Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 11.6

Some of the comments on A’s Afternoon Inquisition for Tuesday really got me thinking about all of you. Yes, every single one of you.

For some reason, I have this impression of critical thinkers being hip and together. But In most cases, outside the confines of this blog or other forums, we don’t know the people we interact with online. The reality is, we may not be as hip and together in our personal lives as perceived.

Is there some area in your life where you feel you might want or need help?

Disclaimer: Of course, no one is obligated to share any more than comfort allows. This isn’t the friggin Dr. Phil show for chrissake. The area where you want or need help can be as mundane as programming your DVR, or making lasagna. The point is, share only what you’re comfortable talking about, and maybe the group will have some good pointers.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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201 Comments

  1. I have asked for and received much help in the job-search process. It is possible that tomorrow I will be offered my dream job! Yay!

    Now, if someone could please figure out how to put more hours in the day so that I can do the dream job while running a household, raising kids, and taking care of a husband. Anyone?

  2. @wytworm:

    I have a similar problem. My wardrobe doesn’t suck. It’s just pretty much nonexistent. In summer I wear shorts and that’s about it. I’m okay with that.

    But now that cooler weather is coming, I’ve got nothing. Zero. There are tumbleweeds blowing through my closet.

    I want to buy clothes, but I have no idea what’s in style. And the thing is, I don’t really care about fashion. I just want to look for the ladies. So if any of you skepchicks could give me a few hints about what you like to see a man wearing, I’d appreciate it.

  3. I need a new spine.

    and motivation to do really boring exercises that I know I should do. in fact, more motivation for tedious but relatively necessary tasks would be great.

    and any info on getting cats to stop sporadically peeing on the carpet…and on my bed!

    That’ll do for now.

  4. @Mrs.Schaarschmidt: Sam beat me to it.

    @TheSkepticalMale: I think a lot of us are in that boat. It seems to be the lot of the average worker.

    @stacie, vbalbert: I could use a session in Dr. Crusher or Bashir’s sickbay, between the damage to my back, arms, hands, etc. Not to mention the biochemically and possibly hereditary dysthymia.

  5. I would like some help learning how to ask people for help. I’m really abysmal at it.

    I also want help making comments in the future like @Hedge.

    And, yeah, I know it was Rebecca’s fault. But still, it was a seriously cool trick. I think I’ll try it anyway.

    @TheSkepticalMale: You need to get Stacey to draw you a new icon with her kissing your cheek or something. And I believe this comment was a False Dichotomy anyway.

  6. It so depends on the guy… I am a fan of a guy in jeans with either button up long sleeves or just tee shirts… because I am a gal who wears mostly jeans and tee shirts and sweaters….

    (and amazingly I JUST blogged about my severe apathy in being more fashion forward…. )

    I need help with the job thing as well… it would be so nice to have insurance and a 401K….

    Oh, and finding an affordable apartment in my area

    And kicking my dependency on coffee

    And baking a pie. Can’t do it, have tried so many many times…..

  7. @Sam Ogden: I would be flippant here and say, “Just a smile, baby,” but in the interest of at least trying to be helpful, I think it’s hard to go wrong with jeans and a casual button-down shirt. Invest in some nice shoes.

  8. Is there an area in my life where I may need or want help? Hmm.

    Do I need help? YES. Do I want help? Not really. To whit:

    Frankly, I cannot think of a single job or career path I could take that would not make me miserable. Not a one. I’m hyper-critical of everything, and myself more than anything else.

    If I think about anything aside from my immediate comfort, I am met with soul-crushing fear and despair. I cannot imagine potentially living another 60+ years like this, nor just working to “get by” while squeezing in around work the things I enjoy doing.

    I don’t want help, however, because I’m stubborn and amazingly good at reasoning my way out of any advice I’m given. In part it’s because I’ve probably already thought of the things other people want to tell me, and in part it’s because I just like being contrary. But mainly it’s because I really don’t think there is anything in the world I want to do.

    Unless “Being independently self-sufficient without working and being left alone to do as I please” is a career :-P

  9. @Sam Ogden:
    Long sleeves and buttoned up shirts need to be tucked in, tee shirts do not.

    “nice” shoes… sure, but boots are definitely hotter.

    And if you are going with the “just a smile” idea, may I suggest a fedora to add a sense of dignity and downright drool worthy sexiness?

  10. I feel like an outsider to everything and everyone, no matter how involved I actually am. I feel like I’m a constant poser, never actually fitting in, and never more than tolerated. In reality I’ve frequently been in the middle of things, and highly valuable, and frequently complimented on my skills, knowledge (more than anything), and value, with friends making efforts to spend time with me, asking when I’m going to throw another party, asking to hang out with me outside of work, yet it doesn’t sink in. When I’m with friends I feel like I should be in the corner, and don’t get me started on strangers. I feel like anything I strive to do I can never accomplish to a high enough level to be satisfied with, and always feel like I’ll never truly be great at it. It makes it difficult to feel good about myself or feel like I truly matter to people. I don’t believe I’d be missed or that I’ve made a lasting impact on anyone, and I feel like it’s my own fault, yet have no idea how to fix it.

  11. Thanks, I tried doing it through wordpress but had no luck finding the option . Let’s see how gravatar works.

    I felt kind of dumb and put off asking as I didn’t want to hijack the thread but this topic was perfect (and timely)

  12. @TurboFool:

    Wow, Turbo, man. I think you probably described all of us here; at least to some measure. Unfortunately, I’m not equipped to give any advice, but I’ll hang out with you any time, and we can feel like outsiders together (if that’s at all possible).

  13. @TurboFool: I feel almost exactly the same way. I believe the compliments I receive are exaggerated, and the criticisms are not as strong as they should be. I believe people who think I’m smart, or a good writer, or whatever else, simply do not know enough about the subject area to see how mediocre I am.

    As you might expect, these things do wonders for me with the ladies. :-P

  14. For those with lamenting current and/or future employment, someone pointed me to the book “What colour is you parachute” (or something like that), a while back. It’s mostly full of gobbledygook, if I remember correctly, but it had a good key point. Figure out what things you enjoy doing. A good method I use is to realize those things that make me loose track of time. Then figure out a career that let’s you do that, at least in some form. Then go get that job (or create it, if you’re someone capable and inclined to do that). It doesn’t have to be a very high-paying job, because the fact that you enjoy it makes up for a lower income.

    Another key tidbit, that I hadn’t really considered, is that you don’t need to find someone that is actively seeking employees. You can just send a resume unsolicited. And don’t send it to an HR department. Send it directly to someone in a management position, who can decide they want you and make HR go along (HR phooey). That is, don’t just look at the “help wanted” ads, or skim through Monster. Identify the place where you want to be, then make yourself known to them.

    I don’t know what kind of success rate is associated with this, as I only have a sample size of 1, but it worked fabulously for me.

    I am a Hedge

  15. @QuestionAuthority: The irony of your icon and our shared attitude is too brilliant not to mention. And your name was one of two bits of wisdom my grandfather passed off on me that plays into my place in this community (the other being the simple phrase, “How do you know?”), so you’re officially my new friend. ;)

    As for your suggestion, this is actually something I was loosely diagnosed with by a family therapist when I was a teenager. I ended up on Celexa and then Zoloft, but neither seemed to make a difference I could put my finger on (although the side effects weren’t much fun).

    Realistically the problem’s not crippling. I can still function, my marriage and kids aren’t threatened by it, I have a great job and if I take the effort I can convince myself that my coworkers respect me.

    But this constant instinct to assume their compliments are simply them being nice and aren’t valid, that the people I hang out with are just that, people I hang out with, and not actual friends, and this general feeling of not belonging to anything nags at me.

    Is this more common than I think, or is it a real problem? Does everyone feel this to some degree and just “fake it ’til you make it” to everyone else?

  16. Looks like I took too long formulating my response, as I’m clearly not alone (Sam, Expatria, Im a Hedge).

    So this leads me to wonder if this is a problem common beyond our group, or if it’s somehow related to our involvement in online communities. Do we maybe live so much of our lives in forums, blog comments, etc. because of the trouble we have feeling connected on the outside? Is this the only place we feel at home? Or is this something bigger and more common than we realize, and most people simply can’t communicate it?

