5

Twenty Questions for That’s So Jacob

One of the most curious places on the Internet is Yahoo! Answers. Even though Yahoo! has been on a decline since the 1990s, but for some reason, Yahoo! Answers is still there. And people are still asking questions, every day, big and small. I haven’t yet asked any, but I’ve answered a few.

But tonight, I’ve decided to answer a few more.

I’m going to go on the site, answer the first twenty questions that come up, to the best of my ability, and post the responses here.

1. Michael asks:

Hi, I ordered a skateboard deck from amazon and the trackijg info on amazon shows the seller shipped the packaged today and the provided a tracking number. Below the tracking number in the status section it says 
We’re sorry. “We are unable to retrieve more tracking details for this shipment.” So I took the tracking number provided and checked all of the shipping companies and none recognized the tracking number. The company that’s listed on amazon as being used for shipping is FedEx SmartPost. I even called FedEx and they said they can’t see any package in their system. Why is my tracking number not recognized by FedEx tracking system and why doesn’t amazon have any info on its whereabouts?

Dear Michael,

Some things in life are meant to be mysteries.

All kidding aside though, sometimes it takes a day or two for the number to come up in the system. Other times, I’ve received things I’ve ordered online with that same message, and they’ve just shown up anyway.

2. Kayla asks:

I recently bought biotin at target because I heard it helped hair and nail growth. But then I further researched before taking the pills and I heard that it makes you break out in pimples. Are these true?

Dear Kayla,

I have no idea. I would probably rather rely on nature if I had a problem like that.

3. Alysha asks:

I have a membership card for Hot Topic that gives me points when I buy stuff or even visit a store. I was wondering if there are other stores with the same kind of cards? And if there, can anyone tell me? 

This is not a credit card by the way. It just gives me points so I can get discounts later or access to member events. I do not want credit cards or anything like that lol. Just ones that I get points for and get discounts later.

Dear Alysha,

Absolutely! So many stores have membership or rewards cards program. Starbucks has a membership rewards program as well, where you can download an app to get free drinks. Check your local supermarket to see if they have a club. Look at your favorite stores’ websites for more information.

4. Stephanie asks:

Like, I don’t get the difference between foundation and concealer. Okay, maybe. Foundation I think makes like the skin glow and give a pretty skin color look? And concealer might like cover acne and stuff? I don’t know!! I also don’t get like how people put it on. Makeup, I mean, basically. Like their routine, pretty much. I just put on makeup twice or once a week. I get foundation, smear it on and put on masara, a bit of eyeshadow and face powder. I don’t even know if I even do it right or not. Can someone just tell me how you put various products on, before or after another product? Makeup routines? The right way to put makeup on? Thanks!

Dear Stephanie,

One word: YouTube. Search for “makeup tutorials.” Cheaper than a fashion magazine!

5. James asks:

I feel betrayed and I don’t know what to do. This all happened a few days ago and ever since that day, I became very antisocial and did activities by myself. This is not how I wanted my summer to start -.-

Dear James,

Sounds like rough stuff. If my friends betrayed me, I’d ask myself…did I really want to be friends with them in the first place?

6. Jill asks:

I’ve read many times that regular makeup (oil based and creme makeups like Cover Girl and all those popular commercial brands) will not stick to silicone surfaces and look discolored, I understand that only silicone sticks to silicone. I learned that the best way to color silicone is alcohol-based makeup palettes, however, if silicone sticks to itself than would using silicone based makeup work? Like the Temptu brand or any other brands that use silicone in their foundations? It makes sense to me but I can’t find any information anywhere that it would work. If anyone does know, would this last over silicone all day and keep it’s color? Thanks very much.

Dear Jill,

I’d definitely say a silicone based makeup. Also, I think many spray products (spray tan, etc) use silicone.

7. Kiiashi asks:

My daughter is 6 months old and has been cutting her teeth in recently. Two are fully cut now and she’s cutting 2 more. Is she too young for me to brush her teeth now that she’s getting some in or do they need to be a certain age first?

Dear Kiiashi,

I was at Target recently and saw that in the baby care section, they have training toothbrushes that are small and soft. You could probably look at the age range on the back of them. Also, if she is not eating solid food, I guess that she’s not at risk of staining them with anything. Best of luck with your dental hygiene quest!

