site banner

Wellness Wednesday for December 14, 2022

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

My wife just got her Christmas present, we found a great deal on Facebook marketplace for a breville barista express espresso machine that didn't fit on some rich lady's countertop. Before this I've been a moka pot guy since getting married, I've tried a few cheap espresso machines before but nothing like this. Any tips from the coffee afficianados?

I don't drink coffee, but espresso machines sound like too much work. You'll need a grinder, a scale, a tamper, etc.

Oh, wait, I've checked the review and it's a full-auto coffee maker that has a confusing name. In this case, I know nothing about Breville. Nivona, Jura, DeLonghi, Melitta and Gaggia are all respectable brands.

I'm astounded at how hilariously pointless this comment is, coming from one of my favorite users.

Why, thank you. I try really hard to avoid saying anything useful on the Sabbath day.

A friend has that machine and it’s pretty cool. Imho espresso production is a hobby it’s easy to get deeply into, but then again if your wife gets good at it you’ll be the prime beneficiary of a relatively inexpensive purchase!

I brew filter coffee, the old fashioned way with standard Melitta filters and a big ol ceramic drip filter. Kettle boils, pour it in, repeat a few times, done. According to the New York Times, this produces “less complex flavors” than more autistic methods of filter coffee production, but it suits me. Light AF roast I buy for little money at the grocery store for maximum caffeine and minimum bitterness. When outside the house, avoid all indie coffee stores where product tastes like a combination of rotten berries and 99% cocoa dark chocolate, Starbucks Blonde Roast only, which I deeply fear will be discontinued since I never hear anyone else order it.

Oh I'll be using the machine, to make coffee for her before she wakes up. That's the primary basis for our marriage.

My father is a professor at my uni and is well liked by his students and colleagues. My relationship with him is extremely strained but regardless, I do not appreciate incidents like the one I am about to describe just now.

I had the end term examinations of the 7th semester and skipped the first two since I suffered from a sudden burst of anxiety as I had just returned home the day before the exams so filed for medical re examinations. Of my four exams, I skipped the first two and applied for re exams as i had medical certification from the doctor. Today was my Machine Learning re exam and the teacher was extremely pissed at me. She took it out on my father and said things I genuinely never thought one colleague would say about another. Some of them included

  • He is mentally challenged and you did the right thing by keeping him here as some dumbass like him would have flunked outta any uni besides ones with you begging other faculties to give him passing grades

  • Your son is the village idiot incapable of ever landing a job, everyone in the uni laughs at him for being so dumb, he will never get a job so better start looking for some menial job for him

  • Everyone laughs at you too and make him give exams on time as he would get a d grade at max in all of them anyway so it will not waste everyone's time.

  • He is extremely boastful and unfit for education. You should not have sent him to uni.

Uni selections in India are centralized and done via exams like the JEE, similar to goakao where you only get admitted based on the marks you score. I was featured in the newspapers twice since I was quite successful, to the point where I was in the 99.9xx percentile in one and literally 100 percentile in another, even received an award from the state for it. My academic credentials were better than anyone my age in my batch and I chose this place because of my father, no other reason besides that. I am not that low iq, at least that is what I think.

Now, I am by all objective markers a failure, but still, her stating this is not what I found severely hurtful despite my thick skin but rather her talking down to my father and being very smug about it is what did it.

Sure I want to get the fuck away from my abusive and dysfunctional family but they are still my family. No one should ever do what she did, if she cares about me, she could have had a conversation way before and in private, tried to ask me whether I was fine. In case she does not care, she could have simply just not cared and not given my father a scathing monologue, painting me as a special needs kid who is genetically inferior and should hence be locked away and kept safe from the outside world.

There have only been very few moments in my life I have found to be as hurtful and this was perhaps the worst. Getting photos from girls I had a thing for and seeing them with other dudes or even flunking high school (yeah, I went from 0th to 100th percentile in one year) did not hurt as this did.

