I think I worked myself out a bit in the car journey home. By this, I mean I think I know what's bothering me and has done forever. It comes out in the comedy, it comes into play when I'm low and moody, it's probably the core of my being, along with wanting to be liked and trying so very hard to make that happen, while often making it less likely.
The clue is in my comedy. A lot of what I do is very self-deprecating. I frequently make jokes where rejection of me, or my own self-deprecation is what makes the punchline work. Someone asked me why I insult myself so much on stage, and my answer was "so that I can get there before someone else does". This isn't it, though. It would be a good strategy to deal with bullying and I did, indeed, use it. However, the reason I do this sort of thing comedically is more likely to be a sort of inoculation against the sort of thing which hurts me. Jokes are like that. They're practice pain - the brain safely goes through the motions of something bad and then you can laugh it off.
What is this sort of thing which hurts me, then? It's rejection. It's not being good enough. Worse than that, it's having someone else chosen above me, as though I somehow needed to be shown proof that I'm not good enough. When you couple this with my innate greed and my desire for self-indulgence, you can see why I can be such an insecure arsehole at times.
What makes this worse, some of the time, is my strategy for dealing with things I do think I'm good at. I will automatically assert myself, using the things I know to be true, or the things I know that I know about, as the tools to prove myself. What I might be trying to say is something like "Please don't undervalue me in this respect. Look, I know X, or Y.". Alternatively, I might be saying "Hey you. Don't start imagining you're better than me when it comes to Z." The truth is, I'm not sure. Perhaps the only way I can demand my own respect is to somehow prove that there are others whom I respect less than I respect myself.
I'd like to think it's the other way around. Perhaps the only way I can feel respected is to prove myself to people whose respect I want to earn. To be honest, though, I don't have much evidence for this. When I'm comfortable, less insecure, and generally closer to people, then I think all this proving myself shit sort of evaporates and people can see me for what I am... and that's not necessarily a good thing, but I think I can get by on it, and I think people can see that I'm not the maniac I appear to be. However, I am aware, and have been made aware on a number of occasions before, that I come across as a bit in-your-face, especially when I think I know something.
All the in-your-face stuff works well for being a performer. That's what in-your-face can do. You put yourself forward as the big "I am". Bizarrely, it's when I perform that I find myself most humbled. I have my limitations. I can read an audience, in general, at least. It appears that I can't always read people, but then people don't always convey their feelings in their reactions - we all hide how we're feeling to some extent, and each person has different ways of doing this. It's only when you get to know them that you can spot the clues... either that, or you learn hypnosis and the superset of all people's "reveals" (or whatever they're called).
In summary, then, I don't want to be the rejected one. I don't want to miss out on stuff I want. I don't someone to be better than me. I want to fight for my status and keep it... except... well, I can't always do that.
I've seen relationships end and been aware that there's nothing I can do to save them. I know I can't beg someone into loving me. I know that I can't fight to have someone's love, or bargain them into feeling what they don't. I know that I won't be able to guarantee that I'll find a relationship with someone I fancy, since there are a finite number of people whom I actually might fancy, a limited amount of time to get to know them in, and several more interesting, more secure, more confident, more capable men per woman than just me. So, I fear rejection because I've had it all through my life, and I expect it when it comes to relationships.
I doubt I'm unique in this outlook.
People are born to think of themselves as unique and special. It's rare that I meet someone who is genuinely self-effacing. I will be self-deprecating to try to protect myself, or to try to find sympathy, or even, and I think this is true, because I genuinely have evidence that I'm not good at something. However, I still see myself as special. This is not a judgement, it's a heartfelt desire and an instinct which either comes from innate personality, early childhood conditioning, or just the way I was schooled. Who knows!?
I'm stuck with this personality.
Despite going round for a couple of weeks in September thinking otherwise, I'm not really a bad person. Sure, I make mistakes, and I'm quite crap at a lot of things I wish I were good at (and sometimes pretend to myself that I'm better at), but I'm quite an affable and positive individual with stuff to contribute. Perhaps, my confident statement of things I know or believe to be true is reassuring to some. Perhaps that's a positive side to this apparent egotistical bullshit. Perhaps some people need to be the ones to state things as irrefutable fact.
I feel like I am lower than second best and that there's little point in wanting to be wanted, since rejection is bound to be round the corner. This is not helpful. This ignores many genuine friendships that I've enjoyed over the years, with a few new friendships formed over the course of this year alone, for all of which I'm thankful. I know that it's greedy to want to be thought of more highly and maybe even to be desired by someone... I should take stock of what I've got and rejoice in it.
I have opportunity and resource that many could never dream of. I've just overset my expectations. As a result, I appear not to be as happy as I want to be.
It's something of a trap.
Right. Well, that's enough warbling on the subject of myself for one post. I may come to read this back at some point and think I've hit the nail on the head. Or, I may come back, read this, and think I'm a crap amateur psychobabbler and fall out with myself. Who knows. I guess it's going to be me alone for the foreseeable, so I'll have the time to try all options.