    I just look at people around me and feel like nearly everyone else is just so much more WITH IT than I am. I feel like they know who they are, they’re happy, they’re comfortable, they’ve got a plan, a direction, etc. And here I am stumbling through life, pretending I know what the hell I’m doing.

  17. @Im a Hedge: I must respectfully disagree. doing what you love for work can be a sure fire way to hate what you love. It’s happened to me a number of times.

    Work at what you are good at, that way you avoid frustration with work. But work should not necessarily be pleasure, rather it can be a way to fund pleasure.

    Granted it does depend on the job and the person involved, but the assumption that your hobby becoming your job will make things good is not always true.

  18. Here’s another fashion tip to guys- Don’t wear shirts that are too big! They don’t hide pudge, they just make you look pudgier. Or like you’re swimming in shirt.

    Me? Lately, I’m back to my old friend- Not Sleeping. I won’t go to bed unless I’m exhausted because I don’t want to lie there and slowly go crazy overthinking everything. Which is particularly nuts considering that my life’s pretty sweet right now.

  19. @PrimevilKneivel: Agreed. For instance, never take a job at a store or company you love. Seeing it from the inside will ruin it in a heartbeat.

    As well, unless you’re perhaps working for yourself and doing something unique (usually artistic), making a personal hobby your business is a quick way to make it suck when you get home. When you spend 12 hours a doing IT on computers, it’s less fun to go home to your… computer.

  20. @Im a Hedge: Good advice, but I’d like to make an amendment to what you said.

    Resumés are a waste of time.

    Well, not entirely, but hear me out.

    I’ve never once gotten a job from a resumé. Okay, once: at a bookstore for $4.25/hr. …It’s not that I’ve had a bazillion jobs (nine), but it’s that every job (‘cept that one) were jobs I snagged by being a PERSON, not a piece of paper. By nailing the interview. Also, I usually knew someone who knew someone to get me in the door.

    I had a resumé. I had a good resumé! I made heavy use of it. Heck, when I lost my job while living in California, I applied for over 80 jobs by just sending in my resumé. Of those, I got about six hits, and every single one of those was because of some comment I’d sent in email, not because something stood out on my resumé. Heck, one email I sent was so good that a company in Albuquerque flew me out to interview with them. Because of a (funny) remark in an email!

    My point is that power is not in having a nice font or sturdy paper (they are nice, though)… but in making a human connection.

    You’ve got to have the CV, on the other hand. It’s like a business card: a standard format for someone to remember who you were. That’s key, though: it is something that is effective only after making an initial impression.

    So, in short: connect. Be passionate about what you’ll be doing. More often than not, this will lead to a position… and probably one you will enjoy.

  21. @TurboFool: I feel you on this… a severe lack of self esteem is what drew me to writing in the first place years and years ago. Now, I really do the whole “fake it ’till its real” thing especially when meeting new people. Add a few silly body issues and you get all kinds of “am I good enough” thoughts swimming around my head.

    So, no real advice, but I hear you loud and clear.

    As for these types of people being drawn to these types of forums… I think that you might be on to something.

  22. I’m about to be a father for the first time, and I’m going to graduate from law school in the middle of the worst economy since the great depression. I don’t need help, I need triage. Solid gold triage.

  23. @JRice: While I spent most of my life as an actor, where a good resume and headshot were extremely necessary to get your foot in the door, my current career path has never relied upon one.

    I got into IT by being brought in by a friend I had worked with at Best Buy years earlier. I was hired based on a combination of recommendation and an hour-long meeting with the two owners of the company, which was easy due my years of experience in acting and sales (translation: I know how to talk). My resume was irrelevant to the hiring. My friend and I moved onto another company simply because we were sold to them, again requiring no resume. We hated the new company, as did all of the clients who moved with us, and most of them left for a different, much better company in the area. Several of them recommended the two of us by name to the new company, and I received a phone call asking for us to have lunch with the owner. We met with several partners and were eventually hired. Resumes never came into the equation once.

    Connections, good reputations, and good interview skills are much, much more valuable than the resume when it comes down to a truly good job.

  24. @JRice:
    Good points. The resume/CV isn’t everything. It’s good to follow up with a phone call (or a personal visit if you are local and think it’s appropriate). I would send the resume then phone a couple days later. Also, it’s like psychic reading. Only the hits matter. It doesn’t matter how many jobs you don’t get, only that you get a good one.

    The one that worked for me was amazingly like some of the anecdotes in this book. I emailed the cv to this guy (not to hr), because he was doing something I liked. He called me, and said he was thinking about trying to hire someone very similar to me, when he got my email. I got the job, he didn’t have to bother with a job search – everyone was happy. I’m still here after about 6.5 years.

    Probably the main point from both of our stories is don’t try to go the standard route. Do something a little different, so you’ll get noticed.

    Also, people hiring don’t care what’s in it for you. They care what’s in it for them. Remember to concentrate on convincing them that hiring you is good for them. How will you help them make more money, or expand their business, or move their project forward?

    When interviewing, it helps to remember that they are likely just as worried as you are. They are scared that they are a bad interviewer. It’s scary to interview people. If, as the interviewee, you can help them feel a bit more comfortable, this will help also.

    I am a Hedge

  25. @Kaylia_Marie: You know, it’s funny, the “fake it ’til you make it” thing has been coming up more and more lately.

    A while back I was invited by a friend to a poker game to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday (it was mine, as well), and I took him up on it. I knew him well from the time I spent with him at Best Buy (weekend job as an outside rep for a printer company which I held for nearly seven years until my IT job paid me to leave it a few weeks ago), but I didn’t know any of his friends. Normally this is a problem for me. A room full of strangers and I shut down.

    The catch was that this guy was one of my more vocal proponents. I have a reputation around my store of knowing everything. Thankfully it’s not a reputation as a know-it-all, but more that anyone from any department can come to me or send a customer to me, and inevitably I’ll have the answer (in my mind I’m merely lucky and just happen to know the answer to that one question). This guy in particular would go on and on to people about how much I knew, but took it further, just hyping me up in general using all kinds of descriptive compliments that make me uncomfortable since I can’t believe any of them.

    So at this particular party, as he introduced me to all his friends, he passed along these descriptions in the process. So I was now being set up to all his friends with some sort of status that seemed absurd to me. And yet for some reason, something clicked, and I realized that nobody in this room knew who I really was. The only person with any previous knowledge of me somehow believed I was awesome. Everyone else had no clue that I was nothing of the sort. Which meant that I could act like anything I wanted and get away with it.

    Sure enough, I cracked jokes, I threw out interesting bits of trivia, I ribbed my friend, and I acted like I was just as interesting and funny and clever a person as he claimed I was. And you know what? People laughed at my jokes, they got quiet and listened when I had something interesting to say, they complimented me, they included me, and I almost felt like I was actually supposed to be there.

    One of the strangest and coolest nights I’ve had in a long time. I had nothing to lose, I went for broke, and it worked. Now if I could just convince my brain that it was all real…

  26. After years of doing really well in community colleges i’m in my first semester at a real college and my grades are not doing as well as I’d like.

    Also, I’m 25 and never had a real relationship. Of the 2 i’ve had neither lasted longer than a month. I realize that’s not all that important, but it’s hard not to feel like i’m missing out.

    Of course both of those things are completely my own fault but they still bother me.

  27. @TurboFool: *No wonder* you’ve had all these feelings. You were in the acting community! Okay, so it could be more than that, but when I was in that community I *always* felt that way.
    Now, not so much (with the exception of my occasional forays back in). Something about performance, especially acting, makes me really judgemental of myself. Somehow I love it anyway.

  28. @Brian’s A Wild Downer:

    Also, I’m 25 and never had a real relationship. Of the 2 i’ve had neither lasted longer than a month. I realize that’s not all that important, but it’s hard not to feel like i’m missing out.

    Likewise (well, I’m soon to be 27, but still). And ya know what? I don’t try, or even WANT to try most of the time. Maybe that makes me emotionally stunted or something, I don’t know. All I know is I can barely handle my own issues, I can’t afford to add another person to the mix!

    And (tying it in with the prior fashion discussion) it doesn’t really matter what I wear, what I do with my hair, etc. Women just plain aren’t terribly interested in me, and those few that have been have almost never been interesting to me.

