Confidence, Delusion, and the Gray Matter Inbetween

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Post by Enail on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:00 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
As far as owning poor choices, I do not agree. There are some people out there who can "own" poor fashion choice. But that's a talent unto itself. That's what I meant about delusional... I don't see the point of doubling down and "owning" something that makes other people see me poorly. I don't see why I should have confidence about doing something wrong. It's like walking into a spelling bee, knowing I've only studied on the car ride over, and expecting to get 2nd place because I'm just so confident about my poor spelling skills.

I want to earn my confidence in my clothes. Otherwise, it looks far too much like misguided hubris to me.  

I see what you mean, but at the same time, I think it bears noting that, unlike spelling, fashion is subjective. Sure, there are general cultural agreements about what appropriate for various kinds of people in various kinds of situations, and there are some artistic principles that mean some outfits will be more generally agreed-upon as appealing or not. But beyond that, there's a huuuuuuuge range of looks that different people will have different opinions about - and your opinion is for the most part just as valid as other peoples'*

*I say 'most' b/c I do believe in the idea of experts, that clothing designers, say, might have more detailed and informed opinions about what's flattering or that people who take a particular interest in colour might bring more to the table in evaluating combinations. But everyone still gets to have their own taste!


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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:01 pm

Short answer - because the confidence itself is the "something right", not the fashion choice. This isn't a spelling bee where there's one right answer. Its not even really the clothes you're trying to have confidence in, its yourself. If you're worried that people are thinking you look silly, that's not confidence. Its mind reading to justify your lack of confidence. You're literally making up a reason to feel bad.

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Post by Werel on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:12 pm

RBS, I also am (and used to be much more) prone to obsessing over what people might conceivably be thinking about me inside their heads. While obviously that is a straight path to driving yourself fucking insane, it also affects the signals you're putting out in a measure equal to (or maybe greater) than your clothing choices. I remember freshman year of college, still trying to get the confidence to keep dressing like I wanted and had in high school* in a new environment where I assumed everyone was way more sophisticated and judgmental by value of being in College!(tm). The result was NOT that I kept my eyes and mind open to appreciate and emulate some of the new fashions I was seeing around me (which can be a nice and helpful way to deal with fashion insecurity). The result was that whenever I walked into a crowded room, I saw all those brains potentially judging me and whispering how stupid and shitty I looked, and so I felt and acted like a caged animal. The vibes I was putting out were much more "yeah I WILL rip your face off with my teeth if you look at me for one more second" instead of "oh hello, how is your day going?" Guess what was keeping people from wanting to talk to me during that phase? I'll bet you a million bucks it wasn't my clothes. Cause once I got my bearings, actually talked pleasantly with some of my classmates, dialed the judgment-paranoia WAY back (not that this is a simple voluntary process!), and didn't change my style at all, I made friends just fine.

If what's in your mind and eyes when you look at a stranger/potential friend/date is fear, resentment, or jealousy, they're likely to pick up on that. If your outfit is one they think is stupid but you're looking at them with goodwill and interest, most non-assholes will respond to that. The hubris is in thinking you can keep hating and fearing the people around you and still have them approach you for friendship or romance--that's the delusion (or one of them). Smile

*this has been affectionately described as "retarded punk hooker," if that gives you any ideas. That is to say, NOT OBJECTIVELY COOL
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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:46 pm

Assuming you're talking about Portland, Oregon (as opposed to Portland, Maine or some other Portland), I would like to point out that we're in kind of a weird place lately fashion-wise as opinions are divided on the whole "hipster" thing. Plus the usual resentments/prejudices that come from class-stratification and the fact that you have preppy upper-middle-class web startup developers and tree-hugging charity-feeding liberal peaceniks in the same area, and sometimes those are the same people (e.g. me and most of my friends). So even more than usual, what one person considers tasteful may be offensive to their neighbor. innocent

Point being, I guess, that it's hard to predict with much accuracy what a given person will think of a given style. Tie-dye is definitely "in" with some groups, but everyone I'm closely acquainted with views that as tacky. Some of my friends deride the entire category of skinny jeans, but ever since Lemminkainen's skinny-guy fashion thread on the Ancien Forúm I wear 'em anyway 'cause I feel good in them (and recently one of my friends described the overall effect as "suave", so sometimes you may just have to stick to a particular style before somebody comments positively).

Also, I take Johnny at his word when he says owning poor choices is better than being a slave to everyone else's opinions. Even if there are obvious flaws in the former approach, they are fewer and less obvious than those of the latter. Sometimes there are no good options and you still have to try to pick the best one you can.


