The Usual

Hey all,

Hope you had happy holidays! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I have a bunch of miscellaneous tidbits saved up. I also have been musing on a specific situation, so I’ll explain that one first—and then who knows! Here goes :).

I’ve been thinking about an old situation today. It cropped up because I delivered the punchline to a few people recently without the full story, and my audiences (surprisingly to me) winced every time. The punchline is: “They told me to pretend more.”

I found the comment hurtful at the time, but it was surprising to me that other people would agree with me on this so immediately, without most of the background. I’m sure a lot of the wincing is just generally due to people being sympathetic to the speaker, but there was enough negative affect expressed that it seems like there’s some intrinsic “faux-pas”-ness simply in telling someone to pretend more, regardless of circumstance.

Anyhow, I found it unusual that they winced, and then found it unusual that I thought that was unusual (the meta just keeps circling in my reflections; it’s like one of those carrion-eaters), so I got to thinking about it. And my response to it. And what my response could be, should the situation arise in the future! I like thinking about how to make my responses to all scenarios better—it makes me feel safer about the possibility of getting hurt in the first place, because if only my responses are good enough then maybe the hurt can be resolved in the moment and I don’t have to dwell on it. (That’s the theory, anyway. I think a big part of my wholly believes this is true.)

The situation was this. I had wanted to try a new activity, and needed a partner to do it. I asked one of my friends if they’d do it with me; they also wanted to try, so they agreed. We went out one day and attempted it—turns out that I didn’t like it, and he didn’t like it either. Because it was new to me, I knew I was going to be pretty bad at the thing, and this did prove to be the case (nothing practice can’t fix, of course.)

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the sort of activity you could forge through with grim resolution (e.g. my first cross-country skiing practices). Rather, it was a performance arts-type thing where you have to look like you’re enjoying it (or at least not forging through with grim determination), elsewise it just really doesn’t work for anyone involved.

Performance arts are not exactly a current specialty of mine. I’m not terrible at them, and in real life I’m good enough at covering up distaste or unhappiness or whatnot. (Note: “good enough” doesn’t necessarily mean I’m actually doing a good job of hiding it, though I suspect I’m fine at that given I’m actually trying. But really it seems like people often just want you to hide it enough that they don’t have to deal with it. Plausible deniability or something, though this may be my bias since I sometimes want this from people and had a recent experience of this type. Could be something else though! Regardless, I’m pretty good at this version of hiding, where everyone knows that you’re hiding it but they’re going to let you / want you to do it, as far as I can tell.) (To be fair, there are also times where people want to hear you share, and emote at them. *Shrugs*. Different situations.)

In any case, I made a hash of this particular activity, and was feeling uneasy-sad-frustrated about it. I don’t like being bad at things in general, and I had a lot emotionally riding on this particular activity, since it was tangled up in a web of previous discussions and it was popular with a bunch of people around me. I was talking with the other person about it at the end—going over our experiences, seeing what might make it better in the future, how I might get better at it, since that was my stated goal in wanting to do it.

They asked me, explicitly, if I really did want to get better at it. I said that yes, I really did want to get better at it.

They then told me that, if I really did want to get better at it, and only in that case, then they suggested that I pretend more. (In terms of emoting during the thing, not in terms of the actions of the activity itself.)

In-the-moment-Monica’s reply to this (though this was a while ago, so I’m not sure I’m remembering this well): “Oh”. (long silence). “Should I have…?”

Vaguely-remembered reply: “No, no, it’s fine since we were just trying it out. But in the future, if you really want to get better at this, then it might help.”

“Oh.” Cue my usual swamp of defeat at being misunderstood / feeling like the task set before me was mandatory and impossible / feeling like duh that’s the obvious thing but really don’t you get how impossible this is for me / why are you pointing out and rubbing it in that I’m bad at this / I was actually already doing emotional suppression to appear neutral, how am I supposed to swing positive? / wait you want me to lie? / wow this is really not making me feel better about this activity that I thought I needed to do in the first place because of some reason shaped like peer pressure and trying to prove myself to someone / … you know, the usual. I have the whole cycle described in a previous post—not describing the same situation, but my whole “you have misunderstood me” emotional crashing-down follows a similar trajectory when it happens.

