First a short PSA: My friend Dana Norris is looking for relationship/dating-type questions at Role/Reboot. She is all full up on “How do I convince my wife to have a threesome?” questions, so, don’t send her those – she’s covered it. You can email her at email@example.com.
Second, I’ll be here until noon answering short questions that come in on Patreon or Twitter with the hashtag #AwkwardFriday. No comments for now (can’t keep up with both questions and comments at the same time, we’re all wordy motherfuckers). Question away!
What’s a good quick way to shut up brain weasels (shrieking that I am terrible and that I can’t do anything right ever) while I am at work and trying to function?
If you can, stop what you’re doing and take a 5 minute walk around the office or outside. Get drink of water. Come back to your desk. Make a to-do list with two things on it. 1. What’s the one thing you most need to do today? 2. What’s a quick, possibly cosmetic thing that will take a few minutes but give you a sense of accomplishment and momentum? Do #2 first, cross it off your list and then come back to the other thing. When you’re done with those two things you can call the day “good” – anything else you do is extra credit. See the next question also.
(What are) ways to motivate yourself to Do Basic Stuff (cleaning, self-maintenance, emails) when tired all the time?
Rachel Hoffman at Unf*ck Your Habitat has the best system for this I know, an adaptation of The Pomodoro Method. Set a timer for 20 minutes and do what you can of The Thing. Then take a break for 10 minutes. (If you can only do 10 minutes, do 10 minutes with a 5 minute break). On days when you have more energy, you’ll create some momentum and do a couple of cycles. On days when you have less, do one and call it a victory. Getting started is the hardest part, and the reminder “I only have to do this for a few minutes” can help push past that inertia.
For both #1 and #2, there is some evidence that for some people, the sense of accomplishment and momentum that comes from starting a task is its own positive feedback loop. That can’t magically fix physical tiredness, but it can quiet the feeling of “nothing ever gets done.”
How to talk to friendly acquaintances I think are reasonable but then they suddenly defend Trump and I’m shocked.
I’ve run into this a few times recently and here’s what I have done.
- End the conversation – sometimes gracefully and sometimes not gracefully. “Um, ok, I have to go…to the bathroom” is graceful, right?”
- “Well, that’s one opinion.” Result: Awkward silence, them changing the subject.
- “Wow, that really surprises me coming from you.” Result: Awkward silence if I’m lucky, emotional vomit about how they have their reasons if I’m unlucky.
- “Wow, that’s not true at all, but I’m interested to know why you feel that.” (When they get facts really wrong). Result: They repeat a bunch of stuff they learned on Infoshit or Shitebart, I keep saying ‘but that’s objectively not true, I’m confused as to why it rings so true for you,’ until one of us mercifully ends the conversation, perhaps with a sudden need to use the restroom.
- “Lots of people didn’t survive, though.” (For the “We survived Reagan and Bush, we can survive this, it’s not that bad” crowd). Result: Awkward silence.
- “My friends & students are terrified of being deported and I’m probably going to lose the ability to get meaningful health insurance for the forseeable future…forgive me if I can’t see any ‘bright sides.'” Result: They reassure me that ‘It won’t be that bad’ and I say ‘It already is that bad’ and then one of us mercifully ends the conversation, perhaps with a sudden need to use the restroom.
- “Well, every non-rich non-white non-straight person I know is very concerned about (Issue X), so, that’s enough for me to be very concerned, too.” Result: You know what the result is. Awkward silence. Emergency bathroom break.
What I’m looking for is something short that indicates that I don’t agree as I mentally add this person to my “not to be trusted…about anything” list.
Edited to add:
How to politely ask people to call me by my first name, not a nickname? This is most awkward when it’s in passing.
Be boring and correct them. “I’m Katherine, not Kat.” They’ll say some version of “Oh, I’m sorry” and you’ll all go on with your lives. It’s awkward to correct someone, but it’s even more awkward the longer you let it go on without correcting them, so think of it as doing them a favor by speaking up early and often. If I had a dollar for every time I had to say “Actually, I go by Jennifer, not Jenny” I’d have a lot of dollars. In related news, I wish there was a magic spell that gave transgender and non-binary people money every time they had to correct someone about names and pronouns.
Speaking of which…
Tips for changing my brain’s default pronouns for (a transgender person who has recently come out)? Same name=Same pronoun for my brain, but I’m so happy for them!
What if you wrote out in a journal, longhand, a few paragraphs describing this person, how you know them, the history of how you met, and why you like them so much, using all correct pronouns and their name as appropriate? Like you were describing the history of your friendship in a novel or for a person who’d never met them? It’s a way to practice this without practicing *at them.* I know that actors have good luck doing a physical task along with trying to remember their lines, so I wonder if the physical act of writing can help re-wire you a little bit.