  29. I get really anxious about travel. Irrational fear of being stranded with no way to get home. There are lots of places I’d like to see but I don’t want to go to. What I really need is someone with a lot of travel experience and the patience of a saint (wouldn’t hurt if she were a cute redhead either) to drag me around with them until I get comfortable with the idea of being away from “home base”.

  30. stacie:

    … and motivation to do really boring exercises that I know I should do.

    If physical exercise is the issue, sell your car on ebay, buy a bike, and walk or bike everywhere. ;-)

    As an alternative, you could look into a dancing rhythm game, such as stepmania. (Note that how you play substantially affects how much exercise you get from the game – for example, if you want aerobic exercise, you need to get good enough to play moderately intense charts, and you need to play nonstop courses at least 15m long.)

  31. @stacie: Actually, honestly, I think it’s the LACK of being in that business anymore that’s done it. That was pretty much the only place I ever felt at home and at ease. I knew what I was doing, I was universally praised, and I was comfortable. Since getting out of it I now question my acting abilities just as much as anything else, but when I was there, I belonged.

  32. Whenever somebody says the word “evolution” in a positive sense as opposed to some ignorant statement of “if we evolved from monkeys why are there still monkeys” I tend to get very, very excited and start jumping up and down madly.

    Same goes for whenever somebody says “SCIENCE!”

  33. Brian’s A Wild Downer:

    Also, I’m 25 and never had a real relationship. Of the 2 i’ve had neither lasted longer than a month. I realize that’s not all that important, but it’s hard not to feel like i’m missing out.

    Same here, except that I’m 34. :-)

    However – in my case, I know why I’ve never had a ‘real relationship’ – I don’t want one. I thought I did for years, but about 4 years ago, I realized: (a) I didn’t want one. (b) I was no longer friends with any of the people who had been incessantly badgering me about getting into a relationship, and making me feel like I was missing out. (c) It was the badgering that made me think I wanted a relationship, and once away from it, I realized I was happy being a loner. (At least in the romantic and sexual senses.)

    So keep in mind that if the social pressures in your life change for one reason or another – and they will change – you may find that the things you think you want now are not really what you want – or that your wants change correspondingly.

  34. @Sam Ogden: So, I’m here to confuse you and make things complicated. I really don’t like tucked in shirts unless it is for business or at least a semi-formal event. And I don’t think *a bit* oversized clothing is necessarily unattractive…depends on how it’s worn.

    If you’re looking for a simple go-by, a no brainer good look, I would say there are few things you can do…Buy simple, plain clothing that is in style (jeans, plain t-shirts, button downs with small or no plaid, no brightly colors). If you are not wanting to spend much, (as I would imagine since you’re not much into the whole clothing thing) go somewhere like Old Navy. Make sure it fits well. Don’t wear anything you don’t feel comfortable in. That’s it.

    Anything else would need to be judged on your bodytype and personality.

    Also, not that I have any idea what your hair actually looks like, but getting a good hairstylist to give you an updated style of cut can make a world of difference. Just don’t let them give you something that requires you to style it everyday.

    IMHO, Motorcycle boots work swimmingly.

  35. @llewelly: I definitely looked into getting rid of my car, but the bus sytem in my area is not up to the challenge. However, I am extremely uncomfortable with biking in urban situations. Riding a bike while dodging cars and/or pedestrians seems nightmarish to me.

    I really hate video game type stuff. I’m an abnormal geek that way.

    Anyhoo, what I need from my exercise is not so much cardio, as stretching and strengthening. I did yoga for some years and it rocked. Then my wrist decided to rebel. So I didn’t do yoga for a while. Then (probably from lack of yoga or a replacement) my neck and shoulders got so tense they were pinching nerves in one of my arms, causing headaches, and generally being painful. SO what I need now is to do small, boring exercises to strenghten my neck and back so that I can get back to larger, more entertaining exercises. Oh, and I found yoga props that alleviate the wrist issue.

  36. @stacie:

    Well, I’m in luck then. My hair needs no attention at all. I have hair, but keep it mostly shaved off. I mean, it gets a little stubbly between shaves, but even then, I don’t have to do anything to it.

    I don’t know what my body type would be; maybe trim or athletic. Not buff or overweight. I’m 6’1″ and about 180 pounds, if that helps. And my personality should probably be assessed by others who know me.

    A lot of the Skepchicks have met me in person, but don’t listen to what they say about me, because they are pure evil.

  37. One of the best things I’ve ever read:How to be depressed

    That blog post led me to the book Feeling Good, which I think everybody interested in depression or anxiety to read.

    The subtitle “The New Mood Therapy” is awful and sounds all new-agey, but I swear to Vishnu there’s nothing about of crystals or magnets or The Secret or even so much as affirmations. It’s about cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is way more sciencey than that stuff. Anyway, it basically teaches skepticism of your cognitive habits, so it should be really appealing to anybody here.

  38. Okay… here goes.

    I need help figuring out how to come out of the polyamorous closet with my parents before my mock-wedding with my primary partner in June.

    (It’s a “mock-wedding” because we’re both Atheists, are already considered married by the state, and neither of us feel like participating in a federal institution that discriminates against same-sex couples.)

    I tried to bring up the subject of our “open relationship” with my Mother once before but chickened out three minutes into the conversation when she freaked out at the mere notion that I might even consider sleeping with someone other than my primary partner – even though he was perfectly okay with it.

    Added pressure – it’s almost certain that both my boyfriend and my primary partner’s girlfriend will be at the wedding… along with a couple of “play partners”. These people are incredibly important to us, and while we could simply ask everyone to keep our relationships hush-hush, that just seems really disrespectful to them.

    (PS -In case anyone is worried, I was a sex-ed instructor. I can assure you that we’re all VERY safe. *smiles*)

  39. This sounds like a dumb complaint but I cannot help but to be a serial monogamist. I am a rather independent person but after a break-up I find myself with someone new in a serious relationship very quickly. I can’t seem to be single for any extended amount of time. I think it is a self-esteem issue, something like, “sure THOSE girls dated me but I will never find another one who will.” This sounds so pathetic but it really is starting to get to me…

  40. @stacie: Acting got away from me, in a sense. I got married, we got pregnant, I took the weekend job to ensure I had steady income but also had weekdays open for my acting career.

    As time went by, though, work started to decrease more and more. Reality TV and Canada brought the volume of available work way down, and I could no longer afford to spend money on new headshots, so what was being publicized was out of date. It was shortly after I no longer was making enough to qualify for insurance that it was clear that I couldn’t hang on much longer. I worked a little more after that, even briefly re-qualifying, before it pretty much died off entirely. I stopped getting calls, and I had to concentrate too much of my time on finding side work to find a way to do anything about it. Bills stacked up, too much was going on credit cards, and my wife was working full-time, away from our daughter.

    Then I got the offer from my friend, and I decided to go for it. It wasn’t fair to my family to put them through the instability of an actor’s income any longer. If I lived alone, I could force myself to eat Ramen noodles and store-brand mac and cheese and be the stereotypical starving artist. But I had other people I was responsible for. So I made the transition and here I am.

    I like my work, and I like the people I work with, and I’m pretty sure I’m good at what I do. My family’s in much better shape, money’s not bad anymore, and I don’t have to go on those god-awful auditions anymore. But if I could wave a wand, computers would go back to being my hobby, and I’d have a steady role on a sit-com. That’s where I feel alive.

  41. @Sam Ogden:

    I suppose it’s that I want to come out to my parents first. No one in my family knows, but all my friends know. All of my casual aquaintances know. Hell, there are near strangers that know. *laughs*

    I’m actually quite close to my parents, my Mother especially… and I feel as though if I could get them to understand they could help everyone else with it. I just hate the notion of a whole fear-filled coming out statement. Ick.

  42. You know, funny enough, I feel like the compliments are meaningless too. I kind of feel like someone who just stands by and watch relative to everything else.
    Other than that… Well, I would like my skin issues corrected.

  43. @weofui: I avoided the subject with my mother. She claims to be an open-minded person, but growing up with her there were always things I heard out of her mouth that told me she genuinely believed that certain things were just “supposed to be” a certain way, and she tended to have more of those hang-ups when it came to sex. Granted, she went through the 60s and all that that entailed, but I still got enough of a vibe from her that some things were just not cool to her.