Monica-now: That’s a rough approximation of the situation. Apparently, telling someone to pretend to enjoy something more is something of an automatic faux-pas, but this didn’t occur to me at the time. What occurred to me at the time was: Oh, they’re trying to help, and this feels awful for I-have-no-clue-what-reason, but okay, let me engage.

I’m just still so confused about how people know to engage their anger response. I don’t actually think an anger response would have been the best thing here—the other person really didn’t mean any harm, and did a few checks because they knew it would be controversial. But even the fact that they did a few checks… anyhow. I talk to people sometimes, or read stories sometimes, and the person / main character sends back something just as biting whenever they get bit. And I just seem not about to realize that there was something to get mad about in the first place, or even that I found a particular comment upsetting and we should stop and…

Oh dear, I actually started typing “I found a particular comment upsetting and we should stop and discuss intentions.” I find this particular unfinished sentence illuminating, because I actually have zero desire to stop and discuss intentions when I’ve taking something someone said and been upset by it. I have this deep underlying belief that the people around me are trying, and that if they say something I think is hurtful it’s almost always on accident. (I think this is pretty true, as well, though sometimes I think that I think that other people are trying more than they are.) So if someone misunderstands me particularly badly—when I think they really should know better—then I have lost faith in them, and they should be made to go away. And the best way to make people go away is to do what they want, and say thank you, so that is what I do. (This isn’t an explicit thing (unlike a lot of this stuff :P)—I only discovered this pattern because I do it so, so often unconsciously.)

(Oh, incidentally, when I was circling with friends a while back I discovered this interesting bit of my psychology: if someone upsets me, one time badly or a few times semi-badly, apparently my only feasible recourse is to politely ice them out. (This seems to stem from an underlying belief that people don’t change, and that social skills take freaking forever to develop so if the other person’s skills aren’t developed in a way that’s already compatible with mine, I need to abandon ship.) Also, I expect myself to behave well in every single situation, and expect this from others as well. It’s kind of astonishing that most people I am surrounded by do behave well in every situation, and that I do an astonishingly good job of it overall. This seems absurd. Long live expectations and nice people? (I actually do not care if you’re just pretending to be a nice person—being a naturally nice person is beautiful, being a person who executes a lot of control to be nice is just as good and even better in some ways that feel like trust.))

Okay, so I lose trust in people who say things that feel like they’re not paying attention or trying hard enough. The comment wasn’t, like, ridiculously bad though. I get properly angry at people when comments are ridiculously bad. And this comment was meant to help, and was obviously couched.

What could have been said, instead of “pretend more?” There’s a positive-neutral response I’ve heard which is something like “Ah, I see we aren’t enjoying this, but let us currently work with whatever we have in the moment and not worry about the future.” That solves zero problems in terms of getting better, but at least acknowledges and makes the best of the current experience.

I think that what I would have liked for an “awesome advanced-level social response” would be something like: “Huh. I see that you’re expressing that you want to do this, but it doesn’t actually seem like you want to do this. Why did you ask me to do this? Seems like there’s some stuff going on—want to tell me about it?”

That’s advanced-level social because it requires an extra (potentially risky) inference step. In the actual situation, the other person was answering my direct-level query: “[okay, you have just reassured me that you purpose in doing this is to get better at it, but you seem to be struggling with that, here’s a way not to struggle.]”

I seem to have wanted them to do the following: “[okay, I will now put aside my experience, which was also not great, and which I was hoping would be great, but instead I am feeling disappointment and some insecurity and confusion, and my friend is asking me how to improve at her goal, but she totally isn’t doing what makes sense given that’s her goal. Why doesn’t she…”—and at this point, I seem to have hoped that the obvious track isn’t taken, but instead we have this leap which goes “…huh, maybe it’s not that she’s weirdly confused about the steps to achieve her goal. Maybe it’s that she is actually feeling conflicted about the goal itself, and that’s what’s causing all of these weird execution errors.]”

And then, once that’s realized, we have the horrifically difficult task of how to convey “I don’t actually think you want what you think you want” to someone, which, really, should be saved for advanced-social users because it’s a fucking mess.

