Social Club for Hermits; Role Models and Pedestals

Social Club for Hermits is a space where I, an anxious person who still kinda likes people, reflect on social skills, boundary setting, anxiety management and self improvement strategies that have been helpful to me. Hopefully I’ll say some things that are helpful for other anxious people who still kinda like people. New posts the first and third Sunday of every month.

When I was an ultra-conservative homeschooled Christian child, the youth leaders around me were very concerned with role models, as in “(insert literally any Disney actress here) was such a good role model before she took her top off.” It was a double edged tool of control. It pressured adults to follow narrow standards of behavior, because won’t somebody please think of the children, when those adults inevitably failed, the children got to see the social censure that would come. As a result, when I started drifting away from that world, one of the first things to go was the idea that I needed a role model. Role models were all about the idea that there was one right way to be, and everyone had to be that one right sort of person all the time Or Else.

Around that time I also ventured into the world of, gasp, secular TV, and got hooked on Scrubs. One episode of it taught me more about role models than any number of sermons.

Scrubs is a hospital sitcom that happens to be objectively the absolute best medical TV show in the universe. (House and MASH are tied for second place. No disagreements in the comments; Lane hath spoken.) One of the four protagonists, Elliot Reid, has great character arc. In her first episode she is insecure, neurotic and extremely bad with people. However, she recognizes this about herself and keeps trying to do better. Where many shows would constantly teach her a lesson and then hit the reset button, Scrubs let her grow, but at a gradual pace that was detailed and realistic.

In season three she meets psychologist Molly Clock, who she immediately latches onto as a role model, and then learns Molly has terrible taste in men. Her current boyfriend is a convicted felon, all of her exes are similarly dysfunctional. The lesson of the episode, for Elliot, is that if she holds out for a role model who is perfect in every way, she will never have a role model. Molly truly does have many of the qualities that Elliot lacks, and needs to learn. She also has her own issues that she’s aware of and trying to handle. Elliot was trying to become a better person by becoming Molly. What she should do is try to be an Elliot who is, in some ways, more Mollyish.

This was my first good lesson in role models. Don’t try to find a perfect person. There is no such beast. Instead, find a flawed person who is still closer to the kind of person who you would like to be, and let them be a rough guide. When I was in college, I found such a person. I was trying to succeed in college but felt I was drowning in anxiety, and she lived her life fearlessly and filterlessly. She also was a bit judgmental and not the best critical thinker, but that was all right. I didn’t need a role model in those areas; I needed someone to show me how to calm down and act without panicking over every decision.

If you have anybody who helped show you how to grow, please leave a comment.

Veils and Themes

Originally posted on The Writerly Blog of Lane William Brown:

I am back home, and tired. The trip to see my brother was good. One of the goals was to see the play he produced, Veils by Tom Coash, and it was excellent. I had been working on a post about suspense, but that actually fits quite well into October’s theme about scary stories, and the play is making me itch to write something about it.

Between how mentally tired I am and how quickly this has to be done, in order to fit my four posts a month quota, this will be a short piece. That feels a bit unfair, as I think the play deserves reams of pages of praise, but a few hundred words will have to do.

Veils is about two young women in Cairo, one American and one Egyptian, one conservative and one boisterous and modern. Contrary to most American’s expectations, Samar, the Egyptian, is…

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Is Repetition Always Bad?

Originally posted on The Writerly Blog of Lane William Brown:

One of the most acclaimed books of modern YA fiction is John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Despite this, I somehow happened across a negative review. It was actually a fairly good negative review too. By that I mean the reviewer explained her perspective clearly, without resorting to personal attacks on John Green or his fans, and made points to support her case. At the end I still disagreed, but I also felt like I was disagreeing with an intelligent person, which is so much more pleasant than the alternative.

One of the points she made is that John Green keeps revisiting the same ideas. His protagonists bear a strong resemblance to each other, as do his love stories and their character arcs. At the time I watched the review, I had actually only read TFIOS, so every other one of his books I have looked at through the…

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Social Club for Hermits; What Am I All About?

Recently I’ve been thinking about who I’m writing to and what the scope of this recurring feature is. As it happens, those thoughts have intruded during much of the time that I’ve been trying to draft my latest SCFH post. So I’m going to wonder aloud, and hopefully you all will get something out of this as well.

When I started this series, and the separate blog that preceded it, I was inspired by Captain Awkward. For those who don’t know (which is probably an extreme minority because she is way more famous than me), Captain Awkward started as an advice columnist for socially awkward people trying to figure out how to people. Early on in its run, it started gathering a lot of questions from people dealing with toxic, chronically rude or abusive people. The Captain did a great job fielding these questions. The trouble is, most of the time the solution is the same; calmly but firmly set some boundaries, and if they don’t listen, go away. There are often details that change in terms of how easy it is to get away from that person and whether this person really can or cannot take the hint, but the basic message is standard. And don’t get me wrong; for people in that situation, it’s a great message. If you are struggling with Excessively Nice Person Syndrome, and you need a pep talk and some scripts for standing up for yourself, go there right now and take a trawl through the archives. It will do so much good.

The only problem is that “set down hard and fast non-negotiable boundaries or leave them” isn’t really advice that works well day-to-day. It’s advice that works with people who nobody will, hopefully, run into more than a few times in their life.

