Thursday, November 17, 2022. I have continued to work on the very late Groundhog Day Resolutions Report for GHDR November 11, 2022. At the time of this writing, I have not been able to see how all my thoughts are connected though my gut tells me they are. I've started and restarted the report several times, and have decided to turn what fragments I have into a kind of pre-report to get unstuck.
I thought it would be interesting to share the process, which started with a piece of 8.5x11 paper that I wrote on until full, using subsequent sheets of paper to react to the previous. There are five sheets of paper in total. Afterwards, I rested a couple of days before transcribing the thought into paragraphs on this journal post and publishing the draft on Friday November 18.
It's now November 20, and I'm doing a second edit. One thing I've noticed is that the content resembles the old Seah Model Four/3 system diagram, in which I outlined the quirks of my productivity system. Up next: writing the actual November 11 report, referencing this journal entry but keeping focus on operational planning.
This is a transcription of the thoughts from a big brain dump I did onto paper. There are five sheets. I've taken what I wrote on each sheet and expanded them with additional detail.
Page 1. Dump "Everything That Is Wrong"
This page is a "sad brainstorming" session where there is no idea that is "too sad" or "stupid". This helps get me unstuck; don't read this as a hopeless cry for help, because it is not. This is me getting negative thoughts out in the open so I can have a better look at them.
Sri's Depressing Thoughts
- I've failed to achieve my "vision", repeatedly. It may be beyond my capabilities, and I have been deluding myself all these years.
- I am not sure who I am, but this seems moot because I don't really matter and no one cares anyway. Even if people say they do, it is superficial and therefore doesn't mean anything.
- I am a weirdo that no one wants around. My intensity, alien thinking, and assessing nature pushes people away because they see it as unrelatable and judgmental.
- Does existing really matter? No...everything is meaningless.
Having said that, I was struck by some positive thoughts:
Sri's Reassuring Positive Thoughts
- There ARE people who relate to intensity/alienness. For example, I tend to relate more deeply with people on the ADHD and ASD and creative spectrums.
- There ARE people who have a similar tolerance for high levels of data acquisition to make sense of the world.
- While people who are "neurotypical" don't "get it", we share elements of the same humanity. We can share our views. We can have compassion for each other even if we don't understand each other completely. We can make the effort. I can make the effort.
On a side note: I later realized that this might be Rejection Sensitivity I was experiencing. I found How To ADHD's video on How to Deal with Rejection Sensitivity very helpful.
Page 2. Dump "Everything That Is Right"
Looking at what I wrote on the previous page, I saw signs that under all that negativity weare certain beliefs that I hold dear.
Sri's Tenacious Beliefs
- I have a vision of "Sri's Meadow" where all the animals can be friends.
- I have always had a conviction to realize aspects of this vision with every social group I start. For example, the coworking chat is just the latest attempt. I have been doing this since the 1980s but never knew if I was "doing it right" and this burdened me with doubt.
- I have a lot of uniquenesses that other people don't have to deal with: being transgender, on the ASD and ADHD spectrum, having "gifted student" status, early shaping by "third culture kid"/lifetime cultural outsider status, being a minority "person of color", being a non-traditional career seeker, having the rare "INFP/INTJ" pattern of thinking, posessing ambitious/creative drive, seeing the world through a self-aware "logic driven by emotion" decision-making process, having the remarkable privilege of an international education, AND being raised by missionary academics who were genuinely good people.
I see I have two strong impulses I go with these beliefs:
- I have the desire to make a place where I and other divergents can thrive and prosper. This is what I'm currently calling 'The Public Square'.
- I think that creating seeds can help me create this place by providing supportive materials that provide the "nutritious cultural context" that can help people like me thrive.
Page 3. "Everything That is In The Way"
Having identified some good things about myself, my next impulse wwas to itemize the barriers that I have not been able to overcome over a lifetime of trying, this time framed in terms of ADHD, ASD, and GAD. Let me state these as matter-of-factly as I can without feeling like I am at fault.
