Friday, April 21, 2017

13 Reasons Why

You ALL killed Hannah Baker.

Yes, that's right. It wasn't her fault. It was yours. All of yours. 100 percent yours. 

I hope you never forget it. I hope you never sleep again. I hope it haunts you till the day you die.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Being 29

[Note: I originally wrote this piece as the intro to my (still in process!) list of reasons why I will never grow up. I've decided to put this in a separate blog post because I would rather that the Never Growing Up post remain pure, something that's just a list on its own rather than being specifically tied to my last birthday, or to age 29.]

When I turned 29 this year, there was something I wanted for my birthday. Something extra-special. Something that would have been a challenge for anyone to attempt to give to me. I wanted a list of 29 reasons that being 29 was awesome. Awesome as in, better than being younger than 29. When you’re a kid, there’s so much excitement about what you get to do when you get older, but once you’re over 21, everything that everyone says about your age is just so depressing. Every “You know you’re over 25 when…” list you find online is full of negative, no-fun things. What I desperately wanted was a list of reasons why I would actually want to be 29, as opposed to any other age.

But when I discussed this desire with my friend Eli, I quickly realized that the list was never going to work. First of all (most importantly), almost everything I would put on a list of reasons why it’s great to be an adult would support the oppression of children. Okay, there are a few things that I really couldn’t have done safely when I was child, such as driving a car, living on my own, and being able to go places on my own. Those freedoms are great things about being an adult, and those are freedoms that I really couldn’t have when I was younger. But other freedoms – like being able to eat what I want and go to bed when I want and see friends whenever I want and swearing without getting in trouble and not having to do homework or chores or forced socializing – those are freedoms that I should have had when I was a child. To list those freedoms as reasons that it’s great to be an adult would normalize the idea that it is acceptable to deny those freedoms to children. Not a day goes by that I’m not genuinely thrilled that I never have to go to school again, but I never should have had to go to school in the first place. Most things that are positive about being an adult are basic freedoms that are denied to children, and it’s a problem that adults deny those freedoms to children, rather than it being a celebration to get those freedoms as an adult.

So if we eliminate all of the things I’m “allowed” to do now, that I should have be able to do as a child, what are we left with? Not much. There are skills, of course. But skills don’t correspond precisely to a person’s age. There are people younger than me who can write better than I can, and there are people older than me who cannot write as well as I can. Yes, I can write much better now than I could when I was younger, but that is more about the time I’ve spent practicing than it is about my age. I have not done gymnastics since I was 10, and I am actually less skilled at gymnastics now because I have gone such a long time without practicing. Yes, I love having skills that I didn’t have when I was younger, but those skills are not inherent to my age. You don’t just get to be a good writer by becoming 29, the same way that you get to see an R-rated movie when you’re 17.

And the things that come easier to me now are more about life experience than about age. In my first job, I was walking on eggshells. I was terrified that if I made one tiny mistake, I’d get fired. I was freaked out the first time I had to miss work for a doctor’s appointment (for something serious) because I thought my boss would judge me harshly for not making it outside of work hours. In fact, I was scared of my boss simply because she was my boss. I never talked to her or asked how her weekend was or anything because I was just so nervous. (And my boss was very nice and not intimidating at all – this was just me being worried and walking on eggshells). I can say that at my current job, I am way past that anxiety that I felt when I first started, and being comfortable at work has greatly improved my quality of life. But again, this is about experience rather than age. If I had started working at an earlier age, I would have moved past that job-anxiety much earlier as well. It’s not something magical that happens because you turn 29.

So I reached the conclusion that I could never really have that list of 29 reasons why it’s great to be 29. Not in the sense that I was thinking. So I decided instead to make a list of reasons that I will never grow up.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When it all Becomes Clear

It's like getting glasses for the first time.

First, you notice a problem with your vision. In my case, it was the blackboard at school. I returned from summer vacation one year and couldn't read anything on the chalkboard unless I was sitting in the front row. It had never been an issue before, but yet, I wasn't quite sure what the problem was now. I knew what blurry looked like because I had looked through my parents' glasses before. I always imagined that people just woke up one day and everything suddenly looked blurry and it would be perfectly clear to them that they needed glasses. But that's not at all how it happened to me. I went a full year whispering to my classmates to ask what was on the board, getting things wrong because I didn't copy them down right, and not understanding why I couldn't read the board when my classmates could. It was close to the end of the year when a teacher caught the problem and told me that I needed glasses.

What surprised me the most when I learned that I needed glasses was that everything else looked the same to me - I could still see people and trees and cars and buildings perfectly clearly. The world looked nothing like what I thought "blurry" would look like. It couldn't read the blackboard, but everything else was fine.

At least, I thought it was fine.

That first moment that I put my glasses on, I could not believe how bright the world was. Everything around me was suddenly so colorful and sharp and detailed. I could see all the leaves on the trees, and all the petals on the flowers, and individual blades of grass on the lawn. I could make out people's faces from a distance. I just could not believe how bright and colorful the world was, and how much I had been missing all that time. 

But I didn't realize that anything was wrong before. I didn't know that I could see all the leaves on the trees and all the stars in the sky. I only noticed that one problem - that I couldn't read the blackboard. For everything else, I had no way to know what I was missing until that moment that I put on my glasses.

That's what happened on this day three years ago, April, 15, 2014. My breakup anniversary. It was a similar kind of illumination. Like the blackboard, I was aware of a few specific problems with our relationship, but it wasn't until we actually broke up that I realized just how different, how much better everything felt without him. The same way I never knew what I was missing when I needed glasses, I never realized just how much I was being held back from being who I truly wanted to be, until the moment that we actually broke up.

Here's one example: One conflict we had was that I did not want kids and he did. (I talked to him about this issue early on in our relationship, but he refused to discuss it with me). I always said that I would never, EVER have children if I did not personally want them just so that I could stay with him. I always said that. But on some subconscious level, I didn't fully believe it. Somewhere deep down, I was actually really scared that I was going to end up having children when I didn't want them. I felt like I had a limited amount of time to do all the things I actually wanted to do, that ending up married with kids was this inevitable path I was stuck on. I kept saying no to that out loud, but on a subconscious level, I didn't fully believe the no. I was in a relationship with someone who wanted something major that I didn't, and I couldn't reconcile that. I used to worry a lot that I was gonna get on a path that was the opposite of where I wanted to be. 

But it wasn't until we broke up that I realized just how deeply that fear was affecting me. After we broke up, I felt this strange sense of relief. That fear that I might end up having children I didn't want someday was lifted, and I felt so free. I finally felt secure that I could make that choice, and I didn't realize how much I was missing that security until we broke up.

I got that security in a lot of ways. One of the reasons we were incompatible is that I know exactly what I want and I'm sure of things, and he wanted to be more open to whatever might happen. As soon as we broke up, I actually felt a much stronger sense of security about a lot of things. Not having kids was the main thing. Another thing was that I never want to move far away from home. Again, I wanted to be sure of this before, but being with him was holding me back and making me feel like I had to be open to other possibilities someday, and as soon as we broke up, it was completely under my control again. Even smaller things, like knowing that I never want to go camping - I mean, there's no real reason I have to decide something like that right now, but it's under my control to decide it now. I have the power to say that I never want to do something again in my whole life and actually follow through with it if I want to.

And I know I was held back a lot by college, but he made it worse. He made that being-held-back process go on longer. When I decided to write the validation book just four months after the breakup (which is right after), the idea hit me, and I just sat there thinking, why on earth didn't I think of this before? It was just so blatantly obvious to me that this was what I should doing, I didn't know why it had taken me so long to think of it. And I really believe it's because I was being held back, I believe that as much I talked about stuff on my blog and Facebook, I really was being held back from being my real self the whole time I was in the relationship. And it didn't hit me until we had broken up.

It's been three years, and I still can't get over just how bright and colorful everything is around me.

It was never really about reading the blackboard.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

On Being Yourself and Saying "I Can't Share That"

I've decided that I want to be myself all the time, including at work, and including with people I'm "supposed" to make a good impression on such as a partner's family and friends. I know lots of resources will say that that's a bad idea, that it's just part of life that you don't get to really be yourself at work, but that is not acceptable to me. It's my life, I'm not a chameleon, and I plan to be myself all the time.

I thought about this last year, when I wrote my New Year's resolution for 2016, and it's come up again this year as I'm working on my Never Growing Up post. For me, when I'm in situations like work where I don't feel like I can share everything that I'd like to share, I want to get comfortable just saying straight out, "I don't know if I can share that."

