Not too long ago, my Facebook feed was suddenly peppered with vague posts about the death of somebody who was part of a broader (but quite small) community of which I am a member. People refused to post the name of the person who died.
I was immediately filled with fear and anxiety that I was out of the loop on the death of somebody I might know and care about. It had happened to me with Sparkly (learned about her on Facebook, by accident), and I had been the person filling in people who were out of the loop on Donovan (learned he was in a coma when I was, without warning, added to a Facebook group to discuss it). And what I learned from both of those tragic events is that:
1. It totally sucks to learn these things via Facebook;
2. Learning these things via Facebook is inevitable;
3. Nobody, nobody should be out of the loop when somebody in a close-knit community is seriously injured, near death, or dead;
4. We need to take a serious look at how we handle tragedy on social media.
In the most recent circumstances, a small but very visible and active group within the larger grieving community seemed to think that not naming names would protect privacy, even as they posted details about his death that were far more invasive than his identity. This group was also inclined to criticize those asking for more information. When my very dear friend Rachel, who has lived through more brutal loss than the vast majority of the people I know, finally demanded that people name names, another friend commented, “If you are frustrated by not being in the in club over grieving with us, consider yourself lucky.”
Now, I understand that grief totally kills our communication skills. And this is why not a single one of us called him out on this comment. However, the essence of that comment should be addressed, because Rachel was not the only person who was essentially accused of being a vulture for asking.
I think we need to start with the assumption that nobody actually wants to be in that club. Nobody. If you really think somebody wants to be in that club, it’s time to do some unfriending and maybe look into a temporary restraining order. Okay? So let’s start with that foundational premise. Nobody wants to be in that club. If people are going to glom on for drama, that will become readily apparent, and they will not be anybody’s problem but their own.
I think we should continue with the general awareness that people die. I know, it’s something nobody really wants to think about, which makes all of these discussions about death much more difficult. Rachel’s response to the accusation of wanting to be in the mourner’s club nailed my reaction to this series of vaguebook posts: “Our community is very high risk, and I have lost more friends than I have digits to suicide, drugs, and motorcycle accidents. I found out in a million different ways. Because of this, fear strikes my heart EVERY TIME I hear ‘motorcycle casualty on the 880′ or any time [people] are posting about some unnamed tragedy.”
Marisa filled it out: “I’ve known too many quick-and-deads to ever, ever think that ‘if I knew them, I would know.’ I found out last week about a dear friend…via Facebook. But at least names were named. [...]Creating this kind of stress and anxiety in this incredibly high risk group is rude. It’s not telling anyone how to grieve; it’s asking for basic consideration.”
I’m not sure I know more than a tiny handful of people who have not been affected by tragedy and/or sudden death. Hell, just in case you think I am being insensitive, I have been struggling with depression and suicide ideation since I was a child. To top that off, I ride a motorcycle. In reality I–or any of us–could die any day. Every day. So many of my friends are similar: they suffer from extreme depression, are risk takers, get into accidents, and some of them have died. We are high-risk. With regard to the death of loved ones, I have not always been in the immediate loop. Nor would I expect even my closest friends to be in the event of my injury or death. Too many breaks in communication can happen. So assuming:
A. that everybody who should know does know is wrong.
B. that not naming names has no effect on those who didn’t know the individual is wrong.
C. that people who ask for the identity of the deceased are just social media vultures is—you guessed it—wrong.
I think we also need to think about how we handle information. Talking about a death in the community, not naming names, but offering other extremely private details is kinda like creating a really screwed up guessing game and it protects nobody’s privacy, ultimately.
For the record, when people understandably don’t want to guess, calling them vultures for asking for information is going to result in some ruffled feathers, especially when you have given just enough information to create the need to ask for more. You are hurting. I get it, and I have been there. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. But freaking out a bunch of your friends and then slapping them down when they ask for information is not the way to handle it. As my friend Normal pointed out in an analog example, “I don’t go to Lucky 13 and yell ‘one of us died and I feel sad!’ and then walk off to the bathroom without expecting a lot of follow-up upsetness.”
