Learning more about living with others

| life

I woke up at 7 today after dreaming of the last section of my progress
report. Going to bed with an unfinished task means I end up doing it
literally in my sleep. <laugh> After some puttering about at
Graduate House, I made it down to the lab. Got through a whole bunch
of tasks, although I wasted a fair bit of time playing Nethack. (Level
10 wizard! Woohoo!)

It was a good day work-wise, although I'm embarrassed to say that I
was dozing off in the middle of statistics class. Bought chocolate
during the break, which greatly helped. Note to self: bring emergency
chocolate everywhere.

Picked up a new book from the library. Finished it today, too. Good
book, and well worth keeping in mind. I'll post my notes soon.

I learned a little more about life today, or at least I learned about
something I'll need to learn more about. For some reason or another, I
don't get along very smoothly with one of my roommates. I'm in the
process of learning more about keeping a place tidy, and have been
doing relatively fine: I manage to get laundry done once in a while,
I've got nice dishes that I keep spotless, and I even manage to tame
my desk clutter once in a while.

Having finished my major tasks earlier than I expected, I decided to
do my chores a day before the deadline. I soaked the mop in a solution
with the new organic cleaning liquid I bought (it's really nifty!),
and started mopping. She was preparing a salad for dinner at the time,
and pointed out that I hadn't even swept the floor. I listened to that
and glossed over the rest of her disparaging remarks. I normally
vacuum the floor before mopping, but she found fault with that when I
did the floor three weeks ago, so I was wondering if the mop alone
would do. Anyway, it was easy enough to set aside the mop and sweep
the floor in preparation.

Falling into the rhythm of sweeping, I found myself reflecting on how
this was actually a good thing, not a stressful one. I remarked that
although I had survived a summer on my own without getting into
trouble with the cleaning staff, and that I was glad that she was
helping me learn higher standards. Upon hearing this, she told me not
to be so (bleeping) condescending and that I'm allowed to be a (bleep)
sometimes. I told her that I'd rather not be one, whereupon she sighed
and told me to just never talk to her again.

The situation made me think about the power of filters. If people have
a positive filter, bad things aren't so bad. If people have a negative
filter, it's hard for anything to get through. Perhaps my mistake
(aside from forgetting that first bit! <laugh>) was acting upon
my reflection and thanking her when she wasn't ready to be thanked. I
have to admit that it took me a little time to sort through all the
different ways to react, and I could feel my neck muscles tense. But
I'm learning how to see the good…

I think the best thing for me to do, then, is to listen beyond her
harsh choices for words for the feedback that will help me improve my
own standards of neatness. I don't think she'll notice improvements –
it becomes all too easy to focus on the negatives and all too hard to
see growth – but I can affirm myself.

Granted, I sometimes wish I could have something like the close
roommate relationships my mom had when she was in college. But this
isn't a bad way to learn interpersonal skills (and come to accept the
fact that I can't please everyone!).

I have to confess one teensy little thing, though. Thanks to her, I'm
learning the importance of modulating my voice to a lower pitch. When
she's chatting with people in the living room, it's all I can do to
put on the headphones. So there, things *can* get on my nerves…
<wry grin>

I'm looking forward to learning how to live completely on my own, but
living with others has valuable lessons as well.

Sharing this with you because it's something I'm still learning. Who
knows, maybe the reminder that there is space between stimulus and
response may help you too… =)

Random Emacs symbol: mail-extr-disable-voodoo – Variable: *If it is a regexp, names matching it will never be modified.

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com.