It's not that people ask me really private questions or anything. For the most part, I like to have intimate conversations with people and I want to give honest answers to questions that most people ask. However, it often happens that when someone asks a question that seems casual, that they clearly don't intend to be intimate, my honest answer to the question is something that they might judge me for. It's especially something that I get concerned about at work. I used to handle these situations by telling small lies. For example, if I wasn't sure I should tell someone what my New Year's resolution was, I would say that I hadn't made one. If I wasn't sure I should tell someone what my party theme was, I would say that it didn't have a theme. If I wasn't sure I should tell someone why I wasn't feeling well, I would say that I was just tired. Little things like that. But what I've decided now is that when I'm questioning whether it's okay to share the truth, I'm just going to be honest about that. But I'm not going just to say, "That's private," which would put the topic completely off-limits. I'm going to say that I'm not sure if I should share it. I'm going to say this with hesitation, let the other person know that I'm questioning whether it's work-appropriate or whether it's something that they might judge, and let them either drop the subject or tell me that it is okay to share with them. And if something is deeply wrong and it's not something I can talk about fully at work, I am not going to lie and say that I'm just tired or that nothing is wrong. I'm going to say something along the lines of, "Yeah, I'm not feeling well," or "There's a lot going on," or, "Something bad did happen, but it's not something I can talk about right now." All of those responses make me feel soooooooo much better inside than if I lied and said I'm just tired. So that's what I'm going to do from now on. The only exception is if I really, truly want to keep something private from someone, in which case I might lie to protect my privacy, but if it's a case where I would like to share but I'm worried about how they'll react or whether it's okay to share in terms of work-appropriateness, I'm going to use one of the responses I gave above.

I'm going to start doing the same thing with anything that I don't want to be judged about. If someone asks me a question about, for instance, how much money I spent on something, I'm just going to say, "I don't want to share that because I don't want to be judged about it," rather than pretending that I don't remember.

I also want to get firmer about not having conversations that I don't want to have. Like, sometimes I feel okay discussing experiences like college and the breakup, but other times, if I don't know a person very well, I worry about their reaction making me feel worse. If I think that's the case and I don't want to take the risk, I want to be comfortable saying, "I don't want to get into that right now because it's going to make me too upset." And I'm going to stick to that. When I was a senior in college, I had tons of first-years demanding information out of me about why I hated the school when I told them that it would make me severely depressed to discuss it with them, but they kept pushing me because their knowledge was more important to them than my mental health. Going forward, I am not bending once I've said that I won't discuss something.

For the most part, I do want to share most stuff, I just want to let people know when I'm not sure if it's okay to share or when I'm choosing not to share because I don't want to be judged. I don't want to lie about stuff anymore.

Level of Investment

I've mentioned before that I never ever want to be part of an organization like my college where everyone is happy and positive all the time, that I need to hear people expressing negative opinions and complaining about their troubles at least sometimes in order to feel safe in any environment. I recently discovered another green flag to look for in any situation.

I've described my college experience as a bad relationship, and I've compared it to a bad relationship in a variety of ways. But there is one thing about it that I didn't think of until just now. People always say that to have a healthy relationship with someone, you and the other person should both have a life outside of the relationship. You should both have things that you do and care about that aren't about the other person. I know I've said before that I don't want this, but in the case of college, this was actually a huge problem with my relationship to the school. In the case of college, I never wanted to be totally obsessed with the school and have my entire life be wrapped around it. I had a rich and fulfilling life that existed before I ever went to college, and I intended for it to stay that way. And yet, that was not the expectation. My college was designed for everyone's life to be entirely wrapped around the college. Even things that people did outside of school grounds, such as going abroad and doing summer internships, were part of college-sponsored programs and the students were getting college credit for those things. No one ever talked about or seemed to care about anything that was not in some way related to the college. Whenever I told anyone that I was writing a book, the conversation was basically:

Student: "Are you getting school credit for that?"
Me: "No."
Student: "Could you get school credit for it?"
Me: "I don't care about that."
Student: [Left confused and speechless]

Out of all the students I talked to, I only ever met two other students who, like myself, had any non-college-related goals that they cared about. (One of those people was Eli, and they are the only person from college that I've stayed friends with. Coincidence? I think not!)

What I recently discovered is that, while hearing people complain openly about things is extremely important to me before entering a new group, hearing people talk about their lives outside of the group is equally important. Before joining a workplace or organization of any kind, I need to hear people in that organization talking about things that are completely unrelated to the organization. I want to hear about their personal lives and what they're doing over the weekend and where they went out last night. I want to hear people talking about the latest books and movies and the new coffee shop that opened down the street. It doesn't need to be super personal - I know some people prefer to keep their lives private, but I just need to get the overwhelming sense that most people in the organization have lives that they care about outside of the organization, that most people do not have their entire lives wrapped around the group. And if I hear that people have serious goals and aspirations that are completely unrelated to the group, that's even better.

Going forward, I'm always going to be aware of the level of investment that everyone has in a group before I join.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ANOTHER New Project!

I've decided I am gonna do a personality study on consent vs. non-consent, so you can expect TWO huge project posts this month!!!!! Yay!!!!!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Project

I was reviewing my unschooling post from two years ago and I have made SO MUCH progress in becoming a radical unschooler! I'm not quite where I want to be yet but I've made so much progress since then, which goes to show that the first step in any transformation is to actually define what you want to be.

I'm currently working on a super long post about what never growing up means to me, and I'm hoping it will have this same effect, that I'll start making that kind of progress by knowing where I want to be. Posting my priority list and the Conditions of my Central Focus list on my blog and on my apartment walls has made me feel so much better, so much more like, "Yo! This is me, you don't like it you can leave!" I love that feeling. I can't wait to get this finished because it's gonna be another major addition to my mission-statement posts!!!!

Which reminds me that I should post some pics here of my new apartment decorations!

Also, I'm considering doing another personality test assessment about consent vs. non-consent and then calculating a likeness score. I'll have to see how that would work. More to come!

Also, recording my goals for each month has been amazing! I feel sooooo good entering each month with a long list of awesome stuff I wanna do. I've already checked off 4 things that I wanted to do in April (I started "April" a few days ago, even though it was technically March) and there is a lot more to come!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Behold the Mighty Maximizer!

Going back to the Strengths Finder test I mentioned in my last post, one of the strengths I didn't explain was being a maximizer. Empathy and ideation, I expected. Strategic and developer, I knew I had but was surprised that they made the top-five cut. Maximizer is the strength that I didn't know existed, that I had never heard of until this test. And learning that I have the maximizer strengths is one of the most validating feelings I've had.

What does it mean to be a maximizer? A maximizer is someone who focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses. A maximizer is someone who would rather take something that's already awesome and make it even more awesome, rather than making something below average into something average. A maximizer is someone who is focused on nurturing strengths rather than correcting weaknesses.

Remember that part in the Strengths Finder book that said that 77% of US parents consider a child's worst subject in school to be the most important area of focus, and react with indifference to their children being good at things? Maximizers are the other 23%.

One of the most validating things that the book said about being a maximizer is that we try to avoid people who want to "fix" us or make us well-rounded. YES!!!!!!!! I have spent my whole life running away from people who try to fix me and pressure me to be well-rounded. It's been non-stop pressure since I was born and I've written so many blog posts about not wanting to be fixed and not wanting to be well-rounded and I just cannot believe that this is an actual thing!!!!

It makes so much sense, it just feels soooooooo good to get this validation. It's like how I felt when I first read about INFPs and learned that we're the third rarest type in the US population. It made so much sense! I've always known that my culture was not built for my personality type and it felt so validating to actually see that! INFPs are specifically the group most likely to not be okay in college! I always knew that the college system was not designed for me and it felt so good to see that! Sort of like learning that misophonia is a real thing, that being a highly sensitive person is an actual thing, and when I read that highly sensitive people like myself tend to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and we tend to not like drinking because we have a different sensory experience than our non-highly-sensitive peers. For real! I always hated the fact that everyone else likes drinking and I don't, people would classify as someone who wants to be studying or reading on a Friday night instead of partying when I knew I wasn't like that at all - I was like my friends who drank except that I didn't drink. But now it makes perfect sense! I have a different sensory experience to drinking than my peers do! It's almost on the level of being allergic to something. It was sooooooo validating to learn all of those things.

Learning that I'm a maximizer is soooooooooo validating!!!! And I'm so happy that it's classified as a strength. The next time someone tries to push me to change or be well-rounded or whatever, I'm gonna be like, "Yo! I don't roll that way! I'm a maximizer!"

I was the only person in the workshop who got maximizer. Remember how I said that the book itself was so validating because it criticized our culture of trying to fix people and was all about focusing on things you're actually good at and interested in? A lot of other people in the workshop talked about having trouble with that concept, and how they realized that they are focused on fixing things that they're not good at a lot of the time. One person said that she automatically wanted to know what her bottom five qualities were out of the 34 traits so that she could work on them, that it was a struggle for her to focus on strengths (which is what the test forces you to do by only giving you your top five results). Other people agreed with her. I also wanted to see the entire list of 34 traits to know what was at the bottom, but for a different reason. I didn't want to "fix" anything that was at the bottom, I wanted to have the information so that I know not to put myself in a position where people will expect me to have those qualities. And I thought to myself, this is what makes me a maximizer! Other people struggled with the concept of focusing on their strengths, but I didn't. This class was second nature to me and it was because I'm a maximizer!

