Just blogging

What makes a good story?

This semester, I’m taking part in a photography workshop. And even though the main focus is set on photography, obviously, we’re also doing some exercises to help us become more creative. One of these exercises is writing short stories.

The first one was pretty simple and very very short. All we had to do was sit down somewhere and describe our surroundings. Then, in a second step, we had the task to develop that description and create a short story from it.

Initially, I was super excited about that. Mostly because it gave me a good excuse to go to Starbuck’s and stuff my face with cake. But also because it sounded like a fun thing to do, especially because somehow I always have some fighting couple or gossiping teenagers sitting right next to me. It’s highly entertaining. Btw, I seem to attract crazy people in general and I think (but am not sure) that I already wrote about this a few years ago. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

This day however, there were no gossiping teenagers and no fighting couples, just boring, normal people and a crying baby. So the transcript of my surroundings was just a bunch of onomatopoeias for the opening/closing door slamming and the coffee machine. Which was totally fine with me. I even thought it had some sort of experimental character to it. But apparently, the teachers hated it, because I didn’t get any feedback (not even bad feedback). Besides, it’s quite difficult to turn “clong” and “crshhhhh” into a short story. So the story I wrote instead was pretty shitty and didn’t have a story line at all. I basically just wrote down my thoughts but called myself Nancy. So no big literature at all.

Still, when some of the other short stories were presented in class, I was pretty underwhelmed. Or maybe our teacher praised them way too much before they were read out loud. I thought they were pretty cliché, from their story lines to expressions such as “unruly hair”, that everyone’s read at least a million times. Which made me wonder: “Am I just immune to good writing?”, and: “Is it ok to hate on detailed descriptions or am I just a moron who doesn’t have the slightest idea of art?” And anyway, “What makes a good story?”

Of course, you can look up all the technical stuff online somewhere. And of course, lots of practice makes your work better (hopefully). But besides that, I guess it’s like categorizing a joke (which is nothing but a very short story) as funny or not – purely subjective and depending on the reader’s taste.

However, since I can’t come up with fictional stories, I’ll share one of my personal life. As I mentioned, I attract lots of crazy people. Some would maybe be annoyed by that, but I find it rather funny. And it always gives me something to talk about.

Anyways, during my first two years in Paris I used to live in a chambre de bonne – a tiny studio that used to be intended for the maids back in the 19th century. My floor even had a seperate entry, so I would only cross the people living in the bougie apartments down in the hall.

One day, a couple of months after I’d moved in, a middle-aged lady who was living in the first floor approached me. She seemed nice at first, but also quite nosy. In just one second, she went from the regular small talk to rather personal questions, including for example how much rent I paid. I guess for her, the concept of boundaries just didn’t exist, as she then started to talk about how annoyed she was by her husband. I’m normally really good at getting rid of people that unnerve me, but it was different with her. Not only didn’t she notice the common signs of disinterest, but she also followed me after I told her for the umpteenth time that I had to go. This scenario kept happening everytime i ran into her, which by the way, seemed to happen more and more often and made me believe that she was waiting for me. Since her apartment was in the first floor, she was able to see the hall from her door. Besides, I found it rather awkward that I only met this person after living in that building for almost a year, but then suddenly at least once a week. One day, she even made me come see her apartment and meet her husband, just to prove me how annoying he was. The both of them then got in a fight and I quickly left. Another day, she ran into my then-boyfriend. I have no idea how she knew who he was, but judging from what he told me, it was a very weird encounter. And her telling him in her coarse cigarette-whiskey-voice that he was “very handsome” definitely added to the awkwardness.

The weirdest moment however happened one night after I came back from a night out. It wasn’t that late, but late enough to expect that the entire building was already sound asleep. But just as I reached the door to the servant’s entry, I heard the lock of Crazy Weird Lady’s apartment turn. I froze, hoping that she was just about to go outside to have a smoke. But then she started calling and so I ran. It’s not that I was afraid of her or anything, I just didn’t want to deal with her, especially not at 2am. But I heard her following me and so I continued running, all the way up to my place in the 6th floor. When I closed my door behind me I was hoping she’d given up. But then, a minute later, I heard a knock on my door. I first ignored it, but then there it was again, followed by a loud “Hello?”. I opened the door, unnerved, seriously wondering what kind of excuse she’d have to track me six floors in the middle of the night. Pause. – “Do you have a lighter?” – “No.” – “Ok, good night.”

That was the entire interaction. It also was the last time I saw the weird lady from the first floor. Maybe she was embarrassed, but I highly doubt that. Seen from a theatrical angle, it was the perfect exit. It would have been really hard to top this kind of crazy without making it totally creepy. Therefore, well done Crazy Weird Lady, well done!

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Just blogging

Finding my talent

When I got fired earlier this year, it felt like a relief at first. I wasn’t happy in my job and didn’t feel like I was using my potential. But when I started sending out application letters again, I noticed that I don’t really have any selling points. Sure, I’ve worked for two big companies, one might even say prestigious and sure, I’ve spent time abroad. But in general, I think that my CV is rather mediocre. I’ve had sooo many different jobs that had nothing to do with my studies or where I wanted to go in life. And even though some of them were great experiences, I don’t think that they necessarily make my CV look better. Which btw is a stupid way to put it, because there’s probably always something you can learn. What I mean is, my CV just isn’t as impressive as I’d like it to be.

