goldkin: umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH* (umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH*)
[personal profile] goldkin
In hindsight, when I rolled my character for this lifetime, I made some pretty good decisions. Among them, starting out with high CON and DEX scores, plus several points invested into INT, did me a lot of good. The downside is, I also took a lot of character-specific disadvantages to compensate, in the hopes that the innate creativity and versatility welded into my character sheet would get me out of the more difficult binds.

Common and semi-irrelevant disadvantages aside (really, who didn't take Fear of Spiders at the first available opportunity?), I'm realizing that Social Aversion and Lack of Empathy have seriously been harming me. These were required to attain high competency in the Video Games and Game Design skill branches, but what I didn't anticipate was the additional penalty to all rolls when determining the intentions of others. Indeed, I completely missed these rolls' full ramifications.

See, I'm not especially bad at what I do. Quite the contrary: given how I've invested my skill points, I run the gamut of competent to relatively (or in rare cases, extremely) good. But, because I cannot determine the intentions of others in conversation, I'm currently the perpetual butt monkey. I read emotions and meaning just fine, but intention, not so well. Unsurprisingly, I'm also flagged as an extremely bad listener, and not for lack of trying to learn, perpetually, over the course of my entire lifetime.

As a result, I ask stupid questions. A lot of stupid questions. An insane number of stupid questions. And the net impact on my friends, my family, and my coworkers is people either don't understand me or build very low respect in my abilities over time, because this communication carries tremendous up-front costs. It also erodes my confidence and weathers the quality of how my work is presented, eventually giving me an (undeserved?) aura of well-meaning incompetence.

It nearly goes without saying that I can't interview competently, either, and that's harmed me at varying intervals for my entire career. Socially, I'm pegged somewhere between jovial-but-incoherent and an intellectual social pariah. Internally, I have anywhere from middling to extremely low self-esteem as a result, and it's only through investing heavily in will saves that I don't fall into a yawning pit of depression from whence I will never emerge.


This situation, to put it bluntly, sucks. I'd like to fix it, because hovering a scant two or three rolls above crippling depression and self-harm isn't a very nice place to be in for even a moment, much less a lifetime.

Other than reading books on the subject and trying to digest several lifetimes worth of qualia and communicated experiences (which I intend to do as soon as feasibly possible), I don't know quite what else I can do to work around or fix this. I do know that it will steadily improve with skill investment (neural enmeshment of ideas in the brain, eventually converging on the desired skills, is Really Cool in general), but I'm terrified that I'll make those wrong rolls before the situation improves, obliterating my progress and leading me down a road from whence I shall not recover. Despite what people seem to think about me, I do care about them, very much in fact, and it would be a crying shame if I were forever lost to them due to the 1 side of a D20.

Compounding my problem is the fact that I'm in a situation where demands on my time are so astronomically high that I cannot easily seek the best help that I desire. I'm lucky if I get a few hours to myself anymore, much less a single day, and that time is spent recovering my energies, reconstructing my internal mental context, and avoiding people. I'm topically aware of the issues underlying my current class of disorder, and I would like to seek someone analytical and professional enough to not dismiss me out of hand or force me to withhold information for fear of bias. After all, being unable to talk about my own beliefs and draconity is actually a big confound, because it's part of the complete story. Transparency of information free of manipulation is also very important to me as a scientist, and I would implicitly distrust any information borne of even the slightest observed social manipulation on my part.

So, I guess I'm otherwise out of ideas. Do you all have any? The low cost solution, in the form of reading and self-practice, is available and something I already intend to pursue. The higher cost solutions, involving professional help that I'm not wholly convinced will help, without high searching costs or straddling the uneasy lines of cognitive biases, isn't nearly as accessible to me at this time. I'm curious if there's some middle ground, some way to get this out of my system and get myself onto the road of recovery, without watching my dreams, ambitions, and pretty much everything I care about continually shattered over critically failing on stubbing my own toes.

I'm not one to complain often about fairness. After all, every outcome has some element or set of elements that, in their composition, led to a perceived lack of fairness in one view or other, despite being part of a more complex and nuanced whole. But, this feels incongruent and so completely wrong relative to the amount of effort that I've put into it. I'm trying, sincerely and honestly trying to better myself, and to put myself in a position where I no longer feel as if my existence and well-being are perpetually endangered by lingering threats and that there's no Plan B. I'm a planner. I'm a security professional. I'm an engineer. I'm a dragon. And dammit, I'm going to build some semblance of security and some small flickering of firelight for those that I care about. That is, quite simply, the person that I am right now.

