All posts by Steven Zawila

And that’s why I play Super Mario instead of Fortnite

If there’s one thing my friends seem to enjoy doing too much of, it’s giving me crap about the fact that I love playing old Nintendo games instead of more “serious” games like Fortnite or PUBG. The reason why is that I always found those old Super Mario games therapeutic…

…while those shooter games have a way of making me rage and wanting to throw my controller at the screen. Every time I get killed, I start yelling at the game like…

“WHY!? Why did that kill me?”

…and then I come up with a million reasons—other than the fact that I suck—as to why I got killed.

  • Was my opponent probably cheating? Yep!
  • Does he have better skills than I do? Nope.
  • Was it probably the lag that got me killed? Yep!
  • Is it possible that my opponent had a better strategy? Nope.

And that’s why I play Mario instead of Fortnite.

This sort of behavior is relatively harmless (and mildly amusing) when it comes to video gaming. When it comes to other areas of our lives, though, mindsets like these can often hold us back in very real ways.

Continue reading And that’s why I play Super Mario instead of Fortnite

Potato chips and life lessons

Looking back on 2019, one of the biggest accomplishments I’m proud of this year is making a career change into my dream industry (yep, I work a full-time job just like everybody else). This is something that I’ve wanted to do for the past few years, but I’ve never gotten around to actually doing it.

It was always one of those “important, not urgent” things in the back of my mind. The fancy scientific term for this is cognitive dissonance—basically, that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t (or when you’re not doing something you know you should.)

An example of cognitive dissonance that we can all relate to is eating a bag of potato chips even though you “know” it’s unhealthy. Whenever I do this, I always end up telling myself things such as:

  • “Ah, it’s just one bag of potato chips”
  • “I don’t eat potato chips that often anyway”
  • “I’ll work it off later”

Take a wild guess at how many times I’ve actually “worked off” a bag of potato chips after eating it.

Zero?

Yep, that’s correct.

Sure, it’s easy to identify this sort of self-defeating self-talk when someone else says it. But how many of us are guilty of sabotaging ourselves through our own self-talk, especially around women?

Continue reading Potato chips and life lessons

How to become confidently outcome-independent around women

The holidays are coming! It’s the time of year when you start seeing Christmas lights and other festive decorations.

It’s also the time of year that used to stress me out the most.

You see, I always used to put a lot of pressure on myself to find a girlfriend in time for the holidays. It’s the time of year that you spend with people you love, and I always wanted to find a nice woman and take her home to meet my parents during the holiday season.

What I didn’t realize is that I was actually making it harder on myself by doing this. Since I was putting all these arbitrary deadlines around when I “had” to find a girlfriend, I was starting to come off as desperate to the women that I talked to. As I’ve written before, women don’t want a man whose cup of life is only half full.

After trying to talk to women and striking out a few times, I began to ask myself…

“How do I stop coming across as desperate when talking to women?”

…which was a good start, but it was still the wrong question. Eventually, I started having more luck talking to women when I stopped asking myself that question and started asking this one:

“How do I stop being desperate when talking to women?”

Continue reading How to become confidently outcome-independent around women

That one time a dead fish kicked my butt

It’s been a while since my last article, huh? Looks like the last time I’ve written something was…let me check…

…back in October 16, 2019…

Welp.

As per Quietly Romantic tradition, anytime I go too long without publishing something new, I get to post something embarrassing about myself. So, here’s a picture of me eating sushi that has WAY too much wasabi on it:

Yep, that’s me getting my butt kicked by a dead fish. I’m sure I’ll sleep well tonight knowing that a picture of myself literally crying now exists on the internet.

I’m unapologetic about the fact that I’m a crier, and the idea that men can be emotionally sensitive is an example of something that I’d love to see talked about more in today’s world. There are a lot of men’s issues in the world that deserve much more attention than they currently get. On that note, here are a few links to people doing a beautiful job of talking about these issues.

Continue reading That one time a dead fish kicked my butt

The ABC’s of being confident

I was never a confident person.

If I had a crush on a woman, I’d always wish that I could be confident enough to go up to her and just start talking to her. I could never bring myself to do it, though. My hands would get clammy, I’d get that sinking feeling in my stomach, and I’d suddenly find myself stuttering like crazy.

Meanwhile, I’d watch other guys go up to women and just start talking to her. And the most fascinating part was that, if they asked her out and she ended up turning them down, then they just shrugged it off as if it were no big deal!

How were other men able to talk to her so easily and take rejection in stride, while I couldn’t muster up the courage to even begin a conversation?!

Here’s what I know now about being confident that I wish I’d known back then.

Continue reading The ABC’s of being confident

That one time I got my butt kicked by a bunch of little kids

Recently, I got a rather heartbreaking email from one of my readers. He had a friend that he used to be very close to when he was younger, and he tried to reconnect with his friend, but unfortunately his friend no longer wanted anything to do with him.

Ouch.