I wrote this blog post years ago:

http://yourownkindofmusic.blogspot.com/2013/10/personality-testing.html

Basically, it's about the fact that people always assume that you want to change everything. If a question on a 1-5 scale test asked me "Are you a good writer?" I would answer 5. If it asked "Do you want to be a better writer?" I would also answer 5. But the test isn't expecting that. The test is expecting that that wanting to get better at something must mean that you're not already good at it. And on the other end, if the question was "Are you good at sports?" I would answer 1. If it asked, 'Do you want to be better at sports?" I would also answer 1. If I had any interest in becoming better at sports, I would be working on it. And if I were working on it, I would be improving, and I would not rate myself as a 1 on being good at sports. And yet, there's a built-in assumption that anything you're not good at, you must have a desire to be good at. I don't. Everything I want to be is simply a more extreme version of something that I already am.

I had written this blog post in response to a job interview I had where the interviewer first asked me to name a weakness and then asked me what I was doing to work on it. She literally asked "What are you doing to work on it?" as opposed to "Are you doing anything to work on it?" (which I guess in interview-language would have been the same thing, but still). I did not appreciate this assumption at all. I especially did not appreciate the sneakiness of it - getting me to name a weakness on its own, and then asking about working on it. See, my answers to the question "What's something you're not good at?" and "What's something you're working to improve?" are NOT going to be the same thing. If I don't have any of a quality at all and I haven't already worked on having it in the 25 years I've been alive (at the time of the interview) it's probably not a quality that I have any interest in possessing, and the way that I "deal" with that is to not be in situations where anyone pushes me to be like that. If you want me to discuss something that I'm working to improve, you need to ask me from the start about something that I'm working on improving, and then I will tell you something I'm working on improving. But that quality that I'm working on improving will not be something I would classify as a weakness because it would be a strength-in-process.

For a project in my psych seminar class, my partner and I gave the Big Five Personality test to our class. As we reviewed the results afterwards, it was the first time I realized how extreme my responses were. I've always answered a lot of 1's and 5's on tests that have a 1-5 scale, but I never realized how different my responses were from other people's. My test really jumped out at me as having almost all 1's and 5's, whereas everyone else answered more 2's, 3's, and 4's.

In reviewing my most recent Big Five Personality results (the comprehensive version with 30 traits), I have 8 traits that are in the 90th percentile or above, and 11 traits that are in the 10th percentile or below. That's 19 traits out of 30 - almost 2/3 - that fall in the top or bottom 10th percentile.

I think having the extreme results relates back to the question of "working on" things, and the fact that something I was working on would be something I was already interested in, something that I already have. I don't know that all maximizers have the same extreme kinds of personalities, but I think it's related. Maximizers find a strength and they hone in on it. They're interested in making something that's already good into something awesome. They're not interested in making something below average into something average. They don't have a goal of being well-rounded. It all fits.

The book says that maximizers focus on excellence, not average. In our areas of strength, we compare ourselves to excellence, not average. That is how I feel in the areas that I care about. I remember when I was writing my first novel and sometimes I'd be complaining that I was behind where I wanted to be, and everyone around me was just like, "OMG you're writing a book that's amazing!!!" and if I said I was only on page 50 they'd say, "OMG you wrote 50 pages, that's amazing, I could never even get beyond page one!" And while I do really appreciate all of that support and encouragement, it always felt weird. I mean, so what if other people can't write 50 pages? That just means they're not writers. I am a writer. I'm not going to compare myself to people who aren't writers and think, "Wow, I'm so much better than the average person at this!" That's just a given. I mean, if you were a nurse, would you go around feeling like "Wow, I'm so great because I know more about medicine than people who don't work in medicine," or would it just become normal to you? Writing is normal to me. When something is a strength, I hone in on it and want to make it into something fabulous (hence why I've had a difficult time deciding that my validation book is finished, because I could literally keep editing it forever). At a certain point, I don't compare myself to average anymore. I remember back when I used to write in my paper journals, I always felt like I could be doing more, like I could be going through journals at a much faster rate than I currently was (my average was about 5 journals for every 2 years). And yet anytime I talked about it, everyone else was just in the state of shock that I could even finish a journal because when they tried to keep a journal they just couldn't keep up with it. If you can't finish a journal, you're not a journal-writer. That's okay. There's nothing wrong with that. But I WAS a journal-writer, and I knew that I was capable doing so much better than I was doing, and I was not going to compare myself to people who can't finish a journal, I was comparing myself to the best journal-writing version of myself that I knew I could be.

And I think a part of why the over-the-top writing praise often bothers me is because it's rooted in people's expectations of me. I've found that the same people who think it's over-the-top amazing that I've written a book are people who have criticized me for not doing things that society expects of me. I've been forced to spend my time in school learning things I did not care about and working on things that I did not want to work on. Outside of the classroom, my peers pressured me to be more athletic and more social. And those same people who pressured me to be those things that I did not want to be felt perfectly fine going all gaga over the fact that I've written a book. I'm a writer. Writers write books. That's second-nature to me. It's normal to me. It's the same way that being social or athletic or studious is normal part of life for you. I don't want the over-the-top praise for doing what I care about while getting simultaneous criticism for not doing the things that I don't care about. I want you to accept that I have never wanted to be well-rounded, I've always wanted to just focus on the few things I care about.

You can't praise me for writing a book and coloring the calendar and making cool decorations for my apartment while simultaneously pressuring me to spend my time on things that I am less interested in. It doesn't work that way. I would have never become a good writer if I had gone to all those social events that didn't interest me, if I had spent my summer vacations doing organized activities rather than running wild on my own. I became a good writer because I spent a good portion of my life writing and daydreaming, at the expense of everything else that I could have been doing. You don't get to praise me for being a good writer if you've tried to push me to spend my time on other things.

I am a maximizer. I make awesome things into more awesome things. I am not well-rounded, and I am not a fixer-upper. I'm a maximizer.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Strengths Finder 2.0

About a month ago, I got to take the Strength Finder 2.0 test! Unfortunately, you have to either pay to take the test, or buy the book which comes with a code to take the test. I was lucky and got to take the test and get a copy of the book Strengths Finder 2.0 for free through a program at work.

Before I get into my own strengths, let me just say that I love the concept of this book! The book addresses straight-up how our society is always pressuring people to change, to "fix" themselves and become good at the things that we're not good at, rather than working at the things that we're already good at and are interested in. The book said that 77% of parents in the United States consider a child's least successful subject to be the most important area to focus on, rather than helping a child develop the areas in which they are talented. They're indifferent to a child being good at something, like being good at something is just a default condition, and they push their kids to be good at everything else instead. The strength finder program is about actually focusing on the things you're good at and developing those talents rather than trying to "fix" yourself to be something you're not.

I realized right away that the concepts in this book are very similar to what I talk about in one of the earliest chapters of the validation book. I talk about not trying to "fix" people, and not pushing anyone to be something that they haven't expressed an interest in being. I discuss the differences in the ways that we think about ourselves and others, about the reason why the MBTI is a much more accepting personality test than the Big Five, which has more social desirability embedded in it. I talk about what a difference in makes on your feelings when your results are on a scale between two equally desirable traits (like the MBTI) vs. being measured as something you either have or don't have (like the Big Five) and I encourage people to view other people's traits as a spectrum.

That is exactly what this test did. I'm used to taking tests that just give one statement to rate, such as "I am talkative" and you rate it from 1-5, "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." I've also taken a few tests that put seemingly opposite statements across from each other, such as "I take a leadership role" and "I prefer to follow than lead" and you rate yourself between the two statements. But this test felt different - it put things against each other that did not even feel related. Sometimes it felt like I had to choose between "I like to stay up late" and "I want a pet armadillo." Sometimes I loved both choices, sometimes I hated both choices, a lot of times I had no idea what the two choices had to do with each other. It's interesting because whenever I'm taking a test where I have to rate myself on a scale of 1-5, I answer a lot of 1's and 5's. This test was probably the most 2's, 3's, and 4's that I've ever answered on a personality test, because even if I strongly agreed with a statement, I had to look at the opposing statement and decide whether I agreed with this statement so much that I was willing to strongly disagree with the other statement. I had to pick 3 everytime I didn't like either choice. I don't know quite how this all affected my final scores, although I'm sure it had an effect, I'm sure I might have come out totally different if I were answering each statement on its own, rather than opposite another statement.

