Sounds silly to lament being invited to parties…but here goes. First and foremost, I want to say that it’s not lost on me, the honor it is that people want to be around me, that people want me to attend these functions and social events, that they enjoy my company. *bows humbly *
Recently, there was a party for my Boss’s Radio network where fans and personalities came out and had fun. As a co-host, I was invited but declined. When a Woman asked, “Rock, you don’t like to socialize?”
I answered, “No. Not really.”
That’s the truth. But as always, there’s more to it than that. And when I try to explain to people how I’m different, they tend to struggle with comprehension or, flat out just don’t want to believe me. So…for the love of all I hold dear, here’s the Top 4 Reasons Why Social Events are Not for Me. It comes replete with funny memes, followed by the remedy, conditions that would actually make me want to attend.
REASON 1. SOCIALIZING BECOMES A PERFORMANCE:
When I answered the question of “socializing” and said “no, not really…” this is true. But here’s the thing. I can and do socialize all the time. I’m actually pretty good at it. And one of the coolest compliments I get is that I’m fun and easy to talk to. The question was, “do I like it?”
In the context of a party or large gathering, the answer is a resounding “no.” Why? Because I have to watch what I say. Because you’re likely to deal with an audience. It’s not just a conversation between you and a few individuals, but between you and whoever’s within earshot, which could be ten to twenty.
Not to mention the countless curious eyes staring from afar at the big black dude who seems to be center of attention. Being the center of attention is another thing I don’t like. I’m 6’3, 225lbs. In high school, they called it stage presence. I was told I should just get used to it, but when you get to my “Reason Number 3,” you’ll understand why I hate it in a party setting.
“Hang on, Rock? What exactly do you talk about at parties? It’s supposed to be fun. Why are you talking about these deep controversial things?”
So…let’s back it up, for a sec. What’s the point of a party or get together? To socialize, right? To network. To have fun. To catch up. To lay back, drink a beer, dance, and be entertained. Right? Why go to a party if you’re not planning on having a good time?
What if I told you that none of those things are fun to me?
I can do those things and do them well, but it’s not “fun”. Small talk has about a 3-min time limit before I have to put on a performance and pretend to still be interested. It takes strength and energy to not make the person feel like they’re torturing me with knowledge I already know, or don’t care about.
Yes, I can converse about sports, the weather, your dog, where you went to school, how you like to fish on the weekends and all that…But I don’t find those conversations fulfilling. Usually, it’s just the basics. People are just giving you highlights, things you can learn through a quick scroll of their Facebook page.
What I mean by “fulfilling,” is that there’s nothing in their small talk that…I hate to say this, but there’s nothing that I can benefit from. There’s little I can take away from your conversation about collecting miniature car models. You’re not teaching me anything new other than minor details about your life. And if I never see you again, then those details are worthless. So what ends up happening is that I’m now standing there pretending to care about what’s being talked about.
My friends…this is exhausting. And for a man such as myself, my time is valuable. There are sooooo many projects I’d rather be working on, so many books to read, so many documentaries to catch up on, there’s so much in this world that’s happened that I haven’t learned about yet…for me to even spend half an hour listening to someone talk about the NFL draft and who’s the best candidate for which team…again, that’s a 3-5-minute convo for me. Any longer than that, and I’m like…
This issue of time…I’m sorry, but I really do take it, not seriously…but more so, I don’t take it for granted. I’m addicted to production and get my high off accomplishment. I know I will never be this young again. One day, I’ll get married and have children so most of my time will be devoted to them. Even when I go on vacations or visit family, the melancholy of us just sitting around watching some sitcom is abysmal. And when I ask, what are we doing? They say, “we’re just enjoying each other’s company.”
I like to talk about things much deeper than the headlines. I want to hear motives, intentions, goals, why do you have those goals, what’s your opinion on life, why do you have those opinions, what do you think’s going to happen, why do you think something is happening. What was your childhood like? what made you who you are?
These are things I can take away. So I didn’t just talk to you, I experienced you. You motivated me, inspired me, helped me gain greater respect for you. I also find it entertaining. When people tell me about their life experiences, I really do have the imagination to listen to what they’re saying and be transported to a time and place. That’s why they crack up when they see my animated facial expressions. I don’t just hear what they’re telling me. I see it.
So to sum this point up, if I’m at a party and I’m bored out of my mind…ladies and gentlemen…it’s going to look like I’m having the time of my life. I’m acting. It’s a performance. I’m doing things you’d expect from a “normal person” because I don’t want to be intentionally rude and I don’t want people to get the wrong impression about me. I care about these perceptions. I’m an adult.
