Love FAQ

Love FAQ
With This Plasma Rifle, I Thee Wed

Lara Crigger | 19 Aug 2011 16:00
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Dear Love FAQ,

I am a bit of a recluse. Socially I'm fine, but I fear and despise large groups in public places, which is sad, because I hate being alone.

A couple of my friends and their girlfriends sometimes take me to bars and clubs so I can meet somebody. On these outings, I find the darkest, quietest corner I can, assuming I can't just disappear completely. I just get so depressed and anxious.

I don't talk about what standard girls talk about, and I don't do what standard girls like to do. I feel hopeless, lost, and lonely. What can I do?

Thanks,

No-one to Co-op

Dear No-one to Co-Op,

First off: You're not a recluse; you're an introvert. There's a difference. Some people find hanging out in big groups relaxing, while others - like you - find it terribly stressful. And while that doesn't mean there's something inherently wrong with you, it does mean that no amount of shuttling between bars and clubs will change your natural inclinations.

So set yourself up for success. Seek out small groups and one-on-one interactions in more low-key environments, ones you're more likely to feel relaxed in. Try the local board-game store, perhaps, or a sci-fi MeetUp, even an anime club. Find places where you already feel comfortable, where you already have something in common with the rest of the group, and you won't have to try so hard to make conversation.

But truth be told, this isn't the only reason your letter caught my eye.

Tell me: What, exactly, is a "standard" girl? Is it like a "standard" kilogram? Is there a woman-shaped slag of platinum alloy locked away in a French vault somewhere, gathering dust alongside the IPK?

I'm being flip, yes, but you're shooting yourself in the foot if you think so-called "standard" or even "geeky" women exist, like so many brands of toothpaste, all indistinguishable beyond the label - and that you belong in one group but not the other.

Truth is, we're all geeks, and none of us are.

In high school, we divide ourselves by cliques - the jock, the nerd, the drama kid - but the reality is that human beings are far more complex and layered than one single label can capture. Individuals are a cacophony of interests and beliefs, often conflicting. That lady getting her mani/pedi may also be able to quote Minbari scripture; the girl devouring the latest Pretty Little Liars novel may also keep Zelazny and Gaiman on her nightstand.

People can and will surprise you. You just have to give them a chance. But devote too much energy to organizing the people you meet into labels, and you become a self-fulfilling prophecy, unable to break free of your own disappointment.

So stop telling yourself you're not a "standard" woman, because "standard" women just don't exist. There are only women, and you're a pretty fabulous one, just the way you are.

P.S.: Next time you're stuck at a bar, try asking the cute guy whether he thinks Han shot first. You may be pleasantly surprised - and if he doesn't know what you're talking about, he wasn't worth your time anyway.

Disclaimer: LoveFAQ is written by Lara Crigger, who is by no means a trained psychiatrist or therapist or even a middle school guidance counselor - just a smart gal who wants to help out her fellow geek. LoveFAQ is meant for entertainment purposes only, so don't take it as a substitute for professional advice. If you have real problems, consult your physician.

Got a burning question (or a question about burning) for LoveFAQ? Send your emails to advice@escapistmag.com. All submissions are confidential and anonymous.

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