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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:50 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:Short answer - because the confidence itself is the "something right", not the fashion choice. This isn't a spelling bee where there's one right answer. Its not even really the clothes you're trying to have confidence in, its yourself. If you're worried that people are thinking you look silly, that's not confidence. Its mind reading to justify your lack of confidence. You're literally making up a reason to feel bad.

Except, again the Doc would say "How is being yourself working out for you"? Maybe there isn't one right answer, but there is A right answer (or several of them) and a wrong answer, or else why bother with advice and suggestions on improvements at all? If having friends and relationships is a numbers game, then you need to appeal to as many people as possible, and appealing to as many people as possible means you can't play the wrong card. If you want to appeal to people, you have to be something appealing to them.

So why be confident when you don't appeal to people?

Werel wrote:Guess what was keeping people from wanting to talk to me during that phase? I'll bet you a million bucks it wasn't my clothes. Cause once I got my bearings, actually talked pleasantly with some of my classmates, dialed the judgment-paranoia WAY back (not that this is a simple voluntary process!), and didn't change my style at all, I made friends just fine.

But isn't this just confirmation bias in the opposite direction? How do you know it was you being stand-offish that made every single person not talk to you? Maybe it wasn't your style, but how do you know it wasn't something else that changed the way people reacted to you?

I ask this because there have been many, many, many times in my life when I've been pleasant and non-paranoid, and gotten thrown on my ass for it. I apparently should have been more paranoid, not less. The less judgment-paranoid I became, the more I seemed to invite judgment and derision.

Werel wrote:
If what's in your mind and eyes when you look at a stranger/potential friend/date is fear, resentment, or jealousy, they're likely to pick up on that. If your outfit is one they think is stupid but you're looking at them with goodwill and interest, most non-assholes will respond to that.

I disagree. I dunno, maybe I just run into lots of jerks, but goodwill and interest have never made people like me or respond to me. The most goodwill and interest has done is make me invisible. It does save me from negative behavior, but it never encourages positive behavior. I forget where I heard it, but there was a quote that being called "nice" is actually kind of an insult, because it is so generic. The person talking about you can come up with no other descriptors, so just lands on the socially-acceptable "nice" quality.

Is it better to be ignored, or hated? I'd prefer to be neither. Which is why I care about what others think of me, because I am tired of either being invisible, or having nothing but enemies. "Confidence" in bad decisions (be them fashion, hobby, personality traits or values) only draws a large target on my back. That's delusion to me.... walking around thinking you're "being yourself!" and totally cool, when you're just parading around naked and nobody has the courage to tell you, but treats you oddly none the less.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 17, 2014 4:59 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:Short answer - because the confidence itself is the "something right", not the fashion choice. This isn't a spelling bee where there's one right answer. Its not even really the clothes you're trying to have confidence in, its yourself. If you're worried that people are thinking you look silly, that's not confidence. Its mind reading to justify your lack of confidence. You're literally making up a reason to feel bad.

Except, again the Doc would say "How is being yourself working out for you"? Maybe there isn't one right answer, but there is A right answer (or several of them) and a wrong answer, or else why bother with advice and suggestions on improvements at all? If having friends and relationships is a numbers game, then you need to appeal to as many people as possible, and appealing to as many people as possible means you can't play the wrong card. If you want to appeal to people, you have to be something appealing to them.

So why be confident when you don't appeal to people?

If there's a type of outfit you like wearing, chances are there's at least one subculture around here that can appreciate that, and several individual people in other subcultures who won't judge it that harshly or will even change their opinion once they see somebody they (even vaguely) know wearing it.

I very much doubt that nobody likes whatever you have in mind. (Cosplay stuff you've posted/talked about in the past is so good it's unfair, so I refuse to believe you don't have a good aesthetic taste of your own!) Maybe you're having trouble finding places where the subculture your fashion choices appeal to and the subculture your personality appeals to intersect?

reboundstudent wrote:Is it better to be ignored, or hated? I'd prefer to be neither.

No kidding?

reboundstudent wrote:Which is why I care about what others think of me, because I am tired of either being invisible, or having nothing but enemies. "Confidence" in bad decisions (be them fashion, hobby, personality traits or values) only draws a large target on my back. That's delusion to me.... walking around thinking you're "being yourself!" and totally cool, when you're just parading around naked and nobody has the courage to tell you, but treats you oddly none the less.

