spinelstar: (Default)
[personal profile] spinelstar
Cut because this got looooong.

Ever since I found out that I had a Scorpio ascendant, I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which I interact with other people. It actually clarified a lot of things for me that I hadn't considered, as I happen to feel it describes me really well.

I'll never forget an unexpectedly candid conversation I had with a guy friend in high school. He'd been describing to me and one or two other girls some of the interesting details of a few of his almost-sexual exploits (ultra-conservative Chirstian school, okay?*), and I found myself getting frustrated. I'd never even been asked out on a date, or been told by a guy that he liked me! Being the sort of self-centered creature that I am, I eventually voiced my mild envy, even though, ironically, he'd been trying to point out through his anectdotes that sometimes it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Not for the first time, I posed the question, "Is there something about me that inherently drives guys away? I'd like to think I'm not that unattractive…" To which he gave the inevitable and always-unsatisfying-whether-it-was-true-or-not response that I was indeed pretty.

It was what he said next that really stuck with me, though: "I think a lot of guys are really intimidated by you."

I was utterly bewildered by this response. I honestly thought he was joking. Or something. Here I was, sixteen or seventeen years old, a slightly-overweight girl in a school with a bunch of rich kids, wrought with insecurities, who sat with her older sister's "geek" friends at lunch and didn't quite feel like she was particularly good at anything (except taking tests). I was one of those girls whose classmates could only describe her as "nice" and "smart." I wasn't outgoing but I was never unfriendly, and I was absolutely certain everyone could tell by how shy I was how insecure and lonely I must have been.

Now, granted, "insecure" is not a good recipe for attracting potential boyfriends, either. For all I know, he was just saying that so he could twist it into a compliment and spare my feelings. But the fact that the word "intimidating" came to mind at all really struck me, and he had good reasoning—I seemed like I had my life absolutely all together. I was at the top of my class in almost every subject, and though I wasn't particularly proud of that (it never felt like it was through any real effort of my own), I did secretly enjoy raising my hand and seeing teachers smile and say, "Someone besides Karin?" I wasn't the best singer in my school, but I was in Chorale, the honors choir that had somehow become akin to royalty at our school. I made Regional Choir my senior year. I was involved in local theater. I was nominated for Homecoming Queen (a fact which actually brought out more of my insecurities, but that's another story). I was never late to anything (unless my mom was driving), and I absolutely never got in trouble.

And yet, it had never occurred to me before that moment that anyone would be intimidated by me. Sure, everyone knew I was smart, but so what? That didn't mean I wasn't a total pushover, because I was. I would have done absolutely anything for a guy as long as he would let me call him my boyfriend—which is why, of course, I came to thank God during my college years that I never had a boyfriend in high school. I could have very easily been taken advantage of.

But I realized that at the time, too—I thought it was obvious, I thought I projected that vibe. I did it on purpose. I thought that if I did so, it might make up for any physical unattractiveness I possessed and surely some guy would snatch me up soon. No one ever did. So I remained frustrated and boyfriend-less throughout the rest of high school. I shoved my friend's observation to the back of my mind somewhere, still incredibly confused and skeptical of it.

Eventually, of course, I realized how stupid I was being, how I should have been more careful what I was wishing for, and, like I said, I started being grateful that I hadn't gotten it. My interest in boys dwindled a bit. I didn't have a single "crush" on any guy all through college. I joined an Argentine Tango class and realized that a lot of guys are just plain annoying. My fantasies of finding the perfect man for me survived, but I was (and am) in less of a hurry, believing that if he's worth the trouble I'd rather he pursue me than the other way around. I thought that was reasonable.

It wasn't until recently that I started to question my current method as well.

My sister has been studying the personalities of different Sun Signs for her novel, and while she was doing that she worked out our charts just for fun. When she told me I had a Scorpio Ascendant, I was sort of excited. I loved being a Pisces, but I always thought that if I could choose my Sign, I would have chosen Scorpio. It seemed like such an intense Sign—everything I'd ever read about it made it sound mysterious and sexy. So I was pleasantly surprised that it was in my chart.

My sister thought my chart explained a lot about me.** She told me that your Ascendant determines how you come off to people—we joked that this was why I have a slightly-darker fashion sense, why my favorite color has always been black. But then I found my friend's comment about being intimidating coming back to me, as I pored over descriptions of a Scorpio Ascendant.

Cautious and private. You play your cards close to your chest. Me? No. I've always worn my heart on my sleeve. Haven't I? Maybe I wait for people to ask why I look a little blue, but I'm always honest once they do… aren't I?

I quickly realized that I'm not. I tell little white lies to people all the time. The other JET in my town and I went out to dinner a few months ago, and he asked how my food was. It was too spicy and I said it was great—he completely called me out on it. I'm overly polite. Sometimes I smile and nod and agree to everything, when inside I'm frustrated and tired and rolling my eyes at everything.

