Open Letter

Dear overwhelmed girl,

I read your post about being overwhelmed. I sympathize but I’ve also decided to do more. So here, for the first time, I’m directly writing a long letter to you – the cerebral shy girl behind the public persona with the dazzling smile and impressive stage presence.

This is an open letter, only because I don’t know how to write to you privately without being intrusive. The vast majority of the other people who see this letter will probably see no reason to read further, nor are they likely to make much sense of it, or know who you are. Ideally, this provides privacy through obscurity. Even so, perhaps another cerebral shy girl will read this and benefit from it. If so, that’s fine too. Nevertheless, this letter is mainly written for you, the girl who commented on social media that she’s overwhelmed.

Whatever I write, as to how I figure you do (or did) think is conjecture. I’ve never spoken with you so I’m piecing together things you said, wrote and did, to form a composite picture and draw my own conclusions as best I can. If I’m mistaken on a particular point, I wouldn’t be surprised but I hope that I nevertheless understand the general gist of things well enough. With this paragraph as context, I’ll omit “as far as I can tell” from the rest of the letter; it’s implied.

* * *

Basically, I’m in this letter pointing out an underlying theme as to what you’ve been doing, and the consequences, and a problem that I see with them, with some observations intended to be useful to you.

* * *

When you were in your late teens, you were brimming with energy and enthusiasm. You saw an exciting world and you looked forward to being part of that. A major boost to that mindset came when you watched an important music concert. That inspired you to choose a particular career direction.

You’re a nice girl, and you are (or were) trusting. When the people around you offered you reasonable ways to move toward your goals, you accepted and went along. You ended up going down a path that is the epitome of social respectability, to reach your goals. When you noticed social options that were not open to you, yet open to typical people, that understandably saddened you but you kept going, making the most of the options you had.

One step at a time, you moved forward, trusting people and taking reasonable steps to move you along on the journey you’d mapped out for yourself.

An underlying premise, with which I strongly agree, was that by achieving your values, you’d also experience happiness. That premise is based on a good definition of happiness: the emotional state that comes from achieving one’s values. You’re not a martyr or an ascetic. You’re logical. Your benevolent view of the world included a healthy focus on your own happiness. Your song lyrics show that you were very focused on happiness, yet you were enlightened enough to know that pursuing it directly as an end in itself, e.g., through hedonism, might bring pleasure but not true happiness.

On that premise, you were a clean-living person with a matching public persona in an industry where your icons and contemporaries often eschewed a clean life-style. Your idea of fun was to bicycle somewhere, go look at cool things such as in museums and outside of them, and explore the world with a sharp mental focus. You weren’t a prude; you chose that approach because it made sense to you.

As the years went by, you noticed something ominous. Even while being benevolent, logical and reasonable, and trying your best to communicate, you were often misunderstood and treated unfairly. There seemed to be something fundamentally wrong with the world. The cause-and-effect code of morality seemed inverted: the more you did the right thing, the more you ended up being punished. It wasn’t any one thing that was particularly problematic. It seemed to be more of an undercurrent, subtle but real. Ostensibly, things were fine, but somehow the pieces of whatever puzzle you were working on rarely ended up fitting together in a way that seemed right to you. To your chagrin, the people around you tended to be blithely dismissive of the concerns you had. They were seeing the same puzzle pieces, and yet they considered the puzzle pieces to fit well enough. Ironically, the big picture of the puzzle somehow ended up not coming together quite right, and whenever that happened, it was somehow always you who was most affected by the negativity.

As the years went by, you kept making a point of doing the right thing, and yet you kept being hampered by this issue as you moved forward. You’d started out with an abundance of joyous energy and the journey was slowly but surely sapping your joy, your energy, your sense of hope in the world being a good place and your place in it being one where you’d be successful and happy, both.

Ostensibly, your hard work paid off. Professionally, you’d made a point of doing the right thing, and the results reflected that. You have succeeded spectacularly, and you have been succeeding for at least three decades. I’m avoiding specifics but your career represents a long list of stellar achievements, large and small. If we were assigning grades, you’d get an A+ in every category

Every career has its positives and negatives, but the one you chose for yourself is so generally celebrated that it has inspired a figure of speech used to imply spectacular success. Even so, for you, the journey wasn’t like joyfully dancing forward. Too much of it was like walking forward against a headwind, peering ahead through a poisoned fog, walking through mud that sucked your feet down, tripping over and bumping into obstacles that had no business being there. Still, you bravely continued, on a perplexing journey that was initially just difficult and gradually became exhausting. The girl who personified promise and joy ended up drained and overwhelmed.

Ostensibly, your hard work paid off on the personal front, too. There, you’d also made a point of doing the right thing, and the results also reflected that, on the surface. If we were to arrange your achievements into a list, it’d also be a long list. You have succeeded spectacularly there too, and you’ve been succeeding for more than two decades. In a geography and industry where personal stability is rare, you stand out as exemplary. Intimate details of your life should remain out of public scrutiny unless you choose to publicly mention them, so with that properly limited perspective on things: were someone to look at your bio, then as a person living seriously, cleanly and logically, whether the focus is on you as an individual or as a supportive girlfriend (at the time), or a supportive wife, or a mom who puts school issues before work issues, you’d again get an A+ in every category.