I wonder... if either of us was really "pleasant and non-paranoid", would we notice when people are treating us oddly? scratch
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:15 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Gentleman Johnny wrote:Short answer - because the confidence itself is the "something right", not the fashion choice. This isn't a spelling bee where there's one right answer. Its not even really the clothes you're trying to have confidence in, its yourself. If you're worried that people are thinking you look silly, that's not confidence. Its mind reading to justify your lack of confidence. You're literally making up a reason to feel bad.

Except, again the Doc would say "How is being yourself working out for you"? Maybe there isn't one right answer, but there is A right answer (or several of them) and a wrong answer, or else why bother with advice and suggestions on improvements at all? If having friends and relationships is a numbers game, then you need to appeal to as many people as possible, and appealing to as many people as possible means you can't play the wrong card. If you want to appeal to people, you have to be something appealing to them.

So why be confident when you don't appeal to people?
 

OK, so to take this apart a notch, since I assume you're asking or clarification, not just venting:
1. How's worrying about it working out for you? Change has to come from inside first. If you're starting from the premise that you always make the wrong call without clear cut rules, you're going to continue on the premise. If you're convinced there's only one right answer, you're going to continue to worry about whether or not you've got that one right answer. You're asking if people don't like your drapes when the foundation needs repair.

2. If there was a right answer, there wouldn't be advice or suggestions. There would be an instruction manual. That's the same thing you hear guys whining about on the DNL site. "Well if this doesn't work all the time on everyone, what's the point?" The point is that some things work better more of the time than others

3. Yes, its a numbers game but that's not the same as saying you have to appeal to everyone. Getting elected is a numbers game that involves (arguably) pissing off 49% of the population in order to get the support of 51%. You are never going to get everyone to like you all the time. There are lots of people you are better off not having in your life. You should give exactly zero fucks what these people think. So yes, its a numbers game but the first thing you're doing with those numbers is limiting them to "the set of all people who would make my life better by their presence".

4. You're not trying to be confident that you're appealing to everyone. You can't control their reactions. You can be confident that you are a person worth getting to now who is sending the message that you want to so that those people who will find you appealing for all of your good traits will be interested in talking to you.

There are no small number of people, through the DNL forums and in real life, who think that I am an awful human being. I could go out and try and fix that but why? I know what's good about me and by and large having them in my life wouldn't add anything except a lot of work trying to keep them happy. I may modify my style, or my manner of approach or whatever to the situation but my underlying values and interests don't change.

For fear of going off topic just a bit, here's an example that will cut right to the chase: my OLD profile picture is me in my full stage outfit. I spend at least one night a week around women who take their clothes off working very closely with my ex. There are a lot of people out there who would find the geekiness a turn-off or would not be interested in dating me because of jealousy issues. I'd rather never date those people in the first place. Trying to lead two separate lives for dating and showtime is too much effort for me. It does limit my options and make finding someone harder but its also important enough to me that I won't sacrifice it. Everything in life is a trade off. So the underlying question is what is important enough to you that you won't change it even if it means being lonely and what's worth the sacrifice to improve your dating odds.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:23 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:Which is why I care about what others think of me, because I am tired of either being invisible, or having nothing but enemies. "Confidence" in bad decisions (be them fashion, hobby, personality traits or values) only draws a large target on my back. That's delusion to me.... walking around thinking you're "being yourself!" and totally cool, when you're just parading around naked and nobody has the courage to tell you, but treats you oddly none the less.

I wonder... if either of us was really "pleasant and non-paranoid", would we notice when people are treating us oddly? scratch

If you were parading around naked, probably. Grin
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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:44 pm

nearly_takuan wrote: I wonder... if either of us was really "pleasant and non-paranoid", would we notice when people are treating us oddly? scratch

... Yes? I admit, I'm forever confused by this idea that I haven't tried some of these things, and just found they failed. It's baffling to me to suggest that because it didn't work, that means I didn't try "enough."

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
1. How's worrying about it working out for you? Change has to come from inside first. If you're starting from the premise that you always make the wrong call without clear cut rules, you're going to continue on the premise. If you're convinced there's only one right answer, you're going to continue to worry about whether or not you've got that one right answer. You're asking if people don't like your drapes when the foundation needs repair.

Except again, why should you be confident when there is no backing for it? We see the Doc say over and over to change things. Worrying about it is certainly better than deluding myself, and continuing down the wrong path because I'm too stubborn/narrow-minded to consider hey, maybe there IS something I should change. I don't buy the "change has to come from inside," when we're talking about attracting other people. If the goal is to attract other people, we need to be what is attractive to them. Which means changing the inside to be "confident" is useless, if the change is not something other people either recognize or like.

