Start Up This Fire (With Hope & Desire)

Alternatively titled “Go to a Bar. Alone. Part II”.

I wasn’t planning on celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. I’m Irish and I’ve celebrated in the past, but I wasn’t really feeling it yesterday. I’ve felt that way about a lot of holidays since I’ve become single. Holidays are based around tradition and though I’m a traditionalist through and through, I get really sad at the thought of honoring a tradition by myself. In the past, I’ve made steaks and vegetables that were soaked in Guinness and herbs all day for my family/significant other. I had no drive to do that for just myself. In fact, I love cooking, but I only really feel in my element or enjoy it if I’m preparing something for someone else. I don’t care nearly as much when it’s just for myself. But none of this is the point of my story.

So I didn’t plan on doing anything. A friend (who I met by going to a bar alone) said he might be having some people over for a fire in his back yard, but he wasn’t sure and would text me to let me know. If I didn’t hear from him, I was just gonna watch Peaky Blinders and hang out at home.

But then he texted. Said people were coming over around 9:30-10:00 and that I was welcome whenever. My social anxiety skyrocketed at the thought of actually doing something with a ton of strangers. The idea was cool and exciting, but once it became a reality, I was terrified. But I ended up meeting him and some of our friends at a bar about an hour and a half before the fire was supposed to start. By the time we got to my friend’s house, a ton of people had already shown up (we were late). I met a ton of new people, including a transgender girl who introduced herself to me almost immediately, since I was the only person she didn’t know.

As the night went on and people got more comfortable, due to a combination of alcohol and just generally warming up to people, she ended up telling me that she was very afraid to talk about being trans in front of me. She said that when I walked in, I had a very confident “tough guy” vibe about me (thanks, leather jacket) and she was kind of intimidated, because she wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it or if I’d accept her. I assured her that I’m not that way at all, have trans friends, and am generally accepting of just about everything. But it still struck me as odd.

I’m not a tough guy and I’m not confident. I definitely put up a persona so that I can function in social situations, but I never intend to come across like a “tough guy”. A couple months ago, my ex and I went out for drinks to just kind of hang out and talk while I was dealing with some personal shit. I told her that I’d been going out a little bit more and wanted her honest opinion on how I came across, so that I knew how to approach other people. She also used the term “intimidating” to describe me. She said I seem like I have my shit together and that it makes me seem uninterested in my surroundings. Not necessarily arrogant and looking down on everyone around me, but self-assured and content with what I already have. Not looking for more.

The difference in how I see myself versus how other people see me is kind of hilarious. I don’t see myself as confident, outgoing, social, or fun to be around. And not in a self-deprecating way, just in a way of knowing what’s going on inside my own head. I’m aware of my insecurities and my weaknesses, but strangers aren’t. Apparently, none of those struggles are outward enough that you can look at me and know I’m really not super comfortable in my own skin.

All in all it was an awesome night and led to new friends and introspective thoughts. In a weird way, I feel more confident knowing that people think I come across as confident.

Start Up This Fire (With Hope & Desire)

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