You don’t get a trophy just for showing up

I need to stop dating people who expect me to give them a trophy for doing the things they’re supposed to be doing. Appreciation is one thing, but if they start trotting out the fact that they’re covering (most/some of) the very basics as evidence that they’re “busting [their] ass” and that’s why I shouldn’t call attention to how they’re fucking up in other ways — hell, if they consider covering the very basics “busting [their] ass” in the first place — then it’s obvious that there are deeper-seated issues there, and I’m not the one who should be tackling them.

For goodness’s sake, I wouldn’t accept that bullshit if either of my parents did it. You don’t get to be Parent of the Year just for keeping your kids fed, clothed, housed, and educated, while being an asshole (deliberately or not) to them in other ways. You don’t get to be Partner of the Year for doing the equivalent of that in a relationship, either. Trophies you can get just by showing up shouldn’t even be a part of children’s sports, so why should they be part of relationships that adults willingly enter?

I mean, really. If covering the basics is actually hard for you, then you’re not in a place where you can handle being in a relationship at all. Get your shit together first; then try again.

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On “slacktivism”

I get weary of people dismissing social media gestures such as changing one’s profile picture to a rainbow, or even the act of writing posts and sharing articles concerning social justice on social media platforms, as “slacktivism”. “Oh, it’s so easy to post a picture online,” they sneer. (Except when it isn’t, such as in conservative communities in the Midwest, but let’s not let a silly thing like nuance get in the way of a good, old-fashioned jaunt on the high horse.) “It’s not like you’re out marching or doing sit-ins or getting arrested.” (Even though some of us truly can’t afford to go to prison or take off work to go to a march, because we’ve got family members and/or spouses who will be up Shit Creek without a paddle if we do. But again, nuance is for suckers.) “And anyway, it’s just the Internet. The Internet isn’t real life. It doesn’t matter.”

To which I say: what rock have you been living under?

Remember that time there was a huge political upheaval in Iran concerning the 2009-2010 elections? You wouldn’t, if Twitter hadn’t been the primary method used to get information out of Iran to the rest of the world. Or for a more recent example, why is Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign as good as dead? Because of the Facebook post he made defending Josh “Child Molester” Duggar and his heinous parents, turning even some of his staunchest supporters against him. Why is your brother having such a hard time getting a job? Probably because he posts pictures of himself getting shitfaced and drawing swastikas in Sharpie on his friends’ faces on Instagram every night, and potential employers are looking at that and going “NOPE.”

So obviously, the Internet is part of real life, the Internet does have an enormous affect on what happens offline, and to claim that what happens on the Internet doesn’t “really” matter is to be quite ignorant (and, let’s be honest with ourselves here, willfully so) of the reality in which we all currently live.

No, posting a picture or sharing an article on Facebook is not the same thing as making changes in policy. And yet, policy changes cannot happen without a large enough swath of people supporting them. In order to gain support for a cause, awareness must be raised, and discussions/debates must be had. That’s just how it works. And like it or not, social media is now woven into the very fabric of our society, and so it’s one of the primary forums in which social attitudes are displayed and adjusted.

So, look: while nobody can force you to take part in this sort of online discourse — nor should they try — you also don’t get to tell someone else that their active participation in this discourse somehow isn’t real and/or doesn’t matter, because 1) that’s demonstrably false, and 2) you’re being a bit of jerk by being so dismissive of something that person obviously cares enough about to display on the public, forever-searchable Internet. Come on, now, don’t be That Asshole.

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A request

Dear friends and readers,

If I ever become that creepy person who gets older while all zir friends and love interests stay between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three, I want you all to promise me that you’ll hold a competition among yourselves to see who can shoot me in the head first.

Because that will mean I’ve stopped maturing, or worse, that I’m actively trying to delude myself into thinking I’m still young, cool, and in possession of limitless potential. And I would seriously rather be dead than be that pathetic.

