GHDR stands for "Groundhog Day Resolutions. For an explanation, see the GHDR trope entry. This list changes every month in each report.
2022 Activity Ideas
[ ] Bring Back Challenge-a-Day
[ ] Create as part of a social group
[ ] Track forward achievement only
[+] Find new e-commerce/s&h solution
Commit to using SSG for the new dsriseah.com site
2022 Platform Goals
[+] Add image support to Srigarten
Deploy Srigarten features
Use Discord to Encourage Creative Sanctuary
Describe the DSri Creative Mission
2022 Personal Goals
[~] Work with ADHD
[~] Be less angry and sweary
[.] Develop more conviction
[~] Work with Trans Identity
[~] Develop Sri-ness
[+] Get over multiplayer anxiety
. on my mind but paused
~ in progress/ongoing activity
> punted to next cycle
+ new activity this cycle!
I'm writing this late on Saturday May 7th, as I've been quite behind on work and didn't feel I could take the time during the week to write. This delay is just another reminder that I'm pretty swamped with other project concerns and have little time to focus on myself. Overall, though, it's been a month of many positive gains!
I've updated the right sidebar to reflect the current status of my 2022 goals, so it's easier for me to track from month-to-month. I'll be referring to it in the sections below, so let's get into it!
Project Work: The Continuing Bugaboo!
I had originally hoped to have a long sabbatical starting right around now, but the project is late and my summer has officially dried-up. On the plus side, we've made a great number of improvements to the development process that I think will pay off in terms of less frustration and improved output. We're doing a lot more peer programming to focus on the same problem instead of dividing our attention for broader coverage, and I think this is a huge improvement. In hindsight, this particular project might require this attention because it has been unexpectedly much more complicated than we originally thought, so our historical processes were not up to the task. Here's hoping that from this point forth things go better!
It has been frustrating though having to wait to hit the big activity goals for 2022, which are about community building and returning to content creation as a main theme. I can put them aside for a little while longer though...it looks like we'll have a lull in project work and I'm planning on not taking anything new on until the late fall. At least I did get the platform goals largely out of the way by getting this new website working and continuing to support our heartwarming coworking community. The quality of the people here continues to delight and amaze me.
Personal Development Progress!
On the personal development front, I've been working through the issues that I think have been holding me back and have made progress. I'll list them in order of "how settled" I feel about each issue:
ADHD Part I: Handling the limits of Adderall
Takeaway - Adderall is not a subtitute for maintaining self-care: rest, nutrition, hydration, exercise. It does not overcome depression or lack of motivation due to low morale. For me, Adderall seems to remove the resistance to starting tasks in three ways: (1) the negative resistance from doing anything that doesn't feel sufficiently rewarding (2) the initiating thought does not immediately fade away (3) it's easier for me to remember a chain of thoughts/actions without having to write them down and organize them on-the-fly.
The generic Adderall I've been taking does help me with focus, so it's been great to help slide into work mode IF I have been good about (1) staying well rested by going to sleep early enough and (2) I am already pretty motivated to work. The medicine doesn't help me stay awake if I'm tired, nor is it a substitution for wanting to work. If I am feeling emotionally overburdened or demoralized by the work itself, generic Adderall doesn't work at all.
The takeaway is that Adderall is not a substitute for maintaining good self care habits. At the very minimum, I need to make sure I am rotating exercise, eating healthily, and getting enough rest into my daily schedule. For maximum productivity, I have to also be emotionally well so I am not distracted by these feelings. It's occurring to me that there are more of these than I thought.
ADHD Part II: Understanding My Autism and Anxiety Comorbidities
You may recall my recent ADHD diagnosis included comorbid Generalized Anxiety and Autism Spectrum indicators.
Takeaway - My third-culture upbringing and extreme language isolation as a child may be responsible for my ASD-spectrum traits.
The ASD diagnosis might be explained by the third culture upbringing I had as a child and the unusual language isolation I experienced even within my own family, as well as an above-average thirst for knowledge that could not be met by most of the people I knew; as a result I often feel like an alien or robot faking my way through life. The separate issue of being transgender is a complicating factor.
The most recent experience I've had with anxiety is with multiplayer video games. It seems laughable to a lot of people, but I really get anxious about participating in team sports and not knowing the rules. I am afraid of letting people down and getting yelled at, being seen as a burden, and otherwise incompetent. Some of this comes from PE in elementary and high school, and some of it from living in a country where I looked like a native but could communicate in only the most toddler-like ways. It's particularly interesting that I still get the same physical reaction in the pit of my stomach when someone asks me if I want to join them in team vs team multiplayer in any game. I lose all confidence and my self-esteem shrivels at the very thought of being in that situation.
This anxiety does affect more than just playing video games online, but it doesn't affect everything I do. I am fine playing by myself and working with other people and I greatly enjoy collaborative environments. So what is the trigger?
I had an interesting conversation on a gaming discord I'm part of, where I admitted that I'm really afraid of letting people down in a team, and everyone was really nice about it if not understanding why I would feel like this. As a result, I'm determined now to step out of my comfort zone and (GASP) ASK FOR HELP in playing multiplayer with people despite the mild desire to vomit when thinking about doing it. This has lead to the following insight and hypothesis:
I am afraid of not meeting the expectations of people when I can not negotiate the scope of those expectations.
In other words, I am most anxious when I don't know what people expect of me AND I don't know what I could deliver, so the chance of disappointment is very high and I imagine the outcome is anything from disdain to indifference to pity to disappointment. These are emotions I am really sensitive to and associate with living as a weirdo foreign kid in Taiwan that couldn't read or talk. This all changes, though, when I can communicate to negotate and set our mutual expectation.
