Category Archives: Friendship

Vulnerable

So I read a post today on Live Your Legend which has been sitting in my pile of things to revisit for a while. It’s the first real foray I’ve had onto that site – at least as far as I can remember – and just this one post has convinced me that I should spend more time there.

The gist of it revolved around admitting your vulnerability, understanding when you’re being inauthentic, and considering the effects that being the incorrigible optimist might have on the people around you.  Check it out here, if you like.

I was hit really close to home.  Part of the business culture in which I usually submerge myself is very enthusiastic, very positive, very large, and very loud.  All of those things are great.  They’ve contributed to lots of fantastic experiences, and I’ve met many friends there.  It’s been a boon to me when I need an infusion of motivation or hope or positivity, and I think that I’ve been able to provide some of that to other people, as well.

Part of what this post reminded me of, though, is a darker side to that.  There have been times when I’ve felt that I’m the only one struggling.  That, even if everyone there wants me to succeed, my success isn’t critical or even significant to them.  As a pessimist, a T, and maybe a depressive, that’s sometimes really hard to deal with.  It’s a mark of personal failure and a hit to my pride and my confidence.  I think the comment I read about the BS Meter rang really true.  I’ve known people on their last legs who’ve insisted that everything was great.  I’ve seen people who, as far as I could tell, were trying very hard to convince themselves of the wonderful and positive stories that they were telling.  It turned me off of many of them, hard.  I’ve done some of that, myself, and I wonder how that’s affected relationships of mine over the past few years.

Again, that’s not to say that the whole enterprise is bad.  I believe really strongly in holding on to positives, successes, and progress.  The small stuff, in particular, has kept me going as much as or more than some of the big breakthroughs – sales, achievements, licensing, etc.  Remembering that, that one time, I opened my mouth to talk to a guy a thousand levels beyond where I was is pretty empowering, even though it didn’t necessarily have any bearing on any quantitative measure of my progress or success.  But the struggles, too.  So many struggles.  I worry that I’ll disappoint my wife, that I’ll let clients down, or that I’ll drop the ball for a friend, a new agent, or a mentor.  I worry that I’ll fall into the habit of hiding from success and saying that I tried, or that it was too hard, or that it wasn’t something that I really wanted, after all.

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On the whole, I think that my mindset is alright, and getting better.  I know that what I’m pursuing is the best chance that I’ve ever found – and I’ve looked – to find the success that I want in my life.  I know that what I do for people is the best program I’ve ever come across, and that it’s objectively just really damn good.  I know that I mean well towards just about everyone, and that if they don’t want what I try to offer, in terms of friendship, business, time, good vibes, whatever, then that’s not my fault.  I know that, if I don’t sustain some of this amazing head of steam that I’ve been building up, I’ll have to start over soon.  And I know that it terrifies me to run this track, because what if it all really starts happening?  What if I suddenly find myself at the head of a team?  What if they’re great people, who want and need and could have success for themselves, and I fall short?  It’s tough to deal with, sometimes, and it is frequently present enough that some days I feel like I’m tripping over it left and right.

But what if I am capable?  What if, even if I do fall short, I knew that others had been in the same position, and then recovered, and even continued to grow afterwards?  What if I was that kind of example to someone with a burning desire for something, someday?  That would be a success.

Coming out of a Shell

A: I’ve been thinking lately that I’m finally getting enough of the stick out of my ass that I’m getting a little more comfortable with the idea of being halfway competent at nurturing relationships with real people with real faces.  Maybe that has something to do with it 😛

B: I think a nice way to say it is that you’re coming out of your shell

Earlier this year, one of my big goals was to mitigate my compulsive introversion a little bit.  I didn’t know how I’d go about that.  I knew, though, that I wanted closer friendships.  I wanted more people to know more about what goes on in my head and in my heart.  I wanted to be better understood, and hopefully more truthfully appreciated by the people around me.  It wasn’t that I felt I was being false or misleading up to that point, but frankly I left a lot behind closed doors.  At best, I think I’d left a lot of room for people to imagine what I am or to infer it from real or perceived clues.