We have all lost people. We are extremely aware of how truly fragile are the lives of our friends, family, and loved ones. And when somebody in a close-knit community feels the need to say that somebody who was a part of the community died, but not who it was, it does far more harm than good.
If you are going to withhold information out of respect to families and partners, consider withholding all of it and finding a more private forum for your initial response. In examples I have seen and heard of, some folks refused to name names publicly but explicitly offered to if contacted privately. It turns out I didn’t know the deceased, and I had the amazing and unfortunate privilege of getting to struggle with a feeling of intense relief even as I watched people I care about grieve.
I have read everything his friends have posted about him, and I have let those posts give substance to the person my friends have lost. This post is not about the fact that I don’t care; I do. This post is about the fact that people need to know, even if just to learn that their hearts won’t be breaking, this time.
February 25, 2014 | Categories: Observations, Really?, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: communication, community, death, facebook, friends, friendship, grief, grieving, manners, privacy, privilege, relationships, social awkwardness, social media, suicide, vaguebook, vaguebooking | 5 Comments
SHHHH. I’m thinking.
Now you can talk.
One of the generally accepted fundamental differences between extroverts and introverts is that extroverts recharge their batteries through human interaction and introverts recharge their batteries through quiet/alone time. I need a lot of alone time, or I get socially, emotionally, and mentally strung out. When that happens, I stop hanging out with my friends. I stop enjoying that moment when my girlfriend gets home. I am overwhelmed at the thought of making plans. My social anxiety stops hovering at 5-6/10 and goes to 11.
But I live with an extrovert who doesn’t quite get the value of alone time for me. She doesn’t understand the full extent of the necessity. This has caused some trouble between us—partly because she doesn’t understand that my need for alone time isn’t just about needing time apart from her (and if you guys can come up with a way to make that really, really clear, your comments are welcome), and partly because the need itself is esoteric. Explaining the difference between enjoyment of alone time and the need for it is difficult.
We live in a tiny 1-BR apartment in SF in which the layout is such that, if there are two people home it is impossible to have alone time. My mental health has been deteriorating for months because in a given work day I get at most 20-60 minutes of alone time between when I get home and when she gets home. On the weekends, unless she goes out of town, I get none. I finally made it as clear as possible that I need to live in a place where I can have my own room: a Whiskeypants Cave. But we kept running up against the same problem in communication about it. She could not fathom the idea that I would need alone time so badly that it was worth stretching out our budget as much as we would have to in order to afford a 2-BR in this city. I couldn’t fathom the idea that she could not acknowledge the fact of my need.
One day after arguing about this, on the drive home I finally found the words:
Imagine that the way you recharge is through sleep.
You try to sleep every day, but you can only get an average of about an hour with an absolute maximum of 2-3.
Even when you lie down to sleep, you know that, no matter where you are, you will be woken up by the person you live with.
Imagine that, day after day, week after week, month after month. This is what alone time is to me, to my brain, to my emotional buffers and my ability to enjoy time with you, with my friends, and out and about.
She went home that night and found us the place we are moving into at the beginning of next month.
Introverts who date extroverts and vice versa: how do you communicate your needs to each other?
August 19, 2013 | Categories: Observations, Relationships | Tags: alone time, being social, communication, extraverts, extroverts, friends, introversion, introverted, introverts, relationships, social, social anxiety, social awkwardness | 5 Comments
It’s all over the internet. On blogs. On Twitter. People bitch about it on Facebook. As you can see on this informative Tumblr, it’s all over OKCupid.
There is this whole idea that, just because a dude is nice to a girl she should want to fuck him. It’s an inherently misogynist perspective on what it means to be friends with a woman you want, but for whatever reason, cannot have. It implies that said woman owes you something for your kindness and friendship. Sorry “nice guys”, she doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing, and the friendzone is something made up by “nice guys” who would rather blame the girls around them for the fact that they are single than take a look at themselves. Why are those other guys getting the girls? It’s not because they are assholes. It’s because they go after what they want. It’s because they make themselves desirable—and I am not just talking about looks and money, I am talking about charm, wit, and a willingness to use them both when the times are right. I’m no looker, guys, and I am broke most of the time (hell, I spent two years way, way underemployed), but I have never had any problem convincing women to spend time with me. And I do this by virtue of 1. Humor and wit; 2. Intelligence and observation; 3. Not being a whiny little bitch who can’t take responsibility for my own shit; 4. The ability to say, “Hey, I totally dig you”; 5. The ability to accept it if the feeling is not returned.
