Intuition is a confusing thing. On one hand, it can be a positive guiding force that protects you in your life. Almost every time I’ve gotten myself into a really bad situation in my life, it’s because I didn’t listen to what my gut instinct was telling me about something. If I have a blind spot in my life, it’s to ignore the alarm bells that go off in my head and the doubts that cloud my heart, and to determine that I am in charge of my life, so intuition is irrelevant. Whatever I’d like to happen in my life, I can choose that…intuition has little to say about it.

Yet, for some reason, it just isn’t true. I don’t understand enough yet about myself and my spiritual nature and my place in the Universe to understand why, but when I start to get indications from life that I’m headed in the wrong direction in one way or another, yet decide I’m going to do what I want to do regardless, it’s a frustrating battle. It’s rather like being condemned to roll the boulder up the mountain, only to have it repeatedly fall backwards. The fact that this has happened so many times in my life has taught me intuition is something real and inexplicable, and while not everyone has it on an equally well-developed level, you know it when it hits you.

According to Meyers-Briggs, my iNtuitive nature is the most strongly expressed aspect of my personality. Despite the stories I tell about my psychic dreams and visions that look like flashes from the future, rather than memories from the past, or vibes I get from certain people or situations that make me extremely self-protective (I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being a bit paranoid, only to remind people it’s only paranoia if nobody is out to get you, and almost every time, my weird feelings of suspicion and paranoia are justified.), I rely a great deal on my intuition. I struggle not to always let it affect my overly emotional nature or cloud my judgment, but what many people refer to as impulsiveness or following my heart is usually me following a sense of intuition. I sometimes feel that, in certain ways and at certain times in my life, I am guided in a certain direction and I may not even know why. I may have strong feelings, fears, the logical part of my brain that tells me intuition can lead me astray…yet I know that very rarely does that ever happen. Somehow, I end up where I’m supposed to be, even if it’s not where I wanted to be—even if it’s not how I wanted things to work out.

The things that throw me for a loop are the things I just don’t see—or feel—coming in my direction. They’re the situations for which I emotionally unprepared. I have a hard time coping with those, because my alarm bells never gave me the notice I needed. I’m not often shocked or thrown into a state of disarray, but when I am, it hits me hard. The situation with my ex-roommate was one of these. I knew I couldn’t trust him, that lending him money meant I’d never see it again, that much of what he confided to me as a friend wasn’t true, but his sudden abandonment threw me for a loop.

You see, I’m the girl who spent a weekend in bed back in her college days, watching sappy movies and crying because she knew her boyfriend was cheating on her…if not actually in a physical sense, then emotionally. I remember very clearly a relationship that devastated me because we were so close—but he had a female best friend he’d known for a very long time, who was an important part of his life. This didn’t bother or threaten me, until the day I met her, and first spent a weekend with her. After she left, I was so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed, and played bitter angsty music and cried a lot.

I didn’t know why. My friends didn’t know why. Outwardly, he didn’t treat me any differently when she was around. She didn’t act as if they were secretly having an affair, and he swore to me they were not involved in any way, so nobody could understand why I was so upset. But that weekend, I knew it was over. My heart was broken, because there was something in the way they interacted, the way they looked at each other, that even if they were honest and trustworthy and nobody was cheating on anyone…he would just never love me the way he loved her. I would never, ever be good enough. I would always be competing with something to which I couldn’t compare, and it broke my heart.

It didn’t end right away, because I tried to tell myself I was stressed, PMS-filled, making a big deal out of nothing. But, of course, it eventually did end. Strangely, I don’t remember how it ended, or if it was painful…because all I remember is that weekend, which was one of the worst in my life, for no reason other than what existed in my own head.

A few years later, I saw an engagement announcement, and it hurt a little bit that he was getting married. What hurt the most was that his fiancee was this woman who’d been his lifelong friend, the one I knew the first day I met her was his soulmate. To this day, I believe he was a relatively good guy who treated me well. I believe that for a long time in his life, he just didn’t know. He didn’t see what I saw in one day.

I can’t explain why and how I see things that others do not, but I do. Sometimes, I know what others are feeling before they do, and I try not to let on, because I don’t want my intuition to influence their choices.

As a result, I have a lot of friends who come to me for advice on their romantic situations; people who are single and married, poly, monogamous, dating around…I have a lot of friends who want to know how I see their love life, what I would do in their situation, etc.

Today, I had a dear friend ask me directly, “Do you think I’m with the wrong person?”

I don’t know how to answer things like that, honestly. I don’t know what makes me any kind of authority, and I feel hypocritical judging anyone else’s relationship situation when mine is not at all straightforward, and I often ignore my intuition so that I can keep on with life the way I imagine I’d like it to be.

Yet, intuitively, I do know. I almost always know. I don’t want to influence anyone else’s choices with my judgment, or issue advice that’s clouded by my own lack of impartiality, but I know. Just as I know when a person I have feelings for is going to end up with someone who isn’t me—likewise, I have a pretty clear understanding of when another couple that’s happy and in love and discussing marriage and so forth shouldn’t be. I just am uncomfortable being asked by those who give my intuition too much credit.

Recently, I had a conversation with yet another good friend, in which I confided that I didn’t understand our friendship. On a surface level, it’s hard not to see all the differences between us, things that might preclude even a casual friendship, much less one that runs a bit deeper. Yet, the more layers you peel away from the surface, the more commonality there is, and the more it becomes obvious that there’s the potential for some significant type of emotional connection.

I confessed to him that I was a little shocked by my iNtuitive reaction to our relatively new friendship; it is rare for me to trust someone or wish to connect with them very quickly, unless I somehow sense we are in many ways the same person. In so many ways, this friend and I are not the same person. Yet, my intuition, upon spending time with this friend, told me that I had just met someone who was going to significantly impact the course of my life. It even sent me a random, nonsensical vision that didn’t make any sense, and still doesn’t…but I can’t help but think that years from now, it might.

I do not know if the impact this friendship will have is positive or negative, I do not know how it will manifest itself, and I do not even know what kind of connection it is. What I do know is that it *is*, and it’s been awhile since I had that reaction to another person. It’s the kind of thing that happens perhaps once a year, sometimes once every two years. It’s a rarity.

What shocked me even more was that my friend, also a highly iNtuitive personality, had a similar confused reaction to spending time with me, and phrased his viewpoints on the situation in exactly the same way. All I could say was, “I don’t always understand the connections I make–or don’t make—with other people. I just know when they are there, they’re there for a reason. Perhaps I’m just going to let life point out what that reason is, because it has a way of doing that.”