Of all the things you write about, the subjects of love and passion are where you show the most intensity and eloquence. Of all the aspects of your journey, this is the part where all the goodness in your person and character should get to be celebrated and distilled into a deep happiness that you, of all people, so richly deserve. Here the irony is the most cruel — of you working as hard as you can to do everything right and yet the puzzle pieces somehow don’t fit to make the right big picture, much as they should. While trying earnestly and harder than typical people can fathom anyone doing, you tried to make everything work out as it should. Even more than the frustrations in your professional context, your earnest efforts in a personal context were difficult and gradually became exhausting. The girl who personified promise and joy, as to romance and love, ended up being drained and overwhelmed to the point where happiness was so rare that things were, for you, sometimes downright depressing.

Nowadays, you feel isolated even though you’re inside social structures that make loneliness ostensibly impossible in that context. You spend much of your time alone. You move forward every day, thanks in large part to caffeine and willpower. You like wine in large part for how it lowers your inhibitions, thus enabling you to socially connect with others. You crave connecting with people, and there’s too little of it.

I like to conversationally bounce my ideas off other people, and on the subject of you, I’ve been told that I’m naïve, that you’re probably fine; that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and that my focus on you is strange and unhealthy. Perhaps that’s all there is to it. Then again, if I felt socially isolated as a cerebral shy girl, and I felt as if I was drowning, I’d be doing exactly what you’ve been doing. So at the risk of taking you more seriously than you intended, I’ve chosen to care, and to write, when I see you struggling, perhaps drowning. Could be you’re just venting. Could be that you really are reaching out, and for the world to simply respond with generalities is improper. I’ve never been a lifeguard but if I were, I’d rather dive into the ocean and energetically swim towards someone who might be in trouble once too often than once too few. Hence, this letter in response to you indicating you’re overwhelmed – especially in the context of everything else you’ve written.

You tend to be hardest on yourself, not others. Whatever blame you might want to assign to yourself for where you are today, it should certainly not be a lack of caring, of trying hard, of taking things seriously, of being logical, of being nice, of expending energy, of being loyal to people, of being a good person.

You did all of these things, and yet four decades after your adult life began, you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. Indeed, how could you be anything but? Steps that should have been yours, dancing along a sunlit path have instead been part of a plodding, tortured struggle forward.

There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture. As a dental analogy, it’s as if you’d bought the best-quality toothbrush known to exist. You chose the toothpaste based on the best clinical recommendations. You even chose the brand and type of dental floss carefully, and you make a point of doing diligent dental care at least twice daily. You even go get your teeth cleaned professionally, on schedule. In spite of all that, you’re in constant pain from multiple toothaches, and every trip to the dentist shows ever more cavities. It really doesn’t seem fair. Of all the people in the world, you should be the one with the healthiest teeth, in such a scenario.

Similarly, of all the people in the world, you should be the one most basking in happiness, due to how hard you’ve worked to enact causes to that end. It fundamentally doesn’t seem fair.

I grew up in a culture that lauded a stultifyingly anti-happiness mindset known as Calvinism. The gist of it is that misery on earth is man’s proper experience. As I recall, the alleged reward for earthly misery is posthumous, perhaps becoming an angel with an extra-nice harp on which to play. I rejected that culture. If there’s eternal life, great, but I’m not OK with accepting misery in this life as the status quo.

Neither are you. You told or wrote of sitting alone in a dark movie theater when you were 27, thinking about life, at a metaphysical level. I suspect you reached similar conclusions as I did – that life is serious, and happiness is something to strive for and achieve as the emotional state underlying one’s life. Fundamentally, that is the only thing that has eluded you, but it’s an essential thing.

You’re at a major checkpoint in your life. You’ve raised two boys to become young men. Your schedule is no longer event-driven. You can choose the pace of the events in your career. You’ve been in a professional and/or personal whirlpool until now. Finally, things are reaching a point of stillness to where the “what’s next” question is something that isn’t answered by pointing to an agenda to which you’ve already committed, with its own implied schedule and task list. Perhaps for the first time ever, you’re at a place in your life where you get to choose, as to what’s next.

Medical science would suggest that, if you take care of yourself, then you’re close to the mid-way point of your biological life. If you currently feel exhausted and overwhelmed, perhaps you feel older than mid-way. I sympathize, and some drawbacks do exist due to you being beyond the age you consider to be your biological prime. Even so, there’s a major plus — you’ve learned a lot along the way, and you’ve worked so hard and achieved so much that you never have to chastise yourself with “I should have tried harder yet, and achieved more yet.”

You’re finally in a place where you can now make a methodical priority of adding in the one elusive ingredient that’s been missing: achieving your own happiness.

That’s my intent in writing you this particular letter. I like you. I’d like to see you experience what’s been so long overdue — whatever that is, specifically. The absence thereof seems so monumentally unfair that by now it bothers me, to where I no longer want to passively hope that you figure it out. Maybe my direct letter to you is welcome; maybe it’s not. If it’s not, please feel free to say so.

A year from now, I’d you to look back at 2017 and see it as the year when finally the puzzle pieces fitted in a whole new way, to where you are happy with the big picture, whatever that is. It’ll be a much more just planet if you end up as happy, joyful and energized as you were when you were 19 and having a great day.

* * *

How do you get there? In a nutshell, I don’t know. But, I didn’t write all of the above to describe a problem without trying to be helpful in the process – even though I’m aware that sympathy and empathy have value as well, and you might be overdue for receiving some of that, too.

A cerebral shy girl friend of mine helped a friend of hers immensely simply by telling her “you deserve to be happy” when the latter felt powerless and miserable. So, if that’s useful to you, that’s certainly part of my message to you.