So let me make something clear: You have NOT been friendzoned. You are a FRIEND. So, dude. Stop thinking with your dick and be a good friend. When your crush is telling you all about her relationship problems, don’t make it about you and whether she should be with you. If you must be narcissistic in the moment, then pay attention. You are learning what not to do in other relationships. Don’t decide that being an asshole is the answer. Don’t put that ridiculous bitterness all over the internet. It accomplishes nothing and—big surprise—makes you look like an asshole, and one that no woman is gonna want. Turns out, chicks don’t dig whiners. Weird, right?
If she doesn’t have romantic feelings about you, don’t whine about it. Your options are: 1. Decide you are cool being her friend and let go of the fantasy; 2. Let go of the friendship if you can’t let go of the fantasy (sticking around and pining isn’t going to change her mind about you, but moving on and growing will make you feel better and may help her see you in another light); or 3. Stick around doing the same old thing, pining and listening and wondering why she isn’t fucking you instead of that other dude when you are SOOO much nicer to her.
But dude, if you really think she owes you something because you have provided a willing ear, you are not a nice guy. If you really think she’s obligated to want to be with you just because you give her relationship advice and are always there for her, you are not a nice guy. If you think a girl should be something she isn’t just because you want her to be and you think you deserve it, you are not a nice guy. You are just a dude who needs to grow up and move on.
December 20, 2012 | Categories: Being Single, Dating, Observations, Really?, Relationships | Tags: communication, crushes, dating, desire, flirting, friends, friendship, friendzone, friendzoned, friendzoning, Love, misogyny, nice guy, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, sex, shy, social awkwardness, women | 8 Comments
A handy reference for people who date other people.
August 9, 2012 | Categories: Being Single, Dating, Diagrams and Charts, Humor, Observations, Really?, Relationships | Tags: breakups, communication, crushes, dating, desire, dumping, email breakup, flirting, graphs, humor, Love, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, sex, snark, social awkwardness, text message breakup, whiskey, women | 3 Comments
According to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief, which may happen in any order:
- Denial: I’m fine. Whatever. This isn’t even happening.
- Anger: This is bullshit, I want to blame somebody or something and rage against it.
- Bargaining: pretty self-explanatory.
- Depression: Fuck it, I give up.
- Acceptance: Okay, fine, I’m mortal and so are my friends. I get it.
Currently, my five stages of grief seem to be:
- Acceptance: This is going to happen, and it hurts.
- Stowing: This isn’t about me. Time to man up, pack it up and deal with it until I know my friends and family have everything they need from me. Totally not an excuse for not dealing. Really. Stop looking at me like that.
- Drinking: Is that an open wound? Let’s treat it with alcohol. Shut up, it’s helping.
- Picking Fights: What do you mean I didn’t stow that grief deep enough?
- Going Fetal: This is potentially a lengthy process that may or may not involve steps 3&4.
Last night, after spending time with some of the family I shared with Donovan, I managed to dive head first into a series of miscommunications, pick a fight with and thoroughly upset the woman I’ve been seeing (Henceforth known as “C.”, because that shit’s too long to type every time), and to start crying in a moderately busy bar. Then, feeling absolutely awful about picking the fight and feeling absolutely awful about crying in public, I spent the rest of the night berating myself for letting my grief and anger bubble over onto these two women (her friend from work was also there, so I am sure I made the best first impression, EVAR) while trying desperately not to start crying again (floodgates were showing signs of opening at any moment) and wanting a do-over on everything.
