Now they’re out of the water, standing on the seashore admiring the majesty of the mesmerizing landscape surrounding them, her head on his shoulder, his arm holding her by the waist, waiting there to dry out, because they’ve no towels, obviously. Their silence was satisfying… Fulfilling. No words were needed. The crash of waves against the sand, the choking calls of seagulls, the soft-blowing wing, the smell of the whole place altogether… All of these components combined together produced a relaxing melody and it was enough for both of them.
The date has reached its final phase. Best part saved for last. Why you might wonder, would a pizza, coke and video games be the best part? Isn’t it clear enough? YES. That’s it. Of course, he asked her before about what a perfect date would be for her. He spent days planning for this day, so it would be nothing but flawlessly PERFECT.
Yes, he checked the weather forecast. Yes, he chose which safer route to take to his destinations according to thorough research and statistics. Yes, he consulted his female friends on which movie theater to take her and which beach would provide more privacy. And yes, he placed an order on the pizza, a day before the date, to be delivered at exactly 8 p.m to his: place. There was no room for glitches or chance. NONE. Willpower at its finest and purest moments.
He still has an hour to head back to his apartment which was enough. They kept quiet on the way, but if they could hear each other’s thoughts, they wouldn’t be disappointed at all. A wide grin was lighting up his face, as to a shy smile was beaming on hers. He put on some music to go with the mood -Chase Coy_If the mood fell down tonight- one of his favorite songs. She leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes and savored the idyllic, dulcet tones of the acoustic guitar.
He threw a glance at her and boy… Could he ever get tired of looking at her beatific face, looking so halcyon? The only thing that was lacking, he thought, was the golden halo on top of her head.
It’s 7:48 now and they’re at his place. It was a nice loft with hipster decoration, well, you couldn’t actually tell whether it was hipster or Gothic or a mixture or a completely new genre. Let’s go with either Hipthic or Gopster, whatever sounds best to you, I don’t care. The first thing that you’d see upon opening the door is a spacious living room that has what it looks like a multi-dark-colors sofa, a painted-navy-blue, round, wooden coffee table right in front of the sofa resting over a distressed, woolen, purple rug and a 42 inch plasma TV that he uses on occasion. A DVD player and various consoles and DVDs are arranged inside a wide wooden shelf right under the TV.
On the left would be the kitchen area. It was clean and organized. Shelves stocked with all the kitchen tools needed. A big 2 sided fridge stands tall in the middle, between a set of wooden cabinets, filled with lots of water bottles, veggies, and fruit, all sorts of meat except pork and no alcohol. There’s also whole wheat pasta and other healthy stuff. Women love a guy who takes care of himself and Ryan’s very good at that. In the very middle, lies a, what looks like, DIY-ed counter with Italian marble counter-top with swivel bar stools scattered around it. There’s, also, this specific thing that would catch anyone’s attention which is the steel serving cart resting next to an Elodie, grey sideboard at the end of the area. He does like his little trinkets, except this one is not that little.
At the far end of the opposite side, you’d lay eyes on a steel, pinned-to-the-floor black latter, serving as stairs, leading upward to his bedroom, where the magic happens. Never mind the last bit, I’ve always wanted to say that.
It only takes you one peek from the edge of the latter to figure out around 80% of Ryan’s bedroom. A king-sized custom-made bed with comfy pillows and clean sheets right at the center of the vast space, a big desk on the far side of the room with scattered papers all over it. You could see the bottle of ink and feather dipped in it. Elegant decorations were hanging on the wall either from DIY-ed, impressive-looking shelves, like trophies, diplomas, certificates, rare video games collectibles, superhero figurines and keychains, etc.. Oh yes, he’s quite the video-games/superhero fanatic alright. He watched all of the Marvel and DC animated and cinematic movies, TV series and cartoons with no exception. His favorite TV series being DareDevil, his favorite cinematic movie being Deadpool, his favorite animated movie Batman: the killing joke and his favorite cartoon is young justice.
Stick to the brick walls, were a couple of superhero posters, most of them being Deadpool’s, his forever favorite. By the way, Deadpool isn’t really a superhero, he was first listed as a villain but then upgraded to the anti-hero list, just like the Punisher and other characters. With nail support, there was this particular intriguing portray of several gloomy scratched faces hanging over the bed sending blue vibes, as if there was a tormented soul behind them. If there was one word best to describe it, it would be « melancholic ».
