This took me forever to write. 2 days. 5+ hours.
This is about vulnerability.
This is about nobody/everybody.
The other day I was having a rough day, and I wasn’t feeling quite good about myself (to be perfectly vague). So I watched my favorite TED Talk. If you are unfamiliar, these are short talks given by experts in a certain field about their respective area of study. TED is an anagram for: Technology, Entertainment and Design. My favorite talk is by a woman named Brené Brown; “The Power of Vulnerability“: (If you haven’t watched this, YOU MUST. I have promoted it more than once, but this is really, really good. Like, EVERYONE. It will be the quickest 20 minutes of your life. WATCH. IT. NOW.)
OK. I find it extremely difficult to be vulnerable for a variety of reasons:
1) I live in New York City. People here are harder. You can’t cry every time someone pushes you in a crowd or punches you in the face on the subway. Otherwise, you wouldn’t last one week.
2) I deal with rejection more than any other type of person I know. I have been to almost 70 auditions since moving here, and I have only heard 2 “yes”s from any of those auditions. Can you imagine going to 68 job interviews and only hearing “no” after “no” after “no”? It’s like that. I need a tough backbone (which can be hard to separate from being guarded).
3) I have put myself out there many-a-time for many-a-guy… and I have been turned down many-a-time. I have flirted with guys who showed interest and then they are all of sudden not interested. No reason given, no reason requested.
4) Nothing is for certain. Except math. 1+5 will ALWAYS equal 6. But there is not guarantee that anything will last. But there is no guarantee that anything will work out. Relationships, jobs, NYC. Equity actors still struggle to make their rent. Relationships of 5+ years disintegrate. You’re never in a safe zone of 100% certainty. No one is safe from random acts of life. And all the accumulation of all this booshit causes me to grapple with romantic relationships.
Let me elaborate.
I am a people person, yes. I can get along with anybody. A.NY.BO.DY. Anybody. I can go to a party by myself and make some friends by the end of the night. And I can flirt my tits off. I am good at figuring out how people tick and talking to them accordingly. Some people really like to talk about themselves, so all I need to do is ask conversation-starting questions: “Where are you from? Where’s your family? Do you miss them? Where’d you go to school? etc.” Some people are super vulgar, so all I need to do is exchange stories of foulness (perhaps about drunken and/or sexual debauchery: “This one time, I was so drunk I fucked a garden gnome”….that’s totally a fictional example).
Ok. That being said, I really, REALLY struggle with relationships with guys. You too??? Wow, I’m shocked. SARCASM. I couldn’t be less shocked. TRUTH. I struggle, because I don’t have faith that a guy could know all parts of me and not be scared away. I don’t think I’ve ever met a guy that I’ve shat all my crazy on. Never have I met a guy with whom I did the following things (FAMILY: DON’T. READ. THE. BULLETED. LIST. SKIP TO THE END OF IT. OR JUST DON’T READ THE STUFF IN THE PARENTHESES):
- abused the words “pussy” and “beaver”,
- sung in my ugly MirandaSings voice
- danced like I meant it
- sang like I meant it
- said what I really wanted instead of pretending I was ambivalent (e.g. “I do care where we go for dinner; I WANT CHINESE FOOD LIKE I WANT SANTA TO BE REAL!!”)
- been a sloppy drunken mess (googly-eye, full-on Deirdre St. James [my drunken alter ego… think Sasha Fierce x10])
- riffed (and meant it)
- made jokes during sex (e.g. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Huh? I can’t understand you. Don’t talk with your mouth full!”)
- said how I really REALLY felt (e.g. “I think I like you more than you like me.”)
- asked the burning questions in me of whose answers I am terrified (e.g. “What is it you like about me?”)
- asked for help when I’m sick (e.g. “Will you please make me some soup?”)