Thanks,
Me

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Battle Generationale

Article A: “Milliennials Are Ruining the World”

Article B: “Actually, Boomers Already Ruined the World”

Article C: “What Nobody Realizes Is That Gen X Destroyed Everything Ten Years Ago”

Article D: “Why Post-Millennials (Or Whatever We’re Going to Call Them) Are Going to Be the Literal Worst”

Just once, I want to see an article called “EVERY GENERATION SUCKS. BECAUSE PEOPLE SUCK.”

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“But what if you’re my soulmate?”

“I can’t just not talk to you,” he says to me, as I’m trying vainly to end this conversation with a total stranger on BART and get back to my book, which I brought with me specifically because I found it more interesting than striking up conversations with people I don’t know. “For all I know, you could be my soulmate, and I’d be screwed if I missed you.”

Let me get this straight: you would be screwed because you didn’t respect my wishes, not to mention pretty basic social cues indicating that your presence was not wanted. This is about you, in other words, not about me at all.

Hey, dude, how about you try living your life and becoming the kind of person who women want to date, instead of fixating on this idea of a soulmate so much that you look for her in literally every woman you’re even mildly attracted to? ‘Cause I like being treated as a person, not a thing or idea that was created for the sole purpose of being some dude’s soulmate.

Then again, the whole idea of a soulmate is basically about there being someone out there who will fall madly and unconditionally in love with you without you having to do any work on yourself whatsoever. It’s a really attractive concept to lazy people.

Unless she’s too old, too heavy, the wrong race, whatever. If someone you’re not attracted to falls madly and unconditionally in love with you, then she’s a crazy stalker, and definitely not your soulmate. You know this for certain, even as you don’t know whether a chick who isn’t into you could possibly be your soulmate. And of course, even though you’re essentially doing the same thing to Random Chick, you’re not a crazy stalker-type! Just look at you, all cute and pining and desperate for love! Just desperate. Really, really desperate.

There are whole books written about this phenomenon. Maybe you should try picking one up. Books are really great — which is why I was reading mine in the first place, instead of waiting for some strange dude to talk to me.

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“Long is the way, and hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light.” — John Milton

I may still have a lot of healing to do, but at least I don’t hate myself anymore. Considering where I was a year ago, that’s pretty huge.

In fact, I haven’t experienced any suicidal ideation in almost a year, either — also huge, since the last time in my life I can remember having gone for longer than a couple of months without even a brief, completely casual fantasy of dying was when my age was in the single digits.

My boyfriend, Edward, has had a lot to do with this, of course. This relationship has been more healing for me than I can really describe. Who knew that relationships didn’t have to be an endless roller-coaster of drama and hardship? I sure didn’t — until now, that is. We each have our issues, of course (I don’t know that I could ever really relate to a partner who didn’t have a fair number of issues, to be honest), but at least this one is willing to actually talk through them with and not take them out on me. Simply not being blamed for everything that ever goes wrong in another person’s life (whether I actually had anything to do with it or not) has had an incredibly positive effect on my psyche. So has receiving consistent validation that in point of fact, I’m not crazy, selfish, or otherwise in the wrong for thinking that certain ways of communicating are healthy and appropriate, and some definitely aren’t. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I never imagined things could be so . . . easy. (Not to say that it’s easy all the time — no good relationship ever is — but as it turns out, it’s also not supposed to be insanely hard. Well, okay, some things are nice when they’re insanely hard.)

I’m still not where I want to be in life, but for the first time ever, I really, truly feel that I deserve to have those things — a steady full-time job, a place to live where I pay at least half the bills, a college degree, all that good stuff. I’m not entirely used to this feeling, but it’s growing on me.

How nice to feel that everything isn’t ultimately going to turn out to be hopeless bullshit!

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I am not “nice” nor “sweet”.

It always feels a little strange whenever someone calls me “nice” or “sweet”. I don’t think of myself as either of those things, and I certainly don’t try to be so.

What I do try to be is just, treating other people the way I think they deserve to be treated. This means that while there are many people I treat with kindness, there are certain people I’m not nice or sweet to at all; that doesn’t mean I go looking for conflict with them or that I particularly enjoy conflict, but if they bring it to me, I hardly shy away from it. Sometimes I take a pretty harsh line even with people I love, if I think that’s the only way to get through to them; sometimes, I even say things that are designed to hurt them, because pain is the only teacher most of us really obey.

