New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve never really been one to do the whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing. If there’s a change that I wanted to make, I always figured, “Why wait?” Given how much I can and do think about things, this means that when I go ahead with something, I tend to stick with it. I’ve always been good at setting a goal for myself and following through.

By sheer coincidence, as 2013 closes two things that have been on the back burner for some time are moving to the front, well on their ways to becoming my next goals.

One of these has to do with my dating life, or lack thereof. I’m getting a little tired of being that stock comedy character: The mid-20s loser who has never been on a date in his life, and never even kissed someone. At this point in my life, the closest I’ve ever been to a relationship is the four-year crush I had on a girl who, when I told her how I felt, requested that we remain just friends. You think that’s bad? I told her how I felt after four MONTHS. Isn’t it amazing how our feelings refuse to listen to little things like logic and reason?

I know, I know: Don’t measure yourself by someone else’s ruler. Just because “they” say that someone my age got his first kiss in his teens and has been on dozens of dates by the time he graduated high school and only added to that total in college doesn’t make it so. In fact, I’m willing to bet that the actual number of people whose lives play out like that is very small; they’re just so vocal that we mistake them for the majority. Okay, fine, I get it: I’m not “normal”, whatever that means. But dammit! I’m lonely! Sure, I have friends. I love my friends. But sometimes they’re not enough. I’d like to try the whole falling-in-love thing again, only this time with someone who reciprocates. (For the record, that girl I mentioned? We’re still friends, and have been this whole time. And things only got awkward occasionally.) I’ve tried the loner thing; it’s nice once in a while. I want to try the “us” thing now, as in being part of a couple. Maybe I’ll find out that I’m happier on my own, but how will I know until I try?

There’s one little snag with this whole plan: I’m terrible at meeting people.

No, really, I am. In high school and college, I would avoid parties because it meant that I actually had to talk to people that I didn’t know, or were only passing acquaintances. When I started each of my two volunteer jobs (at the local zoo and local natural history museum), I didn’t say much until other teens took the time to speak to me, usually some comment on how much or what I read. Sometimes this lead to decent conversations, and in a couple of cases to lasting friendships, but more often than not it just meant a couple of remarks made to pass the time before talking to the visitors once more. If it seems strange that I couldn’t carry on a conversation with someone my own age but could happily interact with random strangers…. well, I guess it was. But at least with the visitors I knew what I was talking to them about, be it an animal, artifact, or other touchable item. Those conversations usually followed something of a script, and I knew my cues. Also, I rarely had to interact with the visitors for more than fifteen minutes before they moved on, so if they questioned my gender, I didn’t hear about it.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I worked a lot with kids, and as anyone can attest they are not shy about saying things like, “Are you a boy or a girl?” However, in the case of visitor interactions, I often had several options. Most frequently, the parent(s) would admonish the child, saying something along the lines of “Don’t be rude.” (My favorite was a mom who asked her kid, “Why does it matter?”) If there was a crowd, and there often was, I could simply pretend that I didn’t hear the question. If I didn’t have a fellow volunteer nearby, I’d ask the child “What do you think?” and went with whatever their answer was. Of course, if a fellow volunteer was next to me, I knew what my response had to be.

Yes, most of my crowd anxiety back then stemmed from the fact that I never knew how I was being read by the other people. It’s funny to think about it now, because so many of my friends have since told me that they believed that I was a guy until someone “corrected” them. Needless to say, these friends were not surprised when I announced my Transition.

Thankfully, testosterone therapy went a long way to relieving a lot of the anxiety about being in a crowd. I’ve had many experiences in the last four years where people on the street address me as “sir” or “young man”. Meeting new people is no longer quite as nerve-wracking, as the visual cues they look for now place me firmly in the “male” category. Yet I still struggle with meeting new people and making friends.

I think of this as social inertia. “A body at rest (or moving in a fixed direction) tends to stay at rest (or moving in that direction) unless acted on by an outside force.” In high school and especially in college, I started out with only a couple of friends, people who took the time to get to know me on my own terms before becoming that “outside force” and introducing me to other people. I’m forever grateful to these people, because without them I’d still be the shy kid who hangs out in the shadows, always watching, never participating. Years of habit are hard to break.

Now that I’m living on my own, I find myself falling back into old habits. Making plans with friends, while fun, is time-consuming, as factors such as travel time must be taken into consideration. Plus, if I’m out with friends, I want to spend time with them, not talk to random strangers. If I’m out on my own, I keep to myself, not wanting to be the creepy stranger.

So how to go about meeting a potential girlfriend? As much as I hate to say it, I’m starting to think Internet dating may be the way to go. That, or signing up for a class of some kind. Heaven knows I won’t meet someone by sitting at home and typing on my computer.

Which brings me to my other goal. As I’ve said before, I enjoy writing. I publish fanfiction, and have even gone so far as to submit a couple of original pieces to literary magazines (one was rejected, and I haven’t heard anything yet about the other). It’s long been a dream of mine to write, to follow in the literary footsteps of people like Heinlein, Robinson, Rowling, Zahn, and others. My hope is that by continuing to hone my skills, I can one day make a living with them. Towards that end, I think I need to add a designated writing time to my daily routine.

So I have two goals/New Year’s resolutions:

1) Get a girlfriend.

2) Practice writing daily.

This should be an interesting year. Good thing I like a challenge!

Happy New Year everyone!

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