Friday, July 31, 2015

More on Being Untamable, and Those Three Years Together

 In my last conversation with my boyfriend, I told him that when we first met, I was straight out of college, and he was this miracle compared to everyone else I had been forced to be around. But now that I finally had a circle of amazingly validating and consent-conscious friends, he was the odd one out. He was the one who wasn't validating or consent-conscious and had practically nothing in common with me. If we had been playing "Three of These Things" with him and the rest of my friends, he would have been the one who didn't belong. His response to that was that he was the reason I had the circle of friends that I had, and I agreed with him at the time. But I don't agree with that anymore.

Five years ago - three months after my college graduation - one of my closest friends was leaving to study abroad for a year. I was psyched for her, but also sad because I was going to miss her a lot. What also scared me was that when she left, I thought that I would be completely isolated, that my social circle would be gone. I didn't get along with anyone I went to college with, and I didn't have any classmates I could see at home. The few college friends I was still in touch with were not in my class year, so they were back at school and I couldn't see them very often. Most of my high school friends hadn't stayed in touch with me once we left high school. I had tried calling them to do things for the first few summers after high school, but most of them didn't answer and weren't interested in getting together with me. My only source of a social life was my close friend's group of college friends. Most of us got along well, and I felt welcome in the group, but I wasn't close enough that I'd ever get invited to events without my close friend inviting me. They were friends from college, and I didn't go to their college, so the amount of time I spent with them was just so small compared to the amount of time they'd spent with each other. I wasn't sure I knew anyone well enough to ask them if they wanted to hang out without my close friend being there. I was scared that when she left, I would have almost no one.

It was in the back of my mind somewhere that I needed to do something about this. I had two friends in the group that I felt close with, and I thought I should get up the courage to ask each of them to get together with me. I was hoping we might become friends, and they would invite me to events, and I could be part of the group and make friends with people without my original friend who introduced me to them needing to be there. I was very nervous about reaching out, but it was on my mind as something that I may eventually have to do.

Then my boyfriend asked me out, and I had a social life again. I had him. I met his friends, and I eventually invited the friends whom I had originally wanted to contact to group events with my boyfriend. But mostly, I was wrapped up in my relationship with him and didn't feel the need to reach out and form closer relationships with other people.

Now, this is NOT my boyfriend's fault at all. I take full responsibility for the fact that I was completely wrapped up with him to the point that I didn't reach out and try to make other friends. It was a choice I made on my own, and looking back now, I wish that I had reached out to other people back in 2011. But I always gave my boyfriend credit for the fact that I found such a great group of friends. I always told him that, because of the chain of events, I may not have made the friends I have now if it hadn't been for him. I thought that my social life would have ended back in 2010, when my friend left to study abroad, if it weren't for him pulling me back into the group. But I don't believe that's true anymore. I had in my mind that needed to reach out to people even though it made me nervous, we were in contact via Facebook, and I really believe that if I hadn't been dating my boyfriend, if it got be 2011 and I was still isolated with no one to talk to and nothing to do on the weekends, my loneliness would have gotten the better of me and I would have forced myself to reach out to those two people that I wanted to be friends with. The main reason I didn't do that was because I felt satisfied enough with my relationship with him. Again, I am not blaming my boyfriend for the choices I made, what I'm saying is that he does not get credit for the fact that I have great friends now, because I truly believe that I would have eventually reached out to them on my own if I had not been able to do it through group events with him, and I would have done it much sooner.

I feel trapped by my past. I feel like even though I'm 5 years out of school (I'm not counting grad school because it was mostly just studying), everyone still treats me like this good kid, not like the wild, untamable person that I truly want to be. It was not until my boyfriend broke his promise and said he wasn't getting the apartment with me that I started showing everyone my real untamable self - sharing links to my sex blog right on Facebook, telling everyone that I wanted to have wild nude beach parties (which I still plan to have btw!), letting the world know that I was NEVER a good, hardworking, productive citizen type and how much I despise that lifestyle and how much I desire being untamable and behaving as if I was never disciplined or punished and as if I had never set foot in a school. These things are all about me and not about my boyfriend. And yet, why did I suddenly decide to be honest when he broke his promise to live with me?

When I look at it more closely - at my writing both on Facebook and on this blog in the years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014-now - there is a direct negative correlation between how untamable I sound in my writing and how strong my relationship was with you at the time:

-In 2011, my blog writing was really held back. In 2011, we were also in the honeymoon stage of our relationship, and I really wasn't close with any friends other than him. I barely posted on Facebook at all that year.
-In 2012, my blog had improved in terms of being more about things that really mattered to me, although it still had the tone of a psychology major passively observing human behavior, rather than it really being about me. I still didn't post very much on Facebook, and for a while I had basically quit Facebook altogether. This year I also spent more time with my other friends, although it was mostly at group events where my boyfriend was also there. And this year was less honeymoonish than 2011, and we got into more arguments.
-By 2013, I started to write things that were a bit closer to my untamable self. I wrote The Unencrypted Truth and I started the sex blog. I was still holding back a lot - I purposely made the tone of the The Unencrypted Truth sound calm and trusting rather than angry and accusatory like it really should have been. I purposely kept my sex blog private and tried to emphasize that I was doing it to promote sexual diversity acceptance and communication about sex, rather than that it made me feel like the wild chick that I have always wanted to be, and that I got to be a porn star. 2013 was a major year for me in terms of meeting new friends. This was a year when I made very deep connections with friends, and was honestly the first time since my boyfriend and I had been dating that I had a social life separate from him and spent a lot of time with friends without him being involved. 2013 was also a year when things got rocky between my boyfriend and me, and we almost broke up several times.
-And of course, 2014 is when we broke up and when I finally started writing absolutely everything that I wanted to say, in the real tone that I wanted to say all of it, and I held absolutely nothing back. This is the way that I wanted to be writing all along.

So, when things were going smoothly with my boyfriend and me, I was really held back in what I was writing, and when things were more rocky between my boyfriend and me, I was writing much more of what I actually wanted to write, both in terms of the tone and content. Also, the more time I spent with friends other than my boyfriend, the more I was writing the way that I wanted to.

In September of 2010, I wrote a list of 100 notes about Colby, each posted individually so that I would dominate everyone's newsfeed. This was back when I was still Facebook friends with everyone from Colby, so a lot of people saw my list, including the people whom I was actually talking about. It was right up in their faces, and it was amazing. That was the way I wanted to write all the time. Then on November 8, 2010, my boyfriend wrote to me asking if I wanted to go on a hike since I was feeling bad. I said yes and that was our first date. But a funny thing happened after that first date - I calmed down a lot in my writing. I really slowed down my rate of posting stuff about Colby. Once we officially started dating in 2011, I practically stopped posting about Colby altogether. I told my boyfriend that he had made me feel better. I acted like he had saved me from what I was going through.

But he hadn't.

At least, not in the sense that I wanted to think. Granted, I was doing much better with him than I was before he came along because he and I were having fun together, and I really wasn't having much fun with anyone before that. But it I was "better" in the sense of "less bad than before." "Better" did not mean "okay." I was never going to be "okay" right after Colby. I guess I'd describe it as the same way that all of my awesome friends were there for me after the breakup - they made me feel a gazillion times better, and I definitely would have sunk into a very deep depression or possibly hurt myself if they weren't there for me, but I would never say that anyone made me "okay" right after the breakup because I am not the kind of person who would ever feel okay after a breakup and that is not something that anyone can change. There is nothing that anyone could have done to make me feel "okay" to the point that I would have stopped writing what I was writing at the time, or anything that I've been writing for the past few years.

But this is what's very strange. All the friends who were there for me after the breakup are very good, very close friends, whom I have deeper emotional connections with than I ever had with my boyfriend. In terms of being there for me after a crisis, they have all done soooooooooooooooo much more than my boyfriend did when I was straight out of Colby. He didn't do anything, really. I mean, he asked me on the hike because I felt sad, which is a nice thing to do, but he really did not talk to me about Colby or in anyway treat me like I was in a crisis. He just "saved" me by giving me something else to do, something else to be happy about and focus on rather than wallowing in my room thinking about Colby. He didn't actually help me in any way about Colby the way that my friends helped me through the breakup when they listened to me talk about my boyfriend for hours on end.

So that brings me to the difficult question: if my friends helped me through a crisis and my boyfriend didn't, then why did I continue to write about my feelings after the breakup, when my friends were there for me, but suddenly stop dead in what I was writing about Colby when my boyfriend asked me on the walk?