The cab ride home was a somber affair, as I could not seem to stop the tears from falling but was still trying desperately to maintain some semblance of control (LOLZ). When we finally got home and went to bed, C. fell asleep instantly (she does this—to a ridiculous insomniac like me, this is nothing short of a superpower and I am phenomenally jealous), and the floodgates opened. I don’t remember stopping crying before I passed out, so I think it’s fair to say I actually cried myself to sleep, which I haven’t done since I was a kid.
I woke up this morning feeling entirely wrung out, still kicking myself over last night’s critical fumbles, not entirely understanding why C. even wanted to come home with me after my utterly dickish behavior and trying to sort out everything I was feeling. When one of her alarms went off and it was Mumford & Sons, “Little Lion Man” (a song that I associate almost entirely with Donovan), I discovered that I really was wrung out: I couldn’t cry any more. I did let out a rather pathetic whimper, though.
I have been trying to figure out what last night accomplished, apart from instilling in me the need for Gatorade and the desire to apologize to C. and her friend profusely and repeatedly. Perhaps the realization that my stages of grief, as they currently are, are not working for me or for the people around me. Perhaps the realization that dealing with my shit is better for me, which is better for everybody. Perhaps it was a giant slap upside the head alerting me that maybe, just maybe, I need to be more aware of what is going on internally. Perhaps it was all those things.
Oh, and a blog post that is way too long.
May 4, 2012 | Categories: Dating, Observations, Relationships | Tags: communication, dating, five stages of grief, friends, friendship, grief, grieving, Love, manners, mourning, relationships, social awkwardness, stages of grief, whiskey, women | 11 Comments
To my delight, this little placard has been making its slow way through Facebook and Twitter:
I would like to have this little placard in card form, so that I might hand it to new friends and new lovers, since asking them to go Google introverts and INTJs is like saying, “Yeah, I’m awesome and everything, but I’m assigning you some homework before we go any further.” However, it has been made abundantly and repeatedly clear to me that such homework is actually necessary.
Three years of my life were spent in love with an extrovert, and if that taught me anything, it’s that extroverts make the social rules by default. They are the point of reference for how such things as social aptitude and behavior are measured. They are the people against whom introverts are measured, which is inherently unfair, but true.
Media enforces this. It’s the rare movie or television show that allows introverts to remain introverts; most paint it as a triumph when an introverted character is brought out of his or her introvert cocoon to become a beautiful extroverted butterfly. Introversion has become something that can and should be “cured,” somehow. It is often conflated with antisocial behavior, which is bullshit, because introverts are often very social beings. Just not within the same parameters as extroverts.
Thus, in order to make their way in the world, introverts must somehow meet the social expectations created by extroverts. If they don’t, they are often misunderstood and shunned. If they do, this means they are constantly functioning outside of their comfort zone, which just isn’t healthy. It’s exhausting, and makes social interaction that much more work. I have managed to learn how to navigate as an introvert in a sea of extroverts, and because of this I have many wonderful friends. I fake it so well, in fact, that people still respond with surprise and horror when I tell them I am an introvert. However, the extroverts among my friends are generally pretty sensitive to the needs of the introverts in their midst. I would not be able to maintain the level of social interaction that I do if this were not true.
So this placard, which offers a dozen very simple, but very essential ways to respect the introverts in our lives, to consider their needs, and to understand that they are not just waiting for somebody to turn them from sad little introverted seed pods into bright and colorful extroverted flowers, is just freakin’ rad.
Thank you, Internet.
April 4, 2012 | Categories: Being Single, Dating, Observations, Relationships | Tags: communication, dating, extroverts, flirting, friends, friendship, geekery, introverts, manners, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, shy, social awkwardness, women | 14 Comments
As girl quickly traverses the spectrum from Young to Asshole, this week just keeps getting better.†
Click image to make readable.†
You won’t regret it.‡
† “Better.” (11-second vid, has audio—in case you are reading this at work/school.)
† Stupid compression.
‡ Well. Maybe.
