Recently, a friend of mine wrote about feeling stuck in “limbo”, as he is between major projects in his life. On one side of the coin, he’s proud of all the hard work he’s put in and all the successful things he’s created and the sense of joy and well-being he’s brought into the lives of others. On the other hand, he writes about feeling ambitious without direction, or struggling with a desire to create and do and be, without any particular ambition.

As the holiday season descends upon us, I can relate to that. Part of me wants to feel rather depressed because since October, I’ve gotten “downsized” from the company I spent the past two years with, and my only other long-term, independent contracting position has come to a conclusion. As is the case when working with start-ups, at some point, they too struggle with money to make their vision come alive, and need to put your creative work on the shelf for awhile. Sometimes, they come back. Other times, the hiatus is permanent. As a result, this has been one of the most financially-challenged holidays I’ve spent in years. Strangely, though, I don’t feel depressed. Perhaps I *should*, but I don’t feel bummed about not visiting my family for the holidays, not buying extravagant gifts, not shopping online for pretty dresses and shoes. Perhaps I’m lacking in holiday spirit, as well as ambition. I’m well aware that December is a crappy time to be job-seeking, and I have a number of friends in a number of industries who are waiting until the New Year to really crank up the job search.

On the other hand, it isn’t as if I haven’t been doing anything productive at all. I’ve been writing rather dull piece work for content mills (which I wish I could get more motivated about, but the lack of creativity just bores me in a way that’s become painful.) I’m releasing/publishing my first book of poetry in December, planning a ton of fabulous events for my Meetup, and spending more time catching up with people in my life that I care about. I only wish I had the financial resources to do so, and not stress out about it. I’ll be celebrating my birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, a good friend’s wedding, and a bunch of other things that remind me “Hey, this is what life is about.”

I’m kind of a conundrum in that I’d like to think, perspective-wise, I have my head on fairly straight. For me, life isn’t so much about accomplishment or achievement or careers or money or accumulating material possessions. In fact, when I get into the head space where I concentrate on those things—the place where most people tell me I should be focused—not only does everything seem to go wrong seemingly out of nowhere, but I am quite unhappy and lonely as a person.

For me, life is about experience. I enjoy creating unforgettable experiences with the people close to me, even if they’re seemingly mundane. As a result, my friendships and relationships are deeper and more intense than what most people experience, and the accumulation of my life experience is fairly impressive for a person my age.

Of course, the conundrum is that a person needs some sense of financial stability, direction, and ambition to have the freedom to engage in these experiences. Especially if you’re me, and a non-driver in a city legendary for inaccessibility and urban sprawl, and live in one of the most non-pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods possible, you need disposable income in order to leave your house and go somewhere when a friend can’t take you.

I seem to be motivated by unhappiness. When I think about a long-term relationship ending (a situation that almost occurred last week), or moving to another city where I’d essentially be alone, or having to start over again, there is some type of strength and defiance in my personality that emerges and says “I’ll do what I have to do.” However, when I am relatively happy, I often become complacent, wondering why life can’t always just be easy and happy. I like being happy, and yet, happiness does not challenge me. It is the difficult and the unexpected and the apparition of change in what I thought was a stable universe that challenges me. I don’t enjoy the challenge. In fact, I typically have a nervous breakdown, accompanied by vodka, Valium, and lots of crying. But then, I somehow start to see positive changes in my life. When I have nobody and nothing to rely on in life, I am at my strongest, while also being at my weakest.

I don’t write when I am happy. Sometimes, I think the reason I seek out complex love affairs and conflict-filled friendships and take the road less traveled–which is full of speed bumps and potholes—is because the emotional complexity, the good mixed with bad mixed with chaos, is what inspires me to create.

I’ve had my fortune read many times; palm readings, tarot cards, natal charts, numerology, and the like, because part of me believes in those sorts of things (even if another part of me can’t have much faith in anything, and dismisses it as nonsense.) One consistent thing that’s always pointed out to me is that I am supposed to be a person of great wealth. From my birth chart to my palm reading, everyone tells me, “One day, money will be of little concern to you, because you’ll have all you need”. I apparently am meant to have a much harder time with relationships, commitments, reputation, and all those other little details of life.

This always makes me laugh, because I am not practical, not good with money, not particularly ambitious in one specific direction, and not sure what I’m supposed to accomplish with my life. Also, it specifically tells me I will not have money because of an advantageous marriage or an inheritance, and that I will be the financial breadwinner for those in my life. Apparently, I am meant to somehow parlay some gift I have into money, and not just in the paycheck-to-paycheck sense.

This seems ludicrous to me, because money and independence have always been my greatest struggles, and they go hand in hand. I do not have any particular business sense. I remember, as a child, teachers writing “Your daughter is intelligent, creative, and gregarious, but like many gifted people, lacks common sense.”. I am not practical. I am not organized. I rarely make flights on time, I don’t remember to pay my bills when they’re due even if I have the money in the bank, I lose keys and sunglasses and wallets and IDs and credit cards, and then freak out. I’ve had to have my birth certificate replaced 3 times. I need a new copy of my Social Security card. Only recently, did I learn that stock certificates equal money and I should have someone manage that stuff. I wake up in the morning, and take my pills. Some days, I can’t remember if I already took my pills, or that was yesterday, and am not sure what to do. I get lost, everywhere, even with GPS and a map. I caused a kitchen fire and made the apartment smell like there was a gas leak the first time I encountered a gas stove.

I can tell what’s going on with you without anything but a conversation, or observing body language. I sense danger, and get out of the way before it happens. I know there’s someone else in your life or you’re cheating on me long before I ever catch you, and I’ve already cried over it by the time you get around to breaking my heart. Yet, I’m surprised and hurt when someone I trusted talks about me behind my back. I can put a puzzle together in record time. I assemble everything without instructions. However, I can’t hang a picture frame on the wall to save my life.

When I have something I am passionate about, I can work on it for hours and am resentful of interruption. If I don’t care about what I’m doing, even the mailman is a welcome distraction to go pay attention to something else. I seem to have the worst case of adult ADD in history.

When I plan events, I am detail-oriented and Type-A to a fault, because imperfections and “going with the flow” bothers me. Getting stuck in traffic gives me road rage, and I’m not even driving. In my normal life, someone telling me to hurry up stresses me out to no end, and I feel way more relaxed being 30 minutes late.

I am most definitely a conundrum. The things I should be stressing out about right now—money, jobs, my future, what the future holds for me, changes that may be on the horizon—I am not. Instead, I’m looking forward to the next day in my life where something fun and entertaining and amusing is going to happen. This might just be a sign “Oh, the anti-anxiety pills are working”, but wait until the first time I lose something or I can’t fit my gigantic hips into a dress I bought pre-illness-weight-gain. When that happens, World War III erupts.

Maybe it is that, somewhere deep inside, I have this intuitive feeling that in the near future, things are going to work out well for me. This, frankly, is ridiculous. Things never “work out” in my world. When left to fate, fate does not often treat me kindly. Yet, I have this feeling that keeps me from giving up and crying and walking away from things, one that tells me it’s now time to focus on different things in my life, but good things are on the horizon in my life.

