Tag Archives: Self-deprecation

Surprise! I Don’t Completely Suck

failure to communicate cool hand luke

“The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right? Yeah!” — The Offspring

Some people think I have low self-esteem and am too hard on myself.

“Chin up, Matt. I know way bigger losers than you!”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, man!”

“You’re a really swell guy, and a girl will probably kiss you on the mouth again someday if you just hang in there long enough!”

I made up two of those.

Sometimes I write stuff, and I feel pretty normal or even possibly good while doing so, and then out of nowhere, I’ll get one of these comments.

“Take it easy, Matt! Don’t do anything crazy!”

“We’re all here for you, buddy. Keep on truckin’!”

“If I could have one superpower right now, it would be the ability to crawl through this camera and give you a big hug.”

I also made up two of those and plagiarized the third.

It dawned on me yesterday when someone who likely has my best interests at heart told me in a comment that I frustrate her with my crappy self-esteem (but acknowledged she doesn’t always know how to interpret my tone.) That, combined with hundreds of “Keep your head up, pal!” comments over the past however many months, has led me to the following conclusion: I’m a shitty hack writer with a glaring inability to effectively convey tone of voice, and I should quit forever since I suck so much at life.

Every person who knows me even a little bit can “hear” my tone of voice in that last sentence. And they know how I mean it.

Exaggeration, hyperbole and metaphor are my tools, and self-deprecation is my trade. Sometimes, I’m even sarcastic and kind of a dick. I’m sorry if that annoys you. Maybe eating some sweaty bologna will make you feel better.

‘Then I wonder why she sleeps with my friends’

That’s my favorite line from the classic “Self Esteem” by The Offspring, and has nothing to do with this post, except that it’s about self-esteem, and I’ve been playing the song on repeat while I write this because it seemed like the right thing to do.

Two and a half years ago when I started this thing, I was a complete freaking mess. I can only assume all my writing “sounded” like it too.

Two and a half years ago, I probably had low self-esteem.

We’re all slaves to our own worldview and experiences. I’m a small-town Ohio kid known for being polite, gregarious and social. I have a naturally optimistic and positive disposition. For about 30 years, mostly nothing bad happened to me, except my parents divorced when I was 4, but that’s young enough where whatever happens to you just feels normal.

Small, safe town. Great family. Lots of friends. Seemingly well-liked, accepted and popular. Girls always liked me. Despite the absence of anything resembling economic prosperity, it was pretty damn charmed, but when it’s all you’ve known, it’s just NORMAL, and you take it for granted.

Then, at the age of 30, a bunch of bad shit happened, including a job loss and family deaths, and it all culminated in divorce.

I know that I’m nice and that there are infinitely shittier partner options out there.

I know that I’m, while occasionally unreliable in an immature/ADHD kind-of way, totally reliable in a You-Can-Count-On-Me-To-Not-Abandon-You way.

I know that I have above-average intelligence, depth and ambition. I am good-natured, have good tastes, am attractive enough that people have wanted to mate with me from puberty onward, and am reasonably funny.

Most importantly, I know, in the deepest recesses of my core and soul that I actively work at being a good guy. I totally mess up, sometimes. But, man, I care, and not everyone does.

Put all that in a blender and top it with a 12-year relationship and a beautiful son and awesome friends and large, wonderful extended families.

Seems like a lot to toss out.

But she walked away, choosing something and someone else.

And then, for the first time, I knew how brokenness and rejection felt. And maybe if my entire life had been difficult and shitty prior to that, divorce would have been no big deal. Just another whatever thing! But it wasn’t. It was soul- and life-wrecking, and I started writing about it here as a means of dealing with it, and then accidentally morphed into a quasi-self-help/advice guy because people kept asking stuff.

‘Well, I guess, I should stick up for myself’

I’m just an average guy.

A statistic.

A middle-income, divorced, single father with a mortgage and car payment.

So, even though I think I’ve got some shit figured out now regarding our romantic partnerships—one of the most critical and important facets of our human experience—I’m not going to ever try to seem like more than I am.

