19 November 2011

Be Not Ashamed

I had the chance yesterday to watch an edited version of The King's Speech after school with the movie club I sponsor at my school. Although I rebelliously prefer the unedited version, the movie is still worth watching either way. I know I've written about this movie before, but each time I see it something new about it touches me. It's a powerful story.

This time I was reminded again of how much effort it took for Bertie to overcome his problems, which he never really overcame, by the way. He spends the entire movie fighting against his speech struggles and comes out of the movie a little better, but still struggling. He is able to gain more confidence in himself and he's able to get through the speech at the end, but he's never on par with his German counterpart, Hitler. That's what most movies would want to do. Pit the underdog against the champion and have the underdog either surpass or at least match the champion at the end. You don't have that luxury in real life. Sometimes there are wounds and weaknesses that never quite go away. Sometimes you have to fight.

I think everyone has a handful of these problems. For me it's a social life.

It seems contradictory, really. I'm very obviously quite verbal. I'm not (or, at least I don't think I am) hugely awkward in social situations. I just have never really liked them - particularly when it comes to dating. I have some kind of overwhelming fear when it comes to dating that I can't seem to get over no matter how hard I try. It always works in the same pattern: I start out excited for the first date, I go on the second date and have a good time, but between the second and third date my brain starts to panic, and by the time the third date call rolls around I'm looking for any excuse not to answer the phone or to delay returning calls or to run. Last time this happened I tried actively to fight against it by forcing myself to agree to a third date, only to spend the rest of the evening in my room with my head under a pillow, frustrated that I can't just be normal and allow myself to enjoy life for once.

I should be complimented, right? I should be flattered that someone deems me interesting and nice enough to take out more than once. I should be able to do what everyone else seems to do and to just have fun. But to be quite frank, dating scares the heck out of me. Just writing about it right now is making my shoulders tense and my stomach turn.

I can come up with all sorts of logical reasons for why I am this way, if I want. Fear of abandonment stemming back to the sixth grade. Few positive dating experiences in high school leaving me unprepared for the serious business of college dating. Too much social or internal pressure. Fighting against the chains of depression and feelings of inadequacy in general, not just in my social life. Circumstances that put me on the spot when I'm much happier when things are casual and I don't feel like I have to act a certain way or feel a certain way when I don't - guilt for not wanting to act a certain way or feel a certain way when I probably should. . . it's all very complicated.

I recognize that many of you who read this could quite easily either relate or think I'm being overly dramatic. I get that. I'm not exactly proud of this side of myself. It's a very conscious battle I'm trying to fight here. But guilt isn't really helping me move on, and pressure to get over fear immediately is only making it worse.

Back to The King's Speech connection - one of my favorite scenes is when Bertie is preparing for his coronation at Westminster. He finds out that his speech therapist (Logue) is not government certified and is frustrated, accusing him of lying and being a fraud, even though Logue argues that he never once claimed to be a doctor and has not advertised himself as such. At one point Bertie turns his back on Logue - when he turns around again Logue is sitting in Saint Edward's chair rather cheekily, which makes Bertie furious. Logue tells Bertie that Bertie himself did just say he's not king, so it shouldn't matter, when Bertie shouts that he has every right because he has a voice. It's a real turning point for Bertie, who has been feeling for what may have been his entire life up to this point that because he struggled with speaking, he could have nothing to say that anyone would want to hear. He believes in himself for the first time. It doesn't cure his problems, but it helps.

I'm not quite there yet. But I am, at least, very tired of feeling ashamed that this is hard for me. It feels on the outside like something very silly to struggle with that is all in my head because so many people around me seem to have the socializing thing down in spades, but feeling guilty is not helping me to find a way to heal. It's time to start being a little more patient with myself.


A. Bailey said...

Honesty with yourself is the first step toward overcoming those situations. I think you are a wonderful person and someday it will all work out for you in the way that is perfect for you. You'll just be casual friends first and maybe dating will come later. And the pressure from our culture to fall in love and marry early (and have kids right away) is almost unbearable. I hope you can find a way to alleviate the pressure. But I just want you to know that I think you are a beautiful person inside and out and that I really believe that it will work out for you in a beautiful way that suits you perfectly. And no pressure from me. I love you for who, what, and where you are in your life. A lot of people do. You're amazing.

Nanakat said...

I never liked dating. I hated the "games" everyone was expected to play. (I was an "Agnes" at the time of FASCINATING WOMANHOOD, and that book drove me crazy.)

With A.Bailey, I recommend that you work on being friends first. After all, what's the point of dating? Isn't it to get to know someone well enough to fall in love with them and want to be with them forever?

Who says you have to do that under the artificial constraints of the dating game? If you want to spend time with someone who is already your friend, you don't even have to call it a date, do you?

My youngest daughter decided that she would not go on any second dates, ever. And she didn't, even though plenty of guys wished that she would.

It wasn't until the right guy, who happened to be her very good friend first, realized how truly wonderful she is, and asked her out, that she was willing to bend her rule (sort of -- they decided to call it their "third date"). And I love having him for a son-in-law.

So don't add guilt to the frustration that is called "dating." Guilt is supposed to help us repent. Just work on being the right friend, and someday, the right guy will wake up and go, "Whoa!" And you'll both want to spend forever together.