I hate to say this, but I think my real answer to that is, because I wanted things to work out between me and my boyfriend. I wanted to believe that he had saved me, and I wanted him to believe that too.
I know I tried to be super overt and I kept telling him that I was non-chill and he should read my 100 secrets, but I think I stopped posting them because of him. I think I drastically reduced how much I was writing about Colby because of him. Not because he made me feel well enough that I didn't need to do that anymore - I was in a crisis and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING could have made me not feel like talking about those things. But I stopped. I suppressed my feelings about Colby A LOT. He'll tell you that all I talked about was Colby, but that's not true. If I had actually talked about Colby as much as I wanted to, every single time that it was on my mind and I was upset about it (which, in 2010-2011 was every single day, so this would have been every time we saw each other), things would not have worked out between us. I dramatically toned down how much I talked about Colby, how much I let him know that I was still depressed because of Colby, and I let him think that I was doing okay. I was not okay. To reference this again:



After the breakup, I made it known to everyone that my situation was the burning building and I was not willing to stay friends with people who treated it like the wilted flower. But after Colby, when we were dating, I made him *think* that I was in more of a wilted flower scenario and that his watering can made it all better. I wanted to believe that so badly so that he and I could be together and I'd have friends and people would like me again. But it wasn't reality.

The problem is this: When I said that my writing was more suppressed when things were going better in our relationship, and that it got much better as our relationship got worse? That also applies to how much I was being my real self with other friends during those years. It's directly proportional to how much real stuff I was writing on my blog, and whether my blog posts were more raw or more suppressed.

I've said that I wasn't my real self in school because I didn't want to be there. I'm five years out of school now (I'm not counting grad school because, while it did absolutely suck to have to do all that work, I only went to classes a few times a week and my interactions with classmates were very limited. It didn't consume my life in the way that K-12 school and college did). But because of our relationship, I feel like I'm only two years out of school. Less than two years. I feel like I didn't start being my real, untamable self until my boyfriend broke his promise about the apartment, which was the beginning of March 2014. So that's only a year and five months that I feel like I have really not been pretending anything at all in order to have people like me.

A lot of the things you see in me probably seem like they came out of nowhere after the breakup. But they didn't. I just wasn't sharing them. For instance, I was a senior in college when I first started to read about unschooling, and I got very, very depressed about the fact that I could have had this wonderful lifestyle that would have been perfect for me, but I missed the opportunity. I couldn't even read some of the unschooling things I found because I was just so jealous of the kids who got to live that way. I knew I wanted to become an unschooler somehow, even though it was technically too late. I wanted to undo all the effects of schooling on my brain and just start over completely. I had this dream in 2010. I just didn't share it with anyone until after the breakup because my boyfriend's family was very traditional and I had to hide a lot of things from them, and I guess I just felt like I needed to get along with the group. I suppressed this dream lot and didn't pursue it for several years, even though it was what I wanted.

Then there is the concept of being untamable. Back in high school, I had seen these shows on TV called "Brat Camp" where a bunch of teenagers were trapped in this non-consentual wildness program where they were forced to do stuff so they'd some out behaving properly. It was absolutely horrible, and I'm really ashamed to say that I watched this for entertainment back then. I was able to distance myself from the show a lot. Being a National Honor Society student in the top ten of my class, I just felt so far away from the kids on the show. At some point in college, senior year if I remember right, I searched "Brat Camp" on youtube. I don't remember why I thought of the show again, but when I watched it again, I was absolutely disgusted and I could not believe that I had ever thought the show was okay. I identified with these kids so much and  immediately went into survival mode for them, assessing the situation and trying to figure out how they could escape. I seriously thought about flying out to Utah or Arizona or wherever and breaking them out, but I had no idea how I'd do that. The longer I watched, the more I realized that the best solution was to simply be untamable - to go through the motions, do what you have to do to get out as fast as you can, but not actually believe anything they say and somehow manage to go home and drink and do drugs and party and have sex and not go to school or get a job - basically pick up whatever life you were living before without getting changed by the program. That was what I wanted to be - someone who could get through the system and come out unchanged, untamed, and having kept my own hedonistic values without picking up on any of the work ethic or good citizen values that were taught to me. See, I actually was untamable in that regard throughout most of my childhood - it was college that finally turned me into this well-behaved girl who stayed well behaved outside the classroom, since college was essentially a merger of school and personal life. I don't remember if I was using the word untamable back then, but my desire to become untamable goes back to 2009. (Although honestly, that's been a conscious goal throughout my entire life, long before I fully understood what it meant. As young as kindergarten, I do remember being consciously aware that I did not want school values to rub off and stick to me once I left that building. Yes, I understood this when I was five years old). The desire to be untamable is not new at all, it's just another thing I didn't emphasize very much about myself while my boyfriend and I were dating.

Deciding not to grow up was something that happened when I turned 26, so I think that timing would have stayed the same. (Prior to 26, I just didn't feel like I was growing up, so there was really nothing to consider). But I think a lot of that did come from the pressure from my boyfriend and his family to act more like an adult - if I hadn't been with him, I may not have felt so much of a desire to not grow up because if I'd been getting an apartment of my own all along, I would have assumed that I'd keep it the way I wanted and never clean up, and that my life would be all about fun, so there might not have been so much to fight against. But I'll never be sure of that. It might just be a turning 26 thing.

Then there's the sex blog. Obviously the sex blog would not have existed if we hadn't been together, and since he was the first person I did sexual stuff with, having a sex blog was obviously not on my mind before we met. However, rejecting my academic upbringing was always on my mind. I never wanted to go to Catholic school and wear uniforms and recite prepositions. I never wanted to be in National Honor Society or be in the top ten of class or be a good student. I never wanted an academic career and I never wanted to go to college. I never wanted ANY of those things, I just wanted to do fun things and be known for having lots of fun and being super rebellious and telling people to fuck off. While a sex blog didn't enter my mind until 2013, I always wanted to do something wild that was as far away from my educational upbringing as possible. And coming from a Catholic school that doesn't even let you wear nail polish, what could be farther away from that than being a sex blogger? Seriously, when you think of all the things that I could do that would be the total opposite of where I was expected to end up in this life, and if you consider that I don't actually like drinking or drugs, and eliminate stuff I might get arrested for, having a sex blog is absolutely perfect. And I decided to take that a step further and call myself a porn star because my written erotica stories do technically count as porn. I asked a friend and they agreed that it's totally fine to say I've been in porn.

So, all this untamable stuff seems new to everyone. It seems like it just started after the breakup and it might even be a phase that will go away someday. It's not. This is the real Nikki. I did not mention these things while I was dating my boyfriend because I was suppressing myself a lot. When I wrote The Unecrypted Truth, I used the tone of trust partially because I wanted to trust people again, but also partially because I was pretending not to be an angry person so that people would like me. When I started the sex blog, I talked about it being good for educational purposes, and while I did want to put the resource out there, I didn't emphasize just how thrilled I was to finally get to be the wild, untamable person that I wanted to be on the blog. The name I chose was very real to me. It wasn't just a joke of  "Let's see if he can tame me. Teeheehee..." although I probably made it sound that way.

For the longest time, I thought that if my boyfriend and I hadn't started dating, I would not have had the friends I have now and I would have sunk into a very deep depression because I would have had no one to talk to and nothing to do. But I don't believe that's true. While it's a possibility, I know that reaching out to certain friends was on my mind when my friend went abroad, and I think that by some point in 2011, I would have done that on my own, and we would have been friends even sooner. And you know what else I think would have happened? I think I would have kept writing stuff about Colby nonstop, the way that I write now, and the friends I met would know this about me and would only be my friends if they were okay with that. I would not have suppressed that to make friends think that they had saved me. I also would have confronted the people I wanted to confront back then. When I was writing my list of 100 notes, my best friends at the time would not talk to me. They were ignoring me completely. And I don't just mean ignoring the Facebook notes, which would have been bad enough - I mean that while I was writing these notes, I was still writing to my friends separately, asking how they were doing and commenting on their posts and stuff like that, and they would not answer me. They literally just stopped talking and ignored me while I was writing the Facebook notes. One person even had the nerve to ask me when was I going up to Colby to visit them, without any regard to the fact that I was making it very clear that I never wanted to set foot there again. I was not okay with this at all and I wanted to send messages to my friends asking what the deal was, and saying that this was every bit as serious as I said it was and it was not okay with me if they didn't take it seriously. I wanted to, but I was very scared and when I saw the opportunity to be like, "Never mind, I feel better now, I'll disregard the fact that you're only talking to me because I stopped posting the notes," I seized it. I have a feeling that if we hadn't been dating, I would have gotten the courage to send those messages, and I would have dealt with what needed to be dealt with five years ago instead of bringing it up for the first time now.

