I have over the years been the kind of person who had a great anxiety for approval. I think this is obvious about me, and many people have noted it. I’m alright with it being obvious.
I guess at heart I’m just a pretty tender femme who, in some ways, never left year 7 art and the humiliation of being teased for the way she looked (which as it turns out, was just lovely. Photos from the time tell a quite different story to the strangely addled view I was convinced of by idiot bullies).
I’ve worked hard on not being so easily led, and hardening up some – without losing the charm of being a little naive and a touch too gentle. I’m okay now, with me. Me is a bit emotional, me shares too much info sometimes. Me is exuberant, chatty, silly, sometimes whiny. Me really doesn’t need your love, but she wants it and will gladly accept it. If you’re offering.
But something bitter that can come of being a person who angsts about the approval of others is that you can engage in an ungainly clamouring for popularity. The Queer community is a particularly toxic place for the timid, the slightly gauche, the faint of heart. It is full of robust and fierce personalities who can often rule, and rule harshly, without fear or favour. People are quick to slice and dice, and often the soft pause of grace, humility or the space to be a yet-growing being does not enter into the picture.
You can end up yearning to be seen, editing your image and your words in an effort to “fit”, to be liked. This is an intoxicating trap that can catch you quicker than a snare. You over expose or under expose yourself, becoming too aware of yourself, and all of a sudden quite ill with the desire to be known, and known with favour. You suddenly care far too much for your positioning in and around certain circles.
But there’s many advantages to throwing off the yoke of giving-a-fuck, and associating with souls who similarly just don’t care.
1. You save money by no longer attending countless events with fleeting acquaintances just to be seen on the scene.
2. You no longer have to have dozens of reasonably meaningless conversations with people who don’t actually give a shit about you or how you are doing.
3. You can only go to the things you really care about.
4. You drink less.
5. You don’t have to remember a bunch of complex rules about how to talk, how to sit, how to act, how to breathe so that you’ll get the mark of social approval.
6. You’ll end up spending time with people who really dig you. Fewer, more quality relationships.
7. You don’t have to have your politics scrutinized heartlessly with the constant threat of ostracisation anymore. Opt out.
8. You can laugh at things you really find funny, get turned on by things you really get turned on by. No more pretending.
9. You wear what you like, and don’t have to dress to be wanted or admired. You can have grey hairs coming in and wear your trackies and no makeup and still be a fuckyeahfemme without having to dodge other Alpha Femmes looking you up and down, or femme fetishists measuring you against the other femmes in the room. Stop caring.
10. You begin to see the very real difference between the wheat and the chaff.
When it comes down to it, I’m glad I rarely go out anymore. That which I do, I do meaningfully and I do for the love of myself and the people I’m with. That feels delightful. I foster smaller, more intimate worlds and don’t lust for a piece of the popularity pie in the way that I did last year.
I never had a big slice anyway, nor was I destined for one. I just had a wee nibble. And it tasted like nothing, which is what the approval of others really is. Empty calories.