I have many impairments. I have previously thought of the impairments as something that could be overcome by "finding the right combination of clever tricks", but this is likely not the case. While I have engineered many mitigations that have helped move past them, I must acknowledge that they are ever-present and are not going to go away. Let me accept that as a certainty.
My major productivity impairment is starting tasks. This is at the root of many of my frustrations with regards to making process. I believe this impairment is most closely aligned with ADHD.
A second impairment is the desire to create quality original work, which makes it difficult for me to accept compromise, which leads to frustration and rage. This also makes it difficult for me to engage with anything that I think conflicts with this desire, including other people. The end result is a loss of motivation and drive. I believe this impairment is more closely aligned with ASD; a desire for structure and logic often goes with it.
A third impairment is my reluctance to accept that I have a few exceptional mental traits, and they cause a mismatch in common relatability that I assume is my fault. This complicates my believe that we should treat each other with equal care and consideration; in reality there is a very wide distribution of skills and experiences that make the concept of "equality" complicated. I believe this impairment is most closely aligned with GAD, though there are many other such idiosyncracies that contribute to the mismatch.
To now, I've attempted to overcome my impairments by inventing new processes and mental perspectives. However, if I look at these impairments from the perspectives of ADHD, ASD, and GAD, there are several requirements that I can not fulfill by myself.
Sri's Impairment Mitigations
I require the presence of people to catalyze action. This applies to anything I want to do with purpose and reliability! I can't go it alone and expect to succeed for very fundamental executive dysfunction reasons: things just don't seem 'real' to me unless I can talk to interested people face-to-face. Otherwise, my attention soon fades and motivation tanks. Side note: as an introvert, this is a annoying insight :-)
I require daily emotional and contextual continuity. Without it, I lose my sense of mission which is my most effective motivational driver when it is combined with the people requirement above. Otherwise, the sense of mission also fades, as great insights by themselves are not enough to carry me past the first couple of weeks of intellectual excitement. What I can do is write every day to refresh my mental clarity. As a bonus, this helps me provide guidance to others. I think it might also help me feel "in control" (perhaps an ASD-related trait).
I require that my efforts aspire toward high-quality experience and excellence. This has been a weird requirement that never quite fit with the others, but now I can frame it as an ASD desire for the world to work better when it is not designed for me. I am just vain enough to think I could do it better, if I could get past my irritating stuckness.
Insight: These are requirements that I believe apply to every activity I am drawn to: sharing what I research, document, analyze, and create. Even though the amount of innate interest is really high, it does not translate to self-motivated action, Prior to this review, I had thought I could work around these "blocks" or believed that I was just being too picky about my needs should try to be less so. This has not worked. It is time to try something new.
Page 4. "Sri's Personal Axioms"
In the previous page, I outlined what I believe are my main impairments and what new requirements I have to take into account. I sense there are key personality traits that, once identified, could be used to design future productive approaches!
- uniquenesses shaped by rejection (due in part to being 'neurodivergent')
- desire to create a sanctuary for people like themselves possessing 'neurodivergent' traits that are struggling to chart career paths that will serve their own unique needs/desires.
- ambition to create a sanctuary.
- a sense of mission that provides the context for meaningful everyday interaction with people.
- standards of excellence that aspire to create better ways and experiences that so far don't exist, replacing the bad solutions that we have had to suffer with.
- willfulness to persevere against negativity and lack of caring without becoming overly militant or vengeaful.
- obsession with creating tools and materials that will help the sanctuary and its members prosper and thrive.
Also, there are two negative traits that I've never described in terms of ADHD and ASD clinical diagnoses:
ANXIETY - Conditioned by years of rejection (imagined or otherwise), made worse by bad experiences and self-blame that followed. This year I can view it through multiple lenses: being neurodivergent and having a culturally diverse upbringing.
EXECUTIVE DYSFUNCTION - My impairment here also has multiple sources, which is why it's been difficult to diagnose. It is not just ADHD or ASD or GAD, but a combination of all of these interacting in a unique way that defies simple pattern matching. Videos like Yo Samdy Sam's 5 signs you have ADHD and autism have helped piece together new theories based on reported lived experiences, I have a pretty long list of additional uncommon factors related to upbringing, minority status, 'lived experiences', and so forth, but videos like this are helping me to see how I can construct my own composite model..
