July 12, 2021

A few weeks ago a friend described me as "mild-mannered". (I mean, presumably not in the Clark Kent sense.) And the other day, playing "Joking Hazard" (a card game about assembling 3 panel comics, a bit taboo stretching but not as prone to punching down as "Cards Against Humanity", say) another friend knew the card I was about to play had to be a good one because it made even me laugh - with the implication that I'm a bit less laugh-y than some (though I remembered making plenty of audible chuckles at other folk's plays throughout the game).

It makes me wonder how I come across to people, and how I really am. I once asked my then long-term therapist what he would diagnose me with and he said mild anhedonia ("an inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable"). But that evaluation never felt quite on... I feel like I'm enjoying life a lot, and taking pleasure in things.

Maybe I do have a more curated sense of emotion than some folks? I guess I want to be thinking more instead of feeling - or rather to feel, but to have the option to chart my own course over calm waters, accounting for the prevailing winds and currents, and not to have my craft forever at the mercy of big waves of strong emotion. (And in general, distrusting emotions not to be arbitrary, to be too sure of their own reasonableness.)

Like compared to other (stereo)types of possibly too-controlled, too-disciplined, too-uptight people... I dunno. I have less of a "personal code" to everyday life than that I guess? I do have some nearly unbreakable rules for myself: to be reliable, and to weigh my personal preferences only as part of the aggregate sense of what the group wants; I don't want to be a martyr for a group but I don't think I should favor my own preference JUST because it's *my* preference.

Anyway. Would love to hear how I come across to people who know me and interact with me a lot, or, less self-centered-sounding, I would also love to hear how people cope with their own emotional management and outward expression.
Pondering (yet) more: there seems to be so much magical thinking in so much of our emotional landscape. Like this idea that if I REALLY root for the home team, or really REALLY resent the other side in politics, that alone will somehow "help".

(I mean, Japan is hosting the olympics, and will probably have to do it without live spectators. Should I have an emotional view of that? How I feel isn't going to change what they do about it (and the more I see about certain kinda racist aspects and corporate-serving bits of the olympics, the easier it seems to support mixed feelings anyway...))

I guess what emotional snowball thinking DOES accomplish is to promote group cohesion. Demonstrating the strength of your faith and commitment to your side having the right idea...
Cuttlefish are weirdly smart.
On Facebook, some friends graciously gave me feedback to my first post, and I found it so flattering I wanted to post it here for safekeeping.
You are mild mannered cool calm collect and polite
Chris D
You overthink a lot. You are always helping others. You do too much. You are very smart. I also agree with your therapist but I often wonder if it's something you've curated - like you're afraid to be emotional
Liz O
I think you express emotion. I have seen you laugh repeatedly and yell at your computer--both very strong emotional activities! I don't think you're mild-mannered necessarily. Nonviolent, nonaggressive, and nontoxic, yes. You overthink in a precocious only child sort of way (I can say this because I am one 😂). Not everyone has energy to overthink with you, but I think most realize it comes from an earnest, well-intentioned place. I would say you're possibly neurodivergent, like many engineers are, but an expert would know better. If people think you miss jokes sometimes, it's probably because you take them literally, or skip over the simple meaning and mistakenly believe there's a deeper meaning. Half my family does this you're not alone 😂 They're all very bright as well, but have to work a little to connect with other people sometimes.
Off the top of my head, I see you as having a heightened sense of responsibility for others' feelings, so maybe you automatically hold your own emotions back a bit? But I view you as generally happy and balanced with the way you exist in the world. You do ponder a lot, but I think you enjoy pondering, and I definitely enjoy reading about your pondering, it's thought-provoking and interesting. From the outside, I see you as happy and fulfilled in a very specific Kirk way
I think this post clearly illustrates how I think about you. Your brain is always on–you're both thinking through scenarios and also being pragmatic in terms of feedback etc. I think the difference here is that, unlike the majority of people, you *really* listen to what's being said around you or to you and then you process it and store it. Most people operate at such a surface level, especially when it comes to conversation, and I always found you to be particularly thoughtful–used less as an adjective here and more as a state-of-mind. I always felt like you had this intelligence layer/sieve that you let information permeate in *before* you reach the emotion. I think it's a wonderful trait–sometimes it feels like there aren't many humans left that actually listen to words and feelings vs just thinking about what they're going to say next. You're less reactive and your brain is patient.
***but also echoing Hannah and saying that I've seen lots of emotion from you in both laughter AND computer anger 😂😂😂
Lauren G
I guess in some ways I'm doing an ok job of being the kind of person I want to be!
I sort of can't believe we moved just 3 months ago! (and, uh, still haven't gotten around to any kind of housewarming :-D ) Still, it seems like we've been here in Arlington a long time already! I think in a good way.