I’m an analytical creature. I like to predict and hypothesize. I like to plan and I get off when my plans come into fruition perfectly. No doubt that sometimes this is a good thing. I like to plan adventures with my friends. Explore new places. Internet, I’m going to get real with you right now. I am really good at planning romantic dates. Why? Because I put a lot of time figuring out what the perfect moment would be, given all the variables. But do you know there is another word for all that analyzing, speculating, and theorizing? It’s called worrying.
I worry because I am a nervous person. If I were to start up an honest OKCupid profile, my “About Me” would read: I am worrisome incarnate. I am pumping my feet as I write this. I just bit my finger nails into nubs as I thought about the next sentence. (Did I wash my hands after the bar last night? Oy!) I used to get so nervous before any kind of performance that I would throw up. I STILL get so nervous before dates that I have to dance around my apartment blasting “Sympathy for the Devil” pretending to be Mick Jagger and Keith Richards simultaneously. Did you know that I almost died this weekend when I realized the front door to my apartment was open while I did this? I live across from the elevator on the first floor. Someone definitely saw (and heard) me in my penny loafers, strutting my hips around, lips singing “PLEASED TO MEET YOU. HOPE YOU GUESS MY NAME.”
But you know what saved me from imminent death? Well, right then and there it was a double of Maker’s but more so it was the realization that in that moment, I wanted to be doing nothing else. What am I honestly so embarrassed about? That I dance around lip synching to the Rolling Stones? Alright, whatever. I get nervous and dance. I can Axl Rose crab-walk so well that I’m 50% sure I am the sweet child he’s singing about. If someone has a problem with that: Stuff it. Shove it. Eat it. There are a lot of opinions out there and we’re the first generation to have constant access to them. We can go on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr to see what our friends and peers like, what they dislike and what they sometimes describe as “OMG THIS TOTALLY CHANGED MY LIFE. Please.Click.This.” If you think your friends are all idiots (and with status updates like that no one would blame you), you can Google what your favorite celebrity, or esteemed cultural critic has to say about it. We have blogs and websites dedicated to everything and anything. That’s the great thing about the internet. Everyone has a voice.
But I worry for us a little bit. We’re so insincere about who we truly are. Facebook and all those other social mediums have become so large I wonder if we’re actually able to get out from under all the showing off and just be ourselves. I worry that the 24/7 criticism machine known as the internet has forced us to spend so much time in this “public” mode where every photo we take has to be perfect and pushed through an Instragram filter, where every tweet has to be witty, where your Tumblr is a reflection of your taste in culture — that we’re losing how to turn all the voices off and reflect on our wants and desires. We’ve got to step away from all of that and we have to stop listening to each other so much. Sure, every person in the office is going to have some anecdotal evidence pertaining to whatever life question you want to bounce off of them (after they tell you about their cats, FYI). But that doesn’t make their advice or opinions pertinent.
You can’t find what truly works for your life if you spend all your time being something you’re not, listening to people who you aren’t and adhering to rules that were not created with you in mind. If you want to do something — just do it. Don’t let your friends or coworkers or your Twitter “followers” tell you otherwise. This isn’t the pool. You don’t need your Mommy to tell to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim. Jump on in. You need to find people, places, and things that are compatible with you. Not the “you” you’re striving to be in five years, not the one you designed after reading a bunch of advice columns in GQ or Cosmo (Do you girls still read Cosmo?) and definitely not the you who listens to your friends speculative dating advice. They don’t know anymore than you do! They’re probably in their 20s too and I can tell you that they don’t know sh-t. None of us do!
I used to think that all my worrying made me less of a man. Why? Because duh, a man is decisive and assertive. I saw my constant worrying as a flaw and an obstacle that prevented me from becoming this perfect man that I had spent my whole life watching on TV, and reading about in magazines. And in the midst of creating all these rules about what I should and shouldn’t be — I kind of lost who I was for a few years. Except a few months ago I started to say: F-ck this. I spend all this energy worrying about wanting to be this idealized version of something I’ll never be. I wanted to have a perfect score that doesn’t exist except in a weird Donkey Kong documentary that is completely overrated. I was never going to become George Clooney, the smooth operator of Ocean’s because that doesn’t exist. (Well, he does exist. His name is George Clooney, not Trey Salm.)
If we’re all going to grow up one day to become the people we’re meant to be, then we’ve got to start trusting ourselves and believing the real us deserves some love. We need to strip away all that insecure sarcasm. Go ahead and get rid of those fake hobbies and interests we fasten and wear like armor and become sincere about who you are and what you like. You’ve got to say this is who I am and this is what I want. Find strength in the vulnerability of putting yourself out there exactly as you are. No, this is not an invitation to hang out in your birthday suit. Rather, it’s a reminder to just be yourself. Did we really spend countless hours playing Starfox 64 only to grow up and ignore Peppy’s best advice? Even crappy, rabbit star fighter pilots know to “Trust your Instincts” (Falco 4 Life).
You can do it. I’ll be your Vince Vaughn from Swingers whispering in your ear “You’re so money, baby” as we do it together. Watch, it’s easy. Do you worry about what you will text to that total babe you met at the bar last night? Did you send a thrice revised message only to wait with baited breath for a response? Did you languish over how you would have come across twice as funny if only you had included X instead of Y? You know what? Now you can text them again. Text them as much as you want. If their tone smells like “Ew. Why are you texting me twice in a row? That breaks the flirting rules,” you tell them to stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. My main point is this: there aren’t any rules to becoming you, so please just let go a little. Laugh at yourself. Make a few mistakes if you want. Take it from me. You can’t control the world. You can’t plan everything. If you want someone who loves you for who you are — and really I think we all want that — then you have to be willing to be that person first. You can’t construct a perfect version of yourself to present to them. It doesn’t exist and they don’t want it.
For me that means embracing that I’m going to be a little nervous. It means telling a pretty girl she makes me feel some butterflies because she’s so funny and pretty and smart. It means dancing around before dates in my studio apartment, and being obsessive about NBA statistics. Whatever you are, whatever it is for you — just own it. Stop caring so much what everyone else has to say about it and own it. If you want to do something that everyone else says is a mistake – do it. Live a little. Take a chance. Get burned. Get loved. Get f-cked. (Seriously, it feels good.) Do whatever it is you want to do.
Just make sure it’s 100% you. Please don’t do speedballs or heroin or any drug like that because you can die and dying, believe it or not, kind of interferes with living. But let’s get real with ourselves. You only get one shot at life. Don’t sign the rights of it over to the bloggers and doubters and haters of the world. Take the shot you want to take. Screw the odds. Stop wrestling with the possible outcomes. There’s only one real outcome anyhow: you become the person you were always meant to be. That doesn’t sound too bad to me.