Sexy Schrödinger – Shy Folks Hitting On People
No one believes me when I tell them I'm shy. They protest. They point out the not-shy things I do. They occasionally suggest I'm pretending to be shy to score points with shy people. (Do shy people look up to other shy people?) But I am shy, because I'm insecure, because I don't really feel comfortable in my skin, in my job, in my life, save these pockets of confidence that show up here and there.
You may know one of those pockets of confidence, it's called Life on the Swingset: The Podcast. So, in fairness, most of the input you get from me works very hard against the notion that I am in fact a shy person who doesn't take a lot of risks in fear of the blow-back that may result. (Namely rejection.)
Because that's what we're all afraid of, isn't it? Us shy, nervous, awkward, dorky, unique. We're afraid of seeing something we want and being told it's not for us. Be that something a job, an expensive item, a kick-ass club, a pretty girl, hell, even the attention of our parents.
Rejection sucks. But the idea of rejection sucks far more.
In high school I really set the tone for what would become my interaction with those I'm attracted to. I'd see someone I'm interested in. Would yearn to make my interest known. Would be in their life. Would listen to their stories and problems. Would “be there” for them. The rare occasions that I DID make my interest known were when these girls were dating other people. I set myself up for rejection that I knew was coming. Because then at least my expectations were met. And really, when you KNOW the answer is no, there's no real risk, is there?
More often, I'd talk myself out of making any move or comment at all. I may not get the interaction I want, but at least I wouldn't get rejected, right?
Unfortunately, more than a decade post high school, when opening up our marriage, I continued down this path. I'd make my interest known to those who were not in a position to reciprocate (i.e., monogamous folk) or not say anything at all to the vast majority of those I'd like to talk to.
I'd hide behind the computer, instant messaging instead of meeting, vaguely pre-apologizing for the person they were going to meet. At parties, I'd wait for someone to introduce me and lead me to an opening. The most success I've had at swing parties (with people I don't already know) usually came from following my wife in a direction. The worst experience of my swinging life was at a party where everybody was interested in her (and asked her to play – and she did) but nobody asked me. That's not me feeling sorry for myself, that's recognizing that I wasn't fulfilling my end of the bargain.
The risk-reward ratio is enormous here. Yes, it does take risk to put yourself out there. Yes, rejection is a possibility. But the reward that comes in the form of a yes is pretty damned spectacular often.
“So, Schrödinger, Coop?” You ask. “You just trying to show off your cleverness, or are you gonna take us there?”
Schrödinger, yes. Lemme explain him to the cheap seats quickly. So there's the mental exercise of Schrödinger's Cat, a cat in a box. And we can't see it or hear it. We have no way of knowing if the cat is alive or dead. So at that moment, it's both, and neither. My thought (and the jumping off point for this article, my impatient friend) is that the cat may as well be dead in that box. Because you're getting nothing from it.
The risk of putting your feelings out there is the same thing. Forever I was so unbelievably scared of a “no” that I wouldn't ask. By not asking, I created an artificial no. Because I wasn't getting to go out with (or kiss, or fuck) the girl either way. There are really three possible outcomes to the Schrödinger conundrum. The cat's alive, the cat's dead, or the cat's in a box. In two of those scenarios, the cat isn't gonna be playing with you.
So applying this mental exercise to (coarsely) “picking up chicks” gives us three possible results. She says “Yes” and you get to the next phase. She says “No” and you don't get to the next phase. You don't ask and you don't get to the next phase. Two of these results are the same, but the crazy thing is, we the shy, we the un-confident, we the insecure CHOOSE THE THIRD ONE ALL BY OURSELVES.
We're rejecting ourselves by fearing rejection. We're stamping “no-way” on that application.
And I'm fucking sick of it.
It's time to see if the cat is alive.