I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a good year for me, and I’m not sure why. I have too many obstacles to believe that on any level that doesn’t involve either intuition or faith, and I’m sadly lacking in the second.

So, while the rest of the world is wondering if the world is going to end on December 21st, it’s more like I am preparing for a re-birth, for new beginnings and possibilities. I am not stressed about it, but open to it, and a little afraid of the unanticipated things the future may hold. But I feel like my year of “pause” is coming to an end, and not because I have completely recovered physically, or am suddenly grown-up and independent emotionally. I just feel like a slightly different person, and this person does not need things constantly, all the time, either in the form of other people or in terms of material objects. It’s a little like I’ve rediscovered pieces of someone I used to be, but forgot, because that person fell behind a curtain of illness and depression and insecurity.

I want to have fun again. I want to do things and meet people and live life and take chances without being afraid again. And, yes, I’d like to have a whole bunch of disposable income so that my $14 martinis and unique wardrobe pieces don’t send me reeling into poverty—and I don’t quite know how to get to that point from where I am now—but I don’t stay up at night trying to figure it out anymore.

I have always been extreme. People would tell me there’s this middle ground in life, where things are not either manic happiness and elation and going until you reach a point of physical exhaustion, or cause for losing all hope and feeling like the world would be better without you. I couldn’t relate to that, because I’d mistake not feeling either happy, sad, stressed, or excited with being completely bored.

I have finally learned to have days that are “just OK”, and not subsequently feel depressed because I am bored and lonely. I have learned to be in that “in-between” place in life where you don’t know what will happen next, but to get through that place by living in the present, rather than stressing about the future.

And, all in all, it mostly feels like someone saw me carrying a really heavy suitcase, and decided to help me with it for a little while. I am appreciative for feeling mostly happy, even though I have many reasons to feel other things, and to feel overwhelmed by the struggle.

I have some great people in my life, and it helps a lot. And while the process of being abandoned by the negative ones hurt greatly over the past year, I see what a positive difference it has made in my everyday life. Now, if only I could relocate myself to a place where people can get around freely and independently without a car or $12 taxi rides to the nearest subway stop, it would be a definite improvement.

I’ve been amusing myself by learning about my astrological features on Cafe Astrology. Although I’ve had my natal chart done before, it’s been a long time since I’ve read up on what all the facets of the planets have to say about me and my future.

In particular, I learned that romantic compatibility is not based on Sun sign, but on what sign your Venus happens to fall in. You have to know a lot about another person to know how romantically compatible you are, including what time they were born.

Apparently, my Venus was in Aquarius when I was born—ironically, almost everyone with whom I don’t get along has Aquarius as a Sun sign, including family members and ex-boyfriends.

Here’s what it has to say about me. I’m going to start getting curious about the birth dates of other people I know, just to see how “on” this happens to be. *laughs* Maybe my soulmate is written in the stars somewhere. (my compatibility reading with the Guy I Am Currently Dating mentioned I didn’t want to get married, and was more suited to a less traditional relationship…which may sound about right. :P )

When your Venus is in Aquarius, you don’t want to follow all the “rules” in love, preferring to love in your own way, unfettered by convention or what is “supposed” to be, or usually, done. You are future-minded, a tad unconventional (in love, anyhow) and there’s an unmistakable “free spirit” in you that shows up most obviously in matters of the heart. This is not to say you cannot—or will not—fall in love. Infatuations happen easily, but true love can be a little elusive for you. When you do make a commitment, you are generally able to stick to it. The commitment you make generally has to be a little different in order to be tolerable to you, and you are proud of that difference. Following the beaten track simply doesn’t sit well with you.

You have an aloof air about you that others find attractive. If they are looking for a commitment from you at a later date, however, what was once considered charismatic might become annoying! It is easy for you to feel claustrophobic in relationships that are too close, too needy, or too demanding of your time. If you have the space to breathe a little, all the better. This is when you are at your best.

You are a curious person and enjoy intellectual stimulation in your relationships. Although you are not someone who would be considered flighty, you do not tolerate stagnation very well. You need to feel like your relationship is heading somewhere. Your ability to detach yourself from a situation, take a step back, and look at it from a unique perspective is a tremendous strength. As willing as you are to stir things up if you are in the mood to enforce change, there is a wonderful calm surrounding you that can be most appealing to others. You are ahead of your time in matters of the heart, and you will be best off finding a partner who values your insight.

Venus in Aquarius:

Venus in Aquarius people try to impress you with their open-minded, future-thinking spirit. They want you to see them as unique, rebellious, and a little provocative. They are attractive when they are acting a little aloof. They want you to acknowledge and appreciate that they don’t follow the beaten track in matters of the heart. Venus in Aquarius men and women are attracted to unusual or unconventional relationships. They don’t want to follow all the rules, although they may make quite a few of their own. They can appear quite standoffish at times, and are threatened by restrictions of any kind. Emotional types may be put off by their detached manner in love. Venus in Aquarius wants you to love them for their intellect, and to admire their visions. They value lovers who are also good friends, and they avoid emotional displays or confrontations like the plague. Venus in Aquarius will delight in shocking you with their unusual ways and their forward-looking thinking.

Pleasing Venus in Aquarius involves letting them know just how interesting they are. Put up with their occasional need to act superior on an intellectual level — they are very proud of their unique ideas and visions. Dream along with them, and don’t fence them in. They need space and will happily return the favor, giving you lots of room to breathe and to be yourself. “

Check out this site, and get *tons* of astrological information about you based on your birth information…and if you’re in a relationship, you can do a compatibility report between you and and another person. :) A cool distraction as Mercury moves out of retrograde!

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“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” —George Eliot

NOTE: You can either read my snarky rant about positive thinking, or you can just read this awesome article that inspired it. Or you can read both, but depending on how positive you are, you may not be able to handle that.

We’ve somehow all survived the Thanksgiving holidays, and while it would be appropriate to put up the obligatory post about all the things and people I am thankful for having in my life, I’m not going to do that. I’m not an unappreciative, ungrateful kind of person. It’s just that the people in my life *know* how much I love and appreciate them. They received a text or a phone call or a Facebook message or an e-mail reminding them, and I don’t restrict this sort of “I’m just reminding you that I like you!” stuff for holidays.

I actually have a lot for which to be grateful, and the way I live my life is generally to express what I feel, in some form, most of the time. I don’t need a holiday for that. I will express my feelings in the moment, or in a moment soon after that one. You don’t have to know me very well to have figured that out.

Of course, there are also many things in my life for which I am not grateful. They are difficult, challenging, confusing, overwhelming, or just plain suck. I don’t give thanks for those things, even though I’ve been told they’re making me a better person, and being more positive would allow me to see the blessings in the things that suck.

However, I am a realist. I love the things that make me and those I care for happy, and hate the things that don’t. It’s pretty simple.

