I’m sorry, I’m just laughing because you’re so cute, stressing out over something someone said on Facebook.”
Throughout almost my entire time as a student in the Netherlands, I was a bar tender. And as the cliché goes – you get a lot of attention as a bar tender. You’re easy to flirt with because people have to talk to you to order a drink (“2 beers and your phone number?” Guys, it will never work), and you’re less likely to throw a drink in the person-trying-to-clumsily-ask-you-out’s face, since that wouldn’t be very hospitable and all. When I first quit my bar tending job and moved abroad, I felt so at ease; nobody was bothering me, nobody trying to hit on me, I didn’t have to worry about dodging groping hands going for my bum, etc. But after about two months, I started thinking; wait a minute, what’s going on? Do guys here not like me? Am I still fun? I felt like I went from bar tender to invisible.
My friends all encouraged me to take control of my life and start asking guys out myself, some male friends were even claiming it was sexy when a girl asked them out. But as much as I wanted to believe this, I would be lying if I said that the sudden lack of guys flirting with me, didn’t take its toll on my self-esteem. (I have to add that the German way of flirting is very different from the Dutch way – direct and obvious -, something I still haven’t fully grasped after 2,5 years.) First of all, I had never asked a guy out before, and second of all, I figured if guys didn’t ask me out, they must not be interested.
Since getting up in the middle of the night to ask my neighbor out for a coffee via Facebook after chewing on the idea for 6 weeks and literally getting tired of being nervous just thinking about it last summer, I have gradually taken small steps in the right direction. Last July I was away for a month in a cottage in the woods in Canada with a very good friend of mine, and as happens when you’re away from you day-to-day life for so long, I started thinking and reflecting about all aspects of my life. It had already dawned on me that I should just take control, and as my friend had said to me about life in general: ‘if you put yourself out there and go after what you want, you will have a successful life’.
I had a talk with a friend and his younger sister a few weeks ago after I had just gotten my new tattoo. We got to talking about tattoos and tattooshops in Berlin. I recommended one to her, and my friend, initially worried about his little sister and her tattoos, revealed that even he might want to get a big piece himself next year and that was it. Or so I thought. A few weeks later, the younger sister had gotten a tattoo, on the same spot on her body as I had gotten mine. My friend jokingly became ‘angry’ with me and implied that she had gotten the tattoo because I had been talking so positively about mine.
I understand you want to blame somebody else for your own weaknesses and challenges – you can come over but you can’t smoke, otherwise I will smoke as well! – but why feel the need to blame others for mistakes of people close to you?
I don’t say I’m guilt free of any form of ‘the blame game’. In my case, I tend to point out things around me that make my mistake feel less bad towards myself. Example; I was in a car with a friend of mine in Canada, and we had just gotten coffee (if that’s what you can call it) at Tim Horton’s at a stop next to a highway. I was sitting in the passenger seat, trying to open my sandwich bag with my cappuccino held together by my knees when my friend accelerated and the contents of the full coffee cup spilt all over my jeans and the passenger seat. My friend exclaimed “oh my god! what are you doing?” and after apologizing, I immediately said “to be fair though, your car is a fucking mess already” (which it was, but that’s beside the point). I shift the blame onto the messy car to make my stupid action seem less bad, even though it is quite irrelevant.
Berghain panorama bar; a famous, legendary, freaky techno club in Berlin for the young, hot and hip. I need to find the best outfit or they won’t let me in. I haven’t had eye shadow on my face in years but I’ve got to bring it all tonight or they won’t let me in. “Let’s play the gay-card, they might let us in for sure!”Unfortunately, the 2ndmale-player to actually play the gay-card has a date with a Russian girl so he’s out of the picture. “If they don’t let us in, flash your boobs!” “Maybe you should flash them anyway and they might let us in for sure!”
One hour, one make-up and dressing session and half a liter of beer later, we are on the way. The building is not impressive, but the three buffed men in black at the entrance sure are. In line we talk more tactics but I just say: “well, we can’t really change anything about it anyway, so we’ll see”, but you can see every brain waiting in line calculating their chances. It’s time. We’re up next. One of the guys looks us up and down and asks “zwei?”,we: “nein, drei”… “no, step out of line.”
As we walk the short distance back to the taxi I hear my fellow party people arguing about why we didn’t get in. I wait for the feeling of rejection to kick in, for a door in the back of my mind to open a can of unknown insecurities but as I’m standing there in my party outfit and a summer jacket, I actually just feel cold. Next stop: Watergate. Same game, different club. This time, after rejecting the people in front of us, we get in.
As we stand in line to buy our tickets and get frisked, I wait for the feeling of victory to kick in but all I feel is the frustration of having to pay € 12,- entrance for the party. After ordering a beer for € 4,- (!) we immerge ourselves to the dance floor. The DJ is ugly with an ‘80’s mustache but he’s good and I’m surrounded by young, hot and hip people. At least, I think so because it’s so dark I can’t recognize any features of my fellow young, hot and hip people standing further away than half a meter.
After an hour an a half of expensive drinks, dancing to techno and hurting my ears to the loud repetitive beat I think ‘fuck it’ and go home. Some people might argue that I should’ve stayed to ‘get my moneys worth’ but why waste my time in a place where I’m not enjoying myself? The only time I’ll pay €12,- to get in without blinking, is at the cinema. I’m not saying I don’t like dancing in clubs, and going out in anything other than a bar but the whole ‘being a young, hot and hip person in a young, hot and hip club in Berlin’ -game has been wasted on me from the start. For me, going out is a way to have fun and blow off steam, no matter what you look like or how much money you can spend. Because it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear or how much make-up you put on your face because the next day – hung over as hell in sweatpants and laziness – we’re all the same.
I should’ve told the DJ I loved his moustache.