I’ve been at many social events in the past where friends would come up to me and say, “See, Rock! You’re having a good time!”
And so badly I’d want to smile, lean over, and shout over the music, “I’m pretending! Hahaha! I effing hate this!”
REASON 2: FORCES ME TO REALIZE HOW ALONE I AM
By now, most of us should understand that it’s possible to be alone and not feel lonely. It’s also possible to be surrounded by others and yet, feel alone. Allow me to illustrate.
I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness. But I am a Christian. So a couple years back when Jehovah Witness friends invited me to their congregation for a Sunday meeting, I accepted. In the second half of the meeting, everyone pulled out their Jehovah Witness magazine and follow along as paragraphs are read aloud and members get to answer questions about it. It used to be fun when I was a kid.
The problem was, the Watchtower article was all about how to be a better Jehovah’s Witness when it comes to the door-to-door field service they’re known for. It’s strengthening and encouraging…to other Jehovah’s Witnesses. But if you’re not one, it prompts you to ask yourself why you’re not.
And this…caused me to feel wretchedly alone. I was surrounded by 200 individuals all engaging in this article, all of them looked like they wanted to be there. They were all so nice and warm and inviting, but I ended up stepping out before they finished.
When the friend followed me outside, I had to explain, “I’m sorry man. I appreciate the invite and I really enjoyed the public talk…but that Watchtower article…I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness. I will never be a Jehovah’s Witness. I respect and admire the religion and give you guys much props for your door to door ministry, but there are too many scars in my heart that will never allow me to become one of you.”
That was a terrible day for me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and failed. Anyone who doesn’t know the history would probably encourage me to keep trying…at which point my mind would probably have a flash of that scene from Sin City where Dwight’s holding that man’s head down in the toilet.
The point is, when you’re different and can’t shake the awareness of how different you are, it’s really not a good idea to surround yourself with people in which most of the congregation are similar or have something obvious in common and you don’t. It’s like if I went to a hip hop party where everyone’s black, decked in hip hop apparel with bass-heavy voices and sipping on Hennessy. That’s not me.
It’s also like going to a party where everyone in attendance is white, wearing blue jeans and black tops, where the guys have beards down to their chests and the women are tatted up with Harley Davidson apparel everywhere…that’s not me.
And no, this isn’t to knock those cultures. I have been to parties like these and the people really did their best to treat me like I was one of the pack…so in a lot of ways, it’s not them. It’s me. And even at the parties where I would honestly have a good time and I was genuinely happy to be there…in the aftermath, I’d suffer the hangover of bitter loneliness.
“But Rock! That’s why you’re supposed to take someone home with you! Hello?”
Yeeeeeah. Unless the ladies these days are crazy about sleepovers, I mean…we can do that.
Also, don’t get it twisted. Trust me when I say I’m not miserable while I’m by myself. God has blessed me with an incredible mind and a powerful imagination. He’s blessed me with a strong work ethic. I’m an author. I legit write 300-plus page novels in addition to these critical essays. So even when I’m by myself, working out, cleaning, boxing, shooting basketball, writing…my mind is focused, I am thoroughly happy and entertained.
But still…just because I know how to make the most out of my lot in life, doesn’t mean I’m impervious to the abysmal loneliness and the depression it brings. Loneliness is perhaps one of my most constant hurdles I have to face. So…I do what I can to avoid putting myself in situations where loneliness can creep in. Because, I dare say…it’s ironic. The thing that brings about this loneliness is society itself. Allow me to illustrate.
In the Amazonian rain forest there are natives, indigenous tribes living in grass huts, still in the primitive third world setting. One day, some woman from San Diego visits and teaches them about this thing called Air-Conditioning. They experience it. It feels good. It feels marvelous. They get used to it! Now, when the woman returns to San Diego, she takes the AC unit with her.
This tribe…that’s existed for generations without electricity or technology has just been exposed to AC. And now that it’s gone, they’re back to dealing with the sweltering heat. Can you imagine how that must feel? To have to get use to life without air conditioning.
“Hold on, Rock. You don’t know that they’re miserable. Maybe it doesn’t take them that long to get back to the heat and humidity!”
The point is, they wouldn’t have to get used to it if they weren’t teased with it to begin with. They’ve lived without it for generations. Now, they know such a thing exists. They can’t have it unless they leave the village or earn extra money to afford one. But for now, it’s gone.