Over the years, almost everyone that iNtuitive connection has brought into my life has been a major, irreplaceable piece of my life’s puzzle. Some have been friends, some have been lovers, some have been enemies, some have been all of the above at different points in time. But one thing they all have in common is that they’ve been in my life through seemingly difficult odds, through complicated emotional situations, through personality differences that clearly point out a certain level of incompatibility. That intuitive voice that has helped protect me from danger and has helped alert me to things others don’t always see…well, that seems to trump everything when it comes to my personal relationships.

There’s a point to this seemingly long rant, and it’s not “Always trust your gut instinct”. Yesterday, I heard news that my father was again extremely ill and in the hospital. This is the 5th time in a little over a year, so to say his health isn’t good is an understatement. For those who don’t know me well, I am not close to my father. For much of my life, he has not really been a part of it, except in the way where he’s influenced a number of the issues I have with abandonment and seeking approval from men who are not able, available, or interested in giving me the validation I need to feel positively about myself. Knowing he is ill has brought up a mixture of emotions, and many of my doctors have suggested it’s been the breaking point for my anxiety, the reason I finally needed to seek help for something I always dismissed as a personality quirk. Apparently, I have a lot of feelings about my father’s illness that I do not process, or understand, a rarity for me. In fact, most of the time, I feel like a bad person because I don’t really feel much about it at all—and this from the girl who cries at Hallmark commercials, puppies cuddling, and when a friend ignores me or an enemy levels a criticism. I have feelings about *everything*, but something as significant as a parent who is ill (and we’re not talking about minor stuff here, we’re talking about my mother receiving calls three different times telling her she might want to prepare for the worst.) gets no reaction.

Part of it is my own emotional issues, I know. But another part is intuition. Even when the doctors said, “Perhaps you might start wanting to make some final arrangements” last year, a voice in my head told me to not be distressed, because he was going to be okay.

I feel that way this time, as well. I am grieved for my mother, and her level of distress and worry, but I don’t feel it. I don’t even feel sad. I feel a certain level of confidence that somehow, things are going to work out for the best–and I am someone who rarely believes that about anything.

I suppose believing in the power of my own intuition gives me comfort, or protects me from the harsh reality that I have no emotion left for a parent who—like so many—was never able to offer me what I needed when I was young and vulnerable enough to need it. But I’d like to think that I just *know* I am not upset because I don’t need to be.

Yesterday, one of my very close friends told me she was expecting her second baby (which I suppose I can write about, because she posted about it on FB). Before she had her first child, I not only had a dream in which I saw her baby as a two-year old, and so knew it was a girl, part of the dream involved my friend saying “We can’t go on vacation around St. Patty’s Day because that’s the weekend we’re celebrating the baby’s birthday.”. My friend has a lovely two-year old girl that was born a week after St. Patrick’s Day. Pretty cool, no?

Anyhow, my first reaction was to tell my friend she was going to have a baby boy this time, and she said “That’s what everyone says”. Yet, probably because it was in my mind, when I went to sleep last night, I had a dream where my friend was in the hospital and was holding her baby. This baby was smaller than the first one, seemingly a little more fragile, a little less spirited than the first one.

In the dream, my friend and her husband told me they named the baby Amelia.

I do not know if everyone is mistaken in their certainty my friend is going to have a baby boy, or I had a dream with clouded intuition, but it seems my friend is expecting a tinier, more delicate baby than she might be prepared for…perhaps suggesting the baby will be born earlier than predicted…but that this baby, one who looks like an Amelia, is most clearly not a boy. :)

And so there might just be a third one after all….*laughs*

We all know I’m a big fan of the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory, largely because I’ve yet to find a psychological test that describes me as well as this one does. It’s also fairly spot-on with describing many people I know. I’ve “typed” most of my close friends over time, and have found it ironic that certain people with whom I share certain relationship/friendship-oriented traits and challenges end up having the same personality type.

Somehow, a discussion about M-B types got started on my FB page this evening, and it led me to this site, which is pretty comprehensive about providing details regarding each type of personality. The link above is to the page for my type, ENFP, but all 16 are listed. It’s a good starting point if you don’t know much about what your type supposedly says about you.

One of the more interesting features on the page, though, is the Relationship Pairing section. The idea is that there is no compatible or incompatible type of person for someone, but that each type has a natural relationship with each of the other 15 types (16 if you include relationships between two people of the same type), each with its own set of benefits and challenges. If you buy into the whole Meyers-Briggs thing extending to how people interact in work and personal relationships, this tells you your “ideal” relationship with a person of another type. It doesn’t necessarily follow that the more similar letters you have, the closer your relationship will be.

For a while, I’ve noticed I seemed to have a love/hate relationship with INTJs. I am initially very attracted to people of this personality type (even if I don’t know they are of that type), but the friendship or relationship tends to be characterised by a lot of drama, arguing, or inability to communicate on the same level. I have at least two friends I like a great deal and have been in my life for a long time, but I suffer with the same emotional/communication issues with both. We always work through things because for all our differences, there’s actually a high level of understanding…but it’s a complex communication dynamic. I have a former INTJ friend who ended our friendship over our inability to communicate in a manner that wasn’t heavily emotionally charged. INTJ friendships and relationships are challenging for me, yet I seem to seek them out without meaning to.

On the other hand, I have a relatively new friend who describes himself as an INTJ, but with whom I have none of these issues. Most of the time, we have a really high level of tolerance, understanding, compatibility, and ability to discuss feelings with one another, something I do not share with other INTJs. It is odd that we communicate as peacefully as we do, and have as much in common as we do. I believe he may be closer to an INFJ.

So, because I was curious, I looked up my thing with certain personality types, and how we’re supposed to get along, and why it’s so frustrating, communication-wise.

Apparently, the INTJ is my “Pedagogue”, defined as a relationship where each is both the other’s mentor and student: has a “parent to child” feel. This explains why most of my INTJ friendships are with people I find extremely intelligent, may have been romantically or spiritually drawn to at some point, and by whom I constantly feel challenged and rejected, something that both exhausts me and drives me to seek that person’s approval even further. I often feel a connection and a disconnection with this type at the exact same time.

Meanwhile, the INFJ is my “Contrast”; a relationship defined by point and counterpoint on each function. Three of my closest friends are INFJs, although the relationships haven’t been entirely conflict-free. They are, however, some of the strongest relationships in my life, marked by a seemingly easy level of emotional understanding and the ability to talk for hours. Two of these are the type of friends with whom I’m so close, I’ve wondered at various points in time, “Is this who I’m supposed to end up with?”

