This is (obviously) being posted on Friday. My first “Emo Wednesday” and it’s late. Here’s what happened: I wrote it Tuesday night and hated it. I hated it more than anything I’ve ever written for this blog. I’ve made a few changes since then, but it’s mostly in-tact. The entire purpose of this blog was to get me to stop being nervous about putting my writing out there, so for better or worse, here it is: Emo Wednesday (on Friday).

If “At Your Funeral” was the Saves the Day song that delivered me to emo, “Freakish” is the one that cemented the band and genre’s place in my teenage heart.

I feel like most people these days wouldn’t believe that I’m a natural introvert — I talk to people for a living, I’m pretty natural in conversation, and I enjoy being around people. That’s all the result of me forcing myself to partake in those social situations and, essentially, practice.

As a youth, I dreaded talking to people I didn’t know. I actually hated to buy things because it meant I’d have to interact with cashiers. The world became infinitely more complicated in the sixth grade, when the boys and girls in my class all of a sudden became keenly aware of their specific differences.

I watched a lot of romantic comedies growing up — why, I couldn’t tell you — and longed to be like the male protagonists who could strike up a conversation with a member of the opposite sex with ease. But when faced with having one of those conversations in during our lunch breaks or after school, I’d quickly squash the idea and keep walking. To no one’s surprise, this pattern continued into high school.

Well here I am
Don’t know how to say this
Only thing I know
Is awkward silence

These three lines encapsulate everything I always felt about interacting with girls I liked. I’d lose my mind in their presence and find the perfect words 10 minutes later, long after the moment had passed. Granted, that still happens to me, but I’ve learned to let go of what could have been a clever comeback or witty retort.

So I’ll go walking in the streets
Until my heels bleed
And I’ll sing out my song
In case the birds wish to sing along
And I’ll dig a tunnel
To the center of the universe

These metaphors are as emo as emo gets, and I LIVED for them back then. I’ve never been a terribly dramatic person, but I certainly wanted to feel seen, and this imagery really felt right. But if I ever get so low these days that I write something like this, please deliver a quick slap upside my head.

Your eyelids close when you’re around me
To shut me out
To shut me out
(don’t shut me out)

This part of the chorus gets repeated at the end, and it felt so painfully accurate at the time. I felt ignored by the objects of my affection. I felt like my words failed me and that I was shunned as a result.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized no one had actually shunned me. I had made myself a non-factor by not trying to get to know these people better to build a relationship that could maybe go somewhere. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. No one tells you that when you’re a shy Asian pre-teen/teen.

In the music video for the song, the muppet characters are subbed in for the guys who get all the girls. The ones for whom it’s easy, or so it would appear. The sad human guys all sit around moping, looking on jealously at the attention the muppets are getting. As a teenager, it felt like enough to be that mopey guy and to hope that one day things would be better. Things eventually did get better, but not through sheer happenstance or the passage of time — it took me stepping out of my comfort zone and facing possible rejection.

I’m no stranger to rejection, but those disappointments are fleeting. I didn’t learn that until I actually started putting myself out there, and it was annoying to know that it was so simple that entire time.

I would never have experienced the happiest moments of my life if I hadn’t put myself out there and pushed past those doubts and anxieties that told me I was freakish.

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