Thursday, January 30, 2020


"And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is." - Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

I recently read an article about people who quit multi-level marketing jobs (MLMs). Someone said she began seeing people as potential customers instead of potential friends. Another article addressed people monetizing every hobby and interest because consumerism has led us to believe spending time on anything that doesn't turn a profit is a waste. The pervasiveness of this mindset is seen on social media as more people brand themselves, and treat new and existing relationships like an opportunity to make a sale rather than a connection. 

Girls and women with ADHD already have difficulty connecting. I used to overcompensate, which led to being treated as a doormat until people were done walking all over me (and we all know what happens to doormats after they've been dirtied up). I resigned myself to being one of those wives whose husband is her best friend (as if that's a bad thing). 

Once we had our sons, I felt obligated to connect with others and joined a local meet up group for moms. Epic fail due to the perfect storm of my untreated ADHD woes, some catty moms who never grew up, and a creepy dad who began targeting my admittedly high energy toddlers for ridicule after I ignored his nosy late night messages. I later found out he'd been inappropriate and more with some of the moms who did respond, and did the math. I was accustomed to people having problems with me, but now they were taking it out on my boys. 

I realized I wanted friends for myself, but I never wanted myself or my sons in that situation again. And since the boys were going to preschool soon, I no longer felt pressured to make friends for them. When the proverbial poo hit the fan around my birthday (because things always seem to go wrong around my birthday) I researched community theater and tried out for a play. I earned a supporting role. It was fun, and artsy people are an eclectic bunch so I didn't stick out like a sore thumb. 

When we moved again, I turned to the arts once more as a means of expressing myself and making connections with other people. I even found opportunities for paid work, but that was just a bonus. I did learn to set healthy boundaries in terms of what is and isn't a wise investment of my time and resources. Like René Brooks says, "Guard your yes."

What I haven't found is friendship. Making friends in the arts has all the complications of regular friendship magnified by the nature of the arts. You have cliques, social climbers, the occasional creeper with questionable motives, and, oh yeah, the added wrinkle of inevitable rejection. My tolerance for rejection ends the moment I question whether or not it's personal. Even if I don't internalize it, the outcome is the same: I feel bored and left out, or used in the case of people with obvious agendas or friendships that fizzled when projects fell through. 

It's less of an issue in the writing community specifically, but we're a solitary bunch, and it's mostly lonely work. I do know crowdfunding isn't for me. I'll take my piles of anonymous rejections, and self-publish if it comes to that. 

I also have the luxury of pursuing hobbies and interests just for me (like guitar and martial arts) without depending on the acceptance of others. 

Mostly I'm throwing things at the wall, and seeing who or what sticks. 

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