Storytelling

storytelling

I’m getting better at storytelling.

Per the McKinsey workshop, storytelling is constructed on content, tone, and body language. The biggest praise came on my content, although I did get compliments on tone. I know my content is great – my stories, compared to those of so many around me, are so interesting – crazy even. I had them on the edge of their seats – and this was just a 3 minute story that was part of a work shop.

Anyways, the point of this blog is to note my progress in this goal of mine – being better at story telling.

Also, this blog is getting stale and I need to commit better to writing weekly.

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Little Me

I had a bad night on Saturday.

I’d spent the whole day with my brother, showing him around downtown so he wouldn’t be alone uptown. It was a nice and mellow days, and ended with dessert crepes. He left around 9pm and I was alone at home.

I was unwinding with Netflix and tabs of random Chrome searches in front of me and before I knew it, I’d slipped under a veil. I felt like something internal was pulling me in, down. And I hadn’t even noticed until I was ruminating in shitty thoughts, like I was readying myself to drown, like all hope was lost, and everything I had done/accomplished was futile.

Maybe it was loneliness. It’s probably loneliness-related.

I messaged J to make her aware that I would possibly cancel on our plans for the next day.

And for some reason I messaged A. They are a social worker and I felt they would be equipped to help. Even if not then, at least they’d provide resources and I’d have a direction to move in. And they’d hold me accountable.

I got through the night, put myself to bed.

J was sweet. She said she completely understood needing that alone time. Despite last minute cancellations, she dropped by at the end of the day with cupcakes. I was touched.

Today is Tuesday. A messaged me a spreadsheet to resources. And it started a conversation.

They told me a bit about their past, ways of coping and addressing these issues. One exercise was a “Little me, Big me” message, where you first write as “Little me”, which is supposed to encompass all emotions and irrational feelings in their rawest form, and voice our your feelings. “Big me” then responds by validating these emotions and rationalizing everything. It’s similar to me writing out my emotions, but there’s empathy involved.

I couldn’t help but think, when they were giving me a personal example, that Little Me needed to fucking get over it. My immediate reaction was one of frustration and impatience. I told A, adding it was probably something I should tell a therapist/counsellor.

I’ve been pretty vocal about needing to voice out your feelings and engaging in dialogue, primarily to avoid conflict and blowing up relationships. But I guess despite my writing out my thoughts, I haven’t been aware of the emotional side of my relationship with myself – I haven’t been empathetic with my own feelings. I’ve been rather cold, actually, rationalizing them primarily for the sake of making them go away, permanently. A healthier approach would be to recognize these feelings and rationalize their existence, and… And then what? I suppose they won’t really go away.

Well the inner child in me is feeling abandoned by those around me. My friends are all either coupled or too busy for me. Or the ones I actually care to be around are too busy. I feel disappointed because I think I’m always there for them – whenever they need it. Where are they when I need them? Why can’t they tell that I need them? I feel angry. I also feel lonely. And I‘m frustrated that I let myself keep going back to those who treat me so disposably. Do I think so little of myself that I hold out for those who don’t have me as a priority in their lives? Why do I let myself get strung along by those who don’t have me as number one?

Big me: Nobody is anybody’s number one. Despite what social media, pop culture, or society tells you. Nobody is anybody’s number one, at least not permanently. Number ones do an entire village’s worth of work – to provide emotional support, financial support, physical labour, fun and fulfillment, and dependence, all while maintaining desirability. This is atypical of relationships. Different groups satisfy these realms of life – a single person cannot possibly provide all this (and more). So to ask so much of your close friends, let alone partner, is unreasonable. And remember to not have these expectations of your partner. At best, it will end in divorce.

Adjust your expectations. They have their own lives. They are making themselves better people. (And if you want to think selfishly, they will be better for when they do connect with you.) If you need them – truly need them – they will be there. You just have to voice it – you know you have to ask for help when you need it. What matters is they actually pick up, when you ask for help. And deep down, you know they will.

You take time to make yourself better, and you go about it vocally too. Don’t be selfish about what you preach – give them space to make themselves better.


That was therapeutic. I’ve always been very good at consoling and talking my friends out of their bad situations – so I’ve come off as self-possessed to many of them. What they don’t know is I don’t typically use this to this extent on myself. This exercise was good in separating my emotional-irrational from my logical-rational. There is no weakness in either side, but they need to be balanced out…

Patience and progress, Little me. Your friends are here for you. I am here for you.

Systems.

Adults know everything. They are objectively correct and the systems that they have in place are not arbitrary, they are scientific.

You do not question them. You respect systems and the decisions of adults. We were not religious, but filial piety was as close to God as we’d have ourselves believe.

Life carries itself out within the walls of these systems.