8. Naz asks:

Made a hair mask from Coconut oil, 1 egg, and vanilla/banana yogurt. 
Can I leave it in my hair overnight? 
Don’t normally use yogurt.

Dear Naz,

Put a shower cap on it, and in the morning you can pour it in a bowl for breakfast!

9: Holland asks:

Dorothea 

Theodora 

Ilithiya / Eilithia (pronounced, ill-ith-ee-ah & is a real greek girls name) my personal favorite 🙂 

I know Ilithiya is difficult to spell and pronounce but keep in mind we WILL be calling her Thea.

Dear Holland,

All those names are very nice! But remember, she’ll have to use that name on her college applications, credit cards, and when calling US Airways to book tickets to see her grandparents in Athens. I love the name Eleutheria, it’s Greek for “freedom” and she could be called Thea. There’s also Althea, Mathea, or even Cynthia. Whatever name you choose, she’ll still be your adorable daughter.

10. Kevin asks:

Where to get locator chip installed in my child?

Dear Kevin,

North Korea?

11. Colleen asks:

Do i need a work permit in the summer?!?! Im looking for a job (any job suggestions will be fantastic as well. Im a 15 year old girl in georgia)

Dear Colleen,

I had a summer job as a 15-year-old in Maryland. I got a work permit through a woman who was a secretary at my junior high school, who was also a notary. Popular jobs for teenagers include lifeguarding, babysitting, lawn mowing, deck washing, or tutoring kids. Good luck!

12. Lisa asks:

‘She have aids so I didn’t ask her out’ does this sentence make sense? Or should it be she got aids…?

Dear Lisa,

In this case, it’s past tense. “She had AIDS, so I didn’t ask her out.”

13. Sonja asks:

Favorite book?

Dear Sonja,

All of them.

14. Niamh asks:

It’s sunday morning and i have done an all nighter, will this effect my sleeping pattern as i have school tomorrow (monday) and i have to get up at 6;00, please help me out, if you have any tips on what i should do, please dont hesitate to give me advice.

Dear Niamh,

Sleep is important for restoring the body and aiding mental strength. Be careful and try to avoid too much sugar/caffeine lest you “crash” later.

15. Jacob asks:

I don’t really know what it’s called or how to fix it but if I do something stupid and embarrassing like everyone does eventually I will literally obsess over it for days and it drives me crazy…. any idea how to fix this

Dear Jacob,

First of all, awesome name. Second of all, you might have a type of OCD. I’m not a doctor, but remember…people won’t remember the things you did but how you made them feel.

16. Newty asks:

My friend is having problems reading and listen, some time he loose his consciousness for a seconds and comes back to normal. Is this something to do with neuroscience. What diagnosis should i suggest to him. He says that he has to read at least 3-4 times to understand the contents and he doesn’t like reading more lines as he get distracted soon. Also he finds himself distract when somebody is talking to him he misses out many points that were told to him.

Dear Newty,

I’d suggest focusing. No TV, no music, no interesting things in the room or on the walls or out the window. Maya Angelou used to write in a hotel room and request all the paintings be taken off the walls.

17. Jasmine asks:

I absolutely love people and wish I could easily talk to people. I’m 14 years old and had such bad social anxiety I had to be put into homeschool in 7th grade because I was fainting from anxiety attacks everytime I stepped within 60 feet of someone. I still am in homeschool and it’s just depressing to me that I don’t get to have the same experiences with friends and relationships as other teenagers. I’ve talked to people i’ve known since elementary school online and they say things like “we should catch up” and I say “yeah sure” and never get back to them. I’ve even canceled dates. It’s mostly because I feel weird looking and just well, weird in general. I don’t share much interest in things that other people do. I’m short (only 5’2), i’m curvy (not fat I have a flat stomach but a big butt and thighs), I have a weird face shape, I don’t dress very fancy just a tshirt and skinny jeans, I can’t even have small talk or be looked at without choking. It’s just horrible. Is there any advice anyone could give me to try to tackle this whatsoever?

