That Vulnerable Feeling

I haven’t really wanted to write recently and I think I finally know why.

I have been feeling very vulnerable lately. I can’t recall the last time I was this vulnerable for so long.

It started about two months ago. I was recommend a book to read by an old friend. I read it, hated it, and it stuck with me. The main character was reprehensible. His actions were deplorable. His entire world view was one of the single worst outlooks on life that someone could have. It made me feel bad about myself because we shared the same sex.

For all those reasons, it stuck with me. It didn’t really make me question myself. In fact, it made me feel a superior to the character in the book and to the average male.

The author’s writing style reminded me of The Stranger, so I bought and read that a week later. The Stranger was, well, it was what you would expect, and it made me feel a bit more detached from the world and free.

Off the back of The Stranger, I met someone who I had nothing in common with. He and I were working on the same client and had to spend two weeks together. During that time we had breakfast through dinner together each week. That gave us plenty of time to talk. Time which turned out to be very difficult because, like I said, we had nothing in common.

It became fairly unnerving when I realized we had nothing in common. I lost the ability to give him the benefit of the doubt, which turned out to be annoying because we had to work on things together. I kept asking myself why it mattered so much that I wanted to have something in common with him. I realized I need something, anything, in common so that I could trust him. That’s why I couldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt, because there was no basis for trust.

For the next few weeks, I would tell this story to those friends I would run into. I wanted to get theirs on the issue, but mostly I thought it was a good story because how often do you find someone with nothing in common to you? Someone who have shared no significant experiences and who has a completely different preferences and points of view?

It just so happened that I was meeting up with a few old friends that I rarely see. Most notable, I went to NYC to see my old college roommate. During our last dinner together, I brought up this story and I ended it with the same conclusion I did above. It bothered me that we had nothing in common because that meant I couldn’t trust him.

My friend laugh and says that’s not it. That it bothered me because without anything in common, I couldn’t manipulate him.

I told him that wasn’t it. That I needed something in common, in order to trust him, in order to do my job more efficiently. He insisted that I really didn’t care about that. That I was only looking for a way to control my relationship with him. It was only a ploy for future manipulation.

It bothered me that he said that for two reasons. First, my intentions were pure. I was only looking to do my job without having to consider whether everything he said had some hidden malice. Secondly, I hadn’t considered getting information in order to possibly exploit that in the future, but once he mentioned it. It seemed like a pretty good idea.

The worst part came minutes later while I was pressing him for an explanation. He said that’s how he saw me, as a controlling person, and that people don’t change.

Granted I have only seen him for a day in each of the last three years and I hadn’t seen him for 2 years before that. So I don’t think it would have been possible to change his opinion of me in only 3 days over the last 5 years. But, I thought I was different. I thought I was better. Maybe he’s right though and people don’t change.

I think that was the cherry on the uncertainty sundae.

I’m still sure of who I am, but I’m not so sure of what I am.

And if I’m not sure of that, then I’m not sure that’s who I want to be.

That uncertainty is making me vulnerable.

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