I’ve written about this topic before, but I have been defriended on social media sites, received scathing comments in response to me expressing my thoughts and feelings, have had people refuse to associate with me, followed by spending time discussing me behind my back in unflattering tones….all because I am not “positive” enough. This is especially true on Facebook, where I’ve had people write “Every time I read one of your posts, it’s complaining about something”. and “Why do you have to post all these negative personal feelings? Nobody really cares and it brings everyone down.”, and even, “Sorry you’re sick, but do you think everyone wants to hear about your problems?”

This seemingly disproportionate response to expression of feelings that are not positive and upbeat shocks me. In fact, when I used a tool to analyze my Facebook posts, it characterised about 70% of them as either “thought-provoking” or “optimistic” in tone. Overall, my Facebook page is more positive than negative, more emotional, more profound, and more concerned with social issues than most. Yet, people don’t like me because I am not positive.

I freely admit, I am snarky. I comment on the things that annoy me or suck about life with a wry sense of humour. I don’t pretend that “challenges are just triumphs in disguise!”. I think “The Secret”, and most self-help books like it, is utter crap. I don’t believe there’s a secret to happiness or to changing your life. Dream boards and visualizing what you want in order to make it happen is kind of like praying for what you want, without doing anything positive to accomplish that goal. There’s no magical formula. It’s great to understand yourself and want to improve your life, but “Closing the door to negative thoughts and people!” isn’t what’s going to get you there. In fact, most self-help and motivational seminars that encourage you to think about positive things and your life will be positive are selling you the oldest trick in the book: denial. When you plaster a smile on your face and deny that sucky things happen to you, and it’s OK to be angry, upset, pissed, and negative about them, chances are good that you’re going to see some anti-depressants in your future.

Shockingly, I’m not a terribly negative person. However, I don’t have blind faith in anything. Things don’t just “all work out in the end” because you’re a “good person”. Read a history book. Plenty of great, positive people didn’t exactly have things work out for them, and plenty of people you wouldn’t want to know have been very happy.

I’m an idealist. I see people and the world the way they could be, and am so often hurt and disappointed that’s just not the way things work out, so much of the time. I am often disappointed. I often feel let down and not valued enough by others. I am often shocked when someone is hurtful or throws something in my face, or claims to love me, yet causes me to cry. I am often looking for something greater than what I have, because I believe on an intuitive level that such a thing exists. However, I’m also realistic enough to understand that I often experience emotional chaos because I attempt to inflict my unrealistic ideals on the rest of the world, and my fellow human beings often do not operate in the same way that I do.

I am also a realist. I know the world doesn’t work the way I would like it to. The legend of Camelot has always been a story close to my heart (hence Lady Guenevere as my screen name everywhere.), for a number of reasons, but an important one is that it epitomizes the duality of my personality. Camelot fell because of human frailty. It was pre-destined to do so; yet, people never stopped believing they could make the world a better place and build something ideal. The ideals never matched up with reality, and the consequences were devastating. Yet, somehow, idealism could co-exist with a firm grasp on reality.

Things don’t always work out in the end. Things disappoint you, people let you down, you fail, bad luck knocks at your door. It doesn’t mean you should stop believing that your life will be filled with positive moments. It does mean that if you’re unprepared to acknowledge negativity and adversity because you won’t allow such ideas in your positive head space, that adversity is going to knock you flat on your ass when it’s your turn to get screwed over by “how life works”. And it will, someday, be your turn, no matter how positive you are about you and your life being charmed and perfect and full of everything you’ve ever wanted. That attitude didn’t work during the 1950′s—it led to people drinking Scotch and popping Valium on a daily basis, but hey, they were smiling— and it doesn’t work now.

Yes, whoever you are, whatever your challenges and things for which you should be grateful, there will be moments when your life just sucks. Something will happen that isn’t fair. Someone will be a petty, jealous asshole and try to tear you down. The stock market will plummet and you’ll lose half your money. A flood or an earthquake or a hurricane will come to your part of town. You or a loved one will get sick.

Inevitably, you’ll have to deal, and the “secret” to dealing is not to visualise a world where everything is so much better and trust that positive thinking means that the Universe or God or whomever is going to fix things for you. You’re going to have to know how to cope, and how to fix things yourself. I maintain that cultivating an outlook based on fake smiles, cliches, and denial in order to “focus on being a happier person” isn’t going to equip you with the survival skills you need. And one day, you are going to feel extremely negative about the fact that cliches and smiles and dream boards don’t protect you from the bad things in life, and avoiding anyone who talks about “negative” things in their life is not only unhealthy for you, it is, at the core, self-centred. “The Secret” seems to be to focus on how awesome you are so frequently that you lose patience and empathy for those who are struggling and suffering, and turn your back on those who need support because they are bringing negative energy into your world. The irony is that you are obviously struggling and in need of support, too, only you’ve found it in a book that claims to have all the answers rather than in other human beings, or deep within yourself.

I don’t argue in favour of toxic people. Toxic friendships and relationships can harm you, can hold you back, and you should like yourself enough not to tolerate them. This is not the same as saying “I don’t want to know you because you’re too negative” to someone who will discuss both positives and negatives openly.

I believe in a full range of emotion and human experience. Nowhere was it ever said that we’re supposed to be happy all the time. We’re not. Sometimes we are, and that’s great. Sometimes we’re sad or pissed off or suffer a loss or uncertain about the future, and that’s OK, too….unless we don’t have anyone in our lives with whom we can honestly share feelings because they’re all too busy searching for the elusive Holy Grail of “positivity, light, and happiness”. I would not want to live in a world where everyone was happy and bursting with self-esteem, announcing how great they found life and other people and themselves, every single day. I know some people like that, and frankly, they annoy the hell out of me. I don’t find it genuine, and the facade makes me angry. As much as people dislike me for being too “negative”, “snarky”, “jaded”, “cynical”, or “realistic”, I want to scream and shake people and say “Why can’t you just for one second behave like a real, multi-dimensional person?!”

However, that’s just me. This page is called “Jaded Elegance” for a reason, folks. You’re not going to find affirmations and self-help here. I do believe in learning about yourself, learning about others, and finding ways to cope with life that enhance the good moments and help the sucky ones suck less. I do believe in friendship, love, compassion, empathy, and tearing down the walls that people build to protect themselves from the world…but only succeed in creating falsehoods and alienation.

I don’t think that deciding to be happy made you happy. I think you lost weight because you decided to stop eating pizza and get on the treadmill. I think you found the right person after years of horrible relationships because you took the time to get to know yourself, and gained enough self-esteem to stop dating jerks and losers. I think you found your dream job because you finally had the nerve to go out and chase after it. If a book or a religion or a seminar did that for you, that’s great, but I think you’re selling yourself short. It may have inspired you to do something better with your life, but you did that for you.

And just because you made positive life changes, don’t start believing life will always be positive and peachy because you’re now one of those “positive mindset people”. Sucky things will still happen, on a regular basis. Hopefully, though, you’ve acquired the necessary tools to deal with them in a healthy way.

We don’t live in a world of happy, and all the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to make it so. In fact, “Positive Thinking Is For Suckers!”, or so says this article I love.

