MORE ABOUT GROUNDHOG DAY RESOLUTIONS
For context, you may find these posts helpful in understanding the purpose of Groundhog Day Resolutions and my current set of goals.
It's the second-to-last Groundhog Day Resolutions Report for the year. So, what went down?
1. Mitigation for Depression?
In recent months, I've been talking about how two triggers, disconnection and dysregulation, have been affecting my mood. I described it as a Cycle of Doom that depressed my spirits in a self-triggering spiral. I had written that I would benefit from having a community of some kind that I could use to mitigate both triggers, citing other benefits related to well-known ADHD traits like the need for external people to remind me of my direction.
In late October, I went to visit lots of family in Southern California for 10 days, during which I didn't have time or space to myself. While the first five days were great, I started to notice growing dysregulation from the loss of autonomy: energy flagging, some irritability, and the feeling of not having time and space for myself to recharge. At the same time, I prioritized spending time with family members as the reason I was there, and felt I should push these feelings down as much as possible so we could have a family bonding experience. One evening when we had all decided to smoke cigars and chat, I had the epiphany that my assumption about interpersonal connection was quite different from that of others.
I feel fully-engaged when I can use deep, intense, high-bandwidth communication techniques. Without this engagement, I quickly lose motivation to work on projects and become discouraged.
I thought that if I could master communication styles and understand where people are coming from so I could "meet them where they are" in an engaging and friendly fashion, then they would feel safe about opening-up about what's on their mind and what they are thinking. This would lead to the deep, intense, high-bandwidth communication that keeps ME engaged with life.
In contrast to my previous assumption, people are not looking for deep, intense, high-bandwidth communication for the vast majority of the time. Instead, they prefer to keep people at a comfortable distance and like simple, immediate, emotionally undemanding and convenient.
I am not saying that people are simpletons, mind you. I am saying that my expectations were out of alignment with the needs for most casual communication in society and business contexts.
And so I have recalibrated my expectations once more, and have made some changes:
Instead of having a "service-oriented" mindset for interacting with people, I am reverting to my negotiation mindset. While our needs may be quite different, we can still find mutual benefit when negotiating in good faith. I still want to "meet people where they are", but I no longer expect that magical "opening up" that was my previous end goal to pursue projects using high-intensity collaboration techniques, and that's just fine! This should result in a sustainable source of "connection energy" that helps keep me regulated.
That said, I still have the requirement for high-intensity high-bandwidth ideation partners to really feel alive. I am often exploding with the desire to share information and solve weird magical problems with novel concepts, and it would be nice to harness that with a collaborator. I think my best strategy is to get back to broadcasting ideas, but do a better job of packaging them. Differentiating what is convenient and easy to digest versus intensely packed with multidisciplinary concepts in published works might help me maintain discipline.
The ameliorating effect of these insights is that I feel less stressed-out and angry. However, the high-intensity core tends to leak out in the form of Enthusiastic Sri and Super Analytical Sri when I'm feeling that I'm with people who understand this aspect of me. But even with friends, I'm aware that I can quickly overwhelm them with high-intensity bursts of cross-disciplinary emotional-driven theoretical models of how the universe works. As I suggest above, it's not for everyone. Certainly not all the time.
2. Sri, Unmasked?
A second big epiphany is that the "masked"Masking is a term used by the Autism community referring to covering-up our neurodivergent traits to fit-in to our social and work context. Masking is not limited to the autistic community, of course, but the nature what is being covered-up evokes a different kind of stress that is very draining. version of myself is the deferential and accomodating version of myself that seeks to understand people and meet them where they are. Stated more bluntly, I don't want to scare people away with my intensity or bore and confuse with topics that are not of interest to them. That's what's driving my masking behavior!
When I am not masking, I feel free to:
- Express and feel big emotional swells!
- Relentless pursue magical connections between anything and everything!
- Construct hypothetical realities that would lead to the realization of (1) and (2)!
- Design novel tools and methodologies that change our very perception of what is possible!
- Convey deep and intense understanding of what people really want by addressing their hidden needs!
- Be free to experiment and fail because hey that's data and we tried to change some aspect of the universe!
- Question everything and reconstruct to my specifications, or uncover why something is the way it is.
- Comprehensively document and explain everything that I've found that might save someone from wasted time.