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
2. If there was a right answer, there wouldn't be advice or suggestions. There would be an instruction manual. That's the same thing you hear guys whining about on the DNL site. "Well if this doesn't work all the time on everyone, what's the point?" The point is that some things work better more of the time than others

Well, I said in my last post that there are probably several right answers. You can spell "gray" either as "g-r-a-y" or "g-r-e-y." But you can't spell it "p-i-n-k." So there are several right answers, but there is also usually at least one very clear wrong answer. So it's more like... in soccer, you can come up with tons of different plays and strategies, all of which will work, but there are fouls that will get you kicked out of the game. So if you're a person who is constantly fouling, you don't need confidence, or an instructional manual on how to play soccer, you need a rule book saying "Do everything but these few things."

Gentleman Johnny wrote:3. Yes, its a numbers game but that's not the same as saying you have to appeal to everyone. Getting elected is a numbers game that involves (arguably) pissing off 49% of the population in order to get the support of 51%. You are never going to get everyone to like you all the time. There are lots of people you are better off not having in your life. You should give exactly zero fucks what these people think. So yes, its a numbers game but the first thing you're doing with those numbers is limiting them to "the set of all people who would make my life better by their presence".

Who said I wanted everyone to like me? I don't believe I have ever said that, anywhere. Folks who talk about my fashion choices behind my back? I never said I wanted them like me. However, I still need to appeal to that set of people who would make my life better. I don't have to be liked by everyone, but I do need to be liked by some. I don't currently appeal to anyone, which is why I worry.

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
4. You're not trying to be confident that you're appealing to everyone. You can't control their reactions. You can be confident that you are a person worth getting to now who is sending the message that you want to so that those people who will find you appealing for all of your good traits will be interested in talking to you.

Except.... I'm not appealing to anyone. This is my huge, big issue with "confidence." Confidence assumes that you are self-delusional about your social value; that people will like you and love to be friends with you, if only you could let go of insecurity. Insecurity, by definition, is uncertainty about having positive qualities.

That is not what I have. I am not insecure, I am not self-delusional about my social value. That is kind of the problem. I am very self-aware that, from other people's perspective, I don't have social value. (The other people's perspective is very, very important here. I am not talking about self-image; I am talking about other people's perception of me.) I am not uncertain about my positive qualities; I am self-aware about the fact that I do not possess those qualities which are tagged as "positive." The traits I possess and value are of little use to anyone else. I am a salt shaker in the middle of an ocean.

So, again, why should I be confident? Why should I believe that I am a person worth getting to know, when I'm not, from nearly everyone's perspectives? THAT is what is delusional to me: trying to convince yourself other people want to get to know you, when they don't.
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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote: If you were parading around naked, probably. Grin

Considering I've done nearly that, and the responses I got were "Wow, I should try burlesque. I worry about my body, but if the audience didn't mind you, I have nothing to worry about!" and "I liked X better."
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:46 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
So, again, why should I be confident? Why should I believe that I am a person worth getting to know, when I'm not, from nearly everyone's perspectives? THAT is what is delusional to me: trying to convince yourself other people want to get to know you, when they don't.  

Because it works.

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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:27 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:
So, again, why should I be confident? Why should I believe that I am a person worth getting to know, when I'm not, from nearly everyone's perspectives? THAT is what is delusional to me: trying to convince yourself other people want to get to know you, when they don't.  

Because it works.

No, it doesn't. It never has for me-it's just put a larger target on my back. "This girl is clearly delusional about the amount of pain she's in-we need to kick her harder."
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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:49 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote: I wonder... if either of us was really "pleasant and non-paranoid", would we notice when people are treating us oddly? scratch

... Yes? I admit, I'm forever confused by this idea that I haven't tried some of these things, and just found they failed. It's baffling to me to suggest that because it didn't work, that means I didn't try "enough."

Er...okay, it's kind of baffling to me that you seem to assume I don't know what you're talking about when...I'll put it this way: in my first thread on the Authentic Original Vintage-Retro Forums, several posts (which I chose to ignore) asked me how many women I had asked out. (You know why that's a loaded question? 'Cause if that number is low enough for you to remember the answer, you "obviously" haven't tried hard/often enough.)

