Edit as of 2014: This is slightly outdated now (because we are all always changing), but not by much and is still here for connection and perspective. The main difference is that now there are some services I charge for, so everything else (such as the videos) can remain free. Also, it is easier to work when I can own a computer and rent a living-box with a non-empty cold-box inside of it. You know how it is. I’m truly sorry I can’t keep everything free, and need based discounts are available. – HighlyVariableJ
An audio recording of this page read by Jay – mp3 file: What is This?
The whole post is transcribed below:
This year I tried to become a “real” coach and noticed an intensely negative reaction to most styles of marketing. Whenever I think about using suggested techniques, or listen to a lecture about “the right way to promote yourself,” my reaction is to break out in expletives, which last for a while, and leave behind a residual film of cynicism and irritation. (edit: and still does.)
In order to avoid having panic attacks and fits of self-loathing from trying to sell anything, I am instead working on creating good free content. I will be sharing both hard experiences and some of what made life easier.
- The first goal for this site is to write about important, but hard-to-talk-about topics and share some concrete tools and resources that I have found to be worth considering.
- Second is to hopefully make it better for others who might be a few steps ahead or behind on the road less travelled.
- Third is to find more people who are flying a similar or compatible freak flag. Often characterized by being highly variable, feeling like outsiders and having intense thoughts, feelings and values. Also for many, one of the more paralyzing features is feeling not that smart or competent, despite the assertions of others to the contrary.
So, here is a bit of my backstory:
Five years ago, I was incredibly lucky to meet someone who managed to see me, and reflect back that the person he saw was neither stupid nor bad. He has been my friend and teacher since, and I wish that I had met him ten years earlier. It was life-changing to have a friend who was not also scared and lost, but was still enough like me to relate to. It was also pretty useful that he had a better idea for how to help me get myself out most units of trouble than I ever did. With his support, but not without a fair number of misadventures, my reality has been getting better since. Recently reaching tolerable and working toward decent. I am dismayed that it took me over 25 years to find a person who could both understand me and think I was worthwhile without trying to change me. It is NOT OK that some people never get that support and are filled with anxiety and numbing insecurity.
A few months ago, my partner and I moved to a new area, hovering between Northampton and Amherst, MA. Meeting new people and playing the introductions game is intensely uncomfortable for me. Especially the “what do you do?” part. It is amazing how many ways my oversimplified, unsatisfying answers got misheard over the last few months. Watching a stranger try to put me into a neat category and push the lid down makes me feel invisible, and too nervous to sound coherent, never-mind communicative. Especially because I am still not entirely sure what I am doing. What I do know, is that I am not a life coach that will tell people what to do, nor am I looking for work in a school or an agency, nor am I interested to discussing my earning potential with strangers.
Someone else recently asked me to elaborate on some of what came up in conversation. I stumbled over trying to answer, made some kind of unsatisfying noise and told her I would send her things to read. So, I am writing in order to have better answers than those which come to mind on the spot and more resources all in one place.
I want to help people not feel like they are broken, hopeless or alone.
Preferring to play with almost anyone who can be said to over-think things, and is willing to continue looking at hard stuff when they are able, and who cares to try not to hurt others and help when they can. I want to offer reassurance, that being more-ok does not either force anyone to stop being creative or having fun, and does not have to lead to an unpleasant grown up job.
I am highly variable and highly sensitive. While a lot is written about heightened sensitivity, not as much is available for asynchronous development, which is what I am calling being highly variable.
Somedays I am an eloquent, brave beastie. On others, I am sobbing on top of my dog unable to make eye contact. Almost always, I am too weird to release most of my un-edited thoughts out of context and not look peculiar. I used to think this made me irredeemable and doomed to be a lonely ball of crazy. Passing for normal used to consist of trying to remember not let myself talk or get excited.
It turned out that when people treat me with respect and give me space, while still a little intense, I am not horrible to be around and do not explode randomly. This probably should not have surprised me, but it was new, so it did. There is a pattern to my functionality, but it is complex and hard to figure out. It also changes. People I interact best with, tend to be similar, only completely different.
With random strangers it is a crapshoot, the initial getting to know people part is twitchy for me. I am even more nervous about interacting if I am expected to be linear or answer questions or explain who I am. This page is probably the most linear, simple and concise thing I have ever released into the wild, and making it is taking forever. On the other hand, when I talk with the kind of people who gravitate toward this and are comfortable with me, I can often help talk through whatever is keeping them up at night.
The other thing I can usually do is be able to separate the shoulds from wants and at least see which things in people’s lives are draining their energy and what is working well and what can be improved without encountering overwhelming difficulty. Finding new resources and different ways to explain things is one of my favorite time-sinks. I love figuring out and improving systems, especially non straight forwards once.
Too much of my life was spent just barely not-drowning. My default reflex is to hide, even when I don’t want to. I am working to change that now. I want to help people build communities and find their “Sure Shelter” friends, so no one has to be alone or in-hiding if they don’t want to be.