Question a man’s happiness, and that man is lead to the realization that he’s not as happy as he could be. Similarly, if you bring up questions of love, man often realizes that he doesn’t have enough of it. Our concept of emotion is that we believe we could be experiencing more than we are right now, and therefore our current emotion isn’t enough. Unless we are experiencing something euphoric, our lives feel rudimentary and dull.
For the last year I’ve struggled with having a concept of my own emotion, especially love and happiness. The more I sit and think about it, the more depressed I become. At the same time, these emotions are things that I feel like I cannot ignore. How could I ignore my own happiness? How could I neglect myself like that?
These are fundamentals of self-confidence and self-assurance. The less confident we are in what we’re doing, the more we question our happiness and require others to assure that we’re going the right direction. We don’t think about happiness when we’re absorbed in what we’re doing. We don’t think about love if we’re out there loving the people around us.
With moving around four states in the past year, moving out of my parent’s house for the first time, and starting a full-time job, my life has changed significantly. Being gay and moving to the south has also changed my ability to find lover. When you leave your own group of friends, sometimes it’s hard to find new ones.
Joining Grindr was a way to take my mind off of myself and to focus of finding someone else. I wanted reassurance that where I was leading my life was the right direction. If only someone understood me well enough, maybe they could answer the questions I was asking myself. The difficulty with this comes from two angles; Grindr is not for finding a lover and nobody can reassure you that you’re following your own dreams.
Our existential questions in life can be dulled by asking the opinions of others. If someone else thinks everything is alright, then it must be. We don’t have confidence in our own views or we can’t handle the answers we have for ourselves. Instead, we seek them in others. Would it be alright if I followed my dreams?
It was almost six months ago that I first started using Grindr. When I moved out to Mississippi I wanted to see if there were gay men in the south. Although it’s silly looking back, I didn’t think there were going to be as many gays as in Minnesota. What I found on Grindr was a crowd of horny men, when I all I was looking for was someone to reassure my life was moving in the right direction.
Although it appears backwards, many people seek the same things that I did. We don’t find passion in our lives, so we feel the need to live it out of somebody else’s life. We want to find someone who is happy and can cheer us up because it’s easier to have someone else do it for us than for us than to do it ourselves. We want to find someone who is passionate because we ourselves want to be passionate.
The guys that I met gave me this passion and reassurance that I was seeking. Not only that but the compliments and ridiculous amounts of messages I received definitely didn’t reduce my confidence. I didn’t realize how often I was checking my phone for new messages and how dependent I was becoming on others.
When we seek these feelings outside of ourselves, we create false images of who we are and build weak foundations for our emotions. When we’re dependent on others for reassurance, what happens when they don’t deliver? Our self-worth diminishes and we feel unsatisfied with our lives again. That foundation we should have been building for ourselves crumbles.
Two months ago I finally settled down for my job in South Carolina. Unlike before, the men on Grindr weren’t changing and the crowd that had been giving me attention shrunk dramatically. Around this time I had started building my life in the areas I wanted to. I started vlogging, taking photographs again, and becoming incredibly involved in the art community again. When I started doing things I was passionate about again, I felt an immense happiness that no one else could have given me. I was becoming the person I wanted to be.
Self-Actualization was a word coined by social scientist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s. It describes a state where a person is the best person that they could possibly be. Rather than comparing individuals to each other, Maslow defined it as fulfilling one’s potential. Maybe my best isn’t as good as yours but everyone seeks reaching their own potential.
Around this time, I met a guy on Grindr who shared one of my passions. Since I was already doing what I loved, I had become self-actualized. This other person I found amplified my passion and thus my happiness. Being around him was almost intoxicating because I felt completely authentic. When I was around him I felt like I was more.
The danger in all of this is our dependency on others for our emotions. When someone else makes you feel intoxicated, it’s difficult to be away from them. All you want to do is drink up that feeling and just be around them.
In doing exactly that, I gave up on the other things I was passionate about. The projects I started working on ceased, my vlogging ceased, and my photography ceased. All of this was fine because I enjoyed spending time with him and sharing our passions. However, remove that intoxication and you’re left with only what you’ve built.
Somewhere along the lines it becomes easy to abandon your goals. It’s much better to spend time with someone you enjoy than to sit alone and slave away at something you love. The world is much more enjoyable with with two people.
During the few weeks of talking with this guy I decided to give up on Grindr. It wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I wanted anymore and frankly, I was tired of getting messages from old hairy men. Then the guy and I stopped talking and I wasn’t getting reassurance from the old hairy creeps anymore.
All of the building suddenly needed a foundation I hadn’t built. The passions I had were left neglected on my part and I came to a realization; there needs to be a balance between doing what you love and sharing that love with other people. I had spent way too much time sharing that love and not enough time cultivating it within myself.
When you ask a man if he’s happy, he’s suddenly forced to question what makes him happy. He starts to wonder if he could be happier or how things would be if the conditions were different. Am I in the best situation I could be in? Man forgets his happiness when he does what he loves. Instead he exchanges his happiness for bliss and self-actualization.
When you ask a man about love, we often think it’s selfless. We have an idea of love where we lose ourselves into the relationship. Our concept of self is given up to the other person. Our passions are exchanged for mutuality and we neglect ourselves.
When we find these things that we are passionate about, we stop asking the questions of love and happiness. We find ourselves in bliss and we stop thinking about if situations could be better. I want you to find that bliss and lose yourself in it. Share your bliss with those around you but don’t give it up. There is nothing more valuable in life that your own happiness and feelings of satisfaction.