A friend that I play trivia with is someone I joke is the quiet version of me; although we’re very different, we think on the same wavelength. We have the same annoying habits of interrupting people and thinking tangentially and getting carried away from the point of things. We can complete one another’s sentences, get on the same train of thought very easily, and know what the other person means through seemingly random words or gestures. We’ve had maybe one disagreement that lasted for all of 5 minutes in all the time we’ve known one another. Not surprisingly, he is an INFP, very close to me on the personality spectrum. Our relationship? We’re meant to be “Pals”, people who work and play well together, and have minimal natural type conflict.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating is quite opposite of my personality type, an ISTP. Our relationship is defined as a “Novelty”, something I didn’t necessarily like hearing, until I saw the definition was “intriguingly different; interestingly so.”. That’s not such a bad thing; I like intrigue and interest.

However, there are some instances where the test is just plain wrong. An old friend of mine, one with whom I naturally get on extremely well with little effort, who rarely offends me or hurts my feelings despite being both rational and direct, identified himself today as an ESTP. M-B describes our relationship as an “Enigma”, someone who is a puzzle and foreign in every facet. I find this couldn’t be further from how we interact; we actually understand one another quite easily. He mentioned perhaps he should take the test again, and I’d agree. ;) It doesn’t get everyone correctly. *laughs*

The question is, if each type has a different relationship, which is most likely to be compatible with you in terms of love, romance, or long-term relationships of any sort?

Here’s what I learned about me and my personal relationships: “Although two well-developed individuals of any type can enjoy a healthy relationship, ENFP’s natural partner is the INTJ, or the INFJ. ENFP’s dominant function of Extraverted Intuition is best matched with a partner whose dominant function is Introverted Intuition.”

So, yeah…those friends I fight with, feel challenged by, sometimes engage in relationships that are emotionally draining or end in chaos, but still can talk to for hours on end and relate to without effort…well, those are really the people who are most naturally suited to be in my life. It’s the ones I gravitate towards almost by instinct, no matter how little sense it seems to make.

It seems I actually do really well with finding people who are intuitive matches for me. They’re often the friendships that are confusing on some level, because they don’t always end up as platonic that should be. I have “history” with most of my INTJ and INFJ friends, but in the end, they’re still some of my closest friends and confusing relationships. They are the people who either stay in my life through everything, or leave slamming doors and hurling hurtful condemnations that aren’t ever forgotten. Only time ever tells which it will be.

But I’m glad the test doesn’t know everything, because it never would have matched me up with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and we’d have missed out on a whole lot. :) Sometimes, novelties last a really long time…*laughs*

I had an unfortunate experience last night at trivia. One moment, I was feeling fine (with the exception of the grumpiness and cramps women suffer through every month; the kind that made me want to wear a giant t-shirt and leggings and minimal makeup out in public, because I didn’t care if I looked cute in any way.), and ordered a salad, Coke, and shared some garlic bread with the Guy I Am Currently Dating. I ate about half my salad and two pieces of bread, and started to feel really awful…like someone was stabbing me in the abdomen with a sharp knife. Since I already had my appendix out, I assumed I was just having some very painful cramps at an inconvenient time (common for me; my body wants to be a little more physically delicate than it should, and doesn’t tolerate pain or illness that well. I spend two days out of every month curled up in a little ball that says “Do not approach.”.) However, the more I tried to ignore it and go on with dinner and trivia, the worse I got. By the end, I had relocated permanently to the restroom and was having a hard time standing up.

The verdict? It seems Mellow Mushroom gave me food poisoning, which is just what you want to deal with when you already feel like crap. Last night was fairly rough, and I woke up feeling a little like someone drove a truck over the middle of my body. However, I seemed to feel better until I attempted to eat breakfast. Now I’m curled up in a little ball again, writing on my blog and feeling unloved by everything and everyone, instead of doing my work.

I’ve had food poisoning 4 different times in the past decade of my life or so. Somehow, I don’t remember ever having it before then…maybe it’s an Atlanta thing. 3 of those times came from eating salads with chicken at restaurants. Three different restaurants, three different types of salad, three different salad dressings and other veggies. This leads me to believe it’s not an allergy problem…unless my body hates green stuff. (The fourth time was undoubtedly the worst food poisoning experience, and it was after eating pasta (again with chicken) at the Olive Garden.)

Do restaurants simply not know how to cook chicken properly? Or, is it that, being largely the only meat in my diet, my body chooses to reject it and is urging me to eat vegetarian meals more often? (I was a vegetarian for a number of years, and if I eat a food that I still no longer eat—I once accidentally ate pork—it will also make me very ill.) Or, is it just that items like lettuce and spinach are suspect? This food poisoning salad thing only happens during warmer weather.

Either way, it seems to pay to eat crappy food. The scale doesn’t go down, but you’re not wondering why someone keeps stabbing your stomach with a knife.

So, instead of taking a lunch break, I’ll just write a blog about stuff.

I am a person for whom many of my very best qualities are also my worst qualities, depending on the situation, and of course, who you happen to ask. One of these centres around the idea of communication; in case this blog isn’t a giveaway, I like to communicate with people. A *lot*. Most of my good friends hear from me on a daily basis, or if this isn’t possible because of conflicting schedules, get a lot of little notes and texts reminding me I’m thinking of them. I interact with most everyone close to me who uses Facebook on a daily basis, sometimes keeping a steady stream of chatter throughout the day. At one point, I was using 5,000+ minutes a month on my cell phone. Now, I’ve cut that back significantly due to time constraints, but send thousands of texts and FB messages a month. Yes, I am a big fan of communication.

Over the weekend, I had a fight with a friend, who *isn’t* such a big fan of communication. Not only is he a much busier person than I am who has little free time for frivolity like chatting, he’s also just not the kind of person who feels the need to be in constant communication all the time, especially with those who aren’t necessarily his closest friends in the world. After a few days of silence, I will naturally start feeling rejected. (“Why don’t you like me anymore? It takes 10 seconds to send a text/FB message and you don’t care about me enough to talk to me!”.) Meanwhile, my friend is more like, “YAY, peace and quiet and not being bothered by other people.” It’s definitely a huge incompatibility and personality difference, and I’m surprised it took as long to cause conflict as it did. The conflict has since been resolved, but part of me still wonders how to be friends with someone who isn’t all that into communication. Especially for me, a girl for whom communication is the lifeblood of everything I do. I mean, I *communicate* for a living. If I’m not talking to someone, I’m writing stuff for someone, or venting on my blog, or random posting on FB. Social media and unlimited phone plans were pretty much designed for me.

This led me to think about my past history with communication, and how it has occasionally led me into trouble. Aside from my drunk texting/calling/FB messaging habit (my friends used to confiscate my phone before we went out clubbing), even sober Alayna doesn’t have the world’s best judgment when it comes to communication. I have a habit of saying whatever’s on my mind, and because I’m a better writer than a speaker when it comes to uncomfortable topics, email has been one of the best things to ever happen to me.

