why can’t you want me the way i want you to? / why can’t you want me when i want you to? / do you know how fucking lucky you are to get inside of me? / you’re such an ungrateful piece of shit / please fuck me and be gone / i don’t need you / i never needed you / and i never will / fuck you for not fucking me enough / all i wanted was your body and you can’t even give me that / you’re such a selfish, lazy motherfucker / i told myself i can’t be like this / he wants me to be like this / he gets off on me being like this / they all do / it’s that power trip that gets them hard / don’t be like this / be soft / be soft / but it keeps coming / and i keep sinking / and is something so wrong with me that you’re not begging for it / is something so wrong with me that you’re not breaking for it / is something so wrong with me that unavailable is my type / why is it that desire is so hit or miss / am i not fuckable enough / am i not fictional enough / am i not heartless enough / guess i can’t win unless you fall apart / guess i can’t win until i have your heart dead in my hands / that’s the game, isn’t it / i said i can’t play because i will always lose / but i keep coming back / and it keeps coming / and i keep sinking / and i keep losing / i keep falling apart / my heart already dead in my mouth / my eyes already glossing over / guess it’s on to the next one / and the next one / and the next one / and the next one / cus every time i hold still / i eat myself alive / guess i’m as bad as they say i am / guess i still need another warm body / to forget how cold my heart is
What you want to say:
So who are you going to be. The 45th guy I never see again? The 46th? The 67th? The 120th? The 7th guy from the past to come back and haunt me when there was never any future here? I’ve been trying to pin down my desires, but here you are, thinking you have me all figured out. You think I’m in love with you. You think I’ve only dated assholes. You think I set myself up for failure. You think a lot of things about me for someone who knows little to nothing, who cares little to nothing, about the full breadth of my humanity. I’m tired. That’s all. I’m tired because I’m told to put my faith in strangers I will never see again. Imagine having the same conversation for 4 years with different people and the same dead end. Isn’t that tiring? Isn’t that frustrating? Isn’t that disappointing? They tell me they can relate. But I’m not even talking about forever. It doesn’t even have to last. I can’t even get it to start. All these matches I’ve struck and not a single flame. I’m not talking about love. I’m talking about a seventh date and no regrets. I’m talking about a conversation that cartwheels and soars and never falls flat on its face. I’m talking about playing video games naked at 3am. I’m talking about laughing because you actually said something funny and it wasn’t going to be the last. I’m talking about fucking someone who gives a shit about me. When did giving a shit become equivalent to Love (TM)? When did respect become exclusive to your future spouse? Stop texting me if you don’t give a shit. Stop messaging me if you don’t give a shit. Stop trying to make plans if you don’t give a shit. Stop pretending you give a shit when you never planned on actually giving one because it’s reserved for the imaginary dream girl in your head or your mother or honestly probably just yourself. Stop acting like you give a shit just because you are lonely and horny and you have no options other than to hit up some bitter girl with the weirdly explicit blog. Fucking grow up and get your fucking shit together, and I’m not talking about your finances, I’m talking about the shit you buried, the shit that could make you ugly-cry in front of a therapist if they didn’t beat that out of you yet. You know the biggest fucking curse in my life is being sexually attracted to people I otherwise can’t stand.
What you actually say:
Okay sure, let’s meet up
“We should go to a singles bar and meet guys,” my friend Natalie says over our boba tea drinks.
“You don’t need to go to a bar, you already get dates in real life,” I protest. “You have meet-cutes with guys just by walking down the street.”
“But they all end up being so shitty,” Natalie counters. “Like that asshole who reminded me that he makes more money than me. Ugh. The sex was so amazing though.” (Although we like to think of ourselves as liberatory feminists, our conversations as of late have not been passing the Bechdel Test. And yes, I know it’s for movies, but I’m a writer, the line between reality and fiction gets blurred, ok.)
“Where’d you meet that guy again?” I ask.
“From that party a few weeks ago. You were there!”
“Wait, what?” I distinctly remembered that party: dancing in the shadows with Natalie, our bodies shaking to the pounding music. Foreign bodies pressing in on us, too close for comfort. I closed my eyes and opened them again. A towering giant of a man had magically appeared in front of a tipsy Natalie. Where had he come from? Had he been there all along and I just hadn’t noticed it, being the terribly unobservant person that I am? He moved in closer to her and was eyeing her like she was a piece of meat. Ew, I thought, watching him watch my friend. He was so obviously repulsive to me I thought Natalie would just roll her eyes and turn away from him.
Instead, she shimmied closer to him. They were making eye contact, their arms on each other’s shoulders. She was actually smiling back at him.
She wasn’t dancing with me or the crowd anymore. She was in her own private world with Fucking Gross Giant Dude.
My chest became tight. My dancing became lifeless. The room was too small. I couldn’t deal with this. I needed air. I bolted from the room, away from the deafening music, the pushy crowd, the newfound couple trying to turn me into the third wheel.
