What kind of special gene combination does it take for Flake-y-Flakersons to just be completely unable to own up and follow through on commitments they make? I’ve written about it three years ago. Newsflash: people still pull that shit! Apparently growing older doesn’t help some folks develop the cojones to say no when they mean no, and growing up doesn’t help folks like me grow a thicker hide to ignore said behaviour. Sure, my tolerance to
accept and deal with this behaviour may have gone up very slightly, but I still don’t understand it. And it still feels just as disrespectful as it did three years ago. I mean it’s not like we’re in high school where peer pressure made us succumb to doing things we didn’t actually want to. And we’re way past the point in life where we feel like indecisive teenagers who cannot figure out if we’re choosing to do something on our own volition or not. So what is this business of saying yes, when it actually means no? And worse, what is the meaning of silence?
This happens not just in social circles but professional situations too. I now have a plugin on my mail that tells me when my emails are read by recipients. So I know when someone is reading an email and choosing to ignore it. In the last 4 weeks alone, I was approached by editors of 2 national publications, seeking Goa-based stories that I grabbed the opportunity to write. A flurry of email activity ensued at the start, but when we get down to the brass tacks, the responses peter away to nothingness. I even wrote back to one of them, with a whole list of other ideas I wanted to explore, assuming that maybe the original one he came to me with fell through for reasons he was unable to share with me. All I got in return was…you guessed it. Silence.
In relationships, and I’m talking about the near and dear ones, why do so many people find it so comforting to operate from a place of fear? To wallow in the fear of judgement, of vulnerability, or their deepest insecurities, of being peered at, of loss, of rejection? Is it easier to give in to the fear than to face up to it, knowing that it is with the close chosen few that you can actually be free? I’ve been there in the past, chosen to be torn up, exposed, fragile, vulnerable in situations that affected me deeply, and I did it around those I wanted beside me? Isn’t that what builds bonds? Knowing each other at the weakest, picking up the pieces together when we’re broken, being wholly weak and honestly asking for help (this, I still struggle with) when you need it the most, and above all being most true to yourself – even in all your imperfect glory?
Friendship isn’t a popularity contest, a friend said to me recently, and it suddenly rang true. Too often, people mistake the need to maintain an image of strength, perfection and well-put-togetherness as the basis for forging bonds of love and camaraderie, that we assume will somehow always stay the same. But the shit hits the fan sooner or later, and there comes a point when you have to decide who belongs in your inner circle, who you’re going to reach out to for help, who you’re going to pour your heart out at, and who you’re going to look up to for strength. And you can’t be doing that guarding your insecurities like a badge of honour. Some of the best friends I have today have seen me at my stupidest, worst, most unreasonable, vulnerable best. And vice versa. Because that’s what allows us to be there for each other when we need it the most.
Too often people fear being vulnerable and exposed to the very same people they actually want to let into their lives. How is it possible to be so guarded and afraid of opening yourself up, while you’re try so hard to forge deep relationships with the very same people you’re hiding from? Counterproductive, much?
So I was out dancing yesterday and this fellow, while dancing a few feet away from us, had eyes peeled, in our direction, as he proceeded to dance most vigorously. Before long, he had wormed his way through the crowd right next to us. At one point he lunged forward, and it appeared to me he wanted to get through the group. It was a crowded dance floor, so I stepped back and made space for him to walk through, when he looked at me, eyes half closed and gestured for me to come closer to him, as if to say he had a secret to tell me. I leaned a little closer, and he mumbled something about dancing. What? I asked. Something-something dancing. WHAT? Something-something dancing, he said over and over. Finally, I gave up. But he didn’t. And proceeded to wedge himself between friend and me, before I decided enough was enough and swiftly danced my way away to create enough distance between us. Why can’t men be more forthcoming if they really do want to dance? And if they’ve asked nicely, and someone has said no, what will it take for them to just take no, for no and move on without making complete asses of themselves?
I don’t know if its the general way that people, behaviour and relationships are going to go, but it seems complicated is the new rule. Increasingly I see people choosing the most roundabout route to communicate the simplest things. And it leaves me thinking, if you can’t say something straight — whether it’s ask a girl to dance, tell someone you have missed their presence in your life, confront an insecurity that is stopping you from building a relationship you want, make a new business connection — how are you possibly going to make any progress with it?
Aren’t those relationships doomed to stagnate?
Bottom line, the next time you want to say something ditch the bare basic route. If you’re about to make the grave error of communicating something clearly and simply, fuck that, it’s boring. Resist the urge to speak up. Bottle it up. And then find the most roundabout way to say it. Or worse, give up in apparent exasperation, and choose that other wonder trick – silence.
Communication be damned, maybe you will end up being the subject of a meandering rant on the interwebz. And isn’t that a lot more fun?