And this:
reboundstudent wrote:However, I still need to appeal to that set of people who would make my life better. I don't have to be liked by everyone, but I do need to be liked by some. I don't currently appeal to anyone, which is why I worry.
is precisely an argument I've had with eselle and probably others. Have they successfully persuaded me? ...Not yet, actually, but that doesn't stop me from hoping something will work for you.

What I'm getting at is there is an apparent contradiction in the assertion that being less paranoid made you more likely to divine that people were thinking mean things about you without saying them. (Or was that not what you were saying?) So it might be worth examining in greater detail what exactly was going on there. And, well, it's also made me wonder if I've been doing it wrong.
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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:57 pm

nearly_takuan wrote: What I'm getting at is there is an apparent contradiction in the assertion that being less paranoid made you more likely to divine that people were thinking mean things about you without saying them. (Or was that not what you were saying?) So it might be worth examining in greater detail what exactly was going on there. And, well, it's also made me wonder if I've been doing it wrong.

Well, what I found is that when I was less paranoid, the behavior became outwardly more ugly. Similarly, the worst harassment I've received has been when I'm acting confident.

It usually breaks down like this:

-If I'm paranoid about judgment, people are usually civil to me, occasionally nice, mostly ignore me. If I act "non-confident," people leave me alone.

-If I'm NOT paranoid about judgment, people usually ignore me, but some become aggressively, openly judgmental. If I act "confident", people tell me I am too loud, too boisterous, too opinionated, too intimidating, too bitchy, too abrasive.

It was almost as if people had to teach me a lesson, like they have to put me in my place. The distinct impression I got was that if I'm going to act confident, I had better be able to earn it, or I don't deserve it. Being paranoid about judgment is my shield.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:07 pm

reboundstudent wrote:It usually breaks down like this:

-If I'm paranoid about judgment, people are usually civil to me, occasionally nice, mostly ignore me. If I act "non-confident," people leave me alone.

-If I'm NOT paranoid about judgment, people usually ignore me, but some become aggressively, openly judgmental. If I act "confident", people tell me I am too loud, too boisterous, too opinionated, too intimidating, too bitchy, too abrasive.

So, how do these axes interact if you're on the "ignore" side of one and the "attention" side of the other? If you're paranoid but confident, do people just use excessively polite language to delicately imply that you're acting more assertive than they would prefer? If you're non-paranoid and confident, and pointedly ignore the aggressive openly-judgmental obvious assholes, are there still people telling you you're too loud, or are they ignoring you? scratch

reboundstudent wrote:It was almost as if people had to teach me a lesson, like they have to put me in my place. The distinct impression I got was that if I'm going to act confident, I had better be able to earn it, or I don't deserve it. Being paranoid about judgment is my shield.

A shield is something you carry around and occasionally use to deflect stray arrows and things. As a general rule, paranoia is more akin to a bunker.
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Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:19 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
So, how do these axes interact if you're on the "ignore" side of one and the "attention" side of the other? If you're paranoid but confident, do people just use excessively polite language to delicately imply that you're acting more assertive than they would prefer? If you're non-paranoid and confident, and pointedly ignore the aggressive openly-judgmental obvious assholes, are there still people telling you you're too loud, or are they ignoring you? scratch

I have no idea, I've never tried to be paranoid and confident. I suspect that as soon as the paranoia kicks it, the confidence disappears, because... I am no longer confident in myself, I am now paranoid that I am screwing up.
That seems like kind of an oxymoron. If I'm non-paranoid and confident, outside of the judgmental people, folks usually just avoid or ignore me. For example, last night I went out with a group of folks, and once again fell into my "I talk a lot" problem. That is what happens when I get confident; I start wanting to tell funny stories, and talk too much, and even when I pause to try to let other people talk, no one does, so I keep going, but then people act awkward. So I'm being non-paranoid and confident, and the friends are clearly uncomfortable because I'm talking too goddamn much. But I don't notice it until after the interaction, when my "paranoid" brain kicks in and goes "Oh God you should have stopped talking."  

nearly_takuan wrote:
A shield is something you carry around and occasionally use to deflect stray arrows and things. As a general rule, paranoia is more akin to a bunker.

Maybe my paranoia is like Capt's shield. (I should also mention I kind of dislike calling it "paranoia" because, well, it's not, people really do think these things about me.)
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:33 pm

Its an interesting point, the paranoia/confidence axes. Because if we split it up, I realize my approach to paranoia is rather more nuanced than all or nothing. The short form is I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt once but if they ask me to do it a second time before they've made the first one right, I shut the door and never look back. So in some ways, I'm not paranoid at all but that's more because I don't keep people around once they've given me a solid reason to be paranoid. So I'm not in charge of people's reactions but I have the comfort of knowing no one person is going to get more than one clean shot at me.

