When I was in Jr. High (and potentially early high school) I had a Xanga. Said Xanga is long gone now, deleted, actually, since at that point in time I really didn't like the idea of my words floating around the internet once they stopped carrying meaning for me. Now I have old blogs sitting around all over the place. Whenever my life changes enough, or I start a new chapter, so to speak, I start up a new blog. The old ones get bookmarked on my browser, and I occasionally look back over them and remember what I was going through and what I thought about back in the day.
Anyway, my old Xanga had a picture of the characters from Saiyuki as its background (still my favorite manga) and played the song "Cool to Hate" by Offspring. You could not turn the song off. I had that Xanga for a long time, I think, and now that I've become the sort who likes to remember what I've written, it makes me kind of sad that it's gone, because I have next to no idea what I ever wrote in that thing. However, I do remember one entry, where I basically called out a friend of mine for something she said because it upset me and I wasn't strong enough to talk to her about in person. Instead I just embarrassed her on an open forum almost everyone we knew would read or potentially hear about. The whole thing was pretty much settled online, and we both went to school the next day free of grudges, but I've always felt a little strange about how I handled things.
Even now, I still have a bad habit of telling people things in writing that I should really say to their faces. I'm so much more confident in my ability to write than speak. If you've ever talked to me, you know I trip on my words a lot, get confused in the middle of my own sentences, and generally muck up whatever points I try to make. So if it's something really important, I feel better writing (typing, really, paper really seems to be on its way out, doesn't it?) out what I want to say, looking it over, making sure it's what I mean and that it's effective, then sending it out to whoever it needs to get to. I know this isn't a good way to conduct myself, that I should grapple with my awkwardness and insecurity by really facing people, but as my recent drop-out-of-school-and-leave-town-without-telling-anyone debacle shows, I'm hardly reformed in this respect.
One time in my freshman year of college, someone witnessed me having a panic attack. He was the first person to see me that bad outside of my own family, and he was actually really helpful. I wanted to thank him for being there for me, even when we weren't exactly friends (we knew some of the same people, but never really talked much), but between the aftermath of the attack and my constant fear of not articulating myself properly, I sent my thanks via Facebook message. I don't remember his response word for word, though I know it was something along the lines of "no problem." What I do remember is that he mentioned exercise could help with my anxiety. So of course, instead of follow his advice, I just worried about whether that comment had any sort of backhanded, you're-a-fatty-so-go-fix-yourself double meaning. I'm pretty sure it didn't. Anyway, I still never talked to the guy much, so it turned out to be just this one meaningful moment I had and never responded to properly.
Here's another good avoidance story, though there's no writing component: my sophomore year me and some friends were sitting in the front yard of our dorm doing homework, lounging in the sun, etc. when a couple guys came to get the campus bikes that were also sitting in the yard. As a side note, our campus supplied several bright red bikes for anyone and everyone to use, but it was sometimes difficult to locate one so it wasn't odd to see a few people scouting around for them. Anyway, I noticed one of these guys was wearing a NOFX shirt. I really like this band, and was having a hard time struggling with the leave-punk-behind-you-and-listen-to-some-real-music attitude a lot of the people around me were pushing, so I got excited and did something totally out of character for me. I went out of my way to address this stranger by telling him, "I like you shirt."
It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it totally was. NOFX guy responded to my comment by inviting me on a bike ride. Now, I'm so wary of people and socially out of whack that I have no idea if his invitation was weird or not, but we did already have the bikes right there in front of us. Either way, it freaked me out. I also can't ride a bike very well. These reasons combined led me to decline his offer, so he left and I went with my friends out to eat somewhere.
What's funny, and kind of sad, really, is that I saw him again towards the end of year. He noticed me walking by and said, somewhat cheekily, that he liked my backpack. I laughed, but kept walking. Poor NOFX guy (I'm actually just realizing how awful this really was now as I'm typing it) tries again to have some kind of conversation, but again, all I remember from it is one thing, him saying "don't be shy." Again, I don't know if that's weird or not. What I do know is that I responded with, "No, I think I'm just gonna be shy." I actually said that to someone. Someone who seemed pretty nice, interested, and, as is against type for what I usually attract, good looking. At least, I remember him to be good looking. I know it was only two years ago but, as I've already shown, trying to pin something down in my memory is very much like playing darts blindfolded, so who knows?
That was the last time I ever saw NOFX guy. Maybe he was a senior and graduated. Maybe he just gave up and started staying away from me. Either way, I feel like I missed out on a real opportunity there all because I can't bring myself to properly communicate face to face.
That's what this is about, I guess, how avoiding direct confrontation, whether the message itself is good or bad, can lead to missed opportunities. I've lost chances to have good friends, and potentially more, by worrying over saying the wrong thing. If there was a more fulfilling way to end this post, a way to tie up loose ends, or something, I would. But I can't. This is what I'm like and I'm trying to get better but it's really hard and I don't know if things will ever improve.
What I can say is, if you're out there, NOFX guy, and you're still willing, I'll go on the bike ride with your now.