But it makes me wonder if that was done on purpose as part of the strategy of finding strengths, if it's for the purpose of defining yourself as what you are instead of what you're not. Sort of like how I advise people to treat personality traits in the validation book, to say, "This person is more A than B," as opposed to just "This person is not B." Perhaps people are slightly inclined to give some points to every trait, to not say "strongly disagree" to anything, and putting two statements again each other sort of forces people to choose which one they like better. I wonder if for people who normal answer lots of 2's, 3's, and 4's on personality tests, this method actually made their results more extreme. I wonder if something about this method made it easier to pull out everyone's top 5 strengths, whereas letting everyone rate the statements individually would leave people being slightly good at a lot of the strengths. I'm not sure, but I'm curious if that's the reason.

The concept of this book is also very similar to my quiz book! I've said before that the intention of my quiz book is to help people gain self-knowledge without trying to "fix" anyone. All of the quiz results are meant to sound equally desirable, promote acceptance among friends with different personalities, and advise people on how to navigate the world as a person who answered the quiz the way that they did without pressuring them to be any different. It's not specifically about strength-finding, but the concept is similar. I love it when I see other books doing similar things to mine. That means I won't have to entirely carve out a place for myself in the self-help world that isn't already there. People are already leaning in this direction, even if it's not the majority of the culture yet.

So, here are my top five strengths:

1. Strategic
2. Empathy
3. Maximizer
4. Ideation
5. Developer

(The test only gives you a comprehensive look at your top five).

I'm not going to get into the descriptions of the traits in this post because I'm going to write separate blog posts about them. But I will say that I was really surprised. I expected to get empathy and ideation. I know that I am strategic, but there is no way I imagined that to be my top strength out of 34 possible strengths. I knew I was somewhat good at it, but I never imagined that it would make it all the way to the top. Developer was the same way - I've been told that I'm good at training people at work, but I don't think of myself as someone who is good at developing other people's talents. Not that I'm specifically not good at it, I just never stopped and thought about that as something I'm good at, and there's no way I would have predicted it to make the top five. Maximizer, I didn't know what it was before I took this test. That's my extra-special strength that I'll talk about in a separate post.

I've taken so many personality tests that sometimes I feel like I don't learn anything new - I feel like I'm just rereading all the stuff that I already knew. This test was totally different, and I actually learned a lot about myself.

I was surprised that I didn't get communication as a top strength since I write so much, and the description seemed to fit me, but that could still be a high trait that just didn't happen to make the top five cut. Maybe it's in the top ten.

I was also surprised that my work friend who did it with me - who is super validating and understanding and has always been so supportive of me - did not get empathy as a top strength. Again, it could have just not made the top five cut but still be in her top ten. But she did get another strengths that had to do with supporting people - "relator." It's fascinating because this friend has always felt like such a kindred spirit to me that I assumed we had similar personalities and would have at least one trait in common, but we didn't. I'm going to be interested to read about the differences between empathy and relator.

When we met with the class of ten people who took the assessment, we went around the room and each shared our traits and mapped them on a grid, so we could see what strengths everyone else had. Empathy was my most popular trait - 4 of us in the group had it (4 was the maximum number of people who had any given trait). 3 of us had strategic, 2 of us had developer, and I was the only one who had maximizer and ideation.

Most of the advice was work-related, but I want to apply all of these strengths to my personal life. Stay tuned for more posts about specific traits.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Not Worth the Cost

Think about a time that you saw something you liked, looked at the price, and said, "Well, I like this item, but there's no way I'm paying that price for it!"

Now, imagine that you somehow got forced, pressured, or manipulated into spending a lot of money on this item. When you tell your friends about it, they just keep insisting that this should not be an issue because you do like the product. You keep trying to explain that this product was not worth the amount of money that you spent on it, but your friends just don't get it.

THIS is what's it like when you keep pushing someone to focus on the good things that came of a situation that was horrible. Like the way that everyone tries to tell me that college could not have been that bad because something good must have come from it. Yes, there are good things that have happened in my life as a direct result of bad things, but that does not mean that the bad things were worth going through to get those good things. I never consented to paying that price. I like cupcakes but I am not willing to pay $1,000 for a cupcake, which is essentially what I did.

No matter what positive stuff comes out of a situation, it's always your right to say that it wasn't worth the cost.

Monday, March 13, 2017

You Make the Call

When you're taking a test, the test is only worth so many points. Whether it's 100 points, or 800, or whatever, there's a limit on how well you can do - you hit that highest score and that's it, you can't score any higher, that is the best that you can ever do on that particular test.

When you're writing something, it can always be perfected more. Always. You never reach that top score because it doesn't exist. There's always something else you can do to change it and make it better. Now if you're writing a paper for school, you have a set deadline. You have a point at which you need to hand in the paper no matter what state it's in, and that's how you decide that it's finished. But when you're working independently, when you don't have that set deadline, you can literally just keep editing and editing forever and never decide that it's completed. There is no maximum score. There is no deadline. It's entirely up to me when to stop. I have to pick a point to stop.

I'm picking now to stop because I know I'm there, I know I'm ready. It's hard to stop, but I realize that if I'm going to be a self-employed writer, I'm going to have to make that call. I don't have a due date. There is no such thing as a perfect score. It's entirely up to me. When you're the writer, you make that call. I'm going to have to keep making that call on everything I write, for my entire life. This is only the beginning.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Prepared

Here's the thing - I was unprepared for A LOT of my earliest job interviews. My cover letter was too generic-sounding. I didn't even own a business suit when I first started applying for jobs, and I had to run out and get one at the last minute. I totally blew my first post-grad interview because I didn't know how to answer any of the questions and I ended up saying "Maybe" and "I don't know" to a lot of questions. I interviewed at several companies in a particular industry before I reached the conclusion that I didn't even want to work for that type of company and I had to start my job search over from scratch. When I finally got a job, I had practically nothing in my closet that was work-appropriate. If I had gotten the job in the winter, it would have been less of an issue because most of my fun sweaters can double as work sweaters, but I got the job in the summer, and none of my fun summer clothes are things you can wear to an office. I literally did not have enough work clothes to go to work for a whole week. Luckily My mom let me dig through her closet and wear a bunch of her hand-me-downs. For the first few weeks at the new job, I had to wear pants that were too tight before I had a chance to buy new ones. The first time I went shopping for work clothes on my own, I ended up buying these blouses that required ironing or else they looked horrible, and I never iron my clothes. I had to adjust my sleep schedule by five hours because I was used to staying up late and waking up at noon, and now I had to get up at seven. Totally unprepared.

Looking back on it, I could have made my own life easier if I had prepared more for my interviews. I could have bought a business suit before I got any interviews. I could have gone online and researched what kinds of answers employers were looking for. I could have done more mock-interviews with my mom who has hired a bunch of people. I could have gone shopping and made sure I had black pants that fit comfortably and at least one week's worth of work shirts.

But the point here is, I applied for jobs before I was prepared because I needed a job. I didn't say to myself, okay, first you need to practice interviewing, then you need to get your wardrobe ready to have a job, then you need to do this, that, and the other thing to make sure you're ready. I didn't have time for that. I need a job, so I started applying for jobs. And maybe I should have taken more time to prepare, maybe that would have gotten me a job earlier and been a lot less stressful. But I needed a job, so I just dove straight in.

I don't know why I'm so scared to dive right in this time, when it comes to submitting my book. I keep thinking about every little thing that I could possibly need to prepare first. I know it's different this time because the stakes are higher, because I really don't care about any of those job interviews that I might have blown because I wasn't prepared, but I DO care about getting my book published and there is no way that I want to blow it because I'm not prepared.

But I am prepared. I am so much more prepared to meet with publishers than I have ever been for a regular job interview. I have the "right" interview clothes. I'm on a more "normal" sleep schedule so interview times shouldn't be an issue. And most importantly, I know how to speak intelligently about my book! I know because I've been doing it since I started.

I dove into job-hunting without being prepared because I didn't have time to stop and prepare. This time around, I am prepared. I am so much more prepared than I ever was. There's nothing to wait for. There's nothing left to do to get ready. I am ready.

I'm Ready as I'll Ever Be

Last week, I got to attend a webinar at work, hosted by the Women's Forum at my workplace. The speaker talked about discrimination issues in the workplace, and she specifically mentioned that study where a lot of women will look at a job posting where they have 8 out of the 10 qualifications and not apply for it because they think they're unqualified, while a lot of men will only have 3 out of the 10 qualifications and will go ahead and apply and assume they're going to the get the job. (This research is problematic because it ignores non-binary people).

I had already read about this a while back, but as the speaker said it, I couldn't help wondering if that's what I've been doing with the validation book. I keep saying that I need to edit more, I need to fix a few things, but really, this book was at a publishable quality last June. Then I perfected it even further and had it ready by the beginning of September. But it was ready then. I don't know why I'm still holding onto it and thinking I need to keep editing and editing before I can send it to a publisher. It was ready to be sent to a publisher last September!

