: “Whatever thou art, act well thy part.” So if you’re an introvert, be a good introvert. Don’t hesitate to be more outgoing, though. Still try building relationships with others. But don’t feel obligated to meet anyone’s expectations about how outgoing you need to be. If somebody tells you you’re too quiet, punch that person in the face. OR just ignore them… yeah, that’s probably a better (though admittedly less gratifying and fun) idea.

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