And most importantly, if I had made friends with people on my own in 2011 and there was no boyfriend involved, I think that I would have been my real untamable self from the start. With my old friend abroad, I would have been able to start fresh with people who had never seen me in a school environment. I would have continued posting Colby stuff online very aggressively, and I would have informed people that I wanted to be a wild, untamable chick who didn't act college-educated, and who behaved as if I had never been punished or disciplined in any way. That would have been the Nikki that everyone met from the start. There would be no "old Nikki" who used to be well-behaved, whom you could have bonded with over being good kids.

If you observed one person tell another person, "I'm going to do something very bad to you if you don't jump rope," and the other person jumps rope, you can logically reason out that the person may have done this to avoid the bad thing, not because they like to jump rope. The problem is that on a subconscious level, we can't always reason this out. We just see the person jumping rope and subconsciously, we assume that's what they want to do. And if we see other people choose not to jump rope and have the really bad thing happen to them instead, that makes us more likely to assume that the people who choose to jump rope must like it, rather than assuming that the bad consequence may simply hurt some people more than others, which is why they may choose to jump rope despite hating it.

I wish I knew more people who had just never seen me jump rope.

If you only knew me in a school environment, you didn't see the real me. Even at lunch or after-school activities, even at college when we weren't in class. If we were in a school, I was not being my untamable self. And I really, really hate to have to say this, but I was also suppressing very important things while I was dating my boyfriend. 2011 was very suppressed. 2012 was better, but I was still being very careful about what I shared. 2013 was the first time I was really unsuppressed. And March 2014 to the present is 100 percent unsuppressed. Outside of work, I have not tried to impress anyone or get anyone to like me since the breakup. I don't have a goal of getting people to like me. I have a goal of being untamable, and of having other people recognize that I'm untamable and treat me that way.

Very soon, I'm going to be meeting up with people I haven't seen since before the breakup. People who know me as "Nicole" instead of "Nikki" (I do NOT want to be called Nicole ever again!). People who know me as a good girl who got good grades and was in National Honor Society and was in the top ten of my class. It's so hard to shatter people's illusions and get them to believe that the real Nikki is the one who's an untamble unschooler porn star who rejects college and is super clingy and writes lots of bad things about people who've betrayed her. The real Nikki is NOW. (The real Nikki also existed in the past when she was a kid, but she only existed at home with her family, so you wouldn't have met her).

I don't know what to do about this. But I'm gonna have my spiky gloves on this time. I'm gonna correct people if they introduce me as "Nicole" and I'm gonna talk normally with everyone the way I am NOW and not revert back to the good girl I was last time we saw each other.

From now on, when I meet new people, I'm not going to have the goal of getting them to like me. I'm going to approach things the way I would if I were trying a new recipe combo. If I wanted to try, say, peanut butter on blueberries, I wouldn't approach it thinking that this would be my new favorite food or that I needed to find a way to make it work. I would just try and see if I liked it. That's what I'm gonna do when I meet new people - I'm not gonna have a goal that we need to get along or that anything needs to work between us. I'm just gonna be myself and we'll both see if we like the combo. Because if I start trying to make it work, I usually end up altering the ingredient that I'm contributing, and the other person is in for a nasty surprise when they find out that I'm made out of coriander instead of Cool Whip.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sleeping Barbie

When I was around 6, I got a special Barbie doll for Christmas that was soft so that you could sleep with her. She had special eyes that would close if you poured warm water on them and open when you applied cold water. Her eyes were open to start, and my mom and I went to the sink and poured warm water on her eyes, but nothing happened. My mom was annoyed that it didn't work and wanted to keep trying, but I said that was okay, I just wanted to play with the doll and didn't care if her eyes worked or not. I had no patience for toys that involved grownups having to help.

I went to sleep with the doll, and when I woke up the next morning, her eyes were closed! I figured out how it worked! It wasn't about water, she just needed to be warm for her eyes to close. The warm water on her head wasn't enough warmth, but being close to my body under the covers all night worked. When I got home from school that day, her eyes were open again. I was soooooooo thrilled to have discovered how she worked on my own without any grownups involved! I tried holding her head tightly for short bits of time to see if that would make her eyes close. I tried leaving her under the covers in bed all day after I got up to see if she would stay warm enough that her eyes would stay closed. I even tried putting her in the freezer when my parents weren't looking, just to see what would happen.

I still remember that amazing moment of discovering how her eyes worked and how much fun it was to play with her eyes. All I can say is, I'm so glad that the hot water didn't work the way it was supposed to. If it had, I might have lost the opportunity to have fun with her on my own.

Using Dragon

I recently downloaded Dragon Naturally Speaking voice control software. This allows me to write by speaking the words instead of typing them. I have been having a lot of problems with my hands lately because of the amount of typing that I do. My hands can manage for now, but since I'm only 27 and I have a gazillion more words to write in my lifetime, I figured I should deal with this problem now by using Dragon instead of typing.

I never realized how good I had gotten at typing, until I started using Dragon. I don't have a lot of patience for Dragon when I'm writing something important. It feels like I'm going back to my high school or even middle school level of typing, in terms of both speed and accuracy. But I need to practice using Dragon if I want to get better at it and eventually use it for my important writing. For now, I'm going to use Dragon for select blog posts that are shorter and less important to me. When I use Dragon, the post will start out with "Using Dragon." Or sometimes, "Partially using Dragon." This is just for my personal notes, so that I can keep track of how well I am learning to use Dragon. I'm hoping that over time I can learn to use Dragon as easily as I can type, and I will use it for almost all of my blog posts. Once this happens, I will no longer say "Using Dragon" at the beginning of each post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Extrovert's Nightmare Revisited

Back when I wrote this blog post: http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2012/08/an-extroverts-nightmare.html, I didn't think that the scenario I described would ever actually happen to anyone. It was meant to be a pure alternate-reality fantasy. It was meant to make a point about how miserable it is for introverts like me to live in extrovert-dominated cultures such as my college campus. It was meant to reach the specific people I went to school with who just couldn't fathom how someone could not want to be around people all the time. I never thought that this nightmare actually existed.

In all the years that I've been in school, from pre-K through the end of college, I never had enough alone time. Other than summer vacations, I was always being overstimulated and experiencing more social interaction than I wanted. I reached the conclusion that the world - or at least the United States - was meant for extroverts and was generally an unwelcoming place for introverts.

But I realize now that this was never the case. Some environments are more suited for introverts and some environments are more suited for extroverts, and the "Extrovert's Nightmare" that I described in that blog post is very, very real. It happens when you get out of school. College was full of excitement and stimulation and being around people, and when you get out, there is a lot of pressure to be okay without those things. There is pressure to be perfectly fine without a huge group of friends and lots of camaraderie. Pressure to be okay with being alone watching Netflix on a Saturday night and not having anyone to go out and party with or go on adventures with. And there is an immense amount of pressure to just be okay with being alone. This is not okay. It is not okay to push someone who needs camaraderie and adventure to be okay with watching TV alone on a Saturday night.

I talk mostly about introvert issues on this blog because those are my experiences, but I want to make it clear that the extrovert's nightmare in today's working world is just as real as the nightmare that I experienced in college, and neither one is okay. My original blog post is good as a piece specifically about college life, since colleges force you spend a lot of time around people, but I want to make it clear that I don't actually want extroverted people to experience the nightmare described in the post. I'd like the specific people who pressured me to be social to experience the reverse so they know what it's like, but in general, I don't want extroverts to ever experience that nightmare. I want everyone to have the social time, camaraderie, adventure, one-on-one time, and alone time that they desire, and never live in a culture where they are expected to be okay without it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

How to Treat Me Like I'm Untamable


For the past few years, I've been saying that I want to be treated like someone who is wild and untamable, and I have been asking everyone to stop treating me like a good kid. I know that this may have been confusing and unclear in terms of what I actually wanted people to do. Now that I've had some time to think about it, I feel much more clear about what this means to me. Here is what it means to treat me like I'm untamable (or like my radical unschooling self):

1. Please don't try to bond with me over the fact that we were "good kids" compared to kids of today. I was not a good kid. I was a chicken. I was too scared to tell people off and get in trouble, but I desperately wanted to. All of the "Good Behavior" awards I got should really be called "Scardy Cat" awards, or "Prefers to Daydream than Interact with Peers She Didn't Want to Be with in the First Place," awards. If I could go back in time, I would tell all of the adult authority figures in my life to fuck off and be the absolute most untamable kid that anyone has ever seen. I could give the wild kids of today a run for their money.

Also, while I may not have starting drinking or trying drugs at a young age, I was doing very scary, dangerous, life-threatening things that would give parents nightmares if they knew. The risky activities I did weren't in the public eye, so I never got credit for engaging in risky behavior. Please understand that I did do risky things. I can't bond with you over having not engaged in risky behavior because I did way riskier things than kids of today are doing.