There were also nature paintings, forests to be exact. Oh, he loves forests. He loves the tall trees, the damp soil, the petrichor, the cloudy weather, the high cliffs, etc… A spacious shack in the middle of nowhere is one of his wild dreams where he could go on living a simple life with a partner. All of his dreams requires the presence of a partner, a female partner. Whose better to be there for you in ups and downs other than your significant other?
And he’s contemplating her right now, his eyes never letting her out of sight, drinking her in, absorbing her presence, savoring her company.
The ringing doorbell disconnected their unparalleled tray of thoughts. Pizza’s here. Fun time. She excused herself as she headed to the restroom, the one next to his bedroom. The delivery guy was offered a generous tip for being on time. He grabbed the pizza and proceeded to the living room to set the place.
There wasn’t much to do. He was 99% prepared. He just laid the pizza on the table, brought the cans of coke out of the fridge, turned on his PS4 and chose a combat game « Tekken 7 ». This is going to get competitive. He didn’t have to wait long until she emerged out of the restroom. But before she took a seat next to him, she headed to the stereo set, on the far side of the living room right beside his serving cart. Delmore examined the CDs and grabbed what she was looking for. Demi Lovato’s latest album.
You’d wonder how the hell did it get there since if you had to pick the odd CD out of the whole collection, it would definitely be Demi Lovato’s CD. That type of music is light years away from his preferable taste. A Demi Lovato album CD resting in the middle of all Three Days Grace’s albums, some of Nickelback’s albums, some of Breaking Benjamin’s albums, some of Steel Panther’s albums. In case you don’t know who Steel Panther are and you’re a conservative person, I beg of you to please not listen to them. There were also several burner CDs with an assemblage of tracks – « assemblage » here is a fancy synonym of the word « collection » from a French descend – he selected specifically for his own liking that includes some of Anberlin, Chase Coy, Veil Of Maya, Plini, Frank Sinatra, Eminem, Metallica, Motorhead, Megadeath, Rev Theory, Aurora, SYML, Yellowcard, Simple Plan and the list goes on and on… So yeah, now you know why the Demi Lovato CD wins the award of « how the hell did you end up here with the other CDs » award, and the answer to that question is obvious. Yes, that’s it. Oh no, he didn’t develop a crush on Demi Lovato. Gosh no! The other explanation! Demi Lovato is Delmore’s favorite musician and she loves her songs, so our friend Ryan went out to the CD store down the corner next to the pastry shop from which he always buys a piece of fruit tart and a mocha each morning on his way to work.
Maybe by now you’re thinking ‘What a hopeless, desperate dumb*ss! He’s doing all of this for nothing. When she sees that he’s done all of what he has so far, she’d consider him as an obsessed stalker and he’ll drive her away’ while some of you might go ‘AWWWWWE OMG that’s so adorable! I wish someone would do something like that for me for once!’
No matter where you stand upon the matter, the fact that can’t be ignored is that he’s putting some extraordinary effort into the whole thing. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone just for the mere sake of impressing her. Some say that’s more than enough, others disagree. So far, so good for him.
So, she put the CD in the stereo system and clicked play. Immediately after the first song started blasting, she began to dance, jumping all over the place, hair like and electric fan twirling from side to side, up and down while he was sitting on his sofa, in a comfortable seated position, yet again contemplating her. He was staring at her in complete awe and admiration, you can read his feelings just by looking at his eyes. That moment, they were so expressive. He was staring at her like a guy would stare at his beloved one when she’s doing something, not paying much attention to him, and he’d just sit there and watch her with this « I must’ve done something right to deserve her in my life » look on his face. You know what I’m talking about. There’s a picture of Barack Obama doing just that to his wife circulating on Facebook. And another one of a scene from the movie Tangled with the caption ‘I wish someone would look at me like that’. She was dancing, bare feet, carefree and not giving a damn about worries. She stopped, turned her head to the side taking a good look at Ryan, and strode towards him playfully, asking for his hand to dance.