    One day she revealed to me that she had heard from “someone” (I still haven’t figured out who) about my wife and my sex lives, and thought it was very cool. I suspect this took effort for her to find cool, because I can specifically remember negative comments about “swingers” growing up, but she brought it up and made an effort to make sure I knew she was comfortable with it. Very eerie, and we haven’t spoken of it since.

    How important is it to you that your parents know? I’m not trying to suggest that you hide it, as it’s basically the same problem gays go through coming out to their parents, but I’m just curious how relevant it is. Since I don’t know the structure of your relationships, I wonder how much you’re currently inconvenienced by their lack of knowledge. Is it something you can simply treat like a non-issue and leave up to them to come to a realization of on their own?

  44. @Sam Ogden: Well, I’ll go with the notion of ‘it takes one to know one’ and assume you’re evil, too. The motorcycle boots work even better, then. ;)

    Since you’re trim, I think you could get away with slightly oversized clothes, if you like that look. Strangely, overweight people look worse in oversize clothing than trim people do. It seems to accentuate the pudge. And since you’re a bit tall, be mindful not to get pants that are too short. (personal pet peeve)

    As far as putting outfits together – firstly be sure and try them on at the store. Lots of guys just know their size and don’t want to mess with trying things on, but all sizes do not actually fit the same. And, if you go to a store that’s a bit nicer (Gap, Banana Republic) you can get a store associate to help you pick some things out.

    I agree with those who’ve mentioned that a change in wardrobe doesn’t necessarily bring the girls a-runnin’. Confidence, friendliness, and good conversational skills probably make a bigger difference. But clothes can help, too.

  45. @weofui: Coming out is hard… sometimes impossible.

    I had to do it (in a religious not sexual practice sort of way) a while ago and it was horrible.

    The questions I asked myself beforehand was “why?” Why do I want to come out to this person? What are the benefits… what are the drawbacks? Who will I hurt?

    Is it worth it?

    In the end I did it… and it was hard and it was ultimately worth it.

    I just talked slowly, assured her I still loved her (my mom) and that I was still me.

    I know that is crappy cliché advice, but I wish you luck!

  46. @weofui: Looks like some of my questions were answered while I was still typing.

    Anyway, it sounds more like you need courage and encouragement than advice. You’re going to know your parents and how to talk to them better than we do, so I’m not sure how much we can do for you there. All I can say is that no matter what, it will be better than you’re imagining it in your head. If your parents are generally loving and supportive people, then they’re likely to try to internalize as much of the negativity as they can for your sake, and over time it will become simply acceptance.

    The only other thing I can say is to have your ducks in a row ahead of time. Think of the questions they’re likely to have and have calm, well thought-out answers. Be strong, be bold, and be positive. You know why the so-called traditional relationship model isn’t something you and your primary feel fits your needs, and you’re happy with the one you’ve adopted. If you can portray the maturity of your decision and the fact that you’re completely happy with it and it’s not something you were somehow forced in, they’ll probably be better able to accept it.

  47. @TurboFool: I also really love acting, but am not willing to move to a different city or do commercials to make a living at it, so I don’t. However, I pick up something here and there because I miss it and it makes me happy. Do you have that option? I suppose it would be harder to find the time if you have a kid…

  48. @stacie:

    I agree with those who’ve mentioned that a change in wardrobe doesn’t necessarily bring the girls a-runnin’. Confidence, friendliness, and good conversational skills probably make a bigger difference. But clothes can help, too.

    Oh, I’m with you on that. But seeing as how I don’t have any clothes at all right now, I might as well try to find out what’s pleasing to others, even if I eventually go for what’s most comfortable to me.

  49. @MacGuffin:

    Oh wow, I’m glad I read through these comments because that’s my problem, too! I’ve been in serious relationships since I was 15 almost non-stop til now (24). I just broke up with my boyfriend of two years because things were going badly (although he’s a sweet guy!), and I made a pledge that no matter what, this time I am staying single long enough to focus on me and my work and my relationships with family and friends. I don’t know how long that’ll be, or what weird kinds of pseudo-relationships may fill the interim, but that’s part of the adventure, right?

    What’s helping is that after I moved out from his place, I got my own place, no boy, no roommates, just some good friends that live a block away that I can still walk to. This is the first time I have my OWN place, and that’s already helping me establish my sense of independence. Not that you should break up if things are going well, mind you, you can also find independence in a good relationship!

    Yeah, so that’s my issue, too. That, and feeling confidence about my thesis plan and research. Oh boy do I need help with that.

  50. @stacie: It’s the interviews that make it impossible. If it was just straight work, I probably could. But I can’t take the time for a dozen interviews to get one job. That and my SAG dues lapsed long enough ago that I’m looking at a few thousand bucks to get back in.

  51. @weofui: I have struggled with similar issues with my parents. I got to the point where I felt like I was very close to them, but they didn’t/couldn’t know who I really was without this info. I’ve only shared a little…enough to get through the wedding, which ended up being enough to make me feel pretty good about it. I’ve decided/realized there are some things that they just don’t need or even want to know. And that’s fine. I can mention friends and events to them without telling them the full nature of said events and friendships. I wouldn’t hold back if they pressed, but they seem to know better than to ask questions they don’t want the answers to.

    Dunno if that’s helpful. Everyone’s parental relationships are different (obviously). It’s all about evaluating how necessary you think it is to tell them, and whether it would be beneficial in the end. The conversation will, of course, be awkward, emotional, and tense, but if you think it’s worth it, then ya gotta just jump in. Hopefully if you stay respectful, calm, and patient, it’ll be fine in the end.

    Best of luck.

  52. @Sam Ogden: Actually, it’s everyone but our families on both sides. For the most part, he just isn’t terribly concerned with what his family thinks of him.

    @Kaylia_Marie: Thanks for the luck. Those are great questions to ask. *smiles*

    @TurboFool: Courage and encouragement would be great, but knowing how others have dealt with similar situations would be great too – do I take her out for lunch and just lay it on her in public? Is that too much of a production? Do I just casually mention it in conversation? “Hey Mom, my boyfriend said the funniest thing to my lover the other day…” Blar.

    As for why I even want to bother with it, there are a couple of reasons – one is creative in nature and there’s no need to really get into it here, but I’m mostly spurred on by the nightmarish vision of someone happily getting a bit too tossed at the “wedding” and outing me right then and there. At that point I’d not only be stuck explaining things when I’m not prepared, I’d also have to admit that I was actively trying to hide something from them.

    Good advice about the ducks. *smiles*

    @stacie: Actually that helps a lot. I tend to be a very “all or nothing” kind of person – middle ground isn’t my strong suit. *laughs*

  53. @weofui: In public? No. Unless it is outside in privacy with cups of coffee or something….

    You could go for a walk (don’t know your neighborhood) and do it then… might be easier than across a table… and you won’t HAVE to have the direct eye contact.

  54. @PrimevilKneivel: Aah thank you for doing the dirty task of potentially hijacking the thread! I was clueless about avatars too!

    Wow, issues like adult relationships, adult jobs, coming out to parents on various issues like homosexuality or being an atheist really make the “problems” I experience during my day-to-day (10p off of having enough cash for a Dr.Pep!! Grr!) seem pretty inconsequential!

    I suppose I worry over the fact that I might not get everything done that I want to get done in life. I might not see everything I want to see or fully understand all the stuff that baffles me (quantum physics…the US electoral system…bras?!), especially since I think that this is the only chance I’ll ever have to do it all!

    I wouldn’t say I need help with any of these things… I guess I need to acknowledge them and grit my teeth and take all that life has to offer and then some! :D

  55. @weofui: For me, I brought it up on the phone when we were talking about the wedding. Just asked if she knew (I thought she might have an idea, and it was a way to ease her into participation on the topic), and said that I thought she should before questions were raised at the wedding. That put it out there and eased us into it. After that it was pretty much just question and answer time.

    As for ‘all or nothing’, I don’t know about you, but from the time I was young, there were some things I just didn’t tell the parents…smoking, drugs, sex, religious deviation from parental teachings. I still don’t tell them alot of these things. It is purely on a need to know basis. I don’t lie or hide anything either, so I feel pretty comfortable with the balance.