And then I realized that "cautious" isn't even a strong enough word to describe me. I'm creepily quiet. I have trouble looking people in the eye, and in fact I hardly do so at all. I always have something like a cell phone at hand that I can play with when I'm talking to someone, something I can pretend to check when I can't think of anything to say. For that matter, I often look around the room, pretending to be interested in something else. It's a defense mechanism. On the inside, I couldn't be more ecstatic that someone's bothering to talk to me. But I'm convinced that I'm boring, and in the process of trying to look confident, of trying to make it look like I'll be okay if they decide they don't want to talk to me anymore, I end up looking like I'm bored with them.

And to think I never even realized I was doing that! I was sure I came off as shy and vulnerable. Emotional and eager to please everyone. That's not to say that people never figure that out, but it takes situations that are more than purely social, and that doesn't make it any easier to actually talk with me.

Deep down, I've always sort of known that. No wonder I've always had trouble making friends. And the more I try to change and follow the advice of others—Go to parties! Be confident! Act like you own the room!—the worse it seems to get. Social situations just don't seem to work for me. Forced confidence ends up translating as even more stand-off-ish-ness. I feel like I'm finally starting to genuinely like myself, but I want other people to like me too, and I feel like very few get the chance to really know me at all.

So, I guess my question is, where does one draw the line? What should we try to change about ourselves, and what do we dismiss as "just the way I am"? I feel like astrological readings are often presented as "things to be aware of" or "things to watch out for," but what does that really mean? Doesn't that still involve trying to change a few habits, at least small ones?

Am I the only one who feels like she has to wear a mask all the time, to try to conform to what the world deems "attractive" (both in the sense of a friend and a mate)? Should I hold out for people who aren't put off by the way I naturally interact with others, even though it contradicts my deepest desire—to belong to somebody?

Maybe there aren't any answers. But it's what I've been thinking about.

*As a side note, I never failed to be surprised when I heard about any such behavior from one of my classmates. Not that I thought they were all angels, but as a taking-all-the-honors-courses, involved-in-choir-and-band-and-theater, admittedly-always-a-homebody and soon-to-be-valedictorian, I never understood how they found the time. Or for that matter, how they got their parents to allow them to be in situations where that sort of thing would be possible. Surely my parents weren't that abnormally protective? Or was I just that abnormally terrified of getting in trouble?

**So, I'm a Pisces Sun (moody? a little needy?), a Libra Moon (non-confrontational? passive-aggressive, even?), and a Scorpio Ascendant ("intimidating!" XD).

Kisses and hugs! ♥ Hopefully I'll get some TILT done today, but we'll see. :3

(Oh, btw, I'm not in a bad mood or anything. Just pondering things. I've actually had a very good week so far. ^_^)

Date: 2011-06-09 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] in-the-blue.livejournal.com
So. Conventional astrological wisdom says that your ascendant dictates your outward appearance and mannerisms, your sun sign dictates your inner or "true" personality, and your moon dictates your emotions. Of course there's going to be bleed if you will between all three, because each of those things informs the other. My Scorpio sun says if people are intimidated, that's their thing to deal with, not mine. My Gemini ascendant feels the need to explain it away before it gets distracted by -- oh, look, my kid's playing inFAMOUS 2, what a cool move Cole just made -- and my Pisces moon wants me to mellow out and try to understand everyone else's point of view.

In large parts of the world, the sun sign is considered relatively insignificant and it's the moon sign that's most important... or at least that's what an astrologer friend told me once upon a time. I happen to think that all these things are simply tools for refining our self-understanding. What we make of them is just that: what we make of them, and really, every single one of us has the power to remodel ourselves in whatever image we like best. C'mon, Scorpio has to give us at least that much in exchange for all that power to intimidate!

Date: 2011-06-09 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
"I happen to think that all these things are simply tools for refining our self-understanding."

I really like that. That's why this whole thing (researching my chart and whatnot) has been so cool for me lately, and why I've been thinking about it so much. A lot of the descriptions I read about my Sign and other aspects have let me see facets of my personality in a completely different light.

"...every single one of us has the power to remodel ourselves in whatever image we like best."

Have you found that to be true? I never have, really, but maybe that's just how I feel sometimes. I feel like there are just some things about myself that I can't change, and every time I try it's just like I'm hiding behind something. I can control my behaviors and adjust my values (maybe that's what you meant?) but I can't change my nature or how I feel inside. But I guess that's the eternal debate, is how much of ourselves is just "our nature" and how much can we control?

I guess my real question(s), then, is(/are) why do I feel like I have control over so little? Is that normal? Do most people feel that way, or does it vary from person to person how much they can control? Or should I just be working harder? And why does it feel like I'm hating myself whenever I try to change?

