On Becoming A Woman Chapter 13

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Chapter 13

Suppose

In which we learn the evils of fantasizing. Which is important in a book for teenagers going through puberty because…. ?

The entire chapter is also based upon the words of Ellen White.

You should control your thoughts. This will not be an easy task; you cannot accomplish it without close and even severe effort. Yet God requires this of you; it is a duty resting upon every accountable being. You are responsible to God for your thoughts. If you indulge in vain imaginations, permitting your mind to dwell upon impure subjects, you are, in a degree, as guilty before God as if your thoughts were carried into action. All that prevents the action is the lack of opportunity.

Day and night dreaming and castle-building are bad and exceedingly dangerous habits. When once established, it is next to impossible to break up such habits and direct the thoughts to pure, holy, elevated themes. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work. You are weak in this direction

Mind, Character, and Personality Volume 2, p. 661

As I read this chapter, Even though the author is quite vague, I am of the opinion that primarily the author wishes us to avoid fantasizing about boys. (Of course it would be boys. We already had a chapter on homosexuality, so we’re done with that topic.) The author is also trying to discourage people from becoming fiction authors. We won’t get to books until next chapter, but chapter 13 is indeed laying the groundwork.

The word “suppose” is one of the most interesting words int he English language. It is a door to a fascinating phase of mental activity. When you say, “Suppose I were a queen,” you are peeking through this door and glimpsing yourself as you would like to be.

Maybe it’s a generation thing, but my fantasies usually started with “what if” or “pretend that.” The only time I ever hear the word “suppose” is when Danny tells me I can come over and watch Roswell.

The author then tells us we’re going to do a little experiment. He describes a teenage girl fantasizing about buying a new outfit. Like most people’s fantasies, it is incredibly boring to read about.

I’m going to mention this now because it will be important later. In creative writing class, we actually discussed the difference between a “fantasy” and a “story.” “A rich person is buying me a new outfit, yay!” Is a fantasy. “A rich person is buying me a new outfit, and later I find out that he only did it because he wants me to marry him, I do not wish to marry this man, what am I going to do?” That would be an interesting basis for a story.

Stories, good stories, are not just another person’s fantasies. Humans have been telling each other stories for…well, according to Adventists, the beginning of time. It’s a craft that requires skill. That’s the way it’s always been.

 

Now, all of this did not really happen to you…but as you have followed along through my little story, your mind has been sufficiently active to fill in details that were not even included in what I have recited. For instance, I did not say whether the weather on this particular day was cloudy or sunny. But in your imagination you probably pictured the sun as shining brightly.

I actually was picturing cold and rainy.

The author here does have a point. Our minds tend to fill in details that aren’t there, because we like having a complete picture. At least, when we’re not bored out of our skulls, because dress shopping is a lot of things, but fun isn’t one of them.

How is it that you were able to fill in these details that were not mentioned in the story? It is simply that we were discussing things that were of fundamental interest to you, and based on your previous experiences and knowledge, you were able to make assumptions of how you would like things to be.

I have boobs and a vagina, so of course dress shopping is one of my favorite things in the world to do.

When you indulge in the imagination the details that you throw in to make the story pleasing usually represent your personal preferences.

It is my personal preference that, as I was dress shopping, the magical dress fairy came along with a ready made dress that was pretty and actually fit. I’m such an oddly shaped person that finding a dress that fits is a fantasy.

Where does your mind obtain the mental pictures that are brought into use in connection with imaginary thinking? These details come from fragments of your memories regarding previous experiences, or from memories of what you have seen or read about, or from what you have heard described. The imagination is flexible enough so that it can piece together fragments of many memories, making a combination of thoughts thtat is in perfect harmony with your preferences.

Sounds plausible. So, what exactly is imagination? Where does it come from, how does it work? How did it evolve? Why would a God give it to us if he didn’t want us to use it.

As human beings we are very fortunate to possess the power of imagination. When used correctly, this ability to direct our thinking along the lines of our own choosing is a great asset.

The author goes on to talk about some examples of “correct” ways to use your imagination. When designing a dress, interior decorating, composing music.

Although a fertile imagination is an asset in many lines of endeavor, I suppose it is of greatest advantage in drawing and painting.

Notice he did not say writing. That’s because he’s going to discuss that in Chapter 14, and it won’t be pretty. I am not looking forward to that chapter, because it is going to bring back a lot of painful memories.

Whether or not you are artistic, you still have need for an active imagination. One important use of the imagination is in the making of major decisions.

Fantasizing about whether to be a nurse or a teacher is an approved use of your imagination.

Suppose you have come to at time in your life when you must choose your lifework. Even though your ultimate goal in life is home making, it is advisable for you to select a field of endeavor…..so that you can be self supporting before you are married and that you may fall back on…in case circumstances should require it later.

If you’re a woman reading this, and your ultimate goal in life is homemaking, great. I hope it makes you happy and fulfilled. I’m trying to figure out a way to write that that doesn’t sound sarcastic, because I actually do mean that in all sincerity.

My issue isn’t with someone wanting to become a wife and mother. My issue is with the author assuming that every female reading this wants to become, above all else, a wife and mother.

This was the late 1960s. By this point in time, women were beginning to have careers. The author isn’t writing about the 1860s where this would have been seen as something radical. Come on Shryock, you most definitely know better.

I will give him some credit, however, for saying that someone must have some sort of backup plan in case things don’t work out. A lot of fundies today think women should have absolutely zero options, but Shryock clearly is of the opinion that that is bullshit, because he understands that sometimes shit happens.

The best way to make a major decision is to use the imagination, making believe, first, that you have followed one possibility, and then, changing the scene, making believe that you have accepted the other.

I thought the best way to make major decisions was to job shadow people, but I’m only in my late 20s, what do I know.

A teenage girl is always the heroine of her own daydreams.

Isn’t that kind of how daydreams are supposed to work?

No one else knows what she is thinking about.

I don’t know why the author wrote this. The author is a Seventh Day Adventist, and SDAs absolutely believe that God can read minds. Satan can’t, but he can read body language and facial expression and make some good guesses. Which amounts to the same thing, really.

There is therefore no one to criticize or speak of her as being selfish.

Ah, the main problem with being able to have private thoughts. No one can police them.

Why should she not take this opportunity to enjoy life and do the things she would really like to do?

These sentences came right after each other in a paragraph. This last line is not like the others. By including it in a paragraph about private thoughts and daydreams, the author is equating daydreaming with not enjoying real life. The two are not mutually exclusive.

In any case, the author goes to on to say that your daydreams represent your inner character. They are the things you’d like to do, if you could.

If, in your daydreams, you find yourself doing things that your conscience would not approve, then beware!

Some people actually believe that people would act out their fantasies if there wasn’t anything to stop them. They actually think that the only thing stopping me from murdering my annoying co workers is the fact that I would go to jail if I did. They can’t imagine that I just want to fantasize about going on a murder spree. I would never actually kill anyone. Except in self defense. Or defense of some other defenseless….

We’re getting off the subject.

Someone has said, “tell me your daydreams and I can read your character.” This is but another way of saying that the trend of a person’s imagination is a better index of his real self than is provided by his actual conduct.

The author is doing his best to keep things vague, so let me spell out for you what this means. “If you fantasize about having happy sexy fun times, you are a slut, regardless of whether or not you are actually having happy sexy fun times.”

This isn’t just an Ellen White thing, this is a Biblical thing.

Matthew 5:27-28

27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Even Jesus thinks you shouldn’t fantasize. The author is not going to bring this verse up, and I can’t tell if it’s because he likes being vague, or if he’s honestly trying to keep things open to interpretation.

Yes, many air castles built during the teens become realities later in life.

No, Shryock, they don’t.

I can think of exactly 2 fantasies that have ever come true for me. 3, if you count the one where I am a self supporting adult who goes to work, lives on her own, and has a puppy.*

I haven’t actually gone around asking, but if I asked people how many of their teenage fantasies they’ve actually lived out, I bet the number would be extremely low.

So your own daydreams, while you are still a teenager, are a good indication of the course that you will follow.

When I was a young teenager (a very young teenage, more like pre-teen, actually) I fantasized I was a prophet. I was going to be the next Ellen White. God had marked me and set me aside as special.

In case anyone was wondering, I no longer think I am a prophet. I also don’t think I’m God’s chosen one. In fact, I kind of outgrew all these things by the time I was 14. I would say my teenage daydreams were about as far away from reality today as you can get.

I repeat, that if your daydreams are wholesome, your character is forming along proper lines.

See, here’s the thing. Who gets to decide if something is wholesome?

Fantasizing about being a superhero who goes around fighting crime and saving others is something that Adventists would be divided on. Some would say it shows you have a good character and that you want to use your abilities to help people. Others would think that fantasizing about having superpowers is a big bad terrible thing because fantasy and superpowers are evil, and it shows that you are the type of person who doesn’t like to live in reality.

If, on the other hand, you would be ashamed to have anyone else know the content of your daydreams, it must be that you are struggling with some problem that is affecting your character formation.

I want everyone to take a moment and think, of all the daydreams you ever had when you were a teenager. Set the sexual ones aside, along with the other fantasies where you broke the 10 commandments.

