Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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Awkwardness as a Personal Mission Statement

1. But what if my preferred option is neither fight, nor flight? That's when it gets tricky, it seems to me.

2. I've always been one of those people who likes other people a fair bit more than,in general, other people like me. It's not that I'm one of life's "disliked people", not at all, it's just that in general, I'm one of life's safe, "ordinary eccentric" folks. You know, the dreaded "he's a nice guy" kind of fellow. I don't excite wild fervor in people, but instead a kind of mild, minor-Jane-Austen-character fond regard. I'm one of the comfortable bits of ambient emotional furniture, which is not all that bad a place to be,but it has its limits, as do all roles. When I was single, this sometimes resulted in the sort of thing like that attractive woman from work who told me I was far too nice for her to date, because I was so upbeat. Fortunately, I had not ever intended to ask her out (particularly as she was praying to get engaged to a markedly "less nice" man who, despite being non-religious, ultimately and gracelessly pushed her away over a question of religious background. I'm always amused when one's future happiness is less important than what one's grandmother might think of one's lover's religious background), so I took the comment as a sort of harmless non-sequitur, one of those "I want to put you down a bit, but I want to do it in the nicest possible way" quick comments that is the lot of ambient furniture folks like myself to receive. Being told one is nice is a sort of tax one pays for the privilege of trying, and sometimes failing, to be authentically nice. It would require a longer post to address the "nice as a metaphor for romantically/sexually uninviting" issue, but I don't think I know anything more than anyone else does on that topic, anyway. Here I'm also tempted to put something in about how attentive nice people can be, but that sounds awfully defensive and really, fortunately, beside the point at this time in my life.

3. I find simultaneously that I almost never conform or alter my behavior in any major way to adjust for what people think, and yet I consistently worry that I'm somehow offending people by chance. The fun part of this worry is to notice that I worry much more about compliments I give than I do about potentially insulting people. "Did I somehow imply something forward I did not mean to imply?", ,or "Was I so friendly I'm going to weird someone out?". The price of a shy person's effusion is eternal soul-searching, but I still find the years make me more effusive than ever before.

4. Some people have the sort of charisma that appeals to broad masses of people. Some people are almost wholly non-charismatic, but instead work much more one to one with the folks they are close to in their lives. I've always trod that less-frequent but not really unusual third path--the path of narrow-cast charisma. Not everyone in my real life "gets" me. But those who do tend to "get me", understand me intensely, and make very deep connections with me. It leads to that curious dichotomy I think most people have, but I imagine for me it's a bit more intense than for some others. Most folks I know see me as a bit difficult to know, eccentric, and altogether harmless and somewhat likable. A few people, though, seem to have some inner switch turned on by which they can kinda skip ahead through the pages of the novel gurdonark and know how the mystery is solved, without the need for a Jeeves, Bunter or Watson to assist. It's kind of neat, somehow, to have this narrow vein of quartz running through the surface of one's relationships. Fortunately, the vein of folks who actively dislike me is much narrower, though quite corrosive, I suppose, in its way.

5. LJ interaction amuses in part because it is such an accelerated microcosm of all these social interactions. I make an LJ comment, and I wonder "gee, that was awfully friendly (or, in some cases, a bit argumentative)--hope I didn't come off weird", which is odd, because I am weird, really, and so why should I mind? But I want to be weird in that "good guy" way, and not weird in that "odd guy from the internet is too kind to me--what must he want?" kind of way.
Because I don't "want" anything from people on the 'net, in some way, other than perhaps simple kindness, and I'd hate to ever be thought of as "acquisitive" in that way.

6. I remember in the 60s and early 70s when the media was filled with songs about smiling on brothers and getting together and loving one another and also about buying the world a coke and imagining there was no hell below us and all that. Back then, the same folks who worried about universal coke drinkage were frequently the same people who formed cliques based on curious things like personal style/flair. The eternal brotherhood/sisterhood of long hair and bell bottom jeans, and all that. Maybe those Golden Dawn and theosophical people had a point--led everyone join the surface, exoteric structure, but save the mysteries for the initiates. Maybe people need to be cool in an "inner circle" more than they need to buy the whole world a coke. For some reason, as I type this, I think of time spent in Belize City, on a day when people were hurling curious ethnic taunts at us, but the Coca Cola was wonderful--made with real corn syrup.

7. Lately I want to rewrite my userinfo, but what would really capture me any better than the verbose thing I have now? It's like that old Broadway song, anyway, "how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?".

8.The past few years I've tried to stretch myself into places I'd not really been--marketing a business, when marketing is anathema to me in some ways, trying to reach out a little better to people, when I have sharp loner tendencies. I've been pleased that I'm much better at all that than I thought I would be. But one project I've bitten off this year--starting a blitz chess club--has proven a challenge. How does one meet strangers and encourage them to share one's vision? I've been playing it far too safe. I must bite the bullet, rent a hotel meeting room, buy an ad in Chess Life and in the state chess magazine, and pursue my vision of a charity chess tournament. First prize? A zagnut candy bar. It's a matter of taking the plunge, though, isn't it? At worst, I'll be out a hundred dollars of room rental and some embarrassment. I imagined that with some well-placed e mails I could get the thing together without risk, sitting in the comfort of my own computer room. But now I see that human outreach requires risk, and I've got to steel myself to take some risks. It's funny how I want my interactions with strangers to be hermetically sealed, somehow, but surely I need to live my life a little less vacuum-packed. So a chess tournament it is!

9. I think that's a beauty of LJ--when the people stop being an "easy" means of having "safe" interaction with people, and they become real people, who breathe and laugh and cry and exist. I think that internet is different in quailty, but it's still, on some basic level, all too real. When one crosses the border from safety to real interaction, the fun begins.

10. I notice that two of my nephews are awkward in exactly the way I have always been, which nature/nurture issues I will leave, like a too-complex helix of DNA, for another post. I used to fret that I am a wallflower and a bridesmaid, but now I see that these roles have something to teach me, and I will learn them well, but not feel trapped anymore.
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