Should people be happy? Of course. But trying to be happy, to the exclusion of focus on much else, is the same reason that those who are trying out a new diet rarely succeed. However, they become much less entertaining, telling you the calorie count of every single bite of food they eat, without losing a pound. Focusing all your energy on “being happy” is actually code for focusing all your energy on why you’re not happy now, making you a negative person in denial.

Living in the moment seems to be the best strategy, one that makes me the happiest when I can remember to employ it. Remember, we’re not promised an endless amount of them. Waiting for that day when we’re going to reach some ideal, to “be happy” means not taking advantage of a lot of days in between that could have been a lot of fun. Yes, some of those days will suck. I’d like to think the fun and memorable ones make up for it.

You can look at the glass half-full if that’s your choice, and I won’t judge that. You can bitch about the glass being half-empty all day long, and that doesn’t bother me one bit, either. As for me, I just see a glass with equal amounts of volume and empty space, and think, “Well, that’s usually how life is, isn’t it?”

On really good days, my glass is filled with a chocolate martini, garnished with a cherry. I promise, that’ll give a little boost of positive thinking to anyone. :P

In the end, it’s just life. It’s good and bad, black and white, positive and negative. But as long as you have a tomorrow, you have a chance to do it all over again. In my experience, the cherry will be there when you least expect it. However, when you demand the cherry on top, that’s the day the kitchen will be out of them.

A strong and independent female friend on FB put up a great, self-validating post that inspired me to follow in her footsteps. Sometimes, it’s necessary to not only define who you are and what you want from the world, but what you do not. Here’s me. I’ve been self-validated. :P :

“I am a woman. I am opinionated. I am more spiritual than you probably know, but not religious. I am a liberal. I am a feminist, but don’t fit the preconceptions and stereotypes that many associate with that word. I take a non-traditional approach to most things, but I’m actually quite old-fashioned in many ways. I float in my own direction, but I’m not lacking in ambition. I am loving, but am willing to draw the line when someone isn’t treating me as they should. I am compassionate, but not a doormat. I’m not the type of girl who wants you to ask her out. I’m the type of girl who wants to be courted. If you don’t bring flowers to a second date, I’ll assume you want to be “just friends”.

I believe in soulmates, but not in the singular form. I believe we each have many people who help us grow into the person we’re meant to become, and are important pieces of our journeys. I believe I am inherently non-monogamous and don’t put labels and limits on love, partnerships, and sexuality. I also believe that openness and honesty are the most important things in making any relationship work. I’m not into judging what makes others happy, even if they see the world differently. I try to learn and understand from those different from me, and to see situations from multiple perspectives. I have no tolerance for oppression, harassment, bigotry, or hatred of any kind. I boycott things that harm others or don’t align with my personal beliefs, or at least I try. I am pro-choice. I am against capital punishment. I take bugs outside instead of killing them. I believe in equal rights for everyone. I think marijuana and prostitution should be legalised, as they are personal choices.

I am theatrical and over-the-top. I am also empathetic and a great listener. I am laid-back about some things, but doing something badly makes me feel more self-conscious than most. I often think how much better I’d be if only I were more perfect in some way, although I know I’d still somehow feel inferior because of something. I take it really personally when someone with whom I’m infatuated doesn’t reciprocate those feelings, or only sees me as amusing on a surface level. I take it really personally when someone criticises me or points out my flaws. In fact, I take most things really personally, and am consequently harder on myself than I’d ever be on anyone else.I am a writer, but I know actions speak louder than any words ever strung together. I write romantic poetry, sometimes for people who’ll never know how I feel about them. I am attracted to those who believe chivalry is not dead, and loyalty is the greatest attribute you’ll find in another person. I’ve fallen down, but I’ve gotten up, every single time. If you think I’ll back down, I won’t. If you think you intimidate me, you don’t. I am a devoted friend, and a bitter enemy. I forgive either too often, or close my heart off forever. My greatest fear is not that others won’t love me, but that I am inherently not worthy of being loved. I am charismatic and extroverted, but also highly introspective and often misanthropic. I treasure my relationships with others, but value my independence. I believe real love means never trying to impose limitations on another person or keep them from growing, even if you end up growing apart.

I am witty, but use snarky remarks to deflect my true feelings on occasion. I attract without trying, and repel the same way. I cry often, but I hate doing it in front of others, even at sad movies. I hug people. I try to make the people who mean something to me feel valued on a regular basis, because life is short. I am a good conversationalist, but I dislike small-talk. The psychology of human beings and philosophies on life are an endless source of fascination for me, so the one-dimensional isn’t for me. I am a city girl, but I feel strangely centred camping with friends, without technology. I love music, television, and books; they feed my soul.

I am oddly intuitive. I have psychic dreams and conscious visions. If you’re a certain kind of person, I can see into your soul, and into your future. I am right so often it scares me. I rarely give up on things or people I value, but am too quick to give up on myself when I don’t succeed. I am impulsive, but I am often fearful of change. I am assertive, but less secure in myself than I’d like. I am highly intelligent, but terribly disorganized and scatterbrained. I am not naive, but also not unfeeling. People take me less seriously than I merit, or underestimate me, because they haven’t put in what it takes to see who I really am. I often care much more than I let on, and let people mean more to me than they should. I am easy to meet, but hard to get to know. I am friendly, but distrustful.

I love life, but my greatest fear is what happens when it ends. I have a chequered past, an uncertain present, and if you want to be a part of my future, you should probably keep the safety belt buckled, because I’m not sure I’ll ever know what to expect, but it’s bound to be a crazy ride. I am not defined by those who judge me, nor those who reject me or wish to break me, but it doesn’t mean I don’t cry when you’re not looking. I demand from others only what I am willing to give. I may seem high-maintenance, but I will also change your life simply by being a part of it. I am who I am, and I don’t think any of these things conflict. Accept me as I am or leave now. I made a promise to myself this year and I’m going to keep it.”

I hope more women decide to take the time to self-validate, to take a look at the good and the bad, and to accept themselves just as they are. There’s a world full of beautiful people out there!

Today, a friend posted an article about the pervasiveness of the “fake geek girl” in our society. It was an interesting read. It’s now hot for girls who aren’t into a subculture that’s considered “geeky” to dress the part and show up at conventions and events, because they’re either looking to meet that type of guy, or they realise it’s a great way to get attention and fulfill the ultimate fantasy of many a geeky guy. It’s a lie, of course, and a game, and I don’t defend it.

Yet, I see why it’s necessary,or why some girls feel pressured to fake it in order to feel accepted by their friends, their significant others, or the group of people around them. It’s not any different than the pressure for women to adhere to the mainstream ideal of attractiveness when going out to a popular club, even if that’s not really representative of who that girl is.

