When Carla told me she wasn’t going to apply to the geek summer camp I’d attended the summer before senior year because she’d heard it was a drugged-out sex orgy, I was befuddled. The only sex I remembered was between the squirrels.
“Where did you hear this?” I asked her.
“From George Johnson.”
And that explained it. George Johnson appeared to live in our universe, but actually existed in a parallel dimension where cars were Shinier! and girls were Prettier! than they appeared to those of us in this world. George Johnson never let reality get in the way of a good story, or he might have just seen reality bigger and brighter than the rest of us. (Or there might have actually been secret sex parties going on in the bushes that I was not invited to.)
However, George Johnson seemed to be pretty damn happy in his shinier, prettier, world, even if it wasn’t the reality that the rest of us were living in. I was thinking of him when I was sent this article on low leptin levels in people who’ve lost over 10% of their body weight for the third time this week and I thought of him when I deleted the link without reading the article again for the third time this week. I am grateful that people read the article, thought of me, and took the time and effort to share that information with me. I like that people share their stuff with me. I like to share my stuff with people too. So, I thank the people who sent me the link. However, I’ve decided that when it comes to articles and books that are going to tell me that I’m doomed to regain all the weight I’ve lost, I’m going to take the George Johnson approach and live in my own happier, fairyland instead. Fuck you, science!
It’s an odd approach for me to take because I love me some science. A friend of mine recently announced she is getting married at the Carnegie Institute of Science and it warmed my secular little heart. However, in this instance science isn’t necessarily my friend. I have a distinct goal: to maintain my 192-pound weight loss. To do this I have to think positively. I have to believe that I will do it. I don’t see any advantage to reading an article that is going to tell me all the reasons I am going to fail. If it’s true, all the things that are true in the article are going to affect my body whether I read the article or not. The only thing that will happen if I read the article is that it will bum me out and eat away at my self-confidence, self-confidence I need to be successful in my journey.
This is why I never read Rethinking Thin, a book by New York Times health writer Gina Kolata that was released last year. It debunked many dieting myths and explained why maintaining weight loss is so hard. I got a copy of the book to review, but it sat on my coffee cart for months, the pear on the cover sitting next to the window like a fake bowl of fruit. It taunted me for months and months, making me feel guilty that I hadn’t read this book that everyone was talking about. I would occasionally skim a few paragraphs before I’d find something far more urgent to do, like pick cat fur off the carpet. Eventually I stuck it out of sight on my bookshelf, where it sits today, virgin print not defiled by my eyes. I didn’t read it because I didn’t want to hear what it had to say.
I’ve come to realize, this isn’t always a bad thing. Sure, there can be dangers to shutting out differing opinions. If you get stuck in an echo chamber, you’ll only hear what you want to. That’s how we end up in endless wars in Iraq. But I’m not leading the armed forces here, just this army of one. I don’t have to be completely open-minded about every single issue in the world. When it comes to certain things, I can defend my personal boundaries and that’s okay. I lock my apartment door at night to protect my personal space and I can set up mental barriers to protect the internal areas most precious to me too.
That’s something I’ve come to realize about nasty comments. I used to read all the comments on my blog no matter what. I thought, “People have a right to their opinions. I am putting my thoughts out into the world so I should read theirs too.” This is total bullshit. Sometimes people leave comments to attack me. I have a right to defend myself. If I were sitting in a room and saw someone running towards me with a baseball bat, I would run the other way or throw a chair at them. A nasty comment is the same sort of attack, only with words instead of a Louisville Slugger. I can tell within a sentence or two if a comment is meant to harm me, and when I see that, I defend myself by stopping reading. I lock the door and don’t let those words into my house. I save the comment in my blog software in case I need it for legal reasons and then delete it from my email, never to be read. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen that often, but when it does I’ve learned how to defend myself.
When I wrote my acceptance speech I started to read one comment that had a sentence that said something like, “…I have to admit I was disappointed…” at which point I stopped reading it. I still haven’t read that comment and I have no idea what that person said. I decided I didn’t want that information in my head. My weight and my self-esteem are not up for a committee vote, and my decision was final. I decided the comment was irrelevant, it would only upset me, and it was better off left unread in my trash box.
I like having these boundaries. I like enforcing them. It’s made my life so much better. A couple years ago I vowed to stop going to web sites that annoyed me and to stop getting into stupid fights on the internet. And I did. And life is so much better. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Which is why I have not read the leptin article and I do not plan on reading the leptin article, unless there is a section in the article that tells you how the low leptin levels work to your advantage. I don’t need that stuff in my house. I will live in my happier reality. Keeping that stuff out of my house keeps my reality happier.
And I have George Johnson to thank.
Now where’s that sex orgy?