March 21, 2012 | Categories: Being Single, Dating, Diagrams and Charts, Humor, Observations, Really?, Relationships | Tags: communication, dating, friends, graphs, humor, Love, manners, puppies, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, sex, snark, social awkwardness, text message breakup, whiskey, women | Leave a comment
I spent St. Patrick’s Day at a punk rock show, which is the only legitimate way to spend SPD unless you are working or playing in a punk rock band. And I spent it with one friend who is pretty much family and two people I like very much. But that didn’t stop me from getting truly pissed off and simply walking away when, during the course of conversation, prejudice against fat became A Thing.
But that wasn’t even the entire issue for me. I understand that people have all sorts of stupid anti-fat prejudices and while I don’t necessarily accept it, I pretty much expect it and understand that I am going to have to field it to some extent or another (See: You Look Like You Lost Weight!). Tonight was extra special, though, because when I said, (and I am totally paraphrasing myself), “Wait a second, here, what’s with all the fat hate,” what I got in return was, “We aren’t talking about you, of course. We are talking about the really fat people.”
You don’t actually get to decide when your anti-fat prejudice becomes offensive. I don’t care if you are sitting in a room full of skinny people who have never been fat in their lives. You have no idea:
- Whether the skinny people around you have always been skinny;
- Whether the skinny people around you even see themselves as skinny;
- Whether the people around you see themselves as fat, pudgy, overweight, etc.;
- Whether the people around you have some body image issue(s) that you may be exacerbating with your weight prejudices; or
- Whether the people around you have been told they are fat by family, friends, society, magazines, movies, whatever.
Additionally, you don’t get to choose what level of fat is okay or not okay. First of all, you don’t know whether the really fat people are really fat because they take breaks from eating giant pizza pies by eating chocolate cake or because there are other things going on with their genetics and health. Second of all, why are you even judging people for eating giant pizza pies and following that shit up with chocolate cake? Honestly, fuck you if you do. Pizza and cake are delicious.
Look, skinny people, I am not actually looking to be part of your skinny club. I don’t need or want you to tell me that you think I am okay even though the rest of the fat people in the world are kinda gross to you. That’s right up there with, “You aren’t like all the other Blacks/Jews/queers/Muslims/etc.—you’re cool.” Or the asshole I worked with last year who was confused that there were non-Blacks who were upset at his use of the word “nigger.” Or the woman who came up to my mother when we lived in Savannah, who was so excited that I was light-skinned enough to “pass.”
No. I’m not trying to be like you. I’m trying to be accepted as me. Not-skinny, not-white, not-mainstream me.
I guess the moral of the story is, when somebody calls you out on your prejudice, don’t try to bring them into your circle to make them feel better, somehow. Stop. Collaborate and listen. And look at what you are saying, what you really intend to say, and whether what you have to say is prejudicial or bigoted. Because what you have to say probably does not become less prejudicial or bigoted just because you don’t think your audience is in any way affected by what you are saying.
March 18, 2012 | Categories: Body Image, Observations, Really? | Tags: anti-fat bias, bigot, body image, communication, fat, friends, friendship, manners, prejudice, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, skinny, social awkwardness | 13 Comments
For the record, I know how this flowchart ought to look.
February 15, 2012 | Categories: Dating, Diagrams and Charts, Humor, Observations, Relationships | Tags: charts, communication, compliments, flirting, flowchart, friends, friendship, geekery, graphs, humor, looks, Rejection, relationships, self-esteem, shy, social anxiety, social awkwardness, taking compliments, women | 7 Comments
“You look like you lost weight!” I don’t know why people think this (or any variation on this) is an acceptable compliment. I really, really don’t.
I had a girlfriend once who had me in the gym between 3 and 5 days a week, eating flavorless shit and being generally worried about everything I put in my body. I looked good, but to be honest, I was pretty miserable.
“Don’t worry,” she’d say, “I’ll want you no matter how you look.” But she only really praised the way I looked when I was at my thinnest, and would make comments specific to the weight I had lost. Relatedly, the number of times I have expressed interest in a woman and heard, “Oh, she’s looking for somebody…um…athletic,” or something to that effect, which is just like saying, “You’re too pudgy for this one, move on,” is officially too many.
Perhaps most scarring, the only compliment my mother has ever given me on my appearance, since childhood, has been about my weight (or, when I’ve just gotten it cut, my hair). Growing up, my entire understanding of my physical attractiveness was based on my weight, and my perspective is not unique.