Now, I got the news about my grandma in September and a lot of bad things have happened since then, so it's totally fine that I wasn't up for dealing with my book during that time. And it's totally legit if I'm still not up for dealing with it now (which I haven't quite figured out yet, I need to wait till I'm fully not-sick to see if I'm ready). But my point is, if I acknowledge that the book is ready to go but I don't feel well enough to deal with it at the moment, that's one thing. That's fine. But it's this business of having to re-edit it over and over again, to keep thinking that it's not ready when it was clearly ready six months ago, that's the problem. I think I'm doing that thing of saying, "Well, I only have 9.5 out of the 10 qualifications, so I'm not gonna do anything until I have the full 10."

I know my book is ready. I know my book is good enough. Multiple people have told me that the quality is better than many published self-help books that they've read. I talked to Eli about all of this, and they told me that I'm definitely saying "I only have 9.5 out of the 10 qualifications," that they would have said, "My book is awesome!" and submitted it much, much earlier if it were their book. I don't normally consider myself to be a perfectionist, but I think I am being too much of a perfectionist about my book. I think I'm scared to share it with publishers. It feels like my baby and I keep feeling like I'm not ready. I'm scared of it getting rejected. I'm scared of it not selling even when it does get published. And I'm scared of how my life is going to change if it does get really successful.

But I realize that I'm not going to become any more "ready" to publish the book than I am right now. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. It's time to research the process for submitting a book, find potential publishers or agents, write my pitch letter, and hit "send."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Guess What? You Were Wrong!

Everyone always thought that I was a goody-good-girl because I went such a long time not having any interest in guys, not even fantasy crushes on celebrities or anything. But the real reason for that was because I never actually liked guys, I liked girls all along!!!! When I finally started getting into guys it was something I sort of pushed on myself to be cool, and the first time I developed serious crushes on guys was after we did physical touching stuff that got me excited. I kept all my girl crushes and fantasies to myself and I didn't even understand that they were crushes because I didn't see my feelings reflected anywhere in books or TV shows or movies, it was all about girls liking guys and I couldn't relate so I thought I was a late bloomer, I thought I had no romantic feelings whatsoever because I didn't have them towards guys, I didn't know what was wrong with me while meanwhile I didn't know what was up with all the weird fantasies I had about girls. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Nope.

I am NOT a resilient person and I will not accept anyone pushing me to have that quality. Ever.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why I Don't Want a Wedding Ring

Note: I absolutely do not mean this as any kind of an argument against wedding rings, there is nothing at all wrong with wanting one. This is on my mind because my ex had a problem with me not wanting a wedding ring if we had gotten married, so I wanted to explain once and for all why I don't want one:

1. I don't personally care about diamonds, or any real gemstones. I love jewelry, but for me, jewelry is purely a fashion statement, I don't care one way or another if a stone is "real" or not, I only care about how it looks. And I'm not that into stones like diamonds anyway because they're boring - I prefer blown-glass earrings and earrings that are shaped like fun things. Even if I could afford to shop in fancy jewelry stores, I wouldn't because those styles do not appeal to me, I prefer to shop for jewelry at card stores and resort areas and street fairs. Aside from the earrings that I got my ears pierced with, I think the most I've ever spent on a pair of earrings was like $30, and I have a lot of earrings that I love. I would just feel kind of silly spending so much money (or asking someone else to spend the money) on something that isn't even my style.

2. I wouldn't wear the ring every day, or even most days. In general, I'm not willing to wear something that isn't my style and doesn't go with my outfit that day just because it means something to me. Like, I'd probably do that for a little while, but I eventually stop and want to wear something else instead. I've gone through lots of phases of having jewelry that meant a lot to me that I wore every day, then I'd find something else and that would be the new thing I wore every day. The fact that it was my wedding ring would not change that.

For my eight grade graduation, my parents got me a ring with my birthstone. It was a really nice ring, it was really special because it was from my parents and for my graduation. I wore the ring a lot (but not every single day) for about a year, and I would tell people that it was a special gift from my parents. After my first year of high school, I started wearing it less frequently. My second year of high school, I got my class ring, which meant a lot to me because I loved my high school, and it was more current than my eight grade graduation ring. I wore my class ring a lot. Sometimes I would wear both rings together, but eventually, I didn't wear the graduation ring much anymore and only wore my class ring. After I left high school, I don't think I wore either of them again. Mt graduation ring is still special to me because it was from my parents, but it's not something that I wear anymore.

For my high school graduation, my parents got me my first Ipod. I used that Ipod every single day for seven and a half years. I wore it into the ground until it had practically no battery life and wouldn't last a long car ride without being plugged in. What I learned from this experience is that, while I am very grateful for that graduation ring, if someone is going to spend a lot of money on me, I would prefer that they spend it on something that I will get a lot of use out of.

I just wouldn't wear a wedding ring every day, I would probably only wear it sometimes, but I would feel like I was *expected* to wear it every day if someone spent so much money on it, and because it's a tradition.

3. Part of the reason I would not wear a wedding ring everyday is that being married to someone is not the most important thing to me. It would be important, but I don't think I'd be okay with wearing a ring to show the world I was married while not wearing anything to show the world anything else about me. I mean, I wouldn't be wearing an item of jewelry from every person I care deeply about, so the wedding ring would automatically put my spouse above everyone else, and I don't want to do that. Other people would not be less important to me just because I was married. And I also would not be wearing a piece of jewelry that says that I'm a writer, or anything else about me, so symbolically, that puts being married above those things. Being married would only be one fact about me, it would not be more important than being a writer or a beach-partier or anything else that I am. Heck, I actually have a customized necklace that says "Untamable Spirit" and I don't even wear that every day! So to wear my wedding ring every day would symbolize that being married was the most important thing to me (or the most important thing to inform other people about), which it would not be.

So that's why I don't want a wedding ring, and I would not marry someone who was going to push that on me because of tradition.

Something I Wish More People Understood

Have you ever woken up to find that your car won't start because you left the lights on all night and it drained the battery? And it may seem strange. It may seem like the lights should have a separate battery, the only the lights should burn out but the rest of the car should be fine. But it doesn't work that way. The car only has one battery, and if you leave something on when the motor is off, when the gasoline isn't replenishing the car, the entire battery will die.

I am one person. I have one battery. I don't have separate batteries for each thing I do. Anytime I spend energy on something, that energy is gone. It's not there for me to use on anything else. I can't do anything else until I've had plenty of time to replenish, the same way you can't drive anywhere unless you put gas in the car. No matter how small of a thing you think I'm doing, remember that it's costing me energy, the same way that leaving on that tiny little light inside the car will drain the entire battery. I only have one battery.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Setting the Bar

I don't find it particularly worthwhile to just sit and stare at a metal bar all day. Maybe some people are into that sorta thing, but it's just not for me. If someone told me to keep staring at the metal bar because if I did, I'd get to see something happen, I would look for a little while, but I would eventually get bored and decide to do something else with my time.

When you set the bar really high for me - that is, you have high expectations of me when I have not consented to meeting those expectations (like, expecting me to behave like a responsible adult and be functional and unentitled and polite and all that) - I am NOT going to ever meet those expectations, I will never rise to the challenge. What I will do is walk away entirely. If you set that bar, I will walk away and you will never see me reach it because I will refuse.

So if you like to set those kinds of sky-high expectations of non-consenting people such as myself, I hope you enjoy staring at metal bars all day long with no one reaching them or climbing them or anything, because that is what you will be left doing when I walk away from the high bar that you have set for me. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Never Stray (My Version of Break Away)

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
We’d just go make our own fun
Running through the rainstorm
Or pillow forts to keep warm
Play all day

If I ever freaked out
I knew I could reach out
Knew my friends would all hear me
In your arms I’m strong here
I know I belong here
Every day
So I’ll never stray

[Chorus:]
I'll spread my wings and continue to fly
Safe on your shoulders I just reach the sky
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight
And always stay
May travel away for a day just for fun
But always come home to the ones that I love
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight
And never stray

Running through the warm breeze
Climbing up a tall tree
Water fights in the ocean
Sledding down a fast hill
Praying this will last till
All our days.
I’ll always stay

[Chorus]
I'll spread my wings and continue to fly
Safe on your shoulders I just reach the sky
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight
And always stay
May travel away for a day just for fun
But always come home to the ones that I love
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight
And never stray

This is where I belong
Don’t you try to say I’m wrong
I know I never wanna leave here
You can keep moving on, moving on
But I’ll stay, never stray

I'll spread my wings and continue to fly
Don’t think for a second I’d tell you goodbye
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight
And always stay
No matter how far for a day I may run
I’ll always be home in the place I come from
And I'll grab your hand
Hold you close
Hold on tight

And always stay
Never stray
Never stray

Monday, February 20, 2017

Accepting Apologies

Something I want to work on this year is actually saying "I accept your apology" or something along those lines. I've never said that before - I've always just said, "That's okay" in response to people apologizing, but I don't want to say that stuff is okay when it was truly not okay. I've always said it, I've never known any other way of accepting an apology, so this year I really really want to practice just saying "I accept your apology." Or maybe that's too formal-sounding. I once heard someone say "Thank you for apologizing," so maybe some form of thanking the person for apologizing would sound less formal. I don't want to sound formal or polite or like I'm giving a scripted response, I just want to say something other than "it's okay" in cases where the action was not okay.