I am VERY TYPICAL, and screwed up my marriage VERY TYPICALLY, and now VERY TYPICAL other people (about 80 percent of everyone) might be able to benefit in some small way from me writing about it, because all of them are either doing all the same dumb stuff I did, or are being victimized by it.

I’m pretty average, and in this instance that’s a really good thing, because a lot of people can identify with it, and some of this stuff’s important.

I’m not a scholar, nor a genius, and I have ZERO experience in a committed relationship attempting to practice all of these ideas I believe can and will save, or enhance, marriages (or committed partnerships of any kind).

Just maybe, another average person can get something positive out of my average-guy writing in a way they can’t or won’t from PhDs and therapists. I don’t know for sure. And don’t pretend to.

But you can know this: I have reasonably high self-esteem.

I’m not always as brave as I should be.

I feel insecure sometimes, because I worry too much about what people think of me.

I put a little bit too much stock in everyone liking me, when I’m smart enough to understand one out of three people probably never will.

When you read or hear me call someone a “dirty pirate hooker,” or say something like “because I’m a stupid, moron asshole who makes bad decisions,” I want you to assume I’m goofing off and not take me seriously.

Please assume I’m happy and like myself and want other people to feel the same.

I may be dumb.

But I’m not a dweeb.

I’m just a sucker with no self-esteem. (Only not really.)

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The Underdog

Rocky. Great underdog. Eye. Of. The. Tiger. I got it. You just don't know it.

Rocky. Great underdog. Eye. Of. The. Tiger. I got it. You just don’t know it.

I have to set the record straight.

Because a lot of people seem to think I’m this big mess of self-doubt with no self-confidence.

It became clear yesterday when the author of Broken American Dream Diaries wrote the following to me:

“Dude, you might need to do some dating affirmations because only women in similarly desperate situations (moi!) find such a lack of confidence endearing.

“Say this in the mirror 10 times every morning:

“I am fuckable.

“I am cute.

“I will get laid.

“I am attractive to others.

“Etc.”

I smiled. She’s just looking out for me and offering some practical advice I already know to be true. Please visit her blog if you’re interested in good, honest writing.

Women have always and will always be attracted to confidence.

Well, hold onto your vaginas ladies because I’ve got some news for you: I am totally confident. About a great many things. Most things, in fact.

Dear female readers: Don’t be alarmed by all the blood rushing to your privates. That’s just you thinking: Whoa. I KNEW I wanted to bang that guy!

David and Goliath

Who doesn’t like a good underdog story?

People who suck, that’s who.

Everyone else likes them. Especially me.

Always have. Always will.

You like Mario? I like Luigi.

You like Mickey? I like Donald.

You like Ferris? I like Cameron.

I loved it when Napoleon Dynamite danced. And maybe even found a girlfriend in the end.

I loved it when Rocky took out Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

I loved it when Rudy got that sack for the Notre Dame football team against impossible odds.

I love underdogs.

I root for underdogs.

And I love to be the underdog.

The Art of Self-Deprecation

I can’t decide whether I’m really good, or really bad, at self-deprecation.

It’s just my shtick.

There’s probably some beautiful sweet spot between humble and cocky where we’re supposed to live.

But because I think humility is such a wonderful human characteristic, and cockiness, such a shitty one, I err on the side of self-deprecation.

And if that makes me come off whiny and unattractive sometimes, so be it. Because I’d much rather be that than vomiting cocksure self-puffery all the time and leading people to believe I think I’m better than others.

Because I most certainly do not.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m kind of awesome.

Because… (*lowers voice to a whisper*)… I am kind of awesome.

Don’t tell anyone.

My I-Don’t-Suck Affirmations

I like who I am.

And I’m smart enough to try to change the things about myself I don’t like. I will always look for opportunities to grow in that way.

But today, we shine light on my positives:

I am kind.