“Remember that Spanish guy from the party I was dancing with?” Natalie says.
“That guy?” I blurt out. “But he was ugly!”
Natalie gasps. “He was not!”
I backtrack. “Okay, we have different tastes in men. Which is probably a good thing.”
“I’m just really attracted to Spaniards,” she says, staring dreamily off into space.
Gross. I start feeling that same irrational sense of betrayal that flooded my insides the night of the party. That night, I ended up sulking in the hot tub while Natalie called out my name, trying to find me. “Why did you abandon me?” she asked, upset.
Because you abandoned me first, I wanted to say, but didn’t because no matter how it seemed, I was not actually a whiny melodramatic teenager in a cheesy coming of age film featuring mostly white people. “You were dancing with that guy, so I decided to leave,” I said instead.
Natalie looked at me, her forehead creased. “Did you really not like him?”
“No. It’s just…” I tried to find the right words, but didn’t. I never could. Not on the spot. “I didn’t come to the party to meet some random guy. I came here with you.”
She still didn’t get it. “But isn’t the point to make new friends?”
New friends? Really? I wanted to shake her and shout: That guy was so creepy and disgusting! He was fucking you with his eyes! Quit acting like that was some innocent platonic exchange!
I stared at her, then averted my gaze. “Let’s just forget about it,” I mumbled, all the while knowing that I would never forget and possibly never forgive.
This was not the first time this issue has come up for me. I’ve had fights with female friends over the way they “abandoned” me in favor of some guy they were romantically or sexually interested in. Wanna make out with some guy instead of having a conversation with me? Bye girl. Only interested in hanging out with me if your boy toy comes with, aka forcing his company on me without my consent, aka expecting me to share the same level of emotional intimacy with your dude that I share with you? Well fuck you.
Even when my man-dating female friends don’t commit these transgressions, the paranoia is always there, eating at me: She’s posting lovey dovey photos of the two of them and I’m never going to see her again. She keeps talking about her boring boyfriend and will soon forget all about me. If I don’t feel close enough to the friend, the feelings of resentment will rot inside my corpse of a heart until they silently leak out and make room for all the other petty nonsense I feel on a daily basis.
Why Learkana, you rhetorically say to me. Perchance are you a lesbian?
Dear reader, I respond. Sadly I am not. Trust me, I’ve pondered deeply on this. It would make way more sense for me to be a lesbian: I’ve never had a boyfriend, am incredibly wary of and cynical about hetero cis men in general, and am deeply possessive of my female friends even when they backstab me with their heteronormativity. (Actually, this just sounds like a straight person’s idea of what a lesbian is, which just proves my point.)
But I’m not in the closet. 4 years at a women’s college with zero homoerotic yearnings or encounters confirmed this. Unfortunately, I am just as heteronormative as my female friends (the ones who are heteronormative, of course, which is many of them). I’ve just….taken a road less traveled, in cliche white dudespeak.
Although I identify as heterosexual, I am way more homosocial. Which means I value my circle of female friends much more than any hypothetical dude who wants to wine and dine me or hit it and quit it, because the power of female friendships is way more seductive to me than romance or sex. Don’t get me wrong, though–getting laid and falling in love sound pretty awesome, but in my mind, nothing beats having a girlfriend who is pretty much my soul sister.
I’m not sure how my devotion to the whole “sisters before misters” mantra came about. Given all the mean girls I had the misfortune of getting involved with when I was a kid, it’s a wonder I didn’t grow up to be a full-blown internalized misogynist. I guess some part of me craved the kindness, camaraderie, and empathy that would be conditionally given to me by my (so-called) friends. Bonding with boys was out of the question. Sure, I would hang out with some of them from time to time, but it never crossed my mind to consider them my besties. Besides, most of the boys I knew enjoyed harassing me in ways that even seven-year-old me could recognize and try to steer clear of.
For the most part, my childhood was heavily segregated by gender. If you appeared to be close with someone of a different gender, people would whisper and say that you two were in love or having (prepubescent) sex, which when you think about it is really creepy and sorry I made you think about it but anyway the point is, I was conditioned to believe that female friendships were the only authentic form of closeness and intimacy I could experience. And so a shitty female friend was likely better than the male gaze, my younger self must have reasoned (probably not in those same exact words, but you know what I mean).
Today I am lucky to have female friends who love me the way eleven-year-old me longed to be loved after being told by my “BFF” at the time that I was only invited to the sixth grade girls’ sleepover because everyone felt sorry for me. To be loved unconditionally is a powerful, powerful thing, and I’ve been able to find that through my lovely lady friends. If I had it my way, I would live happily and radically ever after in a feminist commune with all my female/queer/gender non-conforming family and friends, where we’d wear fancy dresses or suits and drink boba tea and hold hands and dance to Beyonce whenever we felt like it. Any hetero cis men we’d take on as lovers would have to wait at our pearly gates until we sent for them.
