Be There For Them

Younger Clubbing

When I was younger and in my early 20’s I used to hate going clubbing. In fact I still do. It’s loud. It’s gross. Hot and sweaty. People frantically trying to get the bartender’s attention for a drink. Desperate to get back to their friend group and continue to try and be the “life of the party” while hitting on whatever guy or girl just so happens to be their most likely viability for going home with at the end of the night. I hated it. The cloying insecurity was rank. And spending $15 on a jack and coke just to get jostled around, drunk, and almost puke on the floor was not my idea of a good time. So I would stand. Almost like a bouncer. My arms crossed near the front door. I was tired. I didn’t want to be there. I was only there because my friend Joe was there and I was under the mistaken impression that I had to be somewhere cool doing something cool in order to be seen as a “cool dude”. Oh how wrong I was. Things came to a culmination one night in Baltimore city. I was inside some other nameless club. I remember another friend of a friend, Zack, was somewhere in the club with Joe hitting on numerous girls. And I had enough of the din. I spent most of my time wandering aimlessly around, putting on my “fuck off” face, and doing my signature, stand leaning against the front of the club waiting to leave. And then it hit me. Who was I doing this for? Because I certainly wasn’t doing it for me. I didn’t care about this situation. But Joe and Zack did. So I was out with them. From here I had two options. I could either sulk in the corner. Or I could just give myself to the moment. I could be there for them, instead of focusing just on what I wanted. So I resolved to myself that from that moment on I would stop going clubbing, and I would stop doing social events and things just because I thought it would make me cooler in other peoples’ eyes. On the other side, I also told myself that if I did find myself in this situation again, I would be there for the people around me instead of just thinking about myself. To that end, I stopped my clubbing, and I began my path to living more authentically. And when I did find myself in a similar situation a year later, I tore up the club. Once again I was there with Joe and another friend. But this time I danced to abandon. I was there for everyone, not just for myself. Ironically Joe’s envy was palpable. I never went clubbing with him again after that night. But I remember having the time of my life. I got a few numbers. And I never worried about “being myself” again. I just existed in the moment. And because of that I was able to give my all to those around me. And in the end, I became a more complete person by seeking to complete the experience for other people.

Hockey rink teams

Taking the previous lesson forward. I began to notice all around me a certain pattern. In any social situation where people are interacting with each other, there are those who seem to be “holding back” and those who are going all out. The difference is subtle but palpable. In any group or organized effort there are those that push a little harder. They’re a little more outgoing. And it opens them up to more opportunity. Because they know the stakes. Flash forward about five years from the previous story and I find myself working inside an ice rink. Well, not an ice rink, but in a restaurant inside of an ice rink. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday junior teams of boys aged anywhere between 14 and 20 come in to play hockey in their respective leagues. All the while being coached and trained and camped by a myriad of hockey veterans and experts. But there seems to be a palpable difference between certain boys with the “it” factor and those who do not. And that’s heart. Or what hockey players lovingly refer to as “jam ”.

Source: Letterkenny

Darkside music video

Ironically this habit repeats itself in other facets as well. You see it in music videos. My favorite is the “Darkside” music video by Blink-182. One of my most favorite songs but also because the kids are so cool. And ironically enough, the younger ones seem to be really enjoying themselves. The older kids seem to be encumbered by some unknown weight. You look at the smiles on their faces and a few of them seem to be hiding a façade of joy. You can almost read in the back of their minds their insecurities of “looking foolish” or “not knowing the moves”. But when you look at some of the younger ones, the ones dancing with abandon. Their movements seem a little louder. Their motions seem a bit more unabashed. They’ve given themselves to the moment. Because they know and understand that outside this music video they’ll pass on into obscurity. They’ll be unrecognizable from any other kid asking their parent for candy in the grocery store. But right here and right now they can have fun. Right here are right now they can be present. Whether consciously or (most likely) sub-consciously, they are there for the moment. And it allows themselves to give themselves over a bit more to the experience. To enjoy it for what it really is instead of thinking about all the outside influences that could be laughing at them or pointing fingers telling them “they’re not doing it right”.

Give yourself to the moment

As we get older, the weights of the world begin to weigh on us. It’s no wonder that those in their 30’s are often at the lowest points in their lives in terms of “happiness”. We begin to care too much about what the outside world may think. And we force ourselves to do things we don’t enjoy, or phone it in because we’re afraid of how we might look. My advice: lean into it. Lean into the experience. As a final parting moment, I’m about to go to a “going away” party for myself in recognition of my impending move to Wyoming. Now do I want to go? In all honesty, not entirely. Knowing the people who will be in attendance, someone’s looking at this as an excuse to get drunk. I’m pretty sure someone most likely will bring up some political commentary. And in all honestly, I don’t really want to drink myself into a stupor or worry about acting a fool in front of my friends. But at the same time, I’m going to resolve to be there for them. Now keep in mind that this is a conscientious effort. Just like any muscle, you must increasingly use it for the skill to become “natural”. But at a certain point, if you keep reminding yourself that you’re in it for others, and not just for yourself, then you’ll find yourself opening up to opportunities and experiences that everyone can remember, and that you won’t look back in regret, wishing you weren’t the one who what sullenly standing in the corner, afraid of being yourself at a party.

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