It's bad enough that I can't change the past - I can't go back and tell people off and act out the way that I really wanted to. The LEAST people can do for me now is accept that the real Nikki is the Nikki that I wanted to be as a kid, the Nikki that I was inside, not the Nikki who pretended to be polite in school so she wouldn't get in trouble. The least you can do for me is not attempt to bond with me over how we were such good kids. Maybe you were a good kid, but I was just a chicken, and I don't want to associate with that well-behaved part of my past ever again.

2. Please don't expect that I'm going to do something just because I'm supposed to. When I say that I have no respect for rules, I do mean it. I care about rules that relate to safety, like if I'm about to enter the wrong side of a highway. I also care about rules that lead to immediate undesirable consequences, such as getting a parking ticket. Other than that, I do not care about rules. If we are at a multiple-day event together with a schedule and it says that breakfast is required, I may choose to sleep in and skip breakfast. I do not need you to remind me that it is required when I say that I am not coming with you. I can read the word "required" on the schedule. I heard the group leaders saying that we all had to go. I will skip breakfast anyway if I don't want to go. If you want to go, that's fine, I will not pressure you to skip with me, but please do not expect that I'm going to go to something just because someone in charge says it's required.

When you see me smuggling food out of the cafeteria because I want to eat alone in my room instead of with people, please don't tell me that we're not supposed to do that. I know and I don't care. Especially don't say it loudly enough that everyone knows I'm taking the food and ditching them.

If we are going to school together, please don't assume that I'm going to do all the stuff we're supposed to do. I did not go to one single career fair or alumni networking event at college. I also skipped my grad school orientation and graduation because I didn't feel like going. This doesn't mean I'll never go to events like this, but please ask me if I'm going the same way you'd ask about any just-for-fun event that no one feels any obligation to go to, and please do not act so shocked when I say no.

If we are taking a class together and we have assigned reading or homework for a given day that does not need to be handed in for a grade, I am not going to have it done. Unless we are being tested on the reading, I will probably never do it. Please don't expect that you can call me up and get homework help for stuff that I'm not going to have done. If I have something done, I will be happy to help you, but I would like you to ask me if I have it done, even if it was due several weeks ago, and not just assume that I will have it done because of what the syllabus says. I would like you to not be so shocked when my answer is no, and if you ask me more than once and my answer is no, it probably means that I am never going to have my homework done when you do, and it would be better if you found another classmate to call for help.

3. Please treat my untamable interests as a true part of me and don't try to pretend they don't exist or purposely avoid sharing them with other people. When I first started writing the sex blog, I wanted to keep it very private. I only shared the link with a few close friends and did not go around advertising that I was a sex blogger. My friends were very good about keeping this private for me, and I really, really appreciate it.

I am at a point now where I don't want to keep these things private anymore. I keep the sex blog private from my family and co-workers, but not from my general social circle or from new peers I meet. I want people to know that I'm a sex blogger. I also identify as a self-made porn star and I want everyone to know that too. When it comes to what I consider my untamable interests: being a sex blogger and a self-made porn star, being a radical unschooler at heart, never growing up, and most of all, my life goal to behave as if I have never been punished or disciplined in any way and truly become untamable - these things are all HUGE parts of who I am. If you are ever talking to someone about me, please share these things the same way you might say that I'm a writer or that I love to swim. I'm not asking you to purposely go out and announce these things to everyone, I'm just asking that if and when you mention me to other people, you share these things about me just as freely as you would share that I'm a writer. I love identifying as a self-made porn star, a radical unschooler at heart, and an untamable kid, and I do not want anyone to purposely avoid sharing these things about me because of the nature of these things or what other people will say.

Also, please avoid sharing things about me that I no longer wish to associate with, such as the fact that I got good grades, was in the top ten of my high school class, or that I got accepted to a "prestigious" college. That's not me anymore. That's the opposite of who I want to be.

4. Please treat my untamable-related goals like any other goals. If I had a goal of learning how to water-ski and you happened to have an aunt who teaches water skiing, I'm sure you'd give me her number. I'd do the same. It's a pretty common thing that almost anyone would do. I'm hoping this can happen with my untamable goals as well. I'm not asking anyone to go out of their way or treat my goals like their own, I'd just like you to have them in the back of your mind, in the same place where you'd remember that a friend wanted to water-ski, so that if you ever happen to find a person or a link to a website that might help me with becoming more untamable and undoing the effects of discipline and schooling on my mind, you can share it. I'd just like my goal of being untamable to be in the same category as my more socially acceptable goals, and not completely removed from everyone's minds.

Also, if I had a goal of, say, getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that I was afraid to do, and then I did something big that I was afraid to do like going bungee jumping, I'm about 90% sure that I would get lots of praise for being adventurous and doing something that I was scared of doing. When it comes to being untamable, I would appreciate getting the same kind of praise. When I do something really, really untamable, such as when I sent The Unencrypted Truth to the top deans at my ex-college, I would like to be told that this was a really untamable thing to do. I'd like it to be pointed out to me when I achieve my goal of being untamable. I'm not asking for people to go way out of their way for this, I'd just like the same amount of praise for being untamable that I'm pretty sure I would get if I were achieving a more socially acceptable goal of being more adventurous or outgoing.

This is what I mean when I say that I want to be treated like someone who is untamable, or treated like my unschooling self, and that I don't want to be treated like a good kid. This is how I would like to be treated from now on. My name is Nikki, and I am untamable.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Conditions of my Central Focus

While I was referring to the priority list I wrote several years ago for my last blog post, I came across another piece I had written on the conditions of my central focus. My central focus is the same thing as my central passion, the Level 2 priority in my previous post. I have always referred to my primary passion as my "central focus" - I called it my central passion in the last post because "passion" seemed easier to recognize and identify at a glance, since my central focus was not a very important part of the post.

When I've had times in my life when I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do in terms of my central focus - like in college, when I couldn't get into any of the plays - most people did not accept how big of a deal this was. People expected me to carry on and be satisfied enough with the fun things in Level 3, while Level 2 was essentially blank. When I first wrote my priority list, I wrote an accompanying piece about what a central focus is, and the criteria that activities have to meet in order to be part of the central focus category. This is what I wrote at the time (slightly edited for better clarity/emphasis, but the 5 criteria are the same):

My central focus is, by definition, the thing I love the most, that I’m passionate about, and that I consider to be the most important thing in my life. Here are some conditions which any passion must meet in order to be considered my central focus:

1.      A central focus must be all-consuming, something that I can look forward to and daydream about all the time, even when I’m doing something else.
2.      A central focus must have some sort of big event to look forward to – a performance, getting to show everyone my book, etc. Anything that doesn’t lead to this (ex: an acting class that doesn’t focus on a final show, private journal projects) is not considered a central focus goal, unless it helps with a concurrent central focus goal that does lead to a big event.
3.      I must know with reasonable certainty that the central focus will continue. This means that carrying out the central focus is either under my control (something I do on my own) or on a recurring schedule (an organized activity). If there is uncertainty as to whether I will be able to continue my central focus (ex: competitive auditions, other things that take up too much time, not knowing when I'll get the opportunity to do it again, etc.), this is a major problem, and my number one goal is to find an environment in which I can continue the activity with reasonable certainty.
4.      A central focus must always be current, something that I can talk about when someone asks what I’ve been up to.  As soon as one central focus event starts to become old news, to the point that it doesn't feel like an appropriate answer to the question, "What's up?" then it’s time to find a new one.
5.      A central focus must be something that I can identify as. It must be a big enough part of my life to be able to call myself someone who does it, meaning that I would feel comfortable saying, "I'm a writer/actor/dancer/etc." It cannot be a situation where I feel like, "Well, I've been in some dance shows, but I don't feel like I do enough dance or have enough experience to refer to myself as a dancer." Being someone who does the activity must be a major part of who I am.

If I do not have a central focus goal that meets the above criteria, then my number one goal is to find one, or to force a current goal to meet these criteria.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On Relationships, Meeting New People, and What Really Happened Last Summer

I've been meaning to post about what happened last summer with a certain person, and now seems like a good time.

Let me start this post by sharing my priority list, which is relevant to what happened:

Level 1: Close Family and Friends. This includes maintaining my relationships with the people I'm close to and being there for people when they need me. It also involves lots of talking, spending time together, and doing fun things together. Events that involve spending time with close friends automatically fall into this category.

Level 2: Central Passion. This includes whatever my primary passion is. In the past it has been theatre, and my passion right now is writing. An interest has to be an obsession, something that can completely consume my life and leave room for nothing else, in order to count as a Level 2 passion. Individual projects within this category can alternate in terms of what is most important to me, but they are not interchangeable with things that are not related to my central passion.