In this case, it’s made a little better because what I wanted conveyed was “I don’t actually think you want what you say you want”—which is better in this case because what I was saying was only a partial reflection of what I was thinking. If what people are saying is a direct reflection of their main vein of thinking, then this substitution doesn’t help anything.

The worst version of the “I don’t actually think you want what you think you want” delivery, from someone who is genuinely and earnestly trying to help, goes like this. (And I’ve seen it done. Not even just to me. It’s horrible.) “Huh. Okay, this looks to me like you’re deceiving yourself about this goal of yours, and you’re actually not paying attention to what you really want. What do you really want? What are you hiding from yourself?”

Reading it now, it doesn’t seem that bad, right? Depending on tone, this can be fine, and it’s certainly meant well. Someone’s doing you the favor of pointing out a flaw in your thinking, and trying to help you find the solution.

However, when it does go wrong—when people take it as an attack out of nowhere, like they don’t know who they are, like you’ve spotted this thing they’ve missed and now they can no longer trust anything—that’s bad. And I’ve seen it in a few people now: “But what if I’m just deceiving myself? What if I’m not looking hard enough? What if I don’t actually feel this way?”. After a long time thinking about it, I’ve personally just given it up as a bad track to take and decide to trust whatever comes up and have it proved wrong later, but the lack-of-trusting-your-own-thinking can be insidious. And I feel like I’ve seen this distrust-embedding being done to people through exactly this sort of phrasing, with a solidly good tone attached—victorious would be a nasty one.

It’s one of the interesting outputs of living in a community where people prize clarity and truth in thought, around personal introspection. Normally, you wouldn’t dare to say something like “You’re misleading yourself, lying to yourself, etc.” to someone, because it’s very impolite. But when the social norms are changed so that truth is more valuable than politeness, you end up with some weird edge-case hang-ups that are really weird because I’m only seeing them in this group, but they keep on popping up in this group. This group generally says that doubt in your own thinking, and questioning your own thinking, is good. Which I think is valuable, and probably most of us should swing more in that direction. But really, don’t do this to the already thoughtful and indoctrinated ones, especially about things that don’t have ground-truths that you can check (such as “what do you really want”)—it messes them up and makes them go in circles when they’re trying to work things.

(Note: I just said all of the above very confidently. I am confident given my current (minimum) evidence, but am willing to be mostly wrong in all of the above given different evidence. However, I think I’m trying a thing out where I just trust whatever I’ve observed and come out with it (oh, look, it’s related to the above! I hadn’t made that connection), so I’m standing by the confident tone, but as usual I’m willing to be wrong on this.)

Anyhow, that’s why I think that only the social wizards should do the “you are misleading yourself” idea, because being earnest won’t even necessarily save you from this one. (Being earnest and attentive can save you from practically everything, in my experience. Caring goes a long way.) But what I’d like my social wizard to do… you know, I think even something simple. Like: “Hey, that seemed kind of weird, what’s going on for you?” Like… expressing trust in me, and that I have a reason for what I’m saying, and reasons for what I’m doing or failing to do, and the lovely, warm touch of noticing (I really like when people do advanced social things; it brings me great pleasure. I get the double whammy of knowing they care, AND the joy of watching someone execute a high-level skill. Most people don’t have the latter to the degree that I do, I’m almost absolutely sure.), and taking the time and energy to check in. That’d be a really warm response for me.

And then (in this… bizarre fantasy of mine? –Hold on, this turned out to be a very long tangent that needs its own paragraph, but I’m returning to this in a second once I finish the sentence.) And then as the conversation goes on, gradually introducing what they noticed and exploring the space with me.

