Hear Yourself Speak

So I took this BuzzFeed quiz.

And now, like, half of you are dying to read the rest of this post, and the other half of you are so disgusted you don’t want to keep reading, because those BuzzFeed quizzes are so stupid. No, seriously, they are–there’s no validity (internal or external), no test-retest reliability, and no evidence that questions are applicable across a wide range of populations. Take me, for example: most of the times I don’t even recognize 80%  or more of the things they’re showing me, and I pick my answered based on, “green is  a pretty color” or “hey, I actually recognize that one!”

So, this BuzzFeed quiz. It is only an idiot who decides, on Valentine’s Day, to click on a quiz called “Why You Don’t Have a Date.” (It’s okay; you’re in good company. I clicked.) I was told that my problem was that I was untouchable, too good, and didn’t know how to have fun. I am sure you totally did not see that coming, after I threw around words like “validity (internal or external), no test-retest reliability” etc.

It was kind of devastating.

But not surprising. Because BuzzFeed quizzes have precisely one strength: they tell you what you told them. They tell you what you already think about yourself. I already knew how paralyzed I feel by being “not fun.” BuzzFeed, like a mirror, reflected it back to me.

You know, the bookish-nerd-girl is somehow making a “sexy” come back. Have you noticed? Store ads with these girls in sweater vests and button down shirts, and thick I-am-a-librarian-you-can-tell-because-I’m-wearing-these-glasses glasses? With the bright, perfectly applied lipstick and the really, really long eyelashes? That’s where it falls apart. Because I don’t apply lipstick perfectly and plump my eyelashes in my free time. In my free time, I email physics professors about earthquakes and read studies about Alzheimer’s. There’s not a lot of time left for pouty lips and fluffy lashes when you’re learning Geographical Fugues.

Maybe someone else out there does. Not me. Me? I’m smart enough to find school interesting. I’m excruciatingly awkward in social situations–self-conscious and rigid with the stress of being observed. I hate getting things wrong; if I didn’t do it perfectly, then I failed. I like to tutor people, because it’s fun sharing knowledge. I even have boring friends. No–really! They know they’re boring, and they like being boring. We do boring things together.

What’s wrong with being boring? What’s wrong with not knowing how to have fun? I’ve had a lot of people tell me I don’t know how to have fun. Do you realize how many social situations you obliterate by not liking to go out drinking? It’s like people don’t know how to relate to you if you don’t drink. What do you even do for fun? Well. . .I knit.

BuzzFeed’s response only hurt, because it only said what I already knew: I feel like nobody really wants to hang out with me and get to know me because I don’t know how to have fun. Like I would be more valued if only I could “figure out” this “fun” thing. Like I wouldn’t be overlooked, if I could just learn how to party.

It’s kind of weird, really; our current society seems (to me, anyway) so fixated on “having a good time” that it’s completely lost sight of so many different other things. 100 years ago–or just in a different culture–a young woman NOT wanting to go out and get raving drunk would be considered desirable. Now it’s just weird. It’s just weird that my skill-sets are all so domestic. I didn’t even try to be–I just liked those things. But I don’t think, anymore, around here, “domestic” is valued.

Am I blaming society for not valuing me? Not really; I’m blaming myself for valuing “society” as a whole over individuals–and my own core beliefs. I am sure there are individuals out there–guys out there–who bemoan the fact that young women nowadays are all flakey and flighty and you can’t actually have an interesting, in-depth conversation with anyone. Here I sit, and there they sit. Just because we don’t speak for “society” doesn’t make us any less real.

But in my desire to be accepted, I will stew in my “failure” to be “fun”. . .and disregard my steady companionship toward my friends, never evaporating when the rocky-roads hit. I will bemoan that no one will notice me, because I’m too boring, and ignore the fact that I am an incredibly strong, right-hand man–tell me what the goal is, and it WILL get done. I will coordinate, I will plan, I will put in the hours, I will keep all parties on track. I don’t know how to party, but I do know how to put mittens and boots on two-year-olds. I can’t drink, but I can cook or bake anything you could want to eat, from delicate flavors and presentation to man-hungry calories. I don’t watch shows or listen to cool music. . .I do struggle through making my own music, keeping my own ducks, and living my own life.

I KNOW I’m an interesting, caring, valuable individual. . .and I throw it all out the window, because I “don’t have a date on Valentine’s because I don’t know how to have fun.”

I am lonely. A self-love anthem doesn’t change that. Neither does accepting the vapid mores of a society that only likes the sexy nerds (all others need not apply). It’s just a different kind of lonely.

I used to get mad, back when people still dared to ask me if I was out to find a husband. Where, exactly, does one obtain said husband? Is there an aisle in the grocery store I missed? If you just want one, you just go pick one up–because they’re a dime a dozen, and all you need to do is get around to deciding it’s time?

Yeah, I’d like a husband! One who doesn’t look at me like I have six ears and two fingers, just because I don’t really drink. One who doesn’t make me feel stupid and small that I “don’t know how to have fun.” One who shares many of my values, not one that doesn’t understand why I’m so oddly different. Giving up on that, and just taking whoever the heck comes along, is no way to rid myself of loneliness. Then I’d be married and lonely, instead of single and lonely–and really? I think I would prefer single and lonely to married and lonely.

Do you know, there are some things we can’t change?

Actually, there are a whole heck of a lot of things we can’t change.

Then why do we feel such a compulsion to change them?

There is such an odd feeling inside of me when I ask myself, “But why are you embarrassed to be a lonely single?” Well–I don’t know. Aren’t I supposed to be embarrassed to be a lonely single? Goodness gracious, is “supposed to” my only rationale? It’s like saying, “because reasons.” How dumb. But people look at you really funny–heck, I give myself some strange looks–if you say, “I’m okay with my loneliness. I am enjoying the bittersweet nature of this time. I don’t have what I want, and yet what I do have is satisfying in it’s own way.”

The loneliness is still there. The ache and the hurt is still there. But why is that some embarrassing problem? From everything I have seen and heard, what I want–being married–doesn’t do away with aching and hurting. Just different kinds of aches and different kinds of hurts. So then couldn’t it be possible to hold to these things equally: to want, unequivocally, that which I do not have, and yet being perfectly okay with the hurt of the moment–unabashed and unashamed to hurt, but not driven into a frenzy to be free of it?

Are we afraid of the hurt? Is that why we hide from it?

Maybe I am. Maybe that’s why I cringe when I hear my own fears repeated back to me. “No one wants you; you aren’t fun.” But giving into the fear looks like trying to prove to the world that I am too fun! And I guess maybe staying the course and nursing your wounds must look something like what I’ve written here. The hurt remains, but I am still myself.

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