I’ve always been an intelligent, outgoing, unconventional girl who happens to date guys who are the opposite of me (personality-wise, not intelligence-wise). The introverted ones who you won’t meet at bars, and if you see at a party, are afraid to talk to you. Some of them have gone on to become hugely successful. Some are the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. Some are the most memorable and affecting love affairs I’ve had in my life. Some are people I bond with in a way I’ve never bonded with anyone else. I’ve had to work to get to know many of these more introverted, driven people who tend to be both less emotional and less expressive than myself. But it largely works. I know many “geeky guys” who have changed me for the better and helped me grow, and I hope the reverse is true as well. Many of my friends don’t get it. They ask why I date “geeks” instead of more traditional types. They tell me someone isn’t good enough for me based on how they dress, or how they act at parties. I’ve been called a gold-digger (I’m not). I see the judgment from mainstream society, and it annoys me.

What annoys me even more is the sense of non-acceptance from the “geek” community. My boyfriend runs a Meetup for people who like sci-fi. I’ve encountered everything from being ignored and ostracized to having groups of girls make up mean nicknames for me and gossip behind my back. I will literally sit there and NOBODY talks to me, despite the fact that I make friends everywhere I go. Everywhere but hanging out with this group of people.

I’m not a fake geek girl. I don’t play video games, watch sci-fi, and haven’t read a comic book. I’m a writer with a degree in musical theatre. I’ve spent my whole life on stage. I’m not dumb, not an airhead, I just don’t like video games. I don’t like being made to feel I should apologize for being a high-school cheerleader because I’m with a group that got picked on by that crowd when we were all much younger. I was never the girl who did that, although maybe I didn’t stand up for the underdog or talk to the outcasts as much as I should have back then. I’d like to think we’ve all grown tremendously since then.

Yet, when I go to these Meetups, I feel like I’m back in high school. Only this time, I’m not invited to sit at the “cool table”. It feels crappy to wonder why you’re invisible.

The irony is, I have a higher IQ than most of the self-proclaimed “smart kids” who won’t talk to me because I mix up Star Wars and Star Trek. If they wanted to talk to me about books or politics or philosophy or psychology or religion or almost anything else, they’d discover that. I can understand the pressure to be a “fake geek girl”, because if you’re a girl who isn’t into that subculture, and you happen to date guys who are..well, you’re judged. A lot.

I don’t have interest in being someone I’m not. I’m not putting on an exploitative costume or wearing fake glasses or toning down my makeup or replacing my girly-girl fashion style with a witty T-shirt so people will think I’m smart, or so geeky guys or intelligent guys will like me. They already do, with my quirky artist/life-loving manic pixie/insecure, misanthropic extroverted personality. Yet, it sucks not to fit in because a group of people who know all about being judged and not fitting in do the same to you.

I don’t judge the people who are judging me. I accept people as they are. I’m not a mainstream person. I belong to my own set of subcultures, and so I’m interested in accepting others. But it seems as if those who have most often been judged are the most likely to judge….leading a less individualistic person to wonder if it’s just easier to fake it.

I’m not defending the idea of the “fake geek girl”. I get that some girls pretend to be part of a subculture to attract a certain kind of guy, whether it’s geeks or hipsters or musicians or anything else. I’ve already written about that in the past, so it doesn’t bear repeating. It’s uncool, and it doesn’t work. However, I see why some girls who aren’t “geek girls” feel pressured to fake it in order to be accepted, much as with any group out there in mainstream culture. If you don’t, you risk being judged, or seen as less than you are, or worse yet, people never get to know the real you.

I’ve known many of these people for over four years, and not one of them knows the real me.

It is ironic—or not—that a person can feel as much pressure to belong to a subculture to avoid judgment, as to conform to mainstream ideals to find a place to fit in.

The problem isn’t the “fake geek girl”. It’s that we live in a society that requires women to always fall neatly in boxes, usually boxes somehow related to the men with whom they associate, and to dress and act and behave in a way that’s rewarded by both men and women. If you conform, girls like you, guys are attracted to you, and your self-esteem is regularly reinforced. If you don’t, you risk judgment and ostracism and wonder what’s wrong with you. Girls are intimidated because you stand out, and good or bad, that draws the attention other girls want for themselves. Guys are intimidated because you make it clear you’re playing by your own rules, not the standard ones in effect. Mainstream or subculture, women are still put in boxes that define the way in which they’re meant to be pleasing to others. Not that men aren’t, of course, but I maintain women have it a bit harder on that front.

The problem is we live in a world that encourages and rewards the “fake geek girl”, just as it does the “fake Barbie doll girl”. It also demeans intelligent men, sending out the message that all guys would choose the fantasy over the reality, and they would not. The phenomenon of the “fake geek girl” is just another way women have found to manipulate, or to be manipulated, even those who head into things with good intentions. Rather than her intelligence being accepted and encouraged by a community of peers, she’s being rewarded for her sexuality, for her willingness to please, to conform, to be another person’s ideal.

Why can’t we all just be as we are—flawed, interesting, diverse, fucked-up, fun-loving human beings? And why, if you happen to be female, does your sexuality come before all of that?

That’s why I’m not a fake anything, and I don’t belong anywhere in our society. I’m proud of my sexuality, but I own it…not the culture I live in, or the guys who want to buy me drinks, or someone who cares more about how I look in a Star Wars costume than my actual ability to converse and share ideas. Yet, this takes either internal strength or the ability to be an hard-headed human being who won’t compromise ideals to be liked, no matter how much harder that makes things.

I’ve yet to determine which category defines me. Perhaps neither.

Today, I commented on a conversation with a group of friends and acquaintances in D.C. about the bar scene, and specifically, how to approach someone at a bar, and which “pick-up lines” are worth using.

Personally, I’ll talk to a stranger at a bar if I’m alone and bored, but only when it’s obvious someone isn’t hitting on me. I’ll accept a drink from a stranger at a bar if it’s given as a genuine compliment, and it’s not apparent there are some ulterior motives attached. The first time I hear a pick-up line or anything resembling such, I’m probably not going to continue the conversation.

Here’s what I had to say about dating, and meeting people at bars:

“I haven’t dated anyone who wasn’t a good friend first for the past 8 years, maybe longer. Why? I want someone who is genuinely interested in knowing me, who isn’t afraid to get “deep” or talk about what really matters in life, and is willing to put the most authentic version of who they are out there. I’m disinterested in small talk, which tells me nothing about a person, and I’m even less interested in pick up lines, which often tell me about who a person isn’t or would like to be. If someone’s interested in getting to know me, they’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, through friendship, conversation, and spending time together. If someone wants to get laid without putting too much into it, they’ll offer to buy me a drink and ask what I do. My answer is “What I don’t do is meet strangers in bars, but thanks.” :)

The people who interest me are those who show me they’re interesting people who respect my intelligence and find me attractive, but aren’t plying me with alcohol and bad jokes to get me to sleep with them. I invest a lot in the people in my life, and trust and affection is earned over time. We might *meet* at a bar, but we’re not going to develop a lasting relationship or start a valuable friendship at the bar. You can buy me all the martinis you want, but if you’re seriously interested in me, you’ll have to call me and ask me out when we’re both sober.

