I never used to get restless. I could just sit and zone out for hours or do absolutely nothing with a week or more of vacation and see everyone growing restless around me and freaking out over not being productive, and I would feel like telling them all, “Hey! Whoa! Chill out! Watch more Netflix.”
This is the first vacation that I have ever been on where restlessness of my own has found me and sometimes drives me to the edge of my nerves. True, some of that is due to exhaustion (I can’t seem to get into a good sleep cycle due to jet lag over the 7 hour time difference between New York and Jerusalem), some of that is due to dehydration (I keep forgetting to drink as much water as I should since the tap water tastes different here), some of it is due to being cold and shivery a lot (the apartments here tend to be really really cold because everything is made of heat-sucking stone), some of that is due to people’s constant questions about “so what’s next for you with this auto mechanic stuff?” (not that I blame them for asking; it just can get a bit stressful to repeatedly answer, “I have no clue; I’ve never done this part before”), and some is due to people telling me what a terrible tourist I am since all I do is meet up with friends in coffee shops or burger joints or pizza places and sit and chitchat instead of doing this whole Traveling To A Foreign Country For A Month THE RIGHT WAY.
Am I going to get back home and feel like this month of my life was wasted? That I could have done more with it? That I would have been better served to just dive straight into job hunting as soon as I graduated as a Certified Automotive Technician? That I’m just stalling for no good reason, since I’ve done nothing worthwhile here? Maybe. I don’t know. That’s kind of why I’m writing about it — because writing about it produces something tangible, something solid that I can point to and say, “Look, I produced something. I got some thinky thoughts out of it. I learned, I experienced, I lived.”
I think what I’ve learned most, or at least what I’ve had reinforced, is the way the company I keep impacts me. How who I am and how I feel about myself is much more malleable than I’d like it to be, and how I feed off different people’s energy in different ways. I’ve written about this before, a year ago actually — https://www.facebook.com/notes/sm-rosenberg/on-falling-out-of-love-with-bonus-helpful-star-trek-parallels/10152167835903186 — in the context of relationships and how they draw out different selves from people, and how a large part of choosing to be in a relationship with a particular person is a statement of, “I prefer this version of myself, the one that I am with this person, and want to be this way on a permanent basis.”
Due to my coffee-shop-burger-bistro-pizza-place-hopping lousy tourist ways, I’ve hung out one-on-one with a lot of different people here, or in small groups, and I’ve been able to see and keep track of what selves get drawn out of me by what people. People tend to see me as a very self-confident person, with a pretty strong personality who is comfortable enough with herself to refuse to take shit from anyone, and for the most part that’s true (otherwise I’d never have gotten through automotive school). But I am also not the type to force my opinions or my attitude onto others when I don’t feel like there’s a natural entry point for me, and so when I’m around those sorts of people, I can feel my internal self making accommodations for them, adjustments, compromises, or just retreating into thoughtful silence or inconsequential small talk, because that’s all I feel like I’m able to contribute, or would like to contribute.
It’s not like that’s a terrible thing; there are all kinds of people in the world with all kinds of interests and all kinds of communication styles, and so being able to communicate with each one about exactly the same things in exactly the same way is a patently ridiculous notion.
But still, I don’t especially like being around people who make me feel smaller inside, who make me feel like I have less to offer, make me feel boring and one-dimensional. Not through any fault of their own; just due to the way interpersonal energy flows between people, or doesn’t, and feeds on itself and builds on itself, or doesn’t. I like being around people who make me feel bigger, and interesting, and multi-faceted and smart and funny and alive. I can spend forever with people like that, and I can tell that there are some people who like to be around me because I make them feel that way.
The other sorts…well, they can be enjoyable company for a while, but ultimately I’ll find myself yearning to be alone with myself and not at the mercy of anyone else’s energy flow. They make me feel fractured, as if with each one of them, I am a piece of self-mosaic, rather than one whole united awesome self. I know that I am made up of all those pieces of the mosaic, and there’s nothing wrong with facing that truth, but I really prefer feeling whole and not having my attention called to the existence of all the cracks.
Don’t get me wrong; I do have a lot of people here who make me feel like that whole awesome self, and it’s been so great to meet and spend time with them. But I have a lot of those people back home too, and I can’t wait to get back.