(Return to tangent. In this… bizarre fantasy of mine? This is very strange to me, but something about “what would they have said” reads as “fantasy” to me? But… not. Uh. I think I’m getting stuck here because “what they would have said to make me all glowy” pings my “stereotypical romantic fantasy” category. But “what they would have said if they were an advanced social user, because advanced social users simultaneously execute caring and high conceptual insight, both of which incidentally make me feel glowy” doesn’t really at all ping my “stereotypical romantic fantasy” category, and rather hits my “Monica’s obsession with theoretical analysis of social analysis, which is often actively transforming glowy situations into concrete non-glowy one” category. On the other hand, the latter maybe even is stereotypically romantic? Like, saying “I care about you, tell me what’s going on” is pretty stereotypical. The part where it’s like “look I’ve made this inference about your goal structure, I’ve spotted something I don’t think you’ve spotted, and now I’m going to drop hints about what I’ve discovered into the following conversation where I execute I care about you but in an extremely calculated way wherein I’m also going to teach you something about yourself but in a way that makes you feel heard and not in a way where it’s like ‘why didn’t spot this yourself’, and look I’m interested in your mind and I know you’re interested in your mind and I’m going to help you explore and we’re going to learn stuff about you together and it’s going to be fascinating.” …UMM. Okay, the feelings in this paragraph feel far too familiar to me, and I’m pretty sure this is actually squarely in the current category of “Monica’s ideal romantic fantasy.” Figures. What even. I also know that I tend to feel hella guilty after these episodes because I’m not sure I can return the gesture. But here’s a thought, Monica—what if—oh goodness, what a what if—what if this isn’t actually other people’s version of ideal romance. What if they could do this to you, and you could do something else to them in return. It might not even be mind-related! (What. How could someone not want something mind-related. Like, what if they wanted physical affection. What. Is this even possible? For someone to be interested and good at mind-mapping but not wanting to be mind-mapped in return? Is it? Or maybe returned mind-mapping not as their primary thing? I actually have evidence that this is in fact possible. But do I believe it in my heart of hearts? NO. –NOT YET.) …Okay but now I feel really weird about writing about social stuff, since introspective social stuff is supposed to be vaguely academic, and not romantic related since… romance is, like, weird or something… Monica, literally this entire blog has recently been about your feelings, and mostly negative feelings at that—fine “constraining feelings” not “negative feelings”, what is it with you people and your vocabulary, (wow I have a lot of filters)—some glowy feelings aren’t going to kill us. Also, the realization that nice social stuff is linked to “romance” in some way is a really (kind of spectacularly, at the moment) useful one for me—it helps bridge a lot of stuff. Romance might not even be the right concept for it—meaning, I might not end up with that category label in the end for the glowy feelings—but I wonder… could that even explain the fanfiction? (I’m always trying to explain my inexplicable affection for fanfiction.) That… doesn’t explain everything, because I have a particular relationship to both the author and the characters when I read fanfiction, but yeah, I think that’s a useful contribution to the fanfiction mystery. Oh wow, cool, I love learning new things. Especially bright and happy things that link stuff. Not that this vein is entirely bright and happy, because… well, there’s still stuff to be resolved in the tangle labeled “romance / affection / roles / sex” in my mind, but this is cool :). Hmmm :). (*hums happily*))

*clears throat* So I totally forgot where I was—ah, that there are nice ways to say that you think someone’s misleading themselves. And that probably, a good way to go is just to say that you’re interested in their thoughts, since something seems confusing. And if you’re interacting with me then you can explain all of your reasoning process and I’ll be happy, and if you’re interacting with other people probably the former will suffice.