Dear Jasmine,

I’m so sorry you’re suffering. I have had depression and social anxiety all my life, and I’ve tried a lot of things, and honestly, it’s different for every person. For me, it’s been finding out who I am, what I’m good at, and what I like/dislike; a strong sense of self is important, and in learning about yourself you might learn about others. I have good and bad days, but my best days are ones when I go out and do activities I like. Maybe joining a youth group or Girl Scouts would help you meet new friends your own age; don’t rely on the Internet. It’s summer, and I’m sure there are plenty of activities around you…look into taking a class in dance, acting, or public speaking, or audition for a local community theatre production. As far as inside of you, taking meds is not a shameful thing; seeing a psychiatrist might be beneficial. If none of these things feel possible for you yet, just do something small and creative, like a silly YouTube video or a funny blog; I have one. Good luck with things and remember you’re not alone.

18. Olivia asks:

I’m 14 turning 15 in a few months. I am really interested in modeling and acting. I have been for a few years. I have also started running to lose weight and working out. I have blonde medium length curly hair and blue eyes.
I’m about 5.5″ (that was a few months ago) and I’m close to Toronto Area.
I just need advice on how I could “break in” to the world persay. Also, both my parents work so they would not be able to stay on set or a shoot. Would this mean I would have to wait until I am of legal age to model/act? Is there any chance for me if I don’t have community theatre in my town (and the closest one is Musical which I strongly dislike)? And how could I model for companies like Garage, Walmart, etc? How would I find a legit agency? And would I have to pay them money or is it a scam?
Thanks to everyone who takes the time to answer!

Dear Olivia,

First of all, be VERY careful. Have a parent or older relative (aunt/uncle/sister/brother) with you, you never know who wants what.

Second of all, I think a lot modeling/acting “schools” are scams. Self-promotion is so easy in this day and age. Make a website and a resume, and a passport photo place could take a very nice and inexpensive photo; many high fashion models do their first series of headshots au naturel/very little makeup, looking straight at the camera expressionless. A white top makes it extra elegant. Camera phones have also evolved to take great pictures.

Third, I am sure you could act locally with your parents’ permission and possibly a waiver.

Fourth, if you live near a college/university, contact their theatre department; students are always looking for readers/actors.

19. Christina asks:

So I’m visiting my long distance boyfriend soon and I’m staying with him at his parnents house. (Both 18 by the way) anyways I got a blank thank you card with a gift card to his parent’s favorite resturant. How do I express my thankfulness to them? I’m not good at putting words that I express together. Thank you!

Dear Christina,

How about: Dear Mr and Mrs Jones:
Thank you so much for your hospitality. Please accept this gift as a token of appreciation for opening your home and your heart to me.
Yours truly,
Christina

20. D asks:

I’ve been getting a lot of social and mental problems lately and I feel I need to see a psychologist about it. I’m not wanting to meet one in person, I just want to be able to email one and ask for help in that way. Does anyone know any good psychologist sites and ones where I can email? Thanks 🙂

Dear D,

http://www.psychologytoday.com connected me to someone who really helped me a lot. Good luck!

You got questions?

I got answers.

Ask me.

0

On The Importance of Social Time

I’ll admit it, this hasn’t been one of my best weekends. Or my most productive. Well, that’s kind of every weekend, but this weekend I focused a little bit more on the snoozing and socializing aspect of it. I caught up on sleep, and I enjoyed a good amount of social time as well, including last night.

Last night was one of those “I wish I were an undergrad again” nights, with the game and everything. I went to the Union with Kelly and some other folks to cheer on the Badgers and was, of course, disappointed at the outcome – we all know what happened – but I’m glad I can say that I was there, rather than squirreled away doing work or perusing BuzzFeed. When I walked home, I was suddenly glad to be a grad student again, passing some firemen hosing down a small fire on the sidewalk on Langdon. It was only 10:30, but I was more than happy to spend the remainder of the night sitting at home and maybe trying to get some work done, or at least get in bed early.

And then Carly texted me that she was with Alex, Jonathan, and Gideon over at the piano bar, and that was the end of that plan.

