Kevin Wolfhard (@kwolfhard) knows what’s up!
If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?
I was feeling super crappy today (damn you PMS and a lack of sunlight), so I am so thankful to Kevin for his unbelievably wise words, because they boosted me up and reminded me of what’s important in life.
Owning who you are (which I find challenging to do all the time, but it feels so good when I do own who I am) is the best way to cope with feeling like a freak!
If you want to look at some gorgeous photos, please follow Kevin on Instagram: @kwolfhard.
It’s been close to 8 years since I’ve drank alcohol. I’m an alcoholic and as such I choose to abstain from alcohol because, for a variety of reasons, I was never able to “handle my alcohol” and often ended up making a fool of myself while in a blackout state.
I don’t want to drink again. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t miss alcohol. I think I abused it in part because of how damn socially awkward I am, not because wine is delicious or anything like that.
As a kid I was really confident, outgoing, and never thought twice about what I was going to say or do. For most of elementary school I was popular, but as puberty hit my confidence plummeted. I had a strict mother, so flirting or dating boys was something I was taught not to do, and that affected my social status. By grade 7 how sexy a girl was started to become what the boys were interested in, and so since I didn’t look or act sexy my social stock was weak and I felt like a loser.
Anyways, by the time I hit high school I was full on uncool. I remain that way to this day. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 18 years old. Due to my negative relationship with alcohol via how I saw it affect my father (he went to rehab multiple times during my childhood and struggled to stay sober) I took the perspective that I would never drink. Then one day when I was 19 my impulsive brain changed its mind and I decided I wanted to drink.
The first night I drank I got totally out of control, which lead to my house getting trashed during a party, and the cops getting called. My mother and sister hated me when they came home from Toronto the next morning to find their home in quite a different state than they’d left it the day before.
I could only remember bits and pieces of my first night drinking and that night was definitely an indication of how almost all of my future drinking experiences would unfold.
The thing is I have a lot inside of me that I’d like to let free. For example, by dancing like a ma-ni-ac. But since I was uncool and didn’t feel confident, I was incapable during my early 20s of letting myself go wild while sober (for the most part I’m still incapable of doing this in front of anyone who isn’t a close friend or my boyfriend). Also, since I viewed most other people as more attractive than myself, anytime I was in a party or social environment with any people who weren’t close friends I immediately started drinking copious amounts to try to help myself relax and feel more comfortable around the people I was intimidated by.
Then I’d act a fool and feel very ashamed the next day. Then I’d feel even more self-conscious and nervous the next time I entered a social environment, especially if the same people I’d been blackout drunk of in front of before were there, so the cycle would continue and the need to use alcohol as a social lubricant, or more appropriately social flood, carried on.
Eventually, I reached my breaking point and was able to admit to myself that I was an alcoholic and the only way to ensure that I didn’t get super drunk ever again was by stopping drinking entirely.
The plan worked because I haven’t had another drink of alcohol since I quit at age 24. I still continued to have an addiction to marijuana that only came to an end 2 years ago, so it’s not to say I abstained from drugs after I quit drinking, but I didn’t have a substance to rely on that took away from my self-consciousness and stopped my incessant stressed-out internal dialogue like I did with alcohol.
I think I thought that the longer I was sober I would suddenly become relaxed and totally at ease when going to a party or meeting new people.
But that hasn’t been the case. I still feel minor levels of panic when entering a party or entering situations where I don’t know the people. It might not seem like that on the surface because my approach is to push on through and be openly friendly and enthusiastic, but I’m usually feeling a lot of fear at the same time.
One thing I was able to overcome 2 years ago was my fear of dancing in public. Now I’m able to go out to clubs sober with other people or alone and dance my heart out.
It’s the social situations with groups of people that still really freak me out.
Part of this is because I am definitely not a “chilled out” person. I’ve got A LOT of energy, which is both a gift and a curse. What sucks is when I’m around people either at a new job or at a party and someone tells me to “chill out”, “relax”, “don’t be nervous”, “don’t let them see your fear” (this last one was told to me by a work supervisor before I started to teach a new, high-level class and it immediately caused my stress level to spike because it indicates that I am showing my fear and somehow need to make it immediately disappear–not possible). Also, before I was okay with dancing sober it used to make me so uncomfortable when I wouldn’t be dancing and the dancing king or queen who seems to have no fear of dancing in public (but I also noticed the only people who ever tried to force me to dance when I wasn’t up to it were drinking themselves…coincidence? I think not.) would point me out and try to get me to dance.