Now, of all the daydreams you ever had as a teenager, not counting the ones where you broke a commandment, how many of them are you comfortable telling me, right now?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

As a child, I would have been horrified if anyone found out the contents of my daydreams. That doesn’t mean I did horrible things in them. It just means that I had my private thoughts and fantasies and frankly I didn’t like the fact that God was constantly listening.

I mean, some of those superhero fantasies are kind of embarrassing to rethink about.

There is another phase of daydreaming that should be explained to you. Some teenagers obtain so much enjoyment from daydreaming that they almost prefer it to wholesome outside activity.

“Sorry Johnny, I’d love to hang out this weekend, but I think I’d rather stay home and daydream.” Said no teenager ever.

This craving for an opportunity to daydream usually results when a teenager is not obtaining the pleasure and satisfaction from his usual routine that he should obtain.

Instead of looking at why Little Susie isn’t getting the amount of pleasure from real life you think she should be getting, the author is going to tell Little Susie to stop doing it.

Great strategy.

Suppose you are doing poorly in school or aren’t popular with the other kids. So you go daydream about actually having friends and being a good student. Well, you should be working hard to do well in school in reality, and you should also be working to make real friends.

To some extent I don’t have an issue with this, however, it’s not always simple as all that. There really isn’t anything you can do to make the other kids like you if they have all decided they don’t like you. This is particularly true in SDA schools which tend to be small, sometimes very small.

Sometimes circumstances are beyond your control. It’s not a sin to daydream about having lots of friends or doing well in school. Chances are you will eventually change schools and have a chance to make friends with new people. Or perhaps you’ll find a good teacher who will work with you to help you have work that isn’t too easy or too hard. In the meantime, it’s not a sin to dream.

And this brings us to the point that daydreaming and castle building becomes actually dangerous whenever (sic) it becomes more attractive than the realities of life.

Daydreaming is always more attractive than the realities of life. That’s kind of how it works.

I do not mean that if you indulge in an occasional daydream, you are destined to failure in life.

No, I never thought you were saying that. I think you are using slippery slope arguments and fear mongering to say that daydreams need to be confined to this tiny little box.

I mean rather that when you find that daydreaming is occupying a considerable portion of your time and that you are craving solitude so that you may have an opportunity to build air castles, then you are in danger of allowing your imagination to rob you of the thrill you should get out of finding solutions to the problems you meet, and adjusting to the circumstances that perplex you.

To some extent I agree with this. There does need to be a balance. You can’t spend your whole life daydreaming. However, I don’t know of anyone who actually does this. The people the author is describing who do this do not seem like real people.

Unless he’s talking about people who enjoy writing. Writing, you see, is basically daydreaming on paper. But that, my audience, is what we will get into in the next chapter. Whenever I get around to doing it.

 

 

*the puppy is still a fantasy

 

 

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Adventist Girl: Heather 1898 Book 1 Chapter 2

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Secrets and Friends

Chapter 2

Arriving in Cooranbong

In the last chapter, Heather was whining about being stuck on a boat for 26 days. At the beginning of this chapter, she is whining about being on a train. I’ve done enough reading to understand that train travel was not as comfortable back then as it is now, but was it really that bad?

Heather fans herself with her father’s hat. Nathan grabs it out of her hands, saying it’s his turn now. He gets scolded for grabbing instead of asking, and Aunt Rachel pulls out a lunch basket.

“Children,” Mr. Gibson said, “I want you to remember to be on your best behavior when you meet Elder Palmer.” He wiped his fingers on his napkin. “He is the pastor in charge of all the colporteurs here in this new mission field. I don’t want him to be disappointed that we answered the call to work in Australia.”

This paragraph was written simply to introduce Mr. Palmer. I’m pretty sure the kids would already know who he was, because I can’t believe that Mr. Gibson wouldn’t have talked about him a lot as he considered his move to Australia.

Mrs. Gibson only nibbled at her food. “Please, do mind what your Father says,” she said.

“Yes, Mother,” Heather and Nathan answered together.

Mrs. Gibson sounds like a real wet blanket.

Fortunately for Heather, the next stop is Morisset, which is where they will get off the train and be driven to Cooranbong.

“Are we going to get to see Avondale College today?” Heather asked her father.

“I don’t think so,” Mr. Gibson answered patting each of his pockets to be sure he hadn’t lost any of their important documents. “Elder Palmer said in his last letter that he had made arrangements for us to stay in the little town of Cooranbong. I believe that the town is very close to the school.”

Avondale College still exists. Here’s a website with some tidbits of history. You can read a lot more on Wikipedia, if you trust it.

Heather and her family exit the train, and Heather immediately starts whining about her dress being wrinkled. Aunt Rachel reassures her that everyone will understand that they’ve  been traveling.

“Let me help you with your things,” a tall, slender man called out to Mr. Gibson. He grabbed one end of the heavy trunk.

“Thank you,” Mr. Gibson answered appreciatively. They set it down with a thud.

“You must be Elder Gibson,” the gentleman said and held out his hand. “I’m Edwin Palmer.”

I’ve done some googling. Edwin R Palmer does seem to be a real person.  Here’s his description.

PALMER, EDWIN R. (1869-1931). Seventh-Day Adventist publishing administrator. Palmer served in a variety of administrative positions in the United States and Australia before returning to America in 1901. Palmer then worked with the Lake Union Conference to revive literature evangelism within its region. Adventist subscription book selling had gone into decline in the 1890s, largely because of the depression that began in 1893. Conferences had responded to the situation by laying off book agents and closing the tract and missionary societies, actions that further disrupted sales. Consequently, the publishing houses became increasingly responsible for distributing denominational books and papers. By 1903 Palmer had become an administrative assistant to Arthur G Daniells, president of the General Conference (GC), and continued to focus on literature evangelism. He opposed turning sales over to the publishing houses, which he believed were more concerned with commercial than spiritual matters, and fought with individuals such as Charles H Jones, manager of Pacific Press, over whether the conferences or publishers would control the sale of books. The death of Palmer’s wife in 1903 and his own health problems created personal difficulties for a time, during which he worked at the paradise valley sanitarium (1904) and Pacific Press (1904-05). In 1905 Palmer returned to the GC where he served as secretary of the publishing department until 1913. During that time he reactivated the state tract societies, increased the number of literature evangelists, held literature evangelism meetings, and developed a scholarship plan for students who sold Adventist literature during the summers. Fundamentally, however, he reestablished for the denomination as a whole the principle of local conference responsibility and control of literature evangelism. In 1912 he became general manager of the review and herald publishing association, staying in that position until 1931.
Historical Dictionary of the Seventh Day Adventists by Gary Land, page 254

Sounds like he was kind of responsible for keeping literature evangelism alive. Thanks a whole fucking lot dude.

In any case, Mr. Gibson quickly bends over to kiss Palmer’s ass

“Pleased to meet you, Elder Palmer,” said Mr. Gibson, heartily shaking his hand. “My family and I are happy to be here in Australia, and we’re eager to do the Lord’s work.” Mr. Gibson rested his hand on the trunk. “This is full of books from home. I know that we can use them in the work.”

Yup. Total ass kisser.

Elder Palmer tells Heather he hopes she likes Australia, and she secretly hopes she does too. Elder Palmer tells them they’ll travel by horse and buggy to their new home.

Heather cringed. California is my home, she thought, but didn’t say it. Elder Palmer seemed to be a nice man, and she didn’t dare to be rude.

She doesn’t dare be rude to Palmer because he seems so nice. Not because, I dunno, it’s just wrong to be rude in general?

Other than that, I like this. I was just like Heather when I was 8, because when I moved, I didn’t see my new place as home. Some places I only saw as home after I’d lived there for a year or more, other places I never felt like I was “home.” Home is where the heart is, and my heart was back where I belonged dammit.

The issue of California being home to Heather never comes up again. From now on, she lives and goes to school in Australia and it’s no big deal. And I’m not saying she should hate Australia. I’m just bothered by the fact that this is the only time this ever comes up.

Elder Palmer has made arrangements for the Gibson family to stay at the Healy Hotel until the Gibson family can buy some land and hire someone to build a house.

Heather climbs up into the buggy, and reaches back to help her mother.

“I’ve got you, Mother,” she said and gently, but firmly held on to her mother’s arm. (sic).

Slowly Mrs. Gibson lowered herself onto the bench. She looked tired. “I’ve done more traveling today than one woman should have to do in a lifetime,” she said. Her lips were dry and cracked.

Maybe I’ve been too hard on Mrs. Gibson. She’s been ill with this mystery illness for who knows how long. Perhaps she is chronically disabled. Either way, this paragraph brings up an interesting question: how does Mrs. Gibson feel about being ripped away from her home? How does she feel about moving to Australia? It would seem she doesn’t like the idea very much at all, and I would love to know more. I haven’t read books 3-4 yet, so I have no idea if this will ever be mentioned again.

Nathan gets really excited because he sees a kangaroo with a Joey in her pouch. Are kangaroos that common in Australia?

Heather gets excited and goes to write about it in her diary. Or at least, she tries to, but the diary is gone!

“When did you see it last?” Aunt Rachel asked, looking in Heather’s coat pocket for her.

If I knew when I saw it last, it wouldn’t be lost, would it? Most unhelpful aunt ever.

Heather last remembers seeing it on the ship, and hopes like hell it didn’t get left there. Aunt Rachel tells her it will turn up, and pats her on the shoulder. Heather holds back her tears, not wanting to cry in front of Elder Palmer.

