Arty asks: I feel very self-conscious lots of the time. I’m overweight, and I have pimples and acne. My friends also call me mean and evil (though that’s just one guy) and aggressive and sarcastic, to an extent where they can’t tell if I’m even being serious or not. Of course, I know that most of the time, when they call me that, they are just joking around, but sometimes I feel they are serious. One girl even tells me that my voice just sounds a way in which she can tell that I’m being serious. Sure I’m loud, sometimes I’m ‘energetic’ and sometimes I shout (in a joking manner). But overall, I feel like one day, I’m just gonna be abandoned by my friends and that scares me. What do I do?
Hi Arty –
So if I see this correctly, you’re bigger than your friends, and your playfulness can be overwhelming to the degree they don’t know if you’re being playful or aggressive? ARTY YOU’RE ME!! That’s just what I get in the dog park! I want to play with everyone, but because I’m big and very active (I don’t have the skin issue, but no dogs do!), many of them get scared. Both dogs and people!
While pretty much all humans get self-conscious, and dogs don’t, it does sound to me like you’re dealing with a problem that we dogs do face a lot. Little dogs bark all the time, even bite a lot, and no one takes them seriously, just laughing at them and going “Oh you’re so adorable!” Then a huge dog makes one friendly bark and everyone is terrified they’re going to get eaten! You’d think this means us more-medium-sized dogs would have all communication perfect, but no, it doesn’t work out that way.
The truth is, Arty, everyone needs to adjust their energy somewhat to others. I can’t run up and jump on everyone the way I’d like to. Smaller dogs have to be more careful of people stepping on them than I do. And you – you’re a big guy with a voice that somehow intimidates some people (at least that one girl). So my advice is simple – learn to soften it. Learn to approach people in a way that shows you’re not threatening them.
But also learn that these qualities are YOUR POWERS, and you shouldn’t shut them all the way down. There will be times when it’s great that you’re big, and have that powerful voice! Don’t give that up! Think of the SpiderMan line, that with great power comes great responsibility. I’m saying to, yes, take that responsibility – but for heaven’s sake don’t give up the power!
I once heard a great line, that the definition of a gentleman is a man who knows how to play the accordion and then doesn’t. Yes that is meant to be silly (after all, lots of people love to hear accordions!), but there’s a lot of truth in it: Having the power to do something, and choosing when to do it, is the key to greatness. It does no one any good for you to deny your strengths, but it also doesn’t help you if everyone is always afraid of your uncontrollable presence.
So learn to be able to keep your voice down. And learn to be able to hold back your sarcasm. And (and this will take time) learn just the right amounts to let them out to serve your purposes.
If you can master that, you won’t just be Arty. You’ll be an ArtISTE!