I just wish that I felt I could anymore. In weathering it all, my abilities to adapt circumstances to help people and change things for the better are what I value the most. I build because, in doing so, I feel that I might be able to keep the darkness out for just one more night. That together, it'll let us see just one more dawn. And that through patience, vigilance, and ingenuity, we might be able to span that out into infinity.

I live for that dawn. I know that, in spite of my best efforts, it won't always be me. But I take comfort that it'll be someone, so much so that it's the message that I've chosen to weave as my purpose in this life.

And, I don't want that spark to go out. So, I ask questions. Incessantly. Because it's what I know works. It's one strategy that's allowed me to see more than one new dawn. But, now I need another one that I'm uniquely incompetent at, and I suppose I'm terrified of the ramifications of failure. Help?

Date: 2013-01-23 11:58 pm (UTC)
elynne: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elynne
A few things.

I was dumb. When I built this character, I was able to buy a lot of nifty advantages (high int, high charisma, reasonably good con) with one single disadvantage: Depression. I didn't read all the small print, though, because that single disad means that most of my life has been spent struggling to maintain myself at what most people seem to consider a "normal" level of functioning. I've put a lot of work, multiple years' worth, into workarounds and desperate attempts at short-circuiting the depressive cycle (most of which didn't work anyway). The net result of this has actually been positive, I think. I'm now in an excellent position to recompile my entire personality, though figuring out how to do just that has been--challenging. It's good work, and I'm happy to be doing it. Sometimes, the depression bites, and I lose a few days (or weeks, or a couple of months), but usually I'm left to my own devices.

That said--a critical fumble doesn't have to be the end of the game. Yes, there are times when rolling a 1 will result in having to roll up a whole new character, but usually, it's just a temporary unpleasantness. Especially when you're adventuring with a party that you can rely on. It's harder when you're soloing, when the whole scene is entirely dependent on just you, but when you have companions that you know are competent, they can help you recover from fumbles.

My impulse is to tell you that you're overthinking things, but 1. I don't think that "overthinking" is ever actually a problem, and 2. I understand exactly where your anxieties are coming from. You're hacking your own neural software. It's the only way to get optimal performance out of any system, but there is always, always, always, no matter how careful you are, the possibility that you'll make a bad connection and end up with a BSOD.

But the reality is that it's very difficult to change your mind permanently and quickly in a negative way. It's possible, but it's very unlikely. At most, you will have to deal with some level of unpleasantness for some amount of time, but eventually, all things change. It's a frightening thought, but it's also comforting, especially when you realize that if you're willing to accept the consequences of making bad choices, and if you're careful in building a support structure for yourself that will allow you the possibility of making mistakes without complete self-destruction, you have the power and the freedom to make positive changes in every aspect of your life.

I realize that there's two notes I'm hitting over and over--failure is temporary, it's not the end of the world; and a good support structure will help you weather even more failure, and grow from it in positive ways. Those are things I have a lot of trouble keeping in mind sometimes, and it's taken me decades to figure them out.

I'm afraid I can't answer your specific current problem. I know the feeling, very very well, of frustration at knowing exactly what the problem is, and having a pretty good idea of what would fix it, without having the slightest clue about how bring the fix about. Standing here, you can see there, but there's a deep chasm in between that seems to be full of possibly boiling water and maybe piranhas? also it's impossible to fly over because wind, also it's infinitely wide, and all you have in your pockets is a pair of nail clippers and a couple of rubber bands.

It's fascinating, harrowing, challenging work, and ultimately, I think that the work of learning yourself and learning how to change your self is the most important work that a person can do.

Also, I'd like to come over and visit sometime, with "sometime" being "probably not anytime real soon because I don't have a car that can go on freeways and I'm unable to use buses at my current residence, which will change when I move probably in May but until then probably not so much." I've been realizing lately how badly I've been needing and missing reinforcement of my nonhuman nature. There's stuff I need to talk about and work out, and as much as I love the people around me and as great as they are at giving me support, they just don't get it, and can't help me answer some of these questions. The Internets is good, but I also need in-person support, every once in a while.


