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Throwback Write-Up #3: A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm / (30 Years Later) [Discussion]
Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
BackgroundProducer and MC Kamaal “Q-Tip” Fareed, the late MC Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor, DJ Ali Shaheed Mohammed, and MC Jarobi White make up A Tribe Called Quest. They came together in Queens, NY in 1985, where Tip and Phife were childhood friends, and went to high school with Shaheed and Jarobi. The name "A Tribe Called Quest" was penned by the group The Jungle Brothers. The two groups were a part of the Native Tongues collective, a group of hip-hop artists that focused on positive-minded and good-meaning Afrocentric lyrics, while incorporating heavy sampling and jazz-influenced beats. Other members included De La Soul and Queen Latifah. Through the Native Tongues, Tip earned himself guest spots on The Jungle Brothers and De La Soul albums, propelling the Tribe to labels' eyes - initially, no label wanted to sign them, but Tip's appearance on 3 Feet High and Rising earned them a contract with Jive Records in 1989.
They began recording Travels later that year and finished early in 1990. Tip described the recording process as exciting, since all there was to do was record and make music. Sampling plays a huge part in the album, as Tip and Shaheed would listen to records several seconds at a time to re-work them in relationship with other records that would fit. While recording, Shaheed played all live instruments, DJ scratches, and programming, while Tip handled everything else with production, including sampling and mixing.
The album is playful, cheery, and laid back. It is a breath of fresh air so to say, in a time when gangsta rap was beginning to dominate the mainstream. It paved the way for the alternative hip-hop and jazz rap subgenres, and proved to be massively influential in its production, stemming from the breaks that Q-Tip chose to sample. And how about that title? Shaheed described it as:
It was something that Tip was toying around with. He was messing around with different words and putting stuff together. He wanted to make the title something people would remember. I remember when he told me, it sounded so crazy that I was like, “Let’s go with it.” It really made sense. Thinking about the words in the title, they really defined the mission and our thoughts at that time. We really wanted people to believe in our music and to open themselves up to it. We wanted to unite masses of people together. This is why the people that are painted on the album cover are different people painted with different colors. It was representative of humanity and mankind and people coming together over the love of our music. The title was fitting.So without further ado, this is People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Track by track, plus some notable linesPush It Along – This ain’t trial and error, more like tribin’ era
- The album opens with a baby crying, set against some soft chimes. Almost as abruptly as it began, a smooth bassline and mellow horns come in, a sample from George Washington Jr’s “Loran’s Dance,” set to some drums sampled from Junior Mance’s “Thank You Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin.” These two jazz-funk samples provide the beat to Push It Along, as Q-Tip comes in with his signature laid-back flow. The first words ever spoken on a Tribe song are “Q-Tip is my title,” as Tip casually informs the listener what they will find out later – this is Tip’s album. He commands the driver’s seat and never lets up on the gas, proving his prowess both as an MC and as a DJ. A simple chorus comes in, repeating the words “Push it along, push it along, push it along, yeah push it along,” right before the 5 Foot Assassin comes in for his first verse as a part of the Tribe. Phife Dawg bounces on his verse about sitting back and chilling, as Q-Tip gets off two more verses, both about some small worries in life. But he reassures that “this ain’t trial and error, more like Tribin’ era,” letting the listener know that this is what the Tribe is all about – mellow bars about relaxing. All you gotta do is push it along.
- After the final chorus, the bass from Eugene McDaniels’ “Jagger the Dagger” plays behind Jarobi calling out to the rest of the Tribe, to the Jungle Brothers, and other members of the Native Tongues. This outro appears on a few of the other tracks, specifically After Hours, Bonita Applebum, Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts), and Ham ‘n’ Eggs. Jarobi ends the song by saying “A friend of mine asked me about the Luck of Lucien,” bringing us into the second song on the album.
- Luck of Lucien opens with one of the most recognizable melodies in history, sampling the trumpets from The Beatles' “All You Need Is Love.” Interestingly enough, the portion from “All You Need Is Love” that the Tribe sampled borrows from “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. This fits in with the theme of “Luck of Lucien,” as Q-Tip tells the story of Lucien Revolucien, a French hip-hop artist who was part of the Native Tongues and featured on Afrika Bambaata’s "Hip-Hop Against Apartheid"/"L'Unité Africaine." Q-Tip takes charge of the song, rapping over Billy Brooks’ soul-jazz song “Fourty Nights,” a beat that sounds reminiscent of a car or light beer commercial on an NFL Sunday, or also of the Rocky theme song. Nevertheless, Q-Tip talks on Lucien’s naivety regarding America – Lucien eats snails, got scammed by a crackhead selling a VCR, and knows nothing about picking up women. Tip ends the song by praising Lucien’s resilience, and bids him luck in his endeavors ahead, as is the luck of Lucien.
- One of the more straightforward songs on the album, Q-Tip raps about his experience late one night. Set to a direct sample of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Remember Who You Are” and the drums from Les McCann’s “North Carolina,” Q-Tip vividly paints a picture of New York City at ten past one in the morning. He’s struck out and “couldn’t catch a fish,” grabs some beers and an apple juice, watches the moon in the sky, meets up with the rest of the Tribe, talks with them about hip hop, the economy, and taxes as the night turns into morning. You know, a typical night out. The climax of the song comes after Tip’s second verse, where the morning wind is on its way in, as you “hear the frogs dancing in the street, once again Ali will bring up the beat,” replacing a chorus for frogs croaking. The night is then over, the sun is out, and Tip heads on home to start up the rhythmic path. After hours, it was cool.
