What Am I Supposed to Sound Like Anyway?

This week was another big week for me writing wise. I got started on a pitch for an anthology, submissions for a zine I’m co-editing about The Black Parade just opened up, my piece about my relationship with the character Dawn went up at Women Write About Comics today and I had FIVE comic reviews this week between Archie #6 and Barb Wire: Steel Harbor Blues at PopOptiq and Lumberjanes #23, Bitch Planet #7 and Sex Criminals #14 at Graphic Policy.

Oh, and I got a new job that hired me right away. That was exciting.

With all of this going on, I really wanted to talk about something happy today. Or at least review Deadpool. However, it seems like every time an issue of Bitch Planet comes out, it seems like men and the patriarchy find a way to test me as I hold my “I don’t give a fuck” stance. On a wider level, it was the judge in Kesha’s lawsuit to break her contract with Sony ruling against her, going for the “commercially responsible” option instead of getting a woman away from her rapist. On a personal level though, it’s more sneaky than that.

Back when I was in college, there was a guy I knew who was probably one of the most annoying people I ever met, but my roommate was really good friends with him so that made him my friend by association. He wanted to be a musician and he was a passable one at that. A bit too John Mayer inspired for my taste, but there’s always a crowd for that kind of music. He asked me to be his manager a few times since I was studying music management in school. I always told him no because I didn’t want to build him from the ground up. He needed to do some of that himself. I would give him advice when he asked for it though, but he always seemed to bristle when I gave it to him. He didn’t want to record a demo that sounded “shitty” and didn’t know how to burn a CD despite having a desktop set up he regularly recorded videos for his music with. He didn’t want to be on social media and once told me he was relying on luck to get his career off the ground.

I haven’t really been in contact with this guy since college. We’re still Facebook friends, but in the nearly four years since I graduated, we have not had an in person conversation.

However, there have been two times since I graduated college that he has contacted me privately on Facebook. Both times asking me to help with his music career. The first time I ignored him, but the most recent time raised my hackles when after telling him that no, I don’t know anyone who could review his album because most of my friends are comic book reviewers, he asked if I wanted to review his album.

At first, I was going to leave it alone after thinking many other harsh words because I didn’t want it to be a thing. However, it just kept bothering me, so I decided to type out what I wanted to say. After a few… harsher tries in a TextEdit document, I finally told him that no, I was not interested, especially after constantly ignoring my advice in college, but now only contacting me when he wants me to do something for him. I don’t waste my time on people who only treat me as convenience/free labor, so please do not ask me about it again.

His response back? “I don’t really get where this is coming from, but it doesn’t sound like you.”

Well, one, I think I made myself clear where I was coming from, but that last bit…

Now, I’ve been told “it doesn’t sound like you” before in recent memory, but that was in a regrettable situation where I was getting in a heated internet argument about linguistics and went a bit down the route of condescension in my anger, which I try not to be. That one I do get.

However, I don’t really get where a man who hasn’t spoken to me in almost four years and hasn’t seen me outside of Facebook gets to tell me I don’t sound like me when I tell him the truth.

Is it because I’m usually showing my enthusiast self on social media, being happy and excited about things I like? Or that he has selective memory of college, ignoring all the times I made jokes at his expense when he was being especially obnoxious? Or perhaps he was trying to make me feel guilty. I didn’t follow up because I was so angry about it that I had to step away before I really went full Kevin Owens.

Still, where does he get the right to tell me I don’t sound like me when he’s only had a glimpse into my life since college? He hasn’t seen my anger, my heartbreak, my depression, my grind… He doesn’t know the shit I talk when I’m hashing out my emotions. He hasn’t seen all the ways I’ve changed since then. He doesn’t know me. He just sees the excited me. Which is me, but isn’t the entire me.

Maybe I failed the tenet of “You don’t have to be nice, but you have to be kind,” but I definitely know I don’t owe him my time. I don’t owe him an argument. I didn’t owe him an explanation of my no nor my honesty, but I gave it to him anyway. I don’t owe him or anyone a smile or my voice.

And he, nor anyone else, gets to tell me what I sound like.

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