A prime example of this involves a college boyfriend, who was really just a friend I hung out with a lot. I was attracted to him, he flirted with me, but (not shockingly) was a bit older than I was, and so I didn’t know if he was really interested. What I *did* know was that he was single, and I was going to make it a campaign in my life to turn our friendship into something more than it was. As long as he was single and I was still interested, there didn’t seem to be a time limit on this, so I never really made any moves. At that time in my life, I still had the opinion toward relationships that said “I’m a girl. I’m supposed to wait for you to make a move or express your feelings.” The more I waited around and this didn’t happen, the more I became disheartened.

One week, I heard he was going out on a date on Friday with a perky blonde dance major, and needless to say, this upset me. Rather than be an adult and sit down with him and say, “Why do you keep flirting with me and going places with me and sending me flowers if you’re not interested, and then ask someone else out?”, thereby risking the destructive face-to-face rejection, I made a beeline to the computer lab at 12 AM. (yes, this was back in my early days of college, when not everyone had internet access in their dorm room or off-campus apartment.) I sent a long, and what I assumed to be well-written, letter full of sadness and rejection and vulnerability and “Why don’t you see how I feel about you?” (for many of my teenage years, I was a walking Alanis Morissette song.)

Of course, after I hit send, I wanted the e-mail back. I spent the next two days avoiding the computer lab, avoiding any place I’d see this guy, and not answering my telephone. It was probably the most confusing and immature behaviour ever, but that’s what you get at 17: “I’m secretly in love with you, and now I’m going to be an adult and tell you—wait, no, I’m now going to hide from you forever.”

Things worked out, although not to any credit of mine. I was too busy hiding to read his very touching, romantic response, to find out he’d canceled his date with the dancer, and wanted to go to dinner with me instead. Instead, I made him take a trip to my dorm room, where, upon seeing him, I didn’t smile or offer a hug, but threw a blanket over my head. *lol* Nothing is more endearing than a girl who sees you and becomes a parakeet ready for sleep. :P

That relationship didn’t last more than a few months, and he ended up sleeping with the dance major anyway. But, I digress. The point is, it was the point where I learned something important about myself, interpersonal relationships, and communication.

The main realisation was, for all my going on about how I wanted to find a sensitive and romantic guy who was going to woo me in old-school princess fashion, I didn’t. I liked being the pursuer in relationships. As I got older and became more experienced in life, it went from being the kind of girl who likes pursuing the object of her affection, to outright seducing people. There’s a very masculine quality to my personality that enjoys the chase, the flirting, the conquest. It’s probably why I’m eternally attracted to and involved with unavailable men. Even the ones who are single end up being unavailable in some way that means I don’t always get what I want, and life is a constant source of drama, and there must be something about me that is drawn to that.

This story is not the only instance of me sending communications to people that were extremely direct, and in some cases, romantically aggressive. (for the single ladies out there, you’d be amazed how much more effective and appreciated this tactic is than subtle flirting and hoping you’re sending out the right signals. But “Sex And The City” discussed this long before I ever did.) I may have never gotten together with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, had I not had enough of him showing up to my events and making me feel ignored, and sent him a pretty direct FB message along the lines of “Why don’t you like me? Everyone likes me. Why do you bother coming out to my events if you don’t like me?” *laughs*

That being said, some of the most fulfilling relationships I’ve been in have been with those who are extremely dominant personalities, who see something specific in my personality that likes to take control of situations, and beat me at my own game, so to speak. I don’t consider myself a particularly aggressive or even assertive person—I just say what’s on my mind.

But, it’s made me realise that, particularly in the world of romantic relationships, that makes me a rather aggressive and forward person. Were I not that way, I’d probably be the kind of girl with Gentlemen Callers who was wooed with flowers and compliments and romantic gestures. Part of me wishes I’d had more of that demure Southern Belle experience, waiting around for the day the guy I like will pay attention to me. I haven’t had too many of those, because that largely isn’t me…but also because the guy who goes out of his way to do that isn’t the one I’m going to find attractive. It’s the one who ignores me, the one who is unavailable because he has a demanding job, a wife and kids, or a mom that wants me dead, the best friend who likes to flirt and keep me guessing about his feelings, or the one who has a need to prove he’s more dominant than I am that somehow gets my attention. (somehow, despite all this, I’ve actually had some very good relationships…just the psychology of it is all screwed up.)

The moral of this long-winded trip down memory lane? Even from a platonic, “I want to become better friends with you” perspective, don’t tell me you don’t like to communicate with me too often or that I’m like a number of other people in your life. I take it as a direct challenge, and you are going to get an e-mail. *laughs*

I have a friend who learned that this weekend, and it made me realise that even though I’ve matured a great deal since I was a teenager, I’m still essentially that same girl who can’t stand to be overlooked or dismissed or not appreciated, and I still have an inherent need to express that….and then not pick up the phone.

It is really a wonder that I have friends, much less any semblance of a stable romantic relationship. *laughs* What’s even more confusing is how I survived almost a decade of polyamoury with *any* of the people I was seeing being willing to deal with me. If there is ever a book to be entitled “Aggressive Communication, Instantly Running Away”, I will certainly write it. :P

Lunch break over…time to go back to writing about more important things, such as plastic surgery and electricians. ;P

You’d think those three things don’t go together, outside of an unreasonable enjoyment of calorie-filled food that keeps me from fitting into my favourite dress from 2007 (discovering this was a huge blow to the ego, also a theme for this week in my world.), but if you put them together, you have my week.

I haven’t blogged much, and it’s largely because we all have those weeks where, after a few weeks of significant drama, the storm has died down, and everything seems quiet. And, once everything seems quiet, you can’t tell whether relief or boredom is going to set it. That’s pretty much my week in a nutshell.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that my roommate is gone. Like so many other men in my life, our years of friendship and helping each other out counted for little, and he skipped out without paying me or The Guy I Am Currently Dating any of the money he owes us. He gave two months notice, but in reality, it was three days to get the lease signed over, and then he was gone..leaving piles of crap in his half-moved-out-of-room, not cleaning a bathroom that I’m disgusted by looking at, and leaving boxes too heavy for me to deal with sitting in my living room. He’s left no forwarding address, and no longer answers my texts. My intuition tells me that friendship ultimately is a disposable, useful thing for some people, and we’ll never see him again. Yet, I’m struggling financially because I had no notice that I was going to have to spend hundreds of dollars setting up utilities, and paying our rent without any help from him, even though he moved out mid-month. It still makes me really angry when I think about it, but mostly it makes me sad. The kind of betrayal and abandonment I received from him reminds me of betrayals and abandonment that has followed me my whole life. Little is real, meaningful, and nothing is forever. Throughout life, you’ll find most people don’t deserve your friendship, much less your trust. I know this, but every time I let my guard down and someone stabs me in the back, it tears me apart all over again.