On Not Growing Up

Whenever people tell someone else to "Grow up," they seem to mean one of these three things:

1. Stop doing what you want and start doing what you're supposed to.
2. Stop reacting to this thing the way that you are reacting.
3. Accept this thing that is not acceptable to you.

If you've heard other meanings, feel free to add to this list, because I haven't.

I have no intention of doing any of the things listed above, therefore, I will never grow up.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

30 TV Show Challenge in One Day

1. A Show that Should Have Never Been Cancelled: Ghostwriter! That was one of the coolest shows ever and it got cancelled when I was little and was just getting into it. Ghostwriter is a mystery show for younger kids, but I was slightly too young for it when it was on - I liked it some of the time, but there were parts that were too boring to follow, too much talking, that sort of thing. I started watching it again on YouTube a few years ago, but I missed getting to see it when I was at the exact right age where the pacing would have been just right for me.

Also, it's never revealed on the show who Ghostwriter is, but we get some clues, and the kids say in the first episode that maybe they can eventually help ghostwriter figure out who he is. It was revealed in 2010 that ghostwriter used to be a slave who had escaped and was secretly teaching people how to read out in the woods. He was caught and murdered but his spirit lived on, and that's why he can read and travel from word to word. If the show had not been cancelled, I assume that at some point, they would have done an episode where the kids figured this out and it would have been amazing!

2. A Show that You Wish More People Were Watching: Wimzie's House. I've re-watched it in recent years and I am seriously impressed with how validating it is. All of the adults on the show are so validating to the children's feelings, there isn't a strong sense of hierarchy or "do this because I said so," and they go in depth to explain a lot of things. I wish kids today still had Wimzie's House.

3.Your Favorite New Show (aired this season): I really don't have one because almost all the shows I watch are older shows. Arthur and Fairly OddParents are still having new seasons, but the new seasons are not as good as the old ones. The only new shows I watch that are actually running on TV right now are Switched at Birth and The Fosters, and these are nowhere near my favorites.

4. Your Favorite Show Ever: This is a really tough call, but probably a tie between Arthur and Full House.

5. A Show You Hate: Any reality show where the whole purpose is to put people down.

6. Favorite Episode of Your Favorite TV Show: My favorite episode of Full House is "Secret Admirer." With Arthur, it's too hard to pick, there are so many.

7. Least Favorite Episode of Your Favorite TV Show: From Arthur, "DW Queen of the Comeback," basically pushing kids to turn the other cheek and ignore it when someone is teasing them, rather than fighting back. And use of a victim-blaming fairy tale. Also, I hate "Channel Chasers" from Fairly OddParents because it's all about having to grow up.

8. A Show Everyone Should Watch: I'd say either Wimzie's House or Ghostwriter. Or Sesame Street from the 1990s.

9. Best Scene Ever: It's hard to pick, but I love the scene in Fairly OddParents Abracatastrophe where Timmy reveals the existence of his fairies in order to save the world. And I also love the poetry scenes in As Told by Ginger "And She Was Gone."

10. A Show You Thought You Wouldn't Like but Ended Up Loving: Almost all the PBS kid shows from when I was little fell into this category - I never liked new shows taking the time slots of old shows, but I ended up liking a lot of the new shows once I watched them.

11. A Show that Disappointed You: Hannah Montana. I used to love Disney Channel shows, and Hannah Montana was sort of the turning point where I stopped enjoying the new ones. I expected Hannah Montana to be just as good as That's So Raven or Lizzie McGuire, and I thought I would especial love it since I was an aspiring singing star at the time as well, but it ended up feeling too showy and not as real as the other shows.

12. An Episode You've Watched More than Five Times: I think almost every episode of Arthur, Full House, As Told By Ginger, Fairly OddParents, Jimmy Neutron, and several Rugrats episodes, I've seen more than five times.

13. Favorite Childhood Show: Sesame Street and Barney.

14. Favorite Male Character: Tommy Pickles.

15. Favorite Female Character: Ginger Foutley.

16. Your Guilty Pleasure Show: I do not have guilty pleasures because I do not feel guilty about doing anything that gives me pleasure.

17. Favorite Mini Series: The only thing I can think of that was a mini series was that Fairly Oddparents used to be a mini series on Oh Yeah! Cartoons before it became a full length show, so I'll go with that.

18. Favorite Title Sequence: Sesame Street.

19. Best TV Show Cast: Full House.

20. Favorite Kiss: Ginger and Daren's first kiss.

21. Favorite Ship: Jimmy and Cindy.

22. Favorite Series Finale: As Told By Ginger, "The Wedding Frame." This was not my favorite episodes in its entirety, but I love the very end.

23. Most Annoying Character: All of Timmy Turner's friends. They are annoying because they're just so stereotyped and underdeveloped, I really don't care about Chester or AJ or Elmer or Sanjay. I normally like a character's best friends even if they are stereotyped, like I love Jimmy Neutron's friends Carl and Sheen, but Timmy's friends feel like they were just thrown together because Timmy needed to have "uncool" friends when all we really care about is Cosmo and Wanda. For that reason, I'm really only attached to Timmy's godparents and what goes on in Fairy World, and I don't particularly like the episodes that involve his friends or his real parents. Actually, I think his parents are even more annoying than his friends. They're just all over the place, I'd like them better as characters if they were just always neglectful rather than being sometimes neglectful but sometimes care. I hate the way the show alternates like that, it's like when they suddenly start caring, I don't believe it, it feels so out of character for them to actually care and help Timmy that I'm actually wishing Cosmo and Wanda would step in instead.

24. Best Quote: The poem "She Chose to Walk Alone" from As Told by Ginger.

25. A Show You Plan on Watching (Old or New): I just finished rewatching Fairly OddParents and Ghostwriter, so I'm not sure what I'll watch next.

26. OMG WTF? Season Finale: The Fosters last season finale left off with someone in a coma and someone else finding out that the driver of the car she was in was a potential murderer.

27. Best Pilot Episode: Jimmy Neutron's Pilot.

28. First TV Show Obsession: Barney

29. Current TV Show Obsession: At the moment, Fairly OddParents and Jimmy Neutron.

30. Saddest Character Death: Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street.

Never Growing Up Songs 2

And let's not forget this one...


This actually got me through the very end of the validation book and made me super motivated.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Never Growing Up (Songs)

Here are some of the first things that pop into my mind when I think of never growing up:








And yeah, I mean those things, but beneath that first layer of non-growing up, there's all of this:








Birthday!!!!

My birthday party was awesome!!!! I had an awesome party with the bestest friends in the whole world!!!

This birthday feels like a new beginning a little bit. My whole apartment is transformed into something that really screams "me," and it's the first month that I've done my monthly goals and it has worked out really well so far!

I don't have any plans yet for tomorrow, so I'm thinking that I'd like to:

1. Take the time to do some more work on my apartment. I didn't do anything new to my bedroom because the party was in the living room, but I have some ideas for my bedroom as well.

2. Revisit my goals for the rest of the month. I have been feeling significantly better since I started my monthly goals (which means a lot because I haven't been feeling well since my Grandma died). I happened to start this monthly goal idea at the beginning of my birthday month, which meant that most of my goals for this month were specifically for my birthday party and everything else was on hold. I'd like to revisit everything else that's on the list and figure out what I want to focus on for the rest of the month. I think I may make a new document called "February 2017 Post-Party Goals." In fact, I think that's what I'll do every month when I have some big event that I'm focused on, just start a new list of goals for after the focus goal is over.

3. I'd like to think seriously about my party theme of "Here's to Never Growing Up" and about what not growing up really means to me. In the past, I've written contracts to myself in my journals about things that were important to me and signed them. I may want to write up a contract to myself promising that I will never grow up, and outlining specifically what that means to me, and sign it and put it on my wall. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Fiction"

The reason I'm classifying writing prompts on Pinterest as "Fiction" rather than "Writing" is that I created the Fiction board for when I just need to be distracted from bad things, and I'm filling it specifically with things that help me disengage from bad things for a while. That's why lately I've been putting writing prompts in there, because I'm using them to be distracted rather than as serious writing. And that's okay. 

PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!

My apartment is COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED!!!! You would never know a 29-year-old lives here, it's all about Never Growing Up!!!!

I've got some awesome new games which I test-drove with my parents and Eli over the weekend, I've got all the games and food and everything all planned out and ready to go! I'm having a pre-party celebration with my parents on my real birthday, then it's PARTY TIME!!!!

