All the anxiety with none of the “not being an asshole.”

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He looked good. Better than I remembered. Waiting for our drinks at the bar, he told me it had been three years since we’d seen each other. I wished he were fully vaxxed and that we could make out. We sat down and I proceeded to verbally eviscerate his social circle for their moral and intellectual failings.

I am not what one would call an agreeable person. I was born without the part of your brain that tells you to let something go for the sake of likability and smooth social interactions. Only later does it occur to me, and only sometimes, that it might have been better in the long run to have not openly and frankly voiced my disagreement about some thing or another. Which is kind of the worst of all worlds. All the anxiety with none of the “not being an asshole.”

Most people, most of the time, prefer to be around people who are on the agreeable side. Often, disagreement is a sign of disrespect or denigration. And even when it isn’t, it’s often interpreted that way. The part of me that picks apart every argument and is skeptical about every claim probably doesn’t make it easier for me to thoroughly integrate into any community.

I’m trying to develop more space between when I have a disagreement and when I express it. I’m trying to be more strategic. And, as part of that, more likable.

But I’m not interested in becoming more agreeable. I think the part of me that picks apart every argument and is skeptical about every claim also makes me a better thinker. Hard to do groupthink when no ingroup will have you! And I really value that. I value being able to see consensus reality increasingly clearly over time. I think I’m better at it than a lot of people naturally. And I think it’s something I use to the benefit of others.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

What I’ve learned over the years is that there are other people who also want to more accurately perceive the world over time. There are people who want to be corrected, or just have to defend their beliefs. There are lots of people who value a good argument over an agreeable personality.

Thank fuck for them.

He texted me later. “Let’s not wait another three years for the next one!”

And I, for once, agreed.