Surprise! I Don’t Completely Suck

Comments 12

failure to communicate cool hand luke

“The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right? Yeah!” — The Offspring

Some people think I have low self-esteem and am too hard on myself.

“Chin up, Matt. I know way bigger losers than you!”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, man!”

“You’re a really swell guy, and a girl will probably kiss you on the mouth again someday if you just hang in there long enough!”

I made up two of those.

Sometimes I write stuff, and I feel pretty normal or even possibly good while doing so, and then out of nowhere, I’ll get one of these comments.

“Take it easy, Matt! Don’t do anything crazy!”

“We’re all here for you, buddy. Keep on truckin’!”

“If I could have one superpower right now, it would be the ability to crawl through this camera and give you a big hug.”

I also made up two of those and plagiarized the third.

It dawned on me yesterday when someone who likely has my best interests at heart told me in a comment that I frustrate her with my crappy self-esteem (but acknowledged she doesn’t always know how to interpret my tone.) That, combined with hundreds of “Keep your head up, pal!” comments over the past however many months, has led me to the following conclusion: I’m a shitty hack writer with a glaring inability to effectively convey tone of voice, and I should quit forever since I suck so much at life.

Every person who knows me even a little bit can “hear” my tone of voice in that last sentence. And they know how I mean it.

Exaggeration, hyperbole and metaphor are my tools, and self-deprecation is my trade. Sometimes, I’m even sarcastic and kind of a dick. I’m sorry if that annoys you. Maybe eating some sweaty bologna will make you feel better.

‘Then I wonder why she sleeps with my friends’

That’s my favorite line from the classic “Self Esteem” by The Offspring, and has nothing to do with this post, except that it’s about self-esteem, and I’ve been playing the song on repeat while I write this because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Two and a half years ago when I started this thing, I was a complete freaking mess. I can only assume all my writing “sounded” like it too.

Two and a half years ago, I probably had low self-esteem.

We’re all slaves to our own worldview and experiences. I’m a small-town Ohio kid known for being polite, gregarious and social. I have a naturally optimistic and positive disposition. For about 30 years, mostly nothing bad happened to me, except my parents divorced when I was 4, but that’s young enough where whatever happens to you just feels normal.

Small, safe town. Great family. Lots of friends. Seemingly well-liked, accepted and popular. Girls always liked me. Despite the absence of anything resembling economic prosperity, it was pretty damn charmed, but when it’s all you’ve known, it’s just NORMAL, and you take it for granted.

Then, at the age of 30, a bunch of bad shit happened, including a job loss and family deaths, and it all culminated in divorce.

I know that I’m nice and that there are infinitely shittier partner options out there.

I know that I’m, while occasionally unreliable in an immature/ADHD kind-of way, totally reliable in a You-Can-Count-On-Me-To-Not-Abandon-You way.

I know that I have above-average intelligence, depth and ambition. I am good-natured, have good tastes, am attractive enough that people have wanted to mate with me from puberty onward, and am reasonably funny.

Most importantly, I know, in the deepest recesses of my core and soul that I actively work at being a good guy. I totally mess up, sometimes. But, man, I care, and not everyone does.

Put all that in a blender and top it with a 12-year relationship and a beautiful son and awesome friends and large, wonderful extended families.

Seems like a lot to toss out.

But she walked away, choosing something and someone else.

And then, for the first time, I knew how brokenness and rejection felt. And maybe if my entire life had been difficult and shitty prior to that, divorce would have been no big deal. Just another whatever thing! But it wasn’t. It was soul- and life-wrecking, and I started writing about it here as a means of dealing with it, and then accidentally morphed into a quasi-self-help/advice guy because people kept asking stuff.

‘Well, I guess, I should stick up for myself’

I’m just an average guy.

A statistic.

A middle-income, divorced, single father with a mortgage and car payment.

So, even though I think I’ve got some shit figured out now regarding our romantic partnerships—one of the most critical and important facets of our human experience—I’m not going to ever try to seem like more than I am.

I am VERY TYPICAL, and screwed up my marriage VERY TYPICALLY, and now VERY TYPICAL other people (about 80 percent of everyone) might be able to benefit in some small way from me writing about it, because all of them are either doing all the same dumb stuff I did, or are being victimized by it.

I’m pretty average, and in this instance that’s a really good thing, because a lot of people can identify with it, and some of this stuff’s important.