I’ve noticed Heather is quite whiny, but I’ll give her a pass on this one. If I’d lost my diary, I’d be crying too, and I’m a grown ass woman.

Finally they pull up in front of the Hotel.

The paint was peeling off the wood. Part of the railing on the second story balcony was broken. Heather wrinkled her nose.

Aunt Rachel also is not impressed, and Mr. Gibson tries to convince himself that nothing’s wrong.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Mr. Gibson answered. His voice didn’t seem too sure, and Heather thought that he looked a little pale.

Credit where credit is due, this isn’t bad. It’s showing rather than telling.

“This little town was almost a ghost town a few years ago,” Mr. Palmer explained as he heaved one of the big trunks out of the back of the buggy. “When we Adventists bought the land to build Avondale College nearby, we gave this little town new life.”

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, this does appear to be correct. If I’m wrong, I’d very much appreciate it if someone would tell me. Preferably an Australian.

“The locals are really nice folks, mostly,” Mr. Palmer explained. He chuckled. “Things do get a little rowdy here on the weekends, however.”

“Oh my!” Aunt Rachel whispered again, gazing up at the dilapidated old building.

Translation: people like to get drunk on weekends. A no no in and of itself on Planet Adventist.

Just then, Mr. Douglas comes out of the hotel to help with the family’s luggage.

A little girl ran to the handsome gentleman. He picked her up in his strong arms. A Girl about Heather’s age walked up beside them. She had beautiful, shining, black hair like her father’s.

Heather smiled a big friendly smile at the girl.

The girl just stared at Heather for a moment with her icy blue eyes–and then looked away.

That wasn’t very nice, Heather thought. Her feelings were hurt.

Is this a cultural thing?  I don’t know if the Douglas family is actually from Australia, but perhaps they are from a culture where a “big friendly smile” wouldn’t really be seen as all that friendly?

Mr. Douglas introduces his daughters. The younger one is Emma, and the older sullen one is Laura.

Mr. Douglas, it turns out, is a carpenter who builds houses. That explains why he’s living in the hotel, then. I had a friend who’s father was a carpenter. Whenever people asked why their own house wasn’t completed, she would reply, “cobbler’s children don’t have shoes.”

Mr. Gibson then does something no father should. Seriously, kids hate it when you do this. It’s obvious what you’re trying to do, and I can tell you from experience, it doesn’t work.

“Laura,” Mr. Gibson said in his friendly manner, “you look like you’re about the same age as our daughter, Heather.”

Oh no, Heather thought. She felt a sudden rush of heat on her cheeks.

“I’m 9, sir,” Laura answered. Again, she didn’t smile.

Mr. Gibson patted Heather on the shoulder. “Well, Heather is almost 9” he answered, smiling down at his daughter.

Heather just wiggled nervously.

“I suppose you’ll be in school together,” Mr. Gibson said.

“I suppose so,” Laura answered. Her piercing blue eyes met Heather’s.

Heather looked away.

Are her eyes icy, or piercing?

Credit where credit is due, this exchange is realistic. And it only works out in the end because this is a book. In real life, these girls would continue to hate each other. And, just as in real life, the adults are completely oblivious. They then proceed to get confused when the 2 girls don’t turn out to be best friends.

Aunt Rachel interrupts the conversation to call out for Nathan, who has run off to climb a fence. Mr. Palmer leaves the Gibson family to get settled.

“Wasn’t that nice?” Mrs. Gibson said, taking Heather’s arm. “A girl your own age right here in the hotel!….you’ll have all kinds of new friends in no time,” Mrs. Gibson said squeezing Heather’s arm. “When you get to the school, it will be full of girls just like her.”

I’m going to give Mrs. Gibson a bit of a pass for being oblivious. She’s chronically ill, and clearly not used to traveling very much. She’s probably really freaking exhausted. Heather just says, “yes mother.”

Heather jabbers a lot to Aunt Rachel, but barely talks to her mother at all. Do they even see Mrs. Gibson as a person? I wonder if Mrs. Gibson will have more character development in the other books. I also wonder why they even bothered to write her like this. Why not just take Rachel’s character, slap a different name on her, and have her be Heather’s mother? The characters are flat enough nobody’d really notice. Or maybe Heather’s mother could have died in an accident? Then you could still have Aunt Rachel, and you’d–

I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

 

 

 

On Becoming A Woman Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Teen-age Companions

 

This chapter starts off along the same lines of chapter 11. The author talks about how your friendships change as you get older. They do change, but I don’t know anyone who ever had this particular trajectory.  The author says that when we were children we may have had playmates we really liked, but we took these “playmates” pretty much for granted.

That wasn’t how it was for me at all. I had such a hard time making friends as a child that any friend I made was something to be thankful for.

In fact, you made very little effort to select your friends. You simply became friendly and companionable with all children of your own age who happened to go to your school or to your church, or who happened to live in your neighborhood.

 

Making friends was something very hard for me. I made very much effort to make the ones I had. I did not take any friend for granted.

 

But now that you have reached teen age, friends have taken on a new significance. This is largely because, being older, you select your friends in harmony with your own preferences rather than as a matter of course.

I’m confused. Did the Author think that I was just friends with everyone at school? Because, um, I wasn’t. Is that how it works for everyone else?

The desire for companionship has been implanted by an all-wise creator, who recognized that “it is not good that the man should be alone.” Gen. 2:18.

We are hard wired for friends, but not by an all powerful all knowing God. I don’t actually know how humans came to be such social creatures, but I’m sure it’d be a fascinating read.

This present interest in social things serves as a means of your becoming acquainted with other young people. It will enable you to make a wise choice of a life’s companion when the time comes for you to accept an offer of marriage.

Huh? I’m confused. Hanging out with other people you’re own age is a good thing because… Marriage? Which of course you will be accepting. Women who make marriage proposals are repulsive.

At this age your friendships with your girl chum and with other girls in your social group have meant more to you than your friendships with boys.

Meh, not really. I was just as willing to make friends with boys as I was with girls.

The author goes on to say that same sex friendships are very important, and that we were probably very close. The few girl friends I had were very close to me, yes.

But if you have been wise, you have not allowed your friendship with your girl chum to make you snobbish in your dealings with other girls.

Huh?

It is not best for you to allow this close friendship to deprive you entirely of association with the other girls of your own group and age. For your own good you need to have a fairly wide circle of friends.

In principle I agree. However, I feel like this shames people who have very few friends. It may very well not be the person’s fault at all.

If you fail to develop friendships with the larger group, there is danger that you will become selfish and think more of your own interests than of the possibilities for helping others.

Yanno, it occurs to me that I can’t be the only one with this problem. These books were written for an SDA audience. SDA schools tend to be very small, sometimes very very small. At one point I went to a one room school with 6 other students where the teacher and principal were the same person.

Among those 6 students, 3 of them were little kids. So that’s 3 other girls I could have made friends with (there was only 2 boys in the entire school, and they were little kids).

I failed, for the most part, to make a wide network of friends, at least pre high school. How many other people can say the same thing? How many other people went to SDA schools, couldn’t make friends with a single one of the 3 eligible students, and read this book feeling a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach?

Making friends is not always under your control. It takes at least 2 people to form a friendship. And sometimes, for whatever reason, people just aren’t agreeable.

It is by your friendships with larger groups of girls that your personality undergoes a “polishing” process that smooths away certain of the rough corners. Teenage girls are usually quite frank in their dealings with one another. When your friends observe that you have certain peculiarities they will tell you about these, giving you an opportunity to modify the traits that antagonize others. This process of giving and taking is wholesome and will teach you to be less sensitive and more agreeable.

Some teenagers are very frank. And some are not. It really depends on the person.

The author then goes on to tell us that there will come a time in our lives when we will be interested in, gasp boys! Eventually we will even find one boy in particular we like better than our girl friends! Having already talked about homosexuality, we of course aren’t going to ever mention it again, so there is no mention here of having a non platonic girlfriend.

At first you discuss your interest in boys with your girl friends. If they approve of your boyfriend, well and good. If they don’t approve, however, you have to choose between them and your boy toy. Whether or not your girl friends are right about said boy toy is irrelevant.

This will simply mean that your loyalties have shifted in preparation for the time when you will establish your won home…the fact that your loyalties have shifted will indicate that you are approaching the time when your first allegiance will be properly reserved for the one who will become your husband.

Ladies, your first priority is always your husband. No exceptions. Not, I dunno, your children, your god, or even yourself.

Now that we have traced the sequence through which you will pass in your establishing of friendships, it is time that we back up a bit to discuss the significance of these friendships.

No you didn’t. My life didn’t resemble anything like what you have described. And it’s not just because I’m an aro-ace. From age 3 to age 21 you have described nothing of anyone’s life so far.

The author talks a bit about loyalty, and I wonder if he’s a Hufflepuff. Then he goes on to say that we look to our friends for approval. It’s like how when you get a new dress, you are anxious to see what your friends say. If they like it, you wear it often. If your friends don’t like the cut or color, you save it only for “second rate occasions” whatever the fuck that means.

Actually no, Shryock, I don’t give a A FUCK what my friends say about my clothes. Never have. I had this bright pink zip up hoodie in high school that my best friend HATED. She called it “that awful pink thing.” I wore it anyway, because I liked it and it wasn’t her business anyway.

