So often, when I find myself particularly agitated or physically/mentally down, it's because of caffeine. I've never really been a fan of the stuff, but on certain days you just need some wake-up juice...or some feel-different-than-however-I-feel-right-now juice. A friend of mine once told me, after the devastating loss of her mother, that she had created the designations of "A Sleep" and "B sleep". A-Sleep is the solid, deep kind where neurons are nourished and dreams happen. B Sleep is...well I'm sure you know it. You're stuck in the realm of alpha and beta waves all night and upset in the morning because your body tells you what should have been.
I contend that there is also "A Awake" and "B Awake", and for me, B Awake is caused by caffeine intake. Who are these people for whom a cup of coffee keeps them going unfailingly on each occasion? Two thirds of the time, I end up disconnected, mildly dizzy, pissed off or all three. And I can hear the voices now: "Then why do you keep drinking it?" Because I'm in grad school, and taking the chance that it might be a Good Caffeine Day is worth it for me. Also, as mentioned, sometimes you just want to feel...different.
Lately I've been working on not feeling embarrassed by or like I have to defend the ways I contradict myself. I want to continue complaining about how shitty caffeine makes me feel, and I also want to keep drinking it. I could see that being frustrating for friends, especially since the aforementioned sensations keep me from being pleasant and engaged in conversation. Or at least, they would if I stopped forcing myself to pretend to be pleasant and engaged so much.
Allowing oneself to go to contradictory, dark or grumpy places around new friends (or even old ones you don't get to see often) is scary business. You only get so many chances to be perceived as an enjoyable human to be around before it gets decided that, well, you're not. To an extent this isn't a neurotic approach to human interaction at all, and everyone shares and hides things to varying degrees in accordance with their personality, but it's the "why" that needs to be asked. Does it feel like a fearful hiding or a natural one?
So how about another designation: "A Engagement" and "B Engagement". How often are we present, authentic and free to be ourselves when engaging with others? And even when we're not present (a normal occurrence), do we accept that as OK? How much of this feeling "free" with others is reasonable to expect of ourselves and, for that matter, possible? In that annoying and paradoxical way reality likes to function, we can't know the answers to these questions until we do things that demand the trust we haven't quite developed yet. That's why you wake up in the morning, have your cup of coffee, feel the ambiguity, and do it anyway.