None of that is set in stone, of course but its the rule of thumb I use for people who aren't already close friends.

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Post by Werel on Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:24 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Who said I wanted everyone to like me? I don't believe I have ever said that, anywhere. Folks who talk about my fashion choices behind my back? I never said I wanted them like me. However, I still need to appeal to that set of people who would make my life better. I don't have to be liked by everyone, but I do need to be liked by some. I don't currently appeal to anyone, which is why I worry.

Okay, I think you're on to something here: who is the set of people who would make your life better if they liked you? What do they like? Who do they admire? What kinds of difficulties are you having in your interactions with them (e.g. if the problem is that they say you're too loud, do they admire any people who are also loud, but in different ways? Or when these folks have a party is it just very low-key and quiet)? If you're really not worrying about universal appeal, but instead about appealing to a well-defined set of people you have a fair amount of data on, then the answer could be more specific and tailor-able than "general confidence is good." Can you tell us more about the kinds of people you're generally really drawn to and would like to build friendships with?

-If I'm paranoid about judgment, people are usually civil to me, occasionally nice, mostly ignore me. If I act "non-confident," people leave me alone.

-If I'm NOT paranoid about judgment, people usually ignore me, but some become aggressively, openly judgmental. If I act "confident", people tell me I am too loud, too boisterous, too opinionated, too intimidating, too bitchy, too abrasive.

It was almost as if people had to teach me a lesson, like they have to put me in my place. The distinct impression I got was that if I'm going to act confident, I had better be able to earn it, or I don't deserve it. Being paranoid about judgment is my shield.

Golly, Marty, I'm starting to think you're surrounded by an unusual number of complete assholes... yes, it's common that when you're surrounded by cruel, predatory people, they are often exceptionally skilled at smelling weakness (weakness papered over with false confidence seems like cruelty-attracting CRACK) and pouncing on it. Callout culture, meangirl culture, and general-purpose jerks most love the combination of failure/insufficiency and lack of critical self-awareness. Tearing down someone who doesn't realize how much they suck is the most satisfying teardown in the world! If they don't feel they can ruin something you truly value about yourself, you're a much less tempting target. If you value nothing about yourself, you're no target at all, right? There's nothing left to tear down, cause you've already done all the work for them. If you're existing in that type of culture, you may have found an effective coping mechanism in "I already know what there is to hate about me and I already hate it a million times more than you ever could" (what you're calling paranoia). That tack does work when you need to survive in that environment, e.g. in high school, or a workplace you can't leave.

But dude... the solution I'd propose there is not to jump in the Bunker of Pre-emptive Self-Judgment and Teardown to minimize your desirability as a target of cruelty, but to get the fuck away from those cruel people and never look back. You're not in high school, you're a grown-ass adult who can choose where to spend her own social time. You're not trapped with these jerks. You don't need to care what they think, and you don't need to modify your behavior for their benefit. Unless they're the ones whose approval and friendship you're really after...? confused I assure you, there are non-cruel people out there who, even if they do not think you are the single greatest human ever born, or even the coolest/smartest/[insert superlative here] person in the room, will not go out of their way to make you feel awful about yourself.

(And from what you post here, you're not devoid of value at all! You're a good writer, a badass cosplayer and seamstress, and an engaged and humane social thinker. Those are valuable traits I've noticed in you, and I don't even know you!)
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Post by reboot on Fri Oct 17, 2014 9:04 pm

RBS, I need to ask a few questions because this is getting all too theoretical for me:

1. What specifically happened in Portland that made you decide that you looked terrible? What did people say? What did they do?

2. What would being and feeling fashionable been like? What would people have done? What would they have said?

3. Do you spend a lot of time around people that tear down other people's appearance?

4. Do you spend a lot of time tearing down other people's appearance verbally or mentally?

No judgment on the answers to above questions. I am just trying to get a better picture of the context of this discussion.
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Post by reboundstudent on Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:14 pm

Werel wrote:
Okay, I think you're on to something here: who is the set of people who would make your life better if they liked you? What do they like? Who do they admire? What kinds of difficulties are you having in your interactions with them (e.g. if the problem is that they say you're too loud, do they admire any people who are also loud, but in different ways? Or when these folks have a party is it just very low-key and quiet)? If you're really not worrying about universal appeal, but instead about appealing to a well-defined set of people you have a fair amount of data on, then the answer could be more specific and tailor-able than "general confidence is good." Can you tell us more about the kinds of people you're generally really drawn to and would like to build friendships with?

