So I'm reading this book about Costa Rica given by our FrancisCorps director, Bro. Jim, and I get to this part about the culture of men down there. I get to this term Machismo, which means:
"Machismo almost demands that men be unfaithful---leading to Costa Rica's profusion of 'love motels', which offer special short-stay rates for men and their queridas or mistresses."
It goes on how this is not unlike other third-world countries, namely South-east Asia (I'm thinking, yep, like the Philippines) and it goes on how the "machismo" culture effects the Ticas:
"....because they come from a culture in which male infidelity is virtually condoned, this has made many of them quite mercenary about getting hold of a man who will at least provide them with a comfortable lifestyle while they put up with his affairs. They are not ashamed to admit this."
and then it goes on to say...
"Consequently, for many Ticas, comparatively wealthy foreign men are an irresistible honey pot."
First off, the whole situation kind of hurts my soul, but secondly, oh boy. "Honey pot." haha. For me personally when I go down there, this, my friends, is one of the things I'm worried about. I already have Liz, the volunteer I'm replacing at the high school this year, tell me that the girls are asking if I'm cute and are excited to meet me. She said, "Good luck with that." I also remember talking to a bartender who's from Costa Rica earlier this year, and I told him while I'm down there I'm not looking for anything really and plan to stay single. He straight up shook his head at me and said, "Impossible."
Am I weird for not looking forward to seeing beautiful Costa Rican women who might have the googly eyes for me? I'm not going to lie. I'm a guy, and my eyes will probably wander here and there, and I will talk to women and flirting might happen, probably more likely without me knowing or trying, but at the end of the day, that's not what I'm there for. Actually, quite contrarily, I find the whole thing distracting to my goals and what I want to do down there.
I think what really strikes the anxiety strings in me, is even though I haven't been to Costa Rica, I feel like I've been "there" before. I call it the attraction of the shirt. Lemme explain. In high school, I was part of this Diocesan Youth Board that would plan and lead weekend events/retreats. At these events, the guys and I wearing our Youth Board shirts would definitely get "the eyes", the up down, the look, but my favorite description is "the eyes." "The eyes" isn't just a stare, it's the half smile/half grin, something is in your mind, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know. I don't know what to do with it. If it's coming from someone you're attracted to, it's even worse, because you like that attention, but in your head you're thinking, "This is bad, this is bad, this is bad, Matt. She's too young!" Sophomore year, wearing the Freshman Retreat shirt definitely made me aware of "the eyes". I distinctly remember going to the orientation dance, and this real short girl with HUGE eyes kept looking me, at least every time I glanced at her she happen to be looking at me. Junior year, it escalated with the Student Minister shirt when I was in The House, ministering to freshman. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't enjoy it every now and then, but in the end it's always been distracting and not what I want or need.
I call it the attraction of the shirt because I'm convinced it's the shirt I'm wearing that attracts the girls. It's the he's older-he's a leader-he has some type of authority attraction. I'm convinced. Without the shirt, you feel like just like anyone else, and I definitely have noticed less eyes when I don't have "the shirt" on.
In all of these "shirt" groups I've been a part of, there have always been the more attractive guy in the group that would get most of the attention. These were the Andrew Lipetsky's and Mike Bzozowski's (ha, I never saw that last name coincidence until now. I would if things would be different if my name was Matt Aujersky). I probably was at one point envious of their added attention, but I think even the high school Matt was glad to not have more "fake attraction."
I call it fake attraction because I am convinced it's the shirt that does most of the work. Now I'm not going to sit here and ask for pity because I don't think I look good or have bad self-esteem. To describe it better, I know I'm a catch (a very humble and modest catch I might add), but I'm not a looker. There's a difference. I'm a catch because I'm confident and I treat people well. A looker is more someone who can attract any girl on looks alone. I'd say I'm not that person, and honestly, I don't want to be.
And I think that's what's hitting my anxiety strings. If anyone is going to be attracted to me, I want them to be attracted to the person I am and how I treat them and how I inspire them to be their better self. Not attracted to Matt the varsity jacket (oh yeah, I forget to mention my lacrosse jacket days in high school), the youth board member, the retreat leader, the student minister. The girls I've dated were exactly not that. They got to know the real me, the goofy, and not-so-cool Matt, but still liked me anyway. That's what I want. That's when I'm most comfortable, when I know someone likes me for me.
This fall I will be beginning my year of service as a service project coordinator for high school students at St. Francis College in San Jose, Costa Rica. I will be wearing the "I'm an American volunteer" shirt, and something tells me it's going to place me in situations I've been before. And honeypot or not, I don't really want any of it. My hope is to show the girls down there what true platonic male friendship can be like. For anyone who knows me well though, they know I'd be extremely happy with a school full of all boys. Not just because of my passion for men's ministry, but at least in that case there'd be a whole lot less distractions.
We'll see how it goes.