4 Things I Feel Acutely Self-Conscious About

Everyone has rules. Rules which if broken produce feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-consciousness. Painful rules. Unfortunately – we break these rules ourselves. We get drunk and do things for which we’re embarrassed. We realize the next day that we were Out Of Control and that we did things for which we don’t want to be held accountable. We break our own rules and we see these instances as glaring and under scrutiny by all.

The weird thing about this painful experience of breaking the rules, and it’s subsequent shame, for me, is that my experience of it is anticipatory – I find myself always checking my behavior in an effort to later avoid the experience – and retroactively – the next day, I realize the extent to which I involved myself in such personally embarrassing behavior, and feel terrible for it.

It’s weird that my self-consciousness is experienced anticipatorily and retroactively because I don’t feel self-conscious/ self-shamed/ embarrassed while I engage in the actual behavior that I later find unseemly. In effect, there’s this weird threshold of perception/ non-perception; before I cross the threshold, I’m aware of myself, but once I cross the threshold, I become unaccountable to myself. While this level of engagement is perhaps something to be celebrated and strived for, and maybe something as normal as what it means to get drunk, it is troubling for the control/ perfection/ insecure freak, because it represents a point in time when one is Out of Control and can thus do things that violates his sense of being a Good Person.

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4 Things I Feel Acutely Self-Conscious About

Talking About Yourself: Talking About Yourself is the act of repeatedly focusing the conversation on yourself, your achievements, and points at which you secretly believe you are superior to your conversational partners, to the extent that the focus of the conversation – because of your repeated conversational ‘steering’ – is you, over 50% of the time.

The weird and sort of crawly and terrible thing about Talking About Yourself is that when you later perceive that you have done so, you perceive yourself as having done so in the most underhanded, self-serving, manipulative way. You come to realize that you dropped the most subtle hints in an effort to steer the conversation to a prompt where it was simply natural and even called-for to drop some achievement of yours (which you had been, vaguely, semi-consciously, planning on dropping in all along – which is sooooo weird when you think about it – it’s almost as if you were possessed by this strange spirit of which you were both aware and unaware). So – it’s not only horrifying that you had been entirely obsessed with slipping (quite possibly ‘pre-ordained’) information about yourself into the conversation, it’s scary that you tricked people into asking for it.

This subtleness or trickery by which you view yourself as having ‘gotten in’ certain points is a terrible thing to realize, because from here it’s natural to deduce that the entire conversation was actually like an unconscious execution of a self-aggrandizing agenda (or, conversely, an unconscious execution of a please-like-me-please-like-me agenda), which generally just points to the fact that you are an inauthentic human being. And how easy it is to be thus ashamed.

Being Logically Defeated: Being Logically Defeated is basically a point in any conversation where someone proves your logic either incorrect or morally obtuse in a manner that leaves the accuracy of the attack so undeniable that attention actually (unintentionally) turns for a moment – silently – toward the fact that you knew that you failed to comprehend something in an intellectual manner but acted like you actually comprehended it and were thus caught misrepresenting (i.e. lying about) your knowledge on a subject. And so it is revealed in front of the entire table that you are inauthentic.

How embarrassing, honestly. Who knows if anyone pays as much attention to this shit as I do (I know, probably not, probably I’m an idiot that just doesn’t know how to live, who needs to Get Over Himself, yes, perhaps I need to Get Over Myself) but when it happens, it can be excruciating. The baffling problem – as is the problem with all of these behaviors – is that it’s almost like you’re simply unable, sometimes, to control yourself from acting as if you know about something you actually don’t know anything about – while, both before and after the offending event, you actively checked yourself and attempted to ensure that you didn’t misrepresent yourself and what you knew.

Being Overly Nice to Someone While Drunk: Being Overly Nice to Someone While Drunk is reserved solely for someone you have Just Met That Night. This person appears to be someone you can eventually Bro Down with, or something. Being Overly Nice to Someone While Drunk occurs when you are simply that – simply Overly Nice – and become focused on assuring your new acquaintance that Hanging Out will happen in the very near future, probably tomorrow, and then regularly for the rest of both your lives (and that it will be as great and seratonin-flooded as you feel right now), despite the fact that you’ve just met, and despite the fact that you are aware of, on some conscious level, the fact that what you’re saying probably won’t happen because people talk like this all the time when they’re drunk. (Sometimes this is even mentioned, like “Oh people say this shit all the time when they’re drunk, but I’m serious, we are getting LUNCH tomorrow! Yeah! Let me get your number!”).

(For example, the other night I became unexplainably fixated on grilling the idea into this guy I had just met that we were going to like, have brunch a lot. Not just brunch tomorrow, but just have brunch in general, like it would become this matter of course or staple of our shared lives during which we enjoyed each others’ mutual company, and life would be so great. And I don’t even do this with my girlfriend or my best friend. I don’t do this with anyone.)

The problem with Being Overly Nice to Someone While Drunk is just the simple, obvious level of how so-incorrect you were when you promised that you would be friends forever. That alcohol took over and got you emotional and then the next day you were like “Nope, never actually going to follow through with that.” The shared – between you and your acquaintance – knowledge that you broke your word which you were so emphatic about proclaiming just 12 to 24 hours before. Such shared knowledge leads to an almost-intuitive shared deduction that you weren’t saying what you actually meant, which is basically a form of lying, and when one is caught in a lie, a natural thing for that person to do is to feel ashamed.

Talking Too Much: Talking Too Much is the act of talking so much in a public situation that you begin to appear unseemly, overenthusiastic, and belligerently unaware that those around you have simply begun to nod or humor you in a way that indicates exhaustion with the mere act of listening to what you’re saying. This of course leads to a sort of silently shared experience of the direct and conscious knowledge (among those around you) that you are actively breaking the social rules and that it is making everyone else uncomfortable. Talking Too Much is either an occurrence that’s simply imagined (only after the event) or a very real occurrence in which the people involved are acutely aware that you’re overextending your social liberties.

The ‘rule’ regarding Talking Too Much is applicable in the presence of almost anyone – your family, your close friends, and people you’ve just met. What’s paradoxical is that you sometimes find yourself holding back in conversation, just to maintain the appearance of a person that does not Talk Too Much, which makes you, again, in essence (in some situations), an inauthentic human being, at least regarding conversational output. That, when realized later, can produce a painful, uncomfortable, and troubling sort of self-awareness.

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This last section will be written in an effort to defend myself from all those who may, reasonably, consider this article as a jumbled rant written by someone obsessed with himself and who needs to Get Over Himself fast and who probably spends too much time thinking about his surroundings to enjoy himself at all. Or from those who, reasonably, will see themselves in this article and react negatively and reject it entirely so as to separate themselves from the relative truth of what it means to be a social creature living among other social creatures who all recognize and abide strictly by a clear set of social conventions. To those people, I will say this, in all truth: to experience moments of social inauthenticity does not mean you are a Bad Person, and I enjoy myself just fine. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Annie Hall

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