Sadly, this is just wishful thinking. The reality is that I live in a world that privileges a certain kind of relationship above others: romantic, sexual, and social monogamy. I can’t marry my female friends. I’m not going to offer them sexual favors. What I can do is be there for them, make them laugh, do really awesome activities that their significant others for whatever reason don’t want to do, and gripe about the white supremacist heterocispatriarchy with them. But that isn’t enough. And that’s what upsets me: the fact that culturally and socially, my platonic love isn’t as valuable as romantic/sexual love. Factor in the patriarchy and I’m beyond pissed.
But look, I get it. I have to get it because that’s how it currently works: I’m not your soulmate or your partner, because I’m not having sex with you or courting you. I’m not the first person you’re going to save from a burning building or the person you’re going to spend most of your time with. All I ask is that you don’t forget about me or take me for granted. That you still hang out with me on occasion without your partner (being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re literally attached at the hip, FYI). That you treat me with the same level of courtesy and respect you give to your partner when it comes to spending time together (You wouldn’t bring me along on a weekend getaway with your partner, right? So why would that not apply vice versa?). That hanging out with me isn’t secondary to going on a date or getting laid. Is that really too much to ask for?
Maybe it is. Maybe these are just the empty pleas of a premature spinster. Which is why I rarely go this deep in discussions or fights I get into with my friends over their partners/potential partners whom I am mistrustful of by default. It ultimately boils down to: Do you care more about me or him/them? I already know the answer. So I keep quiet and use my superficial arguments: “I’m mad that you ditched me.” “I’m mad that we don’t hang out like we used to.” Because I’m afraid my friends won’t understand. Or that they won’t care. Or that really, I’m just a weirdly possessive, codependent friend with a lot of mommy issues.
“I’m putting you in my calendar for Saturday,” says Natalie. “I know of a bar we can go to. This is gonna be fun!”
“Okay,” I agree, even though I could already imagine how it would go down: Natalie would hit it off with the first guy who approached her friendly smile and open body language. Natalie would go home with this guy. I would sit at the bar, sipping my apple cider in sullen resentment over being ditched while fending off strange men and completely forgetting that going home with a guy was the plan to begin with.
Or here’s another scenario: I sit at the bar with a shaky smile, fingers rubbing the condensation off my near-empty glass in circles, again and again and again. A guy approaches. He’s not bad-looking, and his jokes don’t make me cringe. Maybe we exchange numbers. Maybe I end up at his place. Maybe I let him in. Maybe I tell him all my secrets when he’s inside me. Maybe I wait until we’re married (for the secrets, not the sex). Maybe I keep telling myself, this will make me feel less lonely. Maybe I tell myself this enough times that it will eventually become true.
Name changed to protect the oblivious.
Is it ‘patriarchy’?
Is it ‘problematic’?
Is it ‘praxis’?
Okay, your mind probably jumped to ‘penis’ or ‘poop’ before it jumped to any of the above words, but whatever. This is my intersectional feminist blog goddamnit, so either way, you, dear hypothetical reader, are imaginarily incorrect–the ‘P’ word I’m talking about is PRIVILEGE.
What is privilege?
I am not going to do the dumb dictionary thing again. (And seriously, if you find yourself frequently resorting to simple, straightforward, and superficial textbook/dictionary definitions for conceptually complicated words and you’re actually SERIOUS when you’re doing it–I’m not when I do it, fyi–you really need to polish up your critical thinking skills, bro.)
So, no textbook or dictionary to be seen (I promise), this is my not-so-great-but-mostly-straightforward definition:
Privilege is an advantage given to you not by way of individual choice; rather, it is through the systematic oppression of others that you are awarded this benefit, whatever it may be–and it can be a LOT of things, really, things you probably didn’t even stop to think about because yenno, you’re all privileged and shit.
Hey, don’t get all OFFENDED because I’m telling “you” off. I really mean “we,” because EVERYONE has some amalgamation of privilege! (Funny how we social justice people are stereotyped as “overly sensitive/easily offended,” when it’s so clearly a two-way street. And how is you taking offense at my offense any less take offense-y than me taking offense to begin with? I mean I would think that you taking offense at my taking of offense is way more of an offense, because you are simply offended by my offense, whereas I am offended by things like racism and sexism aka things that are actually detrimentally impacting the world, kthnx, and so actually you’re the easily offended one otherwise you wouldn’t be so defensive, I mean why would you be so defensive if you claim that you weren’t being offensive to begin with? Anyway. Back to the overall rant here.)
So people who haven’t really thought about the P word or don’t really think much at all, automatically think that privilege means class privilege.
But yeah, these people are like, “I’m not rich, so I don’t have any privilege!”
Yes, class privilege exists, but that’s just one of many privileges that exist in the world!
I think the fact that so many people default to class privilege when they think of/about the P word just goes to show how deeply our minds are entrenched in a capitalistic framework–which, FYI, is BAD, becasue it’s limiting and also quite frankly dehumanizing–for yourself and others. Like, do you actually think that money is the ONLY thing that can benefit a human being? Get your head out of your materialistic a-hole. There are plenty of the other things. You just haven’t thought about them because you’ve taken them for granted because…ding ding ding! You are privileged, in some way or another.