In case you know someone who slacks, try talking to them, do not wait for things to nearly end like my degree will in a few months and then act smug in front of their helpless parents. Her kids are doing very well in life and I really have not felt this low in a while. I have been on ssris for a few months and in a rut forever but at this point a part of me feels that she is right and that I should just give up and die. My father despite all my issues with him does not deserve such ridicule and embarrassment.

My one fear in life is disappointing my father. In my entire life he has never really raised his voice at me or been unfair to me. He has been, in every way I can think of, unendingly patient and tolerant of and generous to me. The fear of disappointing our parents is natural and healthy and, in all probability, good and right. I owe it to mine to be better. I suspect that you do, too.

I have a very strained relationship with my family due to the various circumstances but I feel similarly.

People have said much worse stuff to me but saying this to my dad was not very nice of her in any way shape or form. Regardless, I will do well in the long term anyway. Just did not like what happened to me.

sent as a DM instead

Unrelated... What brought you to themotte / what kept you here? We mostly seem to talk about US culture war issues. Which honestly don't have huge impacts on me as someone that lives in the US. So what's the draw?


BTW, I think maybe half the people here aren't American. There's a bunch of Indians and eastern europeans.


Anyone ever have post-nasal drip? Every time I get a cold, I have a runny nose and cough which lingers for like a month afterwards. It's very annoying. Has anyone else had a successful strategy for dealing with this? Are there useful medications one can take?

Do jal neti daily with warm water and a neti pot. Best thing ever.

Cetirizine hydrochloride works wonders for me, but must be taken daily and takes several days to kick in.

This is a symptom management solution not a cure, but using a Navage to clean my sinuses when I have a cold greatly reduces post-nasal drip and the resulting cough.

The first thing that worked for me are those bottles you fill with saline that you squeeze up your nose, I think they're called neti pots. The second thing is to eat ridiculously spicy food, which stimulates your mucus membranes for about 30 minutes, clearing stuff up. But both of these are just acute solutions, I don't know what the root cause is, and I don't think either of them directly solves it.

How much time do you spend each week on social engagements? And does that differ from the amount you'd like to be spending?

I've had some weeks recently where I was asked to do something on every day of the week. I work full time, and I have various solitary hobbies that I'd like to spend more time pursuing; and so weeks like that feel far, far too busy for my optimal happiness. At times like that, I wish I could have an entire week all to myself with no disturbances. But I don't think that would make me happy either.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about the "optimal number of friends who you see often." I think I concluded that it would be no more than two or three.

I have a family and I see them all the time, but otherwise I feel like one social engagement a week is a good rate for me. But the optimal number of friends to maintain for that one social engagement feels like it's around 6-8 people.

I see one of my good friends once a week, my girlfriend 3-4 times a week, and other friends/acquaintances once a month or so. I also see my family and brothers every couple of weeks and random parties every now and then. Many of my best friends have moved away and I try to see them once or twice a year.

I wish I had one or two more close friends nearby who I could see on a weekly basis. My sweet spot would be hanging with my friends maybe two to three days a week, my girlfriend a couple times a week, and alone time a couple days a week. I like reading and other hobbies that I do solo, so seven nights a week of social time would be too much. That’s some Teddy Roosevelt level of socializing that I could not handle.

What are your thoughts on dopamine fasting?

Since the mechanisms of neurochemistry are highly nonlinear and piecewise, I am not even going to pretend I have a working understanding of whether the idea of dopamine fasting is dubious or not.

There are reasonable prescriptions, such as not masturbating twice daily, not scrolling Instagram reels for hours before sleeping, etc. But I have seen people avoiding screen time altogether or not even limiting how much music they listen to, which seems absurd to me. Well past the point of diminishing returns.

Tangentially, what are your thoughts on "eating good"?

Recently I have invested in multiple new kitchen equipment and many high-quality ingredients. Mainly because eating out is becoming less attractive with rising prices, and I have plenty of free time because of WFH so cooking is a good time pass.

