🔒 Moving to the woods, feeling confident, and flirting like a European
In this week’s edition of Default Wisdom, we talk acceptance, self-confidence, and why Europeans can get away with being flirtier than Americans.
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Moving to the woods
I feel like no matter what I do, I’m never accepted. I always feel like an outsider and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
I want to give up and live in the woods.
— The Perpetual Outsider
First of all, I’m sorry for taking so long to answer a question that I suspect is causing you a lot of pain.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have this issue, too. I think a lot of us do.
Without knowing you or an example of your situation, it’s hard for me to key in on specifics.
Here are a few things I’ve picked up on my own journey, though:
(1) Sometimes, it is our own fault, and we have to take accountability for that.
It’s possible that your behavior does turn people off, and to achieve the kind of acceptance you’re looking for, you will need to fix it.
Maybe you bring up topics (totally well-intentioned!) that make people uncomfortable. Maybe you come off as abrupt when you mean to be honest. Maybe you’re rude, maybe you struggle to read the room, maybe your facial expressions signal things you don’t mean them to. Maybe you’re friends with the wrong people.
The annoying part is that it could be anything, and occasionally, something shallow or outside of your control.
The conventional wisdom here is usually to ask a trusted friend if they have any insight for you. But you may not have one, you may not have one who’s picked up on anything, or you may not have one who’s willing to be honest with you. (And who could blame them? That’s a tough conversation to have.)
So my advice is to try to build your own intuition. Listen to yourself when you speak. And I mean really listen. Do you feel like you interrupt people? Pay close attention to people’s facial expressions: do they look uncomfortable when you talk? After a joke?
If it’s online, what’s your communication style like? Do you only get online to vent? This is a big one that gets a lot of folks in trouble, again, myself included.
From where you’re sitting now, these might sound like impossible tasks. But with a little practice and a little more patience, you should be able to pick up on a few clues.
The only thing I will caution you about here is not to be too hard on yourself. Try to do this with an open mind, but without getting in a cycle where you’re cataloguing every little thing you think might set folks off.
It can be a hard line to walk, but I think it’s a useful exercise.