    Blood family is a strange relationship dynamic…people you may not have alot in common with that you still may come to love very deeply. And blood family often feels they have some personal stake in your personal choices. Strange waters to navigate, methinks.

  56. @Nicole: No, I’m from Canada! Atlantic Canada! We’re supposed to be the nicest ones, too. Must be that French Canadian blood…

    It’s only bad at school and in my future job when I’ll be talking to clients/patients/coworkers and I’ll be sort of forced to be diplomatic about certain things. Diplomacy is not my strong point. Straight-forward, brutal fact correction is. Especially when I *know* I’m right (some things are just plain fact). I’m thinking mostly of discussions in labs at school when people would bring up stuff like homeopathy and Jenny McCarthy without a single critical note. My blood gets so boily and passionate that I can hardly contain myself and I tend to come across a little aggressive to my poor unsuspecting classmates.

    @weofui: I “came out” as an atheist to my mother in the privacy of our own home, but in a not too calm manner. She had been forcing me to go to catechism for years and when it came time to get confirmed I thought “no frigging way am I doing this” so I told her I didn’t believe in God. She pitched a fit and forced me to do it anyway (I was 14 at the time). Huge fights ensued. I eventually told her that she didn’t have to agree with me, she just had to put up with me. Now she seems to accept it. So I guess my point is, you never know exactly how they’re going to react, but they’re your parents and will probably get used to the idea eventually even if they are initially weirded out by it. But I wouldn’t suggest my approach. :P Let me be a tale of what *not* to do.

  57. @ weofui: I think that is about right. I honestly feel like relationships are (pardon the awful pun) dropped into my lap. I am incapable of saying “no” to someone I like at all. All of this is added to by the fact that the person I am with now is really freakin’ awesome.

  58. @stacie: Oddly enough, I think it’s the open nature of our relationship that makes this so hard – there’s hardly anything I haven’t discussed with my Mother in detail over the years – including my sex life. To know that I’m in a kind of relationship that she apparently disapproves of is not only a little shocking, it’s downright intimidating. Not only have I never really kept anything from her – I’ve never felt like I had to. Damn hippy parents – I have no practice at this sort of thing. *laughs*

    @Kimbo Jones: No approaches that result in fit pitching and screaming matches. Got it. *grins*

    @MacGuffin: Hrm… interresting. Why do you feel like you ought to be alone for some period of time?

  59. @Kaylia_Marie: lol, yeah, I’ve got a few good fanboy credits. Buffy was an exciting moment for me, and Quantum Leap is great in retrospect (I was very young back then, although I was a fan of the show). In fact I’m a guest at Leapback 2009 next year. My first con!

  60. @TurboFool: Wow, you started this almost straight out of the womb. No wonder you miss it.

    I find stage to be a pretty good outlet, personally, and it has much more predictable/reasonable hours in alot of cases (at least compared to movies). Since I do it as a hobby, I don’t worry too much about pay. I do have friends that are members of theater companies, though, and many of them do make a living at it.

  61. @stacie: A coworker of mine was in a local production of Of Mice and Men, which was quite enjoyable. We have two local theatres, and it’s something I might consider at some point. I just feel like at that point I’d have officially traded my hobby for my career, and vice-versa. Amateur theatre is great fun, and quite valuable, but it’s a psychological thing for me to go from professional to amateur like that. Who knows, though, maybe it would somehow help. I’ll have to try to give it more serious thought.

  62. I have a hard time meeting new people, I always assume that they’ll think I’m a huge loser. I also have self-esteem problems. So those two could probably be compacted into one big problem really.

  63. I moved to Florida to be with her about a year ago. She broke up with me a month after I moved.

    Now I’m stranded here in Orlando, and while I think I’m over her at this point I just can’t find any bright, interesting women in the area. =\

  64. I want to be the guy who people look up to and say nice things about at work. Things like “he was really helpful with my IT problem even though I’m so stupid that I have trouble walking and talking at the same time. Sometimes I have to stop talking or I’ll just fall over *giggle*”. The problem is I get so exasperated by the sheer idiocy of some people that I mock them using sarcasm or just plain evil wit. Instead of getting a reputation for helpfulness I’m the guy who takes the piss out of everyone. Even my serious helpful comment are now viewed as mocking put downs. Not that I don’t mind the quiet to let me work….

    How do I change this without spending all my time explaining to ‘tards who really should have picked up some basic IT skills what a mouse is or how to launch a program?

    Failing that could anyone tell me how to dispose of a body.

    Thanks.

  65. hoverFrog: your problem, sadly, is of your own making. But if you find it hard biting your tongue when someone is being dim, just think about the things that you are lousy at, and consider keeping something on your desk to remind you of that (for example I am lousy at sports, so I could keep a little soccer ball ornament on my desk to remind me of that fact). That way you’ll remember that people have different strengths and skills, and that your particular skill set is no better or more worthy in the grand scheme of things than their skill at needlecraft or softball or whatever.

  66. re: coming out to one’s parents.

    Of course, nothing we’re going to say will make it easy. But I think I can make it less hard.

    Make a big deal out of it before hand. Call you parents up, then say something like “mom, dad: I have something very important to tell you. Both of you. Could we meet tonight? I really have to do this in person.” Insist that it is at their house, in private.

    Arrive looking serious, sit them down, and immediately tell them. No beating around the bush, minimal pleasantries (assure them everything is okay, however), get right to the point; “Mom, dad: I am polyamorous.”

    Very (VERY) quickly explain: “that doesn’t mean I wanna have sex with lots of people; it literally means ‘many loves’. I’m capable of loving multiple people at one time.”

    Then let it go from there. If you parents truly are hippy-types, then they’ll be very supportive.

    [ahem]

  67. @turbofool: Why did you think I picked that avatar, dude? ;-) Marvin, the Paranoid Android is just too good a match for my interior state at times. I didn’t find out what the problem with me was until I was in my mid-30’s. I thought everyone was like me inside. There’s a lot of people that feel just like we do, but they either aren’t self-aware enough or honest enough to admit it.

    Hedge does have a point in that going into a business you love may sour you on it. That’s not guaranteed, though. It was eye-opening for me to get into the airlines, but there were enough pluses and great people to work with that it evened out.

    @Kylia_Marie: Just curious. Why bother kicking your dependence on coffee? As a vice, it’s pretty benign. Besides, caffeine is in damn near everything these days. I’m addicted to coffee. I admit it. It there a 12-step program? :-D

    @Hedge: HR departments are tangible evidence of evil in the world. ;-) BTW, been there, tried that. Sad to say, my industry (commercial aviation) is in a depression and is shrinking rapidy with no end in sight. Perhaps we don’t need the SSC to create a financial black hole? (Old joke: “Know how to make a small fortune in the airlines? Start with a large one.”)

    @hoverfrog: You can always think those thoughts without saying them…Remember, “Tact is the art of telling someone to go to Hell in such a fashion that the look forward to the trip.” I learned this as an airline ticket counter supervisor – it was a survival skill for me. Some people mistake it for charm and never catch on.

  68. Curing my insomnia. I’d love to be able to sleep through the night for once! Nothing seems to help, and I don’t like taking strong medications because they tend to just make me feel worse. OTC “sleep meds” are evil.

  69. @JRice: Yes, creating the atmosphere of a confessional and putting oneself on the defensive before anyone else can get to it is a sure fire way of gaining acceptance. Admit your guilt, say you’re sorry, and repent!

    oh…we’re not in church anymore are we…

    (disclaimer: all this predicated on the idea that you were being ironic.)

  70. @JRice: Doing something you love as a living *can* kill your love of it…but not always. I have had it happen, and I know others who have as well. However, if you started (as TurboFool did with acting) with it being a profession and came to love it…well, then it’s already worked out!

  71. @JRice: Well, I said that it can happen, not that it’s guaranteed.

    In my experience, it frequently happens because of unrealistic expectations of what the job/field is really like. I saw a lot of people work for an airline for less than a week, because they came in thinking that it’s a glamorous field. It does have some, but most of it is hard, physically and emptionally draining grunt work with terrible schedules. And I include the pilots and flight attendants in that statement.