I'm not quite sure who the set is. Honestly, my biggest qualifiers for friends are: -Do I have at least one hobby in common with them? -Do they like me? The rest, I'm pretty happy with folks across the board. So there's no defined-set of folks I'm into. I think that is why looking/being approachable is so important to me; if people don't reach out to me, I'll have no idea if they'll like me, and that's one of the firm qualifiers for friendship in the beginning. If I'm doing the approaching, I could literally approach probably every person at a party and manage a conversation, but would have no idea which ones to focus on.

Werel wrote:
Golly, Marty, I'm starting to think you're surrounded by an unusual number of complete assholes... yes, it's common that when you're surrounded by cruel, predatory people, they are often exceptionally skilled at smelling weakness (weakness papered over with false confidence seems like cruelty-attracting CRACK) and pouncing on it. Callout culture, meangirl culture, and general-purpose jerks most love the combination of failure/insufficiency and lack of critical self-awareness. Tearing down someone who doesn't realize how much they suck is the most satisfying teardown in the world! If they don't feel they can ruin something you truly value about yourself, you're a much less tempting target. If you value nothing about yourself, you're no target at all, right? There's nothing left to tear down, cause you've already done all the work for them. If you're existing in that type of culture, you may have found an effective coping mechanism in "I already know what there is to hate about me and I already hate it a million times more than you ever could" (what you're calling paranoia). That tack does work when you need to survive in that environment, e.g. in high school, or a workplace you can't leave.

Folks have said this before, and I remain.... very skeptical. The chances of me running into an unusually high number of assholes just seems very unlikely. I think it's far more likely there's another common denominator-me.

I'm beginning to think I turn people into assholes. I've run into so many folks who, when I tell them about Person X who was an asshole, are surprised and shocked because their experience with the person has been nothing but pleasant to them. We see this even on the boards here. There are plenty of posters who are universally liked and admired, but who just lose their freaking mind when having to deal with me. My mother says, diplomatically, that I am a "trying" person, but I've never been able to figure out how, especially when I try very hard to ask the other person questions, not overwhelm the conversation, don't talk about unpleasant stuff. But that goes heavy against the grain of "confidence"-I have to be consistently paranoid about toning myself down, otherwise I seem to offend and inspire hatred in people.

I mean, how in the world do you have confidence in yourself when who you are makes people hate you?


reboot wrote:RBS, I need to ask a few questions because this is getting all too theoretical for me:

1. What specifically happened in Portland that made you decide that you looked terrible? What did people say? What did they do?

They didn't say anything. If they did anything, it was give me kind of a weird up-and-down "Um, really? Okay..." look, or just ignore me completely. I maybe didn't look terrible, but it's more I put a lot of effort in looking good, only to come out worse than if I had put in no effort at all. If I put in no effort at all, people would have still ignored me; but here I'd spent a lot of time trying to figure out outfits, and look fashionable, and ended up ignored none the less.

reboot wrote:
2. What would being and feeling fashionable been like? What would people have done? What would they have said?

They would have smiled at me. They would have come up and said "Oh wow, cute clothing item!" They would have asked me where I got it. They would have started a conversation, or responded positively when I did. They would have more readily included me in existing conversations.

reboot wrote:
3. Do you spend a lot of time around people that tear down other people's appearance?

No. I hear it in passing, but it's not common in my social circles.

reboot wrote:
4. Do you spend a lot of time tearing down other people's appearance verbally or mentally?

No. I do spend a lot of time analyzing other people's appearances, but it's rarely negative. It's more like "Okay, so this thing this girl is wearing shouldn't look right, because supposedly she has muscled legs and that cut isn't supposed to look good with muscled legs, but it does look good, so what element is helping her pull it off? Could I copy this look? Would that look good on me?" I don't think I've ever looked at someone and gone "Ugh, do not wear that." Because, truthfully, I feel like I rarely run into someone who isn't pulling off whatever look they're wearing. Whole bunch of fashion rules being broken, yet still looks good. How do they do that?!
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Post by Mel on Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:56 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
reboot wrote:RBS, I need to ask a few questions because this is getting all too theoretical for me:

1. What specifically happened in Portland that made you decide that you looked terrible? What did people say? What did they do?

