Addiction to Failure

KeyThis post appeared in my inbox, and I just had to share it with you.

It’s (Not) Okay to Fail by Rebecca Thorman of Kontrary 

Part of the reason we are so obsessed with normalizing failure is that we want to feel good about ourselves. And that’s hard right now, no doubt. It’s hard to find a job, to get out of debt, to pursue meaningful work. It’s hard to make time for family, get away from our computers, and engage face-to-face. It’s hard not to compare our bottoms to everyone’s top on Facebook.

I wanted to save this last piece for the end of the week because I loved it the most. It reminded me of what I blogged about earlier this week about expecting good things. The very idea of courting failure, of encouraging others to do it reminds me of pessimism. Expecting bad things to happen.

But being addicted to failing is not just expecting bad things to happen, but to actively take steps to manifest worst case scenarios!

Why would anyone do that? 

Because many aspects of life are hard, and if you’re being honest, you probably don’t have much desire to put in more effort than you’re currently putting in. And many ways, life can feel overwhelming, or like they have no viable solutions. So if things don’t work out, then it’s okay because someone will always be there to pat you on the back and say that you tried.

Failure is boring. Failure usually means you didn’t try something; you didn’t follow through; you didn’t finish. Most people don’t really fail. They succeed at being lazy, and call it failure. But at least they tried. Er, right?

I know in my own life, the situations or choices that didn’t work out, failed because I wasn’t thinking clearly, I wasn’t doing what was necessary to get what I wanted. Basically, I wasn’t showing up for my own life and prepared to take full responsibility for what happened in it.

Purposefully failing, praising people for failing, is like saying it’s okay you didn’t show up for yourself. Not pushing people to want more out of themselves, out of others and life is disempowering. Expecting more and better for people is okay! It’s not a punishment to encourage people to want more, to do more, to push themselves in ways that’ll make them better, happier, and overall closer to their goals.

Persistence is important, because you learn not to give up when things get difficult. Encouraging yourself to think positively about your own success doesn’t mean that you’ll never run into roadblocks or issues. But, don’t expect yourself to fail. Don’t set yourself up to fail because you might be afraid of good things happening to you.

So expect good things, think about what you want and less about what you don’t want and be persistent in your goals. 

Day 5 || Giving Things Up and Productivity

Earlier today, I read a post by Penelope Trunk about productivity.

I really wanted to write about productivity, and make promises about dealing with my internal scripts about why I procrastinate on my writing, or why this is the second blog post I’ve written at nearly midnight – hoping to catch the deadline of writing once a day, every day.

It’s not that I don’t care about writing – I love it, in fact – it’s just that I have issues. I forget how much I love writing, perhaps because it comes so naturally to me. My relationship to writing is like a trine; in Astrology a trine is very harmonious aspect, it shows the relationship between the two planets as having an energy that flows naturally, without conflict. The problem is that the trine makes the person lazy in terms of how they incorporate that energy into their day to day life because they don’t notice it. Which is very much unlike a square, a hard aspect where the two planets are in conflict with one another. This conflict is very apparent and you spend a good deal of time trying to work on the energy of those planets, attempting to craft a type of balance or harmony between them.

Maybe for some people, writing is like a square – a hard aspect – where they realize that they have to write because it’s a pain not to. For me, it’s not a pain to go without writing, but when I actually do it, I realize how much more in harmony I am with myself.

Perhaps my issue with productivity has more to do with seeking harmony – or not seeking it, as the case may be – and preferring chaos, and disorder. Part of that chaos is procrastination which is essentially prioritizing activities (or people) who don’t help you further along the path you’re trying to create for yourself. Another part of that chaos is not even realizing that you’re creating it, or not being aware of the long-term effects. For example: I don’t really enjoy waking up in the morning, I prefer to sleep in even though I normally wake up early enough to bathe, eat breakfast and get some writing in before arriving to work on time.

Instead I wake up and try to measure how much more sleep I can get – which doesn’t really become sleep as I wander in and out of consciousness hoping that I don’t wake up too late and be tardy to work. Then I realize what time it is, and pray that my room mate is just brushing her teeth instead of taking a 30 minute shower. As usual, my own shower ends up being too long and if I want to eat breakfast, then I run the risk of being late. Normally I skip out, preferring to snack on some junk food as I make the nearly ten minute walk to the train station. When I arrive to work I’m starving, and kicking myself for not having written when I said I would and spend the whole morning looking forward to lunch.

My day isn’t ruined by the chaos, but I’m not productive and I feel less like myself when I procrastinate.

But there’s no moral to this post: in order to be productive, you have to figure out what doesn’t serve you, or what doesn’t align with your long-term picture and get rid of it. But it’s hard because being productive is also about responsibility and taking ownership of what we want – which can be scary.

I’m participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo).

30 Days of Blog Posting.

If you click the badge, you’ll be taken to the NaBloPoMo and you can join in yourself!