(Don’t worry, all this vague ranting will yield some concrete examples soon.)
So what I’m trying to get at is, privilege isn’t as simple as, “Jane has one billion dollars. Dick has zero dollars. Jane is privileged. Dick is not.” It’s more like this: “Jane has one billion dollars because in this hypothetical scenario she can easily be described as magically having a shitload of money, whereas in actuality, her gender makes it less likely that she will obtain this much given the pay gap between women and men and the fact that men tend to occupy more lucrative job positions due to socially valued traits such as dominance, aggression, and confidence which are traditionally coded as masculine across different cultures, but even if Jane was super wealthy and Dick was not he’d still have male privilege ok.”
Privilege doesn’t have to be fancy, glamorous elaborate shit–the fact that you think that really just showcases your privilege, actually, and yenno, your total ignorance. Seriously though, privilege oftentimes manifests in the simple, little things you don’t even notice because those things have been normalized for you–you don’t see them as advantages. You see them as just the way things are, the way things should be. Hello! That’s your privilege talking. That’s your privilege showing.
Okay, I shall now cite a few examples of some of my own privileges so you can get a better sense of what I mean. I know there’s this trend where everyone likes to cling to their marginalized identities (yes, I am guilty of doing it), but since we’re talking about the hated P word, this is the blog entry where I will (guiltily and shamefacedly) talk about how I got it pretty damn good (in these particular facets of my identity).
I have cis privilege. ‘Cis’ is short for ‘cisgendered.’ It means that the gender I personally identify with aligns with the gender I was assigned at birth. Because I am cis,
- Something as simple as deciding what bathroom to use isn’t a potentially life-threatening situation for me.
- My gender is always an option I can comfortably check off on whatever form/application I need to fill out.
- People won’t usually ask me personal, invasive questions about my genitalia.
I didn’t CHOOSE to be cis, the same way trans and genderqueer people don’t CHOOSE to be trans/genderqueer. It’s just the way things happened. Unfortunately, it just so happens that whereas being cis is a societal benefit to me, being trans/genderqueer is a societal detriment to others. Yes, it’s not *my* fault that cis people are favored in society, but it is also not trans/genderqueer people’s faults that they get shitted on by society. So, I have no right to start shitting on them for shitting on me about not getting shitted on because while here I am not getting shitted on, there they are getting shitted on, and I am just adding to the shit that is being shitted on them while lookie me I’m shit-free and guess what, that’s just shitty of me.
But here’s where I’m asking you to kind of try exercising your brain a bit more. Isolating the different types of privileges and oppressions is helpful when discussing them in theory, but reality is not so straightforward, because we’re all human beings with complicated, intersectional identities, right? (Well, most of us, I can’t really speak for wealthy cishet able-bodied neurotypical white dudes.) So by “shit-free” in the above paragraph, I mean I’m shit-free in the gender alignment department. I’m not quite so shit-free in the gender identification department or the race department or the class department.
Bringing those other oppressions into a space focused on the marginalized experiences of trans/queer people is being an AWKWARD ASSHOLE.
It’s kind of like doing this:
Person A: My parents were murdered by some weird alien man without a nose who keeps calling himself the Dark Lord.
Person B: That’s not that bad. My parents had to raise a bunch of ginger-haired kids and we’re all poor and shit, at least your parents left you some money and now you’re all famous and shit.
^^Person B is an AWKWARD ASSHOLE. You don’t want to be Person B (aka Ron Weasley).
There’s a time and a place to talk about your shitty experiences, and it’s NOT when someone else is talking about theirs. Besides, you know what they say–there’s no point in playing the Oppression Olympics, because everybody loses. What’s the sense in arguing about who is worse off, when no one ends up better off?
While the Oppression Olympics aren’t something you should actively participate in, looking at privilege/oppression as a multifaceted interlocking system of shittiness (aka kyriarchy) is an important and necessary social tool that will guide you on how to avoid being an awkward asshole. This means that although I identify as a woman and women are systematically oppressed, it would be awkward and assholish of me to complain about how bad I have it to a transwoman, because transwomen have to suffer the double marginalization of being trans and being a woman. This also means that if you identify as a white dude and you complain to ME about how I’m so bigoted for thinking you’re privileged and whatever Asian people are totally just as privileged as white people, then YOU are the one being awkward and assholish and totally ignoring my marginalization as an Asian woman while apparently having no conception of what race is whatsoever. (Yes, this example is oddly specific because it actually happened.)
It’s not that you aren’t allowed to complain. It’s just that you should complain to people who have the same privileges as you! Otherwise, yep, you’re just an awkward asshole.
So moving on to more privileges I have:
I have straight privilege. This means that
- Nearly all of the media I consume (be it movies, books, TV shows, magazines, etc.) caters to my sexual orientation.
