Archive for January, 2014

roll with it(?), social?

2014-01-09 22:49:38 PST

“Roll with it” – thought/phrase, which for whatever reason(s), I seem be thinking more often recently, and sort’a kinda adopting that attitude, … well, maybe at least approximately, or some fair bit more, at least, … probably not “entirely”, anyway.

Roll with it? … and what of that? What is that, … or is that for me? Not sure exactly, but I kind of think “roll with the punches”, “go with it”, “go with the flow”. Sort of a mix of things, but notably try not to get phased by “it” – whatever “it” might happen to be. Just kind’a take it in, don’t worry about it too much, try to learn from it, if feasible, maybe even try and enjoy it – at least if that might also be appropriate. Maybe in some ways it’s kind’a less caring … bit more detached. Detached? From what/whom? From … everyone, everything, yes, even more detatched from myself. Sort’a kind’a “who the hell cares”, whatever kind’a attitude. So, yeah, not all good. Kind’a mixed. More present/engaged/involved, yet simultaneously more detached. I don’t know, maybe it’s a coping/defense/survival mechanism? Or at least so, in part? Be able to go through, do, engage in more – and be able to more/better survive it … by … being more detatched. Hmmmm… I don’t know, but do find myself feeling/thinking that way significantly more recently, and with, for better or worse, more of that attitude/approach. Sort of, at least in fair part, an “I just don’t care” attitude. Not that I don’t, … that’s not it, … more like I just can’t … or can’t that much or as much. And, does it make a difference, or make much or anything better or worse, or significantly so? I really don’t know. Too soon to say – a semi-recent change (roughly around the turn of the new year or so, give or take some moderate bit). Maybe it won’t make much difference. Or maybe it’ll make a lot of difference, but I won’t be able to tell. Sometimes I’m just not able to see, notice, or pick up on stuff I ought to, or that many/most people would. Whole lot of times I just don’t see it … really highly blind to it. So, … who knows. And, … who knows if this newer “attitude”/approach of mine (“roll with it”, etc.) will more-or-less stick, … or not. Maybe some weeks or even less, and I’ll have totally dropped that general attitude/thought. Who knows. Not even sure so much why it’s there … other than hypothesizing it’s bit more about coping/survival – trying to psychologically survive, notably my making more attempts to be social and socializing, more of just trying to be “okay” with social attempts quite utterly and repeatedly failing, more of just giving myself “permission” to just friggin’ not engage, and stay the heck out/away, isolate, whatever, if/when I need to – to “recover”, or whatever. All, just kind’a “roll with it”, and … try not to get too stressed or upset or drained or whatever by it, … no matter what it is, or how it goes, or fails to go, or whatever, … just roll with it.

Social. Maybe I’m just friggin’ socially retarded. Sure, quite, even plenty smart in many ways, and not an *ss about it, pretty modest and quiet about it ‘n all, but, nevertheless, social? Yeah, I highly suck at that, and, looks like I mostly very much have my entire life … only in more recent year(s) or so have I come to really quite realize and admit that to myself – I mean the objective reality makes it pretty darn clear and quite speaks for itself. Guess most of my life I’ve been in “denial”, or “pretending” that wasn’t the case, … or, probably mostly more so, rather wishing it was there and better, but not really paying enough attention, and not comparing enough objectively and critically, to really notice how markedly absent, and generally screwed up it was (and is). “Oops” – yeah, big oversight. Ugh.

Fixable? Uhm, well, first, “how bad is it”, or both more objectively and subjectively, impacted how and what do I most especially suck at socially, and, where/how does that most significantly and negatively impact me (sure, impacts others too, but I’m not really qualified to say exactly who and how much and when and where – at best maybe I could sometimes roughly hazard a guess here ‘n there). But I do know how it impacts me.