In some sense, I suppose that that goal of mine seems pretty obvious for its benefits.  On the other hand, I’m not kidding about that introverted business.  My social endurance is usually pretty lacking.  I’m a “caving” guy.  I normally have to take breaks from crowds here and there to recharge myself a bit before diving back into the fray, and even ask my wife for solitude at home on a regular basis.

From what I understand, that’s completely typical of introverts.  Despite loving my friends and wanting to appreciate people, milestones, and experiences, I definitely feel that being in social situations drains my batteries.  I recuperate in private, alone.

Variations on the theme permeate my life.  F’r example, I’m intensely private about my spiritual practice, for the most part – sharing in small rituals usually gives me the willies and I prefer improvised, idiosyncratic meditations to satisfy that urge.

These past couple of weeks around the holidays have surprised and shocked me, though.  Since I gave myself that goal to be more outgoing, more forthright, in contact with people I value, I’ve found myself more or less spontaneously doing so.  I attend more social events.  I have more conversations with more people.  More of them are less well-known and comfortable to me.  The recent culmination was playing a typically raunchy and damning game of Cards Against Humanity with my wife’s mother at that family’s Thanksgiving gathering, following grand and shameless political judgments at my family’s.

I actually flinched in a big way after the political business.  Something to the effect of “Holy shit, what did I just do in front of my grandparents?”  I’m not positive of what I had felt at that moment, but it was somewhere between panic and shame, I think.  I don’t think it was that my outburst after dinner was controversial – generally we all agree on at least the principal behind what I said.  It was way the hell outside what I consider my comfort zone, though.  I’d normally spectate through such a conversation or withdraw and take a breather.  Instead, I ranted a bit, and I argued a bit, and I loudly and publicly followed a chain of logic from premise to conclusion without allowing myself to be interrupted.

I flinched afterwards, once things had died down, and I doubted myself.  It truly was outside the scope of my self-image, and that scared me.  On the other hand, it’s what I’ve pointed myself towards for the better part of a year.  It’s what I’ve been studying some (yeah, I’m that kind of person) and reminding myself of and pondering and talking up the virtue of.  And the funniest thing?  That it’s starting to look successful.  And beyond that – can you keep a secret?

It’s kind of fun.

Moving Meditation 2

I courted my now-wife by hand-writing letters to her while she was on the other side of an ocean.  She was in France for a semester of studying abroad and not ready to start a new relationship.  I sent the first one a couple of weeks before she left, actually, hoping it would be waiting for her.  It ended up being a week late, but that’s not bad.

Each of my groomsdudes will have a hand-written note with their gift for standing with me at the wedding.  Mostly we communicate through Facebook or email.  Mostly we see each other, oh, maybe a few times a year if I’m lucky.

While I was working through severe depression and disappointment in myself after high school and my abortive college career, I wrote to myself.  I spilled my thoughts onto paper, with a pen, in cursive.  And there were tears on my looseleaf and notebooks.

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Handwriting – cursive, careful, crafted handwriting – really holds a special place in my heart.  It’s a more personal way to communicate, I think.  It’s a way to pace myself, to martial my thoughts down to a speed where I can wallow or exult in the concepts and feelings that they’re related to.  It’s a way to carve a piece of art out of graphite or to bleed inked thoughts onto a page.  Not just communicate, but communicate through a medium that takes time, thought, care, and effort.

I know that I romanticize this idea.  I know that the people I write to or for probably don’t see it the same way I do.  I know that I don’t always appreciate what I’ve done in the past – trying my hand at poetry or just bitching and moaning at the page and the universe.  When I boil it all down, though, the act of writing – by hand, in cursive, and with purpose – is really meditative for me.  It centers me and calms me, giving me some degree of serenity that I hadn’t had before.  It helps me distill the chaos that occasionally courses through my head.  It’s another mode of philosophical awareness that grounds me and it allows me to feel like I’ve put a little bit of my soul into something that I can then pass on to someone I care about.

I’m working on always remembering these little things that can keep me on an even keel and help me share with people that I appreciate them and that I’m thinking of them.