Disclaimer: This blog post is really long. My blog posts are usually like 600-900 words. Sorry in advance. Hang in there! xo
When people say to me, “ You’re so confident” I’m always surprised to hear it. Scratch that. When gay men say I’m confident, I am always surprised to hear it. Not only have I been referred to as confident but several gay men have also stated that based on their first impression of me, I was “stuck up.”
For the most part though, when people refer to me as “confident” I own the fuck out of it. (We will come back to the part about gay men later on as it is important). I would say that the greatest source of my confidence is being good at things and then showing people that I am good at those things. Sure, I have managed to utilize quick wit, charm and manipulation to paint a public portrait of myself that creates the illusion that I am good at everything, but when it comes down to it, it’s my hard work that gets me to receiving praise and recognition. Doing things has always appeared easy for me because I stick to my lane. For instance, I know I’m the last person who should be playing sports so I avoided it as a child and practiced theater, music and storytelling instead. I knew from age four that I would never be the guy to score touchdowns but perhaps I could be the one to make people laugh or impress them with my reading abilities (I skipped two grades ahead in reading. I knew I wasn’t good at math so I didn’t exactly capitalize on that. Again, I stuck to my lane).
Sticking to my lane was the best thing for me in order to truly shine. I took what I was naturally good at, applied hard work and knew in my heart of hearts that what I did was good.
One of those things that I do now is my job.
I like getting praised at work. In fact, I put all of my heart and soul into my work in order to get more recognition. It has worked out for me, as a year later I am now moving up in the company at a senior level and soon will be managing an entire team of publicists. Me, in charge of people at age twenty-four! I am excelling at being in my lane. Being in my lane is fun. When I’m in my lane, I am a winner.
But recently, I took a vacation. A real life actual vacation. For the first time this year, I completely cut myself off from work (well, I did answer a few emails) but mostly, I was released from the thing that was my life. And whether I liked it or not, I was on my own. For five days, I was free from praise, PR calls, telling people what to do, telling my boss all that I was doing and free from staying at the office past 8 p.m. I had to deal with me, myself and I. And it fucking sucked.
A lot of people will say it’s best to ‘keep yourself busy’ after enduring some sort of trauma, whether it’s heartbreak, a horrible loss of a loved one or something even worse. I have found that this is a great method. To keep myself busy. I’m really good at it. I love to be busy. I’ll always find new things to keep me busy. I’ll sign up for classes, take on volunteer work, go to a coffee shop everyday to ‘work on things’, just about anything. This past year, I did a grand job of keeping myself busy by doing well at my job. The problem is, once I was no longer worried about working, I was faced with the things I had avoided working on with myself. One of those things is confidence.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “But wait, Robby Rob. You just talked about how you’re so confident and what not. Whatchu mean, boo?”
Well, I said I was confident in the things that I do, but not so confident in who I am as a sexual human being.
Whoa there, Robert, this has taken an unexpected turn!
Stop reading here now, Mom and Dad! You too, Aunty.
There’s one part of my lane that I’ve mastered is: being ‘cute.’ Since I was five I remember having an effect on middle-aged women. They love me. As a publicist I would say they are part of my key demographic. I think this is because of my innate maternal energy. We vibe well together.
Then, after I came out in high school, my popularity flourished. I was no longer the awkward kid who acted strangely because he didn’t know who he was; I was out, open and happy. I was one of three openly gay students on campus. Soon straight girls became my demographic. What high school girl in the year 2008 didn’t want a gay best friend? Back then it was certainly more of a rarity then it is now. The high school gays have way more competition these days. And then there’s the guys. Straight guys. Straight guys loved me. And you know why? Because I was a gay kid who was “cute” and “precious” and “funny”, the best friend type. The gay kid next door. The gay kid with a heart of gold. More importantly, I didn’t threaten their fragile masculinity in any way. Because I, Robert Soares, was far from a sexual being. And at age twenty-four, I can honestly say that I still have not really embraced my sexuality at all.
I’ve never been the ‘sexy one’ or the ‘player.’ I have always been the cute, naïve, unassuming child who everyone likes to have as their den mother. One time while at a bar, a hot guy came up to me, cupped my face gently with his hands, looked down at me (he was freaking tall) and said, “Well aren’t you just the cutest thing?” and walked away. Mind you, he had just made out with three other dudes prior to walking over to me. I was not ‘making out’ material. I was ‘the cutest thing.’
While on vacation this reality shook me up greatly in two ways, 1) A friend told me I was insecure in bed and 2) I turned down going to a club in one of my favorite cities: San Francisco—because I was fucking scared.