- Footprints is one of Q-Tip’s most impressive works. He packs in dense rhymes on one of the quickest-paced songs on the album, rhyming about his day to day travels and the footprints he’s left. One of Tribe’s most complex, the beat is made up of samples from Donald Byrd, horns from Stevie Wonder, and drums from Public Enemy. And even though he took a backseat on it, Phife holds the song in pretty high regard too - It’s one of his favorite Tribe songs:
Lyrically, Q-Tip is pretty much genius on this one. And I love the Stevie Wonder sample, the way he flipped it and the drums.I Left My Wallet in El Segundo – Damn, Tip, what did you drive so far for?
- Sometimes, simpler is better. Up next is one of the most recognizable Tribe songs, and their debut single. The song opens with a Spanish guitar sample from The Young Rascals’ “Sueno,” as Q-Tip tells his story over the instrumental to The Chambers Brothers’ psych-soul song “Funky.” Tip’s story is a pretty obvious one – he left his wallet in El Segundo. One day, his mother left for a month-long cruise trip and, like any responsible parent, left her son home alone. Tip calls up Ali, and the two go for a drive. Ali had the cash, and next thing they know, it’s two and a half days later and they’re out of New York and over in El Segundo, California. They stop for lunch at a pub “in the middle of nowhere, anywhere would have been better.” Ali tells Tip to pay, and just as he’s doing it, Tip sees the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Enchanted by her beauty, it takes Ali to snap him out of his trance, as they head on back to New York. But what do you know, Tip forgot his wallet. In El Segundo’s heat, their car sputters for a bit, but all works out and three days later, they’re back home. Tip checks his pockets and the car, and says to Ali that they gotta go back, “Because I left my wallet in El Segundo.” When speaking on the song, Tip says that he chose El Segundo as a reference to the 70s sitcom Sanford and Son, where Fred Sanford, the show’s namesake, would reference El Segundo as a punchline to his jokes.
- What really is the pubic enemy? With this cut from Travels, Q-Tip tries his hand at a PSA regarding STDs – specifically pubic lice (crabs). The New York DJ Red Alert, the Tribe’s manager at the time, makes a guest appearance as well, for one of the few features on the album. Unlike the past few tracks, Tip is just the storyteller this time, and not speaking from a first-person experience. In the first verse, he talks about a woman who has just woken up from a one-night stand, and, in the morning after, begins to feel an itching and scratching in her pubic region. She knows what’s happened, and goes to the doctor, only to confirm what she already knew – it’s crabs. Tip’s second verse tells of Old King Cole, who is in love with his wife, although Tip has his doubts. Cole runs around with hookers, and one night, his wife catches him scratching and scratching at his pubes. She knows that it’s the pubic enemy, and that he didn’t get them from her. She runs off, devastated that he would cheat on her. In his last verse, Tip condemns the monster that is the pubic enemy. All of this on one of Tribe’s most unique beats, composed of a piano sample from Luther Ingram’s “Pity for the Lonely” and the drums from Rufus Thomas’ “Do the Funky Penguin.” Red Alert then speaks on what it means to be a propmaster, directly leading into one of the most notable songs on the album.
- Bonita Applebum, the second single from the album, is a straightforward love song from Q-Tip to what many suspect was a woman he went to high school with, who had a fat ass. Bonita is Spanish for “beautiful,” while applebum refers to an apple bottom, or fat ass (I don’t blame you Tip). One of the album’s smoother and jazzier beats, it samples RAMP’s “Daylight” for the main backing, Rotary Connection’s “Memory Band” for the “la la la la” in the intro and for the iconic “buhbuh buh buh” throughout the song, and Little Feat’s “Fool Yourself” for the drums. In 1985, Bonita was one of the Tribe’s first demos. Initially, Tip used a conventional rap delivery, but after reading a Miles Davis interview talking about spacing and rest, he decided to switch up his flow and rap in the way that made it to the final recording.
- On its 25th anniversary re-release in 2015, Bonita Applebum was retitled “Bonita Applebum – includes ‘Can I Kick It’ Intro.” The McDaniels’ “Jagger the Dagger” sample returns for a third time on the album, as Jarobi asks if he can kick it, leading us into the centerpiece of the album.
- Where to begin with this one. Lou Reed’s groovy and iconic bassline. One of the most well-known call and response choruses, and its simplicity and catchiness. Q-Tip’s soft and welcoming verse. One of Phife Dawg’s best verses in his career. His shoutout to Mayor Dinkins. That the two of them were only 19 when they recorded it. The music video that perfectly encapsulates all that Tribe is about. If you were to ask a random person on the street if they know a Tribe song, they would most likely say Can I Kick It. It is one of the Tribe’s best songs, and even holds a place in the top tier of all hip-hop songs ever. It’s a perfect microcosm of the Tribe, as Q-Tip says it best:
If you feel the urge to freak, do the jitterbug Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug Afrocentric living is a big shrug A life filled with fun that's what I love
- Tribe just wants you to have fun, lay back, enjoy the music, and kick it with them. Sampling Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” one of the most recognizable basslines in hip-hop adds a warm and relaxing vibe to the middle of the album. Fun fact: Tribe never saw a penny from the sample, even though it was cleared, Lou Reed took all the profits. Phife revealed this in a 2011 rant. Tribe’s influence would be seen for many years following Can I Kick It’s release, as artists including Jay-Z, MF DOOM, Drake, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Logic, and many more have all sampled or interpolated the classic track.