Bad how? Mostly want to engage, be connected, e.g. have good friend(s), heck, even a good relationship, but for the most part quite lack that, despite all my desire, interest, work and attempts at such. So, how (and why?) do I fail at it so, and so markedly? Yes, that’s the $64,000.00 question (okay, so having it well answered and “fixed” is probably worth a lot more than that to me). E.g. it would be really nice (friggin’ fantastic) to, say, have a really good friend, that was very much, “Sure, absolutely, you need anything, any time, day or night, just call me, don’t even think about it twice.”, and that would actually pick up the phone, or promptly return my call … I just don’t have that, not even particularly close – at least certainly not that I’m aware of and know it’s there or feel/believe it to be there. And, would want with that with someone that actually knows me and understands me rather well. Yeah, that’d be fantastic. Have had that at times, but, alas, the vast majority of my life, not, and not even close. Better yet would be friend(s) that in addition to that, I actually wanted to spend lots of time with, and they wanted to spend lots of time with me and were well able to do so, and that we quite enjoyed our time together, etc. Yeah, ain’t got that, ain’t had that the vast majority of my life. Or, better yet, really great relationship. All that plus, … yeah, uh huh, … not exactly zero luck there, but the, uh, “results” thus far, have fallen pretty darn short of that. In no particular order, closest to that? Uhm, well, had a relationship that was, or seemed, wonderful, that lasted all of six weeks. Then never was to be again like that. And no, that didn’t end due to something I did or didn’t do, but regardless, it ended, never to again be what it was. Or, … about 12 years or so – wow, even engaged! … uhm, … for over 8 years – yeah, … we never even lived in the same country, nor less than something over 1,000 miles apart. :-( Never then, nor in my life, ever made it up to cohabitating, where either moved in with the other to stay … sure, visit, stay a while, but actually move in? That never happened. And yes, long distance sucks, … majorly. Not like I “can’t” or ought not be able to meet someone quite wonderful for me much geographically closer (heck, probably approximately ten million people live within about 15 or so miles of me), but dang, finding and discovering that wonderful person and wonderful match, and them finding and discovering me … yeah, that’s been damn near impossible for me. Managed one helluva lot better with that by every and all means other than first meeting in person – yeah, I don’t do well with in-person first impressions. Get to know someone rather well, and they me, via online or phone first, and I tend to have a fighting chance. Start with in-person, and … yeah, that typically goes quite badly. So, yeah, a whole helluva lot of failure there, and not much success. It’s not like I’m looking to want to be or try to be some gregarious extrovert crowd pleaser with a few zillion friends, but geez, being able to generally have at least one really good friend, that I can actually really talk and converse with. Is that asking too much? <sigh>

So, yeah, socially retarded. Or something like that. I mean really, probably at least a good solid year now, probably a bit more, I’ve been workin’ like hell to try and do and be better on that, and, … though I’ve learned some things, for the most part I’ve made damn near zero progress – despite all my efforts, attentions, energies, studying, reading, time, $$, counseling, courses, practicing, etc. And a whole lot of it still is – or at least seems – incredibly daunting, if not outright impossible – or at least impossible for me.

I’m a really nice guy, quite that, … but initial impression? Yeah, … tends to be quite off-putting, and damned if I have any idea how I can actually usefully fix that … especially when first meeting in person, which is generally so damn critical. Most of the folks that meet me and that do get to know me sort’a kind’a rather well (like they’re stuck working with me, and I with them, so they don’t have a huge choice about it … if they did, they likely would’a walked away and never looked back). Over some time they tend to develop a relatively positive opinion of me, e.g. roughly, “(quite) nice guy, capable, skilled, reliable, dependable, always willing to help, good at it, smart, caring, honorable, highly honest, high integrity, but …”. Yeah, there’s always a “but” in there. Usually along the lines of “(damn/quite/exceedingly) quiet, odd, …” probably some other stuff too, but not really sure the details. Seem to often leave the longer-term impression, “yeah he’s alright” – sort’a the not their initial impression at all, but over time gettin’ to more-or-less kind’a know me, more-or-less like me, or at least like having me around/available. But … engage with me socially or socially engaging? Generally not – some exceptions, but … I think most of the time they think I wouldn’t want to, or they don’t want to, or I in fact don’t want to – or some combination thereof. Often times, for “social” stuff, and non-work interests, we’ve got little to nothing in common, so that can kind’a get in the way. E.g. I’m not a party animal. For most, some loud party, booze, music, dancing, blah, blah, that’s their idea of a good time. Not mine. Sure, I’ll often hang out and tolerate that anyway, but most of the time it’s take it or leave it, and, I don’t really much care either way, just not that interested, … but I typically attend and try anyway – e.g. company work parties and company social events and the like. But does it go beyond that? Most of the time not. So, yeah, they’ll find me “nice”, “good guy”, “he’s alright” … but … “odd” / “different”, and probably some other bits too – though not sure what exactly.

