Today’s Ask Dr. NerdLove is a longer and slightly more rambling question than I usually run with, but it illustrates a problem that I think a lot of younger guys (and girls, really) have that doesn’t get talked about all that often. Sometimes it’s just a case of someone you know who… Well, I should probably let the writer do the talking, huh?
Take it away:
I just found this place and man, I’m going to be using the crap out of it. Your ability to not sugar coat anything is refreshing, and I’m wondering if you can help me out. You see, all I see myself is as average, and while topics such as ‘How to be interesting‘ and others are good, I never feel as if it relates to my situation.
What is my situation? I’m a nerdy guy in high school (Or what you would call high school anyhow) and while I’m not particularly looking for any relationship, I never feel like I could ever be in one. My Crush is way, way out of my league (not in a popular clique way, just in I assume I wouldn’t get the time of day and I’ve waited to long to make a move) and all the time I feel obscenely average. Sure, I get better grades than a lot of people, which then makes me feel guilty that I whine, but I don’t feel much in the self-worth department. TDP doesn’t help.
TDP is Too Damn Perfect, I guy I am friends with but half the time want to rip his throat out. You see, I sit next to him in lessons, and every time he recites a particular anecdote, or performs some amazing magic trick or slight of hand, I want to punch him in the face then inevitably be destroyed by his black belt Taekwondo skills (After mockingly berating my for calling it karate)
See where I’m going with this? From my perspective this guy has it all, a string of romantic interests, good sports skills, way better at all subjects, general knowledge, and most infuriatingly, nerdy interests that he can dive into (For example, what for what I class as being a die-hard fan he would beat me in a trivia contest as a person who is only slightly interested). He’s a good guy, and obviously not trying to make me feel like shit, but he does. If I ever brig up the subject he’ll just go on about how he’s not the best and he hates that and bitch about it. Similar to what I do but, hey ho, I’ve never had a real relationship (move on to that later….)
It really doesn’t help that TDP is a member of the band I’m in (It’s definitely not mine ). Playing bass is about the only interesting thing I do (And in music terms that’s still the dullest) , and while I can play, I only have a basic knowledge of actual playing, rather than anything technical. So when TDP comes in talking about scales and fancy Italian words I want to hit him with his drumsticks. To top it all off he can play bass at what I perceive to be the same as my, which brings me out in red.
Usually I can suppress this anger and just hang around him. But every so often he’ll say one harmless comment which I take as particularly condescending and and up pissed for the rest of the day. I know I need to get over myself and live my own life, but this cycle and getting pissed and leaving it needs to stop and your the harsh talking kind of guy to do it. I feel insecure, worthless, and end up contemplating- What is my chance with a woman if they can pick the superior guy next to me?
Now, I’ll mention relationships now (Juicy rather than white boy problems). I’ve had pretty much no action in my life. I tried to get to know someone over Facebook (Pathetic I know) and that just fizzled, and while I’ve had a couple offers, they’ve all been from people I consider friends, nothing else there. The only action I’ve ever had is at a boozy party (I am not a crook!) My mates decided it was time they really got pissed, and being boring as hell, I didn’t like the idea at all. Still, I went, barely had a drop, but the interesting thing is a drunk chick (who I don’t know) coming onto me. Seeing because I’m lame and old-fashioned, I did not want to take advantage of her when drunk, so just pushed her away. At school I was getting ribbed by my friends and she was apologizing profusely , noting how she gave ‘a bad first impression’ and ‘would want to talk as normal people’. End of the week my band was playing an open mike night and she and her friends were there. After a crap load of peer pressure, I was pushed towards her sitting alone (I follow some rules) and we talked. And kissed. I was pretty on top of the world- first kiss, first chance of a relationship, I was clapping myself on the back for not taking advantage…..
Then it fell apart. I hung out with her and her friends for the day a few days later (Staying in contact before then) and it was okay at first, but she seemed distant later on in retrospect. Day after, by text of all things, she confesses how she was only liking me as a friend and it wasn’t going to work out.
In retrospect I was more into the idea of a relationship than one specifically with her, but still it hurt. No-one seemed to ask about it at all, so I kept it bottled up. This came with the insecurities of thinking if one day is all it takes for someone to not stand me, then I must be unattractive as hell. Plus I haven’t talked to her since then, so I really have no closure whatsoever. To bring it full circle though, she mentioned how someone was annoyed at her for coming onto me in the first place, because the other girl had a thing for me, and then my crush, as a passing comment, noted she hated her (The drunk). My brain put two and two together, and I came to the conclusion my crush may like me!