- I don’t need to worry about my loved ones ostracizing me because of my sexual orientation
- People won’t undermine my [totally imaginary] romantic/sexual relationships as something trivial or deviant
Okay, so I guess now we’re at the point of, “All right I admit I have privilege. What do I do now?” Congrats, you are on your way to becoming an AWESOME ALLY and no longer being an AWKWARD ASSHOLE~~!!
And okay, before you’re like “UGH QUIT JUDGING ME MISS I-THINK-I’M-PERFECT” let me just add a fucking disclaimer here: look, I am far from perfect. I fuck up and make mistakes and shit, I’ll own up to that. But there’s one thing I’ve come to learn in trying to be an ally and it is to stop making X experience about me. The best thing to do as an ally is to LISTEN, UNDERSTAND, and SUPPORT–NOT to talk, demand, or offend. It’s about decentering yourself from the issue and strategically using your privilege to amplify marginalized voices without monopolizing those voices or appropriating their ideas.
You think being an ally would be a pretty simple concept to follow.
1. Acknowledge your privilege.
BUT NOPE! Few people can barely do #1, and that’s the foundation on which you would build the other pillars of solidarity. Sad. Actually, more like disgusting. Yes, it’s disgusting when a person can’t do something as simple as recognizing that they have certain advantages in society, when other people who DON’T have those advantages are forced to recognize and realize that every day through their LACK of advantages.
By the way, being aware of your privilege in an effort to minimize its collateral damage does NOT mean you can no longer have a sense of humor, which is yet another stupid stereotype about social justice-oriented individuals. As a matter of fact, the funniest people I know are fellow intersectional feminists who don’t need to rely on a one-dimensional gay joke in order to produce a laugh–because they’re smarter and better than that. If your sense of humor is contingent upon the oppression of others, you should probably reevaluate your life choices (and your life in general, cuz, no offense, you sound like a total asshole).
Being an ally isn’t about being perfect. No one is. Being an ally is about trying. You’re going to fuck up. I’m going to fuck up. But as long as we keep holding each other accountable, we can foster an environment where everyone feels a little safer in their identities.
Here’s a final example of privileges I have: (Final for this blog post I mean. This should go without saying, but none of these lists are exhaustive–are lists ever exhaustive??)
I have thin privilege, meaning
- People automatically assume I’m healthy and don’t need to work out (shit I’m probably going to die early what with all the junk I eat although my friend Nicole doesn’t like me half-joking about that so shhh don’t tell her I made another morbid joke)
- I don’t have trouble finding my size when I go clothes shopping
- People find me attractive because my body type is closer to the socially constructed, fat-shaming ideal of beauty that is completely arbitrary and narrow-minded
Having a certain privilege and being aware of it, particularly in a situation where you’re surrounded by people who don’t have it, is certainly awkward. But your awkwardness about facing your privilege is nothing compared to the kind of challenges a person without that privilege has to face on a daily basis, whether through systematic/legislated discrimination or de facto social policing via microaggressions or street harassment. So your best bet as an ally is to shut up and push through that uncomfortableness in order to do some good.
Let me just add, you don’t get a trophy or anything for being an ally, which is really just a synonym for being a decent human being in social-justice speak. What you do get is feelings of lukewarm semi-satisfaction that you aren’t a total piece of shit human being. Yay!
Seriously though–being an ally isn’t about you, it’s about other people and how you should support them if you actually believe in practicing equality. Call people out if they make racist jokes about black people. Refrain from using gay as a synonym for shitty. Support your female friend when she confides in you about being sexually assaulted and DON’T ask what she was wearing. And when YOU’RE the one being called out, take a step back, reconsider your perspective, mentally remove yourself from your privilege, and say, “Hey. I’m sorry I came off like a __-ist. I didn’t mean to. I know actions are just as if not more important than intentions, so I will stop doing x in the future.”
I can feel the trolls swarming now: “YOU STUPID FEMINAZI BITCH! UGH, PC POLICE HERE! STFU NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY YOU EFFING HYPOCRITE”
To which I say: “FUCK YOU TROLLS I’M A FLAWLESS FEMINAZI BITCH AND I DO WHATEVA I WANT. KTHNXBYE”
(Semi-) joking aside, being aware of your privilege is an outlook you (and I) must continually cultivate in order to avoid exploiting and hurting others. But it’s not like this privilege/oppression stuff has to be your all-encompassing, energy-draining life’s work, necessarily. I know it may sound like that, but actually, there are many social justice-oriented individuals (like myself) who spend a lot of their time watching TV shows that are bad for them or working 9-5 jobs that involve more mindless data entry than mindful sociopolitical change (to clarify, my organization effects mindful sociopolitical change–my specific job within the organization, not so much). Being an ally and a decent human being is simply a matter of being considerate as a conscious individual interacting with others, engaging in different forms of media, and navigating a world that is undeniably pluralistic. You can choose to shut your eyes to what’s really going on, but then you’d be missing out on the transformative beauty and wonder of human empathy and understanding. And trust me, that’s way more soul-crushing than owning up to your privileges.
tl;dr I’m privileged, you’re privileged, we’re all privileged! Is it really that fucking hard to admit? Goddamn goddamn goddamn
I’m an introvert. That means I prefer staying in rather than going out. It means I draw less energy from social settings and large groups of people and more from “me time” or hanging out with just one or two close friends. There are plenty of people who are introverts, who are just like me. Right?