- Excitedly share all findings with people who subscribe to any of these factors!
I think the trigger for remembering this was the visit to Stuart Ng Books in Torrance, California. I had never heard of the place but my cousin had wanted to check it out for decades...I was blown away by memories of illustrators I used to admire and by the sheer scope of imagination on display. I missed the feeling of getting lost in the world and character building, and this is not unlike the unmasked desires I listed above.
I think reclaiming these ideas will be important for me to get back into blogging and perhaps livestreaming. This is the unmasked core that I've redirected through different filters to create a more moderate version of what I like to do. But it always feels like I'm holding back, or that what I'm trying to describe is incomprehensible. This is a major source of the disconnected feeling I have.
Fortunately, there is another epiphany that goes with this realization. Using the same structure as part 1:
I want to be a loud, weird, experimental person that creates magical experiences, but I can't do it alone.
I just need to package my ideas in a more polished and shareable form, emphasising tangible goods that have clear utility. This prevents overload by design, and lead to financial opportunities where my skilled insights can drive additional utility in a virtuous productive circle!
I can expand my public persona from the previous assumption, letting my enthusiasm show as a strategy for emotional engagement, which might attract a different group of people.
Fundamentally, I have a very particular desire to connect with cheerful and supportive people, and I forget that when I am unmasked and enthusiastic that people find it interesting. These are the people attracted to weird and creative, I suspect.
Great! So What Actually Got Done?
Not a lot! The three main categories (seen on the right) are related to writing code, publishing works, and community building. Picking up from last month's report:
The Nanowrimo 2023 calendar got done while I was in out in California. The original goal was to have this generated by the PDF design software I'm writing, but the trip to California was unplanned and cut into my production time. Fortunately, Jess in the DS|CAFE Discord pointed out that the 2017 calendar was exactly the same as this year's, so I just replaced "2017" with "2023" and technically didn't use Adobe Creative Cloud tools to make a new version. While it's true I didn't use the PDF design software either, I did make progress on fleshing out its core utilities, so that's progress. Coming up next is the ETP Journal for 365 Days, and I'm hoping that I can do a similar year replacement without too much difficulty.
Workwise, there were many events that kept me from fully focusing on software. It was a light month for billing, but I feel that this is an acceptable setback given all the unusual planning from traveling. So, no progress other than switching from "service mindset" to "negotiator mindset" to better serve my software ambitions for excellence.
Community-wise, the insights from this report have initiated a refocusing of the DS|CAFE to emphasize the kind of sharing community that I'd like to be a part of. If I do start publishing more using the "unmasked Sri" to put energy out into the world, the community should reflect that intent. To help goad myself into writing these materials, I'm reaching out to other organizations in the area to compare our notes; there are at least three neurodivergent-related groups in the area that I know of, and if I can create a sense of urgency by promising to contribute my notes to them, then that will be a step in the right direction.
Reaching out and offering help has occurred! I talked to my endocrinologist about the possibility of posting a flyer for finding neurodivergent trans people, and she said I could post it in their office! I also have been attending the local adults group in the public library, and have had couple good conversations with other local friends who want to build something creative and supportive. I also posted about the "new directions" for the DS|CAFE Discord Server, asking for moderator volunteers for the first time every in my 30+ years of moderating online spaces. That's a big step for me.
Writing the Colony Vision Statement has not happened, but I'm building up more pressure by talking to people. Perhaps I need to actually promise it by a date to hold myself accountable. It needs to be with someone who is actually interested in it that I can look in the eye, however. Anyone out there interested in a face-to-face discussion?
Another month of epiphanies followed by no world-shattering achievements, but perhaps that's OK. As always, my biggest challenge is moderating energy and motivation so I can be more productive and push through the resistance that undermines my certainty.
I need to find ways to ignite and channel enthusiasm in myself more consistently, and I thought I needed to screen for "like-minded" people. However, I can now see the possibility that less-intense connection can still be energizing particularly when I don't feel failure when deep connection has not materialized.
I'm very curious to see if the "Unmasked Sri" really makes an appearance on the public stage. I find this both exciting and terrifying, as I have residual anxiety about rejection and alienation that is firmly backed into my childhood memories. However, I can remind myself that I'm not really "from here", and am an envoy from a different place with different cultural values. That's the world I want to build for myself and others like me.