So, after Weekend Update (which was not that impressive this week, Kate McKinnon’s Angela Merkel impression notwithstanding), I headed out to meet up with the gang. Carly is one of those truly wonderful, welcoming people who is always inviting me to join her on social activities. It feels good to be part of “the group,” and I’m rarely one to pass up an invite, which is why I’m sad that she isn’t in Madison full-time anymore. But she returned this weekend for the game, and when Carly’s in town, that can only mean good things and fun times. After a quick Cabin Cooler at the bar next door to get my ticket, I joined the group, which had expanded to include Meir, inside the bar. Initially, I was only going to stay for a little bit, but if you know me at all, that usually means I end up closing the bar. I hadn’t been to the piano bar before, and it was a little cheesy but just the right amount of fun, and with a good group of people, gave me a little squeeze of love that I’d needed; it felt so natural, like I could just be myself, let my guard down a little, and not have to impress anyone. I was, by no means, drunk, but as the crowd thinned and we got a table up at the front near the pianos, I really got into the music and was singing and shimmying along, because it’s a Saturday night in Madison. I actually exchanged looks with a blonde girl whose group was at the table next to ours, and when they started “Lean on Me,” we maintained eye contact and sang to each other. A Celine Dion song came up soon after, and we two were out of our seats, gesticulating to each other, and laughing hysterically, even getting some cheers from the crowd. At 1:45 AM I decided to call it a night, and said goodbye to Carly and the group and my new impromptu overly-dramatic singing partner, telling her I’d see her next weekend. Which maybe I will.

When the social activity becomes so impromptu and apropos, that’s when the fluttery, butterfly feeling sets in.

And sometimes accompanying “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” with a stranger on a Saturday night, complete with animated gestures and exaggerating quasi-flirting is all I need to get me through things.

Thank you for being silly with me. I hope we can be silly together again sometime.

Oh, and welcome to my first visitor from Solomon Islands; not a country I expected to see show up so soon, but all the same, glad you came.

Also…wow, I just now realized what “social butterfly” refers to. SO META.

0

Breakfast with Friends/Friends with Breakfast

Today I had a friend over for breakfast.

Well, technically, he came over last night to hang out, spent the night on my couch, and then I made us breakfast when we woke up, but it still counts. It’s been really tough for me lately. My friend came over last night to talk, to listen, and to help me deal with some issues, and even though I thanked him for coming over, I don’t know if he knows how grateful I actually am that he not only came over, but stayed the night to see that I was OK in the morning. It felt really nice to have a friend who would do that for me.

We woke up around the same time (where I discovered I had visitors from two new countries, Angola and Costa Rica…hey y’all!), and I offered to make breakfast. I was standing at the stove, tending to some boiling eggs as we talked about different ways to prepare eggs, then all of a sudden – BOOM – a glass dish that was sitting near the stove exploded. No, I am not making this up. I don’t know exactly what happened – maybe the counter got too hot – but the dish was empty, and thank goodness no one was hurt. I can’t say that the breaking of the glass was cathartic in any way, and now I have one less glass dish, but I cleaned it up right away, and resumed cooking eggs, which we enjoyed with some toasted wheat bread with raisins, and I just felt better. Like, yeah, bad things happen, but you clean them up and then move on with your life. And it led to me just having a really enjoyable breakfast, sitting at the real table, eating real food off real plates, just like they do in Friends.

When I was a child I loved those little moments that made me feel like a grown-up. Being a grown-up and having those moments with friends you love – just sitting at the table, eating a homemade breakfast, talking a little, enjoying each others’ company – sometimes that’s all you need, in that moment in time, to feel calm, safe, relaxed…happy.

I’ll take breakfast, with a side of friends, please.

That reminds me…I need to buy another glass dish tomorrow.

0

A Rose Is Still A Rose

This past week has been pretty brutal. Some of it caused by me, some by others…well, mostly me. Won’t go into more detail but suffice it to say that due to circumstances, I got very little done.

I usually write about other things in this space. But today I want to write about me. Because I feel that that person needs some serious lovin’.

Over the last several years (well, really, most of my post-high school life), I’ve been actively working on myself in one way or another, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’ve gone to psychologists, psychiatrists, and art therapists. I’ve had an MRI and an EKG. I’ve attended classes; I’ve read books and articles. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. And inevitably, just when I’ve got it all figured out, something comes tumbling down.

Lately a lot of things have been tumbling down. I’ve been asking myself the big questions, and I’m lonelier than ever. I’ve been pretty good at developing and using coping mechanisms, but it seems like just about every day I face some sort of struggle. When I find there’s something wrong, I try to make it better. But it’s just really hard when solitude kicks in, because that ignites it all. The loneliness. The fear. The paranoia.

Something’s wrong with this picture, and I’m doing it all wrong.

My private college counselor back in Maryland told me that a better way to approach myself is to, instead of looking at what’s wrong about myself, look at what’s right about myself, and use those qualities to build myself up from the bottom rather than knocking myself down from the top.