However, I’d like to be more helpful than that. So, as an analytical exercise, let’s scale back and recap what we basically know so far.

* * *

I’m a software engineer, professionally. I do things in computer software that, in a given context, use the law of cause and effect.

I’m also informally an automotive engineer, professionally. I don’t design new cars but I focus on classic German-made cars and how to make them last longer. There again, I use the law of cause and effect.

In either capacity of my work, even if the issues are intricate, the cause-and-effect premise makes things solid and predictable. I like that. Success on any given day might be hard to achieve but it is achievable. If I do the right things, I get to enjoy success. That’s how the planet works, as I understand it: enact the cause, get the effect.

Physical things are solid and predictable in a given context. If the context changes, such as a computer memory chip malfunctioning or an engine overheating, then a new context is in effect, but the law of cause-and-effect still applies.

When it comes to biology and medicine, the same cause-and-effect applies. (Wishful thinking also abounds, but that doesn’t change the nature of the world.)

Even as to the more-subtle fields of psychiatry and psychology, these are branches of science on the premise that there is cause-and-effect as to the workings of the human mind also.

To put things non-negatively, the universe is not a haunted house. Entities exist. They have a particular nature, and they function accordingly. As to these entities, they are fundamentally observable to us, through our senses, and we can abstract and conceptualize based on what we perceive. Using the principle that contradictions don’t exist, we can construct higher-level concepts, using logic to make sure that everything integrates without contradiction. By the time we’re done with that, we have a good idea of how solid a place the world is, and how solid our knowledge thereof is.

So, what’s next? Ethics. The happiness of which you write is fundamental to healthy ethics. Properly, the role of ethics isn’t to tell us to suffer but rather how to enact the specific causes whose effect is the emotional state of happiness. People achieve that every day. It’s possible. All other things being equal, the more cerebral you are, the more likely you are to figure out what to do in your specific context. And, as people go, you’re more cerebral than most. So, on that premise, you’re more likely to figure out how to achieve happiness, than most. There’s no reason why you of all people should not achieve that. If you (with or without help) can enact the cause, I expect you will get the desired effect. In other words, you’re only one step away. To put it non-negatively: you’re not cosmically doomed to unhappiness.

A few individuals are sad due to brain-chemistry reasons. I don’t have to go into specifics as to why you, of all people, can safely rule that out. So, the mathematically remaining reasons for you being not happy but sad are … well, let’s think about it some more.

Personally and professionally, you seem to have a lot going for you, where you are in life. If you were dying of hunger in the gutters, in some third-world place where you were forbidden to work and survive, or you were in a violent relationship where every Saturday night you end up with a black eye or in the ER, then you’d have a simple, clear cause for being sad, and a good fix would simply be “get out of there.” Fortunately, in your case, we can presumably rule that sort of thing out. Unless I’m missing something then your situation is existentially not all that fundamentally problematic that whisking you away is the ideal fix. If it were, I’d personally volunteer.

On the assumption that you’re a cerebral shy girl, perhaps much of your internal chagrin has been caused by you evaluating yourself by typical standards. By those, a cerebral shy girl rates very poorly. This alone might be enough of an issue to identify the majority of the obstacles you’ve faced – perhaps the root cause thereof, even.

I’ve fantasized about having met you socially, and us hitting it off, in the mid-1980s when you and I were both in our 20s, and we were both living in the west part of LA.

Ironically, I recently did meet a cerebral shy girl in her 20s. She’s an exceptional person but she has been evaluating herself using typical standards, by which a cerebral shy girl rates very poorly. She and I did hit it off. In the process of our conversations, I was reminded at close range how, even at so young an age, a negative self-evaluation has very deep and painful effects. This helped remind me how I felt, and presumably you felt, for similar reasons, at a similar age.

Add in another 30 years of negative self-evaluation and the result might well be someone wonderful who nevertheless might be overwhelmed by life, by now. Perhaps the issue is as simple as that, and methodically rolling things back and starting afresh, cognitively, would help. It’d be good news if that ends up being the problem-and-solution set.

Perhaps you’ve already figured out much of that puzzle, yourself. In a song on your solo album published a few years ago, you wrote about whiting out all of your past, making your own mind change, tossing out all these thoughts and forgetting who you’ve been, and finally starting over. Maybe that’s precisely the right thing to do — but you’re still you. Fundamentally, you can’t change your nature. What you can change, is how you evaluate yourself. Imagine rewinding the story of your life, and then fast-forwarding it, evaluating yourself using a completely new set of standards by which you rate very highly, e.g., where before you even left for college, others in your age group should on merit have been vigorously competing to be your romantic partner.

Then again, in software engineering we use the phrase “if your only tool is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail” so perhaps I’m overly preoccupied with that particular subject, and pursuing that train of thought has no benefit to you. If so, I’m sorry.

Whatever the problem is, its cause is real, and once it’s been found, the solution set is real too. You, of all people, should not be doomed to live a life that’s so much of a scaled down version of what you sought, specific to happiness. Your songs, interviews and writing have added significantly to the happiness of others, myself included. You’re long overdue for experiencing the same, permanently and deeply.

* * *

Does this help? Is it on the right track? I hope so. If yes, great, and I hope you run with it. If you can benefit from my involvement, in whatever way works for you, do write me.