Level 3: Other Fun. This includes anything I like to do for fun that does not fall into the category of spending time with people I love or being part of my central passion. This mostly includes fun things I do alone other than writing. I have goals in this category, but they are less important than the goals related to my passion. There is a lot of variance within this category about what is most important to me at any given moment, which is fine. This is an unfocused, free-for-all category, and it is meant for me to choose what matters most in a given moment.

Level 4: Everything Else. This includes - you guessed it - everything else I do that does not fall into the first three categories. This would include school, work, chores (not that I ever do chores), and basically anything I do that doesn't fall into the other categories. I have often behaved as if schoolwork came ahead of the other levels, but that was only because I was forced to. Fun activities - both organized extra-curricular activities and free time to myself - have always been more important than school.

(Note: I am an introvert, so there is a limit to how much time I want to spend with other people, even though being with close family and friends is my top priority. When I first wrote this priority list several years ago, there were 5 levels:

Level 1: Relationships
Level 2: Central Passion
Level 3: Fun by Myself
Level 4: Fun with Other People
Level 5: Everything Else

In this version, Level 1 only involved maintaining my relationships with my close family and friends, and included staying in touch, being there for people when they needed me, and a lot of talking and sharing intimate secrets. Going out and doing fun things together was Level 4, so an event with friends would have come after my passion and doing something more fun by myself. There was a lot of variance among individual activities within Levels 3 and 4 - it came down to that fact that I preferred to do activities I enjoyed more by myself than activities I enjoyed less with my friends, and I would never do an activity that I didn't really love just to be with friends. The reason for this was that while I was in school, I had more social interaction than I wanted at school alone and hardly ever wanted to see friends outside of school. School was not quality time spent with friends, but it still maxed out my limit on the time I wanted to be with people. I did not have enough alone time. If I were currently in a situation where my friends wanted to see me more often than I wanted to see them and I was saying no to a lot of invitations, I would alter this priority list further to explain when alone time was more important to me than seeing friends. But currently, I have plenty of alone time, which is why any activity with friends falls into the Level 1 category. So, if my friends and I are having a beach party together, that beach party is my number one priority, more important than my writing, more important than anything else I might like to do, and waaaaaaaaayyyyyyy more important that my job, or than schoolwork if I were still in school.)

I have a LOT to say about this priority list, but in this post, I'm going to focus specifically on the issue of meeting new people, and where that falls on the list.

First of all, I want to be clear that Level 1 refers only to close family and friends. It does not include just being social or being around people in a general sense. I do not like just being around people unless I have a relationship with those specific people, so "being social" is nowhere on my priority list because it is not something I am interested in doing.

Then there's the more complicated issue of meeting new people who will potentially become close friends. Again, Level 1 only includes people whom I already have close relationships with. Meeting new people whom I can potentially become friends with ranges from a top priority in Level 3 to a bottom priority in Level 4, depending on whether I'm in a transition state where I "need" to make new friends (like entering a new school), and how much of a bond I feel with a person I've met. For example, when I began high school and began college, making new friends was a much higher priority for me than it normally is, but it was still only at the top of Level 3. The process of meeting new people is not important enough to be at Level 2 and will never ever ever be a part of Level 1. If I feel a bond with someone and want to see them again, I *might* pursue the relationship, but it is still only a top Level 3 priority. I can meet someone new and make friends with them so that spending time with them becomes a Level 1 activity, but until I feel like we're close friends, seeing them will never be a higher priority than the top of Level 3.

(Just to be clear, I don't rank individual people within my close friends. It's just a matter of whether or not we are close friends that determines the priority level, and, while I don't always know where I am on other people's lists, I can tell how I feel about someone based on much I'm interested in hanging out with that person compared to my other choices. If we are already close friends, you are definitely at the top of my list, and that's not going to change.)

Sometimes activities that involve meeting new people are high on my list, but they are high on my list for reasons other than meeting new people. For example, if I am invited to a party where I can meet lots of new people, that party is also an opportunity to be with people who are already my friends (I would have to be friends with someone at the party in order to have been invited in the first place). The amount of time I'll get to spend with my close friends at the party is the biggest deciding factor in how important the party is to me and whether or not I'll go. There's also the fact that I might like the activity that people are doing, such as swimming, dancing, or playing board games. How much I will enjoy the activity itself is the second deciding factor in whether or not I'll go to the party. If I would not have any close friends at the event and the activity itself is not something I really love, I would probably not go. I would much rather stay home and do something by myself than be out meeting new people, if meeting new people is the main thing I'm doing. Now, once I'm at the event, I might end up meeting new people, spend a lot of time talking with them, and eventually become friends. But the potential of that happening would not be a reason for me to leave the house in the first place. That potential is a Level 4 priority since the process of talking to new people is rarely fun. I would need another reason - like seeing close friends or doing a fun activity - for going out to be preferable to staying home.

Now, this might seem strange since you've probably seen me get excited about meeting new people that friends were going to introduce me to. Let me explain why that happens. See, when a close friend of mine wants to introduce me to a close friend of theirs because they think we'll really like each other, that is something that I get really, really excited about. First of all, if a close friend is introducing me to someone new, that means that I'm doing something with my close friend, which automatically puts meeting the new person as a Level 1 priority. If I were meeting the new person without my friend there, I would be much less excited and it would be a Level 3 priority at best. But beyond that, there is something extremely intimate about meeting a new friend through an old friend. I can't quite explain what it is, but if I do click with the new person, I feel an incredibly strong bond not only with them, but with my already-close friend who introduced us. It makes me feel even closer to the close friend who introduced us. It's a bonding ritual with my old friend and the new friend, and it only happens this way if the three of us are all together. Some of my happiest memories with friends do involve on friend introducing me to another friend, because of this intense bonding experience. The potential of this intense bond happening is why I get so excited about meeting new people in this way, and is what makes it a Level 1 priority.

I always refer to the year 2013 as being such a great year for me because I made so many new friends that year. I want to emphasize that the key word in that statement is "friend," not "new." Two of the new friends I made were friends whom I had already known for years, but we really, really connected on a deep level in 2013, became much closer, and started hanging out with each other all the time, rather than just at big group events. One of the people I became closer with that year was already a close friend, but they had been away at school for three years, and we became much closer once we could spend a lot more time together. The two new friends that I met for the first time ever in 2013, I met in very intimate circumstances. We weren't at a party or a big event with lots of other people and stimulation and distractions. We weren't even doing a mellow activity like bowling. We met at our mutual friend's house, and we just talked. We talked and got to know each other for seven and a half hours straight. THAT is the reason that I felt like we were friends after our first meeting with each other, and I immediately wanted to Skype and stay in touch and pursue getting to know each other. If we had met at a big party, or if we were doing an activity together other than just talking, I would not have bonded that quickly because we would not have been talking about as many intimate personal things, and I would have been distracted by the activities or environment. (I'm a one thing at a time kind of person). If we had met in these less intimate circumstances, it definitely would not have been a high priority for me to stay in touch and pursue the friendship. When I meet someone in a setting with more distractions and we don't talk about deep personal stuff right away, I don't usually feel an instant connection to the point that pursuing the friendship is a Level 1 priority. I would need to meet the person several more times before I would feel that close to them, but before we reached that point, other things that I liked to do would come first.

In terms of meeting new people, 2013 did not involve a lot of meeting new people compared to other years of my life, I wasn't in school, I didn't have a job for most of that year, and I had already met all of my boyfriend's mutual friends. It wasn't about meeting lots of people, it was about making friends with a lot of people. The number of people whom I would drop everything to see just soared through the roof that year, and that's what really matters to me.

When I talk about being clingy and latching onto people like bubblegum, I am talking about people whom I am already close with. I am talking about wanting to only do Level 1 activities, which means being with close friends and family. I am not looking to have this kind of relationship with someone I don't know well. When I don't know someone well yet, I have a very large number of things that I would prefer to do before hanging out with them. Most important to note: being lonely does not increase my desire to meet new people. When I am lonely, I want to be with people who are already my friends. I can’t talk about the intimate things I want to talk about with people I don’t know, and I can’t feel warm and cozy and cuddly with people I don’t know. When I'm feeling very, very clingy, I am desiring time with people I am already friends with, and time with other people does nothing for me. If I'm not friends with someone, then I would normally prefer to stay home and do something by myself than go out and hang with them, even if I am lonely at the time.

So, having said all that...