Now, I know that we live in a world where “thin” is somehow synonymous with “attractive,” and that fat is considered unattractive, gross, unhealthy, etc. There are lots of blog posts and articles about that, and lots of people much more willing to have the argument about how fat doesn’t automatically mean unhealthy, unattractive, or gross, so I don’t really intend to delve into that discussion. Rather, I am going to discuss this so-called compliment.
“You look like you lost weight!” and “Have you lost weight? You look great!” and “Are you on a diet? Because you look fantastic!” are all, despite whatever encouragement and good feeling are behind them, backhanded compliments.
1. It unnecessarily enforces the “thinner is better” idea.
2. It suggests that the person was insufficiently attractive before the weight was lost.
3. It suggests that the person is only attractive because the weight was lost.
4. If no weight was actually lost, it suggests that the person only looks good to you at the moment because they happen to look a little thinner.
Before you accuse me of being oversensitive, consider just how stigmatized even a little extra weight is. Look at television, magazines, the requirement that men be perfectly cut bodies, the transition of Angelina Jolie from gorgeous curvy vixen to bony, underfed Hollywood victim. Look at fashion—not just the models, but the way that clothes are designed for the thin. Look at how fat people are portrayed in movies and television, as either evil or comic relief.
Now think about this supposed compliment. Why couldn’t you just say, “You look amazing/beautiful/gorgeous!” or, “How handsome are you, is that a new shirt?” or, “Hot damn!” Why would you mitigate a compliment with the suggestion that an individual looks that way because of his or her weight? Even if it’s true. Regardless of whether you think that fat is ugly, and regardless of whether you actually think that this person only looks good because he or she has lost weight, why not just compliment him or her? Why not remember that part of what makes this peson attractive is personality, smile, eyes, hair, dimples, and so on, and so forth? Why not forget which size jeans this person wears for the seconds it takes to compliment him or her?
You don’t need to put your assumptions about beauty and health on your friend’s plate—believe it or not, we overweight types don’t want to eat everything that is put in front of us. Reconsider your choice of words. Compliment the person, not the size.
January 10, 2012 | Categories: Body Image, Dating, Food, Observations, Relationships | Tags: appearance, bodies, body image, communication, compliments, dating, desire, fat, flirting, friends, friendship, manners, overweight, physical attractiveness, Rejection, sex, sexy, social awkwardness, weight, women | 22 Comments
So, I have this problem: I have no fucking idea when a woman is interested in me. None whatsoever. All the signs in the world might be present, but if those signs are not written in Sharpie on card stock and if they are not extremely explicit (like, “HI WHISKEYPANTS I WANT YOU OMG SO BAD LIKE WHOA COME TAKE MY CLOTHES OFF I AM THE 99%”) and if I am not beaten over the head with those signs…? Turns out, I’m clueless.
Turns out, I miss a lot of opportunities.
This is plainly an issue of self-esteem. I always assume that the gorgeous, delightful, impossibly sexy woman with whom I am speaking (or with whom I am flirting, if I get up the nerve) has much better and hotter prospects and thus is not at all interested in me. Sometimes I am right. Sometimes I discover I am very wrong. Sometimes, after an encounter, I discuss with my friends and they say things like, “So then, you kissed her, right?” And then I say things like, “No. Was I supposed to?” And then they smack me upside the head and/or mock me, and I am left to wonder: Should I have kissed her?
Now, I know that I am actually a pretty decent catch for both short- and long-term relationships. I’m smart, funny, kind, and my looks frighten away neither small children nor animals. But knowing that doesn’t help me to know whether somebody is thinking, “Hey, I dig that Whiskeypants person.” And I don’t think I am ever going to be cocky enough to assume.
But you know, this post isn’t about the fact that I’m an idiot with regard to the beautiful women who surround me. Ultimately, that’s just fact: I am an idiot with regard to beautiful women.
This post is just to say:
If you are at all into me, if you think you might want to hang out, or make out, or get drinks, or let me carry you to my bed—IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, UNHOLY, OR JOSS WHEDON PLEASE TELL ME.