« Come on. Dance with me. Let’s have fun! »
« No, I… I don’t dance. »
« Don’t ask me, I don’t dance, don’t ask me, I don’t dance… Madame with you » and she broke off laughing while he was staring at her flabbergasted.
« Hello! I’m quoting Frank Sinatra… His song… I don’t dance? I saw the name on one of your CD burners »
Waw… Do you have any idea what she just did right there? She just copied one of his signature moves. What move that is you ask? Let me break down one of Ryan’s funny signature moves that always works when he tries to make a girl laugh: so they’d be in the middle of a conversation and she stops with a word or a sentence that’s the title or a part of the lyrics of a song and he just starts singing that song. Very silly, yet effective. And with that move, her score to just went up from perfect to too perfect, a couple of points and she’d reach godess level to him and he’d build her a temple and start a new religion after her. Just kidding!
« Never mind » She continued rolling her eyes « Come on you scardy cat. I’ll teach you »
« No seriously, I’m fine over here. I’m good with just watching you do your thing. It’s quite pleasant actually. You’re… Very good » He said, partially blushing, shifting uncomfortably in his place.
And that’s when she goes down on one knee, bows her head down, offers her hand out and says:
« Would your majesty please honor me with a dance? »
He couldn’t help himself but crack a chuckle and then nodded, taking her hand and replied in a flawless British accent:
« Why of course my lovely lady. How could I ever deny you a quest? »
So they danced and danced until their feet could no longer bare it, and their throats went dry.
« I need a drink » declared Delmore.
« Help yourself to a soda, but don’t you dare steal a slice of pizza behind my back » Replied Ryan teasing « I think it’s about time that you and I get to see who’s the better gamer in this room »
He went back to the sofa, took his place and motioned her to take her place next to him. She sat down, brought a knee to her chest and took a concentration position, he handed her a joystick then smirked at her with a devious naughty idea of his own.
He looked at her sideways all smugly and such and she eyed him questioningly and he finally said:
– How about we make this interesting?
– What do you mean? She replied, a little bit suspicious.
– Well… He paused for a second, for dramatic effects. He was enjoying his wicked thought a little more than he should, not thinking about the probability that it could backfire at him. But he was on consequences-be-damned mode.
– Each time, He carried on, one of us lose, he has to get rid of a piece of clothing.
She grimaced a defying expression and responded:
– You’re ON. Get ready to strip.
Oh was he so determined to win! They set a gaming marathon composed of several two-player games including Tekken 7, Need for speed most wanted, PES 2017, NBA 2k17, Mortal Combat X, Street Fighter 5 and Rocket League. Each game, 3 matches. And be sure that with those hardcore gamers, bragging would become their middle name. Since Tekken and PES 2017 were his corn and bread, he had such a rush kicking her butt causing her to lose her top and trousers, her sandals were already off before his bold preposition.
It was at this point where the table turned. Being distracted by her exposed enticing body parts and eagerness to see the rest of what remains covered, caused by his treacherous hormones. That worked well at her advantage as she came out victorious at both Street Fighter and Mortal Combat. To her astonishment, she noticed that he was wearing an extra layer of undergarments.
– YOU TRICKED ME! She blurted out. You set this up you… You Bastard! She accused as she punched him on the shoulder. And indeed he did. He was able to put on the extra layer of clothes right after paying the pizza guy.
Acting all innocently, with a secret chuckle, he replied:
– No I didn’t. I was wearing them the whole time!
– No you weren’t. I saw what you were wearing at the beach. That undershirt and those shorts weren’t on the pile of clothes when we… Oups… She blushed as she stopped herself right there remembering the beach incident. I don’t think any of them would ever forget that. Not for a very, very long time.
During a situation like this, Ryan was presented with 2 options: either take the opportunity while the memory is evoked to revisit it sofa style or distract themselves from his thoughts by confessing that she’s right and that the trap was all planned. So, he burst out laughing:
– Alright, alright you got me. But it’s not against the rules. He said that with a wink.
– I am so going to get you for this. She said back, narrowing her eyes at him but failing to fully contain a faint smile.
– How about raising the stakes? Ryan asked cocking his head to one side.