Of course that is more wishful thinking than if your house fell down Punk’d will come out and laugh at you. I know it is extremely unlikely it’s connected, yet it has brought my infatuation with my crush to new heights. My lack of self esteem, proneness to jealousy, hatred of the social hierarchy, fear of being a fool, and knowing I’ve missed my chance prevents me from doing anything. Besides, as you’ve said, high-school romances suck (though not from where I’m standing…)
So what can you prescribe Doc.? I am assuming a bottle of Man-the-fuck-up and some Get-the-fuck-over-yourself are going to be useful, with some added Believe-in-yourself and that snake oil. It’s been good to vent anyhow, I just want to know, when the hell can I stop comparing myself to others and start getting to places with women? I’m guessing college, but that’s just too far away…
Pretty Bloody Average
You answered your own question, PBA. You’re in high-school. I’ve written about dealing with dating and crushes in high-school before, but the short version is: quit worrying about it. I know it seems like your entire universe now and escape seems like a lifetime away, but the purpose of high-school is to lay the groundwork for who you’re going to grow into. Spend less time worrying about getting action now and more time putting in the hours that will lead to you being knee-deep in women later.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about, Bloody.
I wanted to talk to you about Too Damn Perfect.
In some ways, it’s nice to have a nemesis. It gives you an external source that you can focus your attention on, someone who you can put all the blame on. He makes for an excellent excuse for everything that isn’t going right in your life.
‘Cuz in a lot of ways, that’s what you’re doing. You’re shirking your responsibility and putting it all on him. I don’t blame you. Who needs to scale Everest when Sir Hillary got there first? Right? Right?
You’re hardly alone though. Just about everyone has a nemesis like Too Damn Perfect. Hell, I had two; my brother and my friend Miles. Miles looked like the bastard love child of Rob Lowe and a pre-Divine Browne Hugh Grant. He was popular. He could sing. He played guitar. He could be goofy in that endearing way that women adore. He excelled at sports. He was the genuinely the nicest guy you could ever meet. And there were times I wanted to throw acid in his face. As long as Miles was around, I would disappear into the woodwork; most of us would because well… c’mon. He was Miles. How the hell are you supposed to compete with that? I had women plow right through me to get to him when we would hang out.
If he weren’t one of my oldest friends, I’d totally hate him.
And you know what? It was completely one-sided. Miles had no idea1 that I resented the fuck out of him showing me up just by existing. As far as he was concerned, everything was great.
Because if you ignored my self-centered emo bullshit, it really was. Every problem I had with Miles was all in my head.
I hope you see where this is going.
You’re expending an insane amount of mental energy and wangst2 on your nemesis. I imagine you start grinding your teeth every time he just glides his cool-ass down the hall like the cool dude he is and you’re stuck wondering what he’s doing right that you’re not.
Wanna know what Too Damn Perfect’s doing right? It’s in what he’s not doing.
He’s not spending all of his time griping about someone else.
Cold hard truth: there will always be people who are better looking than you, smarter than you, smoother than you or more skilled than you. This is true whether you’re Pretty Bloody Average, Dr. NerdLove or Brad fucking Pitt. The sooner you quit complaining that these people exist – as though they are somehow responsible for your failures – the sooner you will actually start seeing them as the resources they are.
Y’see, after I started working on how to get better with women, I quickly realized that the best thing I could do is to surround myself with people who are better than me. I hung out with some of the best pick-up artists, smooth talkers and natural ladies men out there. And you know what? It made me better. To be sure, it could be damaging as fuck to my ego to watch my friends snag the hottest women at the bar while I was going home alone to an ever-increasing porn collection, but watching them drove me to improve myself. I had to make the mental switch from resenting them for their successes to being inspired to do better myself. If I had hung around with people at my own level or lower, I’d be enjoying the ego-strokes, sure… but I wouldn’t feel the need to push myself past my limits or to get out there and keep pounding away at my sticking points.
And this included Miles. Once I understood that my issues and shortcomings were my responsibility, I began to see him in a new light. He wasn’t my nemesis. He was (and still is) my friend and an inspiration to me.
Too Damn Perfect isn’t cockblocking you. He’s not letting you do all the work and then swooping in and stealing your girl out from under you. He’s not going out of his way to fuck with your head. He’s just hanging out, being a genuinely good guy… who happens to be everything you wish you were. If you’re pissed about how you can’t meet a girl because someone so cool is right next to you, then you have two choices: you can either try to escape Mr. Cool – which is the coward’s way out – or you can cowboy the fuck up and start making yourself cooler. The fact that TDP is awesome does not in any way limit your potential coolness. Only you are doing that. You’re giving him power he doesn’t have and attributing responsibilities for things that aren’t his fault.
You’re the one in control of your brain, PBA. Flip the switch. Reframe the situation. Too Damn Perfect isn’t holding you back or taking anything away from you. Once you realize that, you’ll come to realize that he’s one of the best potential friends you could have.