Most of the time, I like myself. I’m a nice person, or at least I actively try to be, every day. I am helpful and kind. I am loyal, trustworthy, and understanding. I’m a giver, not a taker. I care about people. I am a good friend. If you are my friend, I love you to no end. I go out of my way to help others. I try to keep things light and positive, and help make others feel good about themselves. I rejoice in the fact that I’m alive and I can enjoy such wonderful things every day, some of which being other people who are with me on this planet Earth that I can interact with and can interact with me. I’m always up for a challenge. I’m also always up for lunch, dinner, dessert, coffee, or alcohol in any way, shape, or form. I used to think I was an introvert, but I think that I’m actually an extrovert in disguise: I can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, anytime. I love to smile and make people laugh. Overall, I’m a good thing to have in my life and if you’re lucky enough to know me personally, then in yours too.

Like a flower, I wake up every morning and put my face towards the sun. I am me. I carry that energy with me all day, and even when I come home at night, even when I’m about to go to bed, I’m still me.

Rose

“’cause a rose is still a rose/baby girl, you’re still a flower/he can’t lead you and then take you/make you and then break you/darlin’ you hold the power.” – Lauryn Hill, “A Rose Is Still A Rose”

0

I Like You, and That’s OK

If you’re reading this, then I like you.

Even if we haven’t met yet in real life, I like you.

Why?

I don’t have a reason not to, and even if I did have a reason, I wouldn’t treat you that much differently than I’d treat anyone else.

In the early 2000s, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres had a sitcom named Ellen where she played the title character, a bookstore owner named Ellen who was described as possessing a persistent, universal need to be liked. Even today, when she meets new people on her talk show, celebrity or not, she makes it her duty to make the person happy and bring him or her over to her side – the sunny side, the fun side. She has many different strategies on how to make it happen, but she usually gets by with a guilty smile and a chuckle.

I am not so lucky.

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Actually, I didn’t really have any. Making friends has always been kind of weird for me. Whenever I meet someone, though, I greet them with a smile, and something like “hi, how ya’ doin?” or “hey, what’s up?” When people give me thoughtful answers, I feel happy, and when people give me a terse answer, it hurts my feelings. Maybe it’s just our American conditioning, but I’m your friend, not your Starbucks barista – when I ask you how you’re doing, I mean it. It doesn’t really matter if we don’t know each other well, or if we’ve known each other for years, but when I ask you how you are, that means I actually like you and want to know what’s new in your world. And if you return the question, that just makes my day. I wouldn’t say that I have quite that quality of a “persistent need to be liked” that Ellen has, but being liked just feels so much better than being disliked or hated. And it doesn’t take that much energy to like someone. In fact, it might make you like yourself more.

Even though I’m in my mid-twenties, friendship is still a tricky minefield for me to navigate. Just when I think I know what I’m doing, something will happen that I can’t control. Someone will do a complete 180, and get cold to me for no reason. Then when I ask, I either get no response, a terse one, like “nothing,” or a lie, like “you’re fine.” If it really was nothing, and I really am fine, then why not behave like a normal person and friend and be a little bit…I don’t know…friendly? You don’t have to pounce on me with a bear hug or anything, but a smile and a reasonably polite response, is that so much to ask? Or if I even have to ask…are you really my friend? There are so many times when I ask myself that question about people. For example, blocking me on Facebook and then saying that we’re not friends on Facebook because your profile is “being weird” is flat-out rude. When someone blocks me on Facebook, I feel a little hurt inside. I know it’s your Facebook and you can do what you want, and it’s just a social media platform, but don’t lie to me, because that hurts. Another example: If I ask you if you’re free and if you want to get together or make plans to, and you don’t respond, and then I find out that you decided to  go out and just ignore me completely and think that I wouldn’t find out about it or even care, that makes me really sad. Even if you didn’t ask me to join you, which is perfectly okay, don’t just flat-out ignore me or pretend you didn’t see my message. When someone texts me, even if it’s just a little thing, I always respond. Nine times out of ten, I text someone and never hear back from them. It’s not like I text people constantly, but maybe if you took a minute to return the text, even to say, “talk to you later, I’m busy,” that would be a nice thing to do. I always have good intentions in mind, and I care, so don’t ever think that I want to bother or annoy you, I’m just genuinely interested. And I don’t call/text people constantly; I only do it if I haven’t heard from you in awhile, and want to hear how you’re doing.