Respectfully,

~T

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Candid Insights about my Approach to other Cerebral Shy Girls

When someone sends me the world’s most eloquent break-up letter (or to be precise, series of text messages) with well-reasoned points, it’s a good learning opportunity. Indeed, that opportunity arose, today. A wonderful cerebral shy girl came into my life recently, and left today. Her insightful parting observations have helped me be better aware of what I do, and why — and why I plan to continue doing so. It’s helped me, but it might help you too, if you like my writing.  There’s much to be learned from her astute observations. So, I have echoed her points in this essay since I agree with her (though not her evaluation) and added some additional information where relevant.

Based on the additional information in this essay, you might like me a lot less — or a lot more. Either way, I’d really prefer that whomever chooses me for friendship — or more — makes an informed decision as to reaching out to me, or avoiding me.

* * *

The focus of my social life, whether as friends or more, is on girls who personify the set of traits that make me refer to that individual as a “cerebral shy girl.”

I have done no scientifically researched work on the subject. “Cerebral shy girl” is simply a phrase I made up to describe a girl who thinks in a way that’s so logical, analytical, benevolent and serious (hence the “cerebral” in “cerebral shy girl”) that it sets her apart from typical people, to where she senses a social chasm that generally causes a lack of enthusiasm to socialize with typical people. As such, to describe her as “shy” is an informal synonym (hence the “shy” in “cerebral shy girl” ).

I first came up with the phrase while becoming interested in, specifically, a public persona in whose interviews I observed glimpses of the behind-the-scenes real person, with unusual traits to which I could relate. Lovely as she nevertheless is, I presume that the reasons why I was — and am — interested in specifically her (in contrast with all the other lovely people in the world) is because I concluded that she thinks in the same unusual way that I do. The more I learned about her, the more I learned about myself, and I realized how strongly I’ve always been drawn to cerebral shy girls ever since my first adult romance. What I was learning helped me better understand the cerebral shy girls in my past friendships as well as current friendships — and in some cases, dynamics that were more than friendships.

As to how prevalent cerebral shy girls are in general culture, in my opinion we’re rare. Yet as I ponder past and present intense friendships — and more-than-friendships — cerebral shy girls are the vast majority. Obviously, this is not a coincidence.

So, for the past several months, my insights on the subject has intensified, and changed from implicit to explicit. The biggest useful factor is, ironically, the pace of information acquisition. To explain:  with most cerebral shy girls in my life, there is a dialog — in person, via email or via the telephone. We learn about each other interactively. The pace of the conversation is often like drinking water from a fire hydrant. I tend to contribute at least 50% to the fast pace, and I enjoy the resultant intensity so much that I don’t plan to change my approach as such — but it does make it difficult to ponder and process the individual pieces of data at length and in depth. It’s like an archeological dig that turns up valuable artifacts at so rapid a pace that it’s hard to keep up with labeling, cataloging and filing things properly.

With the girl behind the public persona, it’s been different. Information about her is sprinkled over three decades’ worth of things she did, wrote and said. None of this was available via direct dialog with her.  She doesn’t typically engage therein with strangers, otherwise she might well be having conversations with tens of thousands of adulating fans. So, for once, I could learn about another cerebral shy girl at a pace that I could slow down and control 100% without destroying any conversational enthusiasm. This slower pace enabled me to ponder things in as much depth as I chose. As it turns out, this slowdown of pace was vastly empowering for me, intellectually. I’m analytical, and this enabled me to do what I like to do, and to do it well.

As to pace and subject matter, I’ve been told that in conversations with cerebral shy girls, I am guilty of rushing the “getting to know you” phase. By typical standards, I agree. Then again, sometimes when I get to know a cerebral shy girl, she in turn pauses the dynamic out of concern that she is setting too rapid a pace as to intensity. By typical standards, she is: her pace no doubt IS too fast. But, by my standards, it’s just right.

At the time, the pace and subject matter feels right to me and (assuming she’s free to choose her own pace and conversational involvement) to whomever is participating enthusiastically in the conversation, but it’s also often emotionally overwhelming and intense. The subject matter often covers difficult times in the life of both girls in the conversation, sometimes activating memories and emotions that each girl has worked hard to transcend as adults. This openness isn’t due to conversational sadism or masochism but as a way to explain who we are today: studying history, essentially, helps one understand how the present status quo came to be. Also, re-evaluating past events using more-logical standards can make for a whole new set of much-more-pleasant conclusions to the intended benefit of the two cerebral shy girls in the conversation. Lastly, sometimes the intent of the openness might be paraphrased as: “you seem to like me and I like where this is going, but before you like me based on a whitewashed version of who I am, I’d like to make you aware of some additional and not-so-pleasant information about me — so that, if you like me, you do so based on a full set of data.”

By the standard of typical people, it’s a peculiar dialog: each girl is oversharing personal information too soon as a sign that she’s trustworthy in order to get the other girl to share something about herself in return. However, by my standards, and those who engage in such conversations with enthusiasm and no regrets, it’s the sort of conversation that is vastly preferable to a bland conversation on lame topics, that proceeds at a stultifyingly slow pace.

Some cerebral shy girls value me for this openness and intensity, and become more and more intensely involved, sometimes being involved for many years. Rarely but sometimes, a cerebral shy girl might be initially enthused, then conflicted, and then she evaluates the experience as deeply negative, and she soon leaves. I can at best speculate as to the reasons. One possible explanation might be that it can be impossible to reconcile the cerebral-shy-girl cultural paradigm (and my unusual way of thinking about the world) to the typical-standards cultural paradigm that she sees in force all around her. She feels compelled to choose and commit to one, and reject the other.