Ahhhh…I would wonder, “Can’t you see I’m incredibly self conscious? Everyone isn’t a social butterfly like you…please leave me alone so I don’t feel even more weird than I already do”. I don’t think anyone had bad intentions in these situations–they’re enjoying themselves and probably just want me to enjoy myself in the same way they are–but it only lead for me to feel even more like a sober loser who is way too uptight and not easygoing like everyone else.
My body language is rigid, and I know that. I never know what to do with my hands. For example, I took a counselling course at UBC this summer. We had to videotape ourselves with a “client” (another classmate) and practice being a “counsellor” and critique how we moved and spoke and then receive feedback from the instructor about the same things. One of the first things my instructor focused in on during my first critique (thankfully I was able to greatly improve and “lean in” more by the last assignment) was how my body language was awkward and closed-off. I wasn’t surprised. I know that this is the way I appear to others and it was a minor consolation to have my instructor confirm this, because at least it shows my perception is not all in my head.
The point I’ve reached now though is I’m no longer entering situations like this and constantly repeating “relax” over and over to try to seem calm. I am hyper. I do have an excess of energy that doesn’t always flow out of me in a perfectly dispersed way. My body isn’t free-flowing and that’s OKAY.
I’m sober and I’m a socially awkward geek. I am who I am and I’m happy to have reached the point where I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. Oh, and when it comes to the supposedly chilled-out people who have told me to slow my roll, are they really all that chill themselves if they’re telling someone else how they need to behave when I was just doing my own thing?
Artist: Isomers. Song: All Failures.
This is the first video I’ve directed, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I consider myself a onesie-connoisseur, so it is no small feat that Aramis Starfish (far right) was wearing the best one I’ve seen so far last night…and yes that is a challenge to all you onesie-wearers. Aramis on bass and her bandmates-Lana on the drums, and Johnny Wildcat on guitar-took over the stage as The Furniture at Lana Lou’s and the crowd went wild (almost everybody was up and dancing to the music).
The Furniture‘s songs are so much fun, full of unbridled energy, and raw. One of the people who watched the show with me said his favourite thing about Aramis’ stage presence was that she totally relished in being the frontwoman…complete with sexy eye rolls, intense stares and tempting smiles for the audience.
If you’re going to ask for people’s attention, you gotta offer them up something special (I think) and Aramis and the rest of The Furniture surely did. Check out Aramis’ interview below:
“I love the diversity of Vancouver. I love that anyone is everyone. Everyone is anyone, and, I don’t know, I’ve always really loved the inclusiveness of the neighbourhood. Especially the Downtown Eastside, which I’ve been a part of for about 15 years.”
“I’ve always felt like a freak and an outsider, which brought me to Vancouver which made me feel included in the beautiful world of freakdom that is here. Let your freak flag fly. I think music is probably what has gotten me through all of my weirdness. I’m not sure why but people seem to be open and responsive to us individuals sharing their uniqueness or their weirdness or whatever. I’ve always had a pretty positive response.”
Words of wisdom: “Don’t shy away from feeling alone sometimes, because it’s super important in how you figure out who you are.”
“I’ve definitely felt like a freak and an outsider…I love fashion, and I love personal expression. And I think as a young, adult female trying to figure a way out about your look and everything like that, it can be really hard, so I think my advice, or like what helped me, is just to like give in to what you like. And like, there’s people out there, so stick with it.”
I noticed Steph while on campus at UBC today because she’s very beautiful. I’m so glad I approached her for an interview though instead of just admiring her from afar, because she is also very sweet and intelligent. Steph knows what’s up!
Mad Dog and his adorable pug, Yoda, are local fixtures, and he generously shared a few of his thoughts with me today.
In terms of why Mad Dog loves Vancouver, he thinks that it’s because: “I came from Alberta when I was 13 years old, and, like, if you were gay you had to stay in the closet or else you’d get beat up. I love Vancouver for being who you want, and, like, no big issue about it, right? That’s what makes Vancouver”.
My obligatory second question “If you’ve ever felt like a freak or an outsider, what helped you through it?” generated the following response: “I’ve always been a freak, and that’s fine because I’d rather be a freak than a straight normal person”.