Takeaway - My anxiety is triggered when I think I will fail to meet expectations of another person WITHOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO NEGOTIATE THE SCOPE of that expectation beforehand.
This is a big BIG insight. If I make the effort to first communicate and set expectations, it's a lot less scary. Being afraid of the unfamiliar is pretty common, but I think many people cope with it by avoiding the unfamiliar and blaming outside forces. The way I process the unfamiliar is by internalizing it, and it doesn't occur to me to blame someone else for my lack of knowledge or feeling of fear. That's worth unpacking further, but for now I'll just make a note of it.
Being Less Angry and Sweary
I've felt a drop in frustration with work AND I've reflected deeply on how blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain and that this is the opposite of accountability. I posted the links in last month's review but let me post it again!!!
Blame is simply discharging of discomfort and paint. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Accountability by definition is a vulnerable process. It means me calling you and saying, "hey my feeling were really hurt by this" and talking. It's not blaming. Blaming is simply a way that we discharge anger.
People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit to actually hold people accountable because we spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out who's fault somethign is. And blaming's very corrosive in relationships, and it's one of the reasons we miss our opportunities for empathy."
Takeaway - Simply telling people what is frustrating you in a way that does not convey blame or expectation provides the opportunity for genuine communication and resolution. It is a way to strengthen trust and connection.
There are people who I've hurt because of my lack of accountability in simply communicating how I feel without the judgemental snippiness tainted by blame and frustration, and I've really tried to turn this around. I'm finding that telling people someone how you feel about something without the hint of righteousness or blame with an open heart is surprisingly effective. I thought this would be really hard but it's very closely tied to the negotiation style I employ when kicking-off a new project; I never thought to apply the same approach during the project when frustrations rise. BIG DUH.
Lately I've been talking to my sister more about things that I used to edit-out of our conversations because of a fear of being rejected for being weird: shoes that I think are cute, dresses that I'm admiring from instagrammers doing "vintage outfit of the day", and stuff like that. I've also mentioned in passing that I'm trans to some family members that didn't know, and the world didn't end.
I have noticed that I feel more free in spirit, and don't feel as constrained by my physical appearance. I "read" very male in my appearance and voice, and at best I present as "non-binary/queer" if my clothing game is on-point. This used to bother me a lot, driving me to deep despair and depression on the worst days, but lately it has not been. Despite a lack of physical change and hope of change, I am feeling much more in-tune with myself. Now, it's common for gender dysphoria to come and go in waves so this change may be fleeting, but I want to put this hypothesis out there to see if it sticks:
Rather than my physical body being the gatekeeper for how I am allowed to act due to appearances, it's really that my physical body can be made to reflect the reality of who I am. My ability to relate to people is what matters, not what expectations my body sets by its appearance. That can be changed!
In other words, I can be as feminine as I want in action and spirit because that's who I am and it has nothing to do with the particular features of my body. Before, I thought I needed to have the body and physical presentation conform first before I could be myself. This might seem obvious to a lot of people, but it's a big change for me. Perhaps the inner work I've been doing on releasing blame and defusing anxieties has played a part in me starting to accept myself.
Takeaway - My body reflects who I am and is in a state of continuous improvement that helps me express more of the joy of being femme me. It is not the barrier or gatekeeper I thought it was.
So now, I see changes I can make in my appearance as a positive journey of continual and achievable improvement that will enable greater joy in my expression. Before, I saw my appearance as a barrier to having joy at all. While it's still true that appearing male is something I have to negotiate socially, I have the ability to set expectation through how I dress and talk to people. As Sri, I aspire to be more a conduit of joy. As Dave, I aspired to merely fit-in to avoid pain and alienation.
In Closing: Destiny 2 is Terrible and Fun
It's been an eventful month, and I haven't even gotten to talk about all the Destiny 2 (D2) I've been playing. This is a multiplayer online video game in the looter shooter category. Destiny is one of the oldest ones that is still going strong, and it is famously bad at onboarding new players to its charms. Most video games make an effort to explain how it works and provide some kind of introductory campaign to demonstrate its key concepts, and D2 does have its laughably-short "New Light" experience that is littered with user experience blunders. I would not have kept playing it if it wasn't for the nice people I knew who were playing it. Because D2 has crossplayA game that support crossplay allows players with different hardware to play in the same virtual world. For example, in Destiny 2 console gamers can play with PC gamers instead of each system having its own segregated game server. I can play with my friend Sid for the first time ever! During these pandemic times this is really important.
Where was I? Oh, D2 has a terrible onboarding experience, but it is a good game! There are a dizzying number of basic systems that are not explained at all in-game, but the way that items interact with each other goes beyond other games. An analogy that comes to mind is that the game experience with something like The Division 2 or Borderlands 3 is like taking a packaged vacation to Italy, whereas playing Destiny 2 for the first time is like booking a one-way ticked to an unfamiliar country (say, Iceland) and then figuring out the culture by fumbling around. The cultural conventions and systems may seem familiar in places but have vastly different contexts, and if you have good friends you'll eventually come to love the place. If you don't have good friends you might think Iceland is just another country you don't care for but it's a really great place to dig into. The Italian packaged vacation, by comparison, gives you a reliable content stream of pre-determined activities that are enjoyable by design for a certain audience. In the video game version, though, you can't leave the pre-designed path to have a richer experience because it wasn't designed that way.
So that's it for this month's Groundhog Day Resolutions report! Hopefully by next month my project work will be finished or CLOSE to finished, so I can get on to exciting personal projects. Thanks for reading!