Then why does it never really feel that way? In many social situations I find myself to be the odd one out. The one everyone gets concerned about, confused by/offended by, dismissive of. Why is she so quiet. Does she not like people? What’s wrong? What a bitch.
It’s nothing personal, I want to shout. I’m just tired. Of people. I know that sounds bad, but introversion tiredness, it’s a thing, I swear! I cannot deal with social interaction for prolonged periods of time, no matter how good the company is. Yet I can’t tell whether people ever get it. It just feels like they hate me because it seems like I hate them, then I just end up hating myself all the more for it. Then I start wondering if calling myself an introvert is just a way of justifying the fact that I’m actually just an awkward, misanthropic asshole.
There’s really just no good way of going about it. No matter how I try to articulate it, I sound like a horrible person. You’re my friend. You want to hang out. We plan to do X activity. We do X activity. But suddenly person Y comes into the picture. I didn’t anticipate this. Person Y wants to do Z activity. You agree. I agree, because you agree and person Y agrees and I don’t want to be an awkward asshole when in all honesty, I’ve filled my socializing quota for the day. As person Y/Z activity goes on and on and on with no end in sight, I become more and more withdrawn. Inside I’m crying for solitude, but I know I can’t say “I need to be alone!” because I’ll sound like an awkward asshole. But my silence starts attracting unwanted attention. You become worried. Person Y gets kind of worried. I have to force a smile, but no one’s buying it. The worry turns into annoyance that I’m being antisocial and rude. Too late, I am the awkward asshole.
What’s so exhausting about talking to people, you might wonder. SO MANY THINGS, when you’re an awkward asshole. There’s this social script you have to stick to. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe I’m just too paranoid and anxious and mistrustful. But when I talk or listen, I’m gauging your reaction. Are you listening? Do you care? Did I say the right thing? What do you want from me? Are you judging me for this? What is your expectation of my responses? Am I putting on the right face? Why are you looking at me like that? What else am I supposed to say? Where is this conversation going? What question should I ask next, what remark should I say to steer this conversation away from trailing off into awkward and miserable silence? What’s the point of this conversation? Why are we talking?
It’s all very overwhelming, repetitive, tedious. The small talk is contrived–I have to say the things people might want to hear. If I say the things I want to say, I lose the game. I always lose eventually, if not quickly, but the goal is to postpone losing. But the game of socializing itself–is not a game I’m interested in playing, again and again and again.
Yet I have to, to appear less of an asshole. (And you know, to network and shit.) The forced nature of conversing at a party or get-together makes me want to vomit, crawl under a rock and die (probably in that order). Too many things happening. Social interaction overload. System is crashing. Must reboot in solitude. With strangers, I am like this from the get-go. With people I actually know and like, I gradually transform from annoyingly talkative to annoyingly reclusive. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved when I’m involved.
I don’t really like talking about this “problem” with other people, because it will alienate (and, as a matter of fact, HAS alienated) people. It’s confusing for people because I can be very hyperactive and loud and obnoxious. That is at the beginning of socializing, when my energy is at its peak. Then it’s all downhill from there. If I keep going, it’s because I’m focusing on doing something that doesn’t actually involve interacting with people, like singing or dancing. Or probably I’m forcing it. I should probably stop feigning happiness so much. I do everything in extremes, so people think I’m always happy and smiley. Not to say I’m always pretending, because I am happy some of the time, just not as much as people might think. I just put on the smile because that’s what people want. Sometimes my mouth actually hurts from forcing a smile so often in front of people. I was conditioned to do it, and it fucks me in the ass because when the tiredness kicks in and I do a worse and worse job of pretending until I can’t even bother pretending anymore, everyone notices immediately and goes omg what’s wrong Learkana are you ok?
Sometimes I am physically tired, but most of the time it’s a mental exhaustion. I start zoning out, drawing a blank, very much aware that I’m behaving like an antisocial dickwad but feeling too apathetic and miserable to care very much. There’s just something about human interaction that wears me out, I guess. Is that so hard to understand and be empathetic to?
Again, I don’t know if I can dismiss my unsocial behavior simply as introversion, when there are so many other factors to consider: I’m afraid of appearing superficial. I’m afraid of sounding stupid, among strangers and friends alike. I can’t comprehend the idea of talking to a stranger just to talk to them. And I can’t fathom why anyone on earth would want to talk to me just to talk to me–obviously I was their last resort, their backup plan, in which case, screw them!
