I don't usually write about my life in real time, because the difference between a blog post than reads like a diary entry and a blog post that someone would want to read is usually just time passing.
So time passing means that even though I get a ton of comments, I do not usually run my life based on the comments section. But in the last week I have been particularly lost, and particularly inundated by timely comments. On top of that, I know it seems like I can tell anyone anything, but I'm not actually like that. I don't understand the normal give and take of conversation.
I don't have friends, which is typical for someone with Asperger's Syndrome. I mean, I have friends, but it's not normal. Like, I know some people call their friends a lot. My two best friends are not in Madison, and I call them to say hi once every three months. At most. The second best friend doesn't even know she's my second-best friends. She'd probably be horrified to hear it. I'm probably her twentieth best friend.
(I am the type who has a significant other and they are my friend. I am a person who should be married. I like being married because I want a friend and that's really the only way I know how to do it.)
So I didn't tell anyone I was getting married. I wrote it on my blog. And friends who follow the blog wrote to me to congratulate me.
Ryan Paugh—who is my harbinger for good social skills and also my universal example of someone who I like and is nice to me but I don't know if he is a friend or not—called me the day I blogged about getting married. He said congratulations. He told me I should have told people at work. He told me it's weird that he heard about my engagement from the two people in his life who follow my blog closest: his girlfriend and his mom.
I told him I didn't know how to tell people. I feel too weird telling people stuff about me because I think, why would they care? It's so different on a blog. If you don't care, you can just type in a new URL. But if I'm standing in front of you and you don't care, I won't even know. Like many people with Asperger’s, I don't know how to tell.
So I have told only one person in the non-blog world that the farmer called off the engagement. Which means I'm definitely short on feedback. But, one of my strengths is asking questions and getting feedback.
So, I bridged the feedback gap by running my life based on the comments section. Here's how I did it
1. I paid close attention to why some people completely missed the boat.
There were a few comments that were very harsh, against me, and they were that way because the people didn't have the whole story. I considered deleting some of those comments. Then I wrote a response instead. Then I deleted the comments and the response. I never delete comments like that. But in this case, the process helped me to understand that I did not have the story straight in my head. Here's the missing part (from my missing response to the missing comments):
The farmer’s lawyer recommended that the farmer threaten to leave the farm in order to get an irrevocable inheritance. I wanted to stay at the farm he has now, and not leave.
And, I suggested that things would be easier if the farmer worked for cash, as he had been doing, and not worry about the land. And the farmer and the lawyer said no. It had to be the land.
So the farmer told me that I need to explain to his parents why I will have no security if they can revoke his inheritance at any time. Because with that arrangement, my behavior is always being tested. The farmer told me that if they still didn’t want to give him an irrevocable inheritance, then he’d leave with me.
I told them that, but, in the conversation it became clear, as the farmer distanced himself from me, that he wouldn’t leave. But I had already given the ultimatium.
2. I read the comments from farm families and gave them extra weight.
Some of those comments explained to me why farmers never leave their land. I didn't know this, because the farmer was telling me he could leave. I see why he was hoping he could leave, and I see now why he can't.
There were lots of people who told me that the family was insane and that the guy should always choose me before the farm but I decided that if you want to live on a farm, you have to live by those values, so I should go with what the farm family comments told me.
3. I gave special weight to people who said things I hadn't thought of.
Especially when I could tell that I was acting out of fear. People wrote that I was assuming the worst, which is true. And I don't want to be that kind of person. And people wrote that I've always been a risk taker, so I should take a risk.
This seemed true. I felt like I had been acting out of fear. And I didn't want that.
So I told the farmer that I'd move to the farm under whatever circumstances he wanted.
But, as you can imagine, it was too late. He didn't want to talk about it.
4. I paid attention to the comments about systems.
This comment, in particular, made me think about how people in relationships feed off each other. You want it to be that each person makes the other better. The farmer and I had that. But we had the other way, too.
I got scared and gave him ultimatums. He got scared and dumped me. And then we both got more scared and did the cycle again. Until, in the end, everything was based in fear.
So this is what I learned in the comments section: I need to not be so fearful. I think there are a lot of ways to do this. There are many ways to understand fear.
But that's not what I'm writing about here. What I'm writing about is how to take advice, and how to know what advice is good advice.
If you're lucky, you get tons of advice in your life. And if you're normal, only a small percentage of it is good. The key is to be able to tune out what's not right and to act on what is right, and take responsibility for fixing the roadblocks to doing better next time.
You know this. We all know this. But, like all things that are hard to do, if one more person is reminding you to do it, you're more likely to get it done.
And P.S. Thank you for all the great comments!