Bad dream

This morning I woke up from a very deep sleep. I had dreamt I was dying of the corona virus. It was my second death dream. I had no cough or breathing difficulties. Everyone around me – I was in some strange establishment that seemed like an old-fashioned sanatorium. My mother was there and doctors and nurses. My only symptom was that I vomited. It was black, not chocolatey brown, but a deep black with a hint of rust. It was off-putting but I was quite set in thinking it’s nothing and will go away. The doctors seemed to think otherwise. There was a paper clock on the table. A clock made of paper, yes, thicker paper. It was deep green with a wheel of fortune on its number plate. It listed the descriptions of the young women who’d die next. It mentioned someone with olive skin. And a young girl whose life hadn’t even begun yet. She was going to die today. I thought that could be me. Which is a strange thought given how fine I felt and how I protested the opinion of the medical personnel about my prognosis. Probably one of those things the very ill sometimes do. I asked the nurse and she said no, that wasn’t me yet, the one in three days was me.

I begun to feel worse, tired, but I didn’t believe I’d die. I’d fight it. I went and stood before the green iron bars of my mother’s bed, realising I could infect her and should probably not be there, but she didn’t drive me away like a leper, and I was grateful, very grateful.

Then it became the waiting room and the dream slowly blurred as I got closer to dying. I woke up. Like with bad dreams, it’s always a huge relief to realise that my teeth hadn’t fallen out, I hadn’t accidentally cut my hair to ear-length and whatever misfortunes I’ve dreamt sometimes, but this time I hadn’t this consolation. For the brief interval before my senses fully returned, I thought COVID-19 was a dream too, just as giant snails, the Russian invasion of my home town and the Biblical flood I once dreamt of happening.

Objectively, I do love my more symbolistic dreams. They are like little works of art or potential horror stories. This was pretty good. Iron beds, black vomit and the deep green wheel of fortune clock.

 

 

Things liked in June

  • Fresh freedom
  • David Walliams
  • Dancing!
  • Making nature TikToks
  • Walks out late to the seaside
  • Warmth
  • Beach
  • An obscure Wild West novel
  • Idleness
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Orville Peck “Roses are Falling” and “Queen of the Rodeo”
  • ABBA “Dancing Queen”
  • The Animals “House of the Rising Sun”
  • Getting to take off my shoes outside
  • Pop music
  • X Factor and Got Talent auditions
  • Laughing
  • Defining self as writer
  • Having a lot of time
  • Absence of anxiety
  • Having emotional energy for people again

Ugh

I did something stupid yet again. I started writing a story. For practice. And what do I do? I practice in highest league styles of Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf and Dostoyevski.

But the readers of Dylan Thomas and Dostoyevski would find out I’m an impostor, so what am I doing writing like this? I don’t really want these people to be reading me. My only hope as an author is to reach the kind of audience that won’t be able to tell I’m an impostor.

Getting practice is not really a justification as I require practice in my own league very much too. But no, I automatically go for this.

I wonder if my self-doubt is a good sign? Is this encouraging I’ve so much self-doubt? Can I dare to take comfort in it?

Reasoning: it seems not uncommon that those with some amount of talent suffer from great self-doubt, whereas those with very little or none, have buckets of confidence.

Were it so. I don’t know. But hard work can make up for lack of natural talent to some extent, so I’ve chosen writing as my hopefully future job over psychology.

Yes, after 4 years I’ve finally decided that question. Felt good to know.

Truthfulness in personality tests

Social desireability:  this is when you answer questions (either in a personality test or interview (job)) the way you think a good citizen would answer.

Do you drink? Every other night. Socially.

Do you engage in casual sex? Sadly too often. Almost never.

Do you think all people are equal? Not really. Yes.

Episodic memory: memories of life experience, like how you learnt to ride a bike, what the sunset was like yesterday, or how you felt when you were ignored at the party.

Semantic memory: this contains facts and general knowledge, like one’s shoe size, the birthday of your favourite comedian, the capital of Angola, or how people generally feel when ignored at the party.


 

Due to many factors, among them vast experience of taking personality tests, the resulting boredom, my innate tendency to make boring things more varied, increasing ability/tendency to avoid desireable untruth in self-assessment, have led me to answer to personality questionnaires in a different way.

