A post about relatability

Earlier tonight I posted on Twitter:

genuinely hate it that people don’t find me more interesting. makes me want to give them a reason to, but then i’d be just doing more programming and that’s gotten me nowhere so far. bleh

Alexander Nicholi (@nicholatian) on Twitter, 18:34 - 23 Mar 2019

I gave this sentiment more thought on my way out for a late Saturday night dinner, and on my walk I realised why things end up like this so often for me: I am not a very relatable person.

I talk with my husband about most of the conflicts I run into in my life, both as they happen and in retrospect to help me understand myself better. We boil away through reason most of the unanswered questions about the other people, and we’ve hashed out a lot of my own history and how it led here, and it seems that this best explains why it doesn’t come natural for me to make more connections with people.

Unfortunately, I have the opposite kinds of problems most people do. I just don’t care about college or career readiness because I’ve known what I need to do and I’ve been doing it without college even into today. This means I just can’t effortlessly relate to the countless folk drowning in student debt, or those who didn’t know whether they wanted to go into medical or law when they were signing up for it all. It’s very easy for me to ridicule second-rate journalists who are making smaller payments than interest on their loans while they fantasize about some world where they’re part of a woke progressive vanguard that’ll vanquish the corrupt menace and blow away all their problems, or failing that, find some kind of pedestal for student debt forgiveness for entirely selfish reasons. Most people feel similarly in essence about these issues, and they can agree with me, but they still don’t take it how I do. Our experience always has a say.

The things I struggle with often come down to just talking to people, and being effective with it. Soft skills are something most people get, but because of my upbringing I went without for far too long. Even so, I still see other people who had the same disservices done and I don’t pity them the same way most people do when they run donation drives to pay for social integration services, or other seemingly innocuous things that fit everyone’s preconceived notions. I know all too well how much of a quack industry mental health is in the United States, and the only reason some of these people end up left to the wolves as ‘undesirables’ is because of the labels they were given. This perspective is not something people lacking intimate experience with mental health are going to get, it’s not something people from abroad will generally understand because foreign health systems aren’t this insane, and it’s not something most people who went through the American health system would get because it gives everyone way too many conflicts of interest. How’s an Adderall addiction to stop you from questioning the whole shebang? What about parental insecurities? How about a school system and you can’t shake the feeling they just hate your child? You can seal the deal with a collection of diagnoses, and the government will even pay for it all with Medicaid. I never met a child who didn’t have either Medicaid or BlueCross-BlueShield in those places, and I had both at times.

See, the prevailing theme here (and the problem, in essence) is that I have a terrible time finding points of relatability with people. My life experience has led me to be annoyingly stupid about remedial stuff like soft skills, yet gifted about higher level things that I have a hard time servicing because I have to get through the door first. You do nothing worthwhile in this world without other people. It seems that relatability is so crucial, in fact, that it gives you a lot of social leeway to do negatively-impacting things and even so people will still try to listen to you. Bona fide self-destructive, perhaps even anti-social behaviour is afforded when people connect with you! Not being relatable, and you don’t even get the chance to amaze them, let alone upset or anger them. It really matters that much.

So I went out tonight for a chicken sandwich and a drink, just because it’s my habit so I don’t lose my mind in my bedroom because I have no reason to go out. I really think the smalltalk with the bartenders had more of an uplift for me than the food or the booze, and I realised I had to write these things down somehow. I also realised a few resolutions I could take to remedy these shortcomings of mine.

The first thing is, you don’t always need to be relatable to actually relate to people. Expending more effort is but one way to connect with folks and make friends, and although I’ve been shown plenty of harshness from others in my time so far, I’ve found that my best times have been to thank for people who like me because they connected with me.

Another thing to do is recognise what is and isn’t relatable material, and do selection to promote things that are, or at least minimisation of things that are not, but optimally both in concert, if I can manage that. Scarcity of material doesn’t mean you can disregard the need for material - everyone needs a reason on some level at the end of the day.

I have to accept that my life turns out the way it does, and that I’m not going to control it to lead a life that’s more relatable and normal for this. I’ve done what I did so far with good reason, and it has brought me unique perspectives that I’d love more than anything to share with everyone. The struggle is finding a way to do that.