Looking back on my childhood, I had a lot of friends that I thought I’d be close to forever. Back in freshman year of college, we had a small group that I always hung out with:

And back in senior year, it became a different group:

​(Embarrassingly enough, we played Laser Tag and got our butts kicked by a group of little kids)

Continue reading That one time I got my butt kicked by a bunch of little kids

How to make new friends as an adult, even as an introvert

Back when I was in my early 20’s, I always felt that I didn’t need to make new friends because I was happy being alone. A typical weekend for me might have looked like this, and I loved it:

Also, I worried that if I made a bunch of friends then I would never have time for myself anymore. I always imagined those rowdy guys who lived nearby that would always go to bars at night, and I figured that I didn’t want to become like one of those dudes. Or, I worried that my friends would make me go out all the time and I’d never have any time to do things like this…

Turns out that’s not true either. If you receive an invitation to go to an event that sounds lame, or you already had that time reserved for yourself, then you can always just say “No thanks”. You don’t even have to give a reason why you don’t want to do! Or, if you feel so inclined, you can even say something like “That sounds fun, but unfortunately I have to force myself to say no”.

Getting inundated with so many invitations that you cannot accept them all is a good problem to have. Worry about crossing that bridge when you get to it. For now, we’ll focus on how to start making new friends.

Before we even get into that…why talk about making friends at all? Isn’t Quietly Romantic supposed to be a dating advice site? There’s a couple reasons.

First, meeting people through your networks is historically one of the best ways to meet a girlfriend. You can leverage your personal relationships to get into intimate relationships—and I’ll show you exactly how in a future post—but it all starts with making friends.

And second, many of the activities you currently enjoy are more fun when you’re doing them with someone else. I love playing Super Mario Bros. single-player, but gathering a few buddies and playing several rounds of Mario Kart is even more fun!

I’d be wary about Mario Party, though, if you want to stay friends afterwards

So, how do we get started? The first step is to…

Continue reading How to make new friends as an adult, even as an introvert

How I stopped being socially awkward

It’s been a while since my last newsletter, huh? Life’s been absolutely hectic these last few months. I’ve just moved from Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL to be closer to my family. It took several weeks of packing, cleaning, loading, unpacking, and cleaning again, but it’s finally done…mostly. There’s still several boxes of stuff sitting by the front door and I’ll get to it eventually.

Well, that’s still not a good excuse for missing so many weeks of newsletters. As per Quietly Romantic tradition, if I go too long without releasing a new blog post or newsletter then my next one needs to include an embarrassing story.

Here we go.

MFW I get to share something embarrassing about myself on the internet.

A few years ago, I was at a conference and I had the opportunity to meet one of my heroes in person. He was a huge source of writing inspiration for me and was someone that I really looked up to. Think along the lines of…meeting Stan Lee, if you’re a fan of the Marvel superhero movies…or meeting George R.R. Martin, if you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series. Yeah, that huge.

He’s an intelligent person, and there are so many things I want to learn from him.

  • How does he write so well?
  • How did he attract so many fans?
  • How does he come up with such amazing topics to write about?

He arrives at the conference, gives a presentation, and afterwards starts interacting with some of the guests. I wait in line, fidgeting all the while. Finally, it’s my turn to talk to him. I stagger up to him and shake his hand.

“Hey, I’m Steven. I’m a huge fan of your work! It’s good to meet you”, I exclaim.

“It’s good to meet you too,” he replied. “What do you like to do?”

“Umm…I like…video games?” I mumble. He replies with a deafening silence. “…And I also like reading?” I continue.

His feet start to shuffle away from me. “Well, it’s good to meet you Steven. Best of luck.”

“Yeah…good to meet you too,” I reply, hiding behind a smile of feigned pleasure.

Welp. Something went wrong, but I didn’t understand why at the time. I paid a lot of money to attend this conference just so I could meet him in person. And this is what I get? For weeks after this encounter, I just told myself that I never should have met my hero in person because he was a jerk.

But now I’m older and wiser, and I realize that I was the awkward one in that conversation.

Oh Steve, you were so young and dumb back then

If I could go back in time, there are three ways I’d change the past:

  1. Kill baby Hitler. This is a given for time travel, right?
  2. I’d stop myself from watching the Chicago episode from Stranger Things season 2. I mean…I love Stranger Things, but what even was the point of that episode??
  3. I’d tell myself what I’m going to share with you in this newsletter today:

Here’s what I know now that I wish I knew before.

Continue reading How I stopped being socially awkward

Socially weird or awkward? You better read this!

Today, I’d like to share with you four social blunders that I used to make with women all the time. I’ve had women not want to go on dates with me specifically because I was doing these.

The worst part about being socially awkward is that when you’re making a social blunder, people tend not to tell you. It’s considered rude or impolite to let someone know that their behavior is coming off as weird. Instead, people will do their best to act like nothing is out of the ordinary and secretly continue to let you come off as weird.

That’s why for a long time, I didn’t even know that I was being socially awkward or weird! Ah, well.

Continue reading Socially weird or awkward? You better read this!