So, what are some of the bits I have learned and/or am learning. Eye contact. Quite important. I highly suck at it. Most notably, if I’m looking at someone when I’m speaking or trying to speak, I repeatedly and totally lose my train of thought, even mid-sentence. I come off sounding like an idiot that can’t hold a thought. It’s like my brain, seeing the slightest reaction or movement jumps all over it and goes like, “What the hell was that? It moved! That’s interesting, what does it mean? Hmmm, damn, examined all the database entries on that, and … no friggin’ clue what that means, … or that they just did too, what was that?” And, yeah, fraction of a second to a second or two of that, and then I’m attempting to continue to say what I was saying, or say what I was about to say – and I’ve got absolutely no idea whatsoever what I was saying or about to say and I just stop dead, … over, and over, and over. Doesn’t go over well with folks, … at all. Or, … I just do not look at ’em at all when I’m talking or trying to talk. Then I can actually generally talk fairly coherently, and at least continue to think of and talk about most of what I was trying to say – might miss or forget some bits or whatever, but generally at least manage to say most of the key points I had in mind to say. But then I’m not looking at them at all when talking to them – or kind’a similar, looking through them, and not “at” them at all (like when talking in front of a fair sized to large group) – that also works about equally poorly. Notably the not looking at them (or staring through them) – well, good eye contact – right kind and nature of it, not too much, not too little, well, turns out that’s friggin’ important, and majorly impacts people’s impressions. So, the not looking, or especially not looking when talking or about to talk, that tends to generally leave an impression of shifty or dishonest. So, tends not to leave a good impression. And the forgetting what I was saying or trying to say all the time, tends to leave impression of an incoherent idiot. So, … at least I’ve learned that. How to surmount it, or even if I ever can, I’ve no idea. I don’t know, … practice lots more? Maybe try playing off those extremes, – somewhere between impression of idot that can’t coherently talk, or impression of shifty/dishonest, … maybe there’s an optimal (at least optimal for me and what I can do) middle ground, … the semi-idiot semi-shifty/semi-dishonest impression? I dunno. But probably at least ought to try lots more there, see what I can manage to do with it. And, another thing I’m learning – and probably very important with the eye contact when I’m talking or trying to talk, is being able to “read” their reactions, e.g. know what their various expressions and eye movements mean, so I can use that feedback to appropriately adjust what I’m saying, and how, and even if I ought be continuing talking or talking about some particular something, or say it differently or (de)emphasize particular point(s), or wrap it up, or not even talk further about it at all. So, … yeah, … that’s very important, according to what I gather from what I read, various feedback and expertise, and, … yeah, … will I ever be able to do that and do that well? Wish I very much could. No clue if I’ll ever get there. Much of what I’m reading and studying now indicates that’s best learned as a child growing up. Most learn it intuitively, and never have to be “taught” it – at least explicitly. But some need help on that. I pro’lly could’a used a lot of help on that, but never got it – maybe no one never noticed, or noticed “enough”, to pick up on it. E.g. I did “well enough” (and then some, lots of straight As, top of class, all that goop) academically, that maybe no one quite figured out I was (and am) severely socially retarded. Even to this day, can’t say that’s changed much. E.g. work/career-wise, dang near top of my field, do what I do for work very darn well (quite/very/exceedingly technical stuff, and I’m damn friggin’ good at it), but … socially, and office politics ‘n goop like that at work? Yeah, that significantly holds me back – in a lot of ways. One friend, some years back, well knowing both my technical capabilities and smarts, was (and as far as I know still is) of the opinion that I ought be earning about thrice what I do, because I’m “that good”. But, uhm, yeah, socially, climbing that career ladder, “networking” (as in people) … yeah, I quite suck at that … socially retarded.

So, what else have I learned? Speak up. Yeah, often I speak too quietly – (nearly) mumble. Should generally try and avoid that and speak up and more clearly. But too, that can sometimes be hard, in multiple ways. First of all, I speak so damn little, I don’t have all that much of a voice. Can’t talk that loud for very long. If I do, my voice goes horse quite easily, and then I’m that much more screwed. But, I should pay careful attention for the clues/feedback, that I need to speak up. E.g. that leaning in, sometimes tilting of head(s) or whatever, can often be an indicator that I need to talk louder. Or it could be an indicator they’re interested in what I’m saying, or maybe both. I really don’t know how to tell the difference. And, yeah, eye contact – harder to notice that when I’m not making eye contact or anything close to that.

What else have I learned? Seems a whole lot of the feedback in my communication attempts is generally fundamentally, and often very severely, broken. Often I say far far far too little – whole helluva damn lot of the time I say nothing at all. Really don’t know when folks want to hear from me. Conversely, I’m not good at knowing when to shut the f*ck up – when folks just aren’t interested, don’t want to hear it, or that much, or don’t want to hear further on it – when I’m “turning them off”. And, of course, to further complicate that and make it even harder, some folks “play nice” / “play polite” and act like they’re interested, even explicitly say so, when they really don’t want to hear another friggin’ word out of my mouth. In any case, I generally completely and totally miss that, or only pick up on it when it’s far far far too late. “Subtle” just tends to not work on me. And I tend to mostly believe what people say – unless I know of strongly contradicting reliable evidence – and yeah, I typically won’t pick that up from a facial expression or body language … certainly at least not consciously, though sometimes a bit of it seeps in subconsciously (sort’a the vague “something doesn’t seem to be fitting together consistently here” kind’a feeling … but almost always without knowing what it is that doesn’t fit or is inconsistent or contra-indicated – just vague feeling that there’s something there that doesn’t well fit what’s otherwise indicated or being said). So, yeah. I mean if someone jumps up excitedly and hugs and kisses me, I figure they rather like what I said. If they strike me in the face with a full force blow of their fist, or turn around, stomp out, and loudly slam the door behind them, I figure they didn’t like what I said. But for the most part, more subtle reactions between such extremes, I mostly just don’t pick up on that. Okay, maybe doesn’t have to be quite that damn extreme for me to pick up on it, but … nearly so. Subtle in words, tone, inflection, eye movements, expression, body language – for the most part I just won’t pick it up or know what it means – or certainly very highly miss out on that when I’m talking or trying to talk.

