RSTLN E – The Every Woman Profile

Remember the end of Wheel of Fortune? Choose 5 consonants and a vowel? For years everyone would choose the most common letters as their selection (RSTLN E). If you chose something different you were really rogue. Several years ago the producers finally decided to just give the contestants those letters and let them pick 6 more.

I have been single now for several months after 17 years of marriage. During that time I have reacquainted myself with online dating. After the first couple of weeks of checking out profiles some startling patterns started emerging. A month in I discovered I could write almost every woman’s profile in a couple of paragraphs. It occurred to me that these things are the RSTLN E of online dating. Ladies, this is my public service announcement that you should spend your valuable profile space on things that make you unique, not things that are common to almost everyone. If the following profile sounds like you then, well, make some changes. You’re not differentiating yourself.

EveryWoman2017

Me:

I love to travel, especially to the beach or to different locations in Europe. I love getting dolled up for a night on the town or being casual with jeans and flips flops and grilling out at home. I love all types of music and enjoy attending music festivals. I like to try hole in the wall places and new restaurants. I love anything outdoors and enjoy hiking. I love a good glass of wine. I have a rewarding career and love what I do. I am financially independent. I have (?) kids and they are my first loves. I have great friends and love spending time with my family. My friends would say I’m funny (witty and sarcastic), loyal, and giving. I’m very happy and I am at a wonderful point in my life. I am just looking for a wonderful man to share it with.

You:

I am looking for a partner in crime. He should be confident but not arrogant, loyal, honest, and thoughtful. He must be sincere and genuine and be a family man. You must not take yourself too seriously and be able to make me laugh. You also have to be passionate and intelligent. Chemistry is very important to me. Anything can be fun with the right person! Bonus points if you’re sensitive and manly and chivalrous.

I love to Travel or do I?

I think everyone on the planet says they love to travel. I suppose going places and seeing new things is exciting but “I love to travel” seems like an unnecessarily vague descriptor so I will  be more precise with my feelings about travel.

I like to travel and I hate to travel. I like to travel when someone else is doing the organizing, arranging, and executing and we are going to some distant place full of natural beauty, far off the beaten path, with very few other people. I take my “duties” seriously and when I am in charge of planning that creates lots of anxiety for me to get it right, so that whomever I am with will enjoy themselves to the fullest. Removing that burden makes it easier for me to relax and enjoy myself.

If we go somewhere extremely crowded, or we go to something man-made (enter large city here) then I will most likely not be relaxing and enjoying myself for long. I hate traffic and lines and feeling like a tourist. Any traveling that allows me to avoid those situations is great with me. Throw me in the middle of that and well, ugh.

I love it when you cancel on me

No, seriously. I absolutely love it when you cancel on me! I don’t care whether you are canceling lunch, a meeting, a golf game, or anything else. I don’t get bathed in the giddy/happy endorphins like dopamine very often but when you free up my time by telling me “you can’t make it” I get a huge adrenaline rush. There is really no better feeling than a guiltless way of getting part of my life back.

I don’t care if you are someone I love or a friend or a business associate. My future self always hates my past self for making plans with you. I made a commitment at some point and it sounded like a good idea because I wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of that decision until some time in the future. Now that the future is here I don’t want to do whatever it is. Most of the time I don’t want to do it even if it’s something I enjoy – because well – everything is such a damn hassle. I’d much rather sit home reading a book.

Want to make me happy? Call and tell me somethings come up. I really won’t care. I don’t need an excuse or an apology. In fact, you can bet your ass I am silently celebrating and getting ready to let out a raucous “Hell Yeah!” as soon as we get off the phone. So don’t feel bad. If you’re a good friend you’ll make plans with me and then cancel them just to make me happy. So the next time your lack of thoughtfulness and planning requires that you cancel our plans just know I love you for it.

On asking questions

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone starts a question with, “Don’t you think…”

To me, that is almost always a lazy ass, passive aggressive way of throwing one of your preconceived notions in my face. You veil it as a question to me because you are not yet prepared to defend your position and/or you are simply trying to make yourself look smart.

Know that any question to me that begins with “don’t you think” is going to get a response from me that is “I don’t know, what do you think?”

When you’ve answered I am going to walk away. You will have said the same thing twice and I don’t like redundancy.