– What do you have in mind Mr.Sinister? Boy, did he love that comic book reference! Is there any chance that she could possess any imperfections at all? He thought.
– I suggest, Ryan replied, for each match won, the winner gets to put on a piece of clothing back. However… He, suddenly went silent, his wicked grin growing wider making him look like the Grinch on Christmas eve after a bad deed. He was enjoying his little game, having fun being in control over the events. After a few moments he continued, The loser has to take off two.
– Hmmm… She replied thoughtfully, you have a deal. And they shook on it.
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How to Build an Authentic Life
Warning: This is an 11-minute read article. So grab a coffee, tea, or whatever you fancy and sit down 😉 If you don’t have time, you can bookmark it for later. With that aside, let’s begin!
Four years ago, I was stuck.
I was living like shit. Eating, sleeping, studying, and repeating. I barely had a life outside of high school.
I was lazy, unhealthy, and a little overweight. I had Moobs (short for man boobs — add that to your dictionary) and felt anxious in my body.
I was also very lonely. Despite knowing a lot of people thanks to my extroverted nature, I barely had any real friends.
I would go out sometimes but with people I didn’t really like nor trust, hating every moment of it because I knew I deserved better. I blamed luck for not bringing me the perfect friends with whom I could share my highs and lows.
Being a person who enjoys social interactions, I never had problems making friends. However, I didn’t know how to build real connections with the “friends” that I made. And that left me surrounded by people yet alone.
I also suffered from a poor self-image. I envied those who achieved great things in their lives and wished if I can be like them.
I knew there was something wrong. I knew I needed to do something because loneliness was eating me alive and my weight was decreasing my lifespan.
Saying goodbye to my old people and entering a whole new world called college was not helping me in any way too.
Someday while browsing the net, I came across Mark Manson’s blog (before he became a best-selling author). That was when everything changed.
Mark empathizes that the way to live an authentic life and build meaningful relationships is through this special quality called “vulnerability”.
He defines vulnerability as the act of expressing oneself with its imperfection openly and unapologetically. It’s the state of being your true self and living according to what is right to you, without shame or fear of being judged.
That’s when I became interested in this vulnerability thing. I decided that I need to give it a try. I had nothing to lose anyway.
Fast forward to today, I can confidently say that vulnerability has completely changed my life:
- My confidence has increased tremendously. I’m no longer afraid to be myself and stand for what I believe in.
- I’m no longer in a rush to prove myself to others. I’m taking my time achieving my own goals at my own pace.
- I’m more active than ever. I lost weight, built some muscle and feel much more confident in my body.
- I have made some cool friends who believe in me, keep me company, and constantly push me outside my comfort zone.
- I can openly express myself without feeling ashamed of anything (the fact that I’m writing this article is proof). I no longer hide from my emotions and weaknesses. I learned to embrace them and accept them as a part of being a human.
- I learned to go after what I want boldly and unapologetically.
- I’m actively experimenting with myself and trying everything that sparks my interest.
In a nutshell, I’m living an honest and authentic life that is according to what I think is right. Not to other people’s definition of what is right.
A lot of things have happened in the last 3 years. There was a lot of struggles and painful periods, but I pushed through them and grew stronger as a result.
But enough talking about me, there is something more important we need to discuss.
The Life We Didn’t Choose
Most of us go through our lives taking the road of safety and convention. Doing exactly as what we are told by figures we consider to be superior like parents, teachers, society…etc.
We play the safe game and never question whether we really like it or not.
If I give you a ball and tell you to shoot it as far as you can. Then pick it up, go back to the starting position and shoot it again. You’ll do it a few times, maybe you’ll spend an hour on it if you’re persistent (and have no life). Eventually, you’ll grow bored and go home.
If, however, I give you a ball and ask you to come up with a game on your own. You create the rules. Go ahead and be creative and make your own ball game. Then invite your friends for a match.
I bet all my savings that even if your friends disliked this game, you will never grow bored of it because it’s a game you created with your own rules. Your own authentic creation.
That’s exactly the same thing with life. If we live a life that was handed to us by others and which we didn’t choose, we will never feel fulfilled and we’ll start hating ourselves for it.
We’ll start to think we’re failures because we don’t win at the game we were given. We’ll try hard to succeed, only to realize that we don’t even want to.