I try to be nice to everyone, even if I don’t like them, but it seems to me that this isn’t a universal concept. When people who are supposedly your “friends” make you feel sad, unwanted, or disliked, are they really your friends? If I ever did anything to you, you should know that I don’t do things to purposely hurt people. If it’s important, talk to me about it, and if it’s not, move on. I have friends who do or say things that sometimes make me feel uncomfortable around them, but I swallow those things if they’re not that important to our friendship and keep my negative feelings to myself, focusing on things that I like about you and focusing on being polite, kind, and considerate. Once, I considered giving up having friends altogether. Or even trying to make new ones. Maybe I should do that. But then when I say that to myself, I realize how empty life is without friendship. Maybe I should delete my Facebook, but I have a lot of pictures and memories on there that make me happy, and it’s an easy way for me to keep in touch with friends and family members who are far away from me. Maybe I should lay low for awhile, and leave everyone else alone, but then they might forget about me, and I’ll never have any friends again. Maybe I should start treating people like shit, but that won’t solve anything. Maybe I should just get so drunk here in my apartment until I don’t have any feelings anymore, but that feeling will inevitably subside, and if it doesn’t, then…surprise, I’m an alcoholic. Maybe I should just lay down and accept the fact that people are just going to be rude to me and make me feel sad and unwanted, and that I can’t do anything about it.

Or maybe I should just dye my hair blonde and become a lesbian. I already have the blue eyes.

This post is dedicated to my late grandmother (1911-2005) who would have been 102 today. Everyone who knew her liked her, and she loved me so much, she called me her “best grandson,” which made me feel so special. But then when I was about 7, I realized that I was also her only grandson, so I see what you did there. I love you, Grandma, and I miss you every day.

0

The Fine Art of Canceling, or, How to Chip Away at My Heart

It happened again.

Just when I thought I’d escaped, it happened again.

Lately, I’ve been scraping and whittling things down in my brain, trying to ask myself why I feel the way I do sometimes, and how I get there. The root of the problem. And one of those things that instantly throws me into a tailspin is getting that text that usually starts with “Dear Jacob” and includes the words “sorry,” “cancel,” and the worst offender of all, “rain check.” Those two words send shivers down my spine.

Maintaining friendships and relationships have always been tough for me. My parents thought I might have had some sort of social skills problem. Last year, I was talking to my dad about the subject, when he told me something interesting that I’d said when I was about eight. At this point in my life, I remember identifying closer with adults and older kids rather than kids my own age or younger. I also remember being shy a lot of the time, among other things. When I was eight, an adult – probably a teacher or a counselor of some kind – asked me why I was so quiet. My response was, “I’m quiet because it’s safe.” When adult me heard child me say that, adult me wanted to go back in time and give child me a hug. It all came flooding back. I was a very lonely child, preferring the company of books or stuffed animals, of which I had many. But, as life goes on, human interaction becomes increasingly important in a person’s developmental process. My seeming inability to hang on to friends became an inability to even make friends, which led me to stop trying somewhere around the fifth or sixth grade. I actually remember feeling resigned to being alone for the rest of my life.

Adult life kind of changed things. College, Israel, grad school were all experiences that took me out of my comfort zone of home and helped me open up. It also allowed me to change my personality a little, and in addition, put me in situations where other people around me were seeking friendships as well. Some may have even had similar experiences growing up.

Connecting this back to what I actually wanted to write about today, in the past few years, I’ve been investing more time and energy into creating and maintaining meaningful friendships and quality relationships. One of those ways is to be a little more aggressive than I’m used to being at times, and instead of waiting around by the phone, being proactive and asking people to get together, even suggesting activities, dates, times, and locations. I’ve found a lot of success there, but I’ve also experienced the heartbreak that comes from being canceled on, so much so that my parents actually approved of me joining an online dating site. My birthday party last year was probably the worst birthday party in the history of time immemorial. My guest list started out decently, with about 10-15 people saying yes and agreeing to come. And one by one, everyone canceled. Some gave no reason, some had to work/do schoolwork, one had a medical issue, and the very last one came a few hours before the party, someone who had to take a friend’s seven-year-old sister to dance class. Seven years old. Dance class. So, I scrapped the whole party, unofficially, threw all the food back in the fridge, and decided to drown my feelings with a long, hot shower. Only then, there was a knock at my door, and it was one guest, who I’d totally forgotten that I’d invited, a guy who I didn’t know so well. I cooked us dinner and we spent two awkward hours talking, after which I cried for awhile and felt like dying.