If you genuinely want my opinion on something or are seeking to understand me then by all means ask away. Just don’t start with “don’t you think” implying 1) you know what I think or 2) that what comes after “don’t you think” is what my answer should be according to you.

Don’t you think that was an excellent blog post?

My Personal Manifesto

I will uphold my values of freedom and independence and strive to create an environment where I have complete autonomy. I will keep things organized. I will make things simple. I will laugh and endeavor to make others laugh with me. I will act with integrity in all my actions, being honest and fair and always trying to do the right thing. I will at all times attempt to use good judgment, common sense, and wisdom. I will remain a life long learner and always seek to broaden my body of knowledge. I will help when I can, however I can. I will be dependable to those who rely on me. I will be authentic and take responsibility for the direction of my own life. I will create my own meaning and purpose. I will seek only internal justification. I will participate and engage with life. I will remind myself that I will die. I will express gratitude for those things that move me. I will never stop asking the big questions. I will let go of the idea that the world needs to be rational. I will be prepared. I will think less and do more. I will do what makes me proud.

On sexiness and aging

As I get older I see the pain and sadness on the faces of female family and friends as their bodies deteriorate. Taut skin starts to sag. Once smooth faces begin to wrinkle. Hair becomes gray and coarse. Posture suffers. Aches and pains cause a decline in activity.

For better or worse humans are obsessed with outward physical appearance as the only measuring stick of beauty and sexiness. We are conditioned to tie much of our self worth to our outer shell. Females endure this hardship far worse than men because of the historical vestiges of a patriarchal society.

I think there are many men, mostly shallow and insecure in their own right, who will continue to judge all women against an untenable perfection, against the goddess they have in their dreams. One whose only role is to fulfill sexual fantasy.

But that man is not every man.

That view is one of a single dimension. What about those of us who view sexiness in multiple dimensions? The physical and the mental and the personal. Intelligence, humor, courage, independence, self-sufficiency, clarity, curiosity, inner strength, and kindness are some of the important components for me. There are many others. It’s not a checklist. There are any number of combinations that work. But sexy, for me, comes with many of these options – not just one.

Sexiness in my world is not simply about lust in the physical realm. It’s about the respect and admiration of another, secure in her person, and resolute in her spirit. It’s not about what you wear, it’s about how you wear it. An “overweight” woman who walks with her head held high, smiling, with radiant confidence and self-assuredness, on her way to the philosophy section of a book store is far sexier to me than a ditsy 36-24-36 with all the latest medical improvements and runway fashions.

To be clear. I don’t abhor physical beauty (or plastic surgery for that matter). I just think far too much emphasis is placed on it. It is destructive to the psyches of millions. I don’t want a painting on a flat surface. I want a gem with many facets.

Ladies, as you age please know that not all men will be judging you on your body alone. There are those of us who choose to look at many other things. In fact, I believe that as I age, the importance of non-physical traits over physical ones will only grow for me. I am not alone.

Take care of your health, but know that includes all of you, not just the parts we can see. Sexiness emanates from your core, not from your skin.

Update: some people have misunderstood this to mean that physical chemistry is unimportant to me. This would be false. The physical aspect of things is important. It’s just the combination that is most important. I wouldn’t fall in love with the most beautiful woman in the world just because of her looks and I wouldn’t fall in love with another woman who satisfied all the other qualities but that I had no physical attraction to.

Choosing Freedom, Embracing Anxiety

You are trapped between a desire for freedom, independence, and autonomy and the comfort and routine of safety and security. Freedom, by definition, means constant, mindful choosing. Freedom means all your decisions mean something. Freedom comes with responsibility.

The freedom to choose in every moment – how you will react, what you will do, what values you will choose to uphold, how you will think – and the responsibility that entails causes extreme anxiety for most people. When there is no one to blame but yourself…there is no one to blame but yourself. Your mental farm is devoid of scapegoats.

Your alternative is to cede your decision making authority to others. To seek safety and comfort under the veil of someone else’s willingness to embrace freedom. Should they choose incorrectly, it’s not your fault. You can complain and then return safely to the status quo lifestyle you’ve built. You can remain in that job you hate because it’s easier to stick with the same routine, even in misery, than to use your freedom and choose a different path. A path that may come with discomfort and uncertainty. One that could make a meaningful difference in your life or could make it worse. You’d rather not choose and not know than risk anything on the possibility of a brighter future.

