It s been awhile since I last blogged, so I thought I would give a quick update while I m working on some more fully-formed blog posts. I ve also been microblogging on Instagram, at least until I lose interest in it, so follow me if you like. We moved back to Alaska at the beginning of the summer, and I was extremely happy about it, as living in Phoenix was completely killing my spirit. I can t even express how much I hated living there, and I can t think of a place in the U. S. That I would be more ill-suited for. So I m glad to be back in Alaska. It has been a really difficult summer, though.
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This is the third time we ve moved to a different state in the past three years, the second time with two kids. Moving with kids is completely awful, in so many ways. It s hard to believe but there was a time in my life when moving was exciting and enjoyable, pre-kids. There s another theme of my life right now: many things that were exciting and enjoyable before kids, are now tedious and exhausting. The past three years of constant moves and instability in many areas of my life have really worn me down. It takes a long time to settle into a new home, physically and mentally. In Arizona it took us about a year to fully unpack, so right about the time we finally got rid of all of our moving boxes, we found out we were moving again. Right now, we re temporarily living in a sub-optimal apartment while getting ready to build a new house, so it will be a long time before we re really settled. It s even harder to become mentally settled in a new place. I never would have felt at home in Phoenix, no matter how long we lived there. Prior to that, I was just beginning to warm up to Colorado when we found out we had to move to Phoenix. I know I will feel at home here in our new town, but our daily life is a lot more difficult now for many reasons. Meanwhile, I have a lot of thoughts to process and no time or energy for it, and it s hard to lead my kids through all this change and help them deal with their feelings when I can t attend to my own. The hypothesis says that as a robot s appearance becomes more and more humanlike, our affinity for it increases, but only up to a certain point. When a robot looks almost exactly like a human but not quite, our acceptance of it decreases dramatically and we experience revulsion. While trying to get my toddler to accept new foods, I realized that there is an uncanny valley effect in toddler feeding: as a new food increases in resemblance to a food she already likes, her acceptance of it increases, up to a certain point.
If a new food looks too similar to a food she likes, she reacts with revulsion. For example, compare different forms of chicken to the toddler s favorite food, chicken nuggets (breaded and processed, and preferably shaped like dinosaurs). The presence of ketchup exaggerates the uncanny valley, because being served with ketchup is an essential feature of chicken nuggets. The uncanny valley can be counteracted by cutting the chicken into a different shape or size, or serving it with a different sauce. But beware alfredo sauce that bears an uncanny resemblance to ranch dressing. After dedicating the past several months to trying to, I feel like I ve pretty much reached the end. I tried a lot of new things, went on a lot of friend-dates, and met some interesting people. But I didn t become friends with any of them. I m not saying I m done trying now, but I ve exhausted every resource I could think of, and I m exhausted. I pushed myself way beyond my comfort zone of social commitments, sometimes going to more than one social engagement every day for a week. It was unsuccessful, and now that we are well into 7567, the is dwindling and there are a lot fewer people who are also looking for new friends. So I didn t make any friends, and I didn t really learn how to make friends either, but I did come to a few realizations about why making friends is so hard: 6. Making friends outside of an academic environment is much harder than I realized. I ve been in academic environments my whole life, up until a few years ago. From going to an academically rigorous high school, to college, to working in a scientific field, to grad school, I was always surrounded by people with intellectual interests and a deep knowledge base. The academic environment is where I feel most comfortable, so being in those places was a big advantage for me socially. Now that I m completely out of that world, I have a huge social handicap.
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I realized that I have no idea how to actually talk to people in the real world, or how to relate to people who are not interested in academic topics. I never had a lot of friends when I was in school, but I had some great ones, and I was so careless with them. I lost touch with almost all of them years ago, and I took for granted that I would be able to make new friends. I never knew how hard it would be to make friends outside of school. 7. After I learned about personality types, I realized that having compatible personality types mattered much more to me than having the same interests, background, or beliefs, or being in the same stage of life. I like learning from people whose experiences are different from mine, and the way a person s mind works is much more interesting to me than what they think about. I met a few potential friends recently who I had nothing in common with. One was a single woman who owns a successful tech business and is a business school student. She s very dedicated to her career and very passionate about the business world, which is completely foreign to me. Her other interests and hobbies were all things I know nothing about, and she knew nothing about any of my interests. We really had nothing in common, but we had some great conversations and I learned a lot from her. I think we got along so well despite our lack of commonality because of our compatible personality types she s an INFJ. We were both interested in learning new things and hearing from each other s perspectives. I really wanted to be friends with her. All of our conversations consisted of telling or teaching each other things there was no topic we could discuss as equals. I believe that if we had started with some common ground on which to gain familiarity with each other, we could have gotten over that hump to become good friends. You need to have something you can both talk about.
8. It s hard if not impossible to really get to know a person without spending time together, and it s hard for me to have an accurate gauge of whether I even like them. Someone s online persona can be very different from their actual personality, and I ve met people in the past who I thought I liked online, but really didn t want to be friends with in person. More than that, I just crave face-to-face interactions. I ve never been very interested in web forums or message boards, because although I crave intellectual conversations, I want to have them with a real person while also getting to know the rest of that person s life. To me, online interaction is theoretical and not much different from reading a book, and usually I would rather just read a book. Because an online friend is much more theoretical than one you see in real life, it s easy to forget about them. 9. Having my husband as my only friend for the past year has set a high bar for what I expect to find in a friend. My husband KJ and I have great conversations. It s so easy to talk to him, he s intelligent and knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, and he has (what I consider) a great sense of humor. And we re both pretty quirky or weird whatever you want to call it. KJ is as weird as I am but in slightly different ways, so being with him has made me even weirder. Because we embrace each other s weirdness and we can be ourselves with each other, our conversations start at the level where most of my conversations with other people end. The downside to becoming even weirder is that it makes me less able and less willing to act like a normal person. I used to be a lot more skilled at assimilating. After having KJ as my sole adult conversation partner, I m not only out of practice, but I also have realized just how much I like having conversations within the cocoon of our mutual weirdness, and how much I dislike trying to hide my awkwardness and quirks. Going out and meeting new people who don t affirm my quirks is pretty uncomfortable.
But I can t rely on KJ to fulfill all of my social needs. I still want to have friends with different perspectives, interests, and opinions. It s just so hard to find them. Last weekend I met a woman at a Meetup who I really liked. She seemed to meet all the criteria for someone I would, and I could tell immediately that she was either an INFP or ENFP. We had a really interesting conversation about different theories of personal development and she told me about one theory I d never heard of. (The specifics are not important to this story. ) After she explained it to me, I said, That s really interesting I ve never thought of that before. But I don t think that s true. I explained why I thought it was wrong and proceeded to tell her about a theory of mine that contradicted hers. While I was listening to her talk about her theory, my train of thought went something like this: Hmm, that sounds really interesting. No, wait. That s a logical fallacy. When she stops talking, I m going to point that out to her and give her this piece of evidence that refutes her theory. She s trying to be logical but her logic is flawed. This study she just mentioned probably didn t even have a control group. And then I responded by telling her these things, but not quite as bluntly.
Why do I do that? Why couldn t I just be supportive while she was telling me about an idea she was excited about instead of shooting it down?