- “Youthful Expression,” like most of the other tracks, is anchored by its bassline. But what sets it aside from the others is its organs. Here, the beat is provided by jazz-funk and soul-jazz artist Reuben Wilson’s “Inner City Blues.” Groovy and upbeat, Q-Tip raps for two verses on the youth of today, lamenting against politicians and rap promoters, while showing some optimism for the future of hip-hop and the Afrocentrism movement. He also goes and restates the Tribe’s motto:
Bustin caps, finger snaps I prefer the second for ghetto tracks
- At the time of Travels’ recording, NWA and Ice Cube were reaching mainstream audiences and proving that gangsta rap was here to stay. Q-Tip instead prefers songs that you could dance to and relax to. That’s where this album comes in.
- Building off of “Youthful Expression” and as implied in its title, “Rhythm” is devoted to the art of moving your butt. Or dancing, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Less jazzy and more synth-focused, its beat is a bit less complex than the prior songs. The synth comes from Grace Jones’ “Pull Up To My Bumper,” as Tip drops his verses on nothing in particular, simply acting as placeholders for the listener to lay back and enjoy the beat. Prince Paul of the Native Tongues opens the song with a statement that “The Native Tongues are about to proceed with the usual lingo, the usual rhythm.” In 1988 and 89 respectively, the Native Tongues saw The Jungle Brothers - Straight Out the Jungle and De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising. Q-Tip featured on both of those albums, so now, in 1990, it was his and the Tribe’s turn with Travels. With a buttery chorus of the repeated and whispered phrase “I got the rhythm, you got the rhythm” between Tip’s verses, “Rhythm” proves to be a classic entry in the Tribe’s lexicon. If you hear this and you don’t wanna move your butt, then I don’t know what to tell you.
- McDaniels’ outro returns for “Rhythm,” as Jarobi proclaims “What about our DJ? Mr. Muhammad,” which brings us right into the next track.
- Who is Mr. Muhammad? As said in the previous song’s outro, he’s the DJ – Ali Shaheed Muhammad. In high school, he would occasionally link up with Q-Tip in Tip’s rapping, as the two of them saw themselves as a duo. They began making demos, as Phife would later join them, forming A Tribe Called Quest with Jarobi White. With a track dedicated to their DJ, “Mr. Muhammad” shows off Shaheed’s prowess as a DJ. Here, he slows down Kool & the Gang’s “Electric Frog” and intersperses it with sampled vocals from an Earth Wind & Fire cut. Q-Tip and Phife both put down some understated verses meant to just be placeholders to show off Mr. Muhammad’s talents. Full of scratching interludes, beat pauses, beat drops, and drum breaks, Mr. Muhammad crafts a beat that sounds like wading through water as waves crash next to you. It’s an often overlooked Tribe cut that deserves every bit of attention it gets, as each member (sorry Jarobi) shines. Phife even namedrops Vice President Dan Quayle in his verse.
- As mentioned before, sometimes simpler is better. The premise of this song doesn’t get any much simpler – Tip and Phife don’t eat ham and eggs. Why? They’re high in cholesterol. Borrowing the drums from Freda Payne’s We’ve Gotta Find a Way Back to Love and the bass from Funkadelic’s Cosmic Slop – 01 – Nappy Dugout, the song opens with one of the easiest choruses to memorize. None of the members of the Tribe eat ham or eggs. Tip and Phife then recall a moment at one of their grandmothers' house where they could smell the breakfast cooking. But yet, they don’t eat ham ‘n’ eggs. After the next chorus they each return to rap about their favorite foods. That’s it. Simpler is better, and they both have a very refined palate that they describe. The song ends with an extended chorus as more members of the Native Tongues come in to profess whether or not they eat ham ‘n’ eggs: Afrika of the Jungle Brothers does not, while Posdnous of De La Soul and a man named Gary both do. So, in conclusion, don’t eat ham ‘n’ eggs, they’re high in cholesterol.
- McDaniels’ outro returns once again, as Jarobi asks for the right side to chant “funk” and for the left side to chant “rhythm,” two of the central themes to the album. After a minute of side to side chanting, the next track comes on in
- The penultimate track opens with a few words from the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Sampled from “Rainy Day Dream Away,” the song opens with “Rain all day, rain all day, don’t you worry,” set to sounds of a rainstorm. Then the beat comes in, and, like its predecessors, it’s groovy, funky, jazzy, and meant to get you up off your feet. What sets “Go Ahead in the Rain” apart from the others however is that the track sampled isn’t a jazz song, but rather a funk rock/disco song, as Slave’s Son of Slide provides the main beat, with Brother Jack McDuff’s “Classic Funke” lending its drums. Tip then rhymes two verses where he once again proclaims Tribe’s electricity and encourages the listener to get up and move to the beat, while at the same time asks them to “go ahead in the rain,” with the times of grimness and oppression. Even though it’s pouring, the Tribe still knows how to go on and get down and enjoy the fruits of life. Don’t let a little thing like rain keep you under.