One candid observation about me is that I prey on shy girls with low self-esteem to seduce them into coming to me so that I can dominate them so that they, and/or I, feel validated and empowered. I think that this is a perfectly accurate observation of what I do, and what I continue to plan to do. To analyze these points in more detail:

  • Mathematically, was I to randomly converse with girls in the off chance that this individual happens to be a cerebral shy girl, the signal-to-noise ratio makes it an inefficient process. It’d be like prospecting for diamonds in random areas of the planet, whether or not there’s any reason to suspect a prevalence of diamonds. For that reason, I do actively try to improve the odds. Over time, I have learned to identify cerebral shy girls socially, and I actively seek them out. If the verb for that is that I prey on girls like that, then indeed I do. To my delight, I’m also preyed on as such. Some cerebral shy girls have spotted me, approached me, and befriended me. As their prey, so to speak, I can strongly recommend the experience. It has meant that, over the years, I have ended up in intense conversations and wonderful, mutually beneficial friendships – and sometimes more-than-friendship dynamics — with a few logical, analytical, benevolent and serious girls who have enriched my life immensely, and who claim that I have enriched theirs. Some of these friendships have ended but the vast majority of them continue, year after year, even when the shift has occurred from friends to more-than-friends and then back again. I also have friendships with typical people, but it’s cerebral shy girls whom I actively seek out with the greatest enthusiasm, as my favorite type of person.
  • Cerebral shy girls often do feel isolated, and lonely. When using typical standards, we consider ourselves neurotic. One movie, which I consider the definitive movie on the subject of cerebral shy girls, even goes so far as to open with the star of the movie explicitly saying that she wishes she could get rid of her own neurotic thoughts. When a cerebral shy girl uses typical people as the social gold standard, then to the substantial extent that she doesn’t fit, she does evaluate herself as inferior. Cerebral shy girls tend to be benevolent and introspective. If there is a cultural mismatch relative to typical people, we might well give others the benefit of the doubt.  If we internalize these negative self-assessments, the consequence might well be low self-esteem. For some cerebral shy girls, low self-esteem was in their past, and for some it’s in their present, too — but it’s certainly not a defining trait. Even if the cerebral shy girl is well-aware of the chasm between her and typical people, she may also be aware that the traits that make her unusual also make her a better human being than typical people — and the more she’s read of my writing, the more she’s likely to consider the latter point. Indeed, some of my cerebral-shy-girl friends brim with a well-deserved confidence.  Low-self esteem might be an initial trait of a cerebral shy girl, for explainable reasons — but it doesn’t have to remain a trait. Ideally, it’s a trait that will fade away to the extent that she realizes her own self-worth, which is a discovery process that I encourage interpersonally and in my writing.
  • Do I seduce cerebral shy girls into coming to me? Yes, that’s my approach. In my experience, chasing anyone is a good prelude to seeing them run away. If someone chooses to come to me, that’s better. It’s the dynamic that I prefer.
  • The girl who makes the observation that I like to dominate other cerebral shy girls was insightful as to the underlying sub-cultural nuances of BDSM. I am indeed a former professional Dominatrix.  Some Dominatrices focus on clients who want to experience pain; some focus on those who want to experience humiliation. My approach as a Dominatrix, personally and professionally (before I retired) is to empower people to discover who they are and (presuming it’s a good but socially ostracized set of traits, which is typically the case such as being a cerebral shy girl) to re-evaluate themselves using objective (as opposed to typical) standards, and to celebrate who they are instead of beating themselves up about it.
  • As as result, a cerebral shy girl whom I dominate (if that’s the word) or mentor (which is, I hope, a better word) does feel immensely validated when she realizes that the problem isn’t with her, but with typical people whose illogical standards she has used to evaluate herself unfairly. Some of my favorite novels, written by (no surprise) a cerebral shy girl dramatizes the events when good people upgrade the standards by which they evaluate themselves, from “typical” to “logical.” The role of illuminating the issues is a role I enjoy.  I like to have the effect of a catalyst, enabling a girl whom I befriend to feel validated about herself, the world and her place in it. Because I enjoy having that effect, I also feel validated.
  • The consequences of such validation tends to be, if things go according to plan, that the cerebral shy girl feels empowered with a new sense of self-value based on a new paradigm wherein her view of the world feels a lot less peculiar and strange to her than before I showed up. This sort of empowerment is something I feel good about enabling, so in that sense I also feel empowered.

Evidently, my approach is not for everyone, and the more that typical-person standards are applied, the more unconventional my approach is.

Anyway, however I pursue my values, I should not do so through subterfuge. So, now you know what I do, and why. If in spite of this, you’re interested in me, I’m glad. Having read this essay, you are making a better-informed decision.

Pensively Watching the 1987 Movie, “The Allnighter,” Again — Part 1

Last week, I was standing in the music section of a large Barnes and Noble store in Las Vegas, seeing music-for-sale on display by a huge amount of artists, and pondering how vast the number of musicians in the world must be, including those whose music wasn’t displayed there.

In this sea of humanity, for me to focus intellectually on one lone, cerebral shy girl as to her music and her mind …  that’s a very narrow focus. And yet, there I was, doing just that for the past several months.

Not that I’ve stopped appreciating and listening to other musicians, from the Beatles to Beethoven. Even so, I’m not exactly intrigued by the mindset of these other musicians, inspiring as such an analysis might nevertheless be.  What intrigues me is how a small subset of girls — including this one musician — seems to be in a class of our own as to how we think about the world, and our place in it — especially relative to other people.