This might sound like a weird "problem," but the food I have been cooking and eating recently is too good. With the help of youtube and serious eats, I am pumping out restaurant-quality food daily. I also got a large cabinet freezer so I can buy meat and seafood in bulk at the market for cheap.

This feels kind of "wrong", I am indulging, and I know it. I don't eat like a glutton and exercise a lot (walking 3-4 miles daily and lifting), so I am not concerned about getting fat, but I fell like I have pushed myself up the hedonic treadmill by getting good at cooking. More and more, I wake up and think, "what will I cook for dinner tonight?"


Re: eating well all the time, it sounds like you've accidentally reinvented French food culture. I don't think it's a problem, but it may certainly be a shock to the system if you have an Anglophone background

I'm not Anglophone, and the food culture of my country is miles better than England's. I used to be a lazy cook and skip a few ingredients here and there, and now I have a full stocked pantry full of niche ingredients like obscure Indian spices, Chinese sauces, etc. And I spend the time required to make everything from scratch and well.

I'm not sure I understand - why eating good is bad? I think unless you eat bad food - like junk food made specifically to fool your taste receptors into signaling it's valuable while it's in fact garbage - which I understand you don't do, there's nothing bad in eating tasty food at every meal.

Going faster on the hedonic treadmill is bad. Getting used to a more expensive and time-consuming QOL that is.

As I said, there is nothing mechanistically bad about eating more spices and seasonings and food that is cooked with better technique, it just feels like cheating that you can have something so good for just a little bit more work, it feels "wrong".

Don't feel weird, it's a problem I've been having too; normal meals are so good now that it's sometimes difficult to find something for special occasions. Fortunately(?) I'm poorfag enough that a ribsteak is still an expensive treat for birthdays, etc.

Speaking of steaks. Steaks are one of the top examples of food that is made better and significantly cheaper at home (Unless you want something VERY high-end).

It is ridiculous how much steakhouses overcharge for mediocre steaks. The cheapest steakhouse around me is Texas Roadhouse. And I can make a much much superior steak for 1/3 the cost.

Texas Roadhouse isn't a steakhouse. They are simply a restaurant which serves steak. A steakhouse is something like Ocean Prime or Del Frisco's. Which, while they do charge a hell of a lot for steak you could do at home, they also aren't serving mediocre steak.

I suppose so.

But its still not too difficult to beat a steakhouse if you are starting with the same piece of meat.

Depends on what you're looking for I guess. Price-wise, sure you can easily beat them. Quality-wise, not so much imo. You can equal them, but there's only so good a steak can get.

But the reason I go to a steakhouse isn't to get food I couldn't prepare myself. Really I can replicate the food at any restaurant with some practice, they aren't doing magic or anything. But when I go to a nice restaurant it's to get a nice meal made for me, and to have service which attends to my needs while I eat. Those are things I can't get at home - at least not unless I convince my wife to cook and serve me dinner, haha.

Not only have restaurants gotten more expensive, the service has gotten worse - and it seems like that's a permanent thing. Places have discovered they can close randomly and have 2 servers for 20 tables and the general public just keeps putting up with it.

"Eating good" is a totally reasonable hobby to pick up. Why hang out with friends who proved they're spineless cowards during COVID? Instead, you can sink an hour or two into killer meals. By cooking it you're reducing its appeal to yourself anyway, so that's generally the minimum you'd eat from a meal of that quality. Hopefully you're also cooking for someone else at least. The effort I put into my top tier (honestly, some of the most flabbergastingly good) burgers is wasted even when it's just for 2 people.

The thing I've started doing which I think is the big mistake is sweet baking (belgian waffles, blueberry muffins, oatmeal cookies....). The good news is I've hit my skill ceiling, the bad news is I can now slam these things together very quickly and set myself up for a terrible calorie dense day. An additional workout or skipping lunch helps.

What's your burger recipe? I can hardly think of a burger recipe that takes much effort.

I make some pretty good burgers too. But it's just making a plain beef patty (starting with good meat), seasoning it with salt and pepper on the outside, and then blasting it on the cast iron or charcoal grill; the fire does the work.