- To end the album, Q-Tip describes a fool, and calls out the fools he sees in his daily life. In the first verse, he speaks to a crack dealer, intimidating both his friends and enemies. Tip teases the dolt, and the man reacts angrily, threatening violence. What else can he be? Nothing more than a fool. In his next verse, Tip then describes a woman he knows. She is caught up in an abusive relationship, as her ex-boyfriend is a psycho who threatens her life and physically abuses her. Tip laments on “who would love a woman, turn around and abuse her? Only a fool as described by the Tribe.” He then turns to describe another scene he witnessed one day, observing a couple in the park, as a young man bumps into the boyfriend. The boyfriend grabs the young man by the neck, demanding respect, but the young man hits the boyfriend and walks off. The foolish boyfriend is left embarrassed, and Tip’s story concludes. He ends his verse by advising the listener to avoid being a fool and to stay grounded in reality, “and try to avoid the description of a…” as his voice cuts out. The beat is crafted together from Roy Ayers Ubiquity’s “Running Away,” Sly and the Family Stone’s “Runnin’ Away,” and BT Express’ “Still Good – Still Like It.” After Tip’s verse, the beat rides out for another three minutes to close out the album, thus concluding the People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.
Discussion and Closing RemarksI'm not going to pretend that this album is anything more than what it is. It's not some lyrical masterpiece that tells an intricate story over the course of an hour, but rather an album for the sake of being an album. Half of the tracks are made to let the listener get loose and have some fun, and the other half are full of cheery nonsense and the mundanities of life. That's what the Tribe set out to make, and they hit every mark.
Upon its release, Travels was met with universal acclaim. Critics everywhere lauded it for its innovative style, exemplifying the Afrocentric living, and its focus on the music itself. The Source hip-hop magazine even gave Travels the very first 5-mic (out of 5) rating in its publication history, calling it a "completely musical and spiritual approach to hip-hop," and "a voyage to the land of positive vibrations, and each cut is a new experience."
If one thing is certain on this album, it's that it is Q-Tip's album. Though he and Phife are the core members and centerpieces of the Tribe, Phife is only on four of the songs. Tip was the only member present at every single recording session. Phife Dawg later commented that,
"I was being ignorant on that first album, that’s why I was only on a couple of tracks. I was hardly around. I would have rather hung out with my boys on the street and got my hustle on rather than gone in the studio. I wasn’t even on the contract for the first album. I was thinking me and Jarobi were more like back-ups for Tip and Ali, but Tip and Ali really wanted me to come through and do my thing."The beauty of this album is that it's made exactly for that guy who's just hanging around with the boys, and looking for something fun to throw on and groove to.
The album isn't held in as high regard as some of the other Tribe albums, but I argue that it is the most important for the group themselves. Tip shines so brightly, and it very obviously gives him a ton of confidence that he uses to craft five more classic albums after this. In his four songs, Phife shows incredible potential, and drops one of his all-time best verses on Can I Kick It. The Low End Theory is no doubt Phife's breakout moment, and we get glimpses of what's to come in this prologue to his career. And as he goes on to show in the next albums, Shaheed puts his spinning talent on full display for the entire hour - I don't think there's any other song that's made me move my head quite like Mr. Muhammad has. Jarobi is the black sheep of the group. While he provides backup vocals, he doesn't rap a verse on the album, and his recorded demos for The Low End Theory were never able to see the light of day. Between these two albums' releases, he left the group to pursue his culinary efforts. That hustle did actually end up working out for him, as he is a professional chef. After he left though, the Tribe still saw him as a member of the group. And although it'd be nice to see what he could've done on the other three albums, his return in 2016 on "The Space Program" is an all-time great moment.
In a sense, this album is a prologue to all that the Tribe is about. It serves as a preview of what's to come - it's steeped in Afrocentrism, as they later elaborate more on. Being the highest grossing member of the Native Tongues shows that they helped get the message out there. When I think of alternative hip-hop, Tribe is the first artist that comes to mind. Talking about philosophy, peace, and just relaxing for relaxation's sake all the way back in 1990 helped pave the way for so many. Yeah, alternative hip-hop is a super broad term, but their influence cannot be understated. They successfully bridged the gaps between both jazz and hip-hop and the older and newer generations in a way that not many have been able to do. Their production directly influenced their contemporaries, helping change and shape the sound of hip hop. Dr. Dre’s debut The Chronic was directly inspired by The Low End Theory, and Pete Rock stated, "There were times when I would walk into a record store and see Q-Tip sitting on the floor with his glasses on, going through albums, looking for beats ... I was like, 'This guy is serious.' Being around [them] made me step up and become even more serious than I was." The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders get all of the attention when it comes to influence, but everything that they have, you can find in Travels.
- Favorite song? Favorite verse?
- Sampling is a huge part of this album. Which sample is your favorite? Is that also your favorite beat on the album?
- Tribe's influence stems all the way from artists like Consequence, Busta Rhymes, and J Dilla, to Andre 3000 and Talib Kweli, to Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West (and, by extension, every artist that Dilla, 3 Stacks, and Kanye have ever influenced). Where do you most see Tribe's influence?
- Upon the 2015 25th anniversary reissue, Pitchfork wrote that "Tribe's music needs no updating, even when it sticks out like a sore thumb, because that's exactly what it did in 1990." How do you interpret that? A lot of people have said that they'd be considered "corny" if they released today, why would that be that a bad thing?
- 30 years later, have the lyrics stood the test of time? What about the beats?
- Where does Travels fall in your Tribe rankings?
Advice for being a loner
I feel weird opening up here and asking for advice. What I’m about to write is going to be quite long as well. I’m trying to get all my ideas/questions out and trying to be as specific as possible. I want to note that I’m not looking for any sympathy here. Again I just want advice.