Anyone who cares that much about what her friends say about her clothes has got to be really really insecure. She needs to develop some self confidence.

In any case, the author says, one tends to mimic their friends. If, for example, your friend is very studious, you are likely to be studious also. On the other hand, if your friend cares more about having  fun than getting good grades, you find yourself almost trying to get a failing grade.

The author is using this as an example of how we must choose our friends wisely. I think this is an example of why you shouldn’t try to imitate your friends in every way possible. You need to develop a life of your own, regardless of what your friends think about it. It is possible for a studious person to be friends with someone who performs poorly at school. It is even possible to do this without letting your own grades suffer.

The author uses the term “bookworm” as if it is used as an insult. Since when has bookworm been an insult? I always thought it was a synonym of “bibliophile.”

This human trait of craving the approval of one’s social group becomes such an important factor in your life that it can even modify your attitude toward religion.

Here we go, this is the crux of the matter. The entire reason Shryock wrote this chapter. He tells us that if your friends are very religious, you will be too. If your friends are not so serious about their religion, you too will be flippant. It is this precise attitude that, at various times in my life, led me to sever friendships and isolate myself. To anyone who knew me my freshman year of high school: I’m sorry. I know that I have hurt people very much.

Normal teenagers crave the approval of their companions

Yes, yes I did. However, I wasn’t willing to change myself in order to win it. Maybe some teenagers are, I don’t know, but I feel like in general this chapter is just very insulting, thinking that teenagers are like sheep who will follow their friends in just about everything no matter what. Give the young people some credit.

In any case, teenagers craving their friends’ approval is the reason parents feel their teenage daughters get rebellious.

The teenager doesn’t really intend to rebel against the wishes and ideals of her parents, but when these are in conflict with the attitudes of her companions there is the possibility that she will prefer the sanction of her friends to that of her parents.

I’m just going to be clear here, I absolutely wanted to rebel against the wishes and ideals of my parents. My sophomore year of Academy was when I decided SDAism was largely bullshit. My sophomore year of high school, all my close friends were conservative SDAs.

It is very important to choose your friends wisely, because you are, pretty much, entrusting them with your future. In choosing a friend, you should ask yourself if they are the type of person you’d like to be. If the answer is yes, make friends with them. Otherwise, don’t.

But you say, “the young people in my community all have different ideals from those of my parents. They think my parents are strait-laced and that I am peculiar because I won’t do all the things they like to do. How can I choose ideal friends under such circumstances?”

First, understand here that the author isn’t referring to kids who do a lot of hard drugs or habitually commit crimes. He is referring to teenagers who, say, go to the movies on Sabbath. Who go to the movies at all, actually. Or perhaps he’s referring to other Adventists who, perhaps, allow their women to wear pants, whereas your parents believe you should only wear skirts. He leaves it pretty vague and open to interpretation, probably so the teenager can fill in the blanks and feel guilty for something.

It is actually better for you not to develop intimate friendships than for your friendships to be cultivated with those whose ideals and standards are lower than yours.

Yikes. He pretty much says it’s better to have no friends than to have close non religious friends. How isolating. This book has done a lot of damage, I think. Not only is it unhealthy to have no close friends, it’s very healthy to have close friends who aren’t exactly like you. Being friends with people who are different than you is not only a good skill to have, it makes you a better person. Also, it’s called not being an asshole.

If there are no young people in the community with the same ideals as you, it’s probably a good idea for you to go to boarding school. The author doesn’t tell you what you should do if this is financially impossible, but he does tell you that even at Academy you need to be careful, because your standards may still be higher than other SDAs.

I knew this girl at boarding school. We’ll call her Kelly. Kelly was super sheltered and came from an ultra conservative family. Her family only allowed her to wear skirts, unless she was doing some sort of physical activity(they were a little more permissive than the Duggars). They wouldn’t allow her to attend history class at the Academy because they thought the teacher used too much TV, and she threw a hissy fit when her teacher made her go to the gymnastics performance, at which they were playing, gasp, techno music! Kelly had friends, but I can’t honestly think of anyone at the school who had the same standards she did. She must have felt very lonely, at times. I can empathize with her now, but back then, I just found her mildly annoying.

The author goes on to talk about how your religious beliefs tend to conform to that of your friend. So, I guess that’s his answer on whether or not I should befriend a Muslim.

You are not being snobbish simply because you choose your friends carefully.

In this case, yes, you are. That’s what we call it when someone will only befriend someone who’s religious ideals are like theirs.

Another reason to choose your friends carefully is that you will be stereotyped along with them. If your friend is known as someone who’ll hop in the sack with any guy who asks, you too will be known as a slut. I think this is just an example of how grown ups shouldn’t be judgey bitches, but whatever.

The author then goes on to spout some absolute nonsense

It is probable that many of your companions of future years will be selected from among these friends of your teens.

Actually, most books I’ve read say that the amount of friends you carry forward into adulthood is very very low. Among the many friends I had when I was a teen, I only talk to one now, and we’re not close.

If you need help choosing friends and you live at home, you can invite the person over for dinner. If your parents approve, then you chose wisely.  If you’re at boarding school, it’s a good idea to ask the counselor.

Some young people hesitate to seek such counsel, reasoning that they are wise enough to choose their own friends. I have known many, however, who have taken this precaution, with the result that they have been much happier in the long run.

If I had gone to my guidance counselor and asked him who he thought I should be friends with, he would have looked at me utterly baffled. Now, if I was having problems, the Dean probably would have been there to listen and offer advice, but I don’t think any adult at GLAA would’ve sat there and listed out all the potential friends. They kind of expected you to fend for yourself at least a little bit.

The author then goes on to reduce teenagers to objects. If you had a piece of cloth to be made into a dress, of course you’d seek opinions before you took it to a tailor. You’re more valuable than a dress, so you should do the same thing.

I am not a dress.

You have only one life to live on this earth, and your choice of friends determines in a large measure whether your future will be a happy and successful one. Why should you hesitate, then, to seek counsel in such an important matter?

Look, I cared about my high school friends very much. They were very dear to me. However, once high school was over, we went our separate ways. Have they been there to help me post high school? Sometimes, yes. Do they have a large part to play in my life now, as I approach my ten year anniversary of graduation? No, they don’t. The fear mongering here is just absurd.

I’m not saying you should never seek out advice from someone about your friends. If you feel a need to talk to someone about whether or not the friendship is unhealthy, by all means, do so. However, you do not need to isolate yourself nearly as much as the author thinks you do.

Anyway that’s all for this installment. Tune in next time to read about *drumroll* fantasizing!

 

 

 

 

 

Heather, An Adventist Girl Book One: Secrets and Friends, Chapter 1

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An Australian adventure for a new Adventist girl The year is 1898. Heather Gibson can hardly believe her family is moving to Australia. She wonders about this land so strange, so far from home. Will she like it? Will she make any friends? This was the time when Ellen White lived there and wrote her beautiful books on the life of Christ. Sharing books about Jesus is the job of Heather’s father. And the entire Gibson family joins in the work that will win souls for the Lord. Meet the new friends and visit the amazing places that become part of Heather’s world, in these fun-to-read stories. In addition to educating children about the Adventist heritage and hope, each episode in this four-book historical series will teach young readers about the land, history, wildlife, and people of Australia. Titles are: 1. Secrets and Friends; 2. A New Life Down Under; 3. A Wedding in Avondale; 4. Going Home.

Chapter One

The Moana*

This chapter begins, basically, with an introduction of the characters, all of whom are on board a space ship bound for Australia.

We are first introduced to Heather Gibson, a 9 year old girl with mousy blond hair. At least, that’s what the book tells us, despite showing us a picture of a girl with reddish brown hair on the cover. Strike one, Adventist Girl, you really need consistency in your pictures.

Heather complains about being stuck on the ship, even though it’s only been 26 days. Her aunt, Rachel Nash, who has soft blue eyes, tells her they only have 4 more days to go.

Heather is from California, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s where they sailed from. In any case, 30 days on a boat doesn’t sound like a very long to me, so Heather comes across as quite whiny.

Heather and Aunt Rachel sat down in a quiet corner of the deck. The salty ocean air tickled Heather’s cheeks. She tucked her knees under her chin and hugged her legs. “I’m so glad you’re coming to Australia with us,” she said, smiling at Aunt Rachel, her mother’s youngest sister.

Aunt Rachel turned her kind face towards Heather, and a lock of blonde hair blew across her cheek in the breeze. “You know that I’ll be right here with all of you,” she said, “as long as your mother is ill.”

I read ahead and no, we don’t get to know what’s wrong with Heather’s mom. At least, not in book 1.

Aside from wincing about the “kind face” and “soft blue eyes,” this isn’t terrible. We learn here that Rachel is dedicated to helping her family and cares about them very much. Moving to another country was no small thing in 1898. I’m also going to guess that Mrs. Gibson has some kind of long term illness, else the family would have waited to travel until she was well.

Unlike American Girl books, (at least, the AG books that came out in the 2000s) this book has no pictures except the cover. So, here’s a picture I drew of Aunt Rachel based on the description:

It was my goal to be an artist as a child. What do you think, can I quit my day job? (Her eyes look purple now that I’m editing this, but I swear the paint program said it was light blue. Oh well.)