For instance, I used to think that success is all about achieving academic excellence. Being brought up by parents who finished their education and worked hard to bring food to our table has influenced their thinking about success and mine as a consequence.
It was until I finally decided to question my old life that I really did see the fault in this thinking. I respect everyone’s view and I believe that education is important for the development of a well-balanced individual. But I dare say that after high school, it becomes merely a way to get a job and doesn’t offer much growth.
Anyways, the point is if we still measure ourselves to a life we didn’t choose, we’ll never feel like we can be successful. And even if we do succeed, it will be a short-lived dopamine high before we start questioning if that was even worth it in the first place.
It’s time we turn the tables on the game we were handed and decide to create our own game rules instead.
And that is only possible through vulnerability.
On Being Vulnerable
According to Google, vulnerability is the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
Since we no longer live in caves, we are interested in the “being exposed to emotional attack” part here.
You see, questioning the safe way and deciding to create your own is hard. It’s so hard actually that you’ll suffer a lot from criticism, rejection, judgment and even self-doubt.
Being vulnerable means that you understand this and are willing to pay the price to get to where you want.
Let me repeat that again, vulnerability is being okay with getting rejected, ridiculed, judged, and in some cases, accused of madness.
Anything in life that is worth doing involves being exposed to emotional pain.
Standing up for yourself leaves you exposed to ridicule and judgment.
Asking your crush out leaves you exposed to rejection and heartbreak.
Sharing your secrets and feelings with your friends leaves you exposed to envy and disloyalty.
All those are painful emotions. But the acts are worth it.
If you don’t stand up for what you believe, you’ll be a doormat and will never get the respect you want.
If you don’t ask your crush out, you’ll waste a lot of time fantasizing about someone who may or may not reciprocate your feelings.
If you don’t share yourself with your friends, they’ll never trust you enough to become your real buddies (a secret I learned the hard way).
All those are vulnerable acts because you are ‘exposed’ to emotional pain every time you do them.
The more worthwhile the act is, the more vulnerable it will leave you, thus the greater the exposed pain and potential for growth.
More worthwhile = More vulnerable = Greater pain = Greater growth
So, how can vulnerability help you create an authentic life?
Any authentic life involves around doing activities that are authentic to the person involved. By their nature, authentic acts are vulnerable acts because they require that you risk embarrassing yourself and looking stupid to others every time you do them.
To put it in a simple framework, an authentic life consists of 3 main areas:
Let’s go through each one of them in more details.
It’s literally anything that makes you unique and differentiates you from the masses.
Your hobbies, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, your music taste, whether you watch Game of Thrones or Chernobyl, your favorite sport, your job/study field, your ambitions and dreams, your opinions about the world, your philosophy, the friends you hang out with, the books you read, your volunteering experience, …etc.
If you have little to no care for the above things (apart from the GOT or Chernobyl thing which you don’t need to care about — I don’t), then you really got some work to do.
What are your hobbies? Photography? Guitar? Maybe rock climbing? How about camping? Take your time to explore various activities. The possibilities are endless.
If you think there is some area that needs improvement in your lifestyle, start searching for ways to improve it. Use the internet to your advantage (Quick fact: do you know that you can use the internet to browse websites other than FB/Instagram/Youtube? Trust me, a lot of people don’t know that).
Remember that those things are vulnerable because you’re challenging yourself to grow and learn more about the world around you. You’re cultivating new opinions, challenging your own limiting beliefs and replacing them with healthy alternatives.
This is where you’ll actually build your vulnerability muscle (aka courage).
This area includes activities that get you out of your comfort zone and expose you to great emotional pain.
It may include:
- Asking your crush out (and accepting her/his response graciously and moving on rather than wasting time in fantasy).
- Cutting off bad relationships and toxic people
- Forcing yourself to socialize more and meet new people
- Joining a gym and embarrassing your way out of the badly-designed machines (currently happening to me)
- Taking leadership roles within your club/organization/job…etc
- Exploring a new career/study field
- Starting a business (if that’s what you’re into)
- Talking in front of a group of people
Basically, it’s about going boldly after what you want.
Remember that your vulnerability/courage muscle is just like a real muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. So start small and keep gradually challenging yourself and exploring your limits.