Alright so here it goes. So to start off I’m a 19 year old
In high school I always hanged out with this group but they always seemed like fake friends to me. They would always make plans with each other without me and have inside jokes I never understood. I only really talked to them in lunch and outside of school they just forgot about me despite my efforts to message them. They never would reply back. Except for this one guy but I always felt he was just cool to me out of pity. We would sometimes hang out but we don’t have much in common. He likes to drink smoke weed (sometimes), and party and it’s hard for me to relate to him. Lately we have been communicating less and less. After I graduated I have not been able to communicate with any of my “high school friends” despite my best efforts again. I would message them and ask if they would want to hang out. They would say for sure but then come up with a excuse that they couldn’t only for me to see them hang out on social media with each other. Even the one that hanged out with due to pity would not tell me anything probably because he knew I would feel bad. I guess I was the odd one out in the group despite some other members of the group I hanged out with being weirder and edgier in my opinion. I have since gave up in trying to reconnect with them and decided to try and move on especially as time went on because I want to avoid a awkward situation/conversation.
Also I would like to add that my high school was very small with a few students. In theory this is better to connect with your peers but eventually I wasn’t able to get to know others despite seeing them everyday because friendship groups closed off once they were established and I would be labeled as the loner kid. It’s like people saw through me despite me sitting at a table with others during lunch. Probably because everyone had each other on social media due to my school being small and never saw me hanging out with any of those people. Put Two and two together and they knew. And no thankfully I was not bullied and people treated me kindled. However I was still labeled. It’s just human nature to label others which I understand, especially at out young age where our lack of experiences in life cause us to lack understanding in others therefore lacking empathy. Anyways this label caused people to not really want to talk to me (now people didn’t avoid me they just didn’t put the effort to get to know me like they did with others because they were not interested. Besides who would be interested in getting to know someone with almost no social experience. When getting to know people it seems that people want to hear stories about that person which unfortunately I don’t really have. Therefore conversations would be one sided with me trying to get to know that person and that never works out based on my experience)because our survival instincts make it so that we stay away from people with labels that have negative connotations which is why people tend to gossip I guess. Now this is understandable and I don’t hate any of the people I went to high school with
Now I’ve tried sports such as mixed martial arts but unfortunately I lost interest and didn’t stay in them. I’m not good at sports at all and I know Joining a spirts team is a good way to make friends but how could a 19 year old who has never played a sport competitively join a sport and keep up with everyone else. I feel like I would be cast out of a sports social group because I don’t watch sports, know much about sports and I don’t play sports and am not good at them. If I were to join a sport i believe I would have needed to join one from when I was young so that I could improve along the rest of my piers. Also I recently joined the gym but have not yet felt improvement in my mood from working out. Feeling good while working out is temporary for me. And I’m also constantly overthinking of what others think of me when I work out which discourages me a little which I know I shouldn’t think about since most people are too into their workout to care. And now it sucks that gyms are closed since the corona virus outbreak so now I need to find alternatives to stay healthy and workout. I also looked for outside social communities but all the ones I found have people ages 30 and up around my area and I really don’t want to chill with older strangers. I could join online communities but it doesn’t help fill that void Within me.
Anyways fast forward to college. My first semester was the worst. I tried making friends and it was very difficult. The atmosphere was different from high school which is normal to experience. However I was able to make a few acquaintances from there but I never really hit it off with anyone. I would see everyone in the college talking to one another and I would feel like I was the only one who was alone and friendless. A very bad feeling. Then the beginning of my second semester came I met this group of people. Now they seemed nice and we actually had a same class from the first semester but was unable to talk to them because they happened to sit on the other side of the classroom. They already made friends with another in the first semester but I joined late to the group. But in the second semester although not having much in common from what I know so far, we seemed to get along. I think I could safely say that we are beyond acquaintances but not necessarily good friends. We are just friends or if there’s a level in between acquaintance and friend then we are probably there. Still for some reason sometimes I think they use me since I’m really good at my classes(what I mean by this is that I pay attention and do all my work. People consider me smart but I honestly don’t agree with them. I think I have pretty average intelligence. I’m smart for some things but for others I am not). Not all the time but they ask me a lot about questions for the class which I don’t mind to answer because I like helping others (and get annoyed with myself sometimes when I don’t know how to help them despite being good at a particular class) but at times it can get annoying. Now it works out I guess because I ask them questions sometimes. What I’m trying to say is that they like me as a friend but I don’t feel they respect me as a friend which I struggled to find throughout my entire life. I want to be friends with people but I don’t want them to be friends with me just to use me for a particular period of my life and vice versa with me unconsciously using them. Anyways I was taking the friendship slow and didn’t want to rush it in any way. I didn’t want to mess it up. Also they have there own lives, work have girlfriends etc. which is fine. I’m not complaining about this and am not trying to control people. They also knew each other longer so they invite each other out to places which is also fine because unlike my high school “friends” We only just met a couple of weeks ago. I knew the people in high school for longer and it felt more crappy for them to leave me out despite my efforts. But then guess what. This stupid corona virus stuff happened, classes were canceled and it’s hard to take a friendship anywhere when you don’t see the people. Now we do communicate from time to time when it comes to online classes. We haven’t lost our friendship but I see that we soon will. It’s inevitable which I know is fine. It’s also hard for me to meet new people outside this group.