Because good is not always nice, and nice is not always good. I don’t do “nice”; I do “honest” and “just”, as much as possible. (Frankly, I think it’s sad that me honestly communicating the good I see in somebody is met with “You’re so nice/sweet”; it speaks to a fair amount of injustice having been done, that the people who say that to me seem a touch incredulous when I’m simply calling it like I see it.) Some people don’t deserve to be treated kindly or with respect . . . but a lot of people do. All I really do is try to act according to that standard. And yes, compassion is the soul of justice, but often that means compassion for those who have been wronged, which necessitates taking a clear stand against those who have done the wrong; to remain neutral or “non-judgmental” in such cases is to tacitly condone that wrong. And in those cases, I really don’t give a shit whether I seem nice or sweet — to anyone. I don’t like to be unnecessarily hurtful — I’m rather paranoid about it, actually — but when someone has well and truly earned it, I will gleefully deliver the pain. And there are certain kinds of people whose approval I don’t want — sexual predators, bigots of all stripes, you get the picture: basically, anyone who repeatedly, unjustly hurts other people without remorse. Hurt someone who fully deserves it? Fine by me; I’ll even applaud you. Hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it? You’re a jackass, you don’t deserve respect or sympathy, and if you refuse to even attempt to atone for it, I sincerely hope you rot in hell. If our feel-good, stay-positive-at-all-costs society says that makes me a horrible, hard-assed bitch, so be it. After all, as Krishnamurti said, it is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.

(This also means that if I have kind words and hugs and kisses for you — which I do for most people I know, because I don’t think that most of the people I know deserve unkindness — you can assume that I think you’re a good person [at least at heart, even if your flaws are fairly prominent] and that you deserve kindness and caring. If I didn’t want you in my worldspace, believe me, I’d leave no room for doubt. But if I treat you with whatever displays of love I feel are appropriate — and my definition of love is pretty broad — please don’t start with the “I’m not worthy” routine. You don’t deserve that, so don’t you fucking do that to yourself.)

There was a time in my life when I did try to be “nice” and “sweet” as much as I could — always giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, trying to stay on good terms with as many people as possible, suppressing my anger and hurt when I’d been wronged in the interest of “forgiveness” (when no one told me that forgiveness is hard fucking work, there is no such thing as “simply” forgiving, and stuffing down all your negative feelings about what happened and pretending it’s all somehow okay “in the end” — as if you’ve truly arrived at “the end”, as if anyone can before they’re dead — is not the same thing as true forgiveness). Being brought up Christian tends to enable such unhealthy modes of thought and behavior, and it’s not as if the rest of our society, however secular, is disentangled from these remnants of religious dogma.

In trying to be as non-destructive as possible, I ended up doing more damage, to myself and to other people — and I learned the hard way that inaction is frequently just as dangerous as action, if not more so. I’m here to tell you that if you try to always be “nice” and “sweet”, you risk doing a great deal more damage to undeserving people through your inaction than you would have if you took some sort of “negative” action against those who deserve it. If nothing else, you do damage to yourself; as just one example of many, ask me about the years I spent suppressing my rage at the dude (to call him a man would be to take pity on him, and he deserves none) to whom sating his own lust was more important than having an ounce of concern for my well-being, when I was all of fourteen years old, too young to know better, and he was far, far past the age when he should have started knowing better. Or, you know, don’t, because we’d be here a while. That’s what the memoir I’m writing is for. The memoir is for illustrating all the ways I damaged myself and other people by denying my sense of justice in favor of what I thought would make me more acceptable, more worthy of love, less alien to everyone else, so other people won’t make the same mistakes I made. And it’s about how I was conditioned to do that damage, about how we all are, because our culture enables it to such a dangerous degree in so many ways that it boggles the mind.

So if you’re someone who tries to be “nice” and “sweet” all or most of the time, think about what I’ve said here, and ask yourself whether it serves you and the people around you as well as you think it does. Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made. You don’t have to be nice and sweet to be good.

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