    @marilove: Have you seen a sleep specialist? I’ve seen them work wonders for others. Insomnia is almost as hard on your health as sleep apnea.

  72. @marilove: Why are OTC sleep meds evil? My husband has craptastic insomnia and is seriously anti-medication (skeptically, not dogmatically). A house guest bought him some Melatonin and Valerian. He didn’t take it for quite some time. But then….desperation set in, he did some research, and decided it could be useful. Voila! Both seemed to work. He still refuses to take them on any kind of regular basis. He did say they sometimes make him have lucid dreams. blech.

  73. Do I need help?

    Let’s start with the easy things. I hate doing dishes and cleaning the apartment, so I would love help doing those.

    The more difficult things, I’d like help with my depression, panic attacks and my insomnia.

    I too hate medications for insomnia, because every single one I’ve tried has left a craptastic taste in my mouth. And then I don’t speak about the other side-effects.

  74. @QuestionAuthority:

    Hedge does have a point in that going into a business you love may sour you on it.

    To clarify, this was not my point. This was a response to my suggestion that people should do work that they love. I, in turn, acknowledged that it may be bad for some people.

    I still consider it sound advice. Do what you love. If you stop loving it, then do something else. I don’t think work should feel like penance for your non-working time.

    I am a Hedge

  75. @elianara:

    I don’t know about your depression and panic attacks, although I’ve had some experience with depression in my family, and my ex-girlfriend had panic attacks. All I can say is it took the right leveling drugs and therapy in both cases, but I hesitate to say that’s the right approach for everyone.

    As for insomnia, it may be the worse thing I ever experience personally. And I only get a bout of it once or twice a yerar. But it is the most frustrating thing ever.

    As someone mentioned earlier, I, too, try to physically wear myself out during the day, so even if my head is full of chaos, my body says, “no dice, you son of a bitch, we’re shutting down for a while”.

    Barring that, there’s always booze to help out.

  76. Oh, I forgot to post a problem. Meh…my problem is I don’t ever let anyone help me. I am so used to be the person in charge or the person that everyone else comes to when THEY have problems, I have no idea how to go “erg, I’m stuck, I could use some good advice”, on the rare occasions that happens. I don’t tend to trust anyone’s judgement but my own, and because I’m so independent and successful it’s really hard to take anyone else’s perspective on ‘life’ or work seriously.

    Ha ha now I sound like a prick. Anyway, it’s not really a problem, but it is kinda cathartic to share! I should do it more often, that would solve my problem :D

  77. @stacie: Hmmn. The idea was one of inflating expectations and premptively making clarifications of a common misconception. It worked brilliantly for me. …Why would you assume I felt/she would feel guilty about it?

    @stacie: Let me restate my position:

    If you are avoiding doing what you love because you think it will be ruined, you are self-sabotaging.

  78. I am self conscious of my size. I wouldn’t call it a self esteem issue as I don’t shy away from people. I make friends easily and don’t have a problem talking to people. But I never stop thinking about it. I stopped growing when I was about 14 and have been 5’5″ around 130lb since then.

    As far as doing what you love. You should always at least try it. I have always loved driving. I can get in a car and disappear for a weekend and be completely at peace. I avoided driving jobs for a long time because I was afraid after week at work I wouldn’t want to drive for fun. So far that hasn’t happened yet. I suppose if it does I’ll look for something else but for now it’s allot less stressful doing something I enjoy.

  79. I would say that my biggest flaws are that I, a) project a bit of hostility bubble and b) use my intelligence to make myself feel superior to others and c) I’m absolutley crippled with self-doubt, anything I’ve worked on has been checked, re-checked and checked again to make sure there are no mistakes (scientific review is a nightmere of nerves for me)

  80. @JRice: Aw, thank you! For some reason, when certain videos are posted on websites, it causes my browser here at work to crash (I think it’s a Java issue but I’m not sure), and there isn’t anything I can really do about it except wait for that post to leave the front page, and I’m horrible at checking blogs and such when I’m at home :)

  81. @stacie: Oh, well, I do take Melatonin! That mostly just helps me to relax, but it doesn’t really help me to stay asleep at ALL. Valarian root is about the same, except I don’t buy it because it has a STRONG smell and one of my cats will literally HUNT THE BOTTLE DOWN (it’s really funny).

    I was more talking about Tylenol PM and such, which do diddly squat to help me sleep. They DO make me feel like I’m drunk while sleeping, give me horrible dry mouth and dehydrate me in general, and make me wake up even more. Benadryl is the WORST — it gives me a serious hangover for like 24+ hours.

    I don’t generally have a problem falling asleep, but I DO have a very, very big problem staying asleep. If I wake up 4 times in a night, that is a good night. A good night is a good, 4 hours of solid sleep. After that I’m screwed. I seriously sleep like an old man.

    Lunesta didn’t do diddly squat to help. I’m afraid to take Ambian because even if it does help, I can’t take it forever.

  82. @stacie: Oh and I have lucid, vivid, annoying dreams no matter what I do. I wake up a lot right smack dab in the middle of a dream. Some nights it’s like, one dream after another. REM sleep is difficult for me, because I’m such a light sleeper. I’ll be asleep, then BAM! for no reason at all, I’m awake, and my room is nice and cool and quiet. Sigh.

    Stupid sleep :)

  83. @marilove: I had big problems sleeping about six years ago, and still do, and I had the same experience with OTCs … I couldn’t sleep for three days straight and had to finally see the doctor (which I am always reluctant to do) … Ambien put me out in less than 30 minutes. It was a miracle drug. So when I get insomnia, I take it (no more than 2 days in a row) and I run through about 30 a year. It works wonderfully to break the cycles of insomnia-anxiety about insomnia-more insomnia … I would recommend that you at least try Ambien CR (controlled release to KEEP you asleep) and regulate its use to see how it works.

  84. @Hedge: Sorry, I misunderstood you there. :-(
    “If you are avoiding doing what you love because you think it will be ruined, you are self-sabotaging.” Good point – and that also could indicate deeper problems that need to be addressed before pressing ahead with what you love.

    @Teek: That may change with time and experience. My oldest used to be that way, but she eventually realized that it was self-defeating behavior in her case.

    @russellsugden: Hmm…The rechecking behavior makes you a strong editor. Don’t regret it too much. Then again, it could be a touch of OCD. Checking behavior can be a plus in many careers. Many successful people rely on it. It’s hard to get complacent about something when you feel compelled to check on it.

    @jabell2r: Perhaps those that would judge you merely on your lack of height aren’t worthy of your time anyway. Out of personal curiosity, I deliberately hung out with the “odd” groups (goth kids, etc.) during my second college experience. I found out that most of them aren’t much different than the rest of us. Some were much more…Not sure how to put it…genuinely human, I guess. They seemed impressed that someone old enough to be their Dad was actually interested in listening to what they had to say.

  85. @Marilove: Well, valerian is well known as a cat attractant at least as powerful as catnip…It also attracts rats. Hmmm. That could be interesting to watch…

    If I remember correctly, Tylenol PM uses the active ingredient in Benadryl as the sleep-inducing agent.

  86. @marilove: If you have health insurance, you may be able to work through the system – document your issues and treatment with your primary care physician first, and if you can’t break the cycle with something like ambien (3 days at a time, and then stopping), he/she may recommend a sleep study … I know somebody who went that route (ending with a sleep study), and they ended up getting a machine to stop their sleep apnea (sp?) … It is worth investigating with your primary care physician if you have insurance.

  87. Marilove, you may be a new step in human evolution. Artificial lighting has rendered sleep obsolete. You should reproduce, so this genetic advance is not lost to the gene pool.

    I enjoy sleep, but I despise the necessity of it. What a waste of time.

    I am a Hedge

  88. @Im a Hedge: My dad is that was (sleeps from 12m to 4am) – always has been. As a child, I remember he worked two full-time jobs during the day and during the night (back in the day when “moonlighting” was considered a bad thing). From what I understand, our bodies do not need necessarily need sleep (just stopped motion) – the need for sleep is strictly psychological. Evolutionarily speaking, we are programmed not to go out to be attacked at night. Is that right? … That said –

    @marilove: Marilove, never trust a man who says “You should reproduce.”

