For the month of July, I’m doing an experiment. I’ve always wanted to write an advice column, and I’ve asked you all to submit questions and give me permission to answer them publicly. I want to preface this series by saying that (a) an advice column is not a replacement for therapy, and (b) this is really just for fun, so please, never let my advice supersede your own wisdom. If you’ve sent me a question about a problem that’s weighing heavily on you, I will do my best to answer it (although I can’t promise to answer every question), but I cannot overstate the value of seeking support from a qualified, dedicated therapist. My therapist is a priceless resource in my life and one of the reasons I’m able to write this to you now whereas a couple years ago this would have been unthinkable for me. So never write that off as one of your options!
That said, I did promise to dole out “weird advice from your weird friend,” so let’s get on with the show.
Question: Do my friends even really like me…?
I always get this nagging feeling that most people just tolerate me, and don’t really like me for me. Like, they are nice enough to me, but when I try to make social plans, people aren’t very interested. I try making friends, but it feels hard to be rejected so often. In groups, either at work or social situations, including derby, I feel like a perpetual third wheel tagging along with the cool kids. I am constantly re-thinking what I said or how I acted to see if I am doing something wrong. How do I either get over these feelings or change myself to be a better potential friend?
Answer: Yeah, dude, you’re great.
First, you are not alone. I have struggled with this my whole life, and (surprise!) therapy has been a big help.
Don’t change yourself, but consider shifting your way of thinking in a few subtle but meaningful ways.
- Try to trust that when people spend time with you, they are doing so because they like you. Telling yourself people don’t like you just reinforces your feeling like an outsider and can cause you to pull back from genuine connection or to feel rejected preemptively. You mention that you’re in derby, so keep in mind that derby people are extraordinarily busy. When someone takes the time to hang out with you, that means they’ve put something else in their life on hold, whether it’s practice, other social options, or down time. Whenever someone is spending time with you, they’ve chosen you over whatever and whoever else is around, so it’s a genuine compliment. Even if they’re someone you don’t know well, it takes effort to walk over and chat with someone, to try and think of something to talk about, and to develop a friendship.
- Try to think of yourself as someone worthy of having great friends. Think about what you have to offer as a friend. Based on knowing that you’re part of the derby family, I can say you’re probably ambitious, adventurous, brave, open minded, excited about taking on challenges, good at handling complex situations, and generally a fun person. Those are all great qualities to start with. Based on your writing, I’d say you’re also a thoughtful person who cares a lot about the people around you, and you really wants to be appreciated and seen for your true self. Don’t be afraid to let these beautiful qualities show. Go all out just being yourself — smile when you feel like smiling, laugh when you feel like laughing, cry when you feel like crying. Share your deep thoughts and your insecurities. If you’re more of a quiet person, that’s fine! Just don’t fake it. Be who you are, and there will be people who see you and think, “At last! Someone like me! Someone who will understand!” You will be a beacon of hope for someone who needs a friend just like you.
- Think about how you want to feel with your ideal friends, and take steps toward the people who make you feel that way. If being around “the cool kids” feels disingenuous and awkward, try hanging out with the weirdos who make you laugh, the quiet people who are great listeners, or the bookish ones who love to share their nerdy passion. Trust me: Being cool is extremely overrated. Hang with the people who make you feel loved and supported, even if they aren’t the cool kids. You may be surprised at who starts to gravitate your way when you’re being true to yourself.
Question: Sex with socks on. Yay or nay?
Is it weird that I prefer to wear socks when “getting down to business”? (And by business, I mean sex.) My friends give me a lot of shit about it, but I get cold damnit.
Answer: Cozy toes are hot!
Dude. People wear all kinds of things to have sex — leather, lace, fur suits, strap-ons, and costumes of every imaginable kind. So … socks? Not weird.
Being comfortable and happy when you’re having sex is pretty much essential. I, too, get literal cold feet sometimes, and want to keep my socks or the blankets on. Furthermore, if I wanted to keep my socks on and a partner made a big deal about it, I’d suggest they find someone else to have sex with. If I were in your shoes, I would encourage my friends to get a little weirder with their sex lives if they really think socks are strange. Like … do they always get 100% naked to do it? That’s … kinda weird in its own way, don’t you think? It’s like that episode of Scrubs where we learn that JD has to get naked to poop, and as an audience we’re all thinking, “Okay, you do you. But also, why man? Why?” Please ask your friends if they get completely naked every time they have sex, and why. Ask them if they have something against clothes, or against warm, cozy feet.
In conclusion, I suggest you get some thick, fluffy, extra comfy socks that you reserve specifically for doing the business. Call them your business socks, store them with your sex toys, and tell your friends to fuck off with their judgement.