I get annoyed with the clear disinterest in other human beings and selfish ulterior motives I see at bars and clubs, and it isn’t a gender-related thing. Both men and women show a huge capacity for being fairly vapid and shallow and not demanding too much in exchange for attention or affection. Both men and women allow how other people treat them, how much attention they get or how many numbers they get, to validate or invalidate a sense of being interesting and attractive.

I like bars. But they’re the place I go to have conversation with friends and significant others and people I already know and enjoy, not the place I go to seek validation via feedback from strangers. I miss the idea of the old 1920′s style bars, which were gathering spaces for artists and intellectuals.

Plenty of them got drunk, danced, had fun, hooked up, had relationships, and met new acquaintances. But somehow, some of the most creative ideas in the world were born, friendships solidified, the drama of relationships and marriages played out, and people had more interesting things to say than “You’re cute, where are you from?”

If I meet you at a bar, I might talk to you. However, your chances are so much greater if you’re a genuine person without ulterior motives. I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

If you’re single or in an open relationship and want to meet people, actually show interest in knowing people. Not because you’re out for no-strings-attached sex, or because your ego has taken a hit and you need a boost, or because you want a drinking partner who isn’t hard on the eyes, but because you’re the kind of person who is interested in other human beings. More than that, show interest in honestly putting yourself out there via real conversation that isn’t interrupted every time another attractive person walks by. It’s just a matter of respect and honesty–you know, the stuff that friendships and relationships are built on. Why would anyone want to go to the trouble of a drunken hook-up with someone who doesn’t offer any of that?

It’s not going to be an experience you remember. It probably won’t even be with a person whose name you’ll remember. Trust me.

Emotional and intellectual connection is hugely underrated, and an hour drinking at a bar with a stranger won’t get you that. If you do go home with that person, you’ll be able to tell you’re spending time with someone who could care less about you, and whom you’re equally non-invested in. I’d rather stay home and watch a movie or talk to someone with whom I genuinely share a bond.

Maybe that’s just me. I’m old, and not much fun. I’ve had enough wild times and meaningless encounters to identify the worthlessness of those experiences, and maybe everyone needs to go through that. Then again, I don’t really think it’s just me. I think there’s a lot of people like me, male and female, who are looking for much more than they’re ever going to find at the bar—but don’t know how to fill that empty space.

There are many shallow people out there looking for shallow things. If you’re not one of them, you have to set the bar high enough that you’re not going to tolerate anything less than what you want, just because you’re bored, insecure, or think you need to “play the game”. You don’t. You need to define the rules of your own game, especially if you live in Atlanta or DC or any other city that is known for being perpetually single, work-oriented, and transient.

I have a confession to make: After all these years, it seriously bothers me that other people don’t like me.

I don’t know why it should. I’ve lived on my own since I was 17, survived in some of the most brutal and competitive cities in the world without ending up as a news story, and I’ve met every kind of person on the planet. I’m well-aware not everyone in the world is going to like me, just as I don’t necessarily like everyone I meet. Yet, when it is brought to my attention that someone doesn’t like me, or once liked me and has since reversed his or her opinion, it has an emotional impact.

OMG, why doesn’t everyone like me?

Not only do people not like me, in some situations, I encounter people who actively dislike me. After over three decades of life, I’m still encountering girls who talk about me behind my back, or do little more than glare at me when I see them, although I don’t remember ever actually saying or doing anything negative to them. I’m still encountering people I thought were “real” friends who no longer hang out with me because they have a boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend who doesn’t approve of me. I can inspire women twice my age to send me vitriolic letters and make phone calls that would put a less self-assured person on the brink of suicide. I have made people want to literally destroy my life, and not in the high school sense, where a bad rumour is circulated to make someone cry. Especially in Atlanta, where people are immediately sized up in social situations by money, appearance, and availability for no-strings-attached hookups, I’ve had to deal with the transition of no longer being the person everyone finds fascinating and wants to get to know. I’m a decade too old and twenty pounds too heavy in order to inspire people to pay attention to me for all the wrong reasons, which should be a relief, but it’s not. Instead, it makes you feel rather non-existent, as if you’ve fallen off the social radar of life.

I can make an enemy just by showing up. It turns out that when you’re taught “be yourself”, that mostly only applies if yourself is sufficiently socially acceptable and enough like everyone else that you’re dubbed as “a nice person”.

Why am I not a nice person?

I actually really am. I hold doors for strangers, make small talk with people I don’t know, pay for lunch when it’s my turn to do so, and don’t commit embarrassing party faux pas. On your birthday, I will always send a note or a card or a gift or plan you a party. If I like you, I will send you mail for no reason or share a particularly moving book I just read. I return phone calls, and send my regrets when I can’t make it to things. I am by no means a doormat, but I consider myself a generally nice and empathetic person.

Yet, it consistently shocks me when someone I thought was a friend turns out not to be, someone who is an acquaintance and doesn’t know me is spending time gossiping about me and I’m experiencing social repercussions as a result, someone says or writes something extraordinarily self-esteem shattering behind my back, or someone with whom I have a mild infatuation or am crushing on doesn’t see what an awesome, fun, and loving person I happen to be.

Do I suffer from low self-esteem, or rampant narcissism?

After all, it’s not paranoia if people are really out to get you, and it’s not low-self-esteem if what’s bringing you down comes out of the mouths of other people. Sometimes, it’s people you really care about, although you wonder why. Sometimes, it’s someone you know nothing about. Either way, the rejection and hurtful assessment of what’s unlikeable about you hits hard.

I’ve always been that way. I have always needed everyone to like me, and it’s always come as a punch in the stomach when I’ve heard people say things behind my back. I used to think I was my own worst critic, and then I met other people, and the things that were most hurtful were the things I already feel self-conscious about as a human being. It’s one thing if I look at myself in the mirror and tear myself down on a daily basis, and understand the reason everyone doesn’t love and adore me is because I am not pretty enough, smart enough, nice enough, likeable enough, laid-back enough, skinny enough, entertaining enough. It’s quite another when you hear others saying these things about you.

I was never bullied in high school. I never went through that “I don’t want to go to school because it’s a mean place that makes me feel bad about myself” phase, and I guess I’m fortunate. At the same time, I never learned the coping mechanisms that many of my peers learned early on, namely how to not let rejection and criticism and abject meanness affect you too personally. I went through the same awkward adolescent crap as everyone else, but for the most part, I was a fairly popular and energetic person who was very driven, and thrived on being at the center of everything. I suppose that hasn’t changed.

However, back in those days, for every few close friends I had, I had someone who wanted to tear me down and make me cry. I learned I wasn’t sweet or nice or congenial. I wasn’t the perfectly pretty girl everyone wanted to look like, or the charming one that everyone wondered “How does she have so many friends?”. However, I had enough redeeming qualities to make me a well-liked person by my peers. Still, I was too insecure about the people who said mean things about me to notice that. I wondered what was wrong with me.

I have always been a divisive personality.