But I RARELY put myself in a position where I need somebody. The other night I woke up to myself puking in my mouth. I almost woke up my roommate, but I decided I could handle it on my own. I went to the kitchen and stood over the sink, spitting. I HATE vomiting. I hate it so much. I cry every time I puke. If the Devil owned one bodily function, it would definitely be vomiting. Nothing feels like the birth of Satan like puke rocketing out of your throat. But I also hate depending on other people. Because I can trust me not to let myself down. “Vulnerability? Whose that? Is he cute? Is he known to carry big things if you know what I mean?”(#destinyschildshoutout #heygirl #BEEP)
I mean, what would Kaylee have done if I had woken her up? Perhaps she would’ve just sat with me while I spit into the sink. Or rubbed my back while I waited for more vomit to come up. Or filled up a glass of water for me. But maybe that’s enough. Maybe sometimes it’s just nice to have people around. Like, when you go to the hospital and friends come to visit, there’s nothing they can do (unless they’re doctors) but it’s still nice to just have someone there. Physically there.
So I struggle with romantic relationships. When I see a guy, I start walking on tightropes lined with eggshells, because I’m convinced one false move can fuck it all up. So I immediately start editing out the parts of me that I don’t think that Mr. ______ will like. If he hates swearing, I’ll swear less. If he hates when I make conversation during naughty times, I’ll shut my mouth. If he doesn’t like my insecurity, I’ll pretend I have my shit together. I just want someone to stay, and I feel like it’s a miracle when two people actually make it work with each other. And in a way, it is a bit miraculous when a relationship works out. When a relationship survives long distance, that’s a miracle. When a relationship survives infidelity, that’s a miracle. When a relationship survives honesty, that’s a miracle. BUT. It is NOT a miracle of San Gabriel that someone might like me for me. My imperfections are what make me beautiful.
But whenever a relationship goes awry (which is super common, especially in New York relationships when you can have a mint chocolate chip milkshake with rum in it delivered to your doorstep by a monkey on Easter just because you want it), I will blame myself. Many New York “relationships” end by excommunication. If the other person doesn’t respond to your texts for a week, you can assume it’s over. If they stop reaching out to you, you can assume they are no longer interested. This has happened to me more than once. And I will ALWAYS ask myself, “What did I do wrong?” Here are possible answers:
“Maybe I couldn’t please him sexually.”
“Maybe I wasn’t interesting enough.”
“Maybe I was annoying.”
“Maybe I was too immature.”
“Maybe I was too gay.”
“Maybe I was too needy.”
“Maybe I cared too much.”
“Maybe I was too crazy (in the bad way).”
“Maybe I tried too hard.”
But maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s him. Maybe he had an incurable case of diarrhea. Maybe he’s terrified of my vulnerability and he’s not ready to be in an honest relationship. Maybe he just wants a fuck buddy. Maybe he’s intimidated by my honesty. Maybe he’s leaving soon and he doesn’t want to start anything. Maybe he has shit that he needs to deal with, and he doesn’t want to pull an innocent bystander into his psychotic whirlwind of Bad Crazy. Maybe it doesn’t have a god damn thing to do with me.
I try to remind myself that I am enough. “You are enough.” I have heard this phrase so many times, especially in the world of theater. So I have told myself, “I am enough for this casting director. What I have, that’s enough.” Or, in terms of dating: “I am enough for Mr. ________; who I am, that’s enough for him.” BUT THIS IS MY FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM. I am telling myself, “I am enough for them,” when I SHOULD be saying:
“I AM ENOUGH FOR ME. What I am, what I have, what I’ve got: THIS is enough for me.”
My utility to other men is secondary to my worthiness to myself. I am enough right now; not in five/ten years when I meet someone who makes me feel whole. Because what if he never comes, James? I’m not being melodramatic or pessimistic; it’s an honest possibility. What if I wait around for the One and he never shows up? I’d be waiting around forever for someone to instill me with a sense of wholeness. But there’s no guarantee. I don’t like them odds, trick; I don’t likes them at all. And let’s be honest: not everyone’s life is a fairytale. Not everyone ends up with a Prince Charming. And while I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty of life, one thing is certain: I’m not waiting around for anyone to make me feel good enough. And all it takes is a belief: I am perfectly fine the way I am.
