Go Ask Lev #2: Ego, Anxiety, And UFOs

If you’d like to Go Ask Lev, email him here.
Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook

1.

Hey Lev,

Where is the best place to start in order to feel comfortable in my own skin?

I feel tense in social situations. My shoulders get tight and I always feel like I’m fidgeting. I feel like everyone can see right through me and they know I feel awkward. This happens even when I’m around my friends. 

I think I live my life in fear too often because I lack confidence in who I am. Any advice?

-Laura M.

***

Awesome.! Thanks for sending.

First off, I’m psyched to answer this because I love being able to give good news, of which there is plenty here. I’m confident that you can feel better, and I’m excited for you too. Sometimes there can be an internal bias against self-improvement, because it feels like betrayal of self, or a retroactive acknowledgement of weakness. Don’t fall into that trap. Self improvement is dope, and it’s about letting your best self shine more easily, whittled out from underneath the debris of the human condition.

There are a few things I’d recommend, all of which should help.

First: nobody cares. This should be immensely comforting. Nobody is paying attention to you, nobody is thinking you’re awkward. This internal pressure is internal and cyclical, sure, but it’s not true. Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s happening. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to worry about you, especially your friends.

I get it, though. I used to feel anxious in public, even with friends, and would seek to entertain or tell jokes to earn my keep. It turns out, though, nobody cared. In a good way! Slowly, I learned to relax and take myself for granted more. It feels great, and I’m excited for you to try it.

The second is that this is super common. Are you analyzing your friends constantly? Are you cruelly divvying up strangers? No? Of course not! That would be super weird! Take a step back away from the narcissistic part of anxiety and really do the math. You are not so uniquely bad as to be scrutinized. Allow yourself to breathe. It’s a hard process, but it gets easier, and you’ll be happier! It’s worth your while to pursue it.

Also: everyone is much, much harder on themselves than others are on them. It sounds like your internal voice is anxious and too critical, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that internal voice reflects an outward truth. It doesn’t.

That difficult, doubting voice is an asshole, not an arbiter of truth. The more you do to let it go, the happier you’ll be, and, also, the more correct you’ll be.

I love giving good news when it’s true, and this is that.

Best,

Lev

2.

Hi Lev,

Ive been back on the dating scene for a little over 2 months now, and it have been nothing short of disappointing. I’ve tried Tinder, Match.com, Okcupid, Coffee Meets Bagel and have yet to have any luck. Is it so bad to just want to have drinks with someone? To meet new people? 

Tinder has become a game of “Who can unmatch the quickest?” Ive started to wonder exactly whats wrong with me and why no one is even willing to start a conversation with me. I don’t think I’m a horrible looking girl, I like to think I’ve got a good personality, but somehow, that’s not translated to anyone who wants to date me. 

Its extraordinarily frustrating to see all of your friends around you have so much luck. Even if their date turns out to be disastrous, they at least still had the opportunity to meet new people. it seems as though that’s just not happening for me. 

What should I do?

Sincerely, 

Meagan.

***

Hi Meagan,

First, and importantly, I want to say that you’re right. Meeting people can be insanely difficult, especially if you have a thing about “not being murdered.”

I don’t have a slam dunk solution for you, but I do have solid life advice that will help you along the way.

Mainly, go out and do things.

You’re on sites and apps, which is a great start. That’s effort and that’s smart to keep up with. But internet dating can be quick and superficial, and if you’re interested in getting the chance to meet people in real life, real life may be the place to start, especially if you’re proud of your personality and feel outgoing.

Might as well go out, right?

Go to the places you’d like to go, and you’ll find the gravity of life will help you out. Go with friends and explore your city. People abound in bars, coffee shops, parks and museums, and they’re the ones who’ll talk more than the ones who survive on screens.

Even if you don’t find the people you’d like to find, you’ll find the things you want to do. And, with that figured out, your odds increase to finding someone compatible and fun.

3.

Dear Lev,

Do you believe in UFO’s?

-Maddy C.

***

Dear Maddy,

No, but I have my suspicions about ghosts.

4.

Hi Lev,

I have a confession to make.

I admit. I have one huge ego. And if being a prick when my ego is being jabbed is one bad habit that’s hard to break, so be it. 

I hate losing. When I feel that someone is encroaching my turf usually in my area of expertise, I often act aggressive to defend my stand on things and I’m easily offended. I perceive a contrasting comment or criticism as a personal attack. I usually don’t care how nicely it has been said. I still consider it as something that affects my inflated ego.

My ego will always get in my way and is something I am battling against for years. This makes me suffer a lot and has caused damage to me and to the people I interact with. I am sometimes scared of myself.

In times when I am alone, I always think of getting some help somewhere. I prefer someone who is expert in mitigating this kind of attitude- someone I can talk to without thinking what a pain in the ass I am. Don’t worry, I will listen because that’s what this person is for. I will try- do my best if I could to change, to grow. 

I am 22. Basically, old enough to realize my mistakes and do something to correct these things out. But I need help, and on my end, I am willing to learn.

Sincerely,

Nikki

***

Hi Nikki,

The problem isn’t that you have a big ego. The problem is that you don’t have a balanced confidence, and are instead switching between extremes of a swollen ego.

An ego is a liability, a storm between pride and fear. And, like a pufferfish, it swells up to scare off threats while hiding from what could wound it.

Ego and insecurity often pair up; the more heavy the insecurity, the larger the ego pretends to be to disguise it. Confidence, meanwhile is boring, but stable, and can endure the challenges of day-to-day living. Confidence endures struggles, and survives sturdy enough to look at its own flaws. Ego, though, is too scared to look at itself; it pretends to be too angry to hear when it’s too scared to listen.

Ego is like that. It’s dramatic and sensitive, and oscillates wildly.

So, Nikki, let’s forget about egos. Try instead to gain confidence and learn to accept, process, and sort through critiques or disagreements. Trust yourself to be able to handle that maturely, balanced and calm.

Accept your weaknesses as part of yourself and as no big deal and you’ll find yourself less desperate to defend your ego.

Best,

Lev TC mark

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