Here's to Never Growing Up!!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Something I Need to Clarify

I ONLY do things in dead silence. If you ask me for help with something, fine. But if while I'm trying to look up the thing or read something or help you in any way, you start eating in a way that makes noise or drinking in a way that makes noise or tapping your fingers on the desk or chewing gum or talking to yourself or anything whatsoever that makes noise, I WILL NOT HELP YOU. That goes for not just work related stuff too. If you wanted me to look up something on my phone or show you a picture or something and you are making noise, I will not continue doing the thing until I have quiet. I mean this seriously. I will not read without quiet. I will not THINK without quiet. I don't care how important it is. If you want me to do anything all at, you have to be COMPLETELY quiet. This has always been true but I'm finally going to start enforcing it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

30 Day Book Challenge in One Day

1. Best Book You Read Last Year: Small Great Things.
2. A Book You've Read more than 3 Times: A Wrinkle in Time.
3. Your Favorite Series: Harry Potter.
4. Favorite Book of Your Favorite Series: Order of the Phoenix.
5. A Book that Makes You Happy: Any Harry Potter Book.
6. A Book that Makes You Sad: Nineteen Minutes.
7. A Book that Makes You Laugh: Harry Potter (lots of books have made me laugh, but I've reread Harry Potter the most so it always comes to mind.
8. Most Overrated Book: The Great Gatsby. We had to read it in school, booooorrrring!
9. A Book You Thought You Wouldn't Like but Ended Up Loving: Running out of Time. It was an assigned summer reading book so I wasn't expecting it to be good but I loved it.
10. A Book that Reminds You of Home: Any of the Babysitter's Little Sister books. My mom used to read them to me when I was little.
11. A Book You Hated: The Scarlet Letter.
12. A Book You Love but Hate at the Same Time: House Rules. I love the story itself, it's a cool mystery, but it's not a good representation of people who have Asperger's, which is what it was trying to be, so I don't like it for that reason.
13. Your favorite writer: J. K. Rowling!!!
14. A Book turned Movie and Completely Desecrated: My Sister's Keeper. It's not that the whole movie was bad, but the ending of the movie was completely different. The book had this brilliant, perfectly poetic ending, and the movie totally ruined that. Also, The Cat in the Hat movie I thought was desecrated. It felt like Mike Myers was just doing his own stand up comedy routine and not even acting like The Cat in the Hat. I felt the same way about Jim Carrey as The Grinch. I like the simplicity of the original Dr. Seuss books, and I'm thinking that maybe they just weren't all meant to be full-length movies that require the screenwriters to add so many things.
15. Your Favorite Male Character: Harry Potter
16. Your Favorite Female Character: Matilda, Harriet the Spy, and Karen Brewer.
17. Favorite Quote from Your Favorite Book: "Of course it is all happening inside your head, harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
18. A Book that Disappointed You: Fifty Shade of Grey. I wasn't expecting it to be amazing or anything, and I didn't even expect it to be wonderful about consent - but I expected Ana to at least express some sort of interest in what they were doing. I mean, I imagined that it might be coercive in the beginning, but my expectation was that Ana would discover that she was deeply into it. But she never expresses enjoyment and her character is so undeveloped, I feel like I'm reading about a blank piece of paper (like Bella from Twilight), and Christian keeps throwing the word "consent" around while not practicing it at all, kind of like tossing a soccer ball around with your hands and saying that you are playing soccer - people who don't understand soccer will think that soccer is played that way, people who don't understand about consent will think that consent works this way. And of course a super-contrived backstory about why Christian is so troubled because of course no one could ever just be *interested* in what the book is about, oh no, you have to either be doing it because you have issues or be coerced into it.
19. Favorite Book turned into a Movie: Matilda. This is one of the few movies where I actually like the extra stuff they added that wasn't in the book.
20. Favorite Romance Book: I don't really have one, I haven't liked most of the romance books I've read.
21. The First Novel you remember reading: It might have been a Ramona Book, either Ramona the Pest, or Ramona Quimby, age 8.
22. A Book that Makes You Cry: Nineteen Minutes
23. A Book You Wanted to Read for a Long Time and Still Haven't: Les Miserables.
24. A Book that You Wish More People Would Have Read: Blink
25. A Character Who You Can Relate to the Most: Harriet the Spy.
26. A Book that Changed Your Opinion about Something: Outliers.
27. The Most Surprising Plot Twist or Ending: The ending of Half-Blood Prince - I won't give the details just in case.
28. Favorite Title of a Book: Handle with Care. I love the double meaning - the book is about a girl who has OI and literally needs to handled with care, we think that's what the title is referring to, but by the end, you realize it means so much more than that, because everything should be handled with care.
29. A Book that Everyone Hated but You Liked: I can't think of anything that other people really hated, but a lot of books that I love, other people have outgrown - Babysitter's Club, Judy Blume books, the Ramona series, Amelia's Notebooks.
30. Your Favorite Book of all Time: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.



Friday, February 10, 2017

30 Day Movie Challenge in One Day

30 Day movie challenge from Pinterest. Leave your answers in the comments if you want to!

1. Your Favorite Movie: Inside Out. I never had one favorite movie before that.
2. The Last Movie You Watched: Abracatastrophe from Fairly OddParents.
3. Your Favorite Action/Adventure Movie: All of the Harry Potter Movies (although the books are better of course).
4. Your Favorite Horror Movie: I don't really like horror movies, so I'll say my favorite scary movie is Coraline.
5. Your Favorite Drama Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
6. Your Favorite Comedy Movie: I like a lot of these, I guess I'll say Matilda, I think that's classified as a comedy.
7. A Movie that Makes You Happy: The Babysitter's Club Movie.
8. A Movie that Makes You Sad: Mary and Max.
9. A Movie that You Practically Know the Whole Script of: Most of my favorite movies are like this, but I'll say Inside Out.
10. Your Favorite Director: I don't really know directors.
11. Your Favorite Movie from Your Childhood: Cinderella. I was obsessed with that movie for the longest time.
12. Your Favorite Animated Movie: After Inside Out, I'd say Monsters, Inc or Finding Nemo.
13. A Movie that You Used to Love but Now Hate: I can't think of any like this, so I'll go with one that I used to love and now don't like, and that would be A Troll in Central Park. It's not that I hate it now, I just find it boring. It's not one of those kids movies that I still love now that I'm older.
14. Your Favorite Quote from Any Movie: "Do what you love and fuck the rest." Dwayne from Little Miss Sunshine.
15. The First Movie You Saw in Theaters: I don't remember, it was probably a Disney movie, I'm guessing Aladdin based on the year that it came out.
16. The Last Movie You Saw in Theaters: I'm drawing a blank here, but it may have been either Finding Dori or The BFG.
17. The Best Movie You Saw During the Last Year: Zootopia.
18. The Movie that Disappointed You the Most: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. This movie came out in high school, when I was super focused on theatre and planning to be a big Broadway Star just like the protagonist of this movie. I waited so long for this movie to come out because I expected it to be all about this girl struggling to become a star, but instead it was just a typical high school story with a best friend and a crush and a mean girl and the main plot is that they're trying to sneak into some concert, it's not even about this girl's acting career. I was very disappointed because I was hoping to see a movie focused on acting, just like a sports movie.
19. Your Favorite Actor: I don't really have one. I have a crush on Daniel Radcliffe, but he's not my favorite actor in terms of acting ability, so I'm not sure.
20. Your Favorite Actress: I don't have one in particular. I guess I like Emma Thompson and Cameron Diaz.
21. The Most Overrated Movie: The Avengers or Dark Night. I don't like action movies and I was bored through both of these movies, but I remember there being a big a hype about them.
22. The Most Underrated Movie: Pixel Perfect. It's a Disney Channel movie I've always loved, but it was never very popular because it didn't rerun many times on Disney Channel.
23. Your Favorite Character from Any Movie: Harriet the Spy.
24. Favorite Documentary: Bowling for Columbine
25. A Movie that No One Would Expect You to Love: Remember the Titans, because it's a sports movie.
26. A Movie that is a Guilty Pleasure: Again, I do not have guilty pleasures because I do not feel guilty about doing anything that gives me pleasure. Seriously!
27. Favorite Classic Movie: I don't know how old something has to be to be "classic." I think of Mean Girls and Love Actually as "classic" but I know they're not really old enough. I guess I'll say Monkey Business, which is an old Marx Brothers movie.
28. Movie with the Best Soundtrack: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was never one of my favorite Disney movies, but I always loved the music. I also love the music from Tarzan.
29. A Movie that Changed Your Opinion about Something: Sicko (the documentary on health care).
30. Your Least Favorite Movie: Any of those superhero action movies that I got stuck seeing with my ex.

30 Day Song Challenge in One Day

I just wanna be distracted right now. I found this challenge on Pinterest so I'm gonna do it all in one day. Post your answers in the comments if you want to, I'd love to see other people's answers!

