Tuesday, December 08, 2015


I don't actually know how common this situation is, because it tends to be exchanged between two people in private. If at all. And at least in my case it is very assymetrical, as in I tend to be on the recieving end of the confession rather than the confessor.

But it happens to me periodically, which is to say I have somebody confide in me in a quiet moment after a period of knowing (or knowing of me) that they find me intimidating. I do experience a feeling of intimidation, but most commonly it relates to approaching artists that I actually admire, the thing is that I have a professional need to cross that line and put myself out there. To back down is to betray my craft and if not lose, forestall all I've invested.

Aside from that, the notion of finding somebody intimidating, particularly somebody like me, is very strange from the inside looking out.

I think perhaps best captured by Omar's trip to get Cheerios. Though obviously I am not a rip-and-run gangsta. I'm a call center employee and artist, who has probably earned less than the street value of the package Omar picks up at the end of that clip.

But recently through some correspondence, I had the good fortune to actually get walked through the cognitive side of being intimidated, by me particularly. it's as fascinating as it is frustrating.

There are certainly behaviors I have that are consistent with intimidation. I tend to unconsciously dominate the spaces I am in (once comfortable) and rarely adobt sumbmissive body language. There are times I consciously do this as well. I also have habits of being dismissive of people, terminating conversations etc. That part I can own, and have owned for years.

But the insight was, how much of intimidation just happens in the observers mind. Kind of like this old Gregory Peck movie 'The Million Pound Note' which I just wikipediad and learned it was of course based on a Twain short story. But basically, because this guy has a million pound note back at the turn of the century, he never has to actually spend any money, his wealth never gets tested.

In the same way, having the rationale of somebody who wants to approach me but can't, spelled out for me is an exercise in not even testing the basis of my intimidation. I'm very grateful to this person for writing to me, and in this specific case, it had no basis.

Changing all the deets, the process worked like this. They observed me and concluded that central to my life was a love of pottery and ancient persian history. They felt they knew nothing about these topics and thus would not have anything to offer on them conversationally. So they didn't converse with me.

If these two fields were truly my heart and soul and domain of expertise, then I don't actually need anyone I interact with to know shit about them. This is how I presume everyone works. We all seem to have the intuition that we don't need to hold a medical degree ourselves to converse with a doctor. And some doctors presumably are passionate about what they do.

Indeed, I don't actually need anybody to be anything. Particularly not for me. What I need is to find what is interesting about other people.

I'd like to know more about intimidation. The psychology of it. This isn't the healthy application of anger I am talking about where intimidation is used to avoid potentially costly conflict. But where people find other people unapproachable. I suspect it might be akin to judgement in some way, perhaps its reverse. Judgement is employed most commonly to find people who are even worse than us at things we are insecure about. Perhaps intimidation is where we find people who by their existence emphasise our own felt deficit.

It would apply to my relationship with artists I admire, and possibly fit my friends description as well.

There is of course a self-fulfulling prophecy about being intimidating though, in that I don't actually desire the company of people that cant step to me, or converse with me. Of course, if people can merely enact these behaviors, they are no longer the people I don't desire the company of, they are people I would readily befriend.

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