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reSLience… a.k.a. resilience

it's what lies within that really matters

One of the things that has sent me on journeys of self-reflection centers on non-verbal behavior. Naturally, in RL, my face has a tendency to smile. Even when I’m sad, I end up with a smile on my face. It isn’t purposeful – it just happens. My mouth turns up instead of down. I have noticed since I have had kids that it must be genetic. My oldest is the same way. He gets in trouble and he gets a nervous smile on his face. It makes his dad angry to say the least – because of course it is a human instant reaction to become more angry when someone is slyly smiling?

It got me thinking about how I am affected by non-verbals – in RL and in SL. Believe it or not -they are alive and well in both places. I have always been told I am overly sensitive. Big surprise to some of you reading this – I know! LOL I try to take that as a compliment. I have sensitive hearing and smell too. Now I am probably totally misplaced vocationally but I must say my heightened senses served me well as a classroom teacher. I could hear those mutterings under students’ breath and I could smell those fragrant extra curricular lunch time activities that would waft in on their clothes and breath. I also had eyes in the back of my head. I was a veritable force to be reckoned with if I do say so myself.

Now that I am no longer in the classroom, I find those skills are still handy. My son was looking for his little brothers shoes yesterday a.m. and I was in the kitchen and I suggested he look near the coffee table in the living room. He was impressed at that point I could see through walls. Should I admit to him, it is just my super amazing memory power (almost Rainman like for some things – and others unfortunately not much)?

But what does this have to do with non-verbals? I think some – ME especially – are totally more clued in to non-verbals. When someone has a weird look on their face, I pick up on it. When someone has a hunch or a shuffle to their walk that is out of the ordinary, I notice. I don’t always say things because then I’m accused of being overly sensitive and imagining things – but I do notice. I often have a hard time not assuming it is about me and I need to fix something. I’m a fixer. My husband calls me a problem solver. My dad calls me a solution seeker. Under any of those titles, when I sense something is not right, I end up trying to fix it.

So now that I have rambled I suppose I should share my deep insights into what this means 🙂 If – I were to have a solution or a fix for all this. But before I do, I want to share my observations in SL with regards to non-verbals. I had an interesting experience last night with a friend/colleague in RL that couldn’t turn off her AO (animation override). Actually she didn’t even know she had one on. All she knew was her butt was swaying from side to side and she was afraid she was going to take someone out in the process if she didn’t get it stopped. Being relatively new to SL she thought it might have been her skin or something. We got it fixed and she was much happier with her default SL avitar stance, hands on hips. She is that way too. She takes charge, she solves problems, she tells you what she thinks – she is PERFECT standing there silent with hands on hips.

I prefer my AO where I lean on one foot, sometimes with my hands behind my back, sometimes with one hand to my head. It is somewhat of an open stance, and a thinking stance. As I thought more about it on my way in, I thought about how it fits who I want to be in SL and who I am in RL. I hope people see me as that. Aside from AOs, SL leaves you with either text chat, IM chat, silence, or gestures. It is so funny to be somewhere when it gets quiet – all of a sudden there is a lull in chat. A gesture or a hoo always seems to clear the air – but people aren’t always ok with the silence. (Much like RL I suppose thinking of the big talkers in my life – myself included).

I think text in SL is so abundant because it fills the void of non-verbals that we need as human beings. We work to find ways to describe our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions by articulating them in 1 dimensional letters on the screen. I have read other bloggers who write about SL share this phenomenon as why it makes for such an immediate means to connect so deeply with others we meet on SL. We are forced in SL to not rely on our normal means of behavior -but rather over articulate who we are and what we want others to know about us.

In my never-ending search to solve my over-sensitive nature and develop “thick skin,” I found a super validating website. “Are you too sensitive?” had my name written all over it. For those of you “thicker skin” insensitive and uncaring individuals, please take a gander (JUST KIDDING). For those of you who wonder why others feel too much or over think, please take a look.

Most importantly, my solution for myself, is to do a better job of just being direct. Coming right out and just asking people what is on their mind. I have spent years of energy worrying about what looks or reactions meant and probably recreated situations 100 times over to no avail. My challenge to myself in the coming days and weeks will be to practice doing a better job of asking and checking in – rather than assuming.

OH Yeah.. my students also hated the word “ASSUME” – I always taught them to take the letters apart and ponder it that way – “ASS” “U” “ME”. Don’t worry… I’m taking my own advice. I’ll ask. And I’ll do my best to give you the appropriate non-verbals, even if my silly face always cracks a smile inadvertently at inopportune times.

Pretty deep thoughts for a Friday, huh? And that’s all on a SMALL cup of coffee. Yikes!

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