Date: 2011-06-09 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] in-the-blue.livejournal.com
Do I find it to be true? For myself, yes (I've talked myself in and out of a great number of things), and I've seen it in other people too. I believe in the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies: we tell ourselves we're a non-smoker and we become one. We tell ourselves we'll learn what we need to pass an exam and we do. But... there are physical limitations: we can't tell ourselves we'll wake up 5'9 and model-thin when we go to bed 5'3 and round. Still, it's something to want to work toward, at least the practical parts.

Your questions, though: they're good ones and of course I can't answer them because I don't have the proper training and I sure don't know you well enough. But I do know that asking is often the first step toward making any change. Maybe if you feel like you're hating yourself whenever you try to change, you want to take a look at what it is you're focusing on and ask yourself if those are the right things. If you hate how it makes you feel, maybe those things aren't what need to change at all.

Just thoughts.

Date: 2011-06-09 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
These are good thoughts. And thanks so much for your thoughtful answers; this is why I love talking with you so much. ♥ It's just nice to have ponderings to add to my own ponderings.

If it's not too personal a question, can I ask for some examples of what things you felt were the "right things" to change in your life? Physical goals like quitting smoking and losing weight are the sort of changes I can make without feeling like I'm hating myself-- in fact, I'm looking forward to starting a diet and exercise routine when I get back to the States. I guess what I struggle with is more emotional changes... Habits, reactions to situations.

For example, I don't want to be a shy, quiet person-- or at least, it makes my life harder, almost constantly. But I can't change the fact that I get nervous talking to people and sometimes I'd rather not do it, I can't make my life and the things I say magically more interesting to others, and no matter what I will always feel exhausted after spending too much time socializing. I can pretend I'm not nervous around people, and employ various tactics I've heard over and over about "how to engage in good converstations" and all that jazz. But sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm being myself anymore.

Maybe that's strange? I know I shouldn't let myself not make any effort at all, but I guess I was wondering to what extent most people feel comfortable making effort before they feel like huge fakes. Because I kind of feel like one most of the time.

I suppose this is complicated by second-hand experience. I've seen friends go to great and painful lengths sometimes to change what sort of person they are. And even if the changes happen and seem to "help," often they seem really paranoid and unhappy afterwards. It's hard to see that when I already considered them my friend before they tried to change, and I wonder sometimes if it was really worth it. :/

Date: 2011-06-09 06:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] in-the-blue.livejournal.com
We-ell... I think the kind of changes you're talking about come from the inside and they also come about gradually. Sure, you can go somewhere and pretend, but it takes a personal step, a leap of faith if you will, and a lot of repetition to make something a permanent change instead of a pretense.

When I look back at the things I've done and the ways I've acted in the past, I realize that a lot of those actions were the result of fear. They might not have felt like it at the time, but in retrospect I can see it. This could be something that anyone can say, I can only speak for myself. I was very, very shy growing up, or at least I felt like I was very very shy. Around about the time I went to college, I started rebelling against being so shy. I doubt I was ever the life of the party or anything, but I did make conscious decisions to try new things and do things differently. OK, so college, everyone does that to a degree. It's where we get to be on our own for the first time, most of us. But even after that, I kept pushing myself out of my own comfort zone. Tried new things, new ways of doing things. I wasn't always successful, but I did learn (through repetition and so many attempts) that staying put is just being stuck, and I haven't ever wanted to be stuck.

So this is what I do: I push myself to do things I otherwise wouldn't do. This is how I change myself in fundamental ways. I might not like what I'm doing at first, but I keep doing it until I convince myself that I'm either on the right track or the wrong one. If it's the wrong one -- if it just feels completely wrong -- I'll give it up. But if it feels right, that means every step I take leaves me feeling more accomplished.

Of course I slip. Of course I make mistakes. Who doesn't.

At heart, I think making any sort of viable change is like standing on a dock on a hot summer day knowing that you're going to jump into that lake, leeches and all, the moment you can't stand not to any more. We can't change our habits and reactions to situations without changing the things we do about those situations. Form follows function, always. So instead of saying "I want to be less emotional about XYZ," you might want to retool the question into "what do I need to do so that my natural reaction to XYZ is to feel less emotional about its outcome?"

Different way of looking at things, of weighing checks and balances. Your Libra moon should resonate with that one!

Date: 2011-06-09 01:51 am (UTC)
ext_27667: (Default)
From: [identity profile] viridian.livejournal.com
I'm a Scorpio with, I believe, Libra ascendant, and I spent all of high school believing that I was hideous and with horrible personality flaws.

It wasn't until late high school/early college that I found out that I gave off an unapproachable vibe that made guys think I was either a lesbian or waiting to shoot them down. Hilariously, I got told by totally different sets of guys that I flirt without really intending to and give off that signal and then abruptly shut them down. LOL.