What else have I learned? More stuff in the communication feedback. Thus far I find it mostly just an exceedingly confounding and confusing mess. For the most part, really don’t know how to make heads or tails out of it. Talk/write less, talk/communicate more – I really don’t know how much of what to do when … at all, at least for the most part. Some of it’s (roughly) like, e.g. blog, don’t write nearly so much … ever. I really don’t know what to make of that. Some write blogs, and articles that are helluva lot longer than what I write, … and even immensely more popular. Some of the feedback I get is don’t write more than the other person writes you. Uhm, but geez, then why would anyone ever read a paper, an article – even a long article, a newspaper column, heaven forbid a book or ebook. Yet people read those things. I don’t see lots ‘o folks running around saying those things ought never be written, or written that long. So, yeah, I’m mostly still thoroughly confused on all that. Reciprocity. I sort’a kind’a get it, but at the same time absolutely highly do not. E.g. really really be there for the other person, as much and in any and all ways I possibly can, and, … they like and appreciate that, and … I think – know even – they’re quite nice person … might expect or hope for some fair bit of similar in return? Sure, I’d at least hope for that, but … why it doesn’t happen? Or maybe it’s there and I can’t see/feel/realize it’s there. I really don’t know – I could hazard lots and lots of guesses, but I don’t know enough to know why – all I can do is guess. I’m very interested in someone, want to hear all about them, highly interested in them. Reciprocity – does that mean they’re at all interested in hearing about me, or even all that much? … even if they actually quite like me? No, it doesn’t. Not necessarily anything of the sort. If only life as a human was so simple.

What else have I learned. Well, there’s golden rule “do unto others, as you would have others do unto you”. But I guess long long time ago, I learned that rule rather sucks. Much better one, is what I call platinum rule: “do unto others, as they wanna be done unto”. Uhm, well, but what I’ve learned more recently, a lot of my presumptions about what others more-or-less want, may be … uhm, well beyond significantly flawed. Like, totally jacked up, screwed up, messed up, and often just way friggin’ wrong and incorrect. Uhm, how so? Ah, silly (stupid, socially retarded) me, for not understanding others that well (heck, damn near hardly knowning anyone on the planet all that well besides myself), uhm, yeah, for lack of better model to be applied, I’d presume they were more-or-less roughly like me, and would more-or-less tend to want roughly similar to what I wanted, would want to be treated as I’d want to be treated, would generally like and dislike things, ideas, concepts, feelings, etc., etc., more-or-less roughly similar to me. Uh, yeah, totally bogus cr*p bollocks assumption/presumption/model/guestimation. For the most part, I’ve no friggin’ clue what anybody else wants, how anybody else thinks, feels, what is/isn’t of interest or important to them, etc., etc., etc. I’m socially retarded, remember? I ain’t figured that out. And, to thoroughly complicate matters, I’m a freak, a friggin’ oddball. I don’t fit in, never have, probably never will. So, yeah, me trying to use me as a model or approximation for other Homo sapiens on the planet – probably a bad idea and pretty damn friggin’ f*cked up inappropriate, inaccurate, and often dead wrong, attempt at modeling.

So, mostly I’ve learned that I don’t know sh*t about sh*t. And I may never know. Okay, aside from some technical cr*p – whatever. So I can earn a living. But, connection, friend(s), relationship(s), relatively happy and fulfilling social life? Yeah, … I’m probably totally screwed on that (figuratively, not literally), and maybe that will always be the case. “Oh well.” I dunno. Try and learn, figure out what I can, try and learn/fix as feasible, and, well, … whatever, … “roll with it”.

And, yeah, probably a whole lot more I ought cover to better round out this general topic, and relevant background, and relevant significant pieces, etc., but this posting is probably far too long already (and yeah, I’ve gotten feedback on that – no shortage of it) … so, … I guess this is a compromise between an exceedingly short posting of only something like: “I’m socially retarded. Damn. Oh well, what the hell, (I’ll) ‘roll with it’.” – which wouldn’t really explain much of anything – let alone itself, and … a posting yet longer than this … likely 30 to 150% longer yet, so, … a compromise, … I cut this one off, … at least for now … well, almost ;-) …

Maybe I ought get a T-shirt printed up:
“Really nice guy, smart, capable, but socially retarded. And you?”