Thought Catalog
March 14, 2017

What I Want To Say To The Men Who Think I Am Writing About Them

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What is the issue?
Alexander Steffes

// calm down //

I love men, (and women!) and I want to make everyone I care enough about to spend time with feel good. I care about my integrity! I’m gonna do good by you. Trust me. But I also demand the freedom to live my life the way I want to. I think that’s fair, isn’t it? I don’t want to make anyone change for me and I don’t want to change for anyone, either.

Since I have been old enough to hold a pen I have been writing about my feelings and I’m lucky enough to get paid for it now so they exist publicly. This is also just how art works. Don’t listen to John Mayer crying about all his exes and single me out as anything different than that.

// no one else cares //

When people are embarrassed or upset about a situation they play it over and over in their heads. But most of the time, no one else even noticed the event took place. It’s a happy (and sometimes sad) rule of the universe: “no one cares about you as much as you care about you.”

No one is trying to figure out who you are so they can make a judgement about you personally. That’s not the point of anything I write and that’s not of interest to anyone reading anything I write. You’re anonymous. Everything is fine.

// consider the possibility that it’s not about you //

I think this sums it up nicely.

I’m not a journalist. I’m not writing down facts. I’m creating a story or an essay or a poem. Something that did not exist before. It is born out of my feelings which exist independently of any other person. It doesn’t matter how you think the story should go (or whether it should exist at all), I get to have whatever feelings I have. This is America, right?

The guy in the story is just a guy. The main character and the supporting characters and the plot and the narrator is me. I made this. It’s mine. It’s only about me.

// this is not a newspaper //

Let’s talk about John Mayer again. How many times has he had his heart broken? Enough times to write all his songs about having his heartbroken? If we laid out all his experiences and all his songs, they wouldn’t match up — but they also don’t exist for that purpose. Music and writing and art is to explore your feelings, it’s not meant to be an accurate historical account of something.

When I write about love, I write about guys I haven’t been around in half a decade sometimes, or an amalgam of people who evoked the same feeling in me. The best or deepest things I write haven’t been about the best or deepest people I’ve known, or even the people I’ve known well, necessarily. It’s just whoever happened to be around when I connected the dots and had a thought I consider important. There’s no correlation to them being a Serious Person In My Life.

Even when I’m writing this thing that seems like it’s addressed to someone and meant to be read by them, it’s not. It’s purpose is to help me understand why I’ve been feeling so claustrophobic lately. The point is to explore the thought or feeling, whatever or whoever prompted it is entirely irrelevant. TC mark