A Secret About Dealing With People

I’m a writer by nature. I like words.

I’m not good with people.

People require talking, and the second I open my mouth, I almost invariably embarrass myself. Usually by stumbling over my words, or mispronouncing something, or commenting on a line of thought that makes sense to me, but I haven’t verbally volunteered to everyone else, thus making it appear random and unrelated to the topic.

I think faster than I can speak, which is why I like to write. Typing comes faster than speaking, and even if I don’t get everything down coherently to start with, there’s always the backspace button.

But even when I slow myself down enough to get the words out of my mouth before moving on to my next thought, my thoughts are still racing on, long after we’ve finished a topic and moved on. I find myself constantly wondering, analyzing my interactions with other people. Maybe it’s a symptom of my tendency to be a bit of a wallflower, maybe it’s just the writer in me, people watching, but I constantly find myself more or less attempting to read people’s minds. No, I don’t mean to say that I think I’m telepathic. I just spend a lot of time replaying my interactions with people, thinking about their tone of voice, word choice, and body language. Doing so has made me realize one thing about everyone I’ve ever interacted with:

Everyone hates me.

Nah, just kidding. But you would be surprised how much of unguarded human interaction can actually come across as hostile, angry, sad, upset, distant, or uninterested. And I’m sure you can see my point here–over analyzing anything is never good. We are our own worst critics, so when we remember things–unless we’re Gilderoy Lockhart–we tend to remember them with a negative spin. Add that bias to the natural relaxed tendency for people to come off as uncaring in some manner (simply because they aren’t making an expected show of positivity, affection, what not) and of course you’re going to convince yourself that the world is out to get you.

I am very guilty of having done this many, many times. After having been teased throughout childhood for being “too smiley” and then “too quirky” and then “too loud” and then “too quirky” for the second time, I developed a tendency to concern myself with whether or not I was annoying people. And then I would convince myself that I was annoying everyone, simply because a joke I made fell flat, or someone didn’t respond the way I was expecting about something I said, or I didn’t hear about something that happened when everyone else did, or I didn’t get invited to do things with certain people.

And then one day, out of the blue, someone I was totally convinced thought I was annoying invited me out with a bunch of their friends that I had never met. There was no obligation to invite me, it was a completely separate event from anything that would necessitate involving the both of us, but I was invited anyways. So I went, and it was a blast! And that got me thinking, “Why am I so hard on myself? Why did I constantly push myself away from other people?”  And the only answer I could come up with is that I was so afraid of others judging me, I was judging myself for them.

And suddenly all of the little, tiny toxic things we do–I do–to sabotage ourselves came flooding into my mind; all the put downs, and the body shaming, and the constant struggle to be absolutely perfect. And I knew it wasn’t worth it, because all of it had only brought negativity into my life, and here I was, having so much fun, feeling so positive for once, simply because someone I had assumed disliked me, actually liked me enough to want to spend their time with me.

I realized that day that trying to be telepathic (in a figurative sense) wasn’t healthy. And frankly, I wasn’t very good at it. So I decided that from that point forward, I was going to assume that everyone I meet and interact with likes me, until they let me know otherwise. And honestly? It’s actually helped me become more confident in my interactions with people. Because when you go into an interaction assuming you’ve already won the other person’s appreciation, instead of having to earn it, you start to feel a genuine kinship with that person. You want to do nice things for that person, because you realize that, more often than not, you appreciate that person without them needing to prove their worth, too.

So start believing that people like you. Because if they don’t they’ll let you know. And if they let you know, screw them. Nobody likes them, anyways.

Now let’s all go get ice cream.

-tlc

A Sad Truth I’m Slowly Discovering About The World

I think this is something that I’ve noticed as a reigning quality in a lot of people ever since I was old enough to have any sort of insight on people and their characteristics. However, up until very recently, I had always chalked this quality up to growing pains; something that most, if not all, people would someday grow out of. Moving to LA, and finally living outside of the structured confines of school, it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the obvious self-absorption that rules people’s lives.

