I now have a favorite subordinating conjunction, which is a new experience, as I’ve never had one before. This one has an emotional component to it. The conjunction is even though.
I realized recently that I have frequent negative fantasies—extended nightmarish scenes that play out in my head. I mean fantasy as an unreal vision, not some sort of dream or wish fulfillment. I realized today they are triggered by being in public places alone. They usually entail me somehow insulting or otherwise angering someone and a simple situation escalating into some sort of violence or other dramatic event. They are the opposite of “that happened” stories, invented tales people share on the internet that feature them as some sort of hero who receives literal applause from surrounding people. They encounter some sort of evil stock character and respond with some sort of witty comeback/mic drop statement and walk off satisfied and eager to regale strangers on the internet with their story. Mine are the opposite because they end badly and involve me messing up somehow.
I think I have these fearful visions because I am very affected by negative interactions with strangers; they really trouble me and shake me and cause me to dwell the rest of the day on them.
I was in a public place just after a tutoring session where I helped a student with grammar. We had talked about subordinating conjunctions. A main piece of advice I give students about grammar is first to find the main subject(s)/verb(s) in a sentence, because then identifying the other parts is easier. Subordinating conjunctions precede a subject and verb that, without the conjunction, could stand alone as a complete sentence. The coordinating conjunction (that, while, because, when, even though) tells you that the following statement is dependent on another one to make sense. “I don’t like marzipan” is a complete sentence and can stand on its own, but if I added ‘since’ and said, “Since I don’t like marzipan,” you’d know there was some other significant information coming.
Since I don’t like marzipan: Dependent clause
I bought some chocolate: Independent clause
Since I was in a public place alone [that’s a subordinate clause], I started imagining an awful situation subconsciously like I usually do (it was only then that I really thought about what triggers these imaginings, and I realized the “alone in a public place” feature).
I thought about how one of the things I’m working on is not to dwell on negative/uncomfortable experiences by moving on and not taking them personally. I really want to be able to bounce back instead of letting a negative interaction color the rest of my day. I thought about how if that nightmare I envisioned really did happen, I would want to be able to just shrug it off and go on with my day.
So, that’s when I realized,
I want negative encounters to be part of a dependent clause, not the independent clause.
I want the negative encounters to begin with even though and lead to the independent clause
“I was able to refocus and laugh it off.”
Even though that person got in my face and told me I was an idiot
Even though I said the wrong thing and embarrassed myself
Even though the person scared me when they yelled at me
Before now, all of those clauses have not included even though and were the only thought.
That person got in my face and told me I was an idiot! The End.
I said the wrong thing and embarrassed myself! The End.
The person scared me when they yelled at me! The End.
But now I want to add even though and finish on a stronger note.
Once I was walking down the street and stopped to take a picture of a house. I like different architectural features, paint colors, etc. so sometimes I take pictures. The house had a Now Leasing! Sign in front but no one was around. Once I took the picture with my phone, an irate woman came out of the house and roughly asked if I had taken a picture of the house. I mumbled my way out of it and walked on, but it affected me so much that I went home and wrote a Facebook note about it called Eeeeeeek! And shared it.
“An angry woman yelled at me for taking a picture of the house and startled me” used to be the whole story. But now I’m going to try and slap on my new favorite subordinating conjunction and work on moving on.
I wrote this post last week and am just going to publish it now. Today I had an experience where I used this new frame of mind, and it helped me a lot! I was in a movie theatre and, during the previews, I started talking in what I thought was a whisper to my boyfriend only to have someone down the row loudly shush me. I had been speaking at normal volume. I was at first quite, quite mortified and trembled on the edge of devolving into intense shame. But I used my new subordinating conjunction and got past it!
Even though I annoyed some fellow movie goers, I can move on and not dwell on this mistake. I can learn to be more aware of the volume of my voice. Even though I made this mistake, it does not affect my worth. The people who shushed me will probably quickly forget about the incident.