As a result, I’ve been feeling particularly vulnerable and not liking people very much. My interactions with other human beings have largely been confined to people I know and love and have earned my trust over the years. On the other hand, my interactions with newer friends in my life have been full of sensitivities and misunderstandings and “Maybe we’re never going to be that close because you can’t give me what I want/don’t know how to be emotionally supportive enough to deal with me/ send out messages that confuse me.” There have been small things that have felt like rejections and criticisms and a general feeling of “Why am I not good enough for you to like me?” in dealing with old friends, new friends, The Guy I Am Currently Dating, and others. There have also been some reactions on my part relating to situations that feel like betrayal from someone I care about greatly…although there is no wrong, no betrayal, no negativity to speak of. It is simply me not adjusting well to change, being reminded that caring means being abandoned, being reminded that I am the sort of person who seeks the attention and affection of those least able to offer it, needing validation and emotional support, and instead of receiving it, hearing “constructive criticism”.

It has made me feel very estranged from the ideas of meaningful friendships, relationships, and allowing new people in my life, in general. It has made me realise that, on an emotional level, I don’t have anyone in my life who truly understands and is able to be emotionally supportive and connect with me on a level that I value greatly. I believe it’s because there’s virtually nobody in my life I love and trust who feels on the same level as I do and is affected by things as I am—the people in my life are largely a far more logical, and often times, emotionally removed, group of people. Rationally, I know it’s a personality difference. Emotionally, it feels like indifference or “It’s not my job to help you deal with your feelings.”

I’ve learned that, when it comes to close and meaningful relationships with others, it isn’t always what people say that truly reflects how they feel about you. It’s what they don’t say that carries the most weight, the absence of support and affection and, as a friend of mine might put it, “validation”. Some people do need that in their lives, because there are so many outside forces and people who “just don’t get you” trying to tear you down. Some of this is anger: people become angry because you will not live life by their rules, and have no interest in conforming to their image of who they’d like you to be, and once that sense of powerlessness kicks in, they have no choice but to lash out or passive-aggressively say mean, hurtful things about you. Some of this is also insecurity: if you’re seen as being too self-confident, too different, too happy being different, there’s an element of that which some mistake as not being approachable. For some reason, particularly in male-female dynamics, the reaction to this is to tear someone down just enough to reveal a level of insecurity and vulnerability, and then attempt to befriend that person.

I see this, I understand this, but when it seems the world is bent on not accepting you as you are and telling you how fucking awesome you happen to be….you want and need people in your life who are going to remind you. Unfortunately, this weekend, my people didn’t offer that, but instead offered a day of being together for 10 minutes and pointing out 7 ways in which my actions, words, or behaviours failed to meet with approval, of telling me I was wrong for wanting that support and validation, and indirectly pointing out “Well,maybe you’re not as great as you think you are.”

A girl can only be on her only real cheerleader for so long, before the input and perceptions of others start to have a dramatic influence. This weekend has changed the way I view some of the people in my life and closed a door that might have led to greater connection and feeling and possibility in life. It has replaced a sense of connection and being on the same page with a realisation that I’d spent time not seeing things clearly, and as every good idealist will tell you, that’s a tough but necessary thing to give up.

In the absence of bonding with people, I’ve spent more time lost in my own little creative world, a world that seems to experience and express emotion freely, and on the same deep experiential level that characterises my life. My whole life, it’s kind of been a world into which I retreat when I am feeling misunderstood. It’s a reminder to my idealistic side that what I seek from life and people does exist, even if it’s complicated, even if I haven’t met the right people to allow that to exist in my world *now*. It’s a reminder that although most people will hurt or disappoint you, life is still one giant possibility.

As a result, I managed to read the entire “The Hunger Games” trilogy in less than three days. I honestly didn’t expect to like it, but from the first book–a fast-moving story which sucked me in with its “reality show gone awry” premise and kept me interested with themes of rebellion and refusing to conform and the battle between love and survival and how some people are naturally wired to choose one over the other, whereas for others, they co-exist–it kept me wanting to read more. One of the most impressive things about the way the books were written, aside from a few particularly well-developed characters and a strong female protagonist, is that I didn’t always know where things were heading. Whenever I thought I’d figure out how the story was going to end, it twisted in another direction, and that always pleases me greatly. I dislike the predictable.

My inner ear issues still haven’t healed to the point where I can handle the movies yet, but I wish they had, as I’d love to see the first movie. I’ve heard they toned things down a bit, in terms of the violence (and none of the violence in the books is of a gratuitous nature; it is often shocking and brutal, but it makes a point. It hits on an emotional level. I’m not a great fan of violence in films, but when it’s necessary to paint the desperation and lack of humanity in a situation–say, in an epic war movie–it serves a purpose.) and they focused a little more on the romantic triangle aspect of the story. Of course, this is necessary to draw in the “Twilight”-loving teenagers, but I don’t think “The Hunger Games” is a young adult story. I think it is far deeper than what your average 14-year-old is going to take away from it.

In a political climate where our government is seeking to limit our rights more and more, and in particular, want to exert inappropriate influence over women and the choices they’re allowed to make about their bodies and reproductive rights, this is the perfect time for this movie to be released. I certainly don’t find that timing accidental.

Last night, after trivia, we also watched “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. I’d actually never seen the film before, although almost everyone I know told me how much I’d love it. Many of my friends pointed out I’d like it because it’s an atypical romantic comedy–one that says life doesn’t always work out as expected, but still works out, and still has a certain amount of happiness to offer.” Others pointed out the extent to which I’d relate to Audrey Hepburn’s character—and, yes, I see a certain amount of resemblance—and would therefore love the movie. Still others, knowing my love of quirky fashion, pointed out I’d see Audrey Hepburn in this film as a style icon (I now understand why the owner of Dagwood’s said I reminded him of her, due to the fact I’d worn a black dress, my hair in a chignon, and black sunglasses. I just thought he was old and attempting to be complimentary, but, no…apparently he remembered this movie.) *laughs*

The answer is, yes, I did love “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” for all these reasons, and more. I know Truman Capote’s novella was a little less cohesive and a little more scandalous—even in the 1960′s, they had to make reference to important taboo plot points in a very subtle way, and other things had to be removed from the book entirely in order to get it past the censors. The movie’s Holly Go-Lightly is able to pass off her superficiality and life of sin and decadence and disorder as the mark of someone flighty and too innocent for the world in which she’s existing…yet leaves you wondering how much is an act, and how much is part of her true personality, one that has learned the art of scheming, manipulation, and pushing herself ahead in the world. Capote’s character is neither stupid nor naive, and the depiction of her character less endearing. I suspect I may like the book a little more, so I’ll put it on my to-read list. :)

The next time the mother of The Guy I Am Currently Dating calls me up to remind me I’m a trashy, gold-digging whore, someone should recommend she watch this movie. It illustrates that trashy, gold-digging whores can be some of the most charming characters in film history. ;P

As for the hipster bar food—well, that’s just an amusing anecdote. On Friday night, we went to an independent art gallery where some acquaintances of ours were putting on an event to take a look at an art installation and hear 10 local writers read pieces that may or may not relate to time travel. Some were very well-written, some were entertaining, some just lost me completely, but it was energising to spend time with that much creativity and free-spiritedness locked in one room.