I promise you, by regularly training your courage muscle, things that once felt impossible to do will slowly start to become less and less intimidating.
Here comes the hardest part of all the three.
What do I mean by Authentic Communication?
Have you ever felt so self-conscious when talking to someone that you start to stutter or in an attempt to not embarrass yourself by saying something stupid, you don’t say anything at all?
It sucks. We all have experienced that. Especially when talking to a person we admire or secretly crush on, it can intensify and become real torture! You start to question where has your personality been when you needed it the most or why are you such a failure you can’t talk properly to the person in front of you?
On the other hand, have you ever experienced having a spontaneous conversation with someone that words just flew out naturally without you caring about a thing? You know, when you felt completely present and your head was minding its own business and not nagging at you in the background? You joked, teased, played, and expressed yourself authentically when you were in this state.
What is the difference between the two scenarios? It’s how you think about the situation.
In the first scenario, you were putting the other person on a pedestal and you worried if you can’t impress him/her. You started to see the conversation in a logical way using your brain to tell you what’s the next best thing to say/do in order to come closer to your goal of making a good impression and avoid getting rejected.
In the second scenario, you let your creative side take care of everything. You didn’t worry about “conquering the conversation” or “scoring points” because you didn’t see it in a logical way. You didn’t worry about getting rejected or saying something weird. You were just being yourself, saying what’s on your mind even if it may expose you to getting rejected (again, being vulnerable).
Ironically, this would actually make you leave a far better impression than you would if you take it logically.
You see, human relationships are based on emotions. How you make people feel is far more important than ‘what you bring to the table’. There is a reason why a comedian has more followers and fans than, say, a scientist.
Emotions aren’t logical. They are to be felt and not to be processed. Thus it doesn’t make any sense to try to build real life-long relationships through braining your way to people’s hearts.
The only way to attract new relationships and nurture existing ones is through emotions.
You elicit emotions in other people by truly expressing yourself, openly, unashamedly.
By becoming spontaneous and uninhibited, you open doors to amazing conversations that would never occur if you tried to plan your words.
Showing who you are, exposed, uninhibited, is the only way to truly change your relationships and life in general.
By becoming good at expressing your emotions, you learn how to elicit emotions in the people of your life and strengthen your relationships as a result. That’s Authentic Communication.
Now, how do you express yourself authentically?
Again, by accepting that rejection, ridicule, and judgment are inevitable.
You know the classic truth “Not everyone will like you”. I’d like to take it further and add “And that’s okay!” to it.
Transitioning from a people-pleaser who is always agreeable to someone who is unpretentious and says what’s on his mind is hard at first. Because you’ve got to give up on the need to be liked by everyone. No one, apart from little cute babies, is adored by everyone. You got to shove this fact into your damn skull and learn to live with it.
But it’s not bad, really. When you express yourself fully and without inhibitions, you indirectly say to the world “I’m an amazing person, as unique as a unicorn. Take me or leave me, I’m fine anyways.” This will result in one of these two scenarios:
- Some people will dislike you (inevitable)
- A lot of people will love you so damn much
Instead of being a people pleaser and end up on a third scenario where “no one loves you nor dislikes you”, you’re setting yourself to meet your own people, those who are proud to be with you and enjoy your company to the fullest.
I am glad I made the effort to find my people. I made some enemies along the way but again, the result is worth the price.
So be a unique guy/girl, say weird things, ask stupid questions, ask deep questions, tease and be playful with others. You’ll filter those who are so boring to appreciate your uniqueness and keep those who will love you until the end.
If you’re reading this, that means that you made it through this long text, Thank you very much!!
As we’ve seen, the path towards building an authentic life is through putting yourself into situations that leave you vulnerable to emotional pain.
Living an authentic life requires that you work on the three major areas: Authentic Lifestyle, Authentic Action, and Authentic Communications.
Keep in mind that the point here is not to to be perfect in all the three, but to strike a balance between them.
In the end, choosing to go against the current and design your own game rules is difficult. Not everybody is ready for it.
Nevertheless, I hope I encouraged you to take a deeper look at your current life and see if it lacks your personal touch. If that’s the case, boy, you got some work to do!