(Thought related to the above tangent. One of the part that feels dangerous about having the above as a romantic idea is that it places an enormous amount of power in the other person’s hands. They could deliver the information “in a bad way”, and because I trust them to be an advanced user, I can’t do my usual trick of “don’t-trust-you” and withdraw, since I actually do have high confidence in their ability. Ugg—okay, the route my thoughts are currently going down are also super familiar, like “they wouldn’t have if they just had more information” and “you can’t expect people to be perfect” and etc., which doesn’t actually solve my problem of the feeling of betrayal and kind of absolute faith that I assign to advanced-users. I just generally don’t cope well with people who can give me really good feelings and also really bad feelings—I’m much more comfortable with people who give “light neutral / occasionally swing bad”, “positive / occasionally neutral-bad”, and “positive-neutral”. (I do know a purely “positive” person. I’m currently in the process of hero-worshipping them.) It’s something about whether I have defenses up or not. I call my defenses “expectations”—if I expect someone to disappoint me (rational or not), then I won’t expect that much of them in the future. If someone does something deliberately mean, then that’s super easy because I can label them as “negative” and not see them again. If someone does this messy shit where I mostly like interacting with them and lower my guards because they’re doing the really-nice-Monica’s-version-of-romance stuff but then they occasionally mess up and I have zero walls up now, then TERROR AND DESTRUCTION. Or, like, the messy cycles of misunderstanding I mentioned earlier. So far, my new strategy for dealing with these people seems to be withdrawing from them—labeling “positive-negative” people as “DANGER!” seems to be the adaptive strategy I’ve recently adopted. Oh, come on, there has got to be a better way of dealing with this. I know there’s some loop someone can unravel somewhere that’ll make this circle-of-doom I’ve got something that’s workable. The components are all there—good happy feelings, good communication skills, good introspective access, high social skills on both sides (I’ve learned mine. I kind of like when other people learn them too, because they’re often better at explaining them, but the naturals are beautiful, like I’ve mentioned. Also there are HYPER-ADVANCED SOCIAL USERS who can marshal troops and convince large groups of people of stuff. I’m very bad at convincing people of things.), high degree of intensity and willingness to try… there has got to be a way where I can be okay when people occasionally mess up. And I don’t feel like I’m not good enough for not having equivalent social skills, if that insecurity pops up. I feel like I’m currently taking the tack of gradually—so gradually—convincing myself that people are just people, and really don’t know everything, and have these huge sets of lenses that they view the world through and that there are thousands, thousands of thousands, of ways you can view the same thing, such that there’s not an underlying truth in anyone’s perspective. (For reference, though the latter probably reveals this, I previously held the fundamental belief that whatever people said was right, given I trusted them and they had the possibility of access to adequate information.)  Also, that trusting myself in what I want is a thing that I can do. (This is related to the previous. This is also related to:) Uh, there seems to be no fundamental thing I need to do in the world? (Previously, “shoulds” dominated, and moral shoulds about the purpose of existence dominated as well. I still haven’t figured out what to do about the moral shoulds yet, but am, I feel, slowly inching closer to my existential crisis. Everyone else has one or lives in them constantly—when’s mine?) Also, I live in really a lot of rule-based structures, that are very concerned with what other people are thinking. Like, really really a lot of rule-based structures, which don’t seem necessary given my goals. Whatever those goals are. Things that I want. You know. Anyhow, I’m making some sideways process on the “not having such a weird relationship with people as the concept” front, and “accepting the ways in which being obsessed with social actually is pretty cool”, but it feels pretty slow. Sometimes the slow stuff’s not painful though—like, you don’t even notice you’re doing it—which is cool.)

Uh huh. So, that was the situation, and I am done with that story. That went on a lot longer than I thought it would :).

And now for miscellaneous stuff I had stored in my word document!

First, a question—I’m playing Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s pretty awesome. I’ve been watching my behavior to see (oh, when do I not) if it resembles my “easy” behavior—e.g. how I interact with my sisters.

Sorry, that wasn’t especially clear. I view social interactions, generally, as a performance. There are rules to follow, you follow them, generally you get nice interactions as output. Also, I have hang-ups about casual touching and cuddling and such. One explanation is because I feel like I don’t know the rules well, and there are lots of meaningful touch-based interactions that I would like to know the rules for before engaging in / I haven’t internalized the rules well enough for it not to be exhausting. The above explanation is part of it, but not capturing the essence of it—the point is I have hang-ups about touching, and generally view social interactions as quite performative. (This is not necessarily a bad thing in my mind.)

Then I hang out with my sisters. My sisters are the easiest people that I could imagine interacting with. I like them both a lot, and they know me and like me. My youngest sister was telling me over break that when she tells other people about me, she can list accomplishments or whatever, but then she says “but that’s not Monica”, and, yeah, they have all of the weird bits that are Monica. I hang all over their shoulders and do a lot of association games and singing and random noises and whatever with them, and I don’t have to think about it. It’s easy.

I was talking to my therapist about this (…god, I can never stay on track) and she was like: do you want more of the easy relationships in your life? And I was like: …um? Sometimes? I have someone like that here (“easy”), approximately. Almost all of the rest of the people I interact with are I-admire-you-so-I-need-to-be-very-performative. And I was telling her how crazy it is that I have so many of these I-admire-you friends, because there’s such a high density of interesting people who I admire here. And she was like: …so, do you want more easy relationships in your life? And I said, again: …um. Some….times?

