Mon, 01 Mar 2004


quirkyalone: why fight it?

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When this meme came out, I tried to resist it for the longest time. For one thing, I automatically resist things that I perceive (rightly or wrongly) to be trendy. For another thing, I didn't quite want to give up. I wanted to believe that, deep down inside, I was just like other people, I just needed to figure a whole bunch of shit out, I just needed to break out of my shell, get over past betrayals, stop wishing for impossible things. That someday, I too would join the great chain of being, get a decent job, get married, have 2.5 kids, have grandkids, and on-and-on. What a lot of people like to call "normalcy," whatever that's supposed to mean.

But, in the same way that extroverts outnumber introverts 2-to-1 (guess which one I am), I guess I just have to accept that I'm not like other people. That I am a minority of a minority of a minority, at least in the society I find myself in. That this feeling of alienation will persist for the rest of my life, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's just the way I am.

(Lest you try to read too deeply into all this, no, I'm not coming out of the closet. Sure, I like to think that I'm an open-minded guy, but I'm simply not attracted to other men.)

My quirkyalone quiz score results:

Your score was 98. Very quirkyalone. Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world. Celebrate your freedom on National Quirkyalone Day, February 14th!

I read this entry on Incidental Findings, and a part of me just recoiled in horror. While I've been guilty of experiencing the same emotions of being forsaken and being utterly, utterly alone, I realized that it's all in the way I've been looking at things. As my high school History teacher once philosophized, when you get right down to it, everyone is ultimately alone, and the decision is whether (1) to accept this fact and move on, so that you can live an interesting and fulfilling life and meet interesting and fun people, or whether (2) to try to fill the void with distraction by latching on desperately to people who are as desperate as you are.

While, perversely, option (2) is attractive, and for some sick reason, my heart will yearn for it now and again, I've come to realize that, in my case, option (1) is the healthier solution.

(That next realization that I need to make is that what's good for me is not necessarily good for other people, and I shouldn't look at people who opt for option (2) with scorn and derision.)

So I've come to build my life upon a core group of people I trust. The kind of friends who are with you for the duration of the journey, even if you even barely see each other. The kind of people who you can just call up one day and continue where you last left off. Now that the big 3-0, while still distant, has appeared over the horizon, and now that the durations of my most significant friendships all exceed 10 years, I realized that I've adapted.

Now I didn't necessarily come to this realization in a peaceful, bloodless manner. I recognize that it has a lot to do with (1) how my first significant relationship ended in utter wrack and ruin and (2) how my attempt at a second significant relationship missed the mark by about a thousand light-years, give or take. And after that, all my attempts were bizarre and awful mockeries of these failures: some demented combination of me trying to read into various cross-transmissions while at the same time trying to stay detached and rational about everything. Such an attitude is pretty antithetical to romance.

And, while I've been admonished by a lot of my close friends who are on the standard path to happpiness that I need to stretch and grow, to break out of my comfort zone and try to meet people, I've come to realize that I really don't have any problems meeting people—it's just that it never develops into something more, partly due to my own madness, and partly due to capricious fate. I am a perpetual denizen of the friend zone.

As I once told C, I think I'm an easy person to become friends with, but I would probably be a royal pain-in-the-ass if I were in a "relationship."

And for the longest time, I thought that it's only because I'm not ready, that I have all these wounds that need to heal, that I wouldn't be ready until I unearthed more of life's great mysteries, like there was some secret rite that would make me worthy of becoming "boyfriend material."

It's only now that I wonder: maybe I don't want it at all.

I've been free for too many years now, and whenever I see people in miserable relationships, instead of thinking to myself, "Well, at least you're in relationship," like I used to, I find myself invariably thinking, "Wow, I'm glad I'm not you." I've come to realize that I'd rather be alone and happy than with someone and miserable.

So maybe deep down inside, like any stereotypical guy, I just don't want to be tied down. I don't want to live the domestic life. I don't want the two-car garage and a nice house out in the suburbs, the next 30 years of my life pretty much planned out, waking up in the morning, going to work, coming back home, going to sleep. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. I don't want my life to ossify like that, where the next big milestone is essentially death, where the next big unknown decision is where I should be buried and what should I put on my tombstone.

Now I know I exaggerate, and that there's plenty of unpredictability in the most Martha Stewart-like of lives (hell, look at Martha herself these days), but I like to wax philosophical about how constricting that kind of life can be.

On the other hand, I know that it doesn't have to be that way. That, if I can meet the right person, the one who wants to go along on this odyssey known as life with me, then there's no reason why I should wander the world all alone. But I'm not going to hold my breath. Because I'm not ever going to compromise this. I'm not going to acquiesce to being boxed into the American Dream, working to buy glittery, expensive trinkets I don't need, trapped in an insane cycle of incurring more debt in order to finance the debt I already have. I'm not going to let someone dictate how I'm going to live my life, someone who will try to smooth away my rough edges, who'll try to make me fit in more. And I realize that perhaps I'm simply wishing to meet a person who doesn't exist.

Such is life.

In these long lonely years of exile, I've learned that it is probably unlikely that I'm ever going to find everything I need in one person alone. I mean, sure, I can still dream, right? But pragmatism wins out in the end, and I've adapted. So I find bits and pieces in the various people I've met. While I do trust my closest friends with my life, there are parts of me that I keep necessarily locked up. I don't want to terroize people who might not be able to deal with my various manias and neuroses. I've come to realize that some people just wouldn'ty be able to tolerate my whole self in living color, volume turned all the way up, unfiltered and raw. (OK, maybe I have problems sharing myself, but, hey, give me enough time, it'll all come out in the end.) I've learned who can and who can't deal with my different types of insanity, who to impose on, and who will probably freak out and run away screaming. And some things, I just need to deal with things on my own. For some things, it wouldn't do anyone any good if I werer to drag someone else down into my variegated vortices of despair.

So I guess I need to accept this label. Quirkyalone. It really does describe a lot of what I am. Despite my cynical veneer, I am deeply, even naievely idealistic, and I'm not one for half-measures. For better or worse, I'm just an all-or-nothing kind of guy. And yet, for every brick wall that life might put in front of me, give me enough time, and I'll find a way around it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, despite the fact that Love is one of the greatest forces on Earth, there's a lot more to life than finding Love. (Not to mention the fact that Love comes in a lot more flavors than simply Romance.) And here comes my idealism: I believe that true love will accept me for who I am. She will not try to change me, she'll just be happy to go along for the ride, because this just happens to be the same direction she's going, too.

Someone once told me that the difference between friendship and a romantic relationship is that, in a friendship, it's two people looking in the same direction, but in a romantic relationship, it's two people looking into each other. And I guess I really just prefer the former.

Who's up for an adventure? Maybe I'll meet up with you somewhere along the Road of Life. Or not. It ain't no thang.

22:30:08 1 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 8 comments


Name/Blog: ifinding
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