I don’t care how you tell me. Note, e-mail, text message, smoke signals, semaphore signals, sign language, messages coded into the TARDIS—it doesn’t matter. So long as you LET ME KNOW.
This information will make things much more fun for the both of us. Please, take pity on me.
December 6, 2011 | Categories: Being Single, Dating, Humor, Observations, Random, Really? | Tags: crushes, dating, desire, flirting, help, manners, Rejection, relationships, sex, shy, social awkwardness, women | 3 Comments
When I tell people I have a guitar, very often they say things like, “Are you in a band?” or “Will you play a song for me?” or “That’s nice, let’s watch TV.” And I have finally figured out why that last reaction is my favorite.
I love guitar, and I love music. I don’t love the fact that I am essentially unskilled, but I love that I can learn new songs by finding lessons on the internet and sing them to my cat and inadvertently to neighbors who are, I assume, pretty pissed off at this point. But I get major performance jitters even when there’s only one other person in the
roomhouse. I have no intention of ever really performing. So, why am I bothering to learn and practice and even occasionally come up with new ways to sing covers?
Sure, there’s reward in all of these things—learning, mastery (for some definition of the word), entertainment, growth, creation and love. That’s the trite bullshit I’ve been telling myself from day one. But I realized today that I’m really doing this for one reason: potential hostage situations.
I’m doing this: learning new songs, and practicing semi-regularly because—and this could totally happen—I might someday be in a situation where I have to be able to play between one and five songs competently if somebody hands me a guitar and holds a gun to my (or somebody else’s) head. Alternately, I could find myself in a Goonies-related situation where every chord I play correctly helps get me and my friends across a booby-trapped floor. Or I could be surrounded by a horde of hippie zombies and have to fool them into thinking I’m one of them by lurching about and gently playing Bob Dylan.
This is why I do it. Music saves lives.
At some point in the last several years, I figured out that I was lovable.
It was one of the best light bulbs to light up over my head, ever. Bright, colorful, and flattering.
[Please note, this is not a Whitney Houston-boosting-greatest-love-of-all post. This isn't about loving yourself. That's a whole other post that I will likely never write for a whole host of reasons. This is also not about ,,loving,, yourself. That's for other blogs. And video.]
You may recall, from the post I wrote about being shy, that I have mentioned the rather arduous process of building self-esteem and how it helped me learn how to be social and make friends. However, knowing I was worth keeping as a friend did not translate to understanding that I was worth keeping as a lover or partner.
This is partly to do with the fact that I’m a slow learner (I’m still surprised when people call me “popular,” and I still want to look around to see who else they might be talking to). It’s partly to do with the messages I have gotten from various ex-girlfriends—one of whom told me one night, “You aren’t easy to love,” which I took to heart until it occurred to me to put that statement into context with all of the other emotionally abusive crap she pulled on me. And it’s partly to do with just the default way in which I have approached women—unsure of myself, unsure of my attractiveness: the underlying assumption was always that I’d be the one getting lucky if they were to see any value in hanging out with me.
All that changed as I began to look at myself and consider all of the qualities that I had to bring to a relationship, qualities I choose not to list here because I’d rather not turn this post into a personals ad. [Single brownish Whiskeypants ISO an utter lack of bullshit and drama...] And everything changed. The way I approach women, the way I approach singlehood, the way I approach relationships has changed into something stronger, more confident, more solid.
I have noticed that being single is a lot less onerous when you don’t need anybody else to convince you that you are lovable. I would argue, in fact, that knowing that you are lovable in the absence of somebody to love you is far less empty than being in a relationship and not knowing. The day you stop needing somebody to tell you that, you have won the game.
Admission: knowing you are lovable plays wicked havoc with your standards. When, “I so don’t need to deal with your bullshit” replaces “I can weather this because she loves me,” you have won the game.
When you realize you are lovable, you have won the game. (The prize: MOAR GAME. And, arbitrarily, an espresso.)