Besides, I totally underestimated the psychological impact that getting laid off would have on me. That short moment of relief was soon replaced by feeling rather depressed and worthless. The reason behind is that I have absolutely no idea what my strengths and talents are. And so far, I haven’t found anything I truly excel in. That’s why I bought one of the books “For Dummies” that’s supposed to help me with finding and developing my strengths. (Besides, I’ve read that in order to be successful, 10% of your money should go into learning stuff and developing skills. So I thought that book would be a good start.)

Unfortunately though, I started reading the book at a time where I was a little unstable and quite moody and sensitive. That was definitely a mistake. Because the first chapter of the book concentrates on assessing your personality and there are a bunch of tests that you can take. It’s a good concept, but again, I was far from being positive and optimistic that time and took every question in the worst way possible. No surprise that the results led me to believe I’m a garbage person with no social skills or any sort of capabilities.

I stopped reading there. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I’m even a little afraid to pick the book up again just because I don’t wanna go back to feeling awful all the time. But then of course, the book isn’t the reason if I feel shitty about myself. (Which is why counselling is definitely back on the table, btw.) Anyway, I’m still trying to figure out what I wanna do next. I even do have a few ideas, I just need to learn how to make them reality. Maybe I’ll try finding a mentor or something.

In the meanwhile, I’m working on my insta game, so maybe someday I can turn that into something. And it might sound cliché, but I’m still amazed by how much positivity there is on instagram and there are days where a good or funny comment puts me in a better mood.

As for my talents, I think I’m great at faking interest, procrastinating, taking naps, getting distracted and looking at baby animals. I think that should do to get me a stellar career.

 

Update:

Writing this blog post actually helped me focusing on things I am good at, even if it’s just small stuff. For example, I realized that I became really good at giving constructive criticism. (There’s a new trainer at my EMS class and he doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet, which was really annoying tbh. But instead of being a bitch about it I gave a constructive feedback with lots of me-messages and hope that he’ll do better next time – with a different client, not me.)

I’m also polite af (when I want to) and a great conversationalist. At least for a few minutes, before it turns out that the person I’m talking to is a total bore.

I’m also interested in lots of things, I’m getting more and more into non-fiction and podcasts. (My favorite podcast is Criminal, btw.) So even if this one’s kind of a mixed blessing, because I don’t have any specialty, it helps a lot with being a great conversationalist, knowing the history behind the 420 code or at least make creepy comments.

I’m also great at finding the right gif for any situation. My former colleagues would confirm.

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Just blogging

My 16 personalities

If you’re online dating, then you may have noticed that some people add a seemingly random number of letters to their profile. Or maybe you’ve been introduced to someone who then told you, I’m an ISFP-A, what are you? If not or if you’re wondering what the deal with that is, then I’m here to enlighten you. The odd letters are referring to personality types of the 16 Personalities test, which claims to be ‘freakishly accurate’.

The first time I heard about it must’ve been in 2013, when a very good friend told me about it. Being an egocentric instagrammer/ blogger with a weakness for all kind of personality tests, there was no question – of course I had to take it! Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the result was. But since another friend mentioned the test to me last year, I’ve been taking it once again. And then again and again, until I lost count of how many times.

My first result was Commander (ENTJ, -A/-T), which is basically the psychopath among the 16 Personalities. I think my favorite parts of the introduction were ‘ruthless level of rationality’ and ‘particular skill in calling out others’ failures with a chilling degree of insensitivity’. Sorry (fellow) Commanders!

When I took the test again, the results varied A LOT. And just for fun, I also took the test in French instead of English, which again lead to a different result. This, I found particularly interesting, btw. Because it shows that language has an impact on how we interpret things. (There was a study that showed that people were more stringent with their moral judgement when different dilemmas were presented to them in their mother tongue. Though as so often, I unfortunately don’t remember where I read about it, but I’m sure you can google it if you want to.)

Besides Commander, which is part of the “Analysts”, I also got Executive (ESTJ, -A/-T) which belongs to the “Sentinels”, Entrepreneur (ESTP, -A/-T) and Entertainer (ESFP, -A/-T), both are “Explorers”. So I guess my only invariables are the -A at the end of all personality types, meaning that I’m assertive and the E, which is funny because I never thought of myself as extroverted. Also interesting is that I never got one of the “Diplomats” personalities.

So what did I learn from all this? Nothing, honestly. Except that it’s pretty much impossible to determine someone’s personality just by asking a few questions, which by the way, are pretty vague and leave much room for interpretation. At least in my opinion. My favorite question in that regard was ‘If the room is full, you stay closer to the walls, avoiding the center.’ Like a lizard crawling along the walls? Who would do that? Also, wouldn’t that depend on the room? Like if I’m at a restaurant, the odds to be seated close to the walls are imo higher than being seated in the center. Besides, the best people watching is done if you’re not in the center of a room, except if you want to be super obvious about it. And if it’s at a party and the room is crowded, I’m standing pretty much anywhere where the flow takes aka pushes me. Why can’t these questions be more specific?? Besides, I highly doubt that you could sum up the personalities of around 7 billion people and only get 16 different types as a result.

To be honest, I largely prefer to know which Disney Princess I am (Ariel) or which Disney villain (Jafar) and into which house the Sorting Hat would put me (I’d have to choose between Ravenclaw or Slytherin and go for the latter). I also think that these tests actually reveal much more about my personality. And interestingly, all the results match the characteristics of my astrological sign and my temperament (choleric) according to the Four Temperaments. Anyways, it’s all good fun and very entertaining but also not important at all. Because right now, I have to find out which Pretty Little Liars character I am.

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