Anytime I came close to these walls as a child, I was harshly disciplined. And you don’t get to ask why. “That’s just how it is.” “You just can’t.” Said mom and dad.

You don’t get to think outside the systems. It’s not like in North America or Europe, where at at least “creativity” was a commonly exchanged word. I still don’t know what “creativity” is in Chinese.


Within my social circle, I am one of the more curious ones – and my curiosity is nuanced. I’m always asking “how?” – particularly with people, and how they came to be. What happened in their childhood that made them this way? How conducive were their parents in honing this skill? What fleeting character in their life drew them in this direction?

What was the system within which they grew up like, that shaped them to be this way? I want the whole picture.

In my first year of coming out, it was an incredible amount of self-reflection and questioning my own becoming – to what extent did my unique ‘system of systems’ craft me to develop these ticks, quirks, habits, annoyances, insecurities? I needed to figure out why I was profoundly irritated by certain things, why I sought to detach as much as I could from others, why I felt so misunderstood and the differences between me and my closest friends. I was obsessed. And I documented it all here.

And it’s been hella disappointing. Cultural values, socioeconomic hierarchies, social mores and taboos have all shaped the way I think. And as I’ve met more and more queers, I’ve found a significantly larger amount of common ground with several of the gaysians I’ve met than with most others – and I’m talking depth as much as breadth. The way we think is so similar and as refreshing as this is, it’s also astounding. And the systems within which we grew up are so similar – nuanced, but similar. And I attribute the similiarities in the way we think to the commonalities in our childhood systems. We have parallel sources of shame.

So I’ve found myself analyzing why.

And it’s not helped my overthinking.

It wasn’t until recently that I contrasted my childhood faith in systems with my disdain for how they’ve failed so many of us in so many ways.

Whether it’s our voices muted by helicopter parenting, or our inability to make decisions by way of one-way parental trust, or our inability to form healthy attachments to other people as a result of abandonment… we’re all victims of our circumstances. We’re all victims of our systems.

Trying Something New

“How would you feel about just staying friends? Would you be able to do that?”

I grimaced – it meant she had little faith that my feelings were reciprocated. Discomfort also arose from me not having an answer ready. I would probably be okay – she is optimistic, career-driven, gay, and is a connection on the west coast. She’s already offered free accommodation and to be my personal Uber driver and she’ll “take me to do all the outdoorsy shit and I’ll hate her for it but my instagram aesthetic will be strong”.

“I have a crazy story to tell you” She said.

My heart started beating real fast.

“I have a feeling I’ll be back in a year. Maybe two. Vancouver won’t be permanent.”

I delighted with her, in her revelation. But beneath, I yearned to know why… not why she had this feeling… but why she would tell me this. Why would you dangle hope in front of me, when I don’t even know how you feel about me?

Then a week ago, she asked for my address. I gave it. Then my postal code. I gave it. And she bought me her favourite book.

Bruh.

I’m tired. She’s seeing someone else. I can’t stomach it.

Usually I would detach. Oh it would be emotional violence.

But I want to try something new (partially because I genuinely believe I am better than the person she’s currently seeing, if we’re being brutally honest). I want to persist. She’s a friend worth keeping, I’d like to think. So I’ll bite my tongue.

I’ll persist, with hope.

This is fine dog in burning house .jpeg

Violent Cycle

And next thing you know, we’re texting every day. I know a lot about her. She’s poured unto me everything beneath her skin; I’ve laid upon her some of my deepest thoughts and insecurities. I’ve carved a dependence into her life. You would think this is a double-ended sword but familiarity makes me immune. I know this old tune and how it goes and there’s a bitterness to it.

Then it’s just a matter of time before my wandering eyes spot a scapegoat.

And then I detach, violently.

I’ve afforded them no explanation. If they cared they would dig deeper.

I’ve also afforded them an explanation. The ends don’t justify the means. 

I’ve done this before. It’s muscle memory by now.


 

I feel great. I haven’t spoken to this one in a week. It was painful when she followed up after three days and asked “are we not okay?”. It’s best we give each other space. I get over feelings systematically. Her – not so much.

I’m only now wondering how it’s like on the other end. I’ve never been on that side before. How does it feel to have someone so close pull away so abruptly?

We didn’t have a future together – what are we even doing? Why are we wasting our Now when we have no Later? Let’s just move on.

I’m great at cutting people off. I’ve told her this. I’ve gotten good. It’s not healthy. “Am I next?” she joked. I don’t remember what I said.


 

I think I need counselling.

Pain in Omission

Perhaps it’s my own fault for spilling my guts to people I trust – I tell them everything. I believe in being on the same page with people close in my life; it’s rooted in my belief that the root of all conflict is a build-up of misunderstanding and one way to avoid that is to be on the same page as often as possible. Also, sometimes it is only in hindsight that you realize the extravagance of a story is best conveyed when the audience is living along the same timeline as you.