As to this subset of girls, I didn’t realize how binary a category we’re in. I’d initially thought it was mostly a continuum, i.e, that the more cerebral, benevolent girls are simply on the right side of the graph.  In recent months, I’ve concluded it’s more of a step-up thing, to where the cerebral girls are often so different in our mental wiring that there’s a chasm between us and typical people. That’s how I came up with the category and the name “cerebral girls.”

After seeing how emotionally different and distant we tend to feel socially, relative to typical people — and how benevolent and positive we are until we get hurt again and again and again until we finally adjust our expectations … that explains why we’re often reluctant to socialize with typical people, hence the revised name “cerebral shy girls.”

This seems like a misnomer when one is confused by the coping and defense mechanisms that so many cerebral shy girls have, including being outgoing, having dazzling smiles, and so on. However, it’s not about the public persona … it’s about the real person behind the scenes. In her public persona, a cerebral shy girl might be willing to walk on-stage in front of thousands of people, literally in the spotlight, and she might literally perform as a rock star. She might read and hear vast amounts of adulating comments as to how lovely she is, and yet in her personal life she might feel too shy to go on a date, and might put on make-up trying to feel pretty. Typical people might find this puzzling but among cerebral shy girls, this all makes perfect sense.

Learning about a like-minded person, is, of course, interesting in its own right, but it also enables one to learn about oneself. It’s hard to observe traits in oneself, whereas it’s much easier to see them in someone else who’s like-minded.

Online interviews of this girl were useful and informative, but a full length movie would, I thought, be even more interesting. Not that an artist portrays herself in a movie, of course. Still, there’s much to learn about someone’s sense of life by watching her interpersonal behavioral dynamics in a two-hour movie. Yes, it’s acting, but it’s still the actual person doing the acting. We couldn’t have substituted someone else and have had the same effect.

So, six months ago, I bought “The Allnighter” on DVD and I watched it. I liked it but something very subtle was bothering me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I took a peek at the collection of reviews that people had written online about the movie. I found myself disagreeing with much of it, so I wrote my own, focusing on the more in-depth issues that the other reviewers had somehow missed. I thought my review was nice, and one of the more-insightful ones out there. But, after I re-read my review tonight, I realize how much I’d overlooked.

The movie reminds me of some comics I read when I was a kid. At a superficial level, I enjoyed them, and so did my dad. I was always puzzled that my dad would get so much out of a little kid’s comic book, but when I revisited these same books a decade later, I realized that there was much subtle and complex humor that had been completely lost on me, the first time around. The same realization applied to watching this movie again, with the benefit of several months’ worth of new insights on the subject of cerebral shy girls.

Belatedly, I realized how much more there is to it. As “Kinsey” is the definitive movie about a scientific approach to human sexuality, so is “The Allnighter” movie the definitive movie about the cerebral shy-girl mindset. Part of what I find intriguing is how these aspects found their way into the movie. Were they there intentionally or were they unavoidably part of the package — or both?

As an analogy: I used to idolize my dad.  Then, after I found out about some unethical business practices, we had an intense argument about ethics and meta-ethics — as in, the ethics of being ethical. It was complex and messy, and it ended with much emotional and physical distance between us. After that argument, I vowed to live a life in which I would do things more ethically than my dad had done. I focused on my dad’s weaknesses and actively worked to not make the same mistakes. For example, my dad would make promises and then wander off with no follow-through — so by contrast I tried to be super-careful as to what I promised, and then once I did promise, I tried to work hard to make sure I delivered.  In ways that my dad had been unreliable, I made a point of being rock solid. I was more than a decade into this life-reshaping rebellion when I realized how many of my dad’s basic life assumptions — some good, some bad — I was still implicitly working on, even while trying hard to blaze my own trail. Much of what my dad had taught me had become part of my mindset, in a way so ingrained that I was still working on those deeply-held premises, albeit unwittingly.

I like to think that’s a good analogy for this movie.  Even if the cerebral shy girl was portraying a different type of girl, she would still be doing it with the fundamental mindset and style of a cerebral shy girl — and so there would still be much for me to learn.

However, imagine that the movie has a cerebral shy girl actually portraying a cerebral shy girl — that’d be a gold mine, for someone focused on this subject.

And that, I realized belatedly, is precisely what this movie is.

For part 2, read here.

Cerebral Shy-Girl Eating, and Being in Control

When typical people have a hard time, they often tend to take it out on others. When cerebral shy girls have a hard time, we often cope by hurting ourselves. We isolate ourselves, we cut ourselves, we don’t eat, or we eat too much. We don’t drink water, or we drink alcohol — and not in moderation.

Since age 18, I’ve generally chosen cerebral shy girls as my romantic partners. One key trait of mine, and of so many cerebral shy girls in my past and present, is: much more so than typical people, we like to be in control of our own lives. Ideally, we like to control the big things, but when we can’t do that, we settle for controlling the small things. In such situations especially, we like to have high standards of cleanliness, and of being organized.

I don’t care about controlling anyone else.  It’s just my own life and my own issues that I care to control. I like my things to be “just so.”  When a cerebral shy girl friend came over recently for dinner, and thereafter offered to wash the dishes, my first reaction wasn’t just “wow, how nice” but also “oh, gosh, I’m concerned her standards aren’t up to mine and so I’ll re-wash everything later anyway, unless somehow I can nicely convey my concerns.”

