Changes Within A Lifetime and Reflections on Generational Differences

I have changed in many ways over the years.  I’ve noticed changes in my friends and classmates too.  I’ve even seen changes in the people I knew in my parents’ age bracket over the years.

One of the changes I’ve noticed in myself with age is that I prefer to spend most of my time at home.  When I was a teenager I was rarely at home except to sleep or do homework.  When I wasn’t at school or school activities, I was at friends’ houses.  I preferred going to friends’ houses as my brother usually had his friends over all the time.  I imagine it concerned my parents as I rarely had friends over at the house.  I wasn’t anti social, far from it.  I just liked spending time at places where I wouldn’t be bothered by my older brother and his friends.  When I was in college, I usually spent time in my friends’ dorm rooms or in the student union when I wasn’t at the library or studying for classes.  I was on good terms with everyone at my small college, but had only a handful of confidants I felt I could tell anything.  Looking back on this years later, I know that most of my socializing and trust issues are because of the mental illness.  I probably could have had a larger social network than I did.  Yet I’m happy that I managed to stay on good terms with most people even if I was in emotional turmoil much of the time.  Just goes to show how powerful our minds are in shaping our reality.

Now that I’m my late 30s I prefer to stay at home most of the time.  I would rather host guests now than I would visit them it seems.  Granted, I do like to have at least a couple days notice before I’m hosting anyone.  I’m still self conscious about my place and what people think of me.  Sure, most of the negative vibes I get from others are manufactured by the diseased aspects of my mind.  But I guess I haven’t mastered my mind well enough to easily shake these negative vibes just yet.  I truly believe our minds are powerful enough to make or break our outward reality.

In my friends’ cases, most of my school mates are now in our late 30s or early 40s.  And many of them are having stressful times in recent years.  Some have careers not progressing like they had hoped.  Some have had failed marriages.  Some have had money problems.  Some of them have dealt with the deaths of their parents.  Some have dealt with serious life changing illnesses of their own.  Some of them are dealing with the highs and lows of raising children.  Stress and concern seems to dominate many of my friends’ lives.  Yet no so much for myself.  I guess I had many of my mental illness crisis situations happen to me in my twenties.  It stunk that I never had a career get off the ground because of schizophrenia.  But it did make me resilient and realize there is more to life than working and paying bills.

Sadly, many people don’t realize this until they are retired or get laid off from a job.  As a result of my friends having stress in their lives, many of them are more pessimistic about life in general than I am.  I remember how pessimistic my parents and their friends were when they were in their thirties and early forties when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  I guess it’s my generation’s turn to be pessimists and overworked parents.  No wonder some jokers suggest that life doesn’t truly start until age forty.  Well, I’m about there 🙂  And as much as my twenties stunk, I managed to enjoy my thirties enough to make up for it.  Maybe it’s because being on disability pension I don’t have to worry about working a regular job as long as I stay out of debt and live within my means.  I can only hope my friends in my age bracket can someday find the joy and peace in their lives that I have experienced for myself in recent years.

I’ve also noticed changes in my parents and people in their age bracket.  Seems to me that many people tend to either become more calm in their senior years or more grouchy.  Fortunately for me, my grandparents were quite calm in their senior years.  In many ways, they were more accepting of my eccentric qualities and questions than even my parents.  But, after my parents became grandparents, they started mellowing too.  I almost don’t recognize the my parents in their senior years when I compare them to what I grew up with as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s.  They are more patient with their grandkids then they ever were my brother and I and our cohorts.  But I guess grandkids are nature’s reward for not killing your children when they were teenagers.  Many of the people I knew in my parents age bracket when I was a kid are now more calm in their sixties and seventies then they were in their thirties or forties.  Of course, there are few who are more sour than ever.  Fortunately they aren’t very common.

And the kids with their iPads and smart phones?  Well, they’ll eventually turn into productive members of civilization themselves.  People complained about my cohorts in the 1990s playing our Nintendo games and listening to our Tupac and Marilyn Manson music.  We turned out alright.  Back in the 1960s, people complained about the kids watching too much television and listening to The Doors and Elvis.  Even my grandparents generation were unloaded on for listening to radio programs, jazz music, and reading comic books.  And now we call them ‘The Greatest Generation.’  All young people do stupid things and the parents fear the end of civilization because of their tastes and tech. The best thing that happens to kids is they get out in the world in their twenties and work a few lousy jobs and date a few losers before they find their calling (or at least career) and their spouse or soul mates.  And then they have kids of their own and fret over them.  Makes me wonder what the teenagers of 2018 will fret about concerning their own kids come 2040 or so.  Maybe brain boosting implants will be their iPads or Ninetendo games or radio.  Stay tuned, my friends.  It is always interesting.

Finally, Some Normalcy!

Since the holidays have come and gone, things are starting to slow down and return to normal.  At least, things are as normal and quiet as a life with mental illness is going to get.  Haven’t felt anxious or irritable for a few days.  Things are more quiet then they’ve been in months.

Went to the Wal-Mart yesterday for the first time since early November.  I have avoided large box stores and the mall during the year end holidays for a few years.  I buy from local stores to avoid the crowds.  I worked as a retail clerk during the Christmas rush about a dozen years ago.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for retail workers and anyone who works in customer service. I didn’t deal with some of the horrors that minimum wage service employees in many places but I still have a few stories.  Anyone who has worked in retail or low wage service jobs has stories.  I think someone could have a decent book or blog idea if they’d go undercover and work as a retail store clerk or fast food worker for a couple years and take notes everyday.  It might even open some eyes much the same way Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’ did about conditions in meat packing plants.

As out of the ordinary as holidays have been in the past, I’m always glad for a return to normalcy.  Quiet and normal routines are good for those of us with mental illness.  Been back on my diet and exercise routines for a week.  My back is feeling good as new after two full months of chiropractic treatments.  I have only three more full treatments left.  I’m back to doing arm weights again.

Been reading more too.  Currently working through two print books and one audiobook on youtube.  And I ordered three more books through amazon with Christmas gift cards.  Should keep me occupied book wise for the rest of winter.  I never really could get into fiction books, unless it was a classic or historical fiction work.  I can’t even write good fiction or suspense.  When I was in grade school, our teacher wanted us to write some kind of ghost story for Halloween.  Mine was more comedy than drama.  I don’t read fantasy.  I wasn’t into C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, or even Dr. Seuss as a kid.  I was into science and history books but not real heavy into science fiction.  I have read some old Jules Verne, a little Isaac Asimov, and recently some Corey Doctorow audio books and stories.  I have always found what really happened more interesting than fantasy.

Since I can’t spend as much time outdoors now that it’s winter, I’ve been messing with computer games more. Unlike books, I do like fantasy video games like Skyrim and the Final Fantasy series.  But my favorite video and computer games are Sim City, Railroad Tycoon, and Civilization. So I suppose even in my mindless entertainment I still like brain builder and strategy games.

My life is starting to return to some resemblance of normal.  After months of stressors and setbacks the normalcy is much appreciated.