I now use episodic memory over semantic memory. That is, I don’t automatically and without questioning tick the box of “I agree” to socially desireable answers. I try to strike at the actual truth of it and consider if I truly agree, at all times and circumstances, or do I just like to think I agree. Conversely, I suspect (but am not sure) that when people employ semantic memory in answering personality tests, it might be much more prone to error. One doesn’t think then but just goes with things automatically based on one’s identity, which can be quite static and slow to adapt to change. Plus, even if something isn’t part of identity and one would need to employ episodic memory in answering, social desireability would still interfere.

This explanation is tiresome.

But having started to answer this way has led to the exact same consequences I’ve experienced in real life situations, where a truth-sayer is either pitied for having an unideal life or ostracized for negativism, even if all they do is look at life and themselves more truthfully than common or tolerated. Namely, truthfulness leads to peculiar discrepancies.

Returning to personality tests, I scored in the bottom 2% for conscientiousness in the Five Factor Model. I was quite stunned by being worse than 98% people in conscientiousness. It has also led to a noticeable drop in my agreeableness/sociability scores. This is such complete bollocks it does not deserve refutation.

It is very problematic for personality tests if a more truthful answering style makes the results much more untrue. It makes me think that I can’t really operate on this level of analysis when test-makers and answerers operate on a lower level. Or there should be a social desireability coefficient (that works!).

Alternatives to personality analysis are something I’d like to know more about one day. To date, I’ve not found one that convinced me and could replace the classic way of thinking (trait theory, I suppose it’s called?). It is too static, too governed by self-schema.

I don’t know much about personality psychology really, but I just wanted to record the anomaly I experienced as I shifted from traditional normal person answering style to very truthful episodic-memory-based answering style.

A negativity shift in testing?

The purpose of this test is to confirm that human beings have many bad traits, but are afraid to say so. If you are a good test subject, pay attention to your desire to answer like a good person and focus on how you are actually like. It’s a dare. Don’t be a coward. Every time you spot yourself at a socially desireable lie and correct it, indicate it.

Leading to….social undesireability bias?

 

 

These days

Me: listens to Hart Crane, one of the most gifted poets of all time, being read by Tennessee Williams, an excellent playwright.

Also me: watches top ten stupidest auditions on Britain’s Got Talent straight after.

 

 

Just something

  • I will henceforth begin to use the word deprivation in a broader context than that of material poverty. The parallels struck me this afternoon, and it seems, once again, obvious in hindsight that different forms of deprivation would have much in common, including and importantly, in the methods the afflicted use to escape their particular deprivation. It was a paradigm shift for me.
  • I also felt a little put off by how I continue to write with great confidence, later to feel embarrassed about my stupidity. It’s the kind of expressive style I have. I’m much more hesitant and doubtful in reality but when expressing something, it tends to require a focus and there one goes. I cannot quite help my passion and emotionality either.
  • I had a discussion with self about the people that have put me down in life or talked to me down or interacted with me as their inferior. And I don’t mean the randoms, them doing it is normal and happens to us all, but people that actually left a mark and knew me. First, I became aware of it. Then I got angry. Then I told myself that look here, it’s not like you haven’t done the same thing to others. It’s insecurity that motivated those particular people just as it does you. Pft, I said, and maintained my right to be angry. They have the same right to be angry in turn.
  • I have copious amounts of free time on my hands right now. It’s great for a change and reminds me of the old days of idleness.
  • Having small, manageable goals instead of big ones agrees with me much more. I wish I had realised it a little sooner.

 

Mood

To write.  To create strings of words never created before. Like this.

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy with my studies and though I’ve sometimes thought of putting down a few general impressions about the whole experience, I haven’t got around to doing it. I might get to it some day. There are things that I’d like to record.

I have been feeling uncommonly content – and dare I say – happy the last two weeks. It’s not something I experienced often. Happy moments, yes, occasionally, but such moods rarely last longer than 3 days. This now lasts, and lasts.  I’m grateful for that space to breathe and for the opportunity to taste what it is like to live as a happy person. The world, and especially people, are a little different through such glasses.

It started like my happy moods often do – with very high spirits, something I tongue-in-cheekly call a hypomania episode. I listen to music a lot in such moods, usually pop, often not very good things, objectively speaking, but their catchy simplicity pleases me. I laugh a lot. Sometimes I daydream wildly, go out at unsuitable hours, smile to myself when walking on the street, and become much more sociable. I try my best not to overwhelm anyone and be tactless. I was also slightly infatuated with David Walliams due to watching excessive amounts of things with him, but this has now passed.

Speaking of passing, the normal procedure is that my cheerfulness fairly soon drops down to the meh mood. And then the depressive slump is just around the corner too. This time around, however, the very high spirits just mellowed into calm contentedness.