Then there’s the assumption that because I prefer to be alone some of the time, that I want to be alone all of the time, which is not true. Well if it’s not true, then why do you act like you want to be alone, you might ask. I’m not acting, I want to scream. This is who I am. I’m not a fucking social butterfly, I’m a weirdo loner caterpillar but weirdo loner caterpillars fucking need love, too, okay?! And the love we crave shouldn’t require us to break from our cocoons and fuck this metaphor doesn’t work because all caterpillars become butterflies so now you’re going to think that all introverts are stubborn little fucks who can actually become extroverts if they really wanted to okay goddamnit let me think of another one okay I’m not a butterfly, I’m a solitary bee and bees most definitely cannot become butterflies therefore this metaphor actually works but my thinking-out-loud tactic has probably totally convinced you that I am just a self-reinforced awkward asshole but whatever RESPECT MY BEE-NESS.
Anyway, the point is, my way of being has often made me feel guilty and ashamed, and whether or not it’s all just in my head and completely my fault, I’m tired of feeling this way. I am me, I’m not going to change all that much from the way I am, so I shouldn’t have to apologize for it because that’s just shitty, having to apologize for being you. And I know there are certain things you should apologize for, especially if you’re being a dickface, but is not wanting to hang out with people for hours on end the most terrible thing ever?
“You miss you,” my friend Nicole would say whenever I would try and describe my self-diagnosed introversion.
And maybe it’s just that simple. (In which case I become the queen of narcissism…but, like I said. It’s a lose-lose situation, and I guess I need to resign myself to that.) Or I guess start talking to people, who knows I may even come to enjoy it. LOL WUT AS IF
tl;dr I’m an introvert aka an awkward asshole aka a
weirdo loner catepillar solitary bee wait what
Hi, my name is Learkana. And I’ve been single my entire life.
I guess your natural instinct might be to reassure me that there’s nothing wrong with that (if you’re not a dude). Or you might be really surprised (if you’re a dude).
I’ve agonized and wrestled over my singlehood for a while now. I would like to say that overall, I have some complicated feelings about my relationship status (or the lack thereof). But of course being the neurotic overanalytical person that I am, I perceive myself as having complicated feelings about everything, so…
Let’s just be really clear about some things. Yes, I identify as a 22-year-old spinster. Yes, my dreams nonjokingly include getting my own studio apartment and potentially owning some hypoallergenic cats (or maybe just some cat figurines, I’m not much of an animal person tbh). Yes, I occasionally think to myself (and yes, occasionally out loud), “Learkana, you’re going to die alone.”
But that doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy BECAUSE of my singleness. Usually the thought, “Learkana, you’re going to die alone,” is accompanied by a lot of unexplained chuckling that causes my roommates to side-eye me and shake their heads. It’s just funny to me mostly (both the idea of dying alone and my roommates giving me weird looks). I think because I’ve come to terms with it–dying alone. (And my roommates giving me weird looks, I mean that’s just a given.)
“If you keep thinking that way, you will die alone,” Nicole keeps telling me. Yeah yeah yeah, the whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. But I personally think I have legitimate reasons for believing that I will very well end up alone (please note that by “alone” I mean “never having been in a fully and mutually committed, loving romantic and sexual relationship”). My personality, my identity, and my beliefs and values make it EXTREMELY difficult for me to attempt the dating thing, let alone the whole falling-in-love thing (look out for my anticlimactic dating stories, to be posted on here!). I’m a cynic. I’m sarcastic. I’m blunt. I’m short-tempered. I’m an unapologetic feminist (and if you think that the fact that I tacked on that self-identification after all those purportedly negative qualifiers as some sort of confirmation that they all make up a summation of what a feminist is then bitch, please, know that correlation is no causation–I could just as easily be a cynical sarcastic blunt self-hating misogynist). I’m introverted and enjoy being alone a lot more than most people I know. I’m also loud and obnoxious and crude and petty and spiteful. I spend a lot of time inside my head and my family conditioned me to feel shame and hesitance about my appearance, my body and my sexuality. So yeah, I have a lot of roadblocks on the journey to Coupledom, especially as a straight Asian American female. (Beware sexism! Beware racist fetishizing!)
But what if I don’t want to journey to Coupledom? Why does being with someone have to be the end destination? If we are sticking to this metaphor, I would like to take an alternative route to Somewhere Else, please. Preferably, Self-Love. Or Independence. Or Alone-But-Not-Lonely. I definitely need to reach those places. Not to say that these roads are mutually exclusive from the road to Coupledom, but…you know, when you’re traveling to more than one place you’re more likely to get lost. You might hit a few more bumps. You might take a wrong turn and…shit where was I going with this metaphor
People have told me, “You’re going to find the right person.” “You’ll find a really great guy.” “You’re gonna find your soulmate someday.” But you know what? There’s absolutely NO guarantee! So quit with the hopeless attempts at consoling. Also, not to mention needless attempts–I’m not sure I’d want to find this so-called figment of everyone else’s imagination even if it were plausible, but I’ll talk more about that later.
