Last Monday I was standing in front of you all, kind of surrounded by a giant .gif of a dead guy with cockroaches pouring out of his mouth and some random couple making out, and I was trying to tell you about how niceness doesn't come easily to me. Afterward, Hunter said this about you people in the audience: "They did not want to look anywhere in front of them," and I was glad. What I was trying to do was make you feel how I feel all the time. Which is to say: uneasy and itchy and anxious. I've always felt uncomfortable inhabiting my own body, like I'm this brain that has to kind of muddle my way through maneuvering these arms and legs around. Moreover, I'm uncomfortable inside myself, and I have a hard time relating this thing that I am -- and the emotions I have, etc. -- to other people, even in cases where it's important that I try to relate them. I have a problem with assuming that people will just inherently know that I like them, and even though I'm acting like they're lame and gross and that everything they like/do is lame and gross, they'll somehow just be like, "She loves me and we're best friends, la la la." But they don't. They just feel sad and attacked and mostly like they don't want to be around me anymore. So I've been trying very hard to be more sincere and gentle with people, and let them know that I like them, and treat them like actual friends and family members instead of mortal enemies or whatever. I think this is me saying that I believe in niceness, even if I'm still a little bit unsure of the delivery.
I think a lot of the other fireside chats addressed big societal or cultural beliefs and problems -- like depression or the twenty-first century problem with face-to-face communication, etc. -- but mine was less global, more of an internal offering. I was trying to say, "Here is what I am, and how I am, and here is what I'm trying to do to be better." And even though this was a completely personal and introspective ordeal, I still hope that it was a way that the "community" (or everybody else listening to the fireside chat) could better understand and relate to not just me but to each other. Even if everyone else doesn't suffer from the same prickliness and the same anxieties as I do, maybe they can relate to the sentiment that I feel like a small, lonely person hurtling around on Earth and trying to connect with people; I think a lot of other people feel something similar to this, even if it's not framed within the same parameters and hindrances. Everybody has their thing. Everybody feels like an outsider based on some kind of weird personality quirk or whatever. I think what I was trying to do was say, "Here I am, and come closer."
I said that I believed in distance and uneasiness and emotional walls and uncertainty. And I still do. Addressing these issues in front of an audience didn't magically vaporize them or whatever. After the fireside chat -- which I thought went well, and which I felt good about -- I'm still struggling to be pleasant. I've never had a problem with being loyal or altruistic or protective or full of love, instead I've just had a problem with relating any of these things to the people I care about as anything other than crankiness and venom. That's why the couple standing next to me kissing -- a straightforward display of physical and emotional intimacy -- is something that's so much harder for me to reconcile with than something as snarly and blatantly obscene as a dead dude with cockroaches coming out of his mouth. I can do snarly and obscene. I can do gross. I can do irritable and explicit and violent and loud and nasty and angry. I can do fireworks and machine guns and guts and slime. But I can't do tender or gentle. I can't do romance or sincerity or amiability or softness or quietness. I am prickly, bristly, surly, petulant, jealous, cranky, hesitant, anxious, doubtful, insecure, irrational, nervous, testy, skittish, aggressive, and problematic. And it's okay, because I believe in the dream of exponential growth and of second chances and of do-overs. I believe in a learning curve in all things, whether it be coming to terms with depression or figuring out your relationship with God, or simply trying to be a person who can be soft and lovely to other people who are soft and lovely.