Covid has cured my need for approval

There is a beauty in rejection that I am starting to appreciate. When you tell me to ’fuck off, it is as if a choir of angels is caressing the feet of my soul. 

If you insult me, I get a chance to ask if there’s truth in what you say. If there is, I can choose to stop and learn while if it’s not true, it’s as meaningless as an ant’s flatulence (which is probably not meaningless for those close to the ant). Don’t get me wrong, I have been a validation junkie most of my life and still need a hit now and again. Just the other day, I was raging that my post about Santa got so few likes but then when one of my favourite authors reached out by email telling me she loved my work, I giggled like a schoolgirl with joy. So I am still suffering from craving and aversion to other people’s opinions of me. ‘Don’t leave me, please, please love me.’ There are moments (like that) in my life when I catch myself being a little boy, desperately in need of your approval. ‘Give me your smile.’ ‘Say yes.’ ‘Love me.’ ‘Laugh at my jokes and clap when I do something good.’ 

As a comic, I need your instant feedback to grow on stage. Whether you laugh or not will tell me whether I need to work on the jokes or not. When you laugh, I know it’s funny and when you don’t I know when you are too dumb to get it or maybe, just maybe (in extremely rare cases) I need to be funnier. Therefore, I need both your approval and your rejection on stage but as my buddy, Willy Shakespeare wrote, ‘All the world’s a stage’, and so, the same principles apply off the stage too. What I am saying, my dear sexy reader, is that rejection gives me the freedom to see what I desire and fear most. When I embrace it, it can feel so fucking good. ‘Fuck you, Aidan’. ‘Yeah baby, say I again…. Oh yeah stick your middle finger up too… oh yeah…. And slam that door baby mmmm!’

I have been getting loads of rejections lately. More than ever before and in some weird way it’s giving me strength. At first, I was a bit discombobulated but now I’m starting to appreciate the rejections more than I used to crave the pats on the back. Rejection is a new validation! I’m not fully free. Of course, I still remember blushing when girls would not kiss me in discos as a teenager as I stood there awkwardly with my legs crossed and Brillo cream in my hair. That pain will never go away. I carry those phycological scars in my heavy backpack of meaningless sufferings, squashed under my shames and regrets. However, something is occurring within me lately. I am noticing that I care even less about what you think than usual. I somehow put the heavy backpack of nonsense down without even noticing it. And I thank covid for this. Finally, it has been good for something apart from destroying family business and lining Jeff Besoz’s pockets. 

Before I rant on about that relentless topic… I remember doing a gig in Dublin and when I did some political jokes on stage, the entire audience went silent, I completely lost them, they really hated me. At first, I tried to win them back by softening my stuff, giving them what I thought they wanted (anyone but me) but it was too damn late. Then I just went ‘Fuck it’ and embraced their hate. I didn’t hate the audience or attack them or slag them off, rather I just did my thing without needing or wanting anything in return… I didn’t wait for laughs or even do ‘punch lines’, the audience becomes as meaningful as the furniture to me (but laughed just as loudly). I could have ended the set early and snuck out of the place with my head down and filled my backpack with more shame but I stayed on stage and took my time with the set. In fact, I went even slower and relished in their disdain, and in moments, I even turned my back on them. I smiled at my own ideas and entertained myself, I was hilarious (to me) and even laughed at my own ‘jokes’ which I rarely do as I know all the regurgitated punch lines all too well. I was talking to myself while they were witnessing my carefree soliloquy. It was so fucking liberating. And then something happened, I saw one guy in the audience, who looked like an angry, retired boxer with crossed arms smiled at me with pride. He looked at me as if I was his son and he had just caught me mooning the school principal. I was being bold but he secretly envied that liberated rogue in me. 

In the last few weeks, due to my opinion on covid regulations, I have had about 100 unsubscribes, along with some refreshingly nasty emails and Facebook comments. The other day I was told I probably won’t be welcome to see family at Christmas unless I jump through some covid hoops like getting tests, quarantining, and sticking a bottle of Dettol up my hole. As I was trying to digest the possibility of not being able to see my family, I received a message from a guy who saw me gig once;

“Aidan, you need to be called out on this. Your words and actions are those of a dangerous and reckless person. Is there any way that you might get a self-esteem boost from any other source other than the current public health crisis?  Clearly, you view this whole thing as a way to promote yourself. Unless you’ve done some advanced degree in medicine, public health… whatever.  just stop making everyone feel bad, angry, upset. Stop demeaning the efforts and sacrifice of people who are following the public health advice, staying apart from elderly parents, or sick relatives at a great emotional cost.”

He must think I’m a fool if the best way I can promote myself is to pick an anti-regulation stance and go against the mainstream view. Does he think my devious plan is to do the opposite of what the Irish media is pushing so hard and then maybe RTE might come knocking on my door? We started a dialogue and there was a longer response from him where he asked me to back to making jokes to which I responded, “I am making jokes about the ridiculousness of wearing masks but you don’t like those jokes. Maybe, you shall look back on this in the future and thank me.. maybe even send me a hamper of goodies as a form of an apology and a way of showing your appreciation of my courage… (just in case, I like Rioja wine and raw chocolate). kisses”

Is there truth in what he wrote? Am I dangerous for questioning the government, for not wanting to wear a mask or putting hand sanitizer on my hands? Am I reckless for flying to Sweden to see what was really going on? I checked in with myself and another Shakespeare quote comes to mind, “To thine own self be true.”

It appears to me that we are trusting our governments, media, and the pharmaceutical industry far too much, I prefer to trust within myself. For me, covid is being used as an excuse to destroy small business, much of our freedoms, and what it means to be human and I think we all have a duty to do what we can to make sure that does not happen. Saying that, if it truly feels right for you to wear a mask or take a vaccine, go for it, and best of luck to you. Please though, if you feel the need to attack others with words that come from fear or anger, maybe check in with yourself and, ‘are you certain this is the right thing to do?’ If your argument relies upon manipulating, insulting or attacking another, maybe there is a flaw within your reasoning and maybe you are acting out of fear or anger. I can handle your words or your rejection but now is a time for us to avoid division and to act from a place of knowledge and compassion. And know, I love all of you, regardless of what you were upon your face.

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