It’s been a wild and wacky year over here at the Mattress of Solitude. On paper I worked for three different companies within 10 months, after steadily working for one for over 5 years. This latest position is one for a city organization, which boasts things like union representation, benefits, and promotional opportunities. As an update from the past post, I have made it past the training phase, as well as a month long “nesting” period. The first month after training isn’t a grace period, but a period where screw ups aren’t put on the permanent record and extra supervision is given. From this point on I have to last another 10 months before my position becomes permanent, and before I can even consider any promotional opportunities. Most people who moved up usually worked on the initial rung for 2+ years anyway.
My trainers liked me. My supervisor thinks I’m near perfect even when I make an err or two. Much of the job is self explanatory, to the point that the most stressful part of the day is logging in on time during a mere 3-4 minute window when I have to fight with software. I have fine tuning to do, but I am getting the hang of things as best I can. While this position may be new, my experience in my previous jobs has helped tremendously. Above all, it’s a job that isn’t centered around sales, but more geared with trying to do some good (along with customer service). Once upon a time I went to college with the ideal of wanting to help people. In some ways I am the same person, yet in others that person may have been from another life compared to now. And the irony is that person that I was has informed a large chunk of my experience with women.
Every day, and every week, at this new job brings with it a mix of feelings. Confidence with each shift, mixed with anxiety for the future. I am grateful for the opportunity yet petrified that I will screw it up and it will come crashing down. Very little in my life has genuinely gotten better; it often either stays the same or gets worse, albeit often in different ways. Managers and supervisors offer mixtures of open armed understanding mixed with warnings of dire consequences for too many write-ups. The job can seem almost blindingly easy and frustratingly difficult within a few minutes of each other. However, for the moment things seem to be going well there. Which means I am always in a state of near panic that it will change in an instant.
I imagine none of my co-workers, or supervisor, or anyone of the people I trained with would suspect my deep, dark secret. I am a different person at work than I am outside of it. I am gregarious, always able to get in a joke or offer my viewpoint without going too far. In the position I give off an air of experience despite being a newbie. A couple of them are women and while I would never seek to try to date anyone at work — because it is often more drama than it is worth — a few of them are my type. College Dateless-Man, who I mentioned before, would be wrapped in angst-knots about this. “Woe is me, for being surrounded by babes I can’t or won’t approach,” I would have lamented, and buried that lament until years later when I would have written it for the blog. Now I have a bit more experience and perspective. Plus, it helps that I’m not a creep who doesn’t respect women or can’t work with them. And the irony is with the specter of romance totally removed, I don’t seem to have a problem talking to them. I’m a funny guy, I can make almost anyone laugh without even trying. It’s almost unconscious timing.
Besides this recent update, the theme of 2017 has been Zen. The idea of finally having embraced — no, accepted — my status and no longer being emotionally burdened and agonized by it. Part of the consequences have led to gaps in posting. I think 2017 saw about 10 blog installments, which is a historic low. I try to average at least 12 and I know 2014-2015 averaged way more. And maybe it comes part in parcel with the theme of growing and moving on. The first year or so of the blog, 2014-2015, was mostly focused on expressing my own experiences with women and romance (or lack thereof) that for the most part I had never told anyone. Just to get them all down into another medium and express my thoughts on them outside my own mind. 2016 in many ways dealt with me absorbing some of what I expressed as well as some newer experiences. I groused about my own virginity semi-frequently. And the theme for 2017 has been acceptance of my romantic void while actively seeking change in my career.
This isn’t to say that I never have pangs of regret or frustration regarding my lack of romantic success or any sort of a love life in the past. Acceptance isn’t pretending something never happened nor never feeling any residual emotional feelings at all. The mind doesn’t work that way. In some way I do think about bring a virgin every day. The big difference is that it doesn’t make me feel as bad about myself as it used to. It could be acceptance, it could be over familiarity, it could be becoming numb to it after so many years, I don’t care because the net result is less angst. My birthday is coming up in another 3+ months and that naturally will bring me another year closer to being the 40-Year-Old-Virgin. There are times I genuinely wonder what it would be like to experience mutual romantic emotions, or to make passionate love. But unlike in college, there’s less of a sense of entitlement or lament and more of an scientific curiosity.
Part of the problem isn’t mere inexperience nor having zero game or romantic charm (or a place or opportunity to practice those skills without being judged as a man-child). Much like with work, while I have a fear of failure, short term success also petrifies me because it is something which seems rare and uncommon. It also doesn’t jive with my own poor self image, so there is a little cognitive dissonance going on. If a loser starts to win, is the loser now a winner? Or just on a lucky streak heading up for a colossal loss to end all losses? And while I seem able to successfully hide that anxiety at work, I don’t know if I could do the same on the dating scene. Because while I consider dating failure to be a foregone, predetermined conclusion, it would probably be the opposite which would bring the most pressure and suspicion. The most stressful thing a woman could say to me after a date wouldn’t be, “You’re a wad of human filth and I hope you die,” it would be, “I actually had a lovely time and would love to do this again.” I’d be in uncharted territory, where now failure will be worse because it came at a higher stage.
For a brief moment, I even got a little more open minded about legalized prostitution, such as in Las Vegas. I don’t have the funds for it now, but if I stay where I am at at work, I will eventually get vacation time and a bump in salary. And I realized the irony is that while I would be second, triple, and quadruple guessing anything said or done on a real date, there’s one advantage to a sex worker. I would KNOW for a fact anything she was telling me was just a ruse for more money. And she would know that I was just there for a good time. No pretenses. I wouldn’t have to find triple meaning to every word said or not said. I wouldn’t have to wonder whether a compliment was genuine or ambiguous; I’d KNOW it was just filler for a better tip. If a woman on a date were to tell me, “I think you’re the cutest guy in the room,” my initial reaction would be to question her ability to see at all, or fret she was being sarcastic or that I was taking advantage of ignorance. If a sex worker says that, I KNOW it’s baloney for an extra $100 or whatever, so there’s a bit more freedom to relax and enjoy the experience without anxiety. Ultimately, however, I still am unlikely to pursue this option. Not because I have anything against sex workers, but that ultimately I feel it wouldn’t do me much good in the long term even if short term it would take some of the edge off. But in the long term it wouldn’t teach me the skills I’d need to navigate a normal, mature romantic relationship or even the motions of entering the dating scene, which are skills most people at least have moderate experience in after college. Unfortunately beyond this option or other for-hire dating services, there are no short cuts.
But the big chance that Zen has brought me is the lack of this experience no longer fills me with existential dread, at least anywhere near as often as it was in the past, or even 2014. It’s just something it’s a shame I never experienced or had, like cable TV. I just hope there’s less fine print than cable TV.
I had a post planned where I plan to examine what I call “the Three I’d Monster” of positive reactions, which I didn’t get to. But I have to have something planned for 2018. I’d like to thank everyone who has stuck with the blog another year, I always appreciate it. The idea of other people potentially reading this was what ultimately got me to write this stuff at all, and I think it has ultimately brought me to a better place. I just wish I’d gotten to this place a decade ago, or even five years ago.