I’m not saying that I, too, am not guilty of this. Many times in a single day I have to stop and check myself. Make sure that I am taking others into consideration. And often there is still oversight because I don’t see things through others’ eyes, so I’m not going to automatically know what bothers them, to what extent it bothers them, or what they’re thinking. But the difference is that I recognize this rampant problem, make a conscious effort to consider my actions, and to understand where others are coming from. And I think this is sadly where most of the world falls short.

We get so wrapped up in our own minds, our own ways of thinking and living that we begin to mistake the “truth” and what is “right” and what is “wrong” as being black and white, something that operates very clearly in our favor and justifies our own motivations, actions, and beliefs. We do not take the time to consider other points of view, or give those points of view validation. Other people simply become that, “Other,” and are wrong, or crazy, or evil. No one suffers as much as we do, gives as much as we do, or considers us. In essence, the world around us becomes a “me” game. How does this effect “me,” why aren’t others thinking about “me,” I’m the only one looking out for “me,” why don’t others agree with “me.”

This is a dangerous spiral that we all fall into at one point or another, and if we don’t take a step back and really examine ourselves, we can become obsessed with the idea that there is malicious intention behind anything that doesn’t go our way. We don’t stop to think about the fact that most people out there don’t want conflict, don’t want to stir the boat anymore than you do. Or, we let the stressors in our lives get to us, and we take those emotions out on others, because we can’t handle the idea of being the problem. Because we are good people, and it’s those others who are bad.

People are always going to look out for #1, that’s just a sad fact of reality. There are too many selfish goals and dreams, too much greed driving most of us away from being selfless. And those who choose to be selfless, who attempt to care for others and make the world a better place, often find that day-to-day life becomes a struggle simply trying to stay alive, make ends meet, or simply find genuine companionship because someone will see an opportunity to create a shortcut for their own selfish purpose by taking advantage of that selfless person. Lately I’ve become exhausted to the point of illness because of people who cannot see past their own reasoning to understand how their words, actions, and requests come across and affect others.

It’s sad that there aren’t more genuine people out there. Those who embrace empathy as a top priority. But the longer I live in LA, the more I realize that truly, what you do in life, what you accomplish, is a drop in the bucket to the way you make others feel and the people you surround yourself with. Let’s all practice being a little more genuine, and getting out of our own frames of mind to better understand others. One of the many reasons I find myself often drawn to people of different walks of life from my own is that I want to understand them and their take on life. I write because I want others to hear those POV as well. I want to know how their background, their history, shades their view of the world and how they interpret others. I believe that the only truly stupid people out there are the ones so stuck in their own belief systems, their own opinions and view points, that they cannot hold any empathy for people who disagree with them. Those are the horrible people who call others names, accuse them of ruining the world, and let hate dictate their thoughts, words, and actions.

Don’t let hate dictate your thoughts, words, and actions. Love others more, and love yourself enough to let go.

-tlc

Finding A Place In LA And Making It A Home

After nine months of living in temporary housing in LA, my roommates and I have finally moved into our own apartment with a year-long lease. It’s both terrifying and exciting to think about making that long of a commitment to such a come-and-go place that has such temporary feel to it. I came out here to test the waters, see if I could make a go of it, if I really liked it out here and if things felt right. In that time I’ve learned so much about who I am and what my choices mean for me and my future. I’ve shed that strange bubble we build for ourselves in school, and that strange feeling you get coming to the end of college–as if you are nearing the final stretch of your life, and only have one possible path to live out, instead of the beginning of your life and the many paths you have to choose from for the rest of it.

I’m not saying I’m committed to LA for the rest of my life, or even for the year’s time of my lease; I’m simply choosing to take the next step in building my career here in LA. And let me tell you, it feels so good to finally feel somewhat settled. I’m still not LA’s biggest fan, but I also don’t feel so foreign here anymore. I’m starting to appreciate things about this city, its people, and what it has to offer.  It’s both beautiful and ugly at the same time.