Afterwards, a friend of mine suggested a bar called the Bookstore, which appeared to be the kind of hipster hangout where all the girls behind the bar were dressed more like Velma from Scooby-Doo than your typical Atlanta part-time-model-working-behind-the-bar employee, which is what you get virtually everywhere in this city. (People are NOT shy about showing off their $2,000 implants and $700 hair extensions.)

We sat at a giant table on the patio, which, even though there were five of us, 10 people could have easily fit. It was like having Thanksgiving dinner, where you have to yell to the other side of the table.

In addition, everything I ordered, they didn’t have. A friend of mine ordered some sort of disco fries, which I love—but they came with bacon. I asked the waiter if he could hold the bacon, and he mentioned it was in the gravy. I then asked if he could just make me cheese fries, to which he said “No.”. Apparently, the restaurant doesn’t have shredded cheese. They use cheese curd. Finally, I gave up an ordered cheesecake, which was a weird creamy texture custard type thing on top of the world’s hardest sugar cookie.

Ugh. Frustrated, I just wanted a martini. I asked if they could do a chocolate martini. Of course, the answer was “No.”. Despite the fact that the city’s biggest liquor store was right across the street, they didn’t have the stuff to make that. He offered to make a chocolate cake martini, which arrived in the form of clear “cake” flavoured vodka with a sugar rim and slice of lemon. Nothing about it tasted like either chocolate or cake. I don’t know what he was smoking, but they should rename it to “Slightly Less Bitter Lemon Drop”.

I then asked for my standby, an apple martini. In what I see as a theme for my evening, the response was “No”. They didn’t have stuff to make that either. I asked what kind of martini they could make that wasn’t just vodka in a glass with some olives, and he said, “Anything. Except the things you wanted.”

I settled on a raspberry martini, which was, again, a glass of raspberry-flavoured vodka with a sugar rim, and a lime.

Dear Hipster Bar Owners: A martini is not vodka poured in a martini glass with sugar around the rim.

That is all. I don’t think I care for hipster bar food. *laughs*

Sometimes, in life, it can be difficult to get a word in edgewise.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve spoken about difficulties with individuals who find me too loud, too extroverted, too overbearing, or simply too much, in one way or another. As a result, I’ve tried to work on becoming a better listener and a more patient person, although neither come naturally to me, as a highly reactive person.

And, yet, it seems I can’t please anyone with my style of communication. Either people are tired of hearing from me, or I feel frustrated that I am not being heard, that I am not important enough to validate or to consider I might have a worthwhile opinion, story, or even an answer to a question.

Recently, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has repeatedly mentioned (at least twice in the past two weeks)that I “tell X,Y,Z to every person I know”, making me feel highly invalidated, as if he’s become so bored with me that he can’t stand to hear me go on about the same things for another day. Finally, I asked him if he’s so bored with my stories, why is he still bothering to converse with me? He apologised, but it still ended up making me feel extremely self-conscious, as if I truly don’t have anything witty or interesting to contribute to the world, other than repeating the same stories to new audiences.

Then, last night at trivia, The Guy I Am Currently Dating and I were playing with the same friends we always play trivia with, a married couple relatively close to my age with whom we get along well. Except, yesterday, while we were all debating a question, I wasn’t even allowed to express my opinion. It wasn’t an opinion, even, but more a point that I was confused on what my teammate was saying. I wasn’t the only one. Others were confused, too. But this friend didn’t want to hear my feedback, so he put up his hand and simply told me to “Shhh.’ (incidentally, none of us knew to correct answer.) I was very hurt and angry with this person for the rest of trivia.

It didn’t help that after trivia, sitting and talking to a group of guys that play on teams we compete against, I felt frustrated because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Every time I tried to contribute to the conversation, ask a question, or share a related anecdote, someone else would talk, as if I weren’t even there. I finally just got my stuff and started to head out, because, really, what’s the point of conversation with people who don’t find you interesting enough to listen?

Today, we went to a Meetup that The Guy I Am Currently Dating organizes, which is for fans of a sci-fi show. I don’t particularly care for sci-fi, and I’ve not always found it the easiest to make friends in this group. In fact, in the past, I actually made enemies. (I didn’t do anything but show up, so I don’t really know how that happened.) However, slowly but surely, I’ve been working on trying to get to know people, although virtually everyone seems to be rather opposite of me in personality and on the level of interests/hobbies. At least I no longer sit there in silence for 3 hours once a month, as I did the first year of coming to the group.

But when I was talking, I guy I barely know replied to something I said with, “Wow, that’s really self-centered. I know you admit to being a narcissist and you like being the centre of attention, but that’s pretty self-centered.”

It took all the willpower in the world not to just get up and leave. If I’d have attended that event alone, I probably would have. I’ve known this guy from this group throughout the 3 years I’ve been attending, and we’ve had maybe 5 conversations. None of them have allowed him to get to know me on any meaningful level, much less make judgements of my character or psychological makeup. This was especially offensive to me because what I was saying wasn’t self-centred at all, it had to do with me expressing an insecurity (specifically, I shared that when I was out with someone and they specifically asked me not to “check them in” on the FB app that does so, it made me feel as if they were ashamed to let the world know they were hanging out with me. Why? Because I’ve encountered people who have treated me that way.). So, it was actually a moment of human vulnerability and an attempt to connect as a real, honest human being—but of course, nobody could see beyond “That seems self-centred because that’s how Alayna is, based upon the absolutely NOTHING I know about her.”

No matter what I do, it seems I can’t win. It seems “being myself” is not only wrong most of the time, but I’m hard pressed to find people who find anything positive in the feelings I express, what I have to say, or the personality that I am. Even the douchebag at the club dismissed me as “bizarre” and “stuck in my own head” because he wasn’t interested or intelligent enough to engage in witty repartee when I offered it.

It seems like either people are forever judging me, telling me to shut up, pointing out how I have nothing to offer of substance, or simply not listening…so the question is, why do I even try? Why do I have an internal need to express myself to a world that simply doesn’t care a great majority of the time? Even many of my close friends admit to not reading this blog because “it’s too long” or “too intense”.