 

I am also putting $20 on a bet that by the end of the series Ellen White will have a message from the Lord about how to cure Mrs. Gibson.

Rachel worries about their life in Australia. She thinks the  weather being the opposite of how it is in America is weird, and is afraid she won’t have any friends. All very normal things for children to worry about when they move. I moved around a lot as a child, so I get it.

Aunt Rachel reassures Heather that she’s always had lots of friends, and that of course she will make friends in Australia.

“Among all the colporteurs–the men and women who make their living selling books door to door– The General Conference has asked your father to go to Australia.”

I wonder if this is code for “your father sucked as a colporteur, so they sent him somewhere they wouldn’t have to deal with him.” Which, I am slowly learning, is pretty much the same reason Ellen White was in Australia in 1898. So, parallel intended?

Aunt Rachel smoothed her skirt as she spoke. “If your father didn’t feel God was calling him to work in Australia, surely he wouldn’t have accepted the call. I think God has a great work for all of us to do there.”

Wait, calls are something you can accept? I thought the conference just dictated, and you obeyed.

I’m not sure how this is supposed to reassure Heather. She’s worried about making friends and fitting in, and Rachel starts blathering about having a work to do and God having a plan for her father.

Heather drags out her diary and starts writing, with a pencil, about how she hopes she’ll make friends in Australia. So, question 1: children were writing in diaries with pencils in 1898? When exactly did that become a thing? I didn’t think pencils were used until… you know what, when were pencils used widely instead of pens and ink?

Someone poked her toes. She stopped writing and looked up to see her brother, Nathan, standing in front of her with his arms crossed over his short brown coat. Nathan was 12 years old.

At least we are spared descriptions like “kind faces” and “soft blue eyes.”  However, we do not know what Nathan looks like. Based on the description, here is a picture of him:

I’m only assuming this family is white because of the cover. Seeing as how the artist/author can’t even match up the hair color, maybe I shouldn’t put too much stock in such things.

Anyway, Nathan wants to go explore the ship, and he can’t do so by himself because….???

Heather doesn’t really want to go exploring, so Nathan teases her and calls her an 8 year old baby. Rachel scolds him, and Heather

….stretched to her full height of exactly 4 feet 2 1/2 inches. “Besides, I am not a baby.” She glared up at Nathan. “I am practically 9 years old. And I’m not short, I’m petite.”

I’m not sure they made such a distinction in 1898, but let that pass. Why does Heather have issues with being called short?  I don’t particularly care if someone calls me short (I am) though I will object to being referred to as “shorty.”

Nathan tells Heather there’s no one else to play with on the ship, so will she please play with him? They run off, with Aunt Rachel calling out for them to be careful, because it’s about to rain.

We get a few paragraphs of the children chasing each other before running smack dab into their father, who tells them to be more careful and that there’s a storm coming, so they’d better get downstairs.

I feel like I can not read a book about someone traveling by boat in the 1800s without reading about a storm. I mean, really, were they that common?

In any case, it can’t possibly have been more than 5 minutes since they left Aunt Rachel, but Mr. Gibson acts like he and Rachel have been looking for them all over the boat.

The rain fell harder now. The boat rocked up and down. Heather’s stomach flipped and flopped. “I think I’m going to be sick,” she said, clutching her stomach.

“We’re almost to the cabin,” said Aunt Rachel. “Can you make it a little bit farther?” she asked (sic.)

We do not need 2 dialog tags in this paragraph. The word  “she” also needs to be capitalized. Strike 2, get your grammar/punctuation right.

Heather nodded. They rounded their corner and burst into their tiny cabin.

“Oh my,” said Mrs. Gibson, looking up and nearly dropping her book. “You almost frightened me to death.” She clasped her shawl around her shoulders.

Oooooh scary! The door just opened! And people came in! Oh no!

Despite feeling sick to her stomach, Heather goes to sleep. The storm passes without anyone getting converted (fortunately), or even too worried. Why include it, then? It literally added nothing to the story. There’s a storm. Heather falls asleep. Heather wakes up. The storm is gone. Yawn.

Heather wakes up just in time for family worship! What excellent timing! Poor Heather.

Heather sat up cross legged and wrapped her blanket around her legs. Nathan slid off his bunk and plunked himself down next to Heather.

“Please hand me my bible, Rachel.” Mr. Gibson asked.

“Certainly,” said Aunt Rachel, handing Father his tattered and well loved leather bible from the shelf. She slid her chair besides Mrs. Gibson’s rocking chair.

Mr. Gibson sat on the edge of the bunk across from Heather and Nathan. He opened the Bible and then smiled at his family.

Riveting stuff here, folks. I really wanted to know the seating chart for family worship!

Nathan bounces his leg, making the bunk shake. Heather glares at him. He stops.

“It’s been a long trip so far,” Mr. Gibson said, “but in just 4 more days we’ll be in Australia-in Sydney Harbor.” His kind hazel eyes met Heather’s. “I know that we’re all still homesick, but I believe God has a special purpose for us all in Australia. There are so many who haven’t heard the message of Jesus’ soon return.” His whole face seemed to glow with excitement. “I can’t wait to tell them about the blessed hope.”

He can’t wait to minister to the heathens of Australia! Tell me, how long ago, in 1898, was Australia a penal colony? How many heathens does he think are in Australia anyway?

Heather smiled weakly at her father. She felt for her diary in her dress pocket. It was still there.

Hope it wasn’t raining too hard before they got you below deck.

Mr. Gibson reads some Bible passages. No, we aren’t told which ones, and I’m bloody glad because you know the author would insist on copying them all out and that would make for some seriously boring reading. Afterwards, the family kneels to pray, except Mrs. Gibson. So, Mrs. Gibson’s illness prevents her from kneeling. Yes, I did spend the entire book wondering what the fuck she has and no, I didn’t get to find out.

Heather gets back into her bunk and cries herself to sleep. She prays to Jesus and asks that he help her to be happy in Australia.

On the one hand, this chapter is kind of boring. We almost get some drama with a storm, but no one’s ever really in any danger, so, meh. We get a short intro and description of the characters, in which the author uses way too many adjectives.  At least, we get a description of some of the characters. All I got out of Mr. Gibson is that he has hazel eyes. I don’t know what color hazel is, so I’m not drawing him.

On the other hand, I relate a lot to Heather. She’s moving away from all her friends (who she never talks about) to a new country. I’ve never moved countries before, but I have moved, and it is very hard for me to make friends. This being a children’s book, though, of course Heather will have friends by the end.

What other challenges will she face along the way? Well, let’s find out. Hopefully I will also find some good books that I can use to learn about Australia’s history. Some have already been recommended to me, but if you’d like to add yours, feel free. I should be able to get to a library….soon. I hope.

 

 

 

*The Moana is the name of their boat. Moana is Hawaiian for Ocean.

Adventist Girl

In the early 2000s, Adventists looked at the famous American Girl books and decided, huh, that’s a great idea! So they hired some writers and wrote a few sets of books called Adventist Girl. Even as a child of right age to have owned an American Girl doll (Josefina, if anyone was curious) in the early 2000s, I thought these books were terribly written. I was too young then to have been able to explain why, so I believe I gave the books that I had away. They are very pricey to obtain on Amazon now, and I’m not going to go to too much effort to obtain a copy.

To those of you who are asking why Adventists felt a need to write an alternative to American Girl, I could make some guesses. I do not think the reason has anything to do with American Girl books in and of themselves (Though there are things in those books that they would object to. Heck, there are things in some of the newer books that I object to). I think the reason these books exist is that people honestly wanted their children to know what it was like to be an Adventist girl. I believe the Adventists wanted to teach their children that Adventists have history too, and maybe to show what their lives as Adventists would have been like a hundred years ago.

However, these books ultimately didn’t sell well. At least, I think this is the case, because I ended up buying 2 sets of Adventist Girl books for very cheap.

The books I have are for the characters Heather and Alice.

Here’s the official book description. All book descriptions come from amazon.com unless otherwise noted.

An Australian adventure for a new Adventist girl The year is 1898. Heather Gibson can hardly believe her family is moving to Australia. She wonders about this land so strange, so far from home. Will she like it? Will she make any friends? This was the time when Ellen White lived there and wrote her beautiful books on the life of Christ. Sharing books about Jesus is the job of Heather’s father. And the entire Gibson family joins in the work that will win souls for the Lord. Meet the new friends and visit the amazing places that become part of Heather’s world, in these fun-to-read stories. In addition to educating children about the Adventist heritage and hope, each episode in this four-book historical series will teach young readers about the land, history, wildlife, and people of Australia. Titles are: 1. Secrets and Friends; 2. A New Life Down Under; 3. A Wedding in Avondale; 4. Going Home.

Alice is a girl living in China in 1925. Here’s the description from the Adventist Book Center website:

A China adventure for a new Adventist girl!

It’s 1925 in Portland,Oregon when a missionary—Dr. Miller—visits nine-year-old Alice Stewart’s church on Sabbath. Suddenly, everyone seems to be talking about China! At first, Alice cares more about her new birthday dress. But when Mother and Daddy decide to become missionaries to China, she starts to pay attention!

Alice dreams of parading down the streets of Shanghai, but she soon learns that being a missionary is not all fun and games. Chinese gangs are dangerous, and she’ll have to leave most of her dolls behind.