As I sit here, pondering my past actions, and those of the cerebral shy girls who were (or are) my girl friends or girlfriends, I realize how much of a pattern there is … when we feel exceptionally out of control, we choose a small delineated area that we can control … and we focus on that. Sometimes the control is exercised in a way that is self-destructive as to the big picture — but if that’s what we need to do, so as to cope psychologically, then that’s what we do.

The most fundamental thing we control is what food and drink we choose to put into our own bodies.  Nobody gets away with pressuring or manipulating us on that.  Even if we might appear to appreciate it or go along on that point, we will resent and resist and prevail, long-term. Maybe if medically diagnosed, we’d be officially overweight, or anorexic, or bulemic, or some combination of the above.  Regardless, that’s our choice by right.

My mother, ironically, is a professional dietician. For her to have a daughter with eating issues was a continual point of mother-daughter conflict.  When she was still able to physically overpower me, she literally force-fed me things that she considered healthy, such as eggs. I don’t mean to imply that she did this only when I was an infant … it was many years beyond that.  I hated that so very much.

In the years since, as an adult, I’ve sometimes weighed so much more than a healthy weight that I was officially overweight.  Other times, I was so malnourished, due to what I was choosing to eat (or not eat), that my hair started to fall out and I looked, and was, super-thin. But it was my choice, my life, my body.

When I have a cerebral shy girl over who’s clearly not eating or drinking enough, I don’t fuss. I don’t lecture. I already know what she likes to eat and drink, and I’ll have small portions of that around, in case she decides to nibble or sip. That’s as good as it gets. It’s fine for me to be nice, and thoughtful.  However, there’s a line that I don’t cross. I respect that it’s her body, her decision, her health and if she doesn’t eat, this doesn’t become the focus of her visit, unless she chooses to bring the issue up and talk about it.

This point is entirely lost on most typical people who have the privilege of a cerebral shy girl in their lives, if she’s not eating enough or she’s dehydrated. Typical people will pressure, cajole, fuss, lecture, guilt us … all of which is counterproductive.  The best way I know to help a cerebral shy girl thrive, including as to what she’s eating and drinking, is to be supportive to her as she strives to be in control of her life, and to be happy.

Perhaps her eating behavior IS a cry for help, but the issue isn’t what she’s eating — it’s what’s eating at her, so to speak.

Not that I know what works for formal eating disorders — they’re medically serious, sometimes fatal, and I have no guidance to offer in that context. I’m not a professional. When it’s time to involve a professional, then involve a professional. I’ve already lost one cerebral shy girl friend to the grave. When she was a teenager, her father beat her up so badly that she was hospitalized. In protest, she chose to be so dehydrated that her kidneys were structurally damaged, and eventually failed to the point where dialysis didn’t help any more.

Humans are complex beings, and cerebral shy girls are an even-more-complex subset. Our problems are complex — and so is how we turn things around, if we ever do. A cerebral shy girl who is not eating or drinking … the food or water is just a superficial issue. The real problem is much deeper. In my experience, when someone tries to help a cerebral shy girl, a superficial approach isn’t helpful  and might well make things worse.

 

“You don’t Have to Talk to the Public” — Part 2

A friend of mine is a cerebral shy girl and also a minor celebrity. Her aesthetics are such that even if the typical guy on the street didn’t recognize her, he might still initiate a conversation with her — probably not a cerebral conversation, either.

Her mind isn’t what draws the typical guy to hit on her. Ironically, this means he’s missing out since she’s sweet and highly intelligent. She could cover herself head-to-toe with a bed-sheet and she’d still be the most enticing person in the ZIP code to spend time with, by my standards anyway.

As to the subject of her not having peace and quiet when out in public … this came up in a her-and-I conversation prior to us going on a mini-vacation together, to a touristy city where she would indeed be out in public. I like to be helpful and protective, and as a cerebral shy girl myself, I understand the dread that we sometimes feel in public when strangers talk to us. One of my other friends, who’s also a cerebral shy girl, says her first thoughts are “don’t talk to me” when she’s out grocery shopping and someone approaches. Aside from work and grocery shopping, she’d rather just stay at home and read.

That’s not to say we can’t cope with being approached by strangers. We can — literally. Each of the cerebral shy girls mentioned in this article has a coping mechanism — a public persona that most visibly consists of a dazzling smile. Whenever I see my new friend smiling like that, I know she’s on guard. I wanted her to be able to relax and let me bear the brunt of any social awkwardness, so that the mini-vacation would also be a vacation from social stress, for her. She would be able to be out and about as a tourist, and she would simply not have to talk to the public. I’d be her social shield, so to speak.

If she chose to make an exception, and speak with anyone, then she of course could. She just wouldn’t feel as if she had to. If someone spoke to her, and she didn’t feel like responding, then she would just point to me, and I’d do the talking. If someone ignored that or didn’t get the message, she’d at most say “she’s my spokesperson” and then point to me again.

My friend was more than OK with taking the hit as to any reduced public popularity resulting from her being unapproachable by intrusive members of the public during our vacation.

One of the YouTube videos I like least is where another girl — also a minor celebrity, and also a cerebral shy girl as far as I know — is out in public, walking in the Hollywood Blvd area of LA at night, next to her husband. Some stranger with a video camera approaches them so intrusively that the girl (who’s of slight stature) darts behind her husband (who’s tall). My friend and I watched this distastefully-made video as a learning tool, and we felt sympathy for the girl and her husband, both. The girl emerged behind her husband, her dazzling smile indicating what mode she was in.