It's not a complicated recipe, but orchestrating everything to line up correctly is annoying with the charcoal, because bun toasting doesn't work as well on it. I have a separate nonstick or flat top running for that.

It is amazing that most people don't know how to patty properly, select beef, or order toppings on the correct buns. I'm generally making a custom variant of "Big Mac Sauce" and grilling onions for one set, and a custom chipotle sauce and grilled peppers for another.

Man, I used to experiment with making hobnob biscuits, and eating the home made equivalent of a pack a week was really bad. It's a dangerous skill to learn.

And yeah, restaurants are off the table for me now, after the last $30 clearly frozen and microwaved dinner. But surely there's still good ones out there? Maybe just the ones out of my price range.

Around me, the only restaurants that are not committing daylight robbery post-covid are places where firemen, construction workers, and other manual laborers eat. And I eat out at these places 90% of the time, mainly to save time. I go to a "good" restaurant maybe 3-4 times a year.

Dopamine fasting doesn't have anything to do with dopamine, and there isn't good evidence that 'scrolling instagram reels' has 'more dopamine' than playing a board game or going for a run or something. The problem with instagram reels isn't that they're addicting, it's that they're stupid - I sometimes "scroll HN" for an hour, but e.g. yesterday I was reading some exploit writeups for various apple vulnerabilities, from for instance here. This is both more useful and more interesting than instagram (i.e. with no "my desires are broken and I need to engage in talmudic ritual psychoanalysis to fix it")

Tangentially, what are your thoughts on "eating good"?

There's a difference between eating a particularly tasty piece of meat, where it may signal the meat is nutritionally valuable in a selective sense, and eating a well seasoned piece of meat, where the spices probably lack nutritional value and are just confusing taste's selective purpose. But at least in the former case, things tasting good is uniformly valuable, eating complex-flavored salmon and pork is more useful than eating tasteless white bread over and over, and it 'tasting good' is just understanding that!

Can someone who has worked in customer service please explain to me how to be less irritating to service workers? I am socially anxious and awkward and am repeatedly finding myself in situations where I feel like I'm making service workers uneasy and it makes me feel terrible. I have never worked a public facing job before so I don't know what to do or avoid doing to help make their jobs easier and I can tell that they get irritated with me when I do things that I have no idea are going to be irritating to them. It seems to be getting worse the older I am as well, when I was in my teens and 20s people were much more patient with me but now in my 30s I seem to be more intimidating to people and they're less forgiving toward me. Growing up I always admired my dad and grandfather for being able to talk to anyone and make them feel comfortable but this is a skill I never learned. Does anyone have advice on how to develop this skill?

Alternately, can someone give advice on how to stop ruminating about recent socially awkward situations? I can try to improve my behaviors but at the same time I can't change how other people perceive me so even if I did everything 100% right there would probably still be times where I was seen as irritating to people. I'd like to just forget these situations once they happen, if I can't stop them from happening altogether.

Can someone who has worked in customer service please explain to me how to be less irritating to service workers? I am socially anxious and awkward and am repeatedly finding myself in situations where I feel like I'm making service workers uneasy and it makes me feel terrible.

Having worked a number of customer facing roles in fast food/shops etc my take is that there are very few really bad customers, but when you've got 5 other tasks that need doing even a nice customer is an interruption (maybe I'm an oddity here, some people love spending 10 minutes chatting to customers) so just be clear about what you want so I can do it without having to think too hard. If it helps this also means that they're not really paying attention to you and the frustration they may be showing isn't primarily caused by you, so less reason to feel self-conscious.

Growing up I always admired my dad and grandfather for being able to talk to anyone and make them feel comfortable but this is a skill I never learned.

I think there's another factor in that modern service work environments are less forgiving of this kind of thing these days. You still get the old man trying to talk about his day like he used to, but things on the worker's end are more fast paced than they used to be. I can still go to a family butchers and notice how the interactions with staff differ from those at the supermarket chain.