August 22, 2011 | Categories: Dating, Humor, Observations, Relationships | Tags: communication, dating, desire, flirting, Love, relationships, self-esteem, sex, shy, social awkwardness, women | 1 Comment
Nobody believes that I am shy. In fact, when I tell folks that I am shy, they tend to tell me that they think I am full of shit. This bothers me, so I am going to explain a few things, in far too much detail.
Admittedly, these days they have no reason to believe me—except for the fact that I tell them, and that it’s the truth. I’m shy. I have, over the past decade +, managed to overcome socially crippling levels of self-doubt and low self-esteem and to mask my shyness in more social behaviors, such as actually getting out of the house, introducing myself to people, and then talking to them afterward. I have managed to tame and control the sarcasm and snark that seem to be part of my genetic code in such a way that they are no longer hurtful defense mechanisms, but are instead tools for bringing more laughter into the world.
All of these things felt virtually impossible when I was younger. Terrifying, even. I was an extraordinarily lonely child, a fact I tried to hide under a too-tough and too-cool exterior. I escaped a problematic and troublesome childhood through books. I read more books in a week than some children read in a year. Books saved me from having to talk to people even as they refined my understanding of language and how to listen to people. They were part of my armor, yet another way to say, “Stay Away.”
At some point I began to look up from my books and realize that I wasn’t in high school anymore, that I wasn’t a child anymore, and that the conscious and unconscious cruelty of youth was not nearly as dangerous to me as it once was. And when I did that, I realized that there were people in the world I wanted to meet, and know, and hold close to me as friends, or as lovers, or ultimately as members of my chosen family.
But if I was going to find them, I was going to have to change.
It took years. Years to learn how to shed the armor. Years to learn how to break down the walls and fortifications I had put up (with good reason, by the way). Years to realize that my self-esteem was growing as I became the person I wanted to be. I was, after all, not always the funny, kind, loving, dead sexy Whiskeypants who writes this blog today. I did not always have the same amount of integrity that I do now. I was not always as considerate as I am now (when I’m considerate, anyway). Everything I am is part of a conscious effort to improve myself. Of course, none of it was easy. And of course, I’m far from finished.
However, I never shed the shyness, not really. It’s always there, behind my handshake when I meet somebody new, behind my requests to get to know somebody better, behind every flirtation. It’s there in the books I never leave home without, to this day. Every time I leave my house, there’s a moment when I know that some part of me really just wants to stay, because every time I put myself out there it’s a risk, and I have never really gotten over my fear of that risk. I just bulldoze over it, because my will is stronger.
In short, I am a great example of fake it ’til you make it.
Gentle reader, when somebody who appears outgoing and friendly tells you he or she is shy, don’t call bullshit on them right away. You don’t know the path that person has taken to get to that moment, and you don’t know what it took for him or her to get out of the house that day, and place themselves among people, and take the social risks that so many people in the world take without a second thought.
This morning I disappointed a dear friend in her (admittedly very gratifying) assumption that I am always charming and witty. I will admit that while my wit rarely fails me in the majority of situations, there is one situation in which it always fails: flirting.
Well, wait. I can flirt, so let’s be more specific: when a woman flirts with me. When a woman, especially one I find very attractive, flirts with me, it usually results in one (or more) of the following scenarios:
I. I am clueless:
- Woman: *flirts*
- Whiskeypants: I have no idea what you are talking about. *turns back to friend/book/computer*
II. I am paralyzed:
- Woman: *flirts*
- Whiskeypants: *freezes*
- Woman: *waits*
- Whiskeypants: *tries to find something witty to say*
- Woman: *smiles sympathetically and wanders away*
- Whiskeypants: *comes up with ten witty things to say*
III. I am a buffoon:
- Woman: *flirts*
- Whiskeypants: *walks into wall/trips over foot/spills food or drink*
- Woman: *smiles sympathetically and wanders away*
IV. I may or may not have drooled on myself:
- Woman: *flirts*
- Whiskeypants: *turns bright red, forgets the English language, and has potentially drooled*
- Woman: *Buys me a drink and follows me home.Sidles away cautiously*
Yep. They really love number IV, lemme tell ya. 60% of the time, it works every time.