Jeff's online journal, ramblings, whatever.

‘Nother one o’ them whiney posts

Observe these bizarre actions and tell me if somebody in this equation isn’t screwed up:

For most of my life I’ve had a pretty low self-esteem. Not a lot of people would be able to tell it from casual observance, but the fact remains that it is true. What it stems from isn’t something I’m currently discussing; that would be an entry in and of itself, but suffice it to say that I’ve had one and it is has proven quite difficult to change.

In any case, I’m now living in Provo, and there is the apartment of girls I mentioned in the “Teddy Bear” post. While I don’t spend every night with them, I do consider them friends. A few weeks ago, they decorated our door with sticky notes with compliments. Specifically, the notes were directed toward me, with words such as “sweet,” “caring,” “thoughtful,” “a deep thinker,” “my sunshine,” and even “one of the greatest guys we know.” High praise indeed, especially since it was specifically directed toward me, and not for our apartment in general (or toward Steve and I, or any other such combination).

Now, how should a normal person take such compliments? Truthfully I don’t know what the best answer to that question is. My guess would be to accept them with sincere gratitude, and possibly reciprocate with some sort of kind gesture. That makes the most sense, but that’s not really what I did.

In the TV series Red Dwarf there is an episode called “Better than Life.” In it, there is a computer game that is played in virtual reality, in which the players simply get their every wish granted. Awesome, addicting game. Except for one of the players, one Arnold J. Rimmer, whose psyche apparently has it out for him. His personality just can’t accept nice things happening to him and so, pretty soon all these nasty things start happening to him (and, by proximity, the rest of the Red Dwarf crew), so his world meshes better with his self-image, which is awfully low. His own mind sabotages his quest for happiness, simply because it can’t accept it.

To a lesser extent, I have the same type of problem. When I got those notes my brain tried to come up with some sort of logical explanation that didn’t include “Hey, I really deserve this!” And therefore, mostly subconsciously (but clear in hindsight), I started being less of a gentleman. Not that I did anything drastic like yell or curse or shove them around or anything, but just little things. Just not making an effort to be respectful. Not opening the door. Getting a drink for myself without offering anyone else a drink. Mostly sins of omission. That way, my subconscious mused, the girls won’t think highly of me anymore, and that’s something I’m used to dealing with. For most of my early life I’ve dealt with tolerance at best and more often belittlement, physical and emotional abuse, and devaluation. I’ve grown up handling that; I know what to do when someone takes me for granted. When someone appreciates what I do, though; that’s where I’m at a loss, so subconsciously I want to change the situation so I won’t have to deal with that, by being a jerk. And so far, they’ve come over less, we haven’t said as much to each other, and they probably don’t hold all those opinions about me as they used to. Victory! Um, not really.

Truth is, sometimes I think that, if a girl likes me, she is either easily fooled or has weird priorities. Intellectually I know that’s absurd, but my gut can’t quite shake that feeling. Also, due to my insecurities and doubt in my own observational and judgemental skills (thank you very much, Mr. “I have to argue with every opinion you have” Older Brother), even when a girl quite obviously likes me I have trouble acting upon that, in the (sometimes slim) case I’m wrong. Case in point: Friday night we had a ward activity/dance up in Provo Canyon somewhere. While there I hit it off pretty well with a certain girl that will currently remain nameless (mainly because I’m not sure how to spell it) and we talked almost nearly the entire length of the dance. (See, I go to dances to meet people who don’t like to dance! Somehow it works!) Anyway, it went so well that afterward she came over and we had hot chocolate and watched What’s Up, Doc? I didn’t put my arm around her or anything, but I definitely could have without problems. (Ooh, put your arm around her! That’s daring! Especially for a freakin 24-year-old! Well, in two weeks.)I suggested that the next day (which was yesterday) we could watch another if she had time, and she said something to the effect of if she had the time she’d like to. So, yesterday rolls around, and what happens? Absolutely nothing. We don’t watch a movie together; heck, we don’t even see or hear from each other. Boy, what a budding romantic, eh? And my excuse? I was playing Baldur’s Gate II. It’s the guys’ responsibility to set up those things, especially if it was the guy who suggested the activity in the first place.

Now, gentle readers, put aside all knowledge of me personally and consider the following. If you were a girl and you really liked someone and you were pretty sure that someone liked you back, and you go watch a movie at their place and they invite you to watch another movie the next day, but then never contact you, and you find out later it was because he was playing computer games all day, what would you think of that person? A cad, perhaps. A jerk, certainly. At the least, an irresponsible, immature boy with his priorities screwed up. In short, Arnold J. Rimmer, who blames his failures on ludicrous things instead of taking the steps to fix them. Like says, “Dysfunction: The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.”

I’d better end this post, before I get the urge to smack myself in the face for being an idiot.


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