Tag Archives: being brave

Questions

What sorts of things do you wonder about?

There are definitely things that don’t interest me, but I’m curious about more things than not. Most particularly, I feel compelled to understand why people think/feel/do what they do. Thinking of questions is easy. Actually asking the questions makes me feel vulnerable about feeling ignorant, feeling too insignificant to deserve an answer to something that someone might consider personal, feeling like I can’t find the right words to ask what I really want to know.

That said, my curiosity is often stronger than any fear I may feel, so then I ask my questions anyway; but, amazingly, I do have a filter and I keep things to myself more often than some people might guess. Those thoughts usually end up on paper, stored away while I distract myself by musing why I’m so interested in the answers.

  • What did you wish people understood about you without having to ask?
  • Who knows you best in the world? What do they understand about you better than anyone else? What makes the way you interact so natural to you?
  • Who do you know best in the world? What is it they know/do/understand that no one else does? Is there anything you wish they knew/did/understood better?
  • How do the friends that you value most complement you?
  • What about other people makes you feel the most uncomfortable?
  • Is there a friendship from your past that you miss? What do you miss about it? Why is that friendship in the past?
  • Are there any unique, must-have characteristics you look for in a friend?
  • Is there a trait that you believe it’s important to have that you personally have to work hard to cultivate?
  • Do you believe in regret?
  • Which of your five senses do you believe you could live without?
  • What have you learned that has changed your life?
  • What do you struggle with that you wish came more easily to you?
  • Do you think the work you do is an accurate reflection of who you are? Has it always been?
  • Do you have any guilty pleasures? Do they truly make you feel guilty?
  • How do you define/identify love?
  • What was your most surprising/painful/amazing experience with love?
  • Is there anything you wish you had told someone but didn’t/couldn’t?
  • Do you resent or are particularly frustrated by any of the sacrifices you’ve had to make in life?
  • What is the thing you’re most proud of having made/done?
  • In what ways do you hold yourself back?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?
  • What question don’t you want me to ask?

What are the questions that live in your mind? Are there questions you wonder about that you’re too scared to ask?  What are some questions you’ve been asking yourself? Are there questions that people (or even you, yourself) balk at answering, or even hearing?

I hope that you all are doing well, and have something to look forward to!

Love you all,

Comfort With Discomfort

There will be many times I will ask you to consider your boundaries and the value of stepping into discomfort, to be brave in challenging yourself to experience something more fully and to shift perspective away from “black & white” or “good & bad” to something more complex. We often equate “good” with the things that we expected, are familiar or wanted, and “bad” with the opposite. And, though I am just as guilty of that as anyone – like you, I have waded through enough of both to understand the latter helps us to grow and the former serves to reinforce our comfort zone.

It is, therefore, with some amount of irony that I chose the article I’m suggesting for our first article discussion because, at its core, it’s about the damage that being comfortable with discomfort can cause in society.

The difference between the two forms of “comfort with discomfort” is who benefits from the discomfort.  Challenging yourself to grow beyond your present self into your future self may certainly benefit others, but ultimately it all benefits you. Asking one person to bear the cost of another’s convenience or desire is something different.

ARTICLE
Loofbourow, L. (2018, January 25). The female price of male pleasure. Retrieved January 28, 2018, from http://theweek.com/articles/749978/female-price-male-pleasure

When a woman says “I’m uncomfortable” and leaves a sexual encounter in tears, then, maybe she’s not being a fragile flower with no tolerance for discomfort. And maybe we could stand to think a little harder about the biological realities a lot of women deal with, because unfortunately, painful sex isn’t the exceptional outlier we like to pretend it is. It’s pretty damn common.

QUESTIONS
Let’s discuss! Here are some questions I thought of. I’d love to hear your questions in the comments!

  1. Does this article hit home for you?
  2. What do you agree with?
  3. What do you disagree with?
  4. Did the author leave anything out?
  5. What is your take-away quote from the article? or What from the article do you wish you could automatically make others understand?
  6. How can we deconstruct the problem? What are some “what can I do” solutions?

N.B. I do vet the comments before they are posted, and trolling – anything that is written with the assumption that anyone is stupid, or less-than, or any other form of ugliness or hatred – will be deleted without apology. If you are genuinely curious, open to self-questioning, and are just looking for more information, but aren’t sure whether your perspective will be perceived as trolling, the best advice I can give is, first, to ask a question rather than make a statement and, second,  ask yourself if that question depends on an assumption being true. If there is an underlying assumption that is something other than all people are worthy and equal, then I’d ask you to dig deeper and start with a question that has a universally valid premise.

DISCUSSION
For me, core argument of the article was that good women and men, alike, have been acculturated to believe that when work must be done to bridge a gap between male needs and female needs, that the costs will be primarily paid by women. The main example used to illustrate that point was the recent story about Aziz Ansari, asking us to imagine why the woman who brought her story to light – even if you believe she could have made a different decision – what could explain why a woman  in that position might believe the path she chose was the only real option she had in the situation.

Honestly, I cried when I was reading the article. Even though the number of people I’ve dated is a pretty small sample size, I think it’s remarkable that I can’t say I’ve ever dated a guy that didn’t, at some point, make me feel like my hesitation or refusal to do something he wanted must mean that I didn’t deserve to be treated as well as before, or that I wasn’t worth the same investment of energy as before.