I don’t know why. People either love me—in some cases, they actually fall pretty hard or maintain intense connections with me through long periods of time, and are the type that would do almost anything for me—or they hate me. When I use the word “hate”, I don’t exaggerate. I’ve been offered money to stop seeing people, and blackmailed in attempts to get me out of town. I’ve been completely ostracised by groups of people without even knowing what they had against me. I’ve had people say to ex-boyfriends, “Sure, I’ll marry you, as long as you never have contact with that girl again.”

But I don’t, for the life of me, know what’s so objectionable about me. Those who like me find me thoughtful, witty, empathetic, creative, entertaining, intuitive, and intelligent. I’m well-traveled, well-educated, and consider myself fairly cultured. Yet, I try my best to be all those things in a rather unpretentious way. I have a lot of interesting life stories…and I mean a LOT. Some people likely find them more entertaining than others, but isn’t that the same with everyone? Maybe I’m not wealthy enough or attractive enough to have every guy I’ve ever liked fall at my feet in return, or every girl I’ve ever wanted to be friends with to find me cool enough for her social circle, but neither have I done too shabbily in either of those departments throughout my life. I’ve never been one to have trouble finding dates, or relationships, or making new friends in a new place. I will find myself in a brand new city for a day, and have an adventure, and meet 20 strangers. Yet, the reality is, at least 5 of those strangers didn’t really care for me or resented my presence, while another 5 immediately friended me on Facebook.

I know I am not low-key enough to ever win any congeniality awards. It isn’t that I’m not nice. Yet,I say what I think. I stand up for myself, and my ideals. I won’t keep my mouth shut just to be polite, or keep conversation from getting too deep, because I find that painfully dull. If you get to know me, you may just find me rather insightful and compassionate. I won’t decide that glitter and jewelry and other adornments aren’t for me, because they’re too much for other people. I don’t see how the way I use fashion to express myself should form your opinion of me at all, yet I’ve heard it does. Frankly, I sometimes feel like a Real Housewife Of Atlanta, without the money and its advantages.

I know some people find my way of being “too much”, are put off by my rather Northern demeanour, which can come off as brash or abrasive without meaning to. Some don’t like my flirtatious banter or witty observations. Some people dislike my style, my disinterest in simply being pretty and charming and accommodating, ideals that are held very highly in women in the South. Some people don’t care for my ability to make a snarky remark, tell a dirty joke, or drink others under the table while still having a fairly respectable good time. Others don’t relate to my disinterest in marriage and children and having things in my life to nurture and support. Sorry, but I’d prefer to discuss politics over pacifiers any day, and I think a drink with a friend at 6 PM every day should be mandatory.

Of course, then there are those who don’t find me particularly respectable or endearing or charming at all, and that’s not something I can ever change.

But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt my feelings. I don’t intend to come off as obnoxious to some or threatening to others. I just like having fun and living life without too long of a list of rules and boundaries. I don’t mind that maybe some of my choices in life are unconventional, so why should anyone else? If those who judged me bothered to talk to me about my life, they might learn to look at the world in new ways, as I do when I talk to people who aren’t much like me.

So, why don’t people like me?”

The answer is, truly, I don’t know. I do my best to be nice to others while refusing to change who I am, as a person, in order to suit anyone else. It’s never enough. I’ve encountered more hatred and judgment and criticism in Atlanta than I have in my entire lifetime anywhere else, and I don’t understand. I wish I did. But it’s tiring, feeling perpetually misunderstood, on the defensive, or just overlooked.

I don’t think it’s low self-esteem, because most of the time, I think I’m pretty fricking awesome. I’m just secretly crying because someone else I either liked or respected or genuinely cared about didn’t agree, and I don’t know how to brush things off and move on without being too affected, as most adults seem to know how to do.

However, if people don’t like you often enough and criticise you harshly enough, insecurity is an inevitable consequence. You begin to wonder if all the secret little imperfections you see in yourself are so glaringly obvious to others that people can’t stand you. You wonder what people really say about you behind your back, if the bits and pieces you’ve heard are bad enough.

I was always nice to you, so how can you not like me?”

Inside, there’s a 13-year-old girl who asks that, and can’t come to terms with the idea that someone people just genuinely dislike the kind of human being you are. Being yourself doesn’t always win you friends. Being intelligent and accomplished and empathetic doesn’t always make you likeable. If you’re a woman, sometimes being yourself is the fastest way to make enemies, either because the men around you want to sleep with you or they don’t, and the women around you are either threatened or disdainful of the lack of positive qualities you bring to the table.

It’s not fair, but it’s how it is. Yet, it doesn’t hurt any less when you’re the type of person who truly invests in building real friendships and chooses them carefully, or meets someone to whom you’re genuinely attracted once a year, and those things aren’t always treated as the gift they are

If I share myself with someone, on whatever level, it’s a gift…because I don’t take the walls down for just anyone. When I do, those friendships and relationships often become connections that last a lifetime, but when others find them disposable or not that significant, it affects me more than it should. It’s a reminder of why I am so distrustful, so reticent to really bond with others.

I wish that, not just in regards to my own experience but in general, people saw what others bring into their lives as the gift it is.

Why don’t people like me?

I won’t ever know, I suppose. I know I like me, most of the time, though probably no more or less than anyone else. I know I am often unfairly judged, misunderstood, or fit into someone’s life as the “inspiring manic pixie” character who is tossed aside when someone else finally becomes who they wanted to be and found what they were really looking for. It’s hard to be the person who is hurt in all of those situations.

I can only be glad that those who do support me, love me, adore me, maintain infatuations with me, want to be my friend, go out of their way to hang out and call and write and visit, and honestly are happier for having me in their lives feel the way they do. I may never understand why people react so strongly to my personality, either positively or negatively, but I do know I have more enduring friendships and relationships than most. Little is superficial in my universe, and maybe that’s why things are the way they are, because I don’t have much interest in the superficial, the acquaintances, the living life on the surface.

Unfortunately, sometimes, I think I’m in the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong mindset for that.

Perhaps that, more than anything else, is why people don’t like me.

This Mercury retrograde, which lasts from November 6th through the 26th, is one that’s particularly well-suited for looking back, for reminiscing, for getting and keeping in touch with people from the past while still knowing how to move forward. Oddly enough, this has turned out to be a time where life’s circumstances have conspired to have me do just that. I’ve been reminiscing in a way that makes me run the entire gamut of emotions in a relatively short period of time; a way that makes me wonder how I’ve gone through so much in a period of time that seems like a lifetime, yet will hopefully only be a fraction of my life.

I am an odd person in many respects, and when it comes to interpersonal dynamics, there is certainly no exception there. I am a “highly sensitive personality”; when I choose to, I feel things on a level that most others don’t. I am extremely loyal, extremely loving, extremely unforgiving when I deem it necessary. I am extremely intuitive when it comes to some people. I will sense things from them from a tone of voice or a simple gesture, and be emotionally affected by what most would dismiss as “nothing”. It doesn’t happen with everyone in my life, but with those with whom I happen to share that connection, I can’t help but notice and I’m usually right.

