Saturday, March 4, 2017

Week 8 Update

The past few weeks have been busy through a mix of academics and extracurrics. I'm actually trying to get a draft of another assignment done tonight and have a lot to get done this weekend since I'm out next week Monday through Friday for a competition. At the moment I'm feeling okay since a big event went really well tonight, but I'm exhausted. Trying to stay positive because it's somewhat silly to take on a lot of commitments and then complain about them. Still. Exhausted. I've been a lot more assertive about my boundaries lately because certain people drain my energy real fast and I don't have a lot of energy to spare. Not a way of viewing people that I particularly enjoy but that's what I've been doing.

I have a few post topics that I've promised for a month or so, but here are some assorted thoughts.

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Leading people takes a lot of delegating and a lot of patience. Am I being fake or diplomatic? Am I being assertive or authoritarian? To overwork a reliable person or push responsibility onto a slacker who might flake? How many reminders do people need? I've become a lot more knowledgeable about what kind of a person I am, particularly under pressure. When faced with a negative surprise situation, I freeze initially. My first action after unfreezing is to seek more information, to try to determine what the threat is and how to contain it. I like having decisions made but I will agonize over them, get multiple second opinions, double check. The final stretch is always more protracted than I expect. I've gotten better at estimating how long things will take in the middle section though. If someone has done something praiseworthy, I won't shut up about it--I like to give credit where credit is due.

I am very different around different friends and the most important predictor is the rate at which the other person drains my energy. Like I said, I don't like thinking about people like this, I don't like that this is an important metric for me, but it is. I have low energy levels and being around some people for too long makes me wrung out and useless. I may ignore my body when it tells me to go the hell to sleep, but I don't ignore it when it tells me who to spend more or less time around.

A couple of weeks ago I had a health situation that ended up being just fine (I had a symptom of what could be something serious but it's benign) and it's made me more aware of my physical form. I don't like this. I suppress my dysphoria by not thinking about my physical form. To my friends in mech e and in AI, when the hell are we getting robot bodies? I've been thinking lately about being visibly LGBT* and how I don't want people who are potentially transphobic to know anything about me, but at the same time want to communicate to other people who are LGBT that I'm trans. This is somewhat self-serving because I know I feel safer around people if I'm more sure that they "get it." E.g. I saw that one of my TAs had a laptop sticker from the LGBT STEM group on campus and all of a sudden he's my favorite TA ever (also he's a good TA).

*I go back and forth about the use of the word "queer" because most people in the community at my school are totally okay with it, but it's got a history of being used as a slur so I want to learn more before using terms whose weight I don't understand.

At the same time, I'm aware that just being in the same minority group as someone else doesn't mean that we're automatically friends. I shared some fairly personal stuff with someone I talked to twice in freshman year because they started blogging about their gender experience and their transition, but I'm not going to pretend that I know all about their life or that we're entitled to one another's full set of experiences. Mostly, I'm afraid that if I come out to someone, that I'll then have to disclose other personal details that I'm not ready to share. And of course no one can extract that information from me but if I say "I'm nonbinary" then...I don't know. I'm still mostly closeted so I may be magnifying my fears.

To be honest, the clothing post was mostly written to remind myself that I do have control over some aspects of how I'm perceived. I may not be able to remove organs on my own but I can buy sweaters and jeans from the men's section. I can keep my hair short and try to speak in a lower register and avoid thinking about my physical form.

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It's been at least a few years since I read anything by Malcolm Gladwell, but I'm remembering a phrase that I'm pretty sure comes from one of his books--the power of the weak tie. As a junior who has been involved in a decent number of things, I find that I am acquainted and on friendly terms with a surprisingly large number of people. Been thinking about this lately because at some point in the past month I emailed someone who interviewed me two years ago on behalf of a sophomore I know from a club I no longer am in, to their mutual benefit. I value depth in my friendships, so the power of weak ties surprised me a lot. It also felt more transactional than what I prefer for interactions--which appears to be a theme here. I hope that becoming an adult isn't all like this.

This summer I'm going to be working for a construction company and construction is all about relational bonds, from what I hear. In an industry presentation I went to today the presenters all but said that you have to capitalize upon your personality.

Small wonder that sometimes I get home after a day spent around people and instead of wanting to be alone, want to be around my people. Reminding myself that there's more to relationships than the transaction.

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Apparently, this is the kind of post I write at 02.00 at the end of a very long week. Wish me luck on my four assignments.

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