Last summer, we met through a text conversation on Facebook – ONE text chat. We didn't know each other before that. Technically we did meet before, but I have no memory of talking to each other. We chatted for a little bit and seem to have some things in common. You were more excited about me than I was about you. I could see that right away. You felt like we had something deep, while it still felt superficial to me. I linked you to my website, and you wanted to link me to yours but couldn't find the link. Eventually I told you I was heading out of the house and ended the conversation. As I was running out the door to meet my friend, you finally found the link and sent it to me in a Facebook message. I felt my phone buzz and opened the message because I always open messages to see what they are even if I'm not planning to respond at the moment. I was on my way out, and I had already told you I was leaving and was done talking, so I did not respond.

I spent the day with my friend, and we had a very nice time together. When I got home, I was exhausted. I found another long message from you on Facebook, telling me that you felt such a deep connection with me and were glad that we had started talking. I was tired and did not feel like writing out long reply to you. I wanted more time to think about what to say - how to be appreciative while also making it clear that I did not want a boyfriend, and without leading you on to think that I was as excited as you were about being friends. There was also your website, which I hadn't looked through yet. When someone shares something like that with me, I feel like I should put some time into looking at it so that I can give honest, insightful feedback. It was a big task, not like just saying, “Sure, I’ll meet you at the park tomorrow!” I did not feel like doing this on Saturday night, and I had no obligation to. We had only started talking that morning, and I do not assign myself that level of responsibility to people I don't even know. I planned to respond the next day or whenever I got around to it.

The next day I was meeting another close friend. My friend came over to visit me, stayed all day, and we also had a very nice time together. After they left that night, I was exhausted again and just felt like relaxing and doing something by myself. I went to Facebook to read the message again. I was sitting on the couch, debating if I wanted to start looking through the pictures and write a reply, or just relax for the evening, when I got a phone call from our mutual friend. You had called her to say that I was ignoring you. My friend asked if something happened between us. I don't know what you said to her on the phone, but nothing "happened." I had other plans that weekend and I had never said that I would respond to you within any specific amount of time. I NEVER would have spoken to you in the first place if I thought that I'd be entering into some kind of contract that I had to answer within 24 hours. When I went on your Facebook page, there was a message about feeling betrayed because you had been ignored. It sounded like a very deep betrayal, like someone who had known you much longer than the one Facebook conversation we had, someone who actually had some kind of responsibility to you, but it was clearly directed at me.

This was not okay at all. I am a clingy person, and I *do* want to be in constant contact with people who are my close friends, but I am NOT willing to accept any kind of responsibility or obligation to respond to someone who is not a close family member or friend. If a close friend had told me that they were upset that I didn't answer them, I would have explained why I didn't respond, apologized for lot not letting them know that I was busy, and told them that next time I would tell them that I had other plans and let them know when they could expect a response from me. But you were not my friend, and I am not willing to owe this kind of treatment to someone who I don’t even know.

I felt like throwing up when I got that phone call on Sunday night. I was done with you at that point. I honestly never wanted to hear from you again. Honestly. But when I wrote you a Facebook message saying that this would never work for me, you apologized and made it sound like a simple misunderstanding and said that you did still want to be friends. I still didn't want to be friends. My intuition was SCREAMING at me to run the other way. I didn't trust what you said in the message. The reaction to me not answering you fast enough felt more real to me than what you said to try to get me back.

The problem was that I didn't have any good options. My normal response when someone I don't know rubs me the wrong way is to simply not pursue the friendship. I would have been perfectly content not actively pursuing any kind of relationship with you through lots of talking and messages, but still be friendly to each other at big group events and have fun together. But you didn't give me that option. With you, I either had to be friends, or else I was doing something really horrible to you and we were going to be enemies. Since we had mutual friends, I didn't want to be enemies. I also assumed that I would come out looking like the bad guy for ditching you after one teensy-weensy incident that you could easily play off as a misunderstanding, and, having not yet thought deeply about my priorities in relation to loneliness and meeting new people, I thought I'd look like an idiot ditching you for clinging to me when I was constantly announcing my own clinginess to everyone I knew. So I figured the better choice was to try to be friends. But I didn't really want to be.

You wanted to meet me very badly. I didn't care much about hanging out with you. Remember, we weren't close friends, and I didn't feel a click with you, so seeing you was a Level 4 priority, meaning that almost anything else I liked to do was more important to me than meeting you. But you wanted it very badly, and I felt like you were going to keep asking and asking until I agreed to hang out. I don't feel comfortable going on and on forever making up excuses about being busy. I agreed to meet you on the upcoming Sunday at the mall, not because I was excited to meet you, but because it felt like something I had to squeeze into my schedule at some point, and I wanted to do it on a day when I didn't have any specific plans, rather than tying up a perfectly good beach party day in the future.

So we met at the mall and talked for a long time. I told you that I did not want a boyfriend and that I didn't see us being compatible anyway and that I didn't think of you in that way. I didn't see any change in your behavior or how much you wanted me to like you after informing you of this.

I know you felt something really deep. And maybe it seemed like I felt that way too because I was being nice and listening to you. But that's the thing - I was listening. I didn't feel like you were listening to me. I didn't feel like our conversation had a basis in reality.

When I really like someone's writing, or something that they’ve done, I’ll talk to them about that thing and tell them specifically what I liked about it. That's what you do when you actually like something. That's what it means to have a "deep" conversation about something. Repeating the fact that you are a deep person who appreciates deep things such as my writing, while saying nothing about the writing, is not a deep conversation. It's pseudo-deep. It's trying to be deep, but it's not. It's probably one of the most superficial conversations I've ever had. More superficial even than the college conversations about people wearing spandex, because at least that's grounded in reality. At least people had consistent opinions about whether or not they thought it was okay to wear spandex.

Sometimes if you don’t know someone well, or you're not stopping to talk for a very long time, you might say something simple like, “That’s cool that you love to draw!” or “That’s awesome that you write your own songs!” without talking about these thing more in depth. That's fine. But when it came to you “liking” my writing, your enthusiasm was that of someone who had a lot to say about it, but “It’s cool that you write so much!” was the extent of it. And the fact that you are a deep person who appreciates such things. I didn't understand how you could be so enthusiastic about my writing and not have a single word to say about anything specific that I had written. This scared me a little bit. It made me wonder if you even understood what I was writing about, or if you were just blindly obsessed with me, without regard to anything that I was actually telling you. I saw us being completely incompatible, but you didn't seem to notice that most of the things I wrote about were directly against your views. I predicted that this would all come crashing down once reality hit and you actually stopped to notice what I was writing about. I predicted it long before it happened.

When I say that our conversation had no basis in reality, I mean that I might say, “My favorite color is pink.”
You’d say, “Wow that is awesome! I love people who love pink, and I really can’t stand all these people who like blue. My last girlfriend liked blue and it really bothered me, so it’s great to meet someone who loves pink.”
Then I’d say, “Actually, I love blue as well. Blue is my second favorite color, and pink and blue together is my favorite color combination."
Then you would say, “See, that is just awesome! I can’t believe I met someone like you who likes blue!”

This may seem like a silly conversation, but it was honestly scaring me. I felt like things were going to turn very bad once you came to terms with reality. I kept throwing everything I could at you so you'd realize how incompatible we were. I told you I was a hedonist who was just out to have fun and that my life goal is to be untamable. I told you I had a sex blog and later sent you the direct link. I threw every anvil I could think of at you in an attempt to shatter that warped glass you were looking through when you saw me, but nothing I said got through. Nothing. I tried everything.

And the strange thing was, it didn't even feel like a warped perception of me. It was like, when you spoke to me, you forgot your own views. You forgot what you were about. You claimed to think everything I said was awesome, but I kept replaying what you were writing on your own Facebook wall and thinking no, this can't be right, you can't possibly think this is awesome.

Most of us go along with things we disagree with just to be nice sometimes, but to quote Arthur, you don’t quirt and entire strawberry milkshake out your nose just to be polite. It's one thing to say, "Oh, cool," when someone tells you they're doing something that you don't agree with, but it's another to go on about how it's so awesome and you're so glad to have met someone who does that thing. It’s one thing to go along with something when you’re physically with someone because you don’t have a choice not to respond, but it's another to *like* Facebook posts you don't agree with or write long responses to things that you don't even mean.

Most of us have some cognitive dissonance where our crushes are concerned, but it's one thing to say, "I’m neat and you’re messy, but I love you, so I’m going to tell myself that it won't matter without really thinking about what it will be like to live with you." That I can understand. What I don't understand is how you can go on and on and on on your own  Facebook wall about how being neat is the most important thing in your life, and in the same day - often within the same hour - *like* my posts about not only being messy, but actively trying to be messy, and trying to shut down anyone who pushes people to be neat. How can you believe so deeply in being neat, but also write me comments about how great it is that my life goal is to make the world into one big mess. It just didn't make sense, and it always scared me. It scared me because I knew the illusion had to shatter at some point. And yet it was a strong illusion. Nothing I threw at you had any effect. It scared me how powerful the illusion was and how devastating I knew it would be when it finally shattered. I was scared that whatever feelings resulted from the illusion being shattered would be directed at me, even though I was trying to break the illusion from the start.