Anyways I’m not sure but I think my loneliness has caused me to develop depression. Although I never was diagnosed by a medical professional. I just get these stages where I’m really sad which is the reason I started to write this (which makes me feel better slightly). There’s also other reason for my depression (again I wasn’t diagnosed by a psychiatrist I just have a good feeling I have it) such as not finding a passion or purpose in my life yet that gives me a clear goal/idea/road/direction in my life (I am working on this by taking baby steps and making short term goals. For example I recently made the small goal of getting my drivers license and was able to achieve that). I also get anxiety when thinking about my future. It’s hard for me to live in the present . I’m either thinking about the past wishing I was younger again and could do things over differently or I’m either overthinking the future or current problems if this I wrote isn’t evidence enough(what I wrote here could be classified as a memoir at this point). I do tend to overthink a lot and pace back and forth when I do. Pacing helps me think when I’m angry, frustrated, sad etc. I noticed I’m pacing while I write this to help my mind flow and not to get my mind blocked which happens if I stand still. Weird I know lol. I hate to admit but at times I cry myself to sleep and begin to hate myself for feeling sorry for myself which adds to it. My loneliness and being a loner especially doesn’t help when I’m technically a only child with no people my age really to talk to. My sibling are 8 to 11 years apart and are much older. Nothing against talking to adults, I quite enjoy it sometimes. I learn a few things or two from those who are older sometimes. It’s just that I want to be able to talk more to those my age as-well for a change so that I could act my age and enjoy my youth (what’s left of it) while I still can. I never had experiences with friends like the majority of people in around me had. I never even gotten into a little trouble when I was young which is a blessing but it’s also makes me think “damn, I never truly lived, I kind of just existed.” It’s hard to be lonely especially when you are stuck in a room(this world) where everyone is social, getting notifications on there phone from their friends messaging them. I can’t remember the last time I got a message from a friend just to talk and not to discuss class work, homework and school projects. It’s come to the point where I began to envy and resent people who have human connection that I don’t, which I know isn’t a good emotion to have. I’m trying to work on that like I’m trying to work on literally every aspect about myself. It’s the best I could do honestly. I play video games and love watching movies, which helps me to escape these thoughts. Video games is kind of my hobby(which I know isn’t the best hobby to have when it comes to being active but it is extremely common. I personally think it’s considered a passerby because should a hobby be something you enjoy doing that productive. Video games aren’t that productive but yeah I enjoy the hell out of them. Especially when they tell a good story which is why I like watching movies. And actually I’ve slowly began to get into books for this reason. But also I like to play video games competitively. Now I do play a lot but I’ve recently decided to limit the amount of time I play so that I don’t play for hours on end anymore and can do other things with my life). Another one of my “hobbies” is watching YouTube content which also helps me to escape. However I feel like I’m using these things more as a crutch for my loneliness and depression and it’s slowly making it worse, while Turning my brain into mush.
Now all of this is mostly my fault, I know. I have no one to blame but my self and take full responsibility despite many factors leading me to this moment of my life where I’m writing this here (interesting how life works. If you think about it every decision of your life has lead you to reading this comment if you read it. If one of your decisions no matter how minor may have been different there’s a chance where you wouldn’t be reading this at all. Or I wouldn’t have mustered the courage to write this). In high school I could have done more. I could have joined clubs, tried out more sports to see if I was interesting instead of just soccer, basketball and mix martial arts. I could have not argued with one of my friends in highschool (we were both wrong for arguing with each other looking back at it. He was being a asshole to me and I lost my temper and lashed out on him. Now when I think about it it happened multiple times. I hate when people decide to be assholes for no reason. It really hurts me in the inside and I guess I don’t know how to show this and instead show it with anger. ) which cause me to be more distant with the rest of friends because they obviously took his side before listening to both sides of the story :(. Also what doesn’t help is that I tend to hide my emotions. I don’t like to show them or open up to others and be vulnerable which is partly why I’m using this reddit to write anonymously. This is probably a common human struggle to express emotions especially for men. Men are required to suck it up and keep it moving according to societal standards anyway since we are supposed to be strong both physically and psychologically (which is partly the way it should be in my opinion but it also isn’t healthy when it becomes excessive). When I do turn to people such as my mother about me feeling like I may be depressed, she tells me to suck it up and gets a little angry at me. Now my mother isn’t abusive or a mean person. She is very nice actually and I really love her. I understand where she’s coming from. She feels like there is no reason for me to be depressed. To understand this way of thinking you need to understand where she is coming from and put yourself in her shoes. I proabably expressed my personal frustration with my self in the wrong way which I regret because I probably made her feel like crap. My mother grew up and busted her a** to get where she’s at now. My mother is now a single hard working mother who makes a lot of sacrifices for me and my siblings (especially when they were also around my age and younger). This may be cliche to say since many people say it but my mother is really tough and has brought herself from being poor to being middle class and living very comfortably. She always taught me that I had to work for what I wanted which I completely agree with. I don’t think anything comes for free in this world. Anyways I basically get everything I could have possibly needed and wanted when I was younger. I grew up with a strong foundation for me to mainly focus on my education and become whatever I want if I put my mind into it with sweat and tears if need be. I even have my older siblings as good role models as they have led successful careers. Unfortunately other people my age can’t say the same and for those people I am sorry, especially if your reading this thread with my small first world problems . I really shouldn’t have any right to complained. I am basically spoiled. I am completely grateful for everything I had leading you to this point in my life even though it may not sound like I am at times. However I don’t think mental illness discriminates against anyone no matter who you may be or what you may achieve in life. Unfortunately I think my mental illness has been keeping me from achieving my full potential in life. Perhaps I’m focusing on the wrong things on life. This has added to my depression due to me feeling depressed. Imagine getting all the tools you need to lead a successful life and then you still feel depressed. Like