“You’re not ready for casual sex are you?” my friend told me as we walked the Bay Area streets. We had hooked up the night before. As it turns out, my sheltered ass didn’t realize that it was normal for gay friends to sleep with each other. I like to have sex with lights off, room cold, no eye contact whatsoever and silence. So, I guess he had a point; also I’m sure he could just tell I was weird. I agreed with him. Maybe I’m not ready. Truth is, I’m highly inexperienced. And scared. I had a boyfriend for two months this year and hardly touched him. That is a problem and probably the real reason why we broke up.
This has fucked with my confidence a great deal. When I started going to clubs as a fresh 21-year-old, I started to get the feeling that I was grotesquely unattractive. Like nasty, ugly, so gross I wanted to kill myself unattractive. One time when I didn’t get let in to a gay club (because we had too many girls with us), and I interpreted this as I was too ugly to get in. So I stormed off crying, hopped in a cab and took my ass home.
I continued to feel that way for years and up until most recently, I still did. No one was hitting on me. No one ever tried to pick me up. Maybe a couple old dudes, but besides that I hardly got anything. Today, I know the real reason is because I know nothing about how to put out the ‘vibe.’ No one hits on the awkward guy sitting in the corner scared drinking pineapple juice and vodka. So of course I turned down going to a gay club in San Francisco. I couldn’t roll with the rest of them! Nighttime social situations are terrifying to me when the purpose of the outing is to have sex or get naughty on the dance floor. I don’t have confidence when it comes to that. That has never been a part of my lane. I’m good when it’s just brunch, though.
I don’t have the confidence to even speak to someone, nor do I have the sense of picking up on someone else’s vibe. I have none of that. Which is why when fellow gay men say I’m so confident, I’m like “WhAAA? Who? Me? Lies.” As for the part when they say I come off as stuck up at first, that’s probably me just being nervous and distant.
So I need to change all of this. I told my friend on our SF trip about 8 times that I’m too ugly to get a guy. That I’m too ugly to be with someone. That I’m too ugly to ever have a guy hit on me. I need to change this and I need to change it now.
I’m not saying I’m trying to become some freak-a-leek or I need to go out there and get an associate’s degree from THOT University, but at some point in my life very soon, I need to be able to feel confident in my own sexuality. Because it even affects my character. I’ve said horrible things to people inspired by own insecurities. I’ve ruined nights with my friends because of my insecurities. I’ve acted out and avoided putting myself out there, and have told myself I’m not good enough because of my own insecurities. I’ve even turned down dates.
Well no more. It is time for me to do what is foreign to me.
I’m now working with a really good friend of mine on this. He’s given me some great tips that seem super easy and fun in order to feel at ease and confident in social situations. Again, this isn’t about hooking up, it’s just about having confidence in my sexuality and comfortable with myself. I still have to apply the tips/advice so I’ll save my findings for another blog post this year: “How to be a Hoe Fa-Sho”. (JK JK but wouldn’t that be fun?)
Anyways, all of this has brought me to a grand realization: I really have not done anything outside of my lane. I have never pursued something that was far out of my reach. Have I worked super hard for what I’ve accomplished? Fuck yeah. But have my accomplishments ever been something I’m completely uncomfortable with? I would say never.
While sticking to my lane and shining at what I’m good at is a great confidence builder and continues to lead me to my purpose in life, I’ve reached a point where I realized I need to actually break the fuck out of my lane sometimes. “Staying in my lane” has become a crutch now. It’s become an excuse as to why I don’t try new things or put myself out there. I say, “Well I’m just not that type of guy. I have to accept it.” This is not OK. Because I am miserable just staying in my lane.
Shonda Rhimes (the woman responsible for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder) recently released her book, Year of Yes, a telling of how she stopped saying “no” to things that scared her and started saying “YAASSSSS” to life. She’s a woman who has stuck to her lane and it’s paid off. I mean look at TGIT! She owns a whole night of television. But even so, she realized how much she needed to start saying “yes” to things that she felt uncomfortable doing, aka getting out of her lane. It has changed who she is dramatically and she’s more confident in social situations than ever. Go read the book, it’s super amazing, obvi!
I’ve discovered that perhaps the secret to confidence is a giant paradox. It’s half working at what you’re good at and half doing shit you’ve never been good at. It’s about finding what’s comfortable and experiencing the uncomfortable. It’s following your path and also stopping to try something new.
It’s about staying in your lane and getting the fuck out of it.
And that’s what I intend to do in 2016. Maybe you can too.
(Also, maybe I’ll even join a football league lmao)
xoxo Robby Rob