Oh Captain! My Captain!
I have what I hope is a quick question.
Background: Back in high-school, I was (and still am, to an extent), an incredibly awkward dude. The more I learn on the internet, the more I realize that I was a Nice Guy™. I wasn’t an egregious Nice Guy™, but it was still there. I also followed the GSFs (not so much #4; even I realized that some circles just won’t get along), even though I didn’t know what they were.
As a result of all this, I was very much a Nice Guy™ to this girl I liked. She was kind of nerdy, and for some odd reason, hung around with me. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I kind of avoided asking her out in a real way, and did it in that passive-aggressive way that avoids any real rejection. We grew apart for various unrelated reasons, and haven’t talked in years. The thing is, looking back on my past, I realize I probably made things quite uncomfortable for her.
The question is, should I send her an e-mail detailing these things and apologize, or should I just let sleeping dogs lie and know that I’ll do my best to avoid being a Nice Guy™ in the future?
A Slightly More Self-Aware Nerd
Please, I beg you, let the dogs sleep.
Look at it this way: “Hey, remember when I was incredibly passive-aggressive and weird because I really wanted your approval and it made you totally uncomfortable? I’ve figured out that was wrong and am trying to stop doing that. So….can I have your approval now?”
Do you want to be that guy?
You’ve had the moment of realization. You’ve had the resulting feelings of shame and embarrassment. This has fortunately resulted in greater self-awareness for you. Your answer is “stop doing the thing you were doing that you feel embarrassed about now,” not “seek this girl out and make her acknowledge your personal growth,” especially since she’s not currently in your life.
Let me give you two steps to being a little bit cooler than you are right now.
1) This may sound weird coming from a lady who named herself Captain Awkward and made a website, but stop describing yourself as “incredibly awkward dude.” That tends to become a self-fulfilling identity thing where it becomes either an excuse or a passive-aggressive way to get people to try to take care of your feelings or cut you slack. Self-deprecation is best in very, very small doses.
2) Fact: A lot of the emotional work we do on ourselves to become functional grownups goes unheralded, and once you’re out of school you don’t get the constant carrot/stick of grades to let you know you’re doing ok. You just have to give approval to yourself when you do well, like “I am more awesome now! Good talk, me.” Now I? Since we’re here, I will totally congratulate you for leveling up. Good job! But don’t expect people in your day-to-day life to do it for you.
Let the self-awareness be its own reward. Don’t ask for the cookie.