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?
Full of sass but not lacking in class, Daria has a sharp tongue that cuts more effectively than any knife.
But she never forgets what’s really important in life.
Her snarky remarks and cynical attitude get her through the day, even though deep down she really does care what people think.
So she covers her emotions with her exaggerated monotone voice and relentless pessimism.
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.
In fact, our dear Daria seems to believe that life is inherently bad, without any hope of getting better.
And she relentlessly claims that everybody else is to blame.
Because she feels that other people are just inherently unreliable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.