How Pessimism Cheered Me Up

I called my college to see about finishing my degree and the response I got was less than favorable. I was basically told that I couldn’t receive my degree without an internship or already having a job in the field. I knew I needed an internship from the beginning, of course, but I was also told that there was a class substitute if I couldn’t get an internship. The reason I’m hesitant about getting an internship now is most internships are unpaid or paid minimum wage and I pay for classes out of pocket. I can’t quit or put my current job on hold because I’ve already eaten through all of my savings to pay for classes as it is. I’m still waiting to hear back about the class substitute, but it looks like there actually isn’t one available next semester.

Naturally I was very upset with this development and when I talked to my mom about it she sent me the link to this video by Alain de Botton, a British-Swiss author, on Pessimism. Listening to the video while cleaning my room did wonders for cheering me up. de Botton is an entertaining lecturer. During the video, however, there were a few moments of “where have I hear this before?” and a few google searches later I stumbled upon Stoicism.

Stoicism is a branch of Greek Philosophy that later made it’s way and was adopted in parts of Rome. Three of the most well known (“well known” in the sense that they’re writing survived the passage of time) ancient stoics include a slave who later became a teacher, a senator, and an emperor.

When most people think Stoicism they think:
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In english “stoic” means suppressing your emotions, keeping a stiff upper lip, and all that. Well turns out that’s not what Stoicism is about at all. The word Stoic came from the Greek Stoa Poikile a famous Athenian site which literally means, “painted porch” where Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Philosophical School Stoicism, met with his students.

Stoicism follows the ideas of Virtue Ethics: “Virtue ethics is a broad term for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than either doing one’s duty or acting in order to bring about good consequences” (via).  This means that, according to Stoicism at least, happiness and virtue is determined on the individual level. Virtue can be broken down into five components: Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Temperance, and Nature. The first four probably sound familiar and that’s not a coincidence as they have the same source. The last one is not referring to Mother Nature, but human nature. The stoics believe that humans are by nature social creatures capable of reason and following this principle is part of being virtuous. (Sorry, hermits)

Stoicism follows the teachings of Socrates in the belief that suffering is caused by ignorance. This isn’t meant to be a passive philosophy like, “You’re not suffering because you’re living in a war torn country and you’re starving; you’re suffering because you’re ignorant” and more is of a “Worrying means you suffer twice” kind of thing. Having reason and clarity of the situation allows you to make the best the best decisions possible without being hindered by negative emotions such as anger or anguish. Stoicism teaches that real happiness is virtue and virtue isn’t dependent on education, wealth, or health but your individual actions.

Stoicism also breaks down things into things within our power and things beyond our power. Things within our power include opinions, aims, desires, aversions, ect… and things outside our power include our body, property, reputation, office, ect… I really appreciate this idea because I feel like it takes a lot of pressure off of me actually. Basically I can control my opinions and my actions, but I can’t control what people think or say about it.

I know it’s been said in more ways than one by many people that sexuality is not a choice, but it wasn’t until reading up about within/beyond power that it really sank in that being asexual was not somehow my fault, that it was beyond my power. Having it phrased that way specifically was what really helped me let it go.

So, I’m going to keep looking into Stoicism because, oddly enough, it’s making a comeback. There is a modern movement that is bringing awareness of this ancient philosophy and adapting it to a modern era.

And I’m changing my major to math. We’ll see how it goes.

 

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Sensual Attraction (Is Really Freaking Weird When You’re Aro-Ace)

I’m definitely aro-ace. Since puberty hit I’ve never felt sexual attraction towards anyone and I’ve only felt romantic attraction once. So, on an average day there’s zero blips on that radar. Sensual attraction is another story.

According to the AVEN website, sensual attraction is a “desire to engage in sensual acts with a certain individual (kissing, cuddling, hugging, hand holding, etc)” and I’d say this is pretty on par with what I’ve felt. The only problem is I feel that magnetic pull to kiss/hug/cuddle/etc without romantic or sexual attraction to provide context. It was hella weird in middle school and it’s still hella weird now.

I distinctly remember feeling sensual attraction for the first time in (I think) the 7th grade because it was such a weird and random feeling. I was in science class and I just got this really, super strong urge to kiss one of my classmates on the cheek. I was naturally freaked out as hell by this because 1) I didn’t know this student very well, 2) certainly didn’t even like this student in any capacity (romantic, sexual, friendship or otherwise), and 3) I don’t actually like people touching me randomly without warning. I’m relieved that I have a label for it now.

I would say the most common sensual attraction urge I get is to hug or cuddle people I’m sensually attracted to, but occasionally I’ll feel the urge to randomly kiss someone. I don’t get these kind of sensual urges with my closest friends or with my family, but I’ll sometimes feel sensual attraction towards coworkers or acquaintances. It’s just a weird feeling I get sometimes and I don’t really want to go through the mess of trying to explain it to people in RL, but I felt I should at least elaborate on it a little bit since I do hint at it on my bio pages. I feel sensual attraction towards other people and it just feels weird to me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Good Thing Today

One of my coworkers pointed out that we’ve worked with each other for two years now and we would probably be totally friends and hang out outside of work if our schedules ever lined up. I have explained told him that I’m asexual and he mentioned today that he was surprised I was still single. I explained a little better that dating wasn’t a possibility for me and what not feeling attraction meant in the most basic terms I could. I understand that asexuality is a REALLY hard concept for people to wrap their heads around unless they either are asexual themselves or are really familiar with someone who is. He asked if I wanted to see the new Thor movie with him and at first I was a little uneasy with the idea because it was skirting with a date-ish vibe even though it would just be a friend date, but he said since I’m asexual I could be his “wingman” and that made me feel a lot better. I would totally take my wingman duties very seriously (read: over  the top), but the main thing was I felt that he understood better and this could be the beginning of a beautiful bromance. (Since I’m agender I can totally use the term “bromance”).