I went into therapy (and not like the gay club) the summer after my freshman year of college:
Therapist: What seems to be the problem?
Me: I think I’m crazy.
Therapist: How so?
Me: (I went on to tell her all the reasons I thought I was crazy. e.g.: I push people away when they start to get close to me. I don’t like saying, “I love you.” She ended up helping me realize that the person I was pushing away was being annoying and that I didn’t like saying “I love you,” when I felt obligated to say it.)
Therapist: Well, you’re not crazy.
Me: I’m not?
Therapist: No. Say it: “I’m not crazy.”
Me: I’m– (then I broke down cuz it was a HUGE RELIEF to realize that I wasn’t out of my fucking gourd)
Therapist: I have something for you to do. Everyday, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m perfectly fine the way I am.”
And that was really hard for me. Not just because I didn’t fully believe it but because it was physically difficult to form those words in my mouth. I choked on them on the way out, but I pushed myself until I could say it in the mirror without breaking down… which took me a while.
I am imperfect. I fall asleep on the subway. My feet smell like sewage at the end of the day. I snore. I get really anxious if I can’t work out for a couple of days. I push myself really hard. I listen to Eminem, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Chris Brown even though they are HUMONGOUS douchebags. (I mean, Lil Wayne and Eminem say “faggot” WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much for being men who “don’t suck dick”…. 😉 whatever you say 😉 ….faggots.) I trust everybody. I try too hard. I share too much. I swear WAY too fuckin’ much. I move too fast. “Your Love Is My Drug” by Ke$ha will ALWAYS make me smile and want to jump up and down while scream-singing (otherwise known as “screlting”). But this is who I am. And in its own fucked-up way, it’s beautiful. Like a Picasso painting.
Also in my list of imperfections: I am in lurve-town-balls with any movie that Sandra Bullock or J. Lo does. So I was watching Sandy’s All About Steve and she plays this quirky-ass, crazy-ass crossword puzzle constructer. And she is just super weird. But so candid. And at the end of the movie Bradley Cooper’s character says, “Mary, don’t ever change. For anybody.”
Brené Brown describes the roots of the word “courage”: “Courage… [is] from the Latin word ‘coer’ meaning ‘heart’, and the original definition was ‘to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.'” Sometimes I want to sear the letters “C-O-U-R-A-G-E” into my forearm to remind myself to never ever compromise myself for any old trick that blows across my path like tumbleweed. I don’t want to edit myself in order to win someone over. I want to tell graphic stories about buttholes because this is who I am. And if you can’t handle me, that is A-O-K. You go do your thing, and I’ll go do mine; we just don’t be doing each other’s things ;). (Now THAT is something for you to cry about.) But there is nothing wrong with me. Cuz I’m perfectly fine the way I am.
In the words of Sara Bareilles, “I’m well-versed in how I am cursed.” And I am MORE than aware of the fragility of love and trust and forevers. But I am not gonna stop putting myself out there. Yes, it is terrifying to be the one to initiate; it’s so scary to say, “Hey, I like you,” without 100% certainty that they will say it back. And it’s nerve-wracking to ask somebody on a date when you have no idea if they are interested in you. But that is life.
If you’ve been keeping up, you’re probably wondering, ‘What ever happened to Billy?’ Well, Fellow Hopefuls, it didn’t work out. My dad called me today and asked about him:
“Hey, Bud, how’re things with Billy?”
“Actually it didn’t work out.”
“Oh, man, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK, Dad.”
“Well you’ve gotta have somebody else lined up; who’s next?”
No holding back. I’m wearing my butterfly ring, my sunglasses in the shape of a heart, my white skinny jeans and my v-neck that says “LIKES BOYS”.
The other day, my friend asked me, “How many blowjobs do you get per week?” I immediately started laughing… and then I realized she was serious.
“I’m beautiful in my way cuz God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby. I was born this way.”
~”Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
I want to be a good example for the kids that I will someday raise.
I don’t wanna hide.
MAKE YOURSELF PROUD.