Why I Left: A TSB Writer’s Farewell
All my life I’ve been immature. This became forebodingly clear when I was in 6th grade, and my friend Will and I threw a massive spitball at the head of our social studies teacher as she turned around to write something on the chalkboard.
Since her back was turned, she didn’t actually catch us in the act, yet she was determined to crucify the guilty parties. “Here’s what we’re going to do!” she screamed at the class, “Everyone is going to take out a piece of paper and anonymously write the names of who threw…who threw…this disgusting thing!” She pointed to the wet spitball, sagged across the floor like my hopes of getting away unscathed.
My classmates snapped to attention, scribbling down Will’s and my guilt with freshly sharpened, number two pencils. The papers were collected and read out loud, with a final tally of 28 votes for Will and I, one vote for Abraham Lincoln, and one for aliens.
Will and I were marched out into the hall, and before we were sent down to the principals’ office (who later suspended us), our irate teacher shrieked at us, told us that were immature little boys, and that if we didn’t grow up real fast that we were going to lead very, very miserable lives.
I didn’t learn my lesson—not then, not 20 years later.
I’m immature because I find it hard to move on with my life. I don’t live in the past, but I do live in the present. Often the life I know is the life I enjoy, so I avoid change as much as I can. Throwing spitballs and acting like a wiseass was a lifestyle I loved back when I was kid. The problem was, by 6th grade, most kids were beyond that stuff.
Every major change I had to make in life was forced upon me—never chosen. I “grew up” when I went off to high school because I started an entire new life, in a new school, with a new group of friends. I entered “adulthood” when I went off to college, again starting all over at a new school and with new friends.
I later got involved with the dating advice scene because I moved to New York City, knew no one, and wanted to alleviate my pain of loneliness. I’d just turned 24 when I started that “journey.” Five years later, I look back on my “dating advice era” as a very enjoyable few years of my life.
I met hundreds—if not thousands—of awesome, new people. I had crazy adventures. I helped people improve the quality of their lives. I attained a lifestyle of freedom that I couldn’t have even fathomed only a few short years ago. Cliché as it sounds, my life really became one big party…and I enjoyed every moment.
I wrapped myself in this cocoon of fun and awesomeness, never wanting to leave. I often bragged that I’d “graduated the real world” and was overturning the old cliché that youth is wasted on the young.
I was immature, and I liked it.
Then, as it always happens, change was forced upon me: I met a girl. Out of respect for her, I don’t want divulge too much about her or our relationship other than to say this girl represented everything I’d ever wanted in a woman, and that I feel she’s the person I’m meant to be with.
However, when she discovered my body of work in the dating advice niche, her reaction brought back memories of my social studies teacher reading the riot act to Will and I out in that hallway. Except this time, I wasn’t getting warned that my life was going to be very, very miserable if I didn’t grow up. No. This time, my life actually became very, very miserable when I got dumped because I hadn’t grown up.
The obvious irony of having my relationship ruined over dating advice was certainly not lost on me. Though, neither was the realization that I needed to grow up. Since much of my writing and advice came from experiences and epiphanies I had in my mid-twenties, I sort of insulated myself from growing older.
Every time I sat down to write a new article, prepare a new speech, or do anything as “Rob, the Dating Instructor,” I was doing it as my 24-year-old self. Don’t get me wrong: this was wildly fun at first. Yet, after a while, it felt like I was in that movie Groundhogs’ Day. I wasn’t growing, just repeating. Repeating. And repeating.
While the values and interests I had at 24 worked for me then, I’m certainly not the same person anymore. Or at least I don’t want to continue to be that person. Life is about evolving and challenging yourself to push beyond your boundaries and comfort zone, yet having to continually “bring back” my 24-year-old self kept me on a treadmill of mediocrity. I have big dreams, and those dreams were being put on hold indifferently by my immaturity, by my refusal to grow up.
Yet, had I not had a wake up call, I probably wouldn’t have made a change. When I saw the things I’d done as Rob through the eyes of someone I care about, and saw how much of a disconnect there was between the person I’m trying to become (which is the person she got to know) and the person who’s portrayed on the internet (which is the person I was years ago), I knew it was time to change.
Hard as it’s going to be, I need to change.
Dating advice may have helped me graduate from the real world, but now it’s time for me for graduate from dating advice. It had its place once upon a time, but now I need to step away. I appreciate everyone who’s read my articles, considered my viewpoints, and allowed me the opportunity to help you better understand women and dating.
Thank you for everything. And goodbye.
About Rob J. Rob J. is a writer and dating instructor in New York City. Themes that resonate in both his teaching and writing are masculinity, genuineness, rational self-interest, and general awesomeness.