Perspective (From the Bottom)

Right now, I’m at a point in my life where if I can make this work, I’ll remember it as “the low point from which I rose like a triumphant phoenix through hard work and gumption!” …Or some other dishonest, self-aggrandizing garbage.

Straight up: I had to ask my mom for help with rent money this month. I have five-digit debt. My hours at work were cut down to a couple shifts per week, leaving me worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to my name to pay for the basic automatic withdrawals that come from my account each month.

But I’ve also begun to see a glimmer of hope.

I wrote my first paid, front page feature for a website. I have a meeting with business folk this week that could result in me being paid to run a D&D game live on-stage. I started recording and editing videos for YouTube again.

So with the possibility of success in mind, I wanted to write something of a letter to my future self.

Dear Future Vince,

Books are crammed with stories of successful folk who were once hard on their luck, and only too eager to tell you that your misfortune is only a result of your own shortcomings and flaws. That if you could JUST work that extra hour, JUST hustle a little more, then Ayn Rand herself would reach one of her gnarled harpy claws down from whatever plane of existence she currently resides in to bestow her bounty on you.

Right now, I know how bullshit that story is: I just want to make sure that you still do. If at this point, you are making money doing what you love, having endured the hardships I’m currently in the middle of, I want you to know that I’m proud of you. You DID work hard. You DID persevere.

So have I. But I’m still poor.

In enjoying your success, don’t forget to be compassionate to those who aren’t where you are. Who don’t have what you have. Because (and I know this is gonna be hard to swallow, because it’s hard to type even now) the fact you’re successful and they’re not does not mean that you worked harder than them. It doesn’t mean you earned your spot, and they didn’t.

Knowing pain made you kind. Knowing isolation made you want to make sure no one felt like they were alone. Desperately trying to breathe life into the embers of distant, impossible dreams taught you the immeasurable power of small kindnesses and gentle words. Don’t let success take those lessons from you. They are, indeed, some of the most valuable ones you’ll ever learn.

Listen. Teach. Encourage. Lift up. Give others what you didn’t have. The dark moments you brighten will be worth more in the end than any paycheque you’ll ever earn.

– Vince

PS. Call your mom more. She misses you.

Dweeb: Anxiety, Dating, Women, and My Messed Up Head

I’ve always had a problem dealing with anxiety. Partially just because I think I’m biologically predisposed to high levels of emotional arousal response, and partially due to my own unhealthy cognitive perceptions of myself. This especially makes itself known in my dealings with the opposite sex. I have a bad habit of knowingly flirting with taken women because I believe in my mind that, “Hey, with them, I’m only competing against ONE guy, as opposed to with single women, where I’m competing with tons of them.” It goes without saying that this mindset is pretty unhealthy. It also reveals the kinds of thoughts I think about myself.

First and foremost, still having serious doubts about my… I don’t know the term to use, worthiness maybe? I mean, in a lot of respects I feel proud and confident about what I’ve managed to accomplish so far. I’m in shape, I’m always trying to learn and take on new projects, I’m passionate about what I love and am skilled at communicating that passion… but as soon as that context changes to “the dating scene”, I fall back into the identity of the chubby, loud, awkward kid I used to be who got picked on all the time.

I tense up.

I have trouble making eye contact.

My speech becomes awkward and any wit I may have goes right out the window.

I think part of the reason I fall into my self-made trap of being the “other man” because in a way it offers an out. Women in relationships seem more approachable to me, for some reason. As I even write this, I know that the reason I have for thinking this way is absolutely absurd, but still it persists. A very vocal part of my brain believes that women who are already taken are more receptive to being chatted up by guys in a bar-type setting than single women. But that wouldn’t make any sense. Committed women have to deal with just as many dudes coming up and trying to hit on them as single women do.

I suppose it’s getting away from the point, anyways. Which is that I suck in the general “approach environment”, regardless of the relationship status of whom I’m talking to. If I’m introduced to someone by a friend (someone whom they know personally… attempts of my friends to wingman for me at bars/clubs haven’t ended well >.>), I’m much better, I feel like I’m having a genuine conversation instead of trying to sell myself like I’m in a job interview (overfocussing on body language, what I just said, what I’m going to say next, etc). I’ve read a few relationship blogs on how to better overcome that approach anxiety, and I won’t say they DON’T work. What I WILL say is that I just HAVEN’T seemed to be able to get over that initial hump of approaching and talking to someone who seems interesting and confident.

That’s another thing. For a long time, I thought I was into shy, reserved girls. The truth turned out to be the opposite. Confident, passionate, intelligent, and wilful women are an INCREDIBLE turn-on for me, and when I can’t have an engaging, oppositional conversation with someone that makes me think, REGARDLESS of their physical appearance… the attraction dwindles to nil. But I still tend to try approaching the shy ones despite all this, and I think I know why. It’s, once again, a window into an incredibly unhealthy mental schema, but hey, that’s what this blog is here for. When I see a woman holding herself in a way that shows she’s shy… *sigh* gawd, I’m actually going to type this, aren’t I? Okay, here goes…

When I see a woman holding herself in a way that denotes… less confidence, or being less outgoing, I find it less difficult to approach because I feel like I have a smaller chance of being outright rejected. But when I see the type of woman I’m super-attracted to: vibrant, confident, excited, enthusiastic, opinionated… I shrink away because I’m afraid of being ignored, made fun of, or just generally not good enough.

Another way this anxiety shows itself is my tendency to flirt with female friends I know from other cities through IM, even going so far as to be a little sexually daring at times. I both A) already know these people, and B) they’re far away, so if the conversation isn’t going how I’d like it to, the option to bail out doesn’t sting nearly as much. Unfortunately, the desire to feel wanted when the flirting reciprocates almost always ends up in me feeling hurt or lonely when the other person doesn’t ACTUALLY return feelings or attraction past a certain degree. But I want that feeling of being wanted so badly that I’m like a rat in a Skinner Box, repeatedly hitting the little pad that gives me a shock of pleasure until I die of exhaustion.

One friend in particular has told me she doesn’t feel the same way numerous times, going as far as saying she sees me “too much like a brother” to think of me that way. Ouch. But, I willingly engage again and again in flirting, and every little time I see a hint that she might like me either in her reciprocation of it, or in her blog after the fact, it only makes me flirt more… leading to the inevitable letdown over… and over… and over again. I end up feeling stupid, and feeling like crap about myself in general again and again, because of things that are easily preventable. She feels bad about it, but it’s just as much my fault for engaging. She’s heading off on her job contract soon, so that’ll likely be the end of that. Maybe it’s for the best.

I don’t really know what to make of this post. It’s less a coherent narrative so much as me vomiting out emotional words on a certain topic until they congeal into a blog entry. Hopefully it’ll grant me some insight, having now written them down. Hopefully I can stop doing all this crap to myself, and actually be healthy enough to discover and pursue a relationship I’ll be HAPPY and fulfilled in. Hopefully.