But what I’ve noticed is few things sting harder than when you find out way after that the person you’ve confided in has been omitting the fact that they’ve been hooking up with someone else. It feels like a violent act of betrayal. I don’t feel safe in a lot of people and I invest a lot of time and emotional energy in people that I do feel safe in, by telling them about my life, asking about and listening to theirs. So learning about this feels like suddenly the safety has been stripped and you’re left free-falling.

I’m not enough of a drama queen to say that it feels like everything I’ve known is a lie… but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, for a hot minute, feel that way.

Taking a step back, I was going to write this post anyway. I’d been mulling it over.

What I didn’t expect was for it to happen again just as my WordPress page had loaded.

Here’s a shortened version of yesterday:

Queer park hang out went well. The weather wasn’t perfect so many didn’t show, but I was thoroughly impressed that about 15 or 20 queers powered through. It was a good time, I met some new queers and primarily hung out with familiar faces.

It was lovely hanging out in person with Birthday girl, S. She’s a fantastic conversationalist and I feel fairly comfortable with her. We’ve already established that we function and think along the same frequency. I’ve been burned several times by falling for the idea of people (as a result of the better half of our interactions being online) so I’ve developed a strong aversion to committing to the idea of someone if we don’t see each other in person. She remembered to bring a book, as did I. She gave me The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, acknowledging that neither of us were fiction readers but “this was so good I read it in 3 days”. She rolled her eyes at the story, set in pre-revolutionary China, being written by a white woman – which I found charming. She’s at least a lil woke.

She did have to leave early for a birthday dinner, but I’m somewhat glad. This, without a doubt, comes from insecurity, but I’m secretly glad she didn’t meet other gays – or, other gays didn’t meet her. Insecurity tells me others will go after her. Not that I don’t like a little competition, but definitely not when it comes to girls. We all just want someone we can be safe in, don’t we? I digress af.

But back to the (real) story.

Towards the end of the hang, she left quite abruptly, to go for a “talk”. It seemed like the two people around her knew exactly what it was about,and I was taken aback as she hadn’t told me. When I got home later that night, I messaged her “you had to go for a serious talk?”

“yes”

And it came out. She’d been hooking up with one of my friends.

Free-falling.

Why was this never mentioned, while I had been busy confiding in her? I always ask how her day is. Why was this deliberately omitted?

It hurt.

Perhaps it was a mix of being exhausted and still being slightly drunk, but I had to let her know I was hurt. Not by the fact that she had been hooking up with my friend, but the fact that she lied by omission.

We went back and forth.

Then I said “okay. Let’s be open. Do you still have feelings for me?”

“We’ve had this conversation before.

I’d be lying if I said no.”

My heart sank.

I didn’t know what to say or do.

Dread. Disappointment. Why hasn’t she moved on??? Does this mean we can’t be friends???

She asked if my feelings for her were gone. “They’re not completely gone. But knowing who you are dating or seeing helps to mitigate them.” The latter I’m sure she knows.

After much back and forth, we’ve agreed to be more open with each other.

It’s one thing to agree to do something, but quite another to actually do it. I don’t really want to see how this goes. I don’t want to talk to her. She’s not good for me.

I need to fucking move on.

Now, whenever I think about her, our conversation comes to mind and immediately, a feel dread clenching my chest, pulling downwards.

We’re fucking tragic.

Even before pressing Publish, I know this was a poorly written post. But there’s way too much emotion. Not to mention I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over three weeks.

Fucking hell.

Growth

This time last year I would’ve been hard-pressed if asked to name more than 7 queer friends. Hell, I had to recruit a girl I’d met on Tinder to join my queer ultimate frisbee team.

So imagine my shock when, after sending out Facebook event invites for a queer park hang, the RSVP list spat out a tally of 65 queer females. And this wasn’t even counting the queers who I had either forgotten or deliberately did not invite.

After months of floating the idea of a queer park hang oriented towards ultimate frisbee,  I decided to overcome the unnerving unknown of there being too few gays who would actually enjoy ultimate frisbee. I bit the bullet when I was most tired on a Thursday night, quickly drafted an event description, and sent out a swath of invitations.

I began remembering others who I’d missed and added them. Then BYOQ-style, people started inviting their own queer friends. I had amassed 90 (plus an additional 11 who cannot make it). Just under a third had committed ‘Yes’, a little less had thrown in a non-committal ‘Maybe’.

I’m excited, I really am. It’s a little tiring always having to meet gays in alcohol-themed settings. I love sports and I love park beers (beer is fine – hard liquor is a different story). Only a dollop of queerness could make these two things better.


A recurring theme in my life is meeting people when it’s too late.