The truth is, awkward isn’t one uniform problem. There’s the awkward of “I feel constantly afraid of people and try too hard to please them” and the awkward of “I am easily distracted and lose track of important everyday stuff.” If you’re into Myers-Brigg’s, there’s the intellectual awkward of a strong T and the reclusive awkward of a strong I, and the intense super-awkward of strong INT-anything. There’s the awkward of “I literally have mild autism.” Sometimes, it’s even the awkward of “if you look deep into my soul, you will see that I’m kind of an asshole who doesn’t really care about people that much and tries to justify it by saying woe am I, nerd with no filter that I am.” All of these need radically different types of advice.

When I think about it, all along I’ve been writing to myself. I’ve been giving myself the advice I wish somebody would give me, and saying it aloud because I hope some of it is good for other people. Some of it is stuff that I need to remind myself to do. Others are things I already do, but I’m giving myself a pep talk to remind myself that it’s okay; these tricks are working, Lane, you’ll be fine. Once in a while, I’m just acknowledging to myself that stuff is hard and patting myself on the back. Hopefully, as I say that, somebody else will get some benefit from it.

So yeah, it’s less a social club for hermits, and more awkward advice to myself. Perhaps a title change is in order…

Thanks for tagging along with this rambling navel-gazing. Coming up soon; thoughts on role models!

Reviewing Veggie Tales as an Atheist; Larry-boy and the Rumor Weed

Originally posted on The Writerly Blog of Lane William Brown:

You know, the whole reason my parents had me watch all this stuff was so me and my siblings could grow up virtuous and pleasing unto God. When I rewatched this for my review, I was drinking a bourbon and coke while my gay boyfriend lounged totally naked on the couch. Not for any pervy reasons, it was just laundry day. Still, take that fundy upbringing!

This one, like the previous Larry-boy, scared me as a kid, but I did watch it, very bravely. Hooray for young me. It opens with Larry-boy saving two peas from an evil scallion who took their milk money. This establishes that Larry-boy is a real superhero, despite the fact that Jr. will once again be the actual day-saver.

Oh, and that Larry accidentally creates the villain by knocking a plant onto the telephone wires of a gossiping housewife.

I love how she's vaguely sinister, and yet kinda weirdly likeable. Like you should know she's trouble, but you're so gonna talk to her anyway. I love how she’s vaguely sinister…

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Asking for Help – Please Share and Help Me Find My Sister


As someone who loves my sister more than anyone on this earth, this really touched me. I dunno how much this reblog will help, but who knows? Good luck to Jason Chandler Cushman!

Originally posted on HarsH ReaLiTy:


[This post has been edited from the original]

I have tried before to locate my sister. I have failed. Part of me wants to never try again. A lot of me hates that part of me. I will try again because there is always a chance she might see this. One can hope.

My name is Jason Chandler Cushman and I was born in Pusan, South Korea in 1981. I have a sister who is a few years older me. I believe she is probably 37 now and her name was Ahn Jung Hee, my birth mother’s name is Kim Ie Soo. Our mother left us on a street when we were young. I was 2 years old and my sister was 5 I believe. We were taken to an orphanage and my mother later returned for only my sister. That was the last time I saw her. I found this…

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Social Club For Hermits; Five Awkward Things

Social Club for Hermits is a recurring feature where I talk about socializing as an awkward, shy introvert. Hopefully I do so in a way that is also helpful to fellow awkward recluses. Tune in the first and third Sunday each month. Unless you don’t want to. Who am I to tell you what to do? I’m so sorry. (cowers in corner)

I’ve had a rough day. What was supposed to be a great time canoeing with my boyfriend turned into an anxiety attack followed by a hungry crash. I honestly don’t feel like telling people what to do with their social worlds right now, because I feel totally overwhelmed myself. So instead, I’m going to take a moment to be humble, and list some things that I still don’t get about hanging out with people.

  1. How do you know how you’re supposed to greet somebody? Like, waving, shaking hands, fistbumps, hugs? Well, with the latter, it’s safe to assume “not hugging” initially and then you can ask, but the rest of the stuff? I’m one of those people who is always starting the midair snake charming dance of “is this a handshake? A fistbump? Can I make this look like I meant it to be a twitchy wave all along?” Doing a whole consent negotiation for those smaller gestures doesn’t seem worthwhile.
  2. How long am I supposed to talk to somebody I sort of know a little and bump into somewhere? I never know how to extricate myself from those conversations once they begin, and I spend most of them shaky and awkward and then afterward I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that I wasn’t totally sucky. Often if I see somebody I know, and they haven’t noticed me yet, I just hide. It saves a lot of time.
  3. Speaking of which, how do you extricate yourself from conversations? I recently got over my aversion to minor lies, which has been helpful, because now I can frequently fake an urgent place I need to get to. “Gotta run to a G-tube training! (that is in about fifteen minutes and just two doors down, but they don’t need to know that) Nice to see you! Take care!” Before that I just had to wait until they said goodbye, and sometimes they would be really chatty or be waiting for me to end it and there would be those awful silences. Yeah.
  4. What are my hands even doing? You know what I mean. I think hands are actually little flesh cars inhabited by aliens. Quantum locked aliens, like the Weeping Angels, except they just disappear when you pay attention to them. That’s why my hands are great at being normal until the moment I’m in a conversation and wondering what I should be doing with them, and then they turn into floppy messes of awkward.
  5. How do you know which of the nice people who you see at work or at social events would be cool with being actual real world friends with you? I mostly just assume they aren’t until they do something friends-y to me. I think I’ll always worry that some of them are doing the same to me.

What are some things you still struggle with?