I never lived completely open as a gay man until after I moved to Los Angeles. I guess you could say I tip-toed out of the closet. I didn't come out to my family until I was 25 years old. At that point I had been in LA for nearly 3 years. I'm now 27, crowding in on 28, and I'm just now making inroads toward capturing the confidence that I have long lacked.
My closest friends don't really think I have confidence issues. In fact, my vanity is a recurring joke amongst those who know me best. I play it up, too. It's all for show. Being comfortable in my skin is a struggle. I work on the outside, and I try and develop the internal skills, but I never really feel like it is completely coming together. When it does seem to click, I don't even want to test it by potentially jinxing it with any substantive romantic interactions.
Rejection is a part of life. It cannot be avoided. No matter who you are and how you walk through life, at some point you're going to want a "yes" and get a "no." It's one of those inevitable, character-building pangs that simply must happen.
I have done my fair share of unsuccessful dating in this crazy city. More often than not, I avoid dating like the plague. Rejection hurts, and I don't want any part of it. My confidence is constantly under construction, and I don't like to come out of my little rabbit hole unless there is some kind of shining guarantee of affirmation. Those guarantees are few and far between. They primarily come in the form of empty compliments and meaningless sexcapades.
LA is a tough town to have this kind of psychological issue. Rejection is the bread and butter of this entertainment-driven locale. Only a very few individuals seem to pass go and collect their $200, and the dating world naturally takes on a similar atmosphere. Everyone has impossible standards, and no one is willing to settle. Us Angelinos seem to gain these qualities subconsciously, and we beat ourselves up when we inevitably fail at another person's impossible high jump.
I chose to write about it today. I'm going to publish this, too. Putting it out there isn't easy. I, like many of my compadres, want to put forth a false air of perfection across all forms of social media. Though no one would know it in a world of hashtags and airbrushed selfies, perfection is the world's oldest myth. I'm not perfect.
I have proven this on most every date I've ever had. While 99 times out of 100 it's not the right guy for me anyway, I am the king at finding a way to fumble any chance of chemistry at the ten yard line. I can often bring it this close to a touch down, but this strange, insecure need for assurance causes me to drop the ball. That said, to continue the football analogy, I know I'm a catch. We're all a catch for someone. Each fumble makes the eventual score, or even just a first down, all the more sweet.
I may not feel it in this moment, and you may not be feeling it right now. I may have felt pain, and I most certainly have caused it. Somewhere in the middle, though, there is great hope. People are meant to connect with others. No matter how much culture and personal turmoil may try and prevent it, connection is as inevitable as rejection.
Search for the connections in life. Persevere through the rejections. I think somewhere in the middle is where you, and I, will ultimately find that long-awaited confidence.