And this is already something I’m not used to and almost never have experienced. Not this long. Every day surprises me. The confidence, the calm and the things I can do in this mood. I sleep normally. There was a time I thought I’d never be able to sleep long again. Yesterday I ate a full bowl of oatmeal porridge. Today I feel very prosocial. I like many people and feel a kind of humility I haven’t for a long time. Nothing much seems to disturb my serenity. The world’s madness just makes me shrug. I feel simultaneously I’m turning more towards the world and away from it. Timeless things draw me. People and their ways. Trees and nature.

The only downside is the head aches I’ve been having for two days now.

Truth again

What point does truth have? It’s like a badge of courage I wear these days but ultimately alienating and fruitless. It serves no end, except allowing me to feel “I dare” and know the deal of myself and life.

I’ve come to the conclusion, after speculating on this before, that indeed most people are prone to greater delusion than myself. And when you stand amongst them, daring to speak the truth of yourself and your life, they pity you. They think your life is particularly bad because you speak of things as they are, fair and square. Even though the only difference is that you don’t spin yourself the yarn of “I never wanted those things anyway”, “These bad personality traits I got are quite great actually” or “Me and my partner are very happy” (when you feel like walking on a tightrope every day for fear of provoking an argument). I recently witnessed a fellow truth-speaker among a crowd of delusionists. I recognised the wisdom of this person’s words, but most people saw fit to pity and teach the person the error of having an unideal life. No doubt the majority of them having unideal lives themselves, but pretending they don’t not to lose in social status.  It takes courage to make yourself vulnerable, first to your own judgement and then to the loss in social status that comes with saying your life ain’t no joyride. My badge of courage says “I recognise the yarns I tell myself. I quench them with the truth” but what is the purpose of it all?

The other side of this is that when you look at things in their full depressing darks, it also diminishes hope and crushes the spirit. It becomes harder to get out and change things. I feel that sometimes one needs brazen hope and outright fantasy to make a change. It’s easier to summon the will power for chanage when you manage to fantasize the present into something more palatable.

As a teenager, I remember walking across a wet and slushy piece of land between the houses and fantasizing this was the Dead Marshes in Lord of the Rings, while I was a brave adventurer. Wet and slushy became much more bearable.

So what point would truth have in enduring an unpleasant walk? Is it going to make it easier that I can truthfully list all its unpleasantnesses? No, the opposite. Is it likely to encourage a faster step? Yes, if you got the will power. No, if you don’t. And it certainly won’t uplift the mood.

In life context, I see no benefit in truthfulness.

And, to turn evolutionary psychologist for a second, if it has no use, it is going to be a rare quality among the population. That is also why I’ve found it an alienating experience to be truthful. Pulling the wool over one’s eyes is much more useful in helping to cope with life and manage to get on as well. It doesn’t diminish will power and hope the same way. So maybe I should use the medicine nature intended us to use and become, once again, the master of pulling wool.

January

Things I enjoyed in January 2020

  • Father Ted
  • Harry Potter
  • Doing a successful presentation
  • Getting good grades
  • My new point system
  • Finishing a handicraft project
  • Walking home from an exam and throwing my study materials in a trash bin by the hillside
  • Not getting ill

 

People I found relatable / Enjoyed copying

  • Hermione Granger
  • Father Jack

 

Melancholia

Maybe the reason I’ve been making progress with my social anxiety is partly due to the fact that I simply have nothing to lose any more. And when you don’t care, it makes you stronger. It’s one possible cause. I don’t think it’s the only one.

But while realising how I’ve progressed was an uplifting event, tonight is melancholy, the counting of losses and unhappinesses night.

The thing I want most right now, more than any other thing in the world, would be a fun, imaginative, positive and playful friend.

I am so terribly bored with the unimaginativeness of adults and so alone with my sense of play. Even my particular brand of loving nature sets me apart.

If I ever saw another person wondering in the woods like I do, a girl, with her eyes up towards the treetops to catch sight of an elusive bird and her step slow, if I saw a girl like that, god, I think I’d stepped into a world of fiction where life-changing encounters happen right in the middle of the forest.

Okay, let’s not exaggerate, but it’d be very special.

Anyway, it’s not so important.

Imagination and spirit is what I want most. Another wild soul who’d go on a picnic with me on a starry and snowy winter night. And no, I don’t mean the people who’d find the thought charming and would gladly humour me. I mean those whose soul would be in it, too. It doesn’t have to be this idyllic or eccentric, of course.