Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 9: Your beliefs, in great detail

Golly, my beliefs.  I hesitate to get too deep (I don't think I'm a very deep person), so I guess I will mention some rules I try to live by.  They are not in any particular order.

1. Don't be ashamed of what you like.  I made the decision to be open about my low-brow taste in entertainment a few years ago.  It is harder than it seems, at least for me!  I try to be honest about liking reality TV - I love The Bachelor and Survivor, and I used to watch marathons of The Real World.  I even watched the whole DC season on the internet, even though it is definitely the worst season I ever tried.  With books, it is more difficult.  I have no problem admitting that I like science fiction/fantasy.  I have a much more difficult time admitting that I like reading romance novels.  But I am trying hard to get over any feelings of embarrassment - not embarrassment at reading them, but embarrassment at admitting to people who think I'm intelligent that I like reading them.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously.  I developed this rule when I studied abroad in Spain.  At first I was so embarrassed by my Spanish language skills that I would barely talk. But that means that I couldn't really meet anyone, or go out to dinner, or buy anything.  And I also realized that even if I totally screwed up, no one knew me!  No one cared but me!  I now apply this maxim to almost any interaction I have.  Buying a bra?  No one cares what size it is!  Eating French fries?  No one is looking at my plate but me!  And even if someone does care about those things, it doesn't affect me at all.

3. a.  Always be polite in written communication.  Saying "Dear" and "Sincerely" go a long, long way.  I always get better results when I apply this rule.

3. b.  Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself on the phone.  If you're getting a raw deal, complain about it!  You can always be polite in your follow-up "thank you" e-mail.

4. Keep in touch with your friends.  This one has been learned by tough experience.  Don't be proud; if they don't respond, still keep in touch.  You never know what is going on in their lives.

OK, I think those are my main rules for living.  At least, I think they are good rules to have. 


Nicole said...

Your #2 is something I also came to realize while abroad! I traveled across south england alone for a week and a half and I was terrified about getting lost and asking for directions (it's bizarre to think now that I had huge guide books instead of some electronic device - it doesn't seem that long ago!), and I finally realized that the people I was asking dumb questions of didn't know me, and I'd never see them again!

It was a strangely freeing realization. And probably one of the best things about studying abroad.

Gem said...

I remember your telling me about this after we both got back from abroad. It is totally true, so freeing! Although I mentioned it in a job interview a few years ago, and I got called out :)

The Paulymath said...

Sorry to butt in on private reminiscences :-

I couldn't agree with #1 more. An old quip from years ago, "Don't be afraid to make waves. How else will anyone know you are here!"
Even better, (and this I received in a spam / phishing email a month ago, can you believe it) :

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind" - Dr. Seuss

Regarding #2, three of the entries in my personal anthology of quotable quotes

--- Don't worry, be funny --------------
Stark reality is the sad existence of those who have lost the desire to laugh.
Laughter is the best medicine - take it to alleviate reality.
I can't take someone seriously who takes life too seriously.

< Paul 2009-02-01(Sun) >

#3a : (Until Valentines Day this year) "Dear" never cost me anything, nor hurt anyone. But unfortunately I did mistranslate "Dear Miss XXX" into "Cher Mmle XXX", which of course is completely the wrong dear (curious that both have similar words in both languages). "Dear", however, does come loaded with loads of sarcasm in formal letters (eg. summonses, letters of demand) - protocol expects it to be used here too.

#3b : Most of the business calls I make are recorded - it is very hard to be assertive and forceful without emphasising with expletives. Very hard here, our service levels in general are comparable with bureaucratic Stalinist Russia.

#4 : Friends - there are a few takes on this, spanning 2500 years

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies - Aristotle

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer - Julius Caesar

He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare,
And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere - Ali Taleb

Be slow in choosing a friend, even slower in changing - Ben Franklin

George Bernard Shaw to Churchill upon sending him a gift of two tickets to the opera,
"Bring a friend, if you have one."

And what does Paul say? "When you marry you will lose all your other friends, so marry your best friend."

Gem said...

Oh but Paul, I disagree with your last statement! As I may have mentioned, I love watching the Bachelor(ette), and every single one of them talk about marrying your best friend. It is so systematic that Jube and I make fun of it, and we refuse to say we are each other's best friend.

Sure, you should marry someone you like as well as love, but I think it is a fallacy that liking the same things means that you should marry each other. In fact, I think that this has been enshrined as one of the Geek Social Fallacies (in fact, it was an addendum to the originals [yes, I do research... sometimes]) and I have seen lots of my friends fall into it. Just because you both like Dr. Who doesn't mean that you're made for each other. And indeed, you don't have any reason to like someone just because you both like Star Trek! (I have seen this work the opposite way, too... one of my friend's old girlfriends tried really hard to get into everything he liked to prove that they were compatible.)

But that's just, like, my opinion :)

Gem said...

And about the wrong "cher", I am sure that you still got points for effort! (I hope it wasn't too costly a mistake, ha, ha.)

The Paulymath said...

Some of my best friends were completely different personality types to myself, and with many different interests. For example : most of the favourite music albums I have were recommended by friends - I would never even have thought to listen to their music genres, but that's where differences can complement.

Another one of my quips

--- What is a friend ?
An honest friend tells you the truth about yourself,
but a
true friend is honestly happy when you succeed.
  <Paul 2013-02-26(Tue)>

Have we talked about truth vs. honesty yet? I cannot remember.

So I contend that friends don't have to like the same things, they just need to like each other. Which makes it difficult to keep close friends when you get married, you have to transfer most of this affection to just one person.

"Geek Social Fallacies" <laughing> - at first I thought you had meant "Greek ... ...", since you mentioned research.
  <quote>Gem, "In my B.A. I majored in Principles of Geek Culture"</quote>

Well, speaking of Dr. Who, the only reason my cousin could actually get married was because he found a girl at one of this Fiction's annual conferences. Otherwise he would probably never have got married - and been limited to an existence of S.F. fantasies his whole life. And they have been happily married for 10 years now. (Note : I am not poking fun at S.F. at all, in contrast, I am an avid Asimov fan myself - and not only his futuristic books, but also his detective, technical and biographical books - and he spins a mean limerick too).

Cher - dear, dear, dear - this could mean a double dowry :-(

Anonymous said...

I recognize that you take the effort to stay in touch with me and I do appreciate it. Cue Golden Girls theme... BB

Gem said...

Oh BB, it is not much of an effort for a great return! Just one slice of baklava alone would make up for it all ;)