I am. On the inside. I feel empathy for others. I want to help people. I don’t want to be mean, ever. I’m sensitive about people’s feelings and work hard to be someone who lifts people up and not someone who tears people down. This is not something I earned or worked for. I have always felt this way about people. I was blessed to grow up surrounded by a lot of loving and caring people. That, combined with my genetic code, yielded me. A pretty nice guy. Probably nicer than average. And I would not trade my propensity for kindness for any other human trait. I don’t know if I want anything for my son more than I want him to display kindness to others. I think it’s fundamental to succeeding in life.

I am smart.

Not like Harvard smart. And not like old-grandfather wise. But I’m relatively good at figuring things out. Being smart is important. Being smart keeps me from hating that gorgeous young woman who was crowned Miss America because she’s of Indian descent. Being smart allows me to string grammatically correct sentences together. And read stuff. Being smart allows me to think critically, ask good questions and draw fair and reasonable conclusions. These are important things.

I am funny-ish.

Humor is relative. My ex-wife thought I was less funny than most other people do. I’m rarely the funniest guy in the room. But I’m almost never the biggest stick in the mud, either. If 10 is some super-funny person, like Will Ferrell or Daniel Tosh or Louis CK, and 1 is some humorless lump—like, say a ham radio enthusiast or Dane Cook—I’m probably like a 7 or 7.5, depending on my alcohol intake and the number of kids present.

I have values.

I’m not good all the time. I’m cross-the-line flirty. I like drinking more than most productive and successful human beings. If my job didn’t randomly drug test, I’d probably smoke pot once in a while. But I also have a moral code, and for the most part, I stand by it. I believe in my God. I aspire to Christian principles, which I like to break down into three simple steps: 1. Love people. 2. Give more than you take. 3. Don’t be a dick. I think having some level of baseline values is important.

I’m good in the kitchen.

And I don’t just mean when I’m licking chocolate syrup off my dinner date. I very much enjoy food. There was a long time in my youth when I wanted to go to culinary school and be a chef. But I decided it would be hard to have a family working 70-hour weeks, and being absent every Friday and Saturday on the busy restaurant nights. Glad that decision worked out so well! In the meantime, I very much enjoy preparing meals for friends. And I’m pretty good at it, too. Reason #162 on the Why Dating Matt Is A Good Idea list, is that you definitely want me bringing you omelets and French toast in bed before you orgasm for the second time that morning. Which brings us to…

I am unselfish (in the bedroom).

Because I’m a person, I’m totally selfish about lots of things. Everybody is. But you know what I’m really good at? Not being a selfish douchebag in the bedroom. I take immense pleasure from the person I’m with enjoying herself. I love making people feel good by saying something nice to them, or helping them with something they’re working on. Multiply that times 69 for how much I enjoy making a girl feel in the bedroom. I’m no Adonis. I am not God’s gift to women, physically. But for the women who deem me physically attractive enough to de-robe, I am a viable bedroom partner. And by viable, I mean totally rad.

The Not-So Grand Finale

You get the idea.

I can sit around all day long and tell you nice things about myself. I was raised by wonderful people. I’m God-fearing and aspire to love everyone—literally everyone. That automatically makes me easier to get along with than about 70 percent of the world’s population.

I’ve spent my entire life having very positive feedback from people.

When I was young, my friends’ parents always liked me because I was polite and respectful.

When I was in college, most people liked me because I went out of my way to introduce everyone I could to everyone else. And I was almost never a dick.

When I was a newspaper reporter, sources liked me because I never burnt anyone. And even when I wrote something they didn’t like, it was always based in fact and completely on the up and up.

People tend to like me at business networking events.

People tend to like me at parties.

People tend to like me at work.

I have an entire lifetime of people responding to me mostly in positive ways.

I am kind. Friendly. Respectful. Polite. Well-mannered. Thoughtful. And fun-loving.

There are only four kinds of people in this world who don’t like me:

1. My ex-wife

2. Terrorists

3. Girls on Match.com

4. Dicks

Are we all good now? Are you convinced that I like myself?

May I go back to cracking on myself and whining about stuff?

Cool.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program of me not being tall enough…

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