July 31, 2021

Sometimes I miss the flourishing of DIY animation we got in the Flash era!
I wasn't deep in the Homestar Runner fandom, but lately I've been thinking about "A Jorb Well Done" where Coach Z (with his midwestern accent) struggles mightily to say the word "Job" without stretching it into "Jorb"...

I quote "Good Jaerrrrb!" a lot - so it's a bummer that it's probably a pretty obscure reference.

Also a bummer is *why* I use that quote - it's a bit of ironic distancing varnish because I have a problem giving sincere small complements (at least to grownups) to the extent that I can inadvertently come across as withholding of praise, which really isn't inline with the vague positivity I try to project.

Like if I'm legit impressed by something, no problem, I can be effusive and specific when I think the fruits of some labor objectively stand out. The trouble is when more modest achievements encounter my sense of truth being objective and shared. Like, my instinctual feeling is that if something is objectively "pretty good!", the person who made that is aware of the goodness or badness of it just as well as I am! To then praise it either A. disparages their ability to judge it, B. feels like me overstating my importance as a judge (maybe in a mainsplaining kind of way) or C. feels like I'm trying to be manipulative. (All of these kind of apply to me receiving praise as well!)

(Like with a kid I don't have the same problem, because "A" might be weaker anyway, and "B" I am a grownup, and so possibly rightfully more important as a judge in their eyes. I'm less worried about seeming condescending or manipulative.)

The real problem with this comes up acknowledging real successes that are great not because of their outcome per se, but because of the challenging environment they were made in. Like, if you have a friend with depression, getting up, showering, having breakfast might be a praiseworthy success. And to top it off, their inner critic may be WAY too harsh, and positive praise for "minor" but still good things might be a good for a just as irrational negativity.

So I sometimes say "Good Jaaerrrrb!" as a way of getting through my hangups.

I think there also might be a gender coding thing in all this? I've witnessed the more bubbling praise and support some women offer each other, very non-analytical, absolutely free of both-sidserism in conflicts. And at a meta-level, I recognize this is - objectively - probably a better mode than where I operate, but at ground-level, the conflict between the usefulness of (over-)generous praise and my critical need to be reliably forthright keeps me more tightlipped than I want to be.

And no tuba player should be that tightlipped, tbh.

My preferred brand of sun screen is a house.