Why is it so hard to find someone on my wavelength, someone who actually enjoys my conversation, and recognises that I’m a smart, authentic, vulnerable person? If you take the time to not judge a book by its cover, you’d find out I’m more than entertaining, snarky, and narcissistic. And, yes, if you hang out with me long enough, you’re going to hear some of the same stories repeated, which is a hazard of hanging out with the kind of person who meets 500 new people a year. It doesn’t mean I tell everything about me to everyone I meet. In fact, there’s plenty I tell no one, not even those who spend three years hanging out with me.

The more people I meet, the more I realise that I don’t really relate to most of them, and most of them in turn judge me fairly incorrectly. It’s not a new problem. I’ve suffered from being chronically misunderstood my whole life. I remember sitting on the couch with an ex, who was then not an ex, shortly after moving to Atlanta, and I made a witty comment. He laughed and looked surprised. When I asked what was up, he said, “You surprised me, because I never knew you were witty.”

We’d been together at least 9 months.

I, of course, smiled and said nothing, but in my head, I thought, “How can this person possibly be my soulmate?”

There was an easy answer to that, of course, although it isn’t the one I wanted to hear.

Likewise, I often wonder how I can spend time routinely with so many “friends” and acquaintances that just don’t get me, aren’t interested in getting me, or are so convinced that the one side of me they see is all there is that they’re not interested in getting to know the others.

Because I am interesting. I am smart. I am witty. I do have interesting stories, and since I’ve met thousands of people in my lifetime, I will repeat them numerous times for the benefit of strangers and friends who know me, but not as well as they could. And it may make me narcissistic to say I’m worth shutting up and listening to now and again, and if you stopped judging and started listening, you might find a real person rather than an entertaining personality.

But, I guess that’s just me. After all, I’m pretty self-centred.

“What a man wants is to believe that a woman can love him so much that no other man can interest her. I know that is not possible. I know that every joy carries its own tragedy. Oh, it is beautiful to love, and to be free at the same time.” ~ Henry Miller

After my last entry, regarding communication and relationships, I’d asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating if he’d read my journal…and in specific, that entry, which mentioned a lot of things I was pondering about relationships.

I was hurt, because he said he didn’t, and also because he said “Why should I have?”

It made me realise that although I’m not creating any great works of art here, either with my online journal or my personal diaries, or—in this day and age— my Facebook and Twitter communiques, I have been spoiled. I have had a number of people in my life absolutely fascinated by my thoughts, people who have not even really known me but become enamoured with me because of my form of self-expression.

I didn’t answer, but I wanted to tell him that that’s why. I don’t know if I can date someone who doesn’t make time to read what I put out there (although he mentioned he was busy at work all day, he also spent time on FB and linked to other articles he found to read elsewhere.)

I think I have been spoiled by learning there are people out there that are fascinated by my mind and my communications with the world, and the realisation that I am—not for the first time—with someone who doesn’t share that fascination because communication is so easy to come by, and to be taken for granted, that’s instilled a feeling of discontentment.

We managed to have a good enough weekend together, but I still couldn’t get out of my mind that his response to not reading my thoughts was “Why should I?”…and the feeling that perhaps I’m still looking for a certain type of connection we do not share.

It is this that often makes me wonder if I need someone in my life with whom to share this type of feeling-based, intellectual, artistic, introspective discourse. It reminds me of the days when I’d send special people in my life books to read, and we’d have great fun discussing them; the days when I had time for long e-mails and very open, personal conversations, and special connections.

I believe I need more of that in my life these days. I love the friends I surround myself with on a regular basis, but by and large, we do not share that same type of connection.

I believe I need people in my life who read this journal simply because it interests them, and by connection, because I myself am of interest to them. Perhaps that doesn’t really exist anymore; we’ve been pared down into a fact-based, text-message-Tweet-and-status-update kind of world. It doesn’t necessarily leave room for the connections that I inevitably value the most.

Some days, you just feel like you’re having the scariest, crappiest day in the history of the world, and then you open your mailbox, and see holiday cards from people you’re really happy to have as a part of your life.

One today was from a long-time friend in Australia, another from a long-time friend who lives much closer, but I don’t see any more frequently than if he lived in Australia. They both contained beautiful and heart-felt messages that made me cry.

My life hasn’t been the most stable this year, and I know I’ve been driving everyone up the wall with my constant issues and neediness and emotional ups and downs. My life and my personality and my relationships and friendships aren’t the most conventional, and not everyone I meet likes me or wishes to be a part of my world, and I’m OK with that….because I know I’m blessed with friends and family that love me and want me to be happy.

My mailbox today made me remember that: that there are people who care, no matter how busy life gets, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how far the distance between old friends and family. Life is bigger than just the here and now, which I tend to forget. There are people who have loved and supported and stood by me through some tough times, and years later, are still there to tell me they’re there for me.

While it might hurt that not everyone is the person you think they are, and you can find yourself abandoned or hurt or betrayed when you put yourself out there, you can also find yourself with some pretty amazing friends.

I hadn’t checked my mail in like three days because I’m lazy, but everything happens for a reason, because today I needed the reminder that I am far from alone in the world…and that was there. In addition, I had some good conversations with people I do get to see on a regular basis, but still reached out and talked to me and cared, without even knowing I was struggling today.

As the Golden Girls would say:

Thank you, all of you who truly have been over the years, for being a friend.

There once was a woman who had one hundred faces. She showed one face to each person, and so it took one hundred men to write her biography”.

—Anais Nin

I must say, people end up on my page looking for some bizarre, dark, and morbid things. My analytics program has told me that recently, people found my page by Googling for “Amy Winehouse casket photos”, “Amy Winehouse autopsy photos”, and “Deaths On Atlanta Subway”.

Ugh. For those who don’t know me, I might have a very dark, Gothic kind of streak that runs through me, and I might think vampires are sexy (the Anne Rice ones, not the 16-year-old effeminate boys that glitter.), but I’m actually possessed of a pretty fragile constitution when it comes to blood, death, gore, and all that other stuff. I haven’t seen a horror flick since I was 11. You’ll never see any sort of blood or graphic violence on these pages. In fact, I’ve had to recently start de-friending well-meaning people on Facebook because they’re putting up pictures of cute dogs saying “This is Fido’s last day on earth. He will be executed tomorrow”, or because they’re putting up photos of abused children to let us know this is what happens when we don’t care. I’m all for the well-meaning causes, but my sensitive nature can’t handle seeing the photos and being reminded of the cruelty that surrounds us every day.

Anyhow, I’d originally meant to write about a topic that’s gruesome and heartbreaking in a completely different way: rejection.

I don’t think rejection is an experience any of us takes particularly well, because the natural response to being rejected is one of “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?” Sometimes, there are answers to that question: there are reasons you didn’t get the job you wanted, or a guy/girl you liked never called you back, or you put yourself out there and things weren’t a rousing success. Other times, though, that’s just the way things are, and nothing about you or how you handled the situation could have changed the outcome.