I think the idea of a soulmate is very subjective. I respect that some people feel that way about their significant others, but I think it’s more a state of mind than some kind of actuality. Even if I did put stock into the whole soulmate idea, realistically, only some people, not all, would have a soulmate. The mainstream idea of a soulmate is contingent upon what I’d like to call “coupledom essentialism” anyway, which I take issue with and is the real problem–er, topic–I would like to address. (Plus side of having my own blog: I get to make up my own fancy terms and have them sound all official-like! Woo hoo!)
Coupledom essentialism: the socially ingrained notion that a single person must be in want or need of another person to complete them, thus forming a more perfect union, or whatever.
Both society and mainstream media push the (heteronormative) couple narrative on each and every one of us. Don’t deny it–it’s everywhere. How many movies have ended in pairing everyone off? (What one of my favorite professors at Mills referred to as “the heterosexual embrace.”) Even if relationships aren’t the sole focus of a movie, the protagonist (usually the leading man, unfortunately) almost always has a love interest (usually the underdeveloped female object, unfortunately). How many songs are NOT about being in love with someone? (Maybe about 3%.) Even more disgustingly, our legal system privileges coupledom over singlehood, when you think about all the benefits you receive as a legally recognized couple (hospital visits, filing joint tax returns, getting family rates for shit, etc.). God, now I’m thinking about politicians and celebrities and how we have all somehow silently agreed that as a general rule, being married is a sign of morality and integrity. “But he’s married! He can’t possibly have been a misogynist/child molester/adulterer.” Yes, because a piece of paper absofuckinglutely clears you of all douchebaggery and fuckups, amirite?
Okay back to the actual point. (Was there one?) I guess my personal qualms with being in a relationship involves the idea that I’m always supposed to be in communication with this person, and vice versa, and he’s supposed to be my other half or some shit, and it’s weird if we don’t spend enough time together or don’t call or text each other every five minutes. And you can accuse me of stereotyping, but c’mon! It’s fucking true. I’ve seen it in action, all the time. People’s behaviors are different when they’re in relationships (straight and queer). You’re supposed to be more accountable. I’m not really down for that. I don’t mean to say I’m not down for being accountable, because I’d like to think of myself as a damn good friend, but I mean being the highest level of accountable specifically to my significant other because twu wuv conquers all other social paradigms or whatever.
The main thing that bugs me about coupledom is that once people are sworn in, they aren’t really their own person anymore. Say you’re a good friend of mine and you’ve recently started seeing someone. And suddenly I start hearing about them a lot. Okay, fine, whatever. But then things start kind of getting serious. So when I call you on the phone, no doubt that someone is listening in. Or you’ve probably told them all about what I’ve ranted about exclusively to you. Then whenever I invite you to places, it’s automatically assumed that I invited that someone too. Then it gets to the point where I don’t see you anymore because you’re off doing couple-y things and since I’m not a couple it’s just weird and then you’ll cancel on me or not want to do things with me because I’m single and whenever I see you, you’re with that someone and what the fuck did you two hire a fucking doctor to surgically attach you both at the fucking hip or something gosh
Anyway, I know I sound super whiny and petty but whatever this is my blog I can do whatever I want and also, I did warn you about the pettiness and spitefulness (see a few paragraphs above). Look, if you’re actually reading this and are in a relationship and have been protesting every other line I’ve written because jeez, you are so totally you’re own person AND in a loving stable relationship, have I been living under a rock like some kind of jaded spinster creature? Well more power to you! Also, why on earth are you reading my blog?
To conclude, I don’t see myself being in a relationship anytime in the near future, in spite of having registered for an online dating website (trust me, I half-regret it everyday). I like my “me time” (as Nicole would say) too much, I guess. Getting to do whatever the hell I want without having to consult someone, being creepily obsessed with oblivious dudes without it being a problem, etc. I think I do want to have at least one relationship at some point in my life. I would like the opportunity to be deeply invested in someone romantically, platonically, and sexually, a three-for-one package! (Uh, sorry for the mostly unintended innuendo) However fleeting it may be, I would at least have a chance to look back and say, “Hey, I genuinely loved this person and this person genuinely loved me, things didn’t work out but they were pretty fucking awesome while they did.” But as of right now, that is not a priority. I am my priority, and having fun and being free is my priority. I’m still figuring myself out, and I don’t think I need the plus one and extra baggage on my journey to self-discovery. Right?
So is it weird that being in a relationship is basically just a figurative checkbox on my mental bucket list?
Probably. It also possibly means I have issues and should see a therapist (people have been encouraging me to for years), but hey, everyone has issues and should see a therapist. I’m not alone on that front, at least. 😉
tl;dr FOREVER ALONE
Note: I had actually set out to make this post as empowering, inspiring, and positive as possible but…defensive and resigned was the best I could do ok