  89. All right, you guys are awesome enough that I’m going to let loose with the problem that embarrasses me the most, and one that I suspect is a major cause of my earlier problem, and one that intimidates me when communicating in a place like this where I’m surrounded by such intelligent, and well-educated people.

    I have virtually no formal education, and I’m lacking in some of the most fundamental basics of academia.

    See, I was home-schooled… and quite poorly. I believe home-schooling can work, and can work extremely effectively, if administered by the right people. Take parents who are perhaps professors, with world experience, well-rounded loves of all knowledge, a lust for life and everything it entails, and deep hands-on experience of all sorts, and great hands-on teaching skills that extend into day-to-day life instead of standard class hours and you have a chance to far outclass any so-called standard educational methods. Take a highly religious parent who wants to “save” their kids from the “world view” and you have trouble. In my case, take a mother who was picked on, intimidated, and hated her high school experience for her entire life and wanted to protect her son from the same, and you have a poorly-motivated start.

    Things started out all right if I remember correctly. She took it all the way with a schedule, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and saluting the flag (despite her hippie, anti-establishment roots), and careful structures. But I don’t know if it was my acting career or the fact that I likely got my poor self-motivational skills from her that caused the breakdown. Either way, the most real education I got after long was either from my set teachers while filming (which I usually dreaded as I knew my ignorance would be outed), or through my own reading (because as a kid I filled most of my spare time reading). Any effort to so much as open a textbook was left up to me.

    So while I know I’m an intelligent person (it takes a lot of work to even convince myself of that), I’m not a KNOWLEDGEABLE person, at least not in the structured, classical, fundamental sense. Yes, I know a lot, but it’s all thrown together from bits and pieces I learn. I absorb knowledge like a sponge, but what I absorb is from random readings and topics of interest. When it comes to the fundamentals of math, science, history, geography, geology, astronomy, literature… I feel so incredibly inadequate that I’m embarrassed to be in the same room as people who know these very subjects that I should. I avoid conversations on the topics and when they come up I find myself doing everything I can to avoid revealing my complete and utter ignorance.

    And the thing is I know I have the capacity for it. I learn quickly and I love learning. If I’m interested and I have (or make) the time for a subject, it becomes an instant part of my knowledge base. And when someone lays something out that I don’t understand I can still piece it together on a subconscious level and get it despite not understanding the intimate details. I can still almost instantly notice when something’s based in logic and fact, while something else just doesn’t add up. I can do very basic math faster and more efficiently than most people I know, leading me to believe I could grasp the higher levels with ease if I just knew how. I can write like this, in complete sentences with grammar and spelling beyond that of any of my friends, family, or coworkers despite having no formal knowledge of the rules of grammar or roots of words.

    I want–possibly need–to fix this embarrassing gap. I desperately want to feel like I’m not an ignoramus among the group of people I respect most (anyone of intelligence). I want to feel like I don’t have to constantly hide my vast ignorance on subjects most people take for granted.

    Help me.

    As a side thought, I also need assistance not writing novel-length blog comments.

  90. @TurboFool: I HIGHLY suggest taking college courses (in person and/or online) in regards to literature, math, history, etc. And if it bothers you that much, possibly even stop by Goodwill and used book stores and find high school level textbooks to read.

    Honestly, though, I don’t think that not having the best high school education means you are not knowledgeable and cannot have a successful life. It’s obvious you ARE knowledgeable in some things, even if not in basic arithmetic.

    Besides, I have always sucked hardcore at math and my history is damn shady, but I know my literature. Most people are the same way — high school was a thing to get out of so they could learn things that pertain to their real life. My shady algebra skills have NEVER gotten in the way of my life, because my career has nothing to do with math.

  91. @TheSkepticalMale: I know but I am sooo out of Sick and Vacation time at work. It’s on the list for next year. Right now my concern is getting new glasses so I can drive at night. I also need to go to the dentist. I was without insurance for a good year, and a year later I’m still trying to play catch up. Birth control was #1 on the list, then new glasses, then sleep, then dentist (since dentist will be expensive, insurance or no).

    I don’t think I have sleep apnea — I’ve always been told I don’t snore, which is a huge indicator. But I guess you never know!

  92. @TurboFool: Oh, and having gone to a pretty shitty K-8th grade school (only 250 students) and a shitty high school, I know from personal experience that graduating high school does not mean you got a decent education. I’d be willing to bet that our levels of knowledge are pretty similar when it comes to certain things.

    I was essentially ignored throughout my ENTIRE K thru 12th grade years. I tested very early at a college reading level, but I was still ignored. I should have been in advance English/Lit classes in high school, but I wasn’t. I was shuffled along because I didn’t make a fuss.

    So, going to a “proper school” doesn’t guarantee you any kind of real education.

  93. @turbofool: There is a lot you can do about that! marilove is right!

    Your local library is a great place to start, as is what you’re sitting in front of: your computer. Reading up on topics of interest to you at reputable sites and in textbooks is a good way to get a grounding in various topics. You also have a supportive community of diverse people here who can recommend books and websites.

    Who knows what you might end up once you start learning?

  94. @marilove: New glasses — I recommend buying online if you don’t want to drop a load of money. I pay about $20 to $30 for a new pair (including Rx lenses), and have about 7 pairs to match different outfits now. I’ve gone through Zenni, as well as some others, and never had a problem.

  95. @marilove: I think a lot of it’s a social stigma, although a different one from what most people face. We’re in an anti-intellectual society right now, so this is something that is rather unusual. But in MY society, MY communities, with the people I respect, it makes me feel highly inadequate. It’s one thing in a conversation for someone to branch off into astrophysics and for me and one or two other people to stay quiet and listen simply because we lack training on the subject. But when I feel like I’m the only person in the group missing fundamental knowledge on these subjects I feel just plain stupid.

    Anyway, time and money are always limiting factors for me. I’ve thought about taking high school courses as an adult, for instance, but I’m limited in my options. I have a local community college (College of the Canyons) that’s rather inexpensive, but I feel the same trepidation I’d have going to the gym: I’m not in good shape and don’t know what the hell I’m doing, and it feels like everyone else there is and does.

    @QuestionAuthority: Thank you for the support and encouragement (and marilove, as well). And recommendations would be greatly appreciated. The gaps bother me, and if people have ideas on simple, easy-to-grasp foundational books or online resources on various subjects (priorities right now are in the maths and sciences, I think), I’d be incredibly happy to look at them. “For Dummies” styles of books and writings are not beneath me, and I have no problem re-learning things I may already know to get to what I don’t. Heck, I’ve genuinely considered getting basic grade-school-level math textbooks and starting there. But being a product of the internet and technology, perhaps there are some online resources that are free and simple to access in my spare time?

    I currently read and listen to a wide variety of blogs and podcasts (the SGU is why I’m here and vital to my week), and I gain so much from them, so obviously I’ll keep at that. But I want to pick up what’s between the lines that I’m missing. Much of what I read or hear assumes certain basic knowledge and that’s where I’m bothered. I want those essential bits of precursor knowledge that will help some of the higher-level stuff click better. And I want to feel like if I have the opportunity to go to one of the many great events that this community hosts I’m not going to feel like a fool (despite my name).

    Thanks again, you guys. And thank you, Sam, for this awesomely broad inquisition.

  96. @TurboFool:

    Thanks again, you guys. And thank you, Sam, for this awesomely broad inquisition.

    Hey, thank all of you. I usually only check in periodically to the discussion in these A.I.s, but I’ve stayed logged in and refreshing constantly to keep up with the latest in this one.

    Great discussion topics, and great advice by all. I appreciate your participation.

  97. @turbofool: “I feel the same trepidation I’d have going to the gym: I’m not in good shape and don’t know what the hell I’m doing, and it feels like everyone else there is and does.”

    I can assure you not everyone knows what they’re doing on the first day of class. Most of them feel exactly as you do right now. (WTF am I doing here? I shouldn’t be here! I’m scared! I can’t do this! Help! LOL) …How do you think I felt going back to college at 42?* Sharing classes with my own kids? Ruining the grade curve for them? :-D

    Start where you feel most comfortable. If that’s at the “…for Dummies” book level, then so be it. From what you’ve said, I don’t think you’ll need to start that low. No one is born with knowledge – we all had to learn it somewhere along the line. The desire to learn is the most important thing. All the rest will follow from that.