It’s the same when it comes to Christmas time, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day. The same with Romantic Comedies and Teen Dramas. Society teases you with the kind of relationships and love you may not have. We’re inundated with happy couples and warm festive family scenes. This isn’t to knock those things. Trust me, I wish I had a spouse. I have no shame in admitting it. But if you’re lacking these things in your life, you don’t have it yet, it’s easy to fall victim to the sadness and depression. You can feel inadequate.
That’s what parties and social events are to me. They remind me of what I lack. Then when it’s all over, you’re back to yourself. You have to get used to being alone all over again.
“No, Rock. You can call up your new friends and ask them to hang out? That’s the point of going to parties and meeting new friends.”
The loneliness I’m talking about, no male friend or family member could ever remedy that.
Most of the social events I get invited to are by my mentor and kinda father-figure, Kevin Hayslett. He’s a criminal defense attorney with a huge network down here in the Tampa Bay area. He’s been kind enough to welcome me into his home many times for Thanksgivings, birthdays, and other events. The law firm has also thrown family-friendly parties that I’ve gone to.
And every time…as much as it really does bring a smile to my face to see everyone so happy and enjoying themselves, I can’t help but feel my heart tighten at the sight of everyone already having someone. People are married. There are couples. They have children. There are single moms. It’s bittersweet. And deep down, the fact that I have no one makes me feel like that kid who wasn’t picked by either team for dodge ball.
These are stupid wretched feelings that run the risk of distorting my self-worth and confidence. If you’re not picked, then it must mean you’re undesirable, right? I don’t think so. There may be many reasons why a man or woman is alone for so long. For me to give a few reasons would sound egotistical and insulting to those who are in stable long-term relationships, so I won’t. Because those who are married and stay married have my utmost respect.
Either way, whenever I’m hit by this onset of loneliness, it brings about three to four days of depression where I’m down in the dumps and eventually, I have to take time to remind myself of who I am. I’m not John Everyman. I’m Rock. I am an intellectual. I am a Christian. I’m a man who’s read the Bible from cover to cover and believes in it. A man who’s worked his ass off to lose 178lbs and keep it off. A man who’s published numerous books and still coming up with good shit! Of everyone in my world, I’ve never met anyone who’s even come close to being anything like me and that’s alright! I just need to stop comparing myself to everyone…and fend off those who compare me as well.
REASON 3: ANNOYING COURTSHIP PRESSURE
When it comes to the traditional norms surrounding courtship, everyone has to deal with pressure. Everyone has to deal with the fear of rejection. Everyone has to conquer their fear of putting their heart out there.
I’m not gonna sit here and say that I’m different from everyone in this regard…but keep in mind, I’m not you. I don’t know what it’s like to be you. I’m about to reveal what it’s like to be me. First…I have to begin by addressing the major episodes that changed my life. The accusations…
1.In 2011, I was accused of sexual harassment by a co-worker when I impulsively laughed upon hearing she had breast reduction surgery. I was 24, going on 25. It was immature of me. I felt super sorry about it almost as soon as I walked away, but she complained and accused me of sexual harassment. It stunned me. I blamed myself for this mistake. I wish I didn’t have such an impulsive laugh, but I do.
Oddly enough, this same girl continued to be my Facebook friend and when I launched this here website, she clicked on the Facebook link to come here, went to different pages, scrolled down, and found a character with her last name. This character had none of her physical likeness or personality, but on my Facebook wall for all to see, she demanded that I change it…that I change a character I created.
I said no. She literally threatened to tell HR and get the authorities involved. I said cool, do that. I was ready to go to war. This was my passion, my work. I wasn’t thinking about her when I created the character. And MAYBE if she had come to me in private and asked, I would have considered it. But that attitude, the entitlement as if she had ownership of my work because a character just so happens to have the same last name…yeah, she had gone too far. Turns out, she was dating one of the managers. The manager told me, if she went to HR, then another accusation would come out. I said, “What accusation?”
2. That accusation involved a woman who I was genuinely in love with. In 2011, this woman apparently told the same manager that it felt like I was stalking her. Dude…I’m 6’3, 225lbs. At that point in my life, I was obsessed with becoming a published author, and I was vain. I wasn’t about to waste my time on anyone who didn’t want anything to do with me. But this girl, I did actively pursue her romantically. And we did go out on several occasions. And guess what…Each time we went out, it was she who asked me out! It was she who invited me over to her place.
