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"You have to put yourself out there"

At work today, Louie shared an amusing anecdote, but you had to be there and you weren't, so I won't share it with you.

He told his story to several people at the same time, all of us listening and chuckling, and I listened and chuckled along, and afterward I said something brilliant like, "That was a funny story, man."

Louie's story reminded me of something interesting that had happened to me once upon a time, but I won't tell you that story either, and I didn't tell my story at the office. I thought about telling my story, but instead I went back to my desk, back to my work.

When I'm writing I never shut up, blathering far too long (you've probably noticed already), but in real life I never say diddly unless it's urgent or I'm angry.

At a meeting last week, I unexpectedly spoke for a couple of minutes, because it was something that needed to be said and nobody else had said it. It might have been the first time some of my co-workers had heard my voice in a month, maybe longer. A few people looked flabbergasted as I spoke.

See, I'm an extra, like the nameless people at the desks behind Mary on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, always there but never speaking. I like being an extra. There's lots less pressure.

"You have to put yourself out there," a therapist once told me, but I disagree. I love hearing myself not talk, and rarely "put myself out there."

When I was young, I had a crush on a woman and slyly waited for the right moment to say something. I rehearsed what I wanted to say, and made a flow chart listing my best reply if she said this and what I'd say if she said that. When exactly the right moment to make my move didn't come along, I waited, and waited longer, and rewrote my flow chart, and then she announced her engagement to someone else.

There have been many, many situations like that, and my life might be less pathetic if along the way I’d been brave enough to speak my mind more often.

If I had asked that woman out, she probably would've said no. If she'd said 'Sure!' and we hit it off over pizza or whatever, maybe we'd be married now with two children — and I'd be boxed in for the rest of my life, being Husband and Father every day forever, doing whatever Husbands and Fathers do, instead of being me, here, doing whatever I choose to do.

And maybe that path would've been wonderful for me, and maybe that's your path and it's working wonderful for you. Sincere congrats, if that's the case.

I'm happy on this path, though, the doing-whatever-I-choose-to-do path. I'm the guy who doesn't say much, who's usually alone and might never not be alone, but who's making the best of things and having a pretty good time.

From Pathetic Life #2
Monday, July 11, 1994 

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

 

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