Let me reiterate what I think I need to practice, despite feeling like I am being fussy or am demanding too much of others:
Sri's Daily Needs
- I really REQUIRE external people to catalyze action and resolve the feeling of rejection by working together to create mutual benefit I can see.
- I really REQUIRE shared context that is reviewed every day. Ideally with other people, but this is my responsibility to perform.
- I really REQUIRE tricks to to reduce resistance to starting because emotionally I react poorly to anticipated difficulties and annoyances that violate my sense of how the world should be. It's not going to go away if I ignore it, ever.
- I really REQUIRE curiosity as a force to drive progress. This is the "super skill" that helps me achieve greatly. Without it, life feels boring and stupid and not worth living.
My working hypothesis is that every element in the list is a hard requirement just to hit a baseline of performance regularly. If I do not do this daily, I am at risk of feeling disconnected from the world and bored, and I soon forget why I am fighting to do anything at all and stay alive?
An interesting wrinkle: deep work requires creative isolation that, according to common wisdom, is free from distraction. Isn't this at odds with all the external personal interaction? My feeling is it is a problem but maintaining the daily habit of being 'checked in' with others will maintain that all-important sense of mission and desire for excellence that I have. When I can manufacture a related question that raises my curiosity that I can imagine being interesting to other people, that might be enough to be able to survive the deep dives into isolation. Prior to this, I was very reluctant to go into deep dives because it felt like I had to 'turn off my humanity'.
Page 5. "Reviewing and Refactoring the Core GHDR Approach"
Let's bring it home! Over the course of five sheets of paper notes, I've gone from feeling really shitty about myself to feeling more informed about my motivational strengths and weaknesses. How does this new outlook stack-up compared to my GHDR goals for 2022 as originally conceived?
The original GHDR 2022 Operational Goals were quite broad. Loosely, I designating 'habitual creation' as the driver for content creation and 'plafform goals' as the means to share that content. I also had defined 'working on myself' as a personal goal to help steady myself.
After six months (August) I realized these simple assignments were not working, though I didn't know why. I created a replacement set of goals I called strategic horizons to allow myself room to improvise; I wasn't sticking to the plan to begin with even though it seemed simple enough. Perhaps I did need the room to wander.
Soon afterwards (September) I began to look harder at my apparent ADHD and ASD traits to understand what they might mean with the help of my mental health nurse practitioner and gender therapist, but I eventually realized that I had to look outside the norms of clinical practice.
These notes are my clearest statement on where I think I am now. I've tried to embrace difficult truths about myself more fully than I have before. For decades I thought I could find the magic combination of tricks and insights to unlock my periodic productivity that would help me achieve some kind of success. I am now trying to reject that idea, instead acknowledging that I have several severe impairments that have to be addressed with a dedication to habitual effort. My impairments are simple on the surface, but complex in their interactions with each other. I can find my own way, with a bit of help from my friends and allies to cheer me on, and I should let them instead of closing myself off out of a fear of being a burden to them.
Sri's Grounding Takeaways
To recap, here are my key grounding takeaways:
- I do have a strong process-oriented mind combined with high emotional IQ.
- I do have the smarts to work through my feelings of rejection and failure objectively as I can while staying open to other possibilities.
- I do have conviction that is built on top of these powerful traits, and I can remember that when anxiety threatens to undermine my certainty.
- I don't have to get mad when people without those traits tell me how to think. I can remember they are trying to help, and not take it personally as an affront. Remember our shared humanity, which I do so much want to believe in.
- I do have a lot of conditioned anxiety from my childhood experiences as a neurodivergent trans-cultural confused transgender person. I can remember there is no reason to feel that way now. I can remember that I can apply emotional IQ to myself, and that I do have strong time-tested convictions.
Lastly, I can remember this statement which just popped into my head as I was summarizing the above:
I am not my anxiety. I am not my impairments. I have always tried to be the best version of me, and I can exist apart from my negative emotions, fears, anxieties, and doubts. It is because I choose this path and I want that to be the reflection of who I am.