So when I heard that she tried to get me in trouble by telling a manager it felt like I was stalking her, it really was a crushing blow. I know she only did this out of retaliation. We’re both competitors when it comes to our intellect and when I won a heated critical debate that insulted her, she told me that “we should just keep our relationship professional.” I was still steamed, so I was like, “Fine, let’s do that.” This was around the time she made the accusation when she knows damn well I would never do that.
Not to mention, she had the effing balls to invite me out again years later. And of course, when I confronted her with all this, how it wrecked me and how I was forced to change my work because of her and the other girl, she denied it and claimed the manager was lying. I don’t believe her. Two sources confirmed what she did.
3. This last girl, around 2012, she told a group of my co-workers at a post-Super Bowl party that she felt creeped out by me. I wouldn’t find out about this until a year later, but it explained why co-workers were suddenly treating me differently. Long-story short, she and I were chatting it up. I did genuinely think she was pretty and it was some time after all the accusations from 2011, so I tried my luck once again. Right?! That’s what we’re effing told! Don’t give up! You gotta keep putting yourself out there and giving it a shot. And yeah, cue the round of men saying, “well, that’s why you shouldn’t date co-workers.” Don’t worry, I’mma get to that.
Anyways, I walked her out to her car, complimented her beauty, and politely asked for her phone number. She gave it to me but added the disclaimer that she already had a boyfriend. I smiled, thanked her, and never called her…because she had a boyfriend.
So to hear that she…even she spread rumors that I was a creep because of that…That was the last straw. All this happened before the MeToo Movement, otherwise, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been fired. These accusations might not sound like a big deal to you, but to me, it was devastating.
Think of it this way…if you’re white and you love and admire all ethnicities without a racist bone in your body…particularly, you have an affinity for black people. But on three separate occasions, a black person took an innocent gesture or something you said the wrong way and accused you of being a racist…how would you feel? Even if you know you’re not a racist, you’ve been accused of it. People are spreading rumors. The word is out. People THINK you’re a racist. Tell me, which of you would still go out and try to hang out with black people? Tell me, which of you wouldn’t have your guard up when black people come around you because you’re so effing crippled, afraid of offending them when YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT RACIST!
In addition to that, in my “Reason 4,” I explain how I used to weigh 378lbs which prompted a complex where I saw myself as ugly, as a monster. It took years to get over all that. So to be called a creep, have another girl claim it felt like I was stalking her, and another girl accuse me of sexual harassment because I laughed…it reenforced the idea that maybe I was this big-ass ugly monster I suspected others saw me as.
This is a rotten feeling. So for a period of time, I avoided any woman who I was remotely attracted to, thinking that maybe my lust and desire was so transparent that they saw it and it appalled them. I walked on eggshells. Afraid to talk to anyone. If it wasn’t for my exes damn-near throwing themselves at me, I would’ve stayed single all during my twenties.
And I know…“Don’t date co-workers” or “Don’t ish where you eat..” But realistically, with my lifestyle and the fact that I love working, it’s more likely that my future wife will either be someone I worked with, someone who frequents the same gyms as me, or that rare flower who has the courage to connect with me out of the blue. And the only reason why people say, “don’t date your co-workers” is because of the bad cases that come out. They hardly publicize the good couples, which I believe outnumber the bad. What do I mean by bad?
Post, Me-Too. You won’t hear this in the mainstream, but more and more men are seeing women as potential threats to their careers and social status. Asking a woman out became like giving them a grenade in which you never know when they’re going to throw it at you or when it’s going to go off. That’s what the Kavanaugh Case taught us. It doesn’t matter if it’s in three years later or thirty. At any time, a man can be accused of anything without any evidence, and the world is told to “BelieveHer”.
Thus, to this day, nine years later…I live by rules I created to avoid making the same mistakes. I don’t take chances on leftists, feminists, or anyone preaching female empowerment. If I do see a beautiful woman in the gym or a place I frequent, I won’t give them my attention until I’ve spotted them on three different dates to let me know they’re a regular and worth getting to know. I never say hello to a woman who doesn’t make eye contact. I never compliment a female stranger who’s around the same age as me. And because I can’t tell the difference between shyness and fear, I stay away from both.
No. That doesn’t mean I treat women like they don’t exist. I treat all strangers with respect and kindness as the lord Christ commanded. But romantically…my rules are in place to protect me and my future.