Yet, most of the time, I don’t let that level of feeling colour the way I interact with others. I am the queen of the flirtatious quip, the witty comeback, the sarcastic remark. I often brush my own feelings aside, if they seem messy or uncomfortable, choosing the option that makes it possible to laugh and view life through more light-hearted glasses. Inadvertently, it often seems I brush the feelings of others aside in the same way, and it isn’t that I don’t care. Quite the contrary; I’m often afraid of caring too much.

I’ve always been like this. I’m the girl who will catch you off-guard and have you telling your life story to someone you never considered opening up to, or who will seduce you or charm you and leave you wondering why, and what the hell happened. Yet, I’m also the girl who will make a great show of not letting anything mean too much, of being emotionally inaccessible to others. I can remember spending time, a few years ago, with a guy who had a reputation for being a player. Knowing this, when he pursued me, I used my wit and rather aggressive sense of sexuality to let him know I’d beat him at his own game. I don’t think he believed me, but I did. Weeks later, I heard through the rumour mill that he was gossiping to mutual friends about my rather unfeminine “player”-like behaviour.

I remember being surprised, because in my mind, I was playing a game on terms with which he was very familiar, rules where “Don’t get invested” and “Emotional connection is not applicable” were necessary to avoid being hurt. It never occurred to me that I might have hurt him in the process by not making myself available, by dismissing him as a person, by making him feel as if I didn’t care to know him. I am not that person, by any means. I simply find it easy to deal with relationships on another person’s terms, if they seem mutually in line with my own. It didn’t ever occur to me to think that *I* am the one who has multiple tactics for deflecting vulnerability, for avoiding complex emotions and feelings that have no easy explanation. “I’m an emotional person” always seemed to be explanation enough to make it unlikely that *I* was the one avoiding emotional intimacy.

In fact, I invite emotional intimacy. I thrive on it. It is an essential ingredient in every single meaningful friendship or relationship in my life. I view those uncomfortable with it almost as a challenge, and it is not unusual that emotional intimacy turns into physical or romantic or intellectual intimacy.

As it turns out, I then do the oddest thing…I back off. I seem, as a dear friend of mine once characterised it, “aloof”. In some cases, I genuinely hurt other people in an attempt to make it clear that I don’t need anyone getting too close, and I have no desire to be hurt by the repercussions of getting too close to anyone else. In some ways, I wonder if this is why I’ve so adamantly refused to be swayed by arguments for monogamy over the years, why I don’t “fall for people” and behave as my friends do as the result of a new relationship. There’s something about me needing to maintain a certain level of control and autonomy and reassurance that I will not be left wounded and unprotected, when all is said and done.

Looking back, I realise there have been a number of people in my life whose feelings I should have taken more seriously, handled with greater respect. There are people in my life, both in my past and in my present, for whom I have a greater level of feeling and attachment than I will ever admit. It is easier to keep such things to myself, to not take chances on things that “probably aren’t meant to be”, and keep the people in my life, and my feelings for them, in their proper places.

Sometimes, this is wise. Some of these people are individuals whom I clearly see, looking back, had a fundamental incompatibility with me. Others, we just never got the timing right. But, in so many cases, people have affected my life more deeply than I ever let on, as if letting someone else know I cared and believed they might occupy a space in my life–past, present, and/or future—was a weakness unworthy of me. Many of these people went on to marry other people, build families, build connections. Still others went on to become secondary partners with whom I’ve had more enduring and loving relationships than any primary partner, something that leaves me wondering “Why did we never pursue this before it was too late?”

Sometimes, you don’t listen to that intuitive voice, because it tells you things that are scary or don’t make enough logical sense, and it’s easier to dismiss it. Sometimes, you realise just how different your life would have been if you did listen, if you’d told someone else to wake up and pay attention and listen, too.

I always thought I was the kind of person who took chances, but the truth is, there are so many I didn’t. Perhaps it was intuition telling me it was a road better avoided, but more likely, it was just the decision of a rather directionless, emotional girl afraid of the consequences she associated with being hurt. That can lead to a lot of roads-not-taken, or even to active destruction of the path that you see ahead.

Someone told me recently I would never be the type of writer I wanted to be if I kept placing restrictions upon myself. He doesn’t know me, at all, but he’s right. Even at my most trouble-causing, devil-may-care, consequence-free way of living, there’s always been something in the back of my head that reels me in, that places limitations, that tells me how far I can go.

I have had a lot of great relationships in my life. Some people claim they’re not settled down because they just never met that right person. I’ve met a lot of people who could have been that person, if the timing was right,if the circumstances were right, if there weren’t obstacles and incompatibilities, and every other “if”. The truth is, I never settled down because I never met the person who made me want to feel emotionally available enough to make that happen, who saw the world as I did, who viewed relationships and personal growth as I did. I can’t feel too sad about that, but every now and then, you realise “If only we’d met when I’m at this point in my life, not where I was a decade ago, I think the story would be slightly different.”

I think I’m more emotionally available now, but I still keep my guard up. I still have a lot of defense mechanisms designed to convince others—and myself—that I care less than I do, as if somehow, caring less simplifies things and makes relationships stronger. The right person always sees through those attempts, and no matter what you do, the truth is the truth. Feelings are feelings. You can’t explain them, or rationalise them, or decide why it’s most advantageous you make them disappear. Sarcastic quips and keeping things on a superficial level aren’t strategies that work, not with those who are truly meant to be in your life.

I don’t understand, always, why certain people are meant to be in my life, and what space they’re meant to occupy. I realise that mostly, only time will tell, but that requires being open to options that don’t exactly fit with how you see things. It requires the lack of hubris necessary to admit that how you see things may not always be right, and your perspective skewed or limited or coloured by where you are in your personal life journey.

Looking back, I wish I knew many things then I know now, because there are some different roads I may have ended up traveling. Yet, everything happens for a reason, and I think the lesson I’m learning is that for all my insistence on openness and authenticity and taking chances, I have a long way to go. I may be a sensitive person who understands feelings a little better than many, yet when it comes to true and authentic bonds with other human beings, I freak out a little. I avoid, I deflect, I make them less than they are. I see potential in things, and if it isn’t convenient, I will make it less than it could be to avoid the emotional impact. In doing so, I actively don’t take the chances I think I’m taking.

I talk the talk, and don’t walk the walk…and I think it’s taken me 10 years to realise that. Perhaps that’s some of the reason certain people have avidly disliked me over the past decade. I’m not comfortable with any situation where the definition of the rules and parameters of the relationship or emotional investment isn’t under my control.

Hi. I’m Alayna. I’m a control freak, even though I’ve spent my whole life thinking I’m anything but. And I think that just maybe, keeping myself from getting hurt is keeping me from possibilities that have great potential to change my life. I’m spontaneous, but I dislike genuine change. I’m overly dramatic and over-romantic, yet I am uncomfortable with real and honest emotions. I’m unconventional and want to refuse to play by society’s rules, yet I feel a tremendous amount of guilt and conflict and fear over defining my own.

I am hypocritical, or maybe just scared and confused. Part of me wonders if it’s time to grow up and move past that. If I don’t now, another 10 years may go by, and I’ll be looking back in exactly the same way.