First Week in My New Section

The one time I saw my boss this week he grinned at me like moving me to the new section was his best idea ever which I took as a complement. My trainer for the section said I caught on quickly and was already preforming better than people who had been there for months. I’m still feeling my way through my role. The managers said they wanted someone with a “voice of maturity”, but I’m not going to tell the guys to stop playing baseball in the kitchen; I’m just going to tell them to use their inside voices.

Thankfully I’m not starting from zero. I’ve worked in a restaurant before and I’ve worked a register before so that muscle memory is still there. It took me about a minute to get back into the rhythm of counting change since I hadn’t done it in a couple years, but I’m sure it won’t take me long to have the totals memorized along with the change out of a 20 dollar bill.

My section is new and familiar all wrapped up in one which was what I needed because I had been fighting a cold all week too. I could feel the cold coming on my first day and I thought, “uh oh.” My mom and my sister all caught a cold at the same time so we had a list contest going to see who would be “cured” first. My method involved a half a pot of coffee, advil, cough drops, and liberal use of power naps to get me through the day. Fortunately my first week was only 6 hour shifts and everyone was super understanding.

Part of the reason was I was mellow on cold medicine but I did end up coming out to two of my coworkers that I had known for over a year now. I was basically testing the waters to see my reaction to the typical responses and I was proud that I didn’t let the responses bother me and I was comfortable with them knowing. One of my coworker was having a really hard time picturing life without attraction, but I just shrugged and explained it’s like having a tongue in your mouth.

My new metaphor for “normal” is “having a tongue in your mouth”. You’ll go through your entire day not thinking about it at all, but if I walk up to you and say “Hey, did you know you have a tongue in your mouth?” you’ll spend the next two minutes thinking about this really awkward thing that’s just there, but you can’t picture a life without it. For my coworker attraction is just there, it’s normal while for me not feeling attraction is the norm.

Since my first week is done I get to enjoy a three-day weekend to get over my cold and work with my puppy. I’ve let a few things slide since I’ve been sick and now he thinks he can get away with anything. My trainer recommended a toy called a “lotus ball” that you put treats in and throw it. It’s amazing. I can just stand there and throw a ball and he’ll chase it over obstacles. I haven’t been able to use my voice because of my cold so I’ve been relying one hand signals and treats more. My voice is all squeaky to the point that Google can’t figure out what I’m saying when I’m trying to look up something on my phone. I kept trying to say “Martian” and it kept popping up everything from Marshal to Mike Tyson. Thankfully training a dog is like 90% body language.

The One Coworker I Dislike

I’m actually pretty chill with most of my coworkers. I don’t see or talk to any of them outside of work and make it a point to avoid any drama. Unfortunately, some people just manage to create drama on their own. The coworker I’m talking about had started in our current section about two months before me and has been with the company a year longer. I nod to her (very slight) seniority, but that’s about it. I’ve been wracking my brain for months now to articulate exactly what it is about her that annoys me. I think articulation is very important because being able to site specific examples is more powerful and credible than “she just rubs me the wrong way” or “she just pisses me off”. So this is my half rant, half practice explanation if my supervisor ever asks what my problem is.

Continue reading “The One Coworker I Dislike”

Personal Updates

I literally have no bandwidth left and I still have 10 days before it rolls over. It makes school work interesting since I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks at 8PM downloading what I need for my ONLINE classes.

I saw a couple tweets about this week being Asexual Awareness Week, which awesome! But I can’t find any daily writing prompts like I usually do so I’ll have to come up with something. This month’s Carnival of Aces is about fandom which I have become less involved in because of my internet situation or rather my lack of internet situation.

Seriously, this Starbucks closes in like 30 minutes so I have to make this quick.

So, when I’m not bemoaning my lack of internet I’m playing with my 10 month old puppy who is FEAKING HUGE. He’s not Clifford size, but he’s a BIG puppy. His shoulder comes up to my knee and he’s not even a year old. He’s at least 50% boarder collie so he’s a hyper cuss. I’ve been doing three different training classes with him including agility. I’m freaking amazed at how fast he picks up on things. He’s so food driven that he’ll do anything for a dog treat. I think I’ve mentioned before that he’s a rescued puppy; a family friends found him and nobody came forward to claim him so I ended up keeping him.

border collie wearing a tie
My puppy the last day of his Circus tricks class

Seriously, who would abandon that face? Who?!

Since I have no regular internet access I’ve been stocking up on audio books. When I’m done with school I’ll probably drop my home internet service completely and look at mobile only options. It’s just really hard to blog over a phone, but I’ll give it a shot. My goal is to post more regularly with actually substance, but school comes first (after all my other procrastination methods of course) so I’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s one more puppy pic for the road:

boarder collie in a pumpkin patch