So…yeah…this is a big reason why I effing hate going to Parties and Social Events. If I do go, I won’t say it’s hopeless that I’ll run into a potential mate, but it’s not a hope I choose to entertain. If it happens, great. If not, no disappointment, because I had no expectations.
Now that I got all that trauma out of the way, you might be able to understand why I have an exceedingly high level of self-awareness about my intentions, my desires.
I think this is why people get drunk at social functions? To dull all that awareness, to lower the volume on the thoughts. They call it liquid courage…but bravery in the absence of fear is not courage. Is a man who swims in the lake courageous when he doesn’t know it’s infested with crocodiles?
The thing is, I don’t drink. So everything is super sharp to me, especially in a party environment where there’s so much happening. It’s like a flood of information entering my head and sometimes, it’s overwhelming, where I have to pause and close my eyes for a moment, pressing my hands against a flat surface to calm my nerves.
And the more I’m blinded by lust and my attraction to you, the more I’m likely to put on a performance. Not fake. Not pretending to be someone I’m not. Just holding back a lot of who I really am to be appeal to a general stereotype of what we think the average woman wants.
The only times I’ve ever shown my true self to a new woman at a party or social event is 1) they were much older than me, so not dating material, 2) already married or in a long-term relationship, so not dating material, or 3)…and this is the quickest way to my heart, but the topic of my being an author comes up and they latch on that. They asked about my books and appeared genuinely fascinated by what I had to say. And yes. As one who knows how to pretend, we can tell when others are pretending. But when it’s genuine, the ice around my heart thaws. Most people don’t care. I get it. I don’t expect them to. But if she does care, if I do fascinate her…yeah, I’ll fall for her quickly, stupidly almost.
The problem with everyone wearing figurative masks, trying so hard make a good first impression, at some point, the mask have to come off. This is where you run into the cliché complaint of, “He’s not who I thought he was!”
Of course. It’s called game. A lot of men run game all the time to get women to sleep with them, to invest emotions in them, before showing their true colors, which you may not like. However, as much as women like to blame men for running game, at some point, I do wish they were more honest with themselves. If they didn’t have sex on the first date or engage in the hook-up culture to begin with, all that game would have a lesser effect because men would have to work much harder and give you their commitment. You hear of older couples getting married after three months of dating. Guess why? Marriage backed by the moral virtues of religion used to be a covenant of stability. That’s changed for most. It hasn’t for me.
With men, the first impression is critical. It’s sets the tone. You can go downhill from there and still be good in her books, because she remembers the first impression and knows you’re capable of it. But trying to go uphill from a bad first impression is damn near impossible, unless, you save her life or fight off some bully like some 90s after-school special.
Either way…the biggest problem with my first impression is that I’m AT THE PARTY IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Think about it. If a woman meets you at the gym, it’s reasonable for her to assume you like working out. If she meets you at some indoor rock-climbing gym, it’s reasonable for her to assume you like trying new things. If she meets you at a book club, a concert, or some poetry session, it’s reasonable for her to assume you’re creative, like the band, or in tuned with artistic expression.
If she meets you at a party…it’s reasonable for her to assume you’re outgoing…I’m not an outgoing person. If you catch me out at some event, it’s usually for a good reason, sometimes begrudgingly…and for her to have that baseline that I’m outgoing and expect that we’re going to be going out and attending events in the future if we get together…she’s going to be disappointed.
“This is all so stupid, Rock. There are plenty of men who are just being themselves and find success with women at parties all the time. Why can’t you just be yourself. You’re good the way you are. I know I like you and your personality. I think you’re putting too much stock in this notion of disappointing her and first impressions. She’s a grown woman. You’re not in charge of her feelings. Sounds like you’re overthinking things and making things way too complicated.”
That’s who I am. Don’t you see? If you think I’m overthinking things, you’re comparing me to yourself or others. I like who I am. If you don’t, it’s all good, but please, move along. There are billions of other people who think like you. By all means, go to them.
REASON 4: I DON’T FIT IN WITH MOST OF TODAY’S MILLENNIALS
I was born in 1986, so technically, I am a Millennial. But I was raised old-school. Me and my brothers were the type who saw that recent Michael Jordan documentary. And while you had people criticizing Jordan for berating teammates, being too competitive and joking about Jordan “taking it personal.” My brothers and I were like, “Yep. Don’t worry, Jordan. We get it.”