I’m not a scholar, nor a genius, and I have ZERO experience in a committed relationship attempting to practice all of these ideas I believe can and will save, or enhance, marriages (or committed partnerships of any kind).

Just maybe, another average person can get something positive out of my average-guy writing in a way they can’t or won’t from PhDs and therapists. I don’t know for sure. And don’t pretend to.

But you can know this: I have reasonably high self-esteem.

I’m not always as brave as I should be.

I feel insecure sometimes, because I worry too much about what people think of me.

I put a little bit too much stock in everyone liking me, when I’m smart enough to understand one out of three people probably never will.

When you read or hear me call someone a “dirty pirate hooker,” or say something like “because I’m a stupid, moron asshole who makes bad decisions,” I want you to assume I’m goofing off and not take me seriously.

Please assume I’m happy and like myself and want other people to feel the same.

I may be dumb.

But I’m not a dweeb.

I’m just a sucker with no self-esteem. (Only not really.)

12 thoughts on “Surprise! I Don’t Completely Suck”

  1. Chuckling. Well played. Fairy Queen hit it out of the park above.
    (Now you’ve got me thinking- what the heck do people who read my blog think of me? We should totally do an online blog SurveyMonkey and be shocked by people’s opinions of our opinion of ourselves. Totally meta.)

    1. VERY meta! I like it.

      It was just funny to me, because I’ve always (mistakenly) assumed everyone knew exactly how I mean everything I say. Which is ridiculous, since global experts on any given subject can make a statement and half the audience will disagree with it.

      And there have been ample sad-guy posts from yesteryear, but I didn’t think anyone reading anything from the past 12 months would have felt that way.

      I am often incorrect. This is just another example.

      I hope you have an amazing weekend, Mrs. Groeber. Holiday insanity is upon us.

  2. Matt! I love this! I totally get it-didn’t doubt it for a second. I wish I would take the time to explain this same thing to the people around me but I don’t have the patience … And even though I’m always a bright fucking ray of sunshine ? and should get patient and have this talk, I’m going to do what I always do instead and that is forward this.

    1. To be clear: I believe in the psychological benefits of self-affirming statements, and that you could never sit around saying “I am ugly and unlovable” all the time, every day, without eventually becoming ugly and unlovable.

      So we shouldn’t cut ourselves down all the time, and I probably do that more than I should.

      But I also think we can be sort of above it all, too.

      I think we can be so confident in ourselves that we can feel okay about demonstrating our weaknesses and insecurities and fears and shortcomings.

      And for the most part, I hope I’m just that.

  3. I have found over the 3 years since I started blogging… I will gravitate to writing when I’m in a certain mood. For me, if I’m feeling a bit lost, sad or angry, I will crave writing. The unfortunate side effect on that one however is that folks who read my blog, might assume that I’m a depressed, sad or angry person. When the real truth of the matter, is that there are hundreds of facets to a human being. Our online portrayals are only a small part of a very complex and ultimately, a very beautiful and unique person. And Matt – for me, that’s how I see you too. Sometimes, your posts are sad or wistful, sometimes they have a sense of determination and strength. Other times you’re are sarcastic and funny. All of those paint only a small picture of who you likely are in real life.

    Either way, keep it coming. 🙂

  4. This post cracks me up. You mean you’re not a borderline personality with erratic mood swings who needs to seek professional help? That s what many people who read my blog seem to think of me. Crazy, insane, nuts, delusional, hence the nickname insanitybytes. 😉

  5. Great. Now I’m going to have The Offspring stuck in my head all night. There are worse problems I guess.
    I’ve had similar misinterpretation occur (both in my writing and in person) based on perception of tone but not with self esteem, with my prolific and casual use of the word asshole. Turns out when you call everyone an asshole at least one person is going to think you’re a big mean jerk. Which I’m not. Most the time.

  6. For what it’s worth, I learned something very important about myself from reading some of your posts — and it wasn’t quite a marriage-saver, because I wasn’t going to leave him, but it did help me put my concerns in perspective and see things more from his side. So, I’m going to say, you’re a good person, you have excellent insights, and I value you highly, whether you do or not. Though I hope you do, because you’re too smart to think badly of yourself.

    1. Very nice of you to say, Alice. Thank you. I meant everything I wrote here: I have plenty of improvement to do in a variety of areas, but few (if any) things are more important in life than how we treat people.

      I tend to treat people well and have positive relationships.

      I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. Promise.

      Thank you again for the kind words. Always nice to read or hear things like that.

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