There doesn’t really seem to be a point to the easy interactions. You’re just having them, and you’re enjoying them. I don’t know what to do with that. The I-admire-you interactions are high-intensity, and tiring, and really engaging and interesting and learning. They’re good. When I have the energy for them, they’re so good. They hold, too, beyond the easy interactions—I can look back on and mull over the I-admire-you interactions.

I also don’t need the easy interactions. I actually forgot I had such a thing as “easy interactions” until my dad reminded me last year. Technically I guess I don’t need I-admire-you interactions either—I’ve gotten by for at least one year in recent memory where all interactions were with people in the middle. *Shrugs* Undecided.

Anyhow, back to the Dungeons and Dragons game—I noticed I was being more actively-delighted and first-impulse-y during gameplay the other day, and that surprised me. Maybe that’s part of the role-play thing—certainly it’d be harder to do outside the game, where there aren’t easy choices of things to do / talk about. Regardless, though, I notice a decent variety of how-much-I-hold-back behavior when I interaction with people, and there’s usually more holding back.

I then was very curious about how much you can tell about someone’s personality via playing an equivalent amount of Dungeons and Dragons with them, versus living with them or talking to them or something. I wanted to ask our Dungeon Master, and hope to remember to do it next week (he’s seen a lot of players go through, and also knows them outside of the game. He’s a tricky one, though—you know people who make you play a bit for information before they give it to you? Sometimes he’s like that—I enjoy interacting with him a lot.) (Sigh, this post is revealing a lot more about my preferences that I expected :). It’s fine when I know they’re my preferences and am revealing them in a deliberate way, but the uncontrollable ones that I learn about via observation rather than having some beliefs behind them make me shake my head.)

 

I think that in Dungeons and Dragons, you get a whole lot more about morals than any other medium. There are just a lot of opportunities to kill things? I think you probably also get a lot of experience with how people make decisions, their levels of risk, how good they are at solving puzzles, how cooperative and team-oriented they are, probably something about what they value. Incidentally, I’m a Brute in my D&D game, good at physical stuff and bad at thinking, and this seems slightly strange to me. Also, I love being a Brute. I’m also the team healer. I really like that too. Being the team academic feels like too much pressure… it’s also interesting how no one on the team is in a leadership role, and really everyone talks about the same amount. There’s an exchange of—just, so dynamic—leadership roles that feels easy in the game but actually not at all what real interactions are like, in retrospect. Also, we’ve been playing long enough that I can watch the Dungeon Master (DM)’s reaction to things, and see a little bit of how he’s leading the game. I almost killed my character yesterday, and the DM said: “Really? You want to do that?” and then one of the other players checked for traps, and then it turned out that I would have killed myself. But the DM didn’t let that kill me, he paused me before I took the action, when he probably shouldn’t have. He also enforces player cooperation, and will chide people lightly if they step too far out of line. He did minor discouragement to sexism once, remembers to engage with all of our comments (even when muttered), and seems to take genuine delight in some of the weird decisions we make? Dungeons and Dragons is weird, guys. It’s a ton of fun with the right DM. A friend of mine suggested that I DM (which means I’d be in charge of game play and would have to do all the game stuff in addition to all of the social things) and I was like: HELL NO why would you think I’d be good at this? This sounds wildly overwhelming, I can barely manage one-on-one conversations with constrained social rules, you want to throw me to the wolves? I’m kind of curious what he meant, though, given that this is someone who knows me well. I know this friend is really into DMing—maybe he was just projecting that onto me. Regardless, it does seem like some advanced-level social shit, which I’ll leave to the experts :).

(It occurred me to the other day that I’m playing the easy level of social interactions, because I only try to evoke positive reactions and I’m quite honest. I also don’t try to convince people of anything. On the other hand, I seem to want to slam against social conventions pretty hard if I don’t like them, which makes conversations interesting.)

There’s this guy at work who’s cute, and who I’m pretty sure also thinks I’m cute, but it’s just potentially awkward enough that I don’t want to put any effort forth to doing anything, and I don’t know what his motivation is but I suspect it’s similar, so we are existing in that excellent space in between which is, like, pure potential and occasional distraction on my end. It’s pretty awesome. It’s like a teenage drama except that we’re both fully capable of making a move if we ever drum up the motivation to do so. Ah, I do love having the choice here :).