So, think about high school and college. Everyone had/has a clique. The goths hang out with the goths. Jocks hang out with the jocks. Preppies hang out with the preppies, and the stoners hang out with the stoners. If you’re a preppy nerd and you walk into a Goth hangout where everyone’s wearing black, and the place is dimly lit with black lights highlighting every urine stain and blood splatter on the wall…you’re gonna feel out of place.
That’s how I feel at pretty much every social event that doesn’t relate to family. And even with my dad’s side of the family, I didn’t feel accepted with them until I grew up because I was an Oreo, the Carlton of the family who liked Backstreet Boys when everyone else was listening to Biggie and Tupac.
But once upon a time, I was into going to parties and social events. When I first came to Tampa for college at the age of 18, I was always hitting up events, clubs, and concerts. I didn’t feel any fear of isolation or not fitting in. It was fun. I wasn’t thinking. Lol…that’s the thing. Back then, I wasn’t much a thinker.
The change came when I ballooned up to 378lbs while working as a pizza driver in college. I was a glutton. For years, I had the routine of sleeping during the day, going to school, and staying out all night because I’d work the closing shift and then I’d go to write.
I think that when you do this for so long, getting out of the habit of attending social events…you get used to it. I forgot how it felt to be in the mix of it all. I forgot how it felt to just go and hang out with a large clique of friends. I had become a night owl. Almost everywhere I went after midnight, I had the stores and gas stations to myself. I befriended the workers and regulars. These were my new buddies.
And weighing 378lbs, it really diminished my self-esteem. You don’t realize it at first. But gradually, I saw how my classmates didn’t want to be around me. I couldn’t blame them. I wouldn’t want to be around me either. I was fat and ugly. I had male-boobs that I hid by wearing a dark blue vest everywhere.
And more often than you’d think, I caught people staring at me…Either they saw me as handsome and impressive, or they saw me as a beast, like a gorilla at a zoo. I had convinced myself that I looked like a monster and carried this perception from the ages of 20-22(which prompted me to start working out).
“But, Rock. Sounds like that’s all just in your head.”
I hate to say this…But no shit Sherlock. Even if it’s not reality, this was my perception of reality. The only thing that would change it, is if my observation changed. Which happened years later when I turned 26. I finally got down to 225lbs. I looked good and the way people interacted with me was different.
But still…once I was able to lose all that weight and finally started looking like a desirable human being…you’d think getting back into the hang of social events would be a breeze, right?
Whelp…insert the age of Social Justice and Political Correctness.
As I said…when I was younger and into the party scene, I wasn’t exactly a thinker. I hadn’t read the Bible and I was very much part of the world, wanting to be down with the trends and popular opinion. By my mid 20s, even before I read the Bible…I was blossoming as an intellectual. I saw the hypocrisies, contradictions, and double-standards the mainstream lived by. I saw people’s careers ending because they said a word someone found offensive. I saw people’s lives ruined by the mere accusation alone, regardless of evidence, and regardless of how many times the truth came out to reveal the accusation was a lie.
I already mentioned the sexual harassment accusations, so I won’t re-hatch that…but even in my late 20s, I was called into a manager’s office many times because of snow-flake related complaints.
Before I continue, I have to say…by this time (late 20s), I was getting better about knowing myself. I had come to the conclusion that people were just using accusations and complaining in the name of Social Justice, not out of some principle…but because they simply don’t like you. Meaning, if they did like you and were cool with you, you could make fun of anything taboo and they wouldn’t be offended, or at the very least, they wouldn’t tell on you.
HOWEVER…if they don’t like you, if they don’t like what you stand for, if they hate what you’re trying to accomplish, if they hate that your mere presence, the fact that you excel prompts them to feel bad about what they’re doing with their lives…yeah, they will definitely pounce on every opportunity to use the village or herd to attack. This is Social Justice. Long gone are the days where you just walked up to the person who offended you and talked it out. Nope. These weaklings will use the village.
For years after those harassment accusations, I refused to do any workshops in my department or give any open presentation because I was afraid of offending someone. I stopped going to pot-lucks and participating in social activities at work because I was afraid of getting fired. Not to mention, it’s a rotten feeling to be around people in which you think they don’t like you.
I even had a female colleague have the gall to say, “Well, if people are complaining about you, maybe you should change.” It was ironic because this colleague was one of the most inconsiderate, unprofessional and unproductive members on the team.
And I was like, “No. I like who I am.”
