Friday, June 15, 2012

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more? And other questions.

Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project thinks that knowing ourselves--our true nature--is necessary to building a foundation for happiness. I tend to agree, since not knowing, or completely avoiding, myself gets me in a world of trouble every time, like when I set goals or expectations based only on what I would like to be, rather than on who I actually am (and self-knowledge is connected to self-esteem, and, I would argue, confidence, something I've been lacking lately). Rubin offers a list of questions to ask yourself in a quest for self-knowledge. I thought I'd answer a few in hopes that I wake up tomorrow morning all the wiser. You can find the whole list here.

Alyce's portrait of me, in green. She knows me very well and doesn't need such lists. And thank you, Alyce, for the lovely eyelashes.

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more? 

My instinct is to say that I want something more if it is forbidden, but I don't think that's it. I want stuff all the time, but I don't think it has anything to do with anything being forbidden. When I smoked I wanted it all the time, and when I quit I wanted it all the time. Same amount of wanting. And telling myself I can eat as much cake as I want doesn't mean that I'll moderate my slices, but eat the entire thing. It seems I might be more of an abstainer than I realized.

Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?

Out of control? That's easy. My health. I'm in the middle of making a lot of changes (in search of more energy) and these changes are so hard. I am an intelligent, strong, capable person who struggles so much with saying no to food that makes me sick or unhealthy, even when I know in my bones that it is the wrong decision. Same goes for getting enough exercise.

Especially in control? Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Good one.

If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?

This is a tough one. I would like to think that I would drag a friend out for a long lunch or find a new book and just plain read. In reality, however, I think I would probably waste it away trying to accomplish a million things, eventually getting distracted from each task and feeling frustrated with myself for not making better use of my time. I blame this annoyingly negative response of mine on the fact that I spend so much time trying to get things done around two young children, where their short attention span becomes my short attention span, that I've lost faith in my own ability to take charge of such an afternoon of opportunity.

Are you motivated by competition?

Nope. Not at all. I am completely shut down by it. That doesn't mean I'm not competitive, but more in that perfectionist-compete with yourself kind of way. For me competition often translates into self-doubt. Unless, and this is a big unless, it's competition with my husband. I much funnier than him.

Alyce knows herself.

Do you work well under pressure?

Sometimes. I write well under pressure, and always have, but the stress of waiting until the last minute takes away the glory, especially the knowledge that I rob myself of some very valuable editing time when I write hours before a deadline. This is a habit I am actively working on now.

How much TV do you watch in a week?

Not counting Dora, The Backyardigans, or Stella and Sam (which might be the sweetest portrayal of siblings ever), my TV watching varies quite a bit. I love TV and don't apologize for it. I've lived without TV for three years and managed just fine, but I'm not philosophically against it. In the regular season I follow Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy (and Private Practice, but don't tell anyone), Smash, 30 Rock, Glee, and Modern Family. My favourite things to watch, however, are Dexter, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, and True Blood, all on at various times of the year. This seems like a ton of TV when I write it out like this, but I should add that I wouldn't watch half of these shows if I couldn't record them, watch then at 5:00 am when Shira greets the world or after 8:00 pm when the girls are usually long asleep. It also gives me the chance to stretch a season out over months, even after the on-air finale. So, no spoilers, please. I'm still on season three of Mad Men.

What's more satisfying to you: Saving time or saving money?

I suck at managing/organizing/evaluating time, so the benefits of saving time is often lost on me. That, in combination with my mum's deep-rooted commitment to not wasting money, means that I often value saving money more. Since I need so badly to develop a savings account (ahem), you'd think privileging money over time would be good for me, however I think learning the value of time would serve me better in the long run.

Is your life "on hold" in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?

Yes, that thesis is very much on hold right now.

My entire life has been on hold for the past year, something I'm desperately trying to change my perspective on. The conditions of my life are what they are, but my perspective can make a world of difference. I might not know what's going to happen in the next year, but I can still choose to live my life directly, with expectation, and sparkle.

How would you answer these questions?

Alyce also knows her best friend, T.


  1. Great post! I often struggle with thinking I don't really know myself. I can answer all of these questions two different ways, what does that mean?!

  2. Oh my goodness, Kay, I had at least two answers for each! At some point I just decided to choose one and see what happens. I like to consider it being flexible.