shame on me for feeling depressed. I shouldn’t feel depressed. Me feeling depressed under these circumstances makes me feel more depressed for feeling depressed and so I and so on. It’s like a endless unhealthy loop I seem like I can’t get out of. Since I have no one to really turn to now because of me not feeling comfortable explaining this to those who love me I’m turning to reddit (I know I’m a genius for this idea. Reddit! Yeah; I’m saying this sarcastically). I would like to add here that my father seems to be proud of me seemingly for no reason, telling others about my accomplishments and what a great son I am due to how dedicated I am in school and getting a education. I think that my accomplishments are no big deal. I hate praise because I don’t like to be put up in a pedi stool and make others look up to me or feel ashamed with there selves because they are comparing theirselves. Like how I compare my self to others and feel ashamed at where I’m at when I know we are all running our own race. It also places a burden on me if I don’t live up to his expectations. It adds to my depression. I want to make both of my parents and my parents proud which means being the best I could be which isn’t always easy. It’s not easy to give 110 percent everyday and I look in awe at how my parents do it. I really look up to them but I have admittedly been falling short of expectations maybe due to my depression and loneliness. And yet my father still praising me. Dad pls stop I know you love me and no matter what happens you’ll feel proud but man is life hard sometimes. Ironically though I do aspire to be a leader(more metaphorically) on the profession/care I take one day which is contradictory because doesn’t being a leader mean people will look up to men. That would be cool but I want people to look up for me for the right reasons and not be Jealous or envious of me cashing them to hate or resent me which jealously and envy tends to lead to. I want to inspire hope in others and/or become a master in the career I take so that I can teach others some tricks and skills that can be useful. I don’t want to be a boss. In my opinion a boss is different from a leader. A boss orders and sits behind while his men do the work. A boss is just a position where you can point fingers. A leader on the other hand only expects his men to do what he can do. He is usually in the front leading his men and setting a path for them to walk on while inspiring hope in them. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a high job position or title. It just means people look up to you for the right reasons. A leader in my opinion is usually a person who is strong minded and doesn’t quit, tremble or shutter in the face of adversity. They take challenges head even if it means that there’s a possibility they can be defeated. Anyone can be a leader. However I think I should experience being lead before I become a leader. Becoming a leader is not something that happens day or night. It’s something that takes time and practice. After all a leader is still a human being and makes mistakes in their quest to become a leader and during their leadership. It’s not a promotion to be a standard worker to being a boss. I am far from being a leader and have a lot of self work to do if I want to become one. I always thought wanting this was weird about me. However if I want to be a leader I need to develop my social skills
Also what I would like to add is that throughout my childhood it was hard for me to make human connections with my piers because my mother was very overprotective of me (especially since I’m her only boy and am the youngest.) which meant that she wouldn’t really allow me to hang out with friends and it would be a miracle if she did. This causes my friends that I had to naturally think it was me making excuses and not wanting to hang out with them which caused them to distance themselves from me and eventually end the friendship. She thankfully had stopped doing this as often but the damage had already been done. My situation with my mother reminds me of the myth of Baldur specifically the one from the game god of war. Baldur is a Norse (Aesir) God and is the god of light, joy, purity and the summer sun. He is the son of Odin the Norse (Aesir) king of gods and The goddess Frigg. Anyways Frigg saw a prophecy that her son was going to die and his death was going to cause ragnorok(the Norse term for Armageddon or what we know it as the apocalypse). Frigg like most mothers loved her child so much so she decided to protect her child even if it meant going to extreme measures to do so. This led her to thinking selfishly so she cast a spell on her son and took away the ability for him to feel anything at all. He became completely numb. This spell also made it so that no object in the universe could harm her son. However she forgot to ask one object and forgot to place it under the spell. The mistletoe. The mistle toe essentially became the one object that could possibly kill baldur and break the spell. One would think wow wouldn’t it be great to not feel pain and to live a life with little fear of dying but no it wouldn’t. See like immortality(like how in other popular stories immortality makes one see all there loved ones pass away and everyone they get close to eventually pass away while they are forced to keep living), being robbed of ones feeling of anything also robs them of some of the pleasures life has to give. I think that this in this myth is used as a metaphor and a cautionary tale that reflects reality. In the story Baldur although still loving his mother resented this action by her. Eventually he began to very deeply associate this action with his mother and not only resented this action but his mother. He couldn’t stand the side of her as it reminded him of what she had done to him. Frigg would also Boast throughout Asgard and all the realms that nothing could harm her son. Everyone would try to kill her son to no avail. At the end of all versions of the myth, he ends up being killed by the god of mischief, Loki, who knew Frigg was cocky and had forgotten the mistletoe. By trying to protect her son, Frigg only drove her so away and ended up being the main cause for his downfall/death fulfilling the prophecy. Her need to overprotect her son is what kickstarted and fulfilled the prophecy in the first place and if she hadn’t done this spell on Baldur perhaps he would have lived a happier life and appreciated his mother more. I’m not saying I resent my mother. I don’t. I love her and hope that in the future I don’t begin to resent her but in the story my character would be Balder, my mother would be Frigg and life would be Loki. My believe my mother is overprotective because she doesn’t want me to experience the hardships she had growing up which mistakenly causes her to rob some of the pleasures from my life. Again my situation is mostly my fault I just chose to explain this portion like this so that those reading this would understand. I also say it a cautionary tale in my opinion because it’s like saying to let your kids go a little especially as they get older. They may begin to resent you if you continue to hold their hand everywhere they go in life instead of teaching them how to become independent. Also boasting about your children to others isn’t a good thing. No ones is perfect even your children no matter if your a parent and see that none of your child’s actions could make him a bad person. If you boast to the wrong person, those who hate you will look for a weakness in your success and take it away from you and tear you down peace by peace. It’s mostly human nature for others to do so in this world. After all a baby bird does stay in the nest for its entire life.
