INTO more

You
Queer Abby: On Vulnerability, Loneliness, and Sanity

Dear Queer Abby

How do I get better at getting vulnerable with people and telling them my feelings? 

Scared in Sacramento

Dear Scared, 

It takes practice. The most important rule of this practice is to start small. Make yourself seen and known with people you trust. People who are steadfast and who you know want the best for you.

It’s worth it to carve a groove of trust and honesty in your brain. It will create a bridge between you and other people to share feelings back and forth, and you’ll get to realize that people like you for who you really, truly are — warts and all. And even if you think you’re hiding your warts, the odds are people can see them, and it just seems weird that you aren’t acknowledging them.

Note: Do NOT try to engage in a practice of vulnerability with people you don’t trust, people who are too busy or are not available. Even if you really really wish they were available. If they haven’t earned it, don’t set yourself up to fail by being tender with people who can’t hold you.  

 

Dear Queer Abby

I’m seeking advice for trying to feel less lonely when contacting others feels like I’m only bothering them. 

Signed, 

Bothering Betty

Dear Betty, 

Don’t say no on someone else’s behalf. Give them the respect and dignity of knowing themselves and telling you how they really feel. If they don’t want to talk to you, they can tell you so. If they are giving you legitimately polite messages that they are not available for friendship, take that to heart.

If they tell you they would like to chat or hang out, accept that kindness! Let them know you would like to see them, invite them to a specific thing. Take a chance on fun! 

I wonder what you mean when you say contacting them? I am going to take a psychic crack at this and say that you mean people from the internet. 

The internet can be a lonely, and isolating place. If you mean writing to people you follow or found online and striking up conversations, it can definitely make a person lonesome. It can feel like you’re yelling into the void, or that people disappear for no reason. That’s because, as much as you may have in common, you don’t know them fully. They could have a whole host of reasons for not responding as you wish they would. They have an entire, three-dimensional life, that you may never see. 

I challenge you to leave the house. Take a walk. Go get ice cream with someone local, someone you already know. 

Extend yourself. Sign up to volunteer somewhere you can be in direct contact with a population of people. Kids? Senior citizens? At-risk adults? 

Being of service to someone outside of yourself is the quickest way to break out of a routine of depressive scrolling and “piece of crap in the center of the universe” navel-gazing, in my opinion.

You may even make some friends. 

 

Dear Queer Abby

How do you stay sane? I struggle. 

Signed, 

Hard Time in Hanover

Dear Hard Time, 

Therapy, therapy, therapy, exercise, get off the internet, stop scrolling, interact with art or nature every day, be of service to others, make an effort to see friends, have an enjoyable pet. 

Good luck to you!


Nicole J. Georges

Nicole J. Georges is a writer, illustrator, podcaster, and professor from Portland, OR.