Alternately, can someone give advice on how to stop ruminating about recent socially awkward situations?

I haven't fully solved this problem myself but I find it helpful to remind myself that people are more concerned with themselves than they are of you. I recently saw a coworker give a nervous powerpoint presentation to the team, exactly the way I have done it, and it was clear how little anyone cared.

I'm not sure I understand the problem correctly, but engaging somebody in customer service is not exactly a social thing. It's more a transactional thing. You need X. There's a person whose job (presumably) to provide X to everybody asking. You approach this person and ask them for X, they solicit some information if they need it, ask you for payment or other things, and then you get X. It should be quite transactional, not some complex social game. Unless it's haggling or something like that (I hate it so not sure I am qualified to give answers here). Of course, there's grease like saying "good morning" (or appropriate time of day) when starting the the conversation, and saying please and thank you, and being polite in general - but otherwise there's not much to it. Or at least it's how I see it? Maybe I don't understand something here, or maybe you're trying too hard? I mean, CS person shouldn't really get to know you and like you, you're not about to become best friends forever, you are just there to get whatever you need and they are there to do their job and get paid. Of course, there are corner cases, but that's the normal situation. I think thinking about it transactionally may help you to concentrate less on what could (or did) go wrong. Usually transactional approach to people is considered bad, and in social situation - like friendship or courtship - it's true, but in commercial setting, like customer service, etc. - I think it's ok.

You sound like you're getting "don't be irritating" muddled up with "talk to anyone and make them feel comfortable" and given your ruminations it appears the result is something that achieves neither.

Know why you're there. It's not for chitchat. Your grandfather might have been amiable and personable but that's no good if he's occupying the staff with rambling stories, holding up the queue and never getting to the point. A basic "hello, how are you, I'm fine too thanks" are all you need before you get down to business, whether that's stating your problem, placing your order, paying your bill or packing your shopping. If you feel rude not chatting then keep any chitchat superficial and connected to your purpose, eg "thought I'd try making [recipe] for a change" or "hopefully this choice will [achieve task]", not "hey haven't seen you here in a couple of weeks, where did you disappear to?". Also don't wait until you're at the front to get your shit together. You're at the bank to pay a bill, did you bring the bill and the money? You're on the phone to cancel your card, did you collect your account details before calling? You're at the bar to order, do you know what you want? Leaving aside blatant troublemakers like drunks and thieves the annoying customers are the ones who manage to both act over-familiar or over-confident while also performing as if they've never done this transaction before.

In the special circumstances where I've had a need to be charming (like phoning a call centre to ask for an anticipated but entirely justified fee to be waived) I stay polite, organised/timely, non-demanding (I'll phrase it as requesting a rare favour, not as a demand I'll escalate to their manager or as a threat that they'll lose a customer) and gracious.

One small tip for charming workers is to let them be the expert. It's like the opposite of mansplaining. Ask for their input on a product/service. If you're not sure about something own up to it, it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their own expertise and value.

All this might be different in USA where depending on the context you might have the unspoken threat/promise of tips altering the dynamic. I've never worked a tip job so I can't speak about that.

Edit: I think you've fallen into the binary thinking that if you fail to create a rapport the only other possible perception is that you were irritating. So you end up trying to force a rapport, which in turn serves to be awkward and counterproductive. The solution is to stop worrying about being special and memorable (whether good or bad) and accept being normal and unremarkable. TLDR reduce your ego to the appropriate scale.

You are leading yourself astray here. It's annoying to be overly courteous. Just act normal. If you want something, ask for it directly instead of "oh sorry sir I hope you're not too busy, but can I trouble you blah blah blah".

Caring overly much about what other people think is bothersome and makes people like you less, not more.

Honestly slow down - most of the time social awkwardness in my customer service job came from people rushing because of nerves or whatever and then interrupting the natural rhythm of a conversation.

If you slow down that will give you more time to think about your answers and conversations and you’re less likely to say stupid things.