Date: 2013-01-24 01:33 am (UTC)
teaotter: a dark haired woman in sunlight (Default)
From: [personal profile] teaotter
First off, I do recommend the professional route. Here in Portland, there are low-cost therapists, and I assume in your area as well. I've learned over the years that, if I call their office and ask their stance on kink and poly lifestyles, I can usually find people who are happy to accept that identity choices that are not causing problems don't need to be fixed.

I mostly recommend the professional route because professionals are often the best sources of (relatively) impartial information on the social dynamics around you. It is almost impossible to get accurate observational data from other people involved in the social interactions with you, since their viewpoint will be shifted by the interaction itself -- and since you know that your interactions go awry, chances are good that their view is skewed in ways that are invisible to them.

In conjunction with other research, I highly recommend acting books and exercises. Most interactions with people follow common patterns; acting can teach how to read and replicate those patterns.

Dice and life

Date: 2013-01-24 03:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If you do not care for the game you play where you have to constantly roll dice to see where your life leads, stop rolling the dice, stop letting them make your life decisions and make them yourself. Afterall, you are a Dragon and some some character like "Two Face" from "Batman" that needs to flip a coin to know what to do.

About questions. I will only say this... one never knows what life can offer you unless you ask. About wanting to control your life. Yes, we can all make plans, follow through on them, many even bear fruit. To believe we can have absolute and total control of our lives... is only an illusion. Sometimes freedom is gained by giving up that control. I do wish you all the best.

Fly well!
...a local blue Dragon

Date: 2013-01-24 04:34 am (UTC)
jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)
From: [personal profile] jewelfox
Maybe it'd help to be around supportive people who understand your situation and don't hold it against you.

If you can explain your situation to someone and they either don't understand or refuse to understand, they aren't supportive enough.

I'm not sure how to find such people besides that, unfortunately.

Date: 2013-01-24 06:12 am (UTC)
403: This is your brane on string theory. (String Theory)
From: [personal profile] 403
This situation, to put it bluntly, sucks. I'd like to fix it, because hovering a scant two or three rolls above crippling depression and self-harm isn't a very nice place to be in for even a moment, much less a lifetime.

It does suck, and I recommend avoiding it in the strongest possible terms. But having spent 2/3 (and counting) of my life below that line, I'd like to point out that if you do fall below it, the experience will change you but it's not an endgame.

Now that that's out of the way, detailed recommendations:

* Look closely at your obligations, especially their priority order. Set taking care of yourself at the top of that list, if it isn't already. If it isn't, then you've probably been borrowing resources from self-care that will need to be paid back in, often at the most inconvenient possible time.

* See a professional. You'll get an outside view that isn't available anywhere else. And if their own hang-ups are getting in the way of their ability to help you, professional ethics requires them to refer you to someone who can.

* As far as books go, I've found Peoplewatching to be an extremely useful resource.

Date: 2013-01-25 07:00 pm (UTC)
dragonmoth: (Dawn - Steel Feathers)
From: [personal profile] dragonmoth
As someone who has been in a very similar position very recently, I can at least say I sympathize. Asking questions--lots of them, some of them immensely simple--just so I can be absolutely sure there is no misunderstanding between myself and my coworkers, over time resulted in very bad work relationships. It's one of the things that ultimately convinced me to quit my Networking job (to be fair, the company was in a bad place and went under mere months later, so it was a good choice). What I've found, personally, is that it helps to always have an advocate everywhere else I go. Even one will do--one person who I really get along with, who I can communicate really well with, and who will treat me with respect in the presence of other people who might otherwise not. There's a lot to be said for peer pressure. People are only likely to treat you poorly if they think you're without allies and therefore defenseless.

But finding such a person, even one, is difficult, and it doesn't help with interviews. Having very little free time or space to yourself to self-help is even worse. I've been lucky in that my husband has been working while I get ready to go back to school, so I have time and space to collect myself. It doesn't sound like you have that kind of resource.

This is the problem with the idea of self-sufficiency; I'm not sure it's a real thing. We all need help and acknowledgement from each other in order to function optimally as social creatures, and if we get isolated, we start to spiritually rot (for lack of better terms).