Referring back to my priority list, I never felt like you were a close friend. Since I didn't feel a true connection with you, seeing you would be a Level 4 priority for me, even if nothing else were wrong. But things were wrong.

If a close friend called me a bad name on purpose, I would be willing to let them apologize and hear what they had to say. But when I get called a bad name on only my fifth or sixth interaction with someone, I am done with them. Meeting up with someone I didn't click with is not any kind of priority for me anyway, even if absolutely nothing is wrong, so there is absolutely no reason that I would pursue a friendship with someone I don't know when one of our earliest interactions involves them calling me and one of my friends a hurtful name on purpose, which can in no way be misconstrued as you just being in a bad mood that day because you weren't even fighting with me.

This only lasted a month, but you decided to ditch friends who've been your friends for three years and six years. For the record, no one was taking sides. I didn't talk about this problem with our mutual friends until after you started treating them badly. I kept most of this private for the sake of your friendship. I never even told our friends what you called me. I never pushed anyone to stop being friends with you.

That night when you were upset that I didn't answer you right away and my gut told me that I didn't want to be friends with you - if you and I had didn't have any mutual friends at the time, I would have cut off contact and never talked to you again after that incident. The only reason I tried to pursue a friendship with you was because you and I had the same best friends. You didn't leave me the option of just being on good terms, and I didn't want to create a conflict for other people by being enemies. But more so than that, something told me that I shouldn't be treating a best friend of a best friend like some random creep. Something told me that I owed you a second chance because you must have been a good friend to my good friends. But I was wrong about that. The next time my intuition is screaming at me, I'm gonna listen.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What Makes You Special

(Note: I just got Dragon voice control software, and this is my first blog post spoken entirely with Dragon and without typing. Let me know if it sounds any different).

When I first wrote my unschooling post, I was annoyed that I only had percentiles instead of raw data. But I realize now that percentiles also have a use value, because percentiles tell you what makes you special. For example, my self-efficacy score changed from 0 in the current condition to 95 in the unschooling condition. While I don’t know that my raw score jumped 95 points, I know that in the current condition, having low self-efficacy set me apart from other people. I know that in the unschooling condition, I have higher self-efficacy than 95% of the population. When I wrote the unschooling post, I felt like I didn’t have the real data I needed. I felt like there was nothing I could prove without my raw data. While it would be nice to know how I changed from the current condition to the unschooling condition, there is a lot of value in seeing how my percentiles changed. In the unschooling condition, I have more self-efficacy, assertiveness, and intellect then most of the population. These are qualities that make me very special in the unschooling condition, qualities that do not set me apart in the current condition. So, while it would be nice to know how my raw scores changed from one condition to the next, the fact that I went from having less self-efficacy than almost all of the population to having more self-efficacy than 95% of the population is extremely valuable knowledge, and is just as significant as if my raw score had gone up by 95 points. The data in the unschooling post shows not only how I would be different if I had been radically unschooled, but how what would make me special and would set me apart from other people would have been different than what sets me apart now.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Weird Happenings...

Something freaky happened on Facebook this morning. I got a notification that a Facebook page I follow called "Unschool Cool" changed its name to "No Longer Associated with Unschoolers." I was completely crushed. I did not understand how they could do this to me and all their followers. It made no sense. They were unschooling their own child already, so how did they decide not to associate with unschoolers? And even if they had stopped unschooling their child, why would they keep the Facebook page and call it "No Longer Associated with Unschoolers?" Like, if they're not into unschooling anymore, wouldn't they just delete that page and get a new one, or change the name of the page to what it IS going to be about going forward, instead of what it's not about? This made no sense, and there was nothing posted to the page as an explanation.

Then, less than half an hour after I got the first notification, my phone buzzed again with a new FB notification. The name was changed back to "Unschool Cool." There was no message about why this happened, so my first thought was that it must have just been a fluke. Like, maybe a member of the page author's family changed the name as a joke or something. That seemed most likely. But what's concerning me is this...

I think someone tried to hack my Facebook this past April. On April 1st, I got an email at 4:30 AM telling me that someone had requested a new password for my Facebook account. I did not request a password change. And that's not how changing a password works anyway. To change your Facebook password, you do it directly on Facebook. You don't have to go through your email. But you need your old password to change it through Facebook. You would only go through your email account if you forgot your old password. I got three emails in a row from Facebook at 4:30 AM that day saying that I had requested a password change, when I had not. Now, I suppose this could be a glitch, but it sounds to me like someone might have been trying to log into my account without having my password, and they did it three times in a row.

Now, I KNOW that this could just be a system glitch. It's just that I've had Facebook for 9 years now and this has never happened before. I have also never known anyone whom I would suspect would try to hack my account until very recently, so it seems a bit too coincidental that this would happen now.

And maybe the Unschooling page has nothing to do with this, but there is just something very weird about it. And the more I read that name "No Longer Associated with Unschoolers," it just doesn't sound right. It sounds too familiar, too much like something that I would say, or that someone else might say...I mean, I'm not the best judge of writing style, but I just feel suspicious about both of these incidents happening.

Also worth noting is that Unschool Cool has 950 followers, which is a lot, but relatively speaking it's not some big corporation with a gazillion followers where it would be ridiculous to think that I know the person who hacked it.

If anyone has any information relating to this, like any other strange happenings around the same time of these incidents, I would really appreciate it.

I will also take this time to remind people that one of my best friends is a super genius hacker who has already traced "anonymous" comments back to the source for me, and they will totally get involved in this case if I ask them to.

(If you have no idea what this is about, don't worry. And it's not about my ex boyfriend).

I Now Charge for Acting Services

Acting Service Charges

I am now charging people for my acting services. That means that if anyone wants me to smile when I don't want to smile, be in a good mood when that's not how I'm feeling, be nice to people I don't like, or in any way pretend to be someone I'm not (such as when I pretend to be a good hardworking citizen type who was okay with going to school and is okay with working), I will charge per hour for this service. 

$25 per hour is my basic rate, when we are in a comfortable setting. 
$50 per hour is my rate when a situation is more out of my comfort zone, like someone wants me to perform such services while on a strenuous hike or while doing anything that's not easy. 
$100 per hour is my rate if there is more than one factor that makes the situation more difficult, such as if we are on a difficult hike and it is also too cold or we haven't eaten enough or something like that. The amount does not stop in the middle at $75 because having more than one issue going on is an interaction of the two variables - they get multiplied together rather than just being added together.

From now on, if anyone asks me to smile or be in a good mood or otherwise act differently than how I feel for the duration of an event, I will calculate my price based on the length and type of event, and will let the person know my price. For example, a house party that lasts 3-4 hours would cost $75-$100.  A hike that lasts all day would cost roughly $400-$500. An all-day physical outdoor activity that takes place in the winter when it's too cold, or that does not end with us going back to our own homes afterwards, would cost roughly $800-$1,000 per day.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I am 100% serious. I do not actually expect that people will agree to pay me. What I am providing is a choice. You can either pay me my rate for my acting services, or you can choose for me to not perform my acting services. I don't think I'm going to make money this way, but what I will do is eliminate the option of anyone receiving my acting services for free.

Are There Exceptions?
There are no discounts or freebies, and no situation-based exceptions. If it involves me pretending to be someone I'm not, I charge my acting service rates. Period.

This does not mean that I will automatically make myself the center of attention at an event for someone else, like a birthday or graduation party, or any other event where the focus isn't on me. What it does mean is that if I'm not in a good mood, I'm not going to act in a mood for anyone else's sake. It means that *if* anyone asks me how I'm doing or if anything is wrong, I will answer honestly. I won't always necessarily launch into tons of detail depending on the type of event I'm at and where the attention should be focused, but *if* people probe, I will answer. Most importantly of all: *if* anyone suggests that something that I say happened to me is not actually that bad, I will inform them that it was that bad, and I will keep repeating this until they back off and stop trying to deny my experience. I will do this regardless of the circumstances and I will not have any sense of backing down because I'm at someone else's party. I've let a lot of invalidation slide throughout the years because I have a sense of wanting to keep people comfortable and not create awkward moments, but that is gone now. I have decided that I'm not concerned about ruining parties for everyone else, and that if you don't want a party to be ruined, you don't deny my experience, and you don't push me to be something I'm not. It's very simple. If you can't do those things, please see the fees that I charge for acting services at the beginning of the post.