We were playing the card game “Hearts” over Christmas break, and I had no idea I could be so triumphantly smug. I was executing this ridiculous smirk—vicious, really—when dooming one of my cousins to the worst cards. I was also doing a lot of suggestive eyebrow raises at my sisters. Where does this stuff come from? I’m almost never in situations where I show this stuff normally :P.

There are cases where people don’t know what they’re not experiencing (see summarizing blog post). Some people don’t have mental imagery (they can’t visualize things). Some people can’t smell and don’t know it. Some people don’t realize they’re colorblind until their teens. It’s strange.

Someone recently told me that “blue balls” is not just a metaphor, but an actual physical sensation. I was once talking to someone and he was talking about his heart and body, and I was like: “yeah, your metaphorical heart”. And he said something I can’t remember, that indicated that it was NOT metaphorical, and which I can’t recall precisely because I had no clue what he was talking about.

Most of the above cases where people don’t know they’re experiencing the world differently (oh, yeah, synesthesia’s another one) are cases where people are like “oh, yeah, they’re talking about that metaphor” and not realizing that people are really not talking in metaphor. Apparently people experience emotions really differently too.

Which makes me just want to go hunt down all of the things that I think are metaphor that other people are probably experiencing. I strongly suspect that I’m missing the whole chunk of sensations that are “emotions that are felt in the body”. Like, I’m really really quite sure I’m missing that part, and that other people are feeling that part. Whenever I get something sort of related it feels like a victory. Once in 11th grade my heart stopped for a moment when I saw my crush. I was like: WTF IS THIS THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. (It didn’t happen again either.) Last year I’m pretty sure I got butterflies in my stomach, though actually it was shaking that was mostly making my teeth chatter, so I wasn’t sure about that one. These occasions are super rare, and I remember them because they were so weird at the time. Now I’m surrounded by people who are feeling all sorts of stuff in their chests and whatnot, and I’m like: uh, I see a lot of visuals? And they represent emotions. I think maybe these things can act as equivalents, your physical stuff and my visuals, but that’s as close as we’re getting.

I also know I’m weirdly wired with regards to sex. Whatever, man, so over it. (lol, but it’s way too much work to get into that right now, plus I think I did it in a previous blog post.)

Also, my romance is weird! Well, see above—it’s possibly my romance is just hooked up to different things. To be determined on that one.

My… physical touch is weird? Like, one time, a hug was actually just straight-up comforting. And I wasn’t doing a whole social rigmarole on it. That was just the once, though. And I know that people get more out of it than that. Sometimes I get stuff too! It’s enough to remind me that I know that I’m not getting the full effect though :/.

MY SOCIAL STUFF IS WEIRD. Also, “enjoyment” is weird. But yeah, I take a much more explicit, non-intuitive approach to social than most people. How it goes :).

Also, have you heard of trypophobia? It’s fear of small, irregularly spaced holes. I have it, and have known I had it for years, but was delighted to learn that it had a name. However, along with the name came terrible, terrible images on Google. Looking at mild pictures feels like the sound of Styrofoam; looking at the worst ones feels like I’m staring at pictures of mutilated limbs. Why does this thing exist? This is not an adaptive thing to have, and is also weird. I used to cover my biology textbook figures while I was reading them my junior year of high school because looking at the cells—with all of the little circles pushed together ew ew ew ew ew—was bad. Zooming in and zooming out is fine, and I made it through biology without too much trouble, but it’s such a bizarre little trait.

Someone else was recently telling me that textures are easily associated with sounds, and that if he could he’d stand on a beach and just hit a gong over and over, the timbre of it was so pleasurable. How cool is that? How fucking weird is that? People are so weird. It’s amazing.

ALL RIGHT I’m going to bed now. (…I did… so little work today. I’m going to be doomed, readers, my big deadline is on Feb 1st. Sometimes I’m like: you know what? I’m going to live life. And often I’m like: BUT WORKKKKKKKKK)

Thanks for sitting through the rambling (and the two new insights! Cool :)) and hope you all are surviving the crazy weather if you’re in the US and otherwise emerging from the holidays.

Wishing you all the best!

Monica

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