In addition to educating children about the Adventist heritage and hope, each episode in this four-book historical series will teach young readers about the land and people of China.

I can speculate on why these particular books didn’t sell as well as the other two. I think it is because going to China or Australia as missionaries is not a common thing that most children experience. The thing that I loved about the American Girl books as a child was that they were about girls doing normal things. Felicity, Kirsten, and Samantha all went to school just like me, they had birthdays just like me, they celebrated Christmas just like me, etc. Yet the ways in which they did these common things were very different than anything I would have done. Despite some anachronisms, I found the AG books to be very well researched. I’m not sure I can say the same of Adventist Girl.

Here are the other 2 Adventist Girl Characters that I’d love to get around to doing, but may not be able to:

Author Jean Boonstra takes children back in time to the days of William Miller between 1842 and 1844 and introduces them to Sarah Barnes, a plucky eight year old who lives on a New Hampshire farm with Ma and Pa, little sister Katie, and baby Emily. Even as Sarah’s family accepts the message of Jesus soon return, Sarah must keep up withe(sic) her daily chores and schoolwork and deal with the good and bad of being an “Adventitst Girl.”(sic)

quoted from the description on Amazon.com

This next character is the book set I owned as a kid. I can’t find details of what year it’s supposed to take place. 1856? I definitely recall it being the first generation after the Disappointment.

Meet Elizabeth-another Adventist girl In this second edition of the popular Adventist Girl series, author Kay D. Rizzo introduces us to another Adventist girl-Elizabeth Mayes. Nine-year-old Elizabeth Ann (“Patty-cake”) lives in a three-story boarding house and has a great imagination. One day, two mystery guests from Maine arrive at the Mayes’es house, and they are on a mission. The woman, Mrs. White, has visions from God! It all seems very mysterious, at first. As the “secret” comes out and the mission unfolds, big changes happen in Elizabeth’s family-changes that involve leaving old friends, boat and train travel, and finally a wagon train adventure Elizabeth Ann won’t ever forget. Each episode in this four-book historical series will entertain and educate children about the Adventist heritage and hope. Titles are: 1. The Not-So-Secret Mission; 2. Old Friends and New; 3. Bells and Whistles; 4. Wagon Train West.

 

It’s hard for me to find out just how historically accurate Adventist Girl books are. When I look up details from history, I get names, dates, battles, political events, etc. I do not get information on how people lived their daily lives. Would a girl in 1844, for example, really be that careless with paper? How common was paper in 1844? And what about the parents in Elizabeth’s books who named their baby girl “Jenny?” I didn’t think that name was popular till the 1980s.

We’re going to start with Heather. Along the way I plan to learn a little bit about Australian history. Apparently things were happening in 1898, though I very much doubt they made their way into this book.

As I read these books the main thing I will focus on is the writing. Is the writing on par with the American Girl books? Does the book showcase what life would be like for a 9 year old girl living in the time periods described? Let’s find out.

 

 

 

 

On Becoming A Woman Chapter 11

Chapter 11

How To Be Friendly

 

During childhood you may not have cared very much what other people thought of you. You felt secure in the affection of your parents and in the esteem of your teachers. Beyond this you gave very little attention to those around you.

Um, what? I’m pretty sure that children of all ages desire friends outside the family.

Now that you have reached your teens, your circle of friends needs to enlarge….you do not expect to remain dependent upon your parents forever. So you have begun to realize that the making of friends and the keeping of friends depend upon you.

Not necessarily. It takes at least two people to form a friendship. I told my mom in desperation once that I couldn’t make the other children like me. I think she read this book though, because she seemed to believe that I could.

The first manifestation of your broadening interest in friendships outside the family was your desire to be well received by girls of our own age. Your childhood rivalries with other girls in your own class at school gave way to warm friendships.

My childhood rivalries gave way to what? This never happened. Like, ever.

As you reached your teens your girl chums seemed to mean almost as much to you as members of your own family.

Well, yes. That’s kind of how friendship works. But these things do not begin in the teens. They begin when you’re like, 5.

As you progress to your middle and later teens your social interests begin to include boys as well as girls.

I must have missed the memo. As a child, I had an easier time making friends with boys than with girls. This interest in platonic friendships with boys began way earlier than my mid to late teens.

When you attend college you will discover that success there depends not only on passing your examinations but also on establishing congenial relationships with your teachers and advisors.

In a lot of classes yes. Especially when you get more into the classes pertaining to your major, being able to talk to your professors is an asset.

Maybe you will choose to enter one of the professions such as teaching or nursing.

Teaching and Nursing. In the male version, he talks about starting your own business. Females don’t get to do that, they have to be shoved into these tiny little boxes.

In teaching, you must be able to get along well with your pupils, with their parents, and with the members of the school board, and with other influential persons in the community.

I have met a lot of teachers that couldn’t get along well with the students. As long as they could charm the adults, no one cared.

In nursing your success requires that you be cheerful with your patients and that you establish congenial relations with other nurses with the relatives of our patients, and with the doctors in charge of your cases.

Huh. Maybe Nursing is a bad major for me after all.

It may be that you do not plan to attend college. Then you will doubtless desire to accept employment for a time before you establish a home of your own.

Women only accept employment instead of college as a way to pass the time till they can snag a man. Of course they don’t want to start their own business or have a career outside of marriage!

The author goes on to say that friendliness is a requirement for every single job out there. He says that even in minimum wage jobs a person will call around to a young woman’s friends, and if they say that she is mean, they won’t hire her.

Most minimum wage jobs do not bother to call your references. I’m not sure how it was back in 1968, but where I work, no one bothers.

Whether or not you would choose to have it so, most human relations involve a considerable amount of salesmanship.

Grim way to look at it, but I see where he’s coming from.

He basically says that in order to make friends, you have to sell yourself as a desirable person. In order to do well in school, you have to sell your teacher on the idea that you have learned the material. Well yes, but in school you can often get good grades without talking to anyone at all. There is also a certain amount of salesmanship that must be done in the most important event of a woman’s life: the snagging of a man.

…we must admit that a young man is attracted to a young woman because she succeeds in “Selling” herself as one having desirable traits of personality and being worthy of confidence and continued esteem.

The author then tells a story about a young woman who succeeded because of her ability to be friendly. She was basically the Shryock’s nanny, then she decided to go to college. Someone’s wife died, and in her honor he wanted to help a young lady through college, so Shryock suggested the woman who had been his children’s babysitter. He did this because the young woman in question had the ability to be friendly with just about anyone. If she had not been so friendly, it’s unlikely she would have had any help. So remember ladies, be friendly to older people. You never know when you might need a leg up!

And so it was that this young woman, even though handicapped by insufficient family finances, was able to obtain a college education and marry a young man who was fully worthy of her.

Jee, if only someone had told me not to take out all those student loans! All I gotta do is find a rich old sugar daddy and be friendly to him. That’s how you get through college if you’re poor.

As a teenage youth, you may rest assured that if you set out with proper motives and methods to win friends, you will be abundantly rewarded.

Look, people are complicated. What works with one person won’t always work for another. Sometimes you can follow the advice in this chapter and  still wind up alone and friendless.

The author then goes on to talk about how important it is and how to make friends with older people. And there is something to be said for bridging the generation gap, so, let’s see how his advice sounds.

Older people are fundamentally fond of teenagers. They enjoy their alertness and enthusiasm.

I’m almost 30. I don’t qualify as a teenager but I’m quite sure I also don’t qualify as an old person. Hey readers over the age of…. um… hey readers who identify as “old people,” are you fundamentally fond of teenagers?

I personally find teenagers to be a mixed bag. There are teenagers I want to find the auto-mature button on (there’s got to be one somewhere for god’s sakes) and there are mature teenagers who I enjoy working with.

Now that I think about it, this is true of every single age group on the planet. There are some adults who’s automature buttons I would like to find.

 

When a teenager gives evidence of friendliness and other traits that promise her success, older people are willing to assist her, as best they can, in her efforts toward reaching her goal.

Sometimes things work this way. Sometimes they don’t. Not every old person is interested in helping teenagers, and not every old person is even in a position to help a particular teenager at a given moment. Friendliness may help them be willing… or it may not.

And too, what is our definition of friendliness? Different cultures define these things differently. We’ll assume for now that the author is talking to Americans, since that’s where this book was published. But even within cultures in America, people define these things differently. One American might look at a talkative person and think, “how friendly.” Another American might look at the same person and think, “she talks too much.”

The author doesn’t bother to tell us about this, so I won’t get too much into it, but people are complicated. You can’t expect friendliness to automatically equal help when you need it. That’s also not the reason you should be friendly but set that aside for now.

The average teenager is optimistic–more so than an older person.

I…. think it depends on the person. I’m not sure the average teenager is optimistic, especially today’s teenager, who knows she has tons of student debt or crushing poverty to look forward to.

As a young person setting out to make friends with older people (and again, the author does not define exactly what he means by “older people.” For all I know, he really does mean 30 year olds.), there are some things you need to watch out for. Older people have “pet peeves” about teens, you see, so you need to work on your behavior.

In the first place, older people do not like a “know it all” attitude. They have had a wealth of experience, and as a result, their judgement is usually quite mature.

Does anyone of any age anywhere like a “know it all” attitude? I don’t think this is specific to old people.