In order to truly feel alive you must embrace the anxiety that comes with freedom. Acceptance of the weight of personal responsibility is not easy but, as with exercise, the more you do it, the easier it will become. You will learn to love anxiety because it means you are alive, you are choosing, and you are scared. You will begin to accept the weight of your decisions and lean into them, as a buffalo charges into a storm, rather than run from them and let the world around you decide for you.

In the end, isn’t it better to be alive with anxiety and freedom than to be dead while your alive without them?

 

I know you are but what am I?

I’m a philosopher. I’m a beer drinker. I’m a nudist. No.

I’m a joker. I’m a smoker. I’m a midnight toker. No.

I’m an atheist. I’m a minimalist. I’m an existentialist. No.

I’m Stiffler’s Mom. I’m Ragnar Lothbrok. I’m Carl Spackler. No.

As you read each of those labels you no doubt associated each of them with something from your own experience and knowledge. You’re interpretation of what those labels mean is entirely subjective.

As intelligent as we humans like to think we are, we have an extremely difficult time processing the deluge of sensory information that hits us every second of every day. In order to more efficiently process that information we’ve had to evolve into creatures that categorize things and use “blink” intuition, lest we end up mauled by the oft-cited saber tooth tiger. While this ability generally serves us well in survival it wreaks all sorts of social havoc.

To categorize something or label it is to put it into a group. That group then comes with a ready made list of attributes and descriptors that may or may not be accurate for all members of that group. Your list of attributes for some label may be entirely different from someone else’s.

The use of language in any form by definition has to limit its scope to the use of a word which may or may not be 100% representative of the thing it is being written or spoken about. It is merely an inexact representation based on someone’s experience and processing of that thing. {Poorly written but I will stick with it.}

Therein lies the problem with describing ourselves using labels on a blog, in a resume, or elsewhere. My interpretation of the label may be entirely different from your own. You cannot experience me as a person with all the labels simultaneously. You have to piece together an opinion based on your knowledge of the generally accepted attributes of each of those labels.

Let’s try a little experiment. When I say BEER DRINKER, what image comes to mind? (Please share yours in the comments if you so choose. This could be fun.)

Beer Drinker: That redneck guy who has Pabst Blue Ribbon and Wheaties for breakfast. His favorite thing to say is, “Hey, it’s Natturday! Let’s have a Natty Light.” He’s probably crushed a beer or two on his head…or on his girlfriend’s. All his stories start with, “Ya’ll ain’t gonna believe this shit.”

Beer Drinker: That douchey fellow in Whole Foods, wearing a periwinkle button down,  who hand selects 6 different craft beers to put in his little take home cardboard holder. He makes special trips to buy “Growlers” because the type of beer he likes doesn’t come in a case of bottles or cans. He refers to Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light and all forms of non-craft beer as “that yellow piss.”

Beer Drinker (Me/Mine): I like beer. Mostly I drink whatever is cold and light. I don’t define myself by what type of beer I drink. I just like the taste of some better than others. I don’t harbor ill will towards you for liking something else. Some days I drink craft. Some days I drink Coors Light. I like beer better than wine and spirits though I drink both on occasion. Side note: it only takes a couple of nips of good ole North Georgia moonshine to destroy what’s left of your gut biome (first time I’ve been able to work that into a blog post). If you need that replaced then sip away.

The point I am trying to make is this – if you choose to label yourself or others please understand that those labels come with all sorts of baggage and interpretations. Be careful.  I will leave you with this.

Jeff’s Rules for Labeling Yourself

  • If you can avoid labeling yourself. Do that. Be mysterious.
  • If you can’t spell a label, don’t use it. (Wine connoisseur? Sesquipedalian?) GMAFB.
  • If you don’t like the generally accepted attributes associated with a label, don’t use it.
  • Your opinion of what a label means doesn’t matter. Only everyone else’s. You are only using labels to describe yourself to them – they will interpret.

Now please fill up the comments with funny interpretations of BEER DRINKER.