Before and after the failed party, canceling plans seems to be the norm for everyone else but me. People just casually send a text offering regrets with platitudes and “have fun anyways.” I’ve had three social interactions canceled in one day, I’ve bought tickets for no-shows, and I even got stranded at an airport once (that was when the amazing Monica switched around her schedule and came out to get me after picking up her kids from school, WHILE THEY WERE STILL IN THE CAR, if my mom would’ve done this to me as a kid, I’d have been so angry). Usually the excuses are legit and some people even offer a bit of condolence but rarely ever any sort of compensation for the lost time and hurt feelings on my end.

When things like this happen, I usually say “it’s ok” or “no problem” or “I understand,” because if I say how I really feel to that friend, I might not have that friend anymore. It comes off either as a personal attack or a guilt trip, experiences that nobody enjoys having. When the birthday party thing happened, I thought about telling off all my friends, or “friends” as it were at the time, but then I’d have fewer of them and they might tell others about me flipping out at them or giving them grief. I thought about asking everyone to a second party and taking a poll on when it’s best for everyone, but I didn’t want to seem like a doormat, desperate for friends. I even thought about asking my friends to give me money for all the food and drinks I’d bought for them, and I was in such a state of mind that it actually seemed like a good idea until my dad talked me out of it.

But the point is? It hurts. It maims. It wounds. It’s a punch in the gut and a slap in the face and a pileup in the end zone when multiple parties are involved.

And for some reason, it affects me on such a deep level that it inhibits my ability to function.

Here are the stages I go through upon getting the dreaded call, text, or email.

  1. Shock that I’ve just been canceled on.
  2. Disappointment, which varies depending on how excited I was, how much I like the person, or how much I desperately wanted to do what we were going to do together.
  3. Apologies, as if it’s my fault. (sometimes a stage that is skipped).
  4. Flat-out rejection, feeling like a 2-d cardboard cutout that’s been knocked over and stomped upon.
  5. Loathing for the person who rejected me. Varies.
  6. Telling myself that I knew it was going to happen, and that something like this always does, and that I’m an unlucky human being.
  7. Proposing an alternate time or two.
  8. If we can reschedule, all prior stages are reversed. If we can’t, or he/she won’t, there’s usually a “we’ll see” involved and a vague statement about the future that contains no promises, so the other person has an “out.”

After contact is broken with the other person, my thought process:

  1. Flat-out pain. Usually involves sitting for a long time. Statement to self: “this sucks.”
  2. Feeling shot down. Statement to self: “ouch.”
  3. Doubt. Statement to self: “who’d want to hang out with me anyway?”
  4. Self-hatred. Statement to self: “I don’t want to be here with me right now either but I don’t have a choice.”
  5. Globalization. Statement to self. “Nobody wants to hang out with me. Nobody will ever hang out with me again. Nobody likes me.”
  6. Globalized self-hatred. Statement to self: “I don’t like myself too. I hate myself.”
  7. Blame. Statement to self: “You hate me. You made me hate me. I hate you for hating me. I hate the way you made me feel.”
  8. Negative thoughts about other person.
  9. Mentally list all the other person’s shortcomings.
  10. Feel completely emotionless and lifeless.
  11. Do some sort of activity or distraction exercise; for me, it’s usually staring, eating,

This cycle keeps repeating itself, until the time comes when I decide that I am done with the whole “friends” thing, I am done with human interaction, admitting defeat, declaring surrender, and then usually attempting to make plans with someone else, which may or may not start the cycle again.

When I have to cancel, which I rarely do, because I try not to commit to anything that I can’t follow through on, this is what I do.

  1. Apologize.
  2. Make sure my apology has been acknowledged.
  3. Offer to make alternate plans, on your time, on my dime. This might be pushing it but if it’s a friend worth keeping, it’s a friend worth it, case in point: I failed to hang out with a friend one night, so one day we got sushi together, on me, and I made up for the lost time by being sincere and spending most of the lunch listening to her rather than talking.