My friend opined that, were she the girl in the video, she’d have preferred to stay out of the line of sight of the video camera.

The intrusive person with the video camera next started chatting with the girl, and she responded conversationally, even though she and her husband started walking away rapidly. The intrusive person followed, ignoring all the “get lost” social cues he was getting.  My friend made it clear to me that she wouldn’t be drawn into conversation.  She’d prefer to keep me between herself and the intrusive person, and she’d prefer to keep quiet.

A few days later, she and I were on vacation together. We were walking down the wide sidewalk of a touristy-area street at night, and she was approached by a socially intrusive stranger who had an overly-familiar style. The specifics had much overlap with the scenario in the video we’d watched together, and disliked.

My friend kept me between herself and the man. She didn’t smile, and didn’t say a word. We kept walking. I said some things to make it clear to him we weren’t interested, and he stopped following us, making indignant and entitled remarks as we receded.

We had a lovely evening in spite of this minor incident, and we were grateful to have been able to learn from the not-so-nice experience of the girl in the video.  She has our sympathy.  We understand that sometimes, most times, a cerebral shy girl just wants to be left alone.

 

 

Cerebral Shy Girls’ Interpersonal Benevolence

For me, it has been an emotionally intense exercise to analyze the benevolence exuded by cerebral shy girls. I’ve recently focused on this subject in conversation with a friend who’s also a cerebral shy girl. Not that she’s the only cerebral shy girl in my life, but we happened to be on an 800-mile road trip and a 2-day vacation. This made for a good opportunity to explore the subject, for hours on end.

I’m vastly impressed and delighted by the depth and breath of the benevolence that cerebral shy girls shower on our friends — and on those who are more than friends. Unfortunately, if these others are not like-minded people, then the benevolence is often misunderstood, so that it’s a wasted effort — and sometimes it is even evaluated as negative by the intended beneficiary.

As I explain my insights on the subject to the other cerebral shy girls in my life, it’s been a most rewarding experience for me to see these girls start to consider the possibility that, instead of being an emotional mess, perhaps we’re wonderful and it’s the typical people who are a mess.

I like to conversationally guide a cerebral shy girl into imagining her re-living her past — but this time around, she is surrounded by like-minded people. It’s an experience in which she’s no longer naive if she expects benevolent and honest behavior from those around her. In this mental model, she is surrounded by intelligent, precise beings who are sensitive and benevolent, who take things more seriously, who think things through more deeply, and who are much cleaner & better-organized.  Imagine sharing a planet with beings for whom sexuality is good, intimacy is good, being comforted is good — but all of these together are synergistically better yet. All of this makes for, of course, a much nicer world.

Faced with this conclusion, the cerebral shy girl can no longer assume that she’s always been the problem because she doesn’t fit in with typical people.  She gets to start considering the possibility that typical people might actually be the misfits, because were they to think like her, it’d make for a better world.

Especially if a cerebral shy girl grew up in a mean environment, then as an adult she feels isolated and alienated  … alone and lonely.  It’s a big shock to her to realize she never was the problem, and that it’s time to revise her assumptions.

She gets to reject the premise that nobody else can understand and cherish her in a relationship — whether it’s a friendship or more. There are many girls like us, and so much of the problem reduces to simply meeting someone like-minded. Events from then on mostly take care of themselves.  We connect, we chat, we learn from each other, and we enjoy each others’ company more and more.  Most importantly, we understand each other.

From feeling fundamentally unlovable to feeling accepted, to feeling understood, to feeling valued, to feeling cherished — those are big steps, for cerebral shy girls — and very much overdue.

Meanwhile, Near UC Berkeley Today …

I live in the Reno area, but I’m in the SF Bay area often. That included today (technically, yesterday since I’m writing this after midnight).

While I was having lunch, a flatbed auto transporter drove by with a vandalized privately-owned SUV covered in anti-police slogans. It was a stark reminder of what was happening nearby.

As to the groups that you-know-who chose to marginalize and alienate during his campaign … if you arrange them in a list of check-boxes, then you could check off a great many of these, to the extent that they overlap with my personal life and those with whom I choose to surround myself.  As to one particular check-box, you can see it at a glance — I’m a trans girl.

imag1331There was an odd vibe about the Bay area today. It was as if those targeted by electoral malice were standing together … in a cool, subtle way.

I drove north on highway 80, past the Bay bridge, past the University of California at Berkeley — which in so many ways is the center of the universe of the counter-forces to the malice behind the notions of you-know-who.

On I drove, a few miles beyond, to the Richmond bridge, where there was a cash toll booth. It was around 6:30 p.m. and traffic was flowing vigorously. I handed over my $5 bill. Normally, the toll booth workers don’t look at me. They take the money and make no connection … but not tonight. Tonight, there was a black gentleman working in the tool booth.  He looked at me, and I looked at him. We each smiled. A second went by, then another second or two. The looks we exchanged showed a peculiar sort of unspoken allegiance.  It was an uncanny thing.  I felt it and I’m convinced he did, too.  It was a mix of “f*ck ’em” and “got your back” and “we’re going to be OK.”

Perhaps some trans girls and some black gentlemen voted for you-know-who … but not the trans girl and the black gentleman who exchanged smiles and meaningful, mutually supportive glances at Richmond bridge tonight.  The election results have divided this country, but it has strongly united the half of it to which I choose to belong.

imag1326

As to the picture of the flag, that I took this afternoon — it fits this article perfectly.  Long may it wave, high above petty malice, embodying the best within us.