The answer I should have given was, “it’s not everyone who’s complaining about me.” As much as I was rustling Jimmies, I had even more peers giving me props outside of meetings or behind closed doors, thanking me for having the courage to speak up, telling me that it’s messed up that someone complained. This is what Social Justice does. Those of the popular opinion are allowed to be themselves, and if you’re not with it…then it’s you who should change to get with the program.
The difference between them and me is that I’m not going to try to get you fired or ruin your career just because I don’t like you. We’re adults.
So when I finally stick my head out to do a workshop at the insistence of a manager who was trying to “get me out of my comfort zone…” I got in trouble because I joked about a “rule” and used a voice that sounded…honestly, retarded. I was just joking. No one in the room had mental disabilities. And I’ve seen countless….COUNTLESS workshops where the speakers were ten times more unprofessional than that, making dirty jokes. And one time, the very girl who accused me of sexual harassment was carried into the room like a baby in the arms of the other girl who claimed it felt like I was stalking her, the one I genuinely loved. She then joked, “why won’t anyone else carry me like that.”
I had to put up with ish like this for years.
So when I got called into the manager’s office with the manager saying, “Yeah, Rock. So…someone took that joke the wrong way. They said you were making fun of people with mental disabilities…” I effing lost it.
Soon after, it wasn’t even in a workshop, it was a meeting with veteran editors. I’ve known these peers for a long time and there were just seven of us. We were joking…let me reiterate, we were ALL joking about what we should do about writers who were making grammatical mistakes in their work. Some people were talking about cornering them in the hallway like bullies.
And in the midst of the laughter, I said, “lol, it’d be funny if we busted out the headlights of their car so when they come out at the end of their shift, we’d be like…that’s what you get for messing up in your work.”
I get it. It’s pretty low brow. But you have to have been there. Think about it. It’d be a good Comedy Central sketch. It was just a joke and its my kind of humor. So…again, I got called into a manager’s office where it was brought to my attention that someone complained. And I asked, “Does someone really think I’d go out and bust their headlights because of their poor work?” Because…why else would they complain about that? EVERYONE WAS TOSSING OUT JOKES!
What do all these complaints have in common? They’re all from Millennials. And not just any Millennial, but…hate to say it, the Leftist, Democrat leaning kind. Unfortunately, I don’t know who I’m dealing with when I first meet you, so I make it a habit of always testing the waters at the beginning. I bring up something topical like mentioning the gender wage-gap, or the real reason behind the protests, or the elections.
Depending on the person’s response, I learn who I’m dealing with. I treat them with love and respect as Christ’s commands…but you’re more than likely getting the Clark Kent version of me…because I don’t trust you.
The last straw was with Toastmasters.
One day, a young charismatic speaker named Jabril came to our department in 2015 (my age 28-29), and talked to us about getting involved in the company’s Toastmaster, an organization that helps people with public speaking and social skills. Jabril approached me specifically. He wanted me to get involved, but I had to explain to him…what I just explained to you in this essay.
And this guy…He gave me this spiel about how, as “bruthas,” (we’re both black) we had to rise above all that. He told me that the complaints and trying to get me in trouble was just their attempt to contain me, to hold me down because they don’t want to see me succeed. He encouraged me to “get out of the comfort zone” and be my department’s first President of Toastmasters.
I agreed. I decided to take on the challenge, test myself, and go for it. Ladies and gentlemen, I really committed myself to that first meeting. I organized it. Got others involved in speaking roles, which wasn’t easy. I don’t like being told “no.” And after being accused of “sexual harassment,” I’m not the type to keep pushing anyone to do anything after they’ve told me no just once.
But I did it. I got it off the ground. Our first meeting had a huge turnout. Problem was…it as an accumulation of all the reasons why I effing hate parties and social events. When people got up to speak and talk about themselves, I realized how alone I was…how different I was. Everyone talked about normal things. They were normal people. I wish I could be more like them, but I’m not.
So, while presiding over this meeting in the middle of the auditorium, I suffered a debilitating panic attack in front of everyone…in front of all my peers, in front of the girl who accused me of sexual harassment, in front of the woman who I loved for most of my adult life and claimed that it felt like I was stalking her, in front of my enemies who complained and tried to get me in trouble more than once…I, a 6’3, 225lb muscular black man started crying in the front row of this auditorium.
Jabril came in and took over the meeting. And at the end, he tried to call me up to the podium to close it out. People started chanting my name, “Rock! Rock! Rock!”
