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Autocritique

posted Dec 22, 2008, 7:14 AM by dan@projectvolunteering.net

I guess we all have some bad habits, that make it less nice to live with us. I want to list some of mine. This is a reminder to me that I need to try to change how I behave, and also a request for help. If you catch me doing any of these, please give me a (metaphorical) slap.

  1. If I can't do something well, I'm far too reluctant to do it at all - especially in public. This means I never learn to do things, unless I'm naturally good at them (even then it's touch-and-go). Examples: cooking, singing, drawing. Dancing and talking in German I've now mostly fixed - the former by studying by myself, the latter by training myself not to care what I look like. What you can do: encourage me to join in, especially when I don't want to. Teach me how to do things.
  2. Saying no, for no good reason. Partly turning down big opportunities (travelling, moving into the project), but mainly little things like 'would you like some tea?'. It's irrational and totally ridiculous. What you can do: don't be surprised if I say no, then change my mind 10 seconds later. I'm probably just correcting for this.
  3. Hiding from the world. Particularly when I'm in a bad mood, I tend to mope in my room for hours on end. This is pointless: it doesn't make me any happier, and can make me a very dull housemate. What you can do: If/when I move into the project, the lack of private space should reduce the opportunities for this. But if I ever start asking for personal space/time, either tell me to go out for a walk, or drag me, kicking and screaming, into being sociable.
  4. Laziness and time-wasting. Everybody procrasinates; I do so more than most. I guess making weekly plans will help with this. So will being around people working on lots of interesting projects. What you can do: encourage me to do things. Ask me to help with things, project-related or otherwise. Talk to me about my weekly aims.
  5. Secrecy. This is partly a combination of (1) and (3). I have little reason to keep secrets (barring a couple of mostly work-related cases where they aren't my secrets to tell). But there are lots of things I don't talk about, out of habit or shame or because nobody asks or because I don't know how to talk about them. What you can do: ask intrusive questions, and don't let me get away with not answering them.
I'll probably expand the list over time. Right now, it seems to be circling around one group of interrelated mental screw-ups, around secrecy/shyness/insecurity, that I can't easily put a name to, but that has long been a problem for me. As Ezra Pound put it in an unusually saccharine moment:
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered...

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