They didn't say anything. If they did anything, it was give me kind of a weird up-and-down "Um, really? Okay..." look, or just ignore me completely. I maybe didn't look terrible, but it's more I put a lot of effort in looking good, only to come out worse than if I had put in no effort at all. If I put in no effort at all, people would have still ignored me; but here I'd spent a lot of time trying to figure out outfits, and look fashionable, and ended up ignored none the less.

reboot wrote:
2. What would being and feeling fashionable been like? What would people have done? What would they have said?

They would have smiled at me. They would have come up and said "Oh wow, cute clothing item!" They would have asked me where I got it. They would have started a conversation, or responded positively when I did. They would have more readily included me in existing conversations.

Just to this specific part of the issue--I don't know what the atmosphere is like in Portland, but there are definitely cities where the above would be totally abnormal behavior. I can't remember the last time someone I didn't already know complimented me on something I was wearing--even when I was wearing things I know looked really good because people I did know who aren't very free with their compliments made note of it. I wouldn't assume people didn't like your clothing just because they didn't comment on it, or judge how they felt about your clothing by how welcoming they were in general, unless you saw these same people complimenting other strangers' clothing and welcoming them into conversations based on those compliments.

I don't think there's any point in trying to dress specifically to get positive attention from strangers unless you're going to a venue where commenting on strangers' looks/clothing is the norm--from men to women at night clubs, I guess? Cosplaying at a convention?  I honestly can't think of many scenarios where I would be surprised if people didn't comment on my clothing positively no matter how awesome I looked.
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Post by reboot on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:19 pm

I have to second Mel, I do not think strangers walk up to anyone and compliment clothes outside of Fashion Week where it is more of professional interest. Maybe occasionally while you are browsing in a store, but that is usually salespeople?

I wonder if you might be seeing negative reactions in people's faces that are not really there? Like thinking people are looking at you when they are not? Or reading a neutral resting face as negative? And then, of course there are the bitchy resting faces?

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Post by Conreezy on Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:55 pm

I have to second Mel, I do not think strangers walk up to anyone and compliment clothes outside of Fashion Week where it is more of professional interest. Maybe occasionally while you are browsing in a store, but that is usually salespeople?

I compliment people's clothing all the time, but mostly just men because I know what I'm talking about.  Lots of times, when I notice some interesting or well-executed style on someone, it's a conversation starter, and we geek out over clothes.

I don't do it as often to women because it can easily be misconstrued as a come-on.  Also, I just don't know what I'm talking about when referring to women's clothing to the extent that I can have a conversation about it, which only makes any compliment I offer seem like just an ice-breaker.  Sometimes that's fine, and I can set the record straight during any resulting conversation, but sometimes I just don't want to deal with it.  

I do compliment women who I'm friends with, however, because they know how I mean the compliment to be taken.

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Post by fakely mctest on Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:18 pm

reboot wrote:I have to second Mel, I do not think strangers walk up to anyone and compliment clothes outside of Fashion Week where it is more of professional interest. Maybe occasionally while you are browsing in a store, but that is usually salespeople?

I wonder if you might be seeing negative reactions in people's faces that are not really there? Like thinking people are looking at you when they are not? Or reading a neutral resting face as negative? And then, of course there are the bitchy resting faces?

Yeah, I super agree with this assessment. I've lived in a major coastal city my entire life and can probably count on one hand the number of times a random stranger has complimented me on anything I'm wearing. Now, I'm east coast and not west coast, but smiling at people on the street is not something we really do here. IME, a person spends a lot of time cultivating the perfect abstract gaze into the middle distance. Sometimes we get friendly with each other (during huge, city-closing snowstorms, frex, or other disasters) but it's rare.

And I'm a friendly person! I'll strike up a conversation with randos! It's just time and place.

There also may be a cultural mismatch going on. I enjoyed my trip to Charleston this summer, but I definitely don't dress like a person from Charleston and I found the social spaces a bit chilly. It wasn't a comment on my personal value; it was just a mismatch of general semiotics.

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Post by reboundstudent on Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:46 pm

Hmm, how strange. I find strangers complementing outfits all the time here-even I've gotten one or two "I love that skirt!" comments from fellow ladies when standing nearby. On Thursday, a waitress and I had a 3 minute conversation about my nails (Jamberry. They're awesome.) Stopping strangers on the street to compliment clothes is something I've never heard of, but when loitering around strangers (bar lines, bus stops, grocery store aisles) it's not uncommon.

Is... that not normal?
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