Also “we” statements are helpful- “we have an issue here, what can we do to fix it” is much more pleasant than “you people fucked up you people gotta fix it because I’m a VIP etc”.

I had this problem when I was a teenager, and then one day just decided to act as if every service worker liked me and was my friend. Previously, I had gone into these interactions assuming everybody didn't like me and acted accordingly, which just makes things awkward.

It's basically just a matter of playing pretend for a bit, until it becomes natural.

This might not be the solution you are looking for.

But, I suggest you try not to care what service workers feel. Like, genuinely don't give a damn if you are the worst customer ever. Don't go out of your way to be a bad client, but don't go out of your way to be a good one either. The weight off your shoulders will partially help with the other problem.

While it sounds harsh, I think this might be good advice to people who are deeply worried about irritating customer service workers. It would be bad advice for someone who is harsh and disagreeable (not out of awkwardness but malice or narcissism), but it might be the right advice for someone who is agreeable -- they don't want to give someone a bad time -- but awkward.

I think the internet has done a number on people's perceptions of customer behavior. You get a lot of service workers complaining about the behavior of customers online, but quite honestly, it's good to realize they're just venting. People fuck up sometimes, customers included. Unless you're really bad, you won't be remembered and you should just let it go.

This is one of the reasons I hate social media in general; people broadcast complaints or thoughts that really should be reserved for venting with friends or family after work. But I really think that has a lot to do with this.

Don't be an asshole, but also recognize that they're just people doing their job and you don't need to be their friend. I think it's always good to be courteous and polite -- don't swear at people, say please and thank you -- but you don't need to make idle chit-chat unless you really feel like you honestly have something to chit-chat about. By all means, if the nerdy guy at GameStop honestly asks you what you think of the new Mario game (or whatever), chat him up. But you don't need to befriend every customer service worker you meet.

Yea, People complaining on the internet about various social situations has really done a number on various sanity waterlines.

Another example where the complainers muddied the landscape is on how should men approach women romantically. Reading certain venues, you would come off with the impression that as a man, you should never ever even think about talking to a woman because day in and out they are hit on by thousands of creeps everywhere they go to. You wouldn't want to be a "creep" would you?

Sensitive/conscious people like OP take this complaining to heart and overcorrect their mindset/actions. While the people who should, don't have two fucks to give, if they see the complaints at all, to begin with.

I hate to go all George Carlin here, but it really helps to keep in mind that not only is everything on the internet written by crazy people, half of them are dumber than the already plenty dumb average person.

Why do you recommend I try not to care what service workers feel? Is that to help them feel better, because it puts less pressure on them, or is it to make me feel better so that I can stop ruminating on awkward situations? Or both?

I am a people pleaser and obsessed with how others feel and perceive me so this is really unintuitive to me and I don't know how to not care about how the person I'm interacting with is feeling or what that would even look like or how it would play out. I imagine they would get mad at me and then I would feel guilty that I didn't try my best to be a better customer.

Just don't occupy yourself with how they are feeling. Be polite, be direct in what you need, be considerate (i.e. don't demand things that aren't reasonably possible, or blame people for things that are clearly out of their control - e.g. store shelver is probably not to blame for the store being out of certain item) and be efficient, but don't think "do they like me? Do they hate me?" It doesn't mean to be an ass - if you're asking such questions, you aren't likely a natural ass (there are people who are, but it's not you), so just relax you anxiety and you likely be ok, and they will feel ok, without any special effort from your side. And even if not, the CS person would likely forget you in 15 minutes anyway.

I understand why it's unintuitive, but I have to second the advice given the fact that you're a "people pleaser".

I have worked plenty in front-facing customer roles. Saccharine, submissive encounters from customers aren't more pleasant. I say this as someone who really was trying to an excellent service worker all the time. The only thing that pisses people off is being unreasonable, entitled, or dismissive.

Others suggested being slow. I wouldn't say this directly, but I'd say "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast". Speak clearly and have a plan.

