I have a few hang ups around relationships that I’ve tried to work through, but haven’t made any headway on in years.
The big, number one thing at my core is that throughout my whole 20’s, I’ve learned more and more that there is nothing innately interesting or appealing about my personality. It’s just that I, as an individual, don’t hit any notes with anyone.
I write fiction, and every rejection for every story and novel is the same (and please don’t give a “hey, you wrote a novel, that’s an accomplishment” line. Tons of people write novels that never see the light of day): “not right at this time,” “not for me,” and so on. The big one that hit me was being told “there’s nothing really wrong, but nothing really right.” So I thought more about it, and considered how a good writer (even of fantasy and sci-fi) has life experiences that inform their voice as a writer and I was hit by the realization that I lack life experiences, most specifically, the one thing I’ve always felt horrible about: romantic relationships.
I’ve always felt terrible and insecure about being single in my 20s(late 20s now, which in my family is old for being single). Most happily married people I know got married young, and my family’s culture doesn’t really have a place for single guys. Eventually, everyone will have their own families and I’ll be phased out.
And so my thought about writing led me to think the reason I’m a bad writer is the same reason women aren’t interested in me: I have no distinct voice or personality. The rejections are the same: “not right for me” or “I didn’t feel a connection.” Hearing that once or several times isn’t necessarily a reflection on me, as you’ve written before. But hearing it 100% of the time in dating and in other parts of life means there is something to it. I am completely milquetoast both as a man and a writer.
And so, I went to grad school for creative writing, in the hopes that I would learn how to be an interesting writer, and therefore become an interesting person in the process, and then maybe someone would like me, because I “got it now.” And while I found that time valuable and instructive, and I worked my tail off to get better, I was met by the same thing. People didn’t resonate with me and my work. Before I graduated, I talked with a professor who I previously told about wanting the ability to resonate with a reader/audience which I always lacked, and they said that after all this time, I was still just “nothing wrong, but nothing right.”
And that just broke me in a way. I haven’t written any creative work since. I have made no attempt to meet women in that time. Because there’s nothing right about me, even if there is nothing wrong(which is false). The last time I went on a first date was years ago, and there was no second date because she didn’t feel a connection… the exact same way people feel about anything I’ve ever written. I only ever had one long-term relationship anyway, and that started as a fluke, and ended because I never truly believed that she could be in love with me despite her saying so.
The worst part of it, though, is this: I don’t have it in me to try anymore. Not for dating or writing. It just hurts too much. Every rejection I get brings with it the pain of every past rejection rolled into one. It’s a weight that steadily builds with each new rejection, and the only way to cast off that weight is by finding just one success.
But I feel that the next rejection is just going to beat me down so hard that I can’t try. And it spills over into other things, too. I can’t exercise consistently because I know that a fitter me is still the me who has an uninteresting personality that won’t be wanted, just less fat.
But the loneliness hurts too, and I want the loneliness to end just as much as I want my personality to stop being so useless.
I know this is a long ramble, but the point is this: how do I fix something so fundamental about myself like my personality? Because my lack of individuality and subjective appeal is what keeps dragging me down. And it can’t just be my self-perception, because everything I’ve ever read about internal validation just sets off my red flag detector for being mental gymnastics or magical thinking. Even after reading all about negativity bias and confirmation bias, I still feel this, so maybe there’s something I don’t fully understand about internal validation.
– Can’t Be a Late Bloomer When There’s Nothing to Bloom