    *You gonna let an old man beat you? ;-)

  98. @TurboFool: Somebody famous (I don’t know who) said: “Never let Schooling get in the way of Education” There are plenty of examples of people who had no formal education, such as B.Franklin(sic?), who have gone on to great things.

    Most people would agree I think, that you learn very little at school and anything you do learn is through your own curiousity about the world in your own time. In terms of learning I would say 12 to 18 were wasted years for me. A good local library is a great place to fill in any gaps though. [Someone should produce a recomended books page for this site! :-) ]

    The Open University (OU.ac.uk) is an excellent place to look up correspondence courses. It was created with working people in mind, the courses are designed to fit into evenings and weekends and go from pre-GSCE (year 8/8th grade) right up to Post-Doc level. It’s supported by the British Government (one of the few things are taxes aren’t wasted on) but anyone fluent in English anywhere in the world can enroll. There are no entry requirements other than they advise you to start at a level suitable for you.

    As for feeling intimidated by (being in awe of) people who are smarter than you. From my own experience that only gets worse the further up you go in education as it’s only when you’ve got a better understanding you realise just how great the ‘great minds’ are.

    It’s also good to keep in mind that no one could possibly have an exhaustive knowledge of every branch of science, so while it might seem like some people you know are very knowledgeable I suspect either A) they only talk about stuff they know about or B) you think they are smart so you only pick up on the ‘smart’ stuff they say and forget the times they say nothing. :-)

  99. @JRice: The guilt comment came from the set-up as a confessional…making it a very serious sit down talk where you blurt out the issue and hurriedly follow it up with explanations. It strikes me as coming off as a confession, which usually entails guilt. Not that you do, or should feel guilty about it, but that it is set up to seem that way and could inadvertently cause that feeling because of the dynamic in the moment. This confessional dynamic also lends itself to putting the speaker immediately on the defensive and the listener in a position of emotional power. I’m glad it worked for you, but it would not be what I would choose, for the above reasons.

  100. TuboFool, if you plan on taking any college courses, I would suggest scheduling a meeting with the professor before signing up for the course. Discuss what you want to get out out of class, and see what kind of reaction you get. A lot of professors are primarily interested in their research, and teaching is not important to them. Try to identify these people and avoid them. (This is probably less of a problem at a community college, where there probably isn’t a strong research focus). Be on the lookout for someone who seems eager to have you in the class – someone who wants to teach, and is excited by the prospect of a student who actually wants to learn.

    Another thing I would suggest is to try to put the knowledge you have to use independently, in an effort to find where your weaknesses are and target them. It can be tough to find them, because you don’t know what you don’t know. I think you mentioned that you have some IT background (?), and are interested in math and science. Maybe you could try programming simulations of various things. Simulate planetary orbits, and toss in a comet or two. Simulate gene flow between a couple overlapping populations of flowering plants, perhaps including an insect carrier for the pollen. Things like this will help guide your education, and you’ll have some more tangible evidence of your progress.

    Also, if you ever try to get a job in a related field, it’s very impressive to show up at an interview with a laptop and a set of cool stuff you’ve done in your own time. (Well, it impresses me, at least.)

    (If you’re interested in history, I recommend “The Outline of History” by H.G. Wells. It’s old, and some of it may be outdated, but it’s very well done and gives a good overview up to WWI)

    I am a Hedge

  101. @Sam Ogden: Sorry, I’m just catching up. Our CMS is down at work, so I’m commenting instead. Anyway, as for shoes, I recommend starting here: http://www.zappos.com/n/es/d/39062/page/1.html

    @tkingdoll: I used to have the same problem of not being able to ask for help. I guess I probably still do to a certain extent, but I think I’ve gotten over the worst of it. I think having a kid is what did it for me – it made me realize how much better a situation it is for everyone involved if I just ask for help when it’s needed instead of struggling on alone and risking the health and happiness of those around me. But I also think that being aware of the tendency in yourself is a good first step towards fixing it.

    Besides keeping my house clean, the only help I could really use now is financial. So if anyone needs a freelance web designer, let me know.

  102. @Rebecca: Oooh, good idea! I do have pretty decent insurance for vision, though, and it covers a good amount, and I will def look into this.

    @TheSkepticalMale: Well, I have glasses already, they are just getting worn and I am certain my right eye is way worse, because I know it shouldn’t be fuzzy WITH glasses on … haha. And I don’t want babies. Not that I’m in a relationship right now, but whatevs, whatevs, that’s another story.

    I do have amazing insurance, though. YAY for working for a big-box /pharmacy! (Tho for the company, not the actual retail stores.)

  103. @Teek: Yoda says:
    “When the answer to your problem you get to the point where you know that you have not, but think of someone who does, you can, there, you are. .
    Up to you, how long that takes is. Hmmmmmm.”

    I love iGoogle’s Yodaspeak gadget…! LOL

  104. @TurboFool: I highly recommend online courses to get you started, then, if you can. That’s how my twin sister is getting “back into learning shape” — and she loves it. She’s only taking one class right now, and it’s a simple one, but it’s SO obvious that it’s made her excited about learning again. So look to see if your local community colleges ofer online courses.

    And, really, the library and used bookstores and thrift shops are your best bet for textbooks, both high school and college level. Whenever I go to goodwill for books, because I am a nerd and will buy $30 worth of $1 books, I see soooo many used textbooks. I alllmost bought a high school algebra book once, but I think it gave me flash backs…haha.

  105. @marilove: Holy crap, they do offer a ton of online-only courses. My eyes were lighting up as I scrolled down the list.

    Now I just need to see what the enrollment requirements are. I remember I went years ago with my wife and took the placement test (placed in the absolute lowest class for math, placed above their highest for English), but if I remember correctly they wanted transcripts and such from my prior education and I have none. I may have to get a GED before I can apply. Looks like I have research to do, though.

    I’m nervous as hell, but still kind of excited. Now comes my other problem: focusing. I tend to be interested in far too many things at once, and some of things on that list made me feel like a kid in a candy store.

  106. @TurboFool: I KNEW IT! Good luck! I think my sister had to do the GED route, too, but she said it was fairly easy.

    If my sister can do it, you can! She is using DIALUP for the most part, since she herself doesn’t have high speed, and she doesn’t get into town a lot to use our dad’s high speed. She calls me sometimes, “OH MY GOD I HATE DIALUP BUT I GOT MY ASSIGNMENT DONE YAY!” It doesn’t help that she also has two young kids, and they all live with our crazy mother.

    I am really proud of her.

  107. @TurboFool: Also your scores in math and english would probably be fairly identical with me. I remember when I took the ACT back when I was a senior in h.s. — my math scores were SAD. I think a 15? That’s low, guys.

    I ACED the English/reading/writing section, though, 100%, on like, 2 hours of sleep.

    I have a big issue with numbers, though. Does anyone else get numbers just … confused? When I worked in the printing/copying business, I had look at long stings of numbers when grabbing click counts. I’d have to re-check like 4 times becuase no matter how slowly I went, I’d screw something up. Does number dislexia exist? How ’bout number phobia? haha.

    The only time I enjoyed Math was in high school, because I LOVED one of my algebra teachers. He was amazing. But I still couldn’t break above a c+.

    I got a B+ in Geomotry without even trying, though.

  108. Late addition: I get bored with things a little too quickly. The problem with reacting to pressure from challenges is that eventually fewer things get challenging.

    From a professional level, being bored with 80% of your job doesn’t exactly inspire a work ethic.

  109. … and I did it. Took my Mom to lunch and came out of the Poly closet before we even sat down. She was a little shocked, and a little worried, asked a few questions and then set to worrying about what my father was going to say. There were hugs and “It’s always something with you, isn’t it?” and no tears. I answered her questions and then later sent her a link to a Poly blog where she could get answers to questions she hadn’t even thought of yet.

    I would really like to thank all of those that gave me the encouragement and advice I needed to just get it over with. It really made it much easier knowing that I had outed myself publicly among strangers and received not only non-judgmental support, but also understanding and shared experience.

    t

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