Back on topic of me asking for advice. I feel like I’m socially dumb. I don’t know how to initiate conversations, how to make convos flow or find ways to relate to others. I feel like I was a caged up bird my whole life and now that I’m older and am being released into the world I’m put at a sever disadvantage. This is probably the cause of my depression because I know I’m behind everyone else when it comes socially. I’m a nice person but I’m not perfect. I could work on things such as being a good friend to others if I want good friends. Believe me I try but it’s definitely not easy trying to be a good friend. I’m too hard on myself. I am a person who doesn’t like getting into problems with others and I’m slow to anger. But man when you get me angry I cannot control my temper because I bottle up my emotions and release them all at once which could potentially make dangerous if I don’t learn how to control it. I’m also not that funny of a person so it’s hard to make others laugh. I often look around me and look in awe how people start conversations and seemingly make bonds easily while I struggle. I also try to learn from these people but I also don’t want to be nosy. Now i can be considered a shy person with a slightly low self esteem but once I get to know a person it’s easy for me to talk to talk to them. It’s just that initial icebreaker. Even then connections with other people don’t last with me. I am a person who tries to be positive but when I’m angry or frustrated I think negatively and automatically assume the worst in myself I tend to laugh a lot too but deep down I’m hurting on the inside and don’t know necessarily why. My depression gets so bad sometimes I physically feel it in my chest.
People seem to think I’m weird or get uncomfortable if there’s a pause in a conversation leading to awkward silences. Especially the ladies it seems. It’s like women expect men to keep the conversation flowing and be funny, witty and charming. It’s like they unconsciously want men to be leaders despite wanting equality (or do people want equity. It seems like many people including myself get the definition of equity and equality mixed up with each other despite them meaning two different things). It seems that a lot of women look up to men and this translates to little and simple things as well such as regular conversations. Well most of the time from what I observe. People also seem to be weird when I do talk and talk about some of the topics I’m interested in such as talking about certain movies. For some reason I almost always have different opinions from the rest of society or it seems like this from those around me which causes people to further dislike me. People now and days seem to get really upset when there a difference in opinion from one person to the next. Especially with all these social movements going around now. It’s like I don’t fit it with my generation or time and was born by mistake and in the wrong time. I don’t think people’s opinions should define whether or not you like a person. I thinks it’s healthier to develop relationships with those who have opinions that don’t only align with yours. Also It’s like in conversations I have I feel like I’m being tested in a testing room. People like to judge and yes I’m guilty of this to a certain extent as well but I don’t like to judge others.
Not to get all religious here but I have turned to religion. I consider myself a Christian and I do pray to god for answers. Although I feel he is silent or that I don’t know how to understand him when he communicates to me. Maybe this is his way of telling me that I need to get closer to him by reading the Bible (which I find extremely boring) maybe he just gets angry because he feels I only pray to him when I’m sad or need something and not just to talk to him. I believe in god but my faith and relationship with him isn’t as strong as it should be therefore my love for him isn’t as strong as it should be because I don’t realize how much he loves me. And I do feel like he has blessed me and continues to send me blessing Despite me continuing to sin. Maybe he’s waiting for me to realize that he is the best possible friend I could ever have. Maybe I’ll get so desperate for answers that he turn me into his tool to save others. Who knows. I was told if one reads the Bible it’s like most things. First it taste like medicine, then you begin to like it because it reads you back. Something along those lines.
Here are my actual questions (keep in mind after writing all of this I don’t really know what the right question to ask is): How do I make friends and connect with people? How do I find happiness within myself? How do I continue to improve my self to be the best I could be? What are healthy distractions one could use to escape their mind and negative thoughts? Is all of this happening because a lack of male role models in my life(my father is around but I rarely see him. But when i do, I do learn good life lessons from him)? Am I possibly depressed not because my social situation but because of physical reasons such as chemical imbalances? How do I keep friendships going? How do I date girls without being dependent on them for happiness since I’m a loner (also if I do get a girlfriend which isn’t a goal for me right now since I want to work on myself first, I want to give a girl I like or maybe possibly live the best of me that I could possibly give. This questions though is the least of my problems and on the bottom of my bucket list but I along with 99 percent of the men out there would be lying if i said it wasn’t on my bucket list)? Is there no hope for me since I had very little social development growing up, making me socially crippled? Should I see a therapist/psychiatrist, and how do I do so without letting my family know (and if I have to let anyone know how would I go about doing it? What if I don’t have the money to see one often? Are there any books that I could read that could give me therapy?)? Am I a weak man for thinking this way? If i’m a weak person how do I become mentally stronger? More specifically how to I continue to build friendships after the corona virus issue? How do I make friends without seeming desperate to others (which is a turn off to people in many ways)? How do I make my parents proud even if I have been falling short of greatness? Am I just crazy? Is there any other advice you would give me? How do I not get anxiety and not feel nervous about various things all the time? I know that most of you are not professionals in dealing with this thus it would be hard to give advice.
Thank you in advance for reading this if you did and thanks you in advance for your help/advice and/or just listening as most of this is just me venting at this point. Stay safe out there people and don’t get sick. Appreciate it. Goodbye
Edit: Maybe I’m just a introvert. I do tend to get tired when talking to people for a while. Oddly however unlike a introvert I don’t want to be alone all the time. Just sometimes. I long for humans interaction. So does that make me a introvert still or no?