In hindsight, it was sheer luck that her birthday caught my eye on Facebook – I’m usually rather oblivious and indifferent. And it was more luck that led me to privately messaging her “Hey, happy birthday!”.

“Thanks! How are things going with you?”

A deliberate opening.

We’ve been talking every day since for the past few weeks. A week into it, I learned she had recently become single.

Good. I never liked her ex.

I didn’t expect to get along so well with her though. I have such an appreciation for and attraction towards good conversationalists*.

* I’ve noticed someone who is a great conversationalist in-person is not always such over social media or online communication. The same is for the other way around. This is worth noting. 

So it really sucks that she’s moving to the west coast in a few weeks.

A week into talking, she’s already opened her doors for a visit if I ever go. It doesn’t feel like a complete loss, but I am rather disappointed she’s leaving. I would’ve loved to get to know her more. Her association with a certain couple of people had me weary and dulled my interest in approaching her, but she’s a fantastic, career-driven person and we have very similar taste in books and humour. We’re both fascinated by growth and challenging ourselves. She’s very into motivational speakers and clearly a very resilient person. She’s just good vibes all around.

I’ll see her this weekend for my meetup. Beyond our dynamic, I’m excited for the event itself.

Confidence

My Straights held our (/semi) annual feast in Port Credit this past weekend. I didn’t know how badly I needed to take a break from the emotional roller coaster of my queer life until I hung out with them this past weekend. It was purely good vibes.

I’ve recently noticed that I’ve gained confidence when making advances on girls, just like Vance Joy had said. I used to feel insufficient and very conscious of not coming off too strong on (/straight) girls, as if I was being careful to not stir any homophobia within them. I refused to play into “the lesbian boogeyman” borne from the egos of straight people; just because I am gay does not mean I hit on any female human being.

But now… I just don’t care.

If she’s attractive, Imma go for it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve picked up running and I’ve lost a bit of weight – I’m sure some iota of my confidence draws from that. But I think it’s primarily from three things I’ve done recently:

  1. Making out with (/fingering) that cute Asian girl at Pride;
  2. Getting a random kiss from my friend’s friend; and
  3. Knowing that showering a girl with (genuine) attention and interest plays out in my favour.

I’ve also gotten far better at banter and being the life of the party – straying far enough from my introverted side to be comfortable in the spotlight, but retreating back into being a quiet introvert at the end of the night. Despite what people say.

I’m not afraid to make the move. I’m not afraid to get physical. I’m not afraid of rejection. I’ve had a taste and I want more.

This past weekend I made a move on a bi girl that my friend had brought to the party. Twas going so well ’til I fucked myself over by drinking too much.

Oh well.


 

Either way, I’ve grown a lot. I wouldn’t have dared even touch her a few months ago. My right hand would’ve been nestled into my pocket and my left would’ve deliberately occupied itself with a beer.

I want to say I’m ready for the next step. But that might involve finding the right person. I refuse to settle for anything less than someone who is driven, curious, cultured, well-manneredhas a good sense of humour, and dresses well.

Is that too much to ask?

I have a few prospects in mind, not to mention that every night out on Church Street potentially creates another story, strings attached or otherwise.

I just gotta watch my alcohol intake.

For real tho.

Story of my life.

She has feelings for me. She’s afraid of losing me.

I have feelings for her. I’m afraid of hurting her.

So we’re going to stay friends and nothing more.


 

She told me she had feelings for me early on but chose to shut them off because of her terrible experiences with past relationships, wherein her and her ex-partner would end up on bad terms and essentially cut each other off. She was terrified of that happening to us.

She asked me what I thought about that.

I laughed.

“What?” she asked.

It’s just the story of my life. When someone gets feelings for me, it’s early on and I don’t recognize or acknowledge mine until much later… when the other person has moved on, or their feelings for me have expired.

“… Okay but… hypothetically… what if my feelings haven’t expired?”

We endured the longest two minutes of silence.

I was at a loss for words.

I was at a crossroads.

Do what scares you.

Don’t hurt her.

You should do it.

You’ll hurt her.

You’ll have fun together.

You’ve weighed everything – you won’t last. And then you’ll hurt her.

You’re right.

I think I meant what I said earlier, when I said the most important thing to me is you don’t get hurt – by me or by anyone else. I don’t want to hurt you. So I don’t think we should pursue anything. We should just stay friends.

“…”

We… hugged it out.


 

There was no future with her. I should’ve realized this sooner. When confidante #2 asked me to list the things I liked about her, not long after naming just one, I strayed into the negatives territory, and it wasn’t until she pointed it out to me that I realized.

That in itself should be an indication.

Now the hard part comes – weening her off without hurting her.

I need to move on, for myself. And probably for her. It’s not healthy to be so invested in someone I’m not even pursuing.

 

So relationship territory remains unexplored. Alas. Plus ca change.