Have your request or demand lined up. Know what you're ordering and how it works where you are. Don't ask what milks are available at starbucks, know. Don't point at a sandwich on the board at Subway, understand you're starting with a meat template and customizing it the whole way through. If it's your first time at a place, don't wait to look at the menu till you get to the front.

If you have questions, organize them in a logical order. If you have special requests, be sure to say them before someone types it into the POS (and make sure it's reasonable - people don't mind helping).

And this is just life advice - if a service worker is a dick, be a dick back. Take the rep on practicing standing up for yourself. There's no reason to be treated like shit by anyone. My friends have told me stories like being at a coffee shop where the barista refused to make them a Red Eye because it "wasn't respectful to the coffee" or some shit. Fuck that. People who demand tips or refuse reasonable requests are assholes and deserve to be challenged.

Its entirely to take some load off your mind.

Think of it this way. Most service workers are not going out of their way to make you feel good. Some of them are, but most are just doing a job. They are not even thinking about your comfort at all. Likewise you should NOT return a favor that wasn't given to you.

One thing that helped me with social anxiety was having a balance sheet in my mind. If I knew the other person wasn't going out of their way to give me a good time, I don't need to do it either. Your default state now is to provide everyone with a pleasant experience, but that comes at a mental strain cost.

You must understand that a retail worker can only do so much for you. There is a cap. Unlike a friend, parent or lover, there isn't a potential infinite good a strange retail worker can do for you, and as such you would be tipping the scale far too much against yourself if you care too much about how they feel about you.

People that irritate service workers:

  • Karens (not the ones from Myanmar)

  • dudes who try to play up their importance or competence (male Karens)

  • hobos

  • junkies

  • old ladies who are permanently spaced out

  • incels who try to hit on them at work

Are you one of them?

I suspect I come across as someone trying to play up my importance or competence sometimes, and have been trying to adjust my behavior to do that less for the past few months. It seems to be helping but there are still situations where I am doing all I can to not be/act condescending or arrogant and I'm still perceived that way and I just want to stop being perceived that way when I am trying my hardest to not irritate people

I generally find there's a one-day lag between sleeping well/badly and feeling energetic/tired. For example, I can sleep for only four hours and be chipper the next day, but then I'll wake up half-dead the day afterwards even if I got eight hours good sleep. Conversely, getting me up to peak energy seems to require several days of good sleep in a row.

Does anyone else get the same kind of lag?

I think lack of sleep dulls perception and masks the tiredness a bit. When I'm running on fumes I don't notice it, when I get my first day off in a while I realise how tired I am.

It’s possible. That would imply that you shouldn’t be able to do difficult things on those occasions, even when you feel fine. I’m not sure whether that’s true for me; I do get slower and clumsier though.

I feel fine enough on those days to go to work (manual labour), but not enough to read a book. It's surprising how much you notice about yourself when you try to maintain a habit of reading, things that you would otherwise brush off become noticeable obstacles when you have to focus.

Personally, I find that if I get little sleep one night (or no sleep at all), then I just get really drowsy the following afternoon, but recover within a couple hours. How awake I feel in the morning seems to mostly depend on how regular I keep my sleep schedule.

I've seen the same thing. Good for procrastinating on exams. It seems like it might just be an effect of adrenaline?

The literature tends to distinguish acute fatigue (lack of rest for a single night), chronic fatigue (sleep debt accumulated over more than 48 hours) and cumulative fatigue (build up over longer periods, i.e. weeks or months).

The thing to test would be to relieve your sleep debt over the following day (maybe 10 hours of sleep + midafternoon nap for 3 hours) and see how the effects are then.

EDIT: Another thing occurred to me while thinking about naps: Perhaps the 4 hours of sleep should be viewed as a nap, as in they are genuinely restful and provide energy for the morning, but the 8 hours of sleep thereafter aren't enough to compensate for the 16 hours of wakefulness since your last rest. Another thing to test would be a midafternoon nap the day you're feeling good (right after sleepless night).