Right now, I’m awake and I shouldn’t be. You probably figured as much. It’s 4AM where I am. I’m not drunk. I haven’t been partying. I didn’t take any Adderall. I don’t have insomnia. I’m a really weird person, with a slightly crippling problem.
The only reason I’m mentioning this, is because I want other people to know what I deal with. Since so many of you look up to me, I thought it would be a good idea to share my problems with you - so you know you’re not alone in some of life’s struggles.
My problem: I have absolutely crippling social anxiety.
Do you know that feeling you get when you pass someone strange in a hallway? You don’t know whether to make eye contact, or say hello. Sometimes you sort of want to wave, and sometimes you just want to look at the ground. Well, my whole life is sort of like that around people. The exceptions are people who I consider to be really close friends.
The whole process of me becoming quite odd around people has been slow. I first started noticing a change in my overall demeanor around people about two years ago. I started wearing face paint in public, because I didn’t understand people anymore. In fact, most of my social anxiety comes from feeling completely misunderstood by the world. When you feel like you can’t level with anyone, a natural compensation is to give the world something it cannot understand.
Sometimes, I would wake up in the morning to brush my teeth, and stare in the mirror for a moment. Every time I looked, I felt like I was staring into a portrait - like I was a picture of myself, but not actually myself. Eventually, my moving portrait took up a permanent residence in my mind.
My social anxiety is slightly exacerbated by my acting abilities. I have the ability to pretend I’m the center of every party. Most people who meet me have no idea how fake I have to be in order to simply maintain a solid state of mind in public places. While I’m around people, I think about everything - like some state of amphetamine induced hyper-awareness. I count odd things in order to have something to bury my focus in. For instance, when I’m looking into your eyes, I have to maintain a count of how many times you blink. It’s not an obsessive compulsive tendency, and it doesn’t make me think something bad will happen if I don’t.
My hyper-awareness just means I have to do things “normal” people don’t do. I suppose it’s getting worse too. For a while, I broke some of my weird habits. I used to carry around my own silverware with me everywhere, because I don’t like eating with unfamiliar silverware. I don’t like new clothes, new shoes, or new things I don’t ask for. I don’t receive gifts well. My bubble is the only place I understand, and it makes me feel like people don’t understand me when I step outside of it. When my friends invite me out, I say I have other plans. I usually don’t have other plans - I just don’t want to be around people. This causes stress even in my close friendships, because I am never around. It’s hard to be a friend who doesn’t exist.
My anxiety with the world in general means I stay home by myself a lot. I go to the grocery store at 6AM so I don’t see people. I use the self-checkout. I smile at everyone, because I think it will make their day better - and then I think about their life too much. I wonder if the lady at the grocery store is happy with her life. If her shoes look worn out, or if she appears to be limping, I wonder if there’s more I can do to help people.
It’s the people in need that make me feel like the world is a terrible place, and I want no part in it. People being horrible to each other drives me to think about my own place, and then why I feel like I don’t fit. My mother says I’m one of those people who is smart enough to see the inequality in humanity, and the life experience to know one person cannot change humanity alone. So often, I escape my own helpless feelings about the world by shutting the world away and pretending I live removed from everything.
The happiest moments of my life have been alone. Hitch-hiking across the United States, I spent hours alone on the side of the road, watching faces. The same went for my 1,200 mile bike ride. I was all alone, but I would see the faces of people in their cars. Everyone looked sad, like their soul was slowly being removed in favor of an endless conveyor belt process. Wake up. Coffee. Drive. Work. Drive. Gym. Dinner. Repeat five times. Spend two doing something mundane and fleeting.
Then, every thought in my brain builds until nothing makes sense. It’s like this low, beautiful noise, building into a cacophony of static and yelling. I can’t process all the thoughts, and I have to go hide until the noise in my head becomes something I can understand again.
Reading all this makes me feel crazy, but I know I’m not crazy. No one is crazy. “Crazy” is just a word people use to define others they’re too lazy to understand.
Maybe some of you out there feel like me, and you’ll read this and know, “Hey, Shane Morris goes through what I go through, and he’s like the most famous, popular person I know.” But I’m not famous. And I don’t understand why I’m popular. I feel weird every day. Being associated with my famous friends is the hardest part of my entire existence, because it means my bubble gets holes in it.
I don’t understand! How can someone as amazing and popular and bubbly an BEAUTIFULLY MAJESTIC as Shane Morris have Social Anxiety?
But I didn’t see it! And- No, you know what? I don’t care what he does anymore. It takes some huge guts to go out there and say, “Hey, I may be this really popular dude, but I have this serious problem.”
I now feel like this huge jackass (not saying that I’m not a jackass. I am. I’m just feeling it now. It burns) for even hating him, even once, ever.
Man, I don’t think I’d ever be able to say something like that. I would just want people to go on thinking I’m this perfect person. I have too much Pride to admit one of my downfalls.
Applause to you, Mr. Shane Morris. You deserved it.