I have a number of talented, intelligent, beautiful friends in the world that I see limiting themselves due to fear of rejection, and this behaviour is so ingrained in them, I don’t think they recognize it. I have a friend who is one of the smartest people I know, but never puts himself out there to get rid of the job he hates, allowing him to find out what he really wants to do. I have another friend who is so physically attractive that there is never anyone who doesn’t notice her when she is in the room…but she lacks the confidence to go anywhere by herself, or to approach strangers without the company of a friend. The more I look around my world, the more I see tons of examples like this.

Growing up in the world of performance, I experienced a lot of rejection at an early age. It’s one world in which going on a job interview is liable to give you feedback that is hurtful enough to make you cry on the spot, but you don’t. It hurts everyone in the world to hear you’re not talented enough, not attractive enough, not graceful enough, too short or too tall, too fat or too skinny, or that you should consider cosmetic surgery to improve your image. It hurts every single person who’s been told they’re forgettable, or come across as someone the average person will dislike. But it’s part of the job, so you go home, you cry, you think mean, negative things about yourself, you think mean, negative things about everyone else, and you go to the next audition, and the next, and the next.

I also didn’t necessarily grow up in the healthiest, most loving family environment, and hearing a list of the ways in which I failed or wasn’t good enough was a weekly, if not daily, concern. The result was a tendency toward perfectionism: I told myself I would keep on working and unfailingly try to improve myself until everyone loved me and found me irresistible.

Of course, this is a far from healthy mindset, particularly when it leads you to secret, in-the-closet self-destructive behaviour, as it did for me…and many like me. But it never occurred to me that I couldn’t handle rejection or I didn’t like myself. Instead, I spent a lot of time looking at myself from a cold, almost removed point of view, seeing everything there was not to like about me and vowing to become a more perfect person. I thought being perfect would lead me to being loved, and until I got there, I didn’t deserve love or appreciation.

It wasn’t until after I moved to Atlanta and stopped performing that these issues became apparent. I didn’t love myself, and I didn’t truly expect anyone else to love me, but I’d gotten so used to hiding behind a wall of arrogance and fearlessness that said “Fuck you, I don’t care if you like me or not.”, that I didn’t consider it a problem. When a relationship ended or I got fired from a job, I didn’t handle it well. But I had no doubt that life would go on, and that jobs and relationships were replaceable. And at the same time, I was crumbling from the weight of my own imperfection.

At the end of a particularly difficult and intense relationship, I asked my partner how he didn’t know for sure that I wasn’t the right person for him. (He’d suggested we “take a break” and “see other people”, which, in my years before discovering the world of polyamoury, translated to “I’m really just over you”…which, in many cases, it does.) I remember standing in front of the coat closet in my apartment, and him saying, “I know, because when I look around the world and see attractive, capable, confident women, I find myself wondering what it would be like to be with them instead of you.”

And that was the first time I realised just how brutal rejection can be for certain types of people. It isn’t just about hearing “no”. It’s about something more personal, all the ways in which you’ve failed—failed to be perfect, failed to live up to “potential”, failed to make someone else happy. That failure has always been something I can’t live with, something I struggle with on a daily basis.

People often tell me I’m socially fearless. I’ll go up to anyone and introduce myself. If I’m attracted to someone, I’ll let that person know in a pretty straightforward way. I’ll sit in a formal restaurant by myself, and take the NYC subway home at 5 AM alone. I’ll travel the world myself…and in some ways, prefer that. There are few “dares” that get a flat refusal from me.

On the inside, though, I’m constantly struggling with the fear that someone won’t like me….and it’s no accident that I’ve not only gone through my life encountering people who don’t like me, but despise everything I embody and actively work to humiliate me or bring me down. I’m constantly struggling with the knowledge that I’m not as beautiful as this person, as smart as this other person, as gracious and likeable as another. Some days, I wonder how or why anyone could love me at all…because I never figured out how to be perfect. I never figured out, even, how to look in the mirror and see someone others will like.

I still often have the desire to act out in self-destructive ways nobody ever has to know about, to add to my list of imperfections. I often wish I could just escape from the world at large for a few months, and re-emerge as a happier, skinnier, more attractive, more accomplished, healthier person. I never do these things, but the desire for that to happen doesn’t disappear…and the belief that I’m surrounded by people who love and support me despite being so imperfect never quite sinks in.

I’m writing about this topic because recently, a few people have talked to me about how hard it is to meet people, how dating is a challenge, and even approaching people can be difficult. I do understand. Particularly in Atlanta, a city besieged by the “If everything about me appears perfect, everyone will love me” mentality, the tendency to get to know others for who they are is often not there…because it requires a vulnerability people aren’t willing to reveal. I understand just as well as anyone. In some ways, this is the worst possible place for someone with my particular set of issues to live (though Dallas is very close behind, and Miami even worse.) , because it’s filled with people with the same issues and insecurities who also have the money and the dedication to do something about what they don’t like in themselves, whether it’s apparent in a high-powered job, a new car, perfect teeth, discrete nips and tucks, or the need to appear like a carbon-copy of their best friends.

I’m not socially fearless, by any means. But what I’ve learned is that if you don’t forget about yourself long enough to reach out to others, you’ll spend your life by yourself. Nobody is perfect, nobody is out of your league, and even if rejection hurts, it doesn’t always have a single thing to do with you. No matter how great you are, everyone will not like you. Everyone will not be charmed by you, find you attractive, or even care to converse with you. Some may even instantly dislike you, for reasons that don’t matter and you may never know.

The important thing is that some people WILL like you, find you attractive, want to get to know you, see something special in you. And the person you’re afraid to talk to? Well, he or she has a secret list of insecurities and fears and baggage just as long as yours.

So, talk to a stranger. Go to a movie by yourself. Apply for a job you don’t think you’re good enough to land. Ask that person you’ve had a secret crush on to go out on a date. And if there are things you’d like to improve about yourself, whether it’s getting in shape or going back to school, it’s never too late to make those changes. In fact, if you’re like me, you try to re-commit yourself to building a better life pretty frequently.

Being open to whatever comes along seems to work the best for me. Trying too hard to make things work and beating myself up over my repeated “failures” is a personal self-destructive trigger, and will send my life in a direction I’d rather not go. In the immortal words of a legend, “You can’t always get what you want..but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

Life has a way of pointing that out…even if you don’t know what you need, the Universe sometimes seems to.

Forget about yourself for a little while. Try. Take a chance. Put yourself out there. And whatever comes back, know that you’re better for the experience, because it’s never about the results. It’s about knowing you don’t have to be perfect in order to be loved, liked, appreciated, or successful. If you did, none of us would ever be happy or do anything worthwhile.