White as a ghost, I got up to the podium, angry, frustrated and embarrassed, the second most painful experience of my life. I told them with my last bit of strength, “You guys…I really appreciate you guys coming up and sharing and participating. But what this has shown me is how much I truly am different from you guys. I’m sorry to inform you that this is my last night as your president.”
So yeah…when people start to talk about how I should step out of my comfort zone, as a mature adult, I remained composed and try to keep sight of the fact that they think they’re trying to help me…but on the inside, there’s about a hundred raised middle-fingers jutting forth from the darkness.
“But Rock! You can’t let those experiences…”
Let me stop you right there. I’m glad I had those experiences. I’m glad I suffered those false accusations and I’m glad I had packs of Millennials trying to get me in trouble at every turn. All of it made me who I am. In so many ways, it played a part in my wanting to pick up the Bible and draw close to God sooner than later. If I ever saw those women again, I’d probably smile and embrace them. I’m not who I used to be. I’m willing to bet they’ve changed as well. I hope.
Those experiences made me far wiser and experienced than I ever dreamed. Even to this day, most people think a false accusation is no big deal. I don’t blame them. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s easy to buy the stupid line of, “If you’re innocent, then you have nothing to fear.”
Or, “Being falsely accused still isn’t as bad as actually being harassed or raped.”
Doesn’t change the fact that IT’S STILL BAD! It took years to let go of all the pain and anger and strife to simply forgive. And if it wasn’t for the strength and wisdom God provides in his word the Bible…I really do think I would have committed suicide long ago. Because my hope in this generation…it’s all but depleted.
Thus, I stopped putting hope in humans at the age of thirty. I put hope in God and our Lord Jesus Christ. If I get married, I know it would be because God directed our footsteps toward that union. If not, I know I’m still being used to God’s purpose, even if that purpose isn’t revealed to me.
THE REMEDY: The Top 4 Reasons Why I’d Want To Go to a Party or Event
If you’ve read this far in earnest, the following remedies shouldn’t surprise you. Getting me to go to a party or social event is all about giving my mind something to focus on. If it’s just to socialize where I don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen…that won’t work. However, if:
1.I have a job to do
I didn’t realize it until I was 27. I drove to Kentucky to film my cousin’s wedding and none of the previous four points bothered me. I wasn’t worried about socializing, finding a girlfriend, offending any Millennial, or being alone…because I had a job to do.
Yes, it definitely helped that I was very close to this cousin and my aunt and uncles. That helped a lot. But mingling with strangers and having a good time…it was easier knowing that my mind was focused.
So give me a job to do that’s not all about socializing. Put me in charge of the music, the sound system, distributing flyers, filming the event, cleanup, setting up the tables and chairs, breaking down the equipment and I’ll be all over that! I love that! I love being productive. To me…that’s FUN!
2. I Have Something or Someone to Focus On
I don’t mind going to a party or social event if I’m in a stable relationship with a woman who wants me to be there. It eliminates the loneliness, the performance of socializing (because I can socialize with her if I get bored), the pressure of courtship (because I already have her), and the concept of not fitting in with Millennials. If she’s my girlfriend or wife, she already knows I don’t fit in with most, and is likely to have already accepted and appreciates who I am regardless.
If I don’t have “someone” to focus on, “something” will work. I’m talking about a football game, or a boxing match at some watch party. I’m not there to socialize so much as I am to turn my attention to the event.
3. It’s a Special Occasion That Furthers My Career
Being an adult means sometimes doing things you don’t want to do. Couple of years back, my department was bought out by a new company and we had a grand opening party. Normally, I’d decline, but…lol, yeah, I was given the job of bringing a camera and filming it. But also, it gave me face time with the president and other members of the company, letting them know I exist, putting in good standing.
4. To Show Support for Someone Else
If my wife is invited to some function in which she wants to go and make a good impression…you can bet your ass I’ll be there. If my little cousin worked her ass off to graduate and there’s a party celebrating her, you can bet your ass I’ll be there. If my niece gets baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness and I’m invited to a party to celebrate it…you can bet your ass I’ll be there. If my brothers get married and they throw bachelor parties…..I’ll be there.
In all of the reasons, the things they have in common is that the rewards are guaranteed to be there and it’s worth it. Definitely not a waste of time and those rewards are gifts no one can physically give or take away from me. The reward comes in the form of the honor I’d feel just to be there. Even if they’re too busy or caught up to acknowledge my presence, I’d pay money for that honor.
Hopefully this helps when it comes to the topic of “why don’t you like going to social events.”
Thanks for reading!