I saw all this knowing that this city can chew you up and spit you out. I write this at a time when many of the friends I’ve made since moving here have given up on the shiny fake hopes that Hollywood radiates and are seeking refuge and peace in other places. I am both happy for their bravery and peace with departure, and saddened by the heartache and distress this place has caused them.

In high school, I was always the quirky, loud girl who didn’t quite fit in with any of the crowds I hung around. A lot of this was because I never felt like I truly had a place among the other students and my friends. The other part was that I didn’t know how to make life-long friends yet. I ran from drama like it was the plague, but gossiped because I didn’t know the difference between gossip and conversation. It’s funny now because LA is the physical, geographical embodiment of everything that defined my inability to fit in in high school: It is both dreamy and harsh, friendly and lonesome.

I never had any desire to move to LA, until I realized that I might just be crazy enough to try and pursue the dreams that never seemed like a possibility, even in college. Kansas is a very practical place (well, other than Brownback, who is completely delusional–but that’s another post altogether) but I am an impractical dreamer. And though I’m not a NYC writer, or a Londoner like I once fantasized, I’m somewhere, doing something I never thought possible. And I love it.

So, for all this rambling, maybe the only point I have for this post is this: Go somewhere and do something you want to do; something you think you’ll love.  And find a place and make it home.

-tlc

Why being an extroverted introvert is just the worst

I’m sorry, I’m having difficulty concentrating on this post because I’m lost in all the spooky, campy goodness that is Disney’s Tower of Terror.

That’s what happens when you are your own entire category of social habitry that you’ve made up to describe your inconsistent social tendencies–you try to type a blog and reminisce in childhood Disney nostalgia at the same time.

Man, that was a lot of ‘your’s and ‘you’s in that one sentence.

Being an ‘extroverted introvert’ probably seems paradoxical.  In a lot of ways, it is.  But all it really means is that I still pick being a kid versus actually doing adult things like ‘going out’ or ‘talking to people’.

But seriously, life is hard when you want to be a hermit, but you get too lonely to do so.

Probably the hardest part of being an extroverted introvert is the fact that you’re good at neither.  All of your life plans seem a bit out of your control. And the few that are in your control, you happen to mess up, anyways.  Let me give you a few examples of what it’s like to be an extroverted introvert:

1) You have zero plans, all the time.  And the one night you’re actually looking forward to your zero plans, at least five different people text you asking if you want to make plans.

2) You forget your phone in the car, or the bedroom, or just generally your phone is anywhere but with you the entire day, and when you finally find it and check your missed messages, you find that no one has contacted to you all day.

3) You find yourself unable to sympathize with anyone.

4) You find yourself able to reason with those who are unable to sympathize with anyone.

5) Your best friend is a dog that doesn’t live with you.

6) You are great with kids and can hold intellectual conversation with persons 10+ years older than yourself, but you have no idea how to talk to people your own age.

7) You don’t understand today’s rap lyrics.

8) People come to you for advice on things that you have absolutely no authority or experience with because you’ve spent so much time contemplating life in general that you are a quantifiable expert on all things big and small.

9) You find every encounter with the opposite sex, and most encounters with the same sex, painfully awkward.

10) Your life is Chandler Bing, period.

And that’s just the short version.  A more in-depth description of my life would also involve intense Youtube surfing, speaking like a stanza of a Lewis Carroll poem, and the sad realization that real-life celebrities are not as fascinating as their character counter-parts.  Sometimes I ask myself, “How did I become this way?” and then I realize I’m speaking out loud, and I should probably stop before I become certifiably crazy.

But really, the worst part about being an extroverted introvert is that no matter how hard you try or don’t try, making friends or getting rid of them just never works.  It’s a double-edged sword of loneliness and failed attempts at hermit-ness.

Oh, life. How you tease me.

That’s really all I had to say.  I’m going to go sit in a corner and pretend like the world around me doesn’t exist until it’s my turn to hold my nephew again. (Babies are the best, whether you’re a hermit or not.)

Yours truly,

tlc