I car share with people whose driving frightens me. It would be draining to not car share. My terrified squeaking when they drive crazily doesn’t seem to deter them, how can I make them drive sensibly
You can’t make anybody do anything. You can say, “Could you please slow down?” or otherwise name the specific behavior you observe (use turn signals, be more careful about cutting people off, pay more attention/don’t be on the phone). Have the conversation when they aren’t driving, and say “You probably don’t realize it because you’re so used to driving, but sometimes you (do specific behaviors) and it really frightens me. Can you (stop doing those things/pay more attention)?”
If they don’t listen to you and don’t change the behavior, don’t ride with them anymore. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but if this is about your safety it’s your only play – drive yourself, ride with someone else, use a taxi or public transit or other service. “It would be draining not to car share.” It is draining now, in the form of you being terrified to ride with them.
How do I tell my friend her tone is (probably unknowingly) making me feel dumb/condescended to w/out hurting her?
She might be hurt but you still gotta tell her, so, be direct and kind: “I’m sure you didn’t intend to, but when you (name one specific thing she said and did), it felt like you were talking down to me.”
If she apologizes and is more careful in the future, then, good. If she self-justifies or otherwise gets super-weird about it, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that she was hurting your feelings and needed to be told about it. If she keeps doing it, refer back to the initial conversation. “Remember when I talked to you about being condescending? That right there is what I meant. Can you not?”
I’m good at being single, but want to also get good at romantic relationships. How?
If you can make other connections (family, friends, colleagues), if you’re generally a kind and considerate person who pays attention to your own needs and the needs of others, if you’re good at speaking up for the things you want and setting boundaries, if you know yourself sexually (whatever that may look like), if you know yourself and the kind of life you want to have, then you already know what you need to know to be good at romantic relationships when the right person comes along. Time to skip to the practical exam, ie, dating some people and seeing if you can find a person who is worth your time and attention.
The missing stair is a prof and also sponsors my organization. Tips?
- Believe people when they tell you sketchy stuff about this person.
- Warn new people about what this person does.
- Use the buddy system and don’t leave people alone with this person.
- Set boundaries to the extent you can within the organization, like, “Don’t touch people without permission,” “Don’t make sexual jokes or comments.” Document breaches.
- Document what you observe and talk to your school’s Title IX office? If you don’t know how to do that, find your most-feminist-prof-with-tenure and start there. (Someone with tenure will be less likely to be subject to having Prof Missing Stair on their tenure committee or in another supervisory role. Ugh, I hate academia right now).
- See also: Student Affairs, Office of Student Organizations. It’s very likely that your school has extensive codes of conduct for student organizations and if this person is violating those they can be removed from supervising the organization.
- Is it possible to disband and re-found an alternate organization without this person’s involvement?
- Remember always: Campus organizations, student organizations, are there to SERVE YOU as part of YOUR EDUCATION. You and your fellow organization members are not there to serve Prof Missing Stair. Harassing students is wrong and illegal. It is okay to “ruin the career of an important man” or whatever – it would be actually awesome if terrorizing and harassing students did fucking ruin more people’s careers.
- Remember also: If some asshole professor harasses you, s/he is not the only prof you will ever have and not your only route to recommendation letters or your career, etc. Other people will support you and help you, and you are not beholden to this person for anything. Never believe people who say “I alone hold the key to what you want and you have to put up with being harassed to get it.”
Top tip for interrupting a man telling a story he’s sure you care about (you don’t) while remaining professional?
Say “Sorry to interrupt you” + ask a work-related question OR excuse yourself from the vicinity.
“Sorry to interrupt you, but I’m on a deadline right now – can you direct me to [needed work information]?”
“Sorry to interrupt you but I need to excuse myself for a second.” + go to the restsoom/go refill your drink/go do whatever.
We’re taught that interrupting is rude and that we’re never supposed to do it and my friends, THIS IS A TRAP. It’s rude to interrupt all the time, it’s rude to interrupt someone’s story with your own much better story, it’s rude when your conversation partner only wants to talk about their stuff and never your stuff, it’s rude when men constantly interrupt women (but not each other). But sometimes you gotta interrupt people, like, when your friend starts that shame-spiral for the 1,000th time or when your coworker won’t stop listing how many calories are in your lunch food. Stop your colleague, refocus the topic back on work or throw down a smoke bomb and disappear.
That’s all for today. Comments are now open.