This past weekend, I had a friend staying with me for New Year’s Eve. K and I tricked her into stretching out her visit out way longer than she had planned, and the three of us spent most of the weekend holed up in my tiny studio apartment, playing out an extended version of a 12 year old’s slumber party. We even watched The Craft!
Amongst the many conversation topics it takes to fill two straight days of talking, we spent a good chunk of time going down an Enneagram* rabbit hole. (If you’re not familiar with Enneagrams, think Meyer’s Briggs, without being a complete piece of shit like Meyers Briggs. Don’t try to put me into one of 16 discrete boxes, you reductionist survey! YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE!) Comparing our personality types quickly devolved into comparing the worst, most unhealthy aspects of our personality types, and boy was it fun. Here are some choice excerpts from my profile, Five:
- “Whatever the sources of their anxieties may be—relationships, lack of physical strength, inability to gain employment, and so forth—average Fives tend not to deal with these issues. Rather, they find something else to do that will make them feel more competent. The irony is that no matter what degree of mastery they develop in their area of expertise, this cannot solve their more basic insecurities about functioning in the world.”
- “They devote more and more time to collecting and attending to their collections, less to anything related to their real needs.”
- “They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation.”
- “Addictions: Poor eating and sleeping habits due to minimizing needs. Neglecting hygiene and nutrition. Lack of physical activity. Psychotropic drugs for mental stimulation and escape, narcotics for anxiety.”
- “Some Fives are more forward socially but their experience is somewhat like the mating of shy and prickly animals: unless the other finds a way to hold on to the Five, the Five is soon off again.”
Basically, I am an eccentric hermit who only barely knows how to interact with other humans or even feed myself. When discussing the things we absolutely could not keep putting off in service of our never-ending slumber party, I said begrudgingly, “At some point, we have to leave the apartment because I will run out of food.”
This comment was met with a chorus of laughter. “Classic Five,” they chuckled.
All this brings me to my New Year’s Resolution for 2016: doing more things I’m not naturally good at. I spent 2015 working on being better at saying no to people and putting up healthy boundaries. Accepting other people’s boundaries at face value is the path of least resistance, and creating any pushback against that felt like an insurmountable task. I spent a lot of time crying to my therapist about how difficult it was, but it was ultimately really good for my overall wellbeing. I spent the first 26 years of my life basically avoiding all my problems. That… didn’t work out super well for me. The past two years have brought a concerted effort to actually Deal With My Issues in as controlled and healthy an environment as possible, with the help of people I trust and love. Unfortunately, sometimes that means attempting to do something that will almost certainly be a disaster.
I have written about failure before. Failure is my most fundamental fear, and I am really good at avoiding it. What’s my secret? Simply not doing anything I suspect I will be bad at. My friends from growing up have an ongoing joke—“Alix is good at everything”—because I have quite the collection of disparate interests and hobbies, and I work hard at cultivating them. Together, the general effect is Badass Renaissance Woman, but in reality, I am very bad at many, many things. A far more accurate statement would be “Alix is good at everything she actually does, because in the background she is conspicuously avoiding anything she thinks might possibly reveal her underlying incompetence.”
Unfortunately, avoiding failure altogether is impossible. I need to stop running away from my fear and learn to handle it when it inevitably catches up with me. So in 2016, I plan to fail at many, many things.
“OK, in 2016, you get to help me with my online dating profile(s). You are also allowed to set me up on whatever dates you want. I give you free rein to meddle in my love life up until January 1, 2017.”
No h was over at my apartment for a haircut. The manic glee that flashed across her face was so terrifying that I almost took back my offer right then and there. Instead, I carefully sheared off nine inches of her hair for donation and then evened out the blunt cut. Afterwards, we opened my laptop and pulled up OKCupid. Neither of us was really sure this is the right online dating route to take, but at least it’s free. (“wtf [is Coffee Meets Bagel?] I’ve NEVER heard of that. This online dating world is getting out of hand.” –No h). We can always change it later, right?
Making a decent online dating profile is impossible. I feel like I was set up to fail from the very first question: username. I needed something innocuous that also offered zero personal information. We tried a bunch of jokes from pop culture we both like, but none of them either fit within the character limit or was still available. Eventually No h found an obscure joke from an anime series we both watched that wasn’t already taken, and I was like, DONE. We can always change it later, right?
(WRONG. Well, you can, but you have to upgrade to a premium account, which I’m not doing. And neither of us considered upfront how incredibly terrible that username actually is, out of context, and now I am stuck with it. Super.)
Next, there was a profile picture and a self-summary. “How would your best friend describe you, in a couple of sentences?” Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…
We went for profile picture first.
“There are basically no recent pictures with just me in them,” I whined, as we scrolled through Facebook.
“Yeah, but you can just crop someone out. What about this one with Sarah?”
“It’s fine, I guess.”
“It’ll be hard to crop her out, though. Maybe you can photoshop something funny over her?”
And so, my OKCupid profile, with its terrible, terrible username, was born.
“We can always change it later, right?”
forced me to helped me fill out the rest, answering about a billion intrusive questions and ranking their relative importance (“How many times do you brush your teeth a day? Two or more. VERY IMPORTANT.”), as well as putting more info in my profile. (“If you do not have a single female author listed in your favorite books, I cannot date you.”) The messages started rolling in, and No h left to catch her bus home.
I felt immediate and overwhelming regret.
Their cheerful optimism felt oppressive, but I did garner one decent piece of advice:
Per the above suggestion, I politely responded to anyone who had bothered to actually reference anything in my profile, and then closed my computer.
About an hour later, my phone buzzed as No h gchatted me. “Any sweet new messages??? :D”
I sent her a few choice screenshots.
OH GOSH YOU CAUGHT ME I AM NOT REALLY FRIENDS WITH THE ROCK GOOD SLEUTHING.
No h offered a suggestion for another photo I could doctor for my profile. I uploaded it at around half past midnight, shut my laptop again, and went to bed.
When I opened up my computer again after 6 fitful hours of sleep, my own personal hellscape awaited me:
WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE ON OKCUPID IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT? GO TO BEDDDDD, YOUR SLEEP HYGEINE IS WORSE THAN MINE.
On the plus side, it turns out that when you ‘shop The Rock into your online dating profile, that is literally all anyone wants to talk about.
Excepting a couple half-hearted “Who is Jean Webster?” messages, almost nobody passed the “did you even read my profile” test. And if nobody ever passes, that means I don’t have to respond to anyone, right? RIGHT? There is clearly only one course of action I must take.
After all, it’s only January 4th. Why rush things? I still have 361 days of uncomfortable failure ahead of me.