I also am very shy and get a little weirded out by looking people in the eye too much, so I end up coming across as distracted unless I'm really trying hard not to be.

Sadly, the thing that makes me into a social butterfly that people like? A glass or two of wine. Not really the best solution, but hasn't turned me into an alcoholic yet.

Date: 2011-06-09 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
It's kind of funny that you say that. Pisceans are known for being prone to addictions, which I've always sort of felt about myself. So I actually kind of don't drink, as a personal rule. Also, ultra-conservative background, my dad had to deal with a father who was an alcoholic blah blah blah uninteresting drama/history/whatever. But it's too bad, because it would probably help, lol. ;D

Date: 2011-06-09 04:22 am (UTC)
ext_27667: (Default)
From: [identity profile] viridian.livejournal.com
It's just as well, really! In the process of finding out that a very little bit of alcohol makes me into a social butterfly, I first had to learn that too much of it makes me into an idiot with bad judgment. MUCH more embarrassing situations than shyness ever led to. D:

I'm sure relaxation techniques could eventually accomplish the same thing more deliberately and reliably.

Date: 2011-06-09 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
I might have to try that-- the thought never occurred to me. I guess I assumed that relaxation techniques would help more with the heart palpatations/sweaty palms kind of problems, as opposed to simply feeling like you have nothing interesting to say. But maybe it would. I should at least look into it.

Date: 2011-06-09 04:00 pm (UTC)
ext_27667: (Default)
From: [identity profile] viridian.livejournal.com
I think at least in my case, a glass of wine just calms me down enough to stop the ongoing chatter in my head that second-guesses me before I can make interesting conversation. So it makes sense that if I could just start from a calm/relaxed place I'd automatically do that all of the time.

Date: 2011-06-09 02:31 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (Up end in sight)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
How do you figure out your ascendant? Also I know that kind of vibe you mean and just being quiet and not sharing what's important that easily. Though I tend to hide it by being almost overly social at times. Its the Gemini in me, I'm either really out there or keeping close in. *snugs*

I think I need to find a good astrology site and figure these things out. How did your sister do your charts?

Date: 2011-06-09 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
As I understand it, your Ascendant depends on the hour you were born. If you look up the time on your birth certificate, you can get your whole chart at Astro Dienst. It's really interesting stuff. Let me know what you find. ;)

Edit: Sorry, I should add-- go under "My Astro" and create a user profile. On page 4 of the scrolly-thingy in the center of the site's main page has a link to draw your chart (I can't find it on the side bar for some reason O_o;).
Edited Date: 2011-06-09 04:08 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-06-09 04:40 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (found my wings)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
Oh thank you, I might need to go ask my mother for my exact hour. I used to know it but I think I've forgotten.

Also your thoughts in talking to Gwynne are interesting. I think when we find tools to think about who we are, its helpful to understand our choices and use them to figure out where we wish to go.

One of the most helpful things I ever found was this sheet about people born on the 8th of the month that captured me incredibly well. I wish I knew where it was, I held onto it for years because it showed me a view of myself.

Are you going to be around for threading tonight?

Date: 2011-06-09 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
That's really interesting. I'm not sure I've ever heard of the day of the month you were born being used to describe your personality. I might have to look into that.

As for threading, I can be. :3 I've been having trouble sleeping lately, so I may not be able to brain for very long, but I will make an effort! ^-^b

Date: 2011-06-09 06:09 am (UTC)
ceitfianna: (map and key)
From: [personal profile] ceitfianna
I wish I could find it again. It was something I found at a resort and it just clicked in some fascinating ways. Okay, I've done the chart and can send you the link if you'd like.

Apparently I'm Aries in ascendant and one line of this fits so clearly with me: Your habit of analysis is essentially a defense. You feel that you are less the victim of events if you can achieve a total understanding of them. This rings so true to me though I jokingly call it my inner psychiatrist or anthropologist, which is what my parents are and they have a habit of analyzing things.

Sleeping should come first, I've had that same problem. Give me a ping if you're around. I'll be up for at least another hour if not more.

Date: 2011-06-09 02:22 pm (UTC)
dynastessa: peter parker } the amazing spider-man (this is the perfect time to panic.)
From: [personal profile] dynastessa

Seriously, for a good deal of your post, I was kind of thinking: you and I need to talk more, because ohmygod I can relate to this in a thousand different ways.


I have no other helpful things to say, alas.

Date: 2011-06-09 02:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mm-spinelstar.livejournal.com
Hee! :D We do need to talk more! I feel like I've read some of your posts and felt kind of the same way about them. Srsly, more chatting. It needs to happen.

And actually, that's perfectly helpful in its own way. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way; sometimes life can create the illusion in my head that I'm abnormal and there's something inherently wrong with me.

*hugs back* ♥

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