Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Apologies for missing both of last week's posts. I actually did start writing something for Tuesday, but it was about the raging dysphoria I was experiencing that day and it was not fit to publish. I needed to write it; it did not need to be read.

But it did need to be talked about, and that's something that I am taking away from last week: the value of conversations. I don't like talking for the sake of talking, I don't like the sound of my own voice, but I do like talking as a way of communicating experience. Talking about dysphoria and where it comes from and what to do about it helped me a lot on Tuesday.

On Wednesday one of the RAs hosted a discussion about class privilege, and I was reminded of how to listen: when to speak, when to shut up. Namely, if the conversation is stalling, ask questions or share your experience; if the silence is instead because people are processing something, hold off a little. Be aware of how much space you're taking up. Be comfortable with silence and with sound.

It's been about a year since I broke up with my ex, and I've been thinking on and off about how and why I ended things. I debriefed with my sister right after it happened but haven't done too much analysis since then, but some conclusions I've come to is that I, like most people, have different tiers of closeness with people. People with whom I can talk about serious topics are at a higher level, and so a new rule I've instituted for myself (which won't be relevant until after college, probably) is that I won't date anyone who is not at the level at which we can talk about race.

I had a lot of conversations with my ex--a typical date consisted of getting lunch and then walking around for hours talking. Looking back, I wonder what we even talked about. Education, science, things that happened in high school, and so on. Never about race or sexism or...

Ultimately, I broke up with the guy because I no longer had feelings for him, and in the absence of those feelings I had no desire to keep putting the work into the relationship. And part of the reason I didn't want to keep putting the work in was because we were growing and changing in different ways, and the kind of conversations that we were having were not only not the kind that I needed to have, but I didn't think he could have those kinds of conversations. In other words, we could not communicate about the same things.

There are peacetime friends and wartime friends, by which I mean there are friends around whom I feel the need to pretend that everything is fine, whom I do not trust to be there for me in the way I need when I am not doing well. Then we have wartime friends, friends with whom I need little preamble to get to real topics, friends in front of whom I can be upset and not worry that they'll be freaked out.

Of course my wartime friends and I don't just unload our agonies upon one another. Wartime friends mean we can also celebrate our victories together too. Silliness and seriousness both require a greater degree of closeness than even intellectual smalltalk, because happiness and sadness are both vulnerable emotions. I am lucky to have people who don't make me feel weak or like a fool for expressing either.

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