22 November, 2010

oh yeah so part two--on being vicious about yourself

So my former professor and advisor, Phyllis, has ADHD or something like that. She was a very nice person to have a professor partly because she would always do things like losing her coat when we moved to a different classroom, scheduling meetings and forgetting to keep them, sending emails saying "here's your assignment" but forgetting to include the attachment.

I feel so lucky to have met her because at the same time I was in her class, I was in another class with a professor who hated my guts. These are some explanations he gave to me and other students in the class:

I was "really weird"
I didn't use body language that made me look interested in class
I forgot to turn in a paper once (I had done it and brought it to class; I literally forgot to turn it in)
I was late to the first class because I misremembered when it started
I talked as if I hadn't done the reading (for the record I don't talk about reading I haven't done; I'm not...there I go again)

I would have ended up feeling like I deserved all this just because I had on two occasions forgotten to do things--not because I didn't care about class but simply because my working memory is super poor. But Phyllis's class was a place where I could feel safe. Phyllis cared a ton about her subject and her students, but she forgot to do things. Her class was a place where it was understood that a person can work hard and care, but sometimes not be able to do what's expected.

She is the only professor I've ever become friends with and I still see her sometimes even though she's retired.

Anyway, the last time I saw her she told me out of the blue, "One time you wrote me an email that said, 'I'm so stupid, I forgot to do this.' And I thought that was wonderful! It was so freeing! Now I started saying, 'I'm so stupid.'"

I was really interested that Phyllis said this because usually I feel under a lot of pressure from non-disabled people to avoid saying things like, "Sorry," and "I'm stupid." Like, I guess that people think they're being nice, but it just feels like they're trying to silence you. For someone like me who feels really required to check that I'm doing things properly, if someone just tells me something like what my boss told me this summer--"The only problem with you is that you keep thinking you're doing something wrong and it makes me sad!"--that makes me feel like the person would rather I handle any anxiety or guilt completely on my own, which makes it much worse, rather than making it visible to them by asking them if I'm doing something wrong or apologizing for real or perceived mistakes.


  1. Oh man, I'm sorry. When you say bad things about yourself, I always feel like it's my responsibility to try to reassure you or make you feel better. I guess I shouldn't do that. What should I do instead?

  2. I guess you haven't struck me as being that bad, or bad at all actually. I mean I don't feel nervous about you for one thing so I'm not saying that kind of thing to you to chill myself out/self-monitor.

    Also I've never felt like you are trying to make me feel guilty for saying stuff like that, which is the real problem. Reassurance is nice.

  3. Oh okay, good.

    You're about the only person I know who puts herself down as much as I do.

    And speaking of people hating you for weird reasons (like your bad prof), I had this girl in a class who wanted to beat me up because she hated the sound of my voice. How fucked up is that?

  4. fucked up.

    I hate humans. Your voice is fine.

  5. I tend to apologize and put myself down a lot too.

    Your professor who is not Phyllis sounds like a really petty, mean person.

    She actually said that? Wow, that's really awful.

  6. I wrote to you on YouTube and found you blog there as well. I enjoy your writing and the way that you express yourself. It's an in-depth analysis that I really enjoy reading.


  7. Oh hi! I bet I'll forget to answer you on YouTube.

  8. You cannot possibly have such a bad memory!

  9. Oh I totally do, never fear. I haven't answered him.

  10. Oh, that was you! Sorry. Anyway, yeah I really do, I forgot about your youtube message for the four days between when I wrote that comment and when you just told me I forgot.

  11. Yes, it was me. It often is.

    Well, then I wish you nothing but luck in your future endeavors! I'm not much for smilies, but I can give you one: :)

  12. I'm not ~leaving forever~ dude. I'm going to read your blog and stuff. I just don't go on youtube much.

  13. Haha. No, I didn't mean it like that. It's just I'm not much for smalltalk so when I say or write anything I do it with a clear purpose. I wrote to you on YouTube because I felt the need to do so. I commented how I could relate to some of your "problems", so to speak, as well as I wrote that I were impressed by your ease to talk about it. There is really not much more to say, I suppose, and if there is, then I have totally missed it.

    It's easier to end a comment or a message of some kind with a "good luck", but I'm going leave this one hanging. I will, however, give you another smiley, this one of a different kind: :-)

    (I feel that this smiley smiles more, but it's probably just my imagination fucking with me.)