Things that Do Not Fall under "Acting Services"
While I do not give exceptions in terms of charging for my acting services, there are acting-related things that do not fall under the realm of my acting services. I am defining my acting services as pretending to be someone I'm not and acting differently from the way that I feel. Here are examples of things that do not fall under those categories:

If a friend has someone stalking them, and the stalker asks me for my friend's contact info, I would totally be willing to play dumb and pretend I don't have the information, because that might be safer for both my friend and me than if I firmly tell the stalker that I'm not going to give them the information.

If it is necessary to act or even lie a little bit in order to keep someone's secret. You just can't say to a friend's parents, "I can't tell you where we went yesterday" when they ask, because that will raise suspicion and might lead to them badgering my friend for information. If where we really went yesterday was a secret, I would be okay telling a friend's parents that we went someplace else. 

Basically, if it's not about me hiding a part of myself or my feelings, it is not something that I charge for. 

Please keep this in mind for the next time you request my acting services.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I am No Longer Texting

I have decided that as of now, I am no longer using my phone for texting. Texting hurts my fingers and my eyes and a lot of texting gives me a headache, but more importantly, I just want to talk. This is not a result of any one incident because I understand that people don’t always feel like talking. I have been thinking about this for months now because I’ve been feeling this way for a long time. I don’t like it when I don’t get called back, and I don’t like it when I say that I want to talk about something and it gets reduced to a text message. I really, really miss the days where we all left voice message and called each other back, and it makes me wish that the option of texting didn’t exist. I hate texting, and I do not plan to do it anymore, for at least a month. Please call me if you need to reach me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I'm Just Not Vicarious

One of the big reasons I'm never planning to become an adult is that I have no interest in living vicariously through children.

I've seen a lot of movies where adults were trying to push their children into things that the children were not really passionate about, because the parents had wanted to do the things themselves. You see this a lot in movies where parents want their kids to be professional athletes or performers. Even if that's not the lead character's story, there's usually some character being pushed harder than they want to be because their parent always wanted to be a baseball player or a ballerina and didn't have the opportunity, so now they can have that opportunity through their child.

I never understood this concept. Even if you eliminate the fact that they shouldn't be doing that to their kids, I just never understood how a person could get that kind of vicarious pleasure. I once wanted to be an actor, singer, and dancer on Broadway, and I knew one thing for sure - I wanted to do it myself.  I knew that coaching my own child to be an actress, singer, and dancer - even if my child actually made it to Broadway - would just never satisfy my desire to be on Broadway myself. It wouldn't even make a dent in my dream.

This is not to say that everyone who teaches or coaches someone in their area of passion is necessarily living vicariously. I have friends who are teachers and are extremely passionate about what they do. But I view teaching as a passion in and of itself. Being a teacher or coach who touches people's lives is a goal to aspire to, the same as being a baseball player or ballerina. My point is that if I were going to be, say, a high school play director, I would have to enjoy the directing work itself. I would not enjoy a job like that simply because I love performing in plays myself. If I found that I did enjoy the directing work itself, it would bring me a different kind of pleasure, unrelated to the pleasure of performing. It would not replace performing, nor would it satisfy even the teensiest part of my desire to perform.

I once took a quiz about whether you'd rather be a singer, song writer, or manager. I came out to be both the singer and the songwriter, but not the manager. One of the true or false questions for being a manager was "I like to be near excitement, but not right in the middle of it." This is something that has never interested me. I like to either be right in the center of the excitement and action, or not involved at all. Taking more of a backstage role does not interest me. And yet, I see adults doing that all the time. Everything is about their kids' interests, rather than their own. It's practically expected that part of your life will be about going to kids' soccer games and dance recitals, but it's less common to find adults who are in their own soccer games and dance recitals. It's expected that you'll be up all night decorating for your kids' birthday parties, but it's less common to find adults putting that same effort into their own birthday parties. It's expected that a lot of the fun activities you do will involve your kids doing fun activities while you sit and watch.

When I was a kid, I understood two things for sure. I knew that I lived in a kid-centered culture, where we went places because I wanted to go and did things because I wanted to do them. I'd be playing on the playground and going in moon bounces  and doing other activities meant for kids while the adults just watched. We'd go get ice cream just so I could get an ice cream cone while all the adults were on diets. I saw my parents working hard on my birthday parties while keeping their own birthdays very low-key. I knew that I lived in a kid-centered culture, and I knew that I never wanted to be on the other side of it. I always wanted to go places that I wanted to go and do things I wanted to do. I wanted my life to always stay focused on my own fun and never have the central focus be on making someone else happy and letting them get to be the star while I hold the spotlight. I don't want to hold the spotlight. I always want to be in the spotlight no matter how old I get. I never plan to pass the baton and say, oh well, I'm older now so I guess I'll try to help someone else do the things I'd like to do. That doesn't satisfy me. Living vicariously through children does not satisfy me. I want to always be a star myself, not make someone else into the star that I could have been.

Plans

This is the last time I ever make tentative wait-till-the-last-minute plans with ANYONE. EVER. I want to know on MONDAY that I have awesome fun plans over the weekend and think about that ALL WEEK LONG!!!!!!! I am not willing to not hear back from people until later in the week. NOT NOT NOT NOT OKAY!!!! If this doesn't go through, I will basically lose my opportunity to make super awesome fun plans with anyone else this weekend because I'll find out too late and other people will have already made plans that don't involve me. I am not doing this again. Ever. If you can't give me an answer right away or if you're not gonna respond to me when I call a gazillion times, then we can't make plans together because I don't do last minute plans. I want to feel super safe and secure that thing are gonna happen and I am ONLY willing to spend my time fantasizing about those things, not waiting for an answer. Yes I'm serious. I'm not doing this again. I wish I could, but if no one answers me, then I can't.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nikki Again...For Now

I think I am tentatively going to go by Nikki again. Tentatively. Provided that the following conditions are met:

1. That that phrase "That's Nikki!" continues to be used in an affectionate way. You can say "That's Nikki!" about the Zits cartoon, about characters like DW Read and Angelica Pickles, or the kids on shows like My Supersweet 16. It just needs to be worded in an affectionate way that does not indicate that there is anything wrong with being those things. I can imagine my ex saying that Inside Out was a Nikki movie, in a slightly criticizing way. And I can hear him saying that Sadness is just like me, also in a critical way. The truth is, Inside Out IS a Nikki movie and I AM very much like Sadness, but I want that to be a PERFECTLY GOOD WAY TO BE!!! I want to hear those phrases simply as facts, with absolutely zero implication that there is anything wrong with something being a Nikki movie or a character being like me. So far, my friends and my parents have said that Sadness reminded them of me, and they meant it in a very positive way. This is why I'm thinking it might be safe to go back to Nikki, provided that things stay this way.

2. That no one pressures me to take back my own name and get over the fact that it was used as an insult. My choice to use Nikki again is 100% contingent upon other people's usage of the name and has nothing to do with anything inside of me.

3. That everyone still treats me like a wild, untamable girl who ditched academics to become a self-made pornstar, who has no respect for authority, and who cannot be scared straight by even the toughest authorities on the planet. Changing my name does not make me any less untamable, nor does it make my goal of becoming completely untamable any less important.

I will go back to using Amelia permanently if any of the following things happen:

1. People say, "That's Nikki!" in a non-affectionate way about things they disapprove of, to subtly imply that I should not be that way, rather than to simply point out that I have some kindred spirits in the world.

2. Anyone, upon hearing that I've switched back to Nikki, says something like, "Yeah, it was time to move on," or "You needed to get over him," or anything else to imply that I "needed" to get over my boyfriend using my name as an insult and go back to using my real name. Again, I am only switching back if other people use my name in a positive way again. It has everything to do with how I am treated and nothing to do with me doing anything. I am not a survivor or a self-sufficient person, and quite honestly, part of the name Amelia was meant to be a "fuck you!" to anyone who thought I should get over stuff. It was meant to show that the damage had a lasting impact that I was not willing to push through and function in spite of. I am going by Nikki only if it can be all about other people treating that name affectionately, but I will not go by Nikki if it turns into me getting over anything.

3. Anyone treats me like I'm less untamable. I am not going back to being sweet little Nikki. I'm still wild and untamable and I'm still planning to overthrow authority and run wild and behave like someone who has never been punished before. I still want to be destructive. Basically, everything I have ever said about Amelia - that's who I want Nikki to be. I know that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge that this is who I am, so forcing people to call me Amelia was a way of forcing people to accept my new identity, even if they wanted the old Nikki back. I really do want to use the name Nikki again, but I will convert to Amelia if I find that people are still treating me like a good kid.

I would like to go by Nikki again, but for now, it's contingent.