I’m not talking about poor choices about men, either. If you know me, and know my husband or any of the guys I dated before him, then you know that even the worst choice of partners that I’ve ever made was considered by the majority of people that knew him as being a decent guy, certainly fun and personable, if not kind and considerate.  Furthermore, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t describe my husband as a great guy. And yet, although I haven’t run the numbers, I wouldn’t be shocked if there wasn’t a statistically significant difference in the number of times sex has led to my having an orgasm compared to my partners, and yet, I feel like the consensus of the world around me is – “well, female orgasms are just so …. tricky. Be grateful you’ve had any.” So, to read an article that so emphatically suggested that wasn’t just my problem, and to suggest that the dirty secret behind the perpetuation of this behavior is not the salty-man-whores of the world, but that both good men and women buy into a double standard of social and behavioral expectations; further, to suggest that women are allowed to question why we asked to bear that burden? In many ways, I cried tears of both relief and fear.

I think it’s easy to imagine why I would feel relief. But the fear? Maybe you understand that too. Fear that there’s a limit to how much “good” you’re allowed to have without paying for it the way someone else chooses, not giving a second thought about subjugating your needs or wants. Fear that standing up for your needs will result in poorer net treatment. Fear that you’ll have to give up all of the comforts of relationships to escape the burdens of “minding the gap.” Fear because you’ve repeatedly felt all of those consequences of standing up for yourself, and then some. Our brains aren’t wired for isolation (Banks, 2016), but when we aren’t collectively comfortable with discomfort, discomfort turns into a threat to which we retaliate by isolating the source of our discomfort; pushing it away.

I’m not sure the attitudes this article outlines are the best approach to solving the problems we’re facing as a society. I’ll leave it to you to decide how those attitudes contribute to the causes of those problems. But, again, I’m curious to read your thoughts about this article, your answers to the questions I had, and what your own questions are!

Love you all,

The Conversations We Don’t Have

This month I’ve been contemplating the impact the last year has made on everyone around me. Not to ignore the possibility that I have just taken on a particularly pessimistic view, but it seems like most of the people I know have been struggling, in one way or another, more than I have ever known them to be before.

Me being me, all I feel I can do is step back and try to understand if there’s anything I can do to make it better. It’s a double edged sword, because though I feel busy with my thoughts and I feel control by distancing myself from the rawness of all the emotions, ultimately I just feel isolated, wondering whether I have any real ability to understand the minds and actions of others, especially when few people seem to be interested in talking about the questions I want to ask.

I’ve always been the most curious about people from whom I could learn the most. I don’t just mean people that got better grades than I did – but people who thought of questions that didn’t occur to me, people to saw and traveled paths that I didn’t see, people who understood the value of something that I didn’t, people who felt strength in a situation where I felt lost; It has always been the people who saw the world in a different way than I did who have always been the most precious to me.

People who were different were the ones who helped me to see what I didn’t know that I didn’t know. They were the ones who helped me to expand the lens through which I viewed the world. They were the ones who helped me better understand the value of things I wasn’t familiar with, or how to handle situations that terrified me. Even when they weren’t kind about our differences, our interactions have helped me to become wiser and stronger. And I hope that I have, in any small way, been able to reciprocate that.

However, we are still being sold a message that similarity is a sign of value and character, and it feels like we’re still buying it. One person who was extremely dear to me once told me they were scared that if they weren’t as smart as me that they felt like they were just one conversation away from being discovered that they weren’t what I thought, no matter how aggressively I tried to explain otherwise. Ultimately, they chose to leave rather than confront that. Ignoring that the kind of “smart” that is valued (whether intellectual, or financial, or technical, or creative) typically represents a very narrow slice of what intelligence actually incorporates, my own hypothesis is that our time has become so precious, in our pursuit to survive in the Western world, that we (feel like?) we have very little time and, thus, feel very little justification to spend time with anyone that doesn’t make us feel comfortable, even if it’s unintentional.

I have become increasingly convinced that the most helpful thing I can do is to shake the cage – whether metaphorically or physically – to help people take a step out of their comfort zone and have a hard conversation with someone they love.

If it makes us too uncomfortable to have a hard conversation with someone we love (or like), how do we have a productive, compassionate, difficult conversation with someone that we don’t? 

Isn’t that what this last year has been all about?

We need to reach out and practice compassion, and patience (with ourselves as much as with others) in conversations with people who love us. We need to practice compassion and patience when people approach us with those conversations.

Maybe you all do this! Maybe I’m the only one stuck. As much as I haven’t been enjoying this feeling, I think I could bear it if I knew that it was just me, and that I was the only one that needed to grow. I recently acquired a new tool to help me, and though it’s silly, it helps.

So tell me, please! Am I the only one who struggles to have hard conversations with people? Do people avoid you when you want to talk about difficult topics (things they aren’t interested in, are scared of, or things they don’t believe they have power to change), or is it just me?

From where I’m sitting, all I can figure is that we’re being told that being unable to solve a far-away problem removes our agency, and if we don’t have power to change something – in ourselves or in others – then there’s no point in discussing it. I believe, however, that the only agency that matters is our ability to broach difficult topics and have genuine conversations, whether or not they have concrete outcomes, with the people we care about. I think the greatest power we have to change anything (and everything) is to get the people who love us on our side, and to show others that we’re not so different, and that we’re all worth loving, and that love isn’t always easy – in fact, that love – platonic, romantic, fraternal – is always hard as hell at one point or another, and it’s still worth it.

Am I wrong?

What do you wish you could ask someone and get an honest (compassionate) answer? What would happen if you tried? Do you think spreading this message can help change their reaction? Do you wish it could?

Does anyone try to have conversations with you that you don’t want to have? Do you avoid them? Why? Do you have a sense of the impact that has on the other person? Is there a cost to avoiding the conversation? Do you think you understand the true cost? Is the price worth it?

Love you all,