The author goes on to talk about how an older person’s thinking is slow compared to a young person’s.

From this viewpoint I do not blame you for sometimes being impatient with an older person who seems to be a bit dull.

I do not think slow thinking is the problem. My particular problems with old people is that they often refuse to believe that the way things work has changed. My mom, for example, expected me to get through school the same way she did. Mom moved in with her grandma, got a job, and was able to declare herself independent. The way financial aid works now, you are not allowed to declare yourself independent, at least for financial aid purposes, until you are 23, even if you are self supporting. Until 23, you must provide your parents’ information to the government and school, who then decide that of course your parents make enough to give you 20 grand a year for school and what do you need financial aid for?

I tried explaining this to my mother, politely of course. She refused to listen, insisting that I could do things the way she did. That is no longer the way financial aid works.

It is not that older people’s brains, according to the author, work slower than a teen’s. It is that older people refuse to listen.

In any case, older persons don’t like it when teenagers correct them, because that seems disrespectful. In some cases I can see this. If, for example, a teenager interrupts someone to inform them that “hanged” is the term for a person and “hung” is the term used for an object, and therefore their uncle was “hanged” not “hung,” that is kind of nitpicky and annoying and I could see an older person being rather upset about it.

However, sometimes when a teenager corrects them, older people need to stfu and listen. Of course the teenager should do so in a manner that is courteous, but sometimes an older person is in the wrong. “Sir, you say you have a stomach ache in the lower right abdominal quadrant as well as a fever. I do not believe you have food poisoning, and I do believe that you quite need a trip to the hospital.”

You have more to gain by being tolerant of older persons than by trying to display your better information. An older person may someday be in a position to lend you needed assistance.

Wait, what? Being a know-it-all isn’t wrong because it’s rude, it’s wrong because someday someone might not give you the help you need? What the fuck, that is not how morality works.

The author talks about a know-it-all-teenager, who placed a high value on her own opinions, whatever exactly that means.

One one particular occasion our family had been visiting this family and the time came for us all to go to church. The girl’s mother had chosen to wear a dress of which the daughter did not approve. Even after all of us were ready to leave for church the daughter said to her mother, “you should know better than to wear that old dress to church. You don’t look well in it, and it isn’t appropriate for church.” We thought the dress was a perfectly proper one to wear to church, but the daughter set her opinion up against the rest of us as being the final word.

Did the mother go and change her outfit to please her daughter? Did she tell her daughter that she was entitled to her opinion but that she was wearing the dress anyway? I hope you weren’t curious, because we don’t get to know if the mother has a backbone or not. If the mother went and changed her dress, that would suggest a serious problem. Otherwise, this is just a story about a teenager who hasn’t quite learned when to enable the brain to mouth filter.

In any case, the daughter went off to academy and began to speak like this to the girls’ dean. As you may imagine, this went over like a led balloon. The school counselor had a few talks with the teenager.

The counselor finally helped her to see that getting along well with others involves a great deal of give and take –often more give than take.

In principle yes. In reality this often works out to “give everything of yourself to the point that you become a doormat.”

The young teenager in our story built a completely new personality and by the end of the year in Academy she had friends.

Another pet peeve of older people is that teenagers are disrespectful. Again, the term disrespect needs some definition. It is different for each individual person, even within culture groups.

The author tells us that a teenager’s lack of respect is often because they don’t think.

He gives the example of the girl who made a promise to her teacher and classmates that she would use the family car for a school function. Apparently she forgot to discuss this with her father, so her father was upset with her when he wanted to use it. The girl insisted it was too late for her plans to be changed, and the parents would just have to forget the concert they wanted to attend.

I can understand being upset with that.Though I don’t see why the daughter couldn’t have just dropped off the parents at the concert and then gone to her school outing.

Another thing older people hate are practical jokes. Not because they’re old and stuffy, but because teenagers often don’t think of the harm these jokes can cause. An example he cites is of a girl who decided it would be a very fun idea to drive on the sidewalk bowling for hood ornaments. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but oh dear god, any child of mine who did that would very quickly lose her driving privileges.

As someone older, of course the first thing I think of is, “oh my god someone could get run over.” But the teenager’s first thought was, “oh, isn’t this funny?!”

The author says that this is an example of how older people think differently from younger ones. Lots of practical jokes that teens think are fun actually have the potential to cause harm.

I am not so much concerned over the possible unhappy consequences of practical jokes. Everyday experiences speak for themselves in this matter. I am more concerned over the disadvantages to the teenager in her attempt to cultivate the friendship and confidence of other persons.

What every day experiences? Most days go by without anyone in my circle playing a single practical joke on me or anybody else I know.

I can’t believe you’re more concerned about the teenager’s reputation than the fact that somebody could have been run over.  I can see being concerned with both, but not one over the other.

Those are the main pet peeves older people hate. There’s no reason older people and teenagers can’t get along together.

Another thing we’re going to discuss is conversation. People are often judged by conversation and it’s also a way for people to communicate.

The author talks about 2 women he’s observed on a train. One woman is telling the other of her experiences. The woman talking was excited, the woman she was talking to was obviously bored.

As I watched I thought, “how human this woman is who is telling the story I She is (sic) having a wonderful time simply because of this chance to tell one of her favorite experiences.”

Does that mean the bored woman is not human? I’m kidding, actually, I agree with the author. It’s fun to tell someone else about something you really are interested in and care about. However, it’s no fun when the other person is bored. I’m horrible at reading people so I’ve probably put a lot of you guys to sleep. Sorry about that.

Unfortunately many conversations take on the proportions of a contest, each participant trying to outdo the others in telling about the things that interest him. But the other parties are meanwhile not very much interested in what is being told. They are simply eagerly waiting an opportunity to break in and tell some of their own experiences.

Yeah, conversations like this happen.

In a conversation, you want to talk about your experiences to the other person. However, making friends is more important than you getting pleasure out of a conversation. The best way to make a friend is to listen to him when he talks.If you do this, his memory of the conversation will be pleasant, and he will associate that feeling with you, and come to think you are a pleasant person.

I feel like if someone other than a therapist just sat there and listened and said “uh huh” and “ok” and “I see,” in the right places to indicate they were listening, I would feel creeped out. That is not the way humans work.

Although this strategy is easy, you have to do a little more than merely keep quiet in order to make a favorable impression. The person with whom you are talking will not get “a kick” out of talking with you unless you are really interested in what he is saying.

What if I’m not interested?

It is possible to become genuinely interested in almost any type of conversation if you really discipline yourself to do it.

Sorry, no. Some topics I just can’t get interested in. Or if I do get interested in them, I’ll end up screaming at everybody which is definitely not good conversational skills. Example: If someone starts talking about how Trump would make an excellent president, I am not interested. I am not interested not because I find the topic boring, but because I am not interested in how our country needs to be more xenophobic, sexist, and racist. Beating people up isn’t going to win me any friends.

I also am unable to make myself interested in stuff I find truly boring. I have learned to pretend that I am interested, but in the long run that just turns most people off.

So we see that the making of friends is not difficult. It is actually one of the most pleasant of all human activities.

Making friends isn’t difficult, what’s wrong with you? What is wrong with me is a good question. I just don’t seem to find all this easy, nor do I find this advice helpful. I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not in order to try and make friends. Sorry, but I just can’t find Shakespeare interesting.

There are certain rules of the game that you will need to follow. But these are simple, and depend upon an understanding of human nature. And human nature is fascinating!

Um, what? It took me a while to get that the author is referring to friendship when he talks about the rules of the “game.”

The rules of the game being simple is laughable, because they do rely on an understanding of human nature. I may disagree with the author on how fascinating human nature is, but I do think that human nature is complicated. You can’t just do X Y and Z and have it all turn out well.

If you could, our world would be very very different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Becoming A Woman/Man Chapter 10

Chapter 10

How Do You Feel?

Chapter 10 in On Becoming A Woman is, word for word, identical to the corresponding chapter in On Becoming A Man. I have therefore decided that they are the same post.

In case anyone is keeping track at home, that’s basically 3 chapters he’s copy and pasted so far (2, 9, and 10.)

This chapter… I actually found it rather triggering. I’m not saying he’s completely wrong and that this advice doesn’t have it’s place, but I am saying that the author ignores the fact that depression is a very real problem. Some of the things he says are also things my verbally and emotionally abusive parent used to tell me.

The author begins the chapter by talking about a photography project he was working on. He and his partner didn’t finish, so the author asked if they could get together the next morning to complete the work. The photographer thought about it, then told him he would have to wait till tomorrow to see how he felt.

A month ago I would’ve called bullshit on this story, but since then I have worked with a woman like this. She would come to work and then only do the things she felt like doing. Naturally, she wasn’t employed for too long.

We then get to the meat of the chapter: feelings. Teenagers have very strong feelings, apparently. I don’t remember having particularly strong feelings at that age,but whatever.  The author himself had strong feelings as a child, so strong, in fact, that he wouldn’t even do his homework unless he felt like it. The author eventually learned how to control his feelings because that is what adults do.

To a point I agree with this. I don’t feel like going to work most mornings, or getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning to feed the cat, but I do these things anyway because they are important.

However, when one doesn’t feel like doing anything, that is usually a bad sign that something’s not right. No, the author will never acknowledge this.