Sometimes, when I don't feel I can ask questions without people getting annoyed with me, I write the questions down and look them up on Google when I have time. The Internet is a relatively poor teacher, but it can usually answer most simple questions. So I have to delay satisfaction for a while, but I do eventually get my answers. It doesn't help when I need the answers immediately, but in the cases where they can be deferred, it works.


Date: 2013-01-28 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
First, I'd like to echo everyone's previous suggestion to seek out professional therapy. It's not all about sitting in a comfy couch and getting told that all of your problems stem from pent-up sexual tension. Rather, you get to talk to someone who has been trained in the art of communication, sympathy, and the workings of the mind. Most importantly though, you need someone with an objective view that is free of any conflict of interest or hidden agenda. This (unfortunately) means you're going to go to a complete stranger. On the bright side, some health insurance covers counseling, which might bring this option into the affordable range if it isn't already.

I am by no means a substitute for professional counseling, though I would like to share some observations and personal experience.

I read emotions and meaning just fine, but intention, not so well.

As a result, I ask stupid questions. A lot of stupid questions. An insane number of stupid questions.

People are horrible at communicating. They make noise, more often than not, that noise meets syntactical rules, but its semantics do not truly reflect their thoughts. If you've ever had a woman tell you "I don't care, just do whatever you want.", you should have an idea of what I'm talking about.

Through a somewhat pragmatic process, I've found that asking completely reflexive questions does little to solve this communication problem. For instance, in response to the above example, "I can do whatever I want? Are you sure?". You're just using the same words that your conversational partner is using, and that doesn't help expose the latent disconnect between speech and thought. Instead, I try some other approaches, depending on the situation:

* Make an assumption. Go out on a limb and use intuition. This path by far carries the highest risk of loss of face (generally mine), but in informal social circles, a small error caused by a bad assumption is easily overlooked. In a forgiving environment, this approach is great for fine-tuning intuition.

* Explain my understanding and intentions before taking action: "I'll summarize what we've discussed in a change request and get that back to you in an hour for you to review.". This is geared more toward a work environment, where mistakes carry a bigger penalty, and ass-coverage is absolutely necessary. In this approach, I'm now in control of the communication and can be as precise as I need. If there's a difference in understanding or my intentions turn out to be wrong, no worries. Nothing bad happened yet and since no damage was done, both parties get to save face.

* Get to the root cause: "You need the root password? What are you going to do with it? ... Oh, you just need to change a configuration file? I'll show you how to do that without the root password." This approach is also more geared towards a work environment. People will sometimes (often in my line of work) come to me with a solution to their problem. That solution, however, does not account for a whole slew of factors that they are not aware of. Sometimes I have to prod a bit and find out what a person's real motivation is, often using one or both of the other two approaches. The trick here is asking precise questions that do not belittle the respondent or make them defensive. I've yet to master this technique, as I first have to get over intimidating people with my mere presence.

* Do something impulsive and make a mistake. Sometimes I'll just end up saying or doing something completely inappropriate. It happens to the best of us, and it's not the end of the world for all cases (minus epsilon). Aside from their obvious pragmatic value, small mistakes are still beneficial -- they show others that like them, I have flaws, and that I'm not too proud to hide them.

People are also proud, sometimes overly so. They have this notion of "face", which can be thought of as the antithesis of weakness in a social context. You may have seen me use the term "saving face" -- or in other words, "not looking like a dumbass". While it sometimes feels good to squash a person's ego, it's almost always in your best interest to set up a situation that lets them save face. That satisfaction of figuratively rubbing someone's face in the dirt lasts for a moment; the misery unleashed by a butthurt person can last a lifetime. Even if ego-squashing isn't your intent, certain pointed questions can feel like a setup for humilation. I don't know what sort of questions you ask, but if they fall into this category, that can certainly cause negative feedback, more so than the process of providing an obvious answer.

Finally, I find some comfort in precision. When I know exactly what a person wants, I know exactly what they expect of me and I can either meet their expectation or work on lowering that expectation into the grasp of reality. There's little to no risk of being wrong and disappointment is almost always mitigated. As a technical person, you're probably of the same mindset. In some cases, seeking precision is perfectly reasonable, such as in a work environment, where surprises are a bad thing. In social circles, not so much. There's no time to work out the specifics, but plenty of room for ambiguity and improvisation. Try to make a distinction between the two, and when the situation permits, take advantage of that freedom to express your relevant interests to the group, and see what lies outside of your comfort zone.

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