Monday, March 13, 2017

I Don't Deserve 'Love'

Last week, I left off on a bit of a dreary note, so I wanted to bring resolution to that by saying I don't deserve 'Love'. At all. Ever. Period.

But... but... to love and be loved is one of the highest aspirations of any person! Indeed, our culture is saturated with 'love'. Bad RomComs, bad romance movies, bad romance books, bad advertisements about engagement rings (Shane Co., on the corner of State Street.... you just said that in his voice, if you're from Utah), wedding expos, etc. etc. All that this does is distill 'love' down to being a saccharine, vapid enterprise. The goal is to find 'love'. I could easily launch into some diatribe about how the bourgeois is using this as a means of keeping the peasantry and proletariat consumed with pointless enterprises that only line the pockets of the capitalist pigs even more.... but that's not why you're here.

We're programmed from a young age to find 'love'. If a five year old boy and girl are playing together, jokes get made about them getting married (first of all, yuck. Second, WTF??). Valentines Day cards are passed around in classrooms, high school dances abound, and finally, when one becomes an adult, the pressure is ramped up to settle down and have kids so that the cycle can be perpetuated. We absolutely must find 'Love', fall in 'Love', stay in 'Love', and ultimately die in 'Love'.

However, I got to thinking about this during my tediously long, boring commute home. In the 2012 movie, "Perks of Being a Wallflower", one character says to another, "We accept the love we think we deserve." That means, in essence, that we acknowledge the adoration that we think we deserve. If, for example, I suffer from low self-esteem, then I'm probably not going to date someone who complements me often or builds me up. Because that's not the love I think I deserve. However, if I find someone with an acerbic wit, who critiques me often and complements rarely, I will probably date them instead. It is, simply, the love I think I deserve.

So how do the two intersect? Well, we are told to find 'Love'. Preferably true love, but any kind will actually do. We must get be in a relationship/get married/have kids as soon as humanly possible. However, when one takes into account that we only genuinely accept adoration that we think we deserve, we end up with... well... another pretty bleak picture. We settle. "Oh, she doesn't really appreciate me for my... me-ness. But that's OK, she's the best I can do." "Oh, he doesn't like that I'm shy, but he pushes me to go out and be friendly. I don't like doing it, but it must be for the best. I was always a slow learner anyway." The reasons go on and on and become more convoluted the more you think about them. But with the need to love and be loved, regardless of how societal constructs play into it, we will grasp at mirages of love as readily as I'll grasp at a glass of Johnnie Walker Scotch. But we don't hold out for the good stuff (like Balvenie Scotch). A new paramour says, 'I love you' and Wham! Twitterpation starts and we say it back without really thinking about whether or not this person is right for us.

The trite response to this is that you must love yourself. Not in the bright, happy way so many self-help books and memes portray it. But in a deep, gritty way. Because Love isn't hoping for perfection, it is rather accepting of reality. When I was in with my therapist last week, we were talking about Love and intimacy, and we discussed the three most important tenets of the two. Understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. I must understand myself. All of me, the lazy prick who hates cleaning, the overly ambitiousness that can lead to being ruthless, the kindness that makes my heart bleed when I see a homeless person. All of it. Because I am all of that and all of that is me. That leads to acceptance. Accept what you are. Accept what your partner is. Then forgive it. I don't mean to toss that out there flippantly. On the contrary, forgiveness is hard. It's something that I struggle with and have not entirely capable of. But it is, arguably, the most important part of the equation. I can accept that I enjoy farting around on Reddit all day, and I can forgive myself when I fail to meet my goals because of it, or, I can force myself down the rabbit hole of self-loathing.

So I'll finish how I started. I don't deserve 'Love', because it's probably the love I think I deserve. I deserve to be understood, accepted, and forgiven. I deserve that for myself, I deserve that from others, and others deserve it from me. So, my friend, get out there and do some lovin'... don't actually. That sounds weird. But introspect, forgive yourself, and you'll find yourself looking at the love you get from others and asking, "Is this what I deserve?" I hope the answer is always yes, but I know reality will be different. Anyway, I've got to jet. Be humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you next time.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Learn to be Lonely

We've all heard that. "It's not easy being green." We all intuitively know what that means, and we have all experienced it in some form or another. Oh, you collect vintage cookie jars? Better keep that to yourself. You enjoy listening to Nickleback? You'll lose all of your friends and probably your job. There's always one or two little details about ourselves that, if they made it into the light of day, would influence how people view us. But why are we ashamed of our little nuances?

Recently, I read an article recently about how the effects of being in the closet don't end when you come out. The author rather eloquently stated that being in the closet is like being lightly punched in the arm over and over again. At first, it's irritating, then infuriating, then it's all you can think about. I can agree with this completely. This has led a great many of us participating in the Best Little Boy in the World Hypothesis. As children, we tie our self worth to those things which seem to lend value to us. For me, it was music and generally trying to excel at whatever I put my mind to. As an adult, it's excelling and amassing respect and starting a political career. I can unequivocally say that what I felt as a child carried over into and has played a large part in my adult life. For example, I'm an active participant on three teams for Weber State University. I'm a very active member and State-wide officer for my Fraternity. I'm constantly evaluating my performance and critiquing it. "Oh, you got a B+ on your paper. Why didn't you get an A?" "Oh, you didn't get offered every job that you've ever applied for? You're resume is weak and you are an antisocial weirdo. Do better." "Oh, you don't have a six pack and a good torso taper? You're a hideous buffalo." This leads to an interesting mix of feeling as though I need to be better, but then being so overburdened trying to be better that I end up failing.

But this has far more dire consequences.I feel the need to have the biggest biceps, the most defined six pack, stay up the latest, drink the most, all while maintaining straight A's in school and attending many other responsibilities. We must be the best in order to be validated. Which, obviously, is ludicrous. We idealize youth, beauty, and sex. We've lost the ability to look past someone's external features to see if they're a good person or, more importantly, if they'll make a good friend. From September to November, when I was single, I had a Grindr account. Now, I know what Grindr is there for. I know it's primary purpose. But it's where all the gays hang out anymore, so it's the easiest platform to meet people. I made it abundantly clear that I only wanted friendship. They only wanted sex. To be sure, I did meet a couple of really amazing people, and they've stuck around, however this article resonated with me because of that experience.

I had just lost a relationship, and it was impossible to make new friends because it seemed as though everyone was looking to be validated. That isolated me from my community, and it would seem that this experience isn't unique to me. We all camouflaged ourselves before we came out, we all came out, and we all still feel that light tapping on our shoulders. It doesn't magically stop when we come out. I guess that paints a bleak picture for the post closet years. We still feel the need to do better, to be stronger, to be smarter, to be... enough.

Well, I've got to jet. Be humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you next time.