The “Feelings” are an interesting part of every person’s experience. You have feelings and I have feelings, but your feelings are not necessarily the same as mine.

True, I feel complete rage when I read your book. You obviously do not.

Feelings are personal and are determined as much by the individual’s own traits as they are by circumstances.

Yeah, probably. Most people don’t get caps lock ragey when they read your book.

I do know that not everyone is going to have the same feeling about certain situations as I do. That’s a good thing, Otherwise the human race would soon be extinct.

When you feel well you are optimistic and courageous and ready to undertake anything that comes along. But when you feel downcast or blue you seem not to care whether you fulfill your obligations or not.

More or less correct… with an added notation that if one is feeling downcast and doesn’t care whether or not they “fulfill their obligations” more often than not, one should see a non Christian doctor.

The author goes on to talk about intense teenage feelings, and how we can end up taking them out on some innocent person. Fair enough, that can happen even to grown ups, and we really should try to avoid it.

As far as the effect on your feelings is concerned, the same circumstance may cause you to feel one way today and a different way tomorrow. Sometimes you seem to be so sensitive that you are almost looking for trouble. If father reminds you to do something, you react as though you had been treated cruelly. Actually, father means no harm by his remark. He is perfectly friendly and only wants to be of help to you, lest you forget. But when your feelings are at a low ebb you are prone to misunderstand motives and to take offense unnecessarily.

Maybe it’s the fact that these are trigger phrases for me, but this really rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve been told all my life that I’m just too sensitive or that I misinterpret people’s motivates. It’s like I’m not allowed to get irritated with people when they treat me like shit, or even to believe they are treating me like shit.

Let’s take the father in this example. Perhaps he truly is just reminding the child in a friendly way. Perhaps not, though. It’s possible the father has an annoying habit of nagging. Or it’s possible father’s tone of voice was such that the child perceived the underlying anger, even if said anger wasn’t directed at the child.

I’m also not at all sure I agree with the idea that teenagers are sensitive people, but I’m a good decade removed from my teens and I’m also not a doctor so what do I know.

At other times, however, when you just naturally feel cheerful, father can make suggestions about your work and you will not be irritated. In fact, you almost thank him for reminding you.

So, why are a teenager’s feelings so sensitive anyway? I hope you weren’t curious, because the author doesn’t know. All he knows is that his feelings are a lot less sensitive now.

Even though he doesn’t know why teens are so sensitive (theoretically) he is going to speculate.

Feelings are directly related to the amount of nervous energy available. When you possess abundant nervous energy you feel optimistic and courageous. When you are nervously fatigued and have used up your supply of nervous energy, you become downcast and depressed.

What about people like me, Shryock? I honestly can’t remember a time when I haven’t felt down and depressed. This paragraph is mostly spot on, but with my depression, I have very little nervous energy to work with in the first place.

Thus a person who is physically sick feels dejected and cheerless, because he does not possess as great vitality as when he is well. But when a person is well and is not fatigued he is confident and fearless.

I will agree that a physically sick person is always going to feel better than a physically healthy person. However, the same is true of mental illness. Someone like me who is mentally ill would love to be healthy and confident and fearless. Actually even if I didn’t have depression I doubt I would be fearless, but that’s another rant.

As a teenager, you have a lot of nervous energy. If you use it up too quickly, like when you stay up late at night, you’ll feel irritable and depressed the next day. It can even take a day or 2 to get back into the swing of things after such events. You need to get lots of sleep at night so that you can recharge your batteries.

Another factor that makes your feelings so sensitive is that you have recently come into possession of adult characteristics. You crave recognition as an adult. This is right and proper, so long as you conduct yourself as to deserve favorable recognition….when some unpleasant circumstance arises you take it personally and feel downcast.

Maybe I’ve just been told by too many verbally abusive people not to take things so personally, but I feel like telling someone not to take something personally is often a way of saying “don’t be offended even though I just did something offensive.”

If your parents tell you you can’t go swimming with your friends because you have homework, this often makes you quite upset because you feel as if your parents don’t trust you. They are using your homework as an excuse to separate you from your friends. Your parents don’t think like that, you’re just misinterpreting things.

Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. There are some parents out there who really are like that, particularly Adventist parents.

As you get older, you’ll learn that when you do good things people will respect you, but when you do bad things people will disapprove. Also, certain people have naturally friendly personalities while others are just kinda mean. You should learn to make allowances for people who don’t feel well. Sometimes when a person is mean, it just means they are having a bad day.

For the most part there’s really nothing I disagree with here. I disagree with the author’s idea of good and bad conduct, but let that pass.

If you were to keep a feelings  diary and look back at it over a period of 2 or 3 months, it would surprise you to observe that the periods when you feel optimistic and courageous seem to come at regular intervals. Your cheerful moods alternate with your periods of depression, for your feelings come in cycles.

My what? As a teenager I think I was just confused by this. I have had depression all my life. There are periods of life where the depression isn’t as bad, but it’s always been there. Also, the author here is not talking about menstrual cycles, at least, not yet.

In older girls and women this cycle of feelings often corresponds to the sexual cycle. There is a tendency to feel downcast just before and during the period of menstruation, which normally occurs about every 4 weeks. When a boy understands this he will be patient with a girl when she seems less cheerful than usual.

No he won’t. Every time a girl gets mad at him he’ll accuse her of being on the rag. It can’t possibly be that the boy himself is being a dick. He’ll just blame it on her period and ignore what she’s saying.

But boys and men also experience cyclic changes in their feelings. These changes do not coincide with any function comparable to menstruation. Therefore there is a greater variation in men than in women in the time intervals between these periods of high spirits.

Men don’t menstruate, so they get to feel good more often, I guess.

It is well for you to know 2 or 3 tricks that you can play on yourself to keep from feeling too downcast and enable you to carry on in spite of your feelings. Only as you learn to control your feelings and make them servant rather than your master, will you arrive at an ideal adjustment in your personality development.

Young men/ladies, if you have depression, you just need to learn a trick or two to get yourself out of it. No need for therapy and medication.

Has anyone ever been through an SDA depression seminar? If so, did they teach you this song? Sing to the tune of yankee doodle:

Feelings come and feelings go and feelings are deceiving

Put your faith in the word of God it’s something worth believing.

If that sounds annoying and stupid, it’s because it is. And of course, I was told I had a bad attitude for not liking it and that I needed to control that. I’m supposed to force myself to enjoy annoying songs I don’t like, apparently.

The first way to control your feelings is to make sure you have an adequate supply of nervous energy. You can get good sleep at night, not take the stairs 3 steps at a time, etc. If you are careful with your supply of nervous energy it will last the day. If not, you will lose it and become depressed and irritable.

There is something to this, kind of. As a depressed person, my amount of nervous energy is not as high as someone else’s is going to be. I realize that I can only spend my “energy points” on certain things. I can either do house work OR homework, but I may not be able to do both, especially because I have a job to go to. So I use all my energy points on homework because college is ultimately more important than vacuuming. It’s not an ideal way of coping but it works.

So there is something to this, although I’m not convinced taking the stairs 3 at a time is going to exhaust an adolescent.

Your attitude toward your feelings is another consideration that should help to keep you from giving way to them. If you are sorry for yourself when you feel downcast and discouraged, it will intensify your depression. But you should say to yourself, “this is not my normal self. I am naturally optimistic and courageous. I will soon pass through this temporary period of depression, and then I will be my optimistic self again.”

Except that that’s a lie. I am not naturally optimistic, and my depression never seems to go away. The author doesn’t seem to have anything to say to people like me. There should be at least a paragraph saying that if you never seem to feel anything but depressed, you should probably see a doctor about that.

You’d better make sure it’s a non Christian doctor, so they can give you some non Christian anti depressants.

By refusing to take yourself seriously when you feel downcast, you will be able to maintain your usual pace of activity.

Yeah, not how it works when one has depression.

To an extent, the advice here isn’t the worst. I mean, you shouldn’t live your entire life only doing things you feel like, but at the same time, if you’re downcast all the time to the point you can’t do anything, it is time to seek professional help.

Plan what you are going to do tomorrow, come what may. If you do not feel good try to recollect that you are only temporarily depressed, and then go ahead and carry out your usual routine.

Fake it till you make it, in other words. Because that’s never led to any sort of disaster!

By thus flattering your feelings a little bit and learning ot ignore your dejection, you will discover that the depression will progressively be less noticeable from time to time.

You are a DOCTOR. Even by the 1960s, you should KNOW BETTER.

Gradually you will develop a disposition that is uniformly cheerful, and people will congratulate you on having an even temperament.

All you have to do is ignore your depression and it will go away! I bet you’ve never tried that before!

Am I being a bit too harsh here? Maybe. My experience with this sort of thing has not been pleasant. There is room for this advice, but too often advice like this is given to people with moderate to severe mental illness. I used to try these things and wonder why I still couldn’t make myself do stuff.

Fortunately, I got over my feelings about doctors and sought one out. I still haven’t found a medication that works, but at least I now have the freedom to try, and the freedom to admit that I may not be able to control the depression on my own.

Depression is not a moral failing. It’s not my fault. It’s not just that I refused to try and get control of my feelings, it’s that, to some extent, I can’t. There’s no shame in that, and there’s even less shame in going to a medical professional and admitting that.