I choose to live small

I am not a saint, nor a celebrity, nor an Egyptian pharaoh. I am not a president, nor a professional athlete, nor a musician. There will be no statues built in my honor. I will not be a member of a Hall of Fame. Grand monuments will never be built for my followers. And all of that is okay.

For all the positive benefits technology has brought us, the narrowing of distance between 7 billion people comes with its consequences. Within a matter of seconds we are exposed to the atrocities of the world. We see or hear about everything that goes on.

This exposure causes some base yearning to help, but we cannot help all those people. This exposure gives us ever more opportunities to compare ourselves to others and find fault in our appearance, our beliefs, our values, or our material goods. There is a constant striving for more. Where once we could be unique in the small sphere of our community, now we try to find ways to be unique among a cadre of 7 billion of our “closest” friends.

I choose to live small.

I would like to think I have the courage to be ordinary. Sure, I would like to be seen as unique, mysterious, and original, but it is a fools game to think that I have control over any of that. I can only act in as authentic a manner as I can – the rest of you will decide my place in history, or not. One of man’s worst fears is to die without leaving some legacy. I am trying to get over that fear by realizing that legacy has never been within my control. I can contribute, but I cannot judge.

I choose to live small. I choose to impact those closest to me as best I can – family, friends, coworkers, strangers I run into. I give energy to my immediate physical surroundings – the people, the places, the things. I write. I comment. I help when and where I can. I have to constantly remind myself that if I stretch too far I will break and be no good to anyone. I choose wise and virtuous over rich and famous. I am not perfect, and that is hard to accept.

I am but a tiny speck of stardust in a vast and unforgiving universe but I will do my best to do what makes me proud. That usually starts with focusing on what is around me here and now. Perhaps, if I do that well then my tiny contributions will ripple through space and time, and that is all one could wish for.

 

To speak or not to speak?

When you’re in an open space with a group of strangers, a party for instance, and there is a pause in the conversation it is referred to as an “awkward silence.” When you get on an elevator everyone is quiet and usually staring down at the floor (or their phone). Any sound on an elevator is awkward and typically uncomfortable for most people. This dichotomy has always puzzled me. Why is silence preferred in one awkward situation and frowned upon in another?

I am introverted by nature and not usually the boisterous one who will jump into small talk with any old stranger. However, for some reason I find it extremely entertaining to be the one who causes awkward stress on elevators. It’s as if my alter ego knows the pain of speaking out will last only a few minutes – the length of time until everyone on the elevator exits and parts to go their separate ways.

So how does this manifest itself? Most of the time my attempts to discomfort people are humorous in nature. A few examples:

Scene 1
Stranger: “I see you on the elevator almost every day. What do you do for a living?”
Me: “I am a professional clown fighter. I know 43 ways to kill a clown.”

Scene 2
Goofy woman in all yellow dress enters elevator. She “accidentally” hits 4 floors of buttons between us and the lobby.
Goofy Woman: “Oh! I’m so sorry. Please don’t kill me.”
Me: “I only kill people I am going to eat, and I don’t like bananas.”

Scene 3
Woman enters elevator wearing Michigan State T-Shirt. She turns around and the back reads “Today is game day at Michigan State”
Me: “Who are they playing?”
Her: “What?”
Me: “No, who?”
Her: “What?”
Me: “Second Base”

Other times I intentionally try to creep people out by appearing serious.

Scene 4
In a very crowded, full elevator…
Me: “I bet you’re all wondering why I’ve gathered you here today?”

Scene 5
Ever notice how no one wants to make eye contact on the elevator?
When I am the last to get on an elevator and it is packed I like to stand with my back to the doors and look at everyone…and see how many I can make eye contact with. Sometimes, if ones looks up and sees me, I will put my finger to my mouth in the common “shhhhh” motion.

Scene 6
Once again, crowded elevator, everyone looking at ground or staring at phone.
I pickup my phone and act like I am speaking to someone.
Me: “No! The doctor says it’s not contagious unless you are within a couple of feet of me.”

And that, my friends is how an introvert entertains himself. Truth be told, many times we all end up laughing and acknowledging the awkwardness of it all. There are, however, a few folks who will avoid getting on the elevator with me at the office.

If you’re curious and want to hear about more of these always unplanned incidents I share them on my weekly newsletter – under the heading “Jeff’s Fun on Elevators“.