1. Your Favorite Song: I have a lot of favorite songs, but if I had to pick my top favorite at this moment, "Naughty" from Matilda.
2. You Least Favorite Song: I've never really had one least favorite song, but the first one that pops into my head that I hate is "Blurred Lines" because it basically says that it's okay to rape people.
3. A Song that Makes You Happy: I'd have to say "Naughty" from Matilda again. A lot of songs make me happy, but in the past three years, that one has done the best job of it.
4. A Song that Makes You Sad: "San Francisco" by Vanessa Carlton - the song itself isn't sad, but I have really deep associations of it during the loneliest time at college, so it always makes me cringe.
5. A Song that Reminds You of Someone: "You're Where I Belong" By Trisha Yearwood (end credits of Stuart Little). This song reminds me of a teacher whom I had a huge crush on. I made her a mix tape (yes, an actual tape, this was 2003) with this song on it.
6. A Song that Reminds You of Somewhere: "White Houses" by Vanessa Carlton - reminds me the beach where we went on beach week - the song is literally my beach week story, word for word. It's scary how accurate it is.
7. A Song that Reminds You of a Certain Event: The last question sort of covers this as well, but another song is "The One" by the Backstreet Boys reminds me of my first play, Oz, in 6th grade. That was one of my happiest memories, and I listened to this song (and the whole Backstreet Boys CD) a lot during that time, so it take me back there instantly.
8. A Song that You Know All the Words to: I can't pick just one for this - I know all the words to almost every song that I actually listen to. I guess I'll say, "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables because I've performed it multiple times.
9. A Song that You Can Dance to: "Time" by Chantal Kreviazuk. This isn't a dance party song, it's the type of dance that I'd like to choreograph a jazz-lyrical style dance for. This song was always a choreographing possibility back when I was doing that, but I ran out of semesters and didn't get to do this one. I have a cool dance mapped out where have of the dancers are people and the other half are time itself, and the ones who are time are dancing much faster and keep pushing the people and spinning them around. I have a perfect vision of the dance, but I didn't choose it to choreograph at college because it's really important to have an even number of dancers so that everyone has a partner, and people tended to quit in the middle of the semester a lot.
10. A Song that Makes you Fall Asleep: Most songs in general don't make me fall asleep (only silence works), but the one exception is "Fields of Gold" by Eva Cassidy. I used this song a lot to fall asleep in my first year of college. I don't know if it would still have that effect.
11. A Song from your Favorite Band - I don't really have a favorite band, I tend to have favorite singers. I'll go with "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson. I love the fact that it's all about the other person hurting you, no personal responsibility or anything.
12. A Song from a Band you Hate: "Sorry" by Justin Bieber. They play that song all the time at the trampoline park and it's pretty annoying.
13.  A Song that is a Guilty Pleasure: I don't have guilty pleasures because I don't feel guilty about doing anything that gives me pleasure. But I actually do have an answer in this case (I have never had a "guilty pleasure" feeling about a song before - this is the first time ever). "Firework" by Katy Perry. I actually love the song. It makes me feel really good inside. But I hate how it perpetuates the idea that everyone can just pull themselves up by the bootstraps and be a freaking firework while saying nothing about the people and systems that prevent a lot of people from doing that. The thing is, I don't have "guilty pleasures," I don't feel guilty liking the song, just kinda weird. I listen to a lot of music that I don't fully agree with and it doesn't bother me, but I think the reason "Firework" feels weird is that I actually thought about that song a lot as I was writing the validation book. One of the really powerful sections towards the end of the book, I got a lot of inspiration from analyzing what's wrong with "Firework." I even referred to the song in my earliest draft, but decided against the culture reference that everyone won't know. So that's why it feels a little weird when I listen to the song - because it makes me feel good even though I wrote a whole section of my book about why it's wrong.
14. A Song that No One Would Expect You to Love: This one's hard because I don't really know what other people normally assume about my music tastes. I'll say "Let it Go" from Frozen because if you just hear the song without any context, it sounds like it's telling someone to let it go as in don't get upset about something, which is the opposite of what I like, but within the context, it's actually about letting your feelings and power and whatever is locked up inside go, totally encouraging 100-page blog posts and stuff like that.
15. A Song that Describes You: I could use the blog title song, but I'm gonna use that one later, so I'll say "2 AM" by Anna Nalick, just the last verse where she sings about writing the song.
16. A Song that You Used to Love but Now Hate: Offhand, I can't think of any song I used to love but now I hate, so I'm gonna to just use a song that I used to like and now I don't like, "Wake Me up When September Ends" by Green Day. It's not that I hate it now, it's just that when I first heard the song, I didn't know that it was about anything specific. It seemed very general, like the kind of song that anyone can apply to their own situation, big or small. I first heard it at the start of my last year of high school, when I was feeling bogged down with school and college apps and I felt empty inside because there wasn't enough time to spend with my friends and I could see that time running out - and I liked the song because I thought I could relate to it. But ever since I saw the music video, I haven't like the song as much anymore. I mean, there's nothing wrong with having a song specifically about someone who joins the military, but once I saw that it was meant to be about something very specific that was way more serious that what I was thinking of when I heard it, I could just never go back to listening to it in the same way.
17. A Song that You Often Hear on the Radio: I don't really listen to the radio except around Christmas time, so I'll say, "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas."
18. A Song that You Wish You Heard on the Radio: "Someday at Christmas" by Stevie Wonder. One of my favorite Christmas songs but it rarely plays on the radio at Christmas.
19. A Song from Your Favorite Album: Matilda is my favorite CD at the moment, so "When I Grow Up."
20. A Song that You Listen to When You're Angry: "Wake Me Up Inside" by Evanescence.
21. A Song that You Listen to When You're Happy: Right now, "You'll Be in my Heart" from Tarzan. I have lots of good associations with it.
22. A Song that You Listen to When You're Sad: "State of Mind" by Merril Bainbridge.
23. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Wedding: This really depends on my specific relationship with the other person. Right now, the song that comes to mind is "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts, this was what I always pictured singing to my old boyfriend if we got married, but it would really depend on my relationship with the new person.
24. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Funeral: "Make Your Own Kind of Music."
25. A Song that Makes you Laugh: "Mamma Says" from Footloose.
26. A Song that You Can Play on an Instrument: Right now I only know "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Ode to Joy" on the piano.
27. A Song You Wish You Could Play: I'm planning to learn guitar, and one of the first songs I'd like to learn to play is "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.
28. A Song that Makes You Feel Guilty: My college's alma mater. I don't know why guilt specifically, but it brings up a gazillion different bad feelings and one of them is guilt.
29. A Song from Your Childhood: "Little Things" by Joe Raposo, Sesame Street.
30. Your Favorite Song at this Time Last Year: Same as my first answer. I think "Naughty" has been my favorite song since I discovered it in 2013.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I Want You to Fail

[Content: Violence aimed at marginalized people]

Something I need to explain once and for all to people who are calling us sore losers for fighting against the Trump presidency, as if we just can't handle that Clinton or Sanders didn't win, and people who think it's bad to want Trump to fail:

There is a such a thing as being a sore loser. If I were on a sports team, for instance, and a teammate and I both wanted to be picked as team captain, and when they won, I hoped that they would fail at being team captain just so that everyone would know I would have made a better one - that would make me a sore loser. 

But if my teammate who wanted to be team captain told me that they secretly hated a person on the team, and they had a plan to get the rest of the team to also hate this person and take them out to the woods and beat them up - I would want them to fail at that plan, I would do everything I could to stop that plan, and that would not make me a sore loser, it would make me someone who is not going to stand for my teammate getting beaten up. It's not about wanting the captain to fail because I dislike them as a person, or because I want to prove that I would be a better captain - it's about not allowing the injustice to happen. 

And I don't care who the person is - whether it's someone I admire or my best friend - if you tell me you have a plan to harm a bunch of people, I would want you to fail at that plan.

So, where Trump is concerned:

If you're going to ban Syrian refugees from entering the country when they are in a war zone and need a place to go, I want you to fail.

If you're going to ban Muslim people from traveling and reentering the country, and accuse all Muslim immigrants of being terrorists, I want you to fail.

If you're going to allow the police to continue targeting and killing Black people, I want you to fail.

If you're going to deport undocumented immigrants and separate people from their families and their homes, I want you to fail.

If you're going to build a wall to not allow Mexican immigrants into the country, I want you to fail.

If you're going to cut off health care to millions of people, I want you to fail.

If you're going to prevent access to safe abortions, I want you to fail.

If you're going to overturn protection for LGBTQ people, so it becomes acceptable to hire and fire people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, I want you to fail.

If you're going to perpetuate rape culture from a leadership position and normalize the idea that men are entitled to women's bodies, I want you to fail.

If you're going to cut funding for public schools, food stamps, welfare, and any other service that people need, I want you to fail.

If you're going to not raise the minimum wage and not help people get out of poverty, I want you to fail.

This is not a case of wanting Trump to fail simply to prove that Bernie Sanders would have done better. What Trump is doing is NOT OKAY and I want him to fail at it.