2011: Half and Half – Why It Sucked and Didn’t Simutaneously

Thank the Goddess that 2011 is coming to swift – and much needed – end. In about two days, we’ll be entering 2012 and I couldn’t be happier. You’ve probably seen quite a few posts about blogging this year, ways to make blogging more awesome, goals accomplished and lessons learned.

I’m going to talk about why 2011 sucked.

Backstory: At the brink of the New Year I was living in Seattle with someone I didn’t particularly like. I needed to leave my living situation but wasn’t making enough money to have my own place. At least, a super awesome place with nice amenities. So I sought out a room mate, but then discovered Penelope Trunk’s blog about taking over your career, and decided I needed to move. To Florida. In a brief, gruesome detail free nutshell. 

Hands down, the second worst decision of my life.

Moving two days before my birthday, I found myself in humid Florida, staying with relatives, two puppies and one mean old lady who I grew to despise. After seven months, the highlight had been my overwhelming feeling of joblessness – mining the internet daily for job leads, scrapping by on what little savings I had left, and being told on several occasions that retail positions don’t like college degrees. Meanwhile, I found myself flailing as I tried to make important “life decisions”:

  • Contemplate going to the local community college and majoring in Graphic/Web Design
  • Applied to over 20 positions with Americorps
  • Thought about getting into PR/Advertising but couldn’t even qualify for free internships because of my BA in French
  • Attempted to learn HTML solo (among other programming code) in order to have employable skills
  • Looking into freelance writing gigs, but found myself mostly at content mills

Ultimately, I decided on blogging, which turned out to be really fun, and allowed me to meet some really awesome people in the process. Yet, the joys from blogging seemed to pale in comparison to my day-to-day frustrations of not being able to take care of myself. I slept in most ways, well past noon, as I half-assed my job hunt, hoping that each application sent would be my golden ticket to employment.

Like most people, I wish I had the power to go back and alter time. Where would I be now if I had stayed in Seattle and moved in with that girl? Would I be blogging? Would I had found another job? What if I had moved to NY first instead of going down South?

Thinking back on my 2011, it’s easy to understand why people believe that things happen for a reason. Everything I went through brought me to this point:

  • I’ve had more interviews since leaving FL than ever in my life
  • Met really awesome bloggers, learned how to use Twitter (kinda)
  • Expanding my writing repertoire to include comics and exploring freelancing
  • Learned A LOT (particularly about social justice)
  • Building my network and connecting with like-minded people

Despite my general tone of powerlessness, 2011 gifted me with a better sense of Self. And when I actually stop to think about it – I know ten times more about what I want out of life than when I was in college, living in Seattle, or even the time I spent in Florida.Which definitely makes the transition into 2012 much anticipated; I’m looking forward to the new year despite everything!

What About You? How was your 2011?

Being Happy, Single and Childfree!

Today – I’m so blessed to not be married, pregnant or have kids.

I’m thrilled that I can get up and go wherever I want and do whatever pleases me. A part of me feels that it’s insensitive to be openly enthusiastic about my singleness and being Childfree. But, why should I hide it? I never want to have children – unless they’re in the form of kittens – and I wonder if being in a relationship is worth the time and effort that could be better spent on other activities.

This past weekend I attended New York Comic Con and it was FANTASTIC. I loved seeing all the cosplayers, meeting industry professionals and checking out all the new things coming out in the coming months and into the next year. The panels I managed to attend were interesting and I got to make some new friends and connections all within the span of only three days. When I arrived home Sunday evening, the last day of the Con, this immense sadness filled me as I realized that the fantasy was over and I had to return to reality.

But it also gave me massive insight into what I want to do: create comics, talk to fans, sit on panels about important SHIT and have meaningful discussions about representation in comics. Even though I loved the Womanthology panel I attended – since I contributed as a Writer – I realized that all the women talking to us were white and heterosexual. I loved the all-female presence, but still felt ostracized from the group at large. I wandered throughout the Con, trying to find black creators – there were a few – and trying to find black female characters for me to support – hardly found any. Even when I stopped by Prism Comics, they only had three titles featuring black lesbians, and it doesn’t help that the people who are the face of the gay community tend to be white males. And this is something I definitely want to address in my own career.

And as I get myself situated in New York, mostly focusing on my new internship, job interviews, and writing – I realize that there’s no real time (or urge) to date. I don’t think of my life choices as being anti-cookie cutter or “rule breaking”, the way many Gen Y speak about their decisions, but I do have significantly more important things I want to focus on. So, I feel so thankful that I’m able to do that without having to balance someone else’s needs alongside my own (child or partner)!

I definitely plan on being Childfree for the rest of my existence – I don’t particularly like kids and I definitely don’t want them. And dating? Most people my age are frantic in their search for a partner, or are casually worried about dating in some way, shape or form. Personally, I’m not really invested in trying to experience that. Mostly, I think the obsession with dating stems from people’s fears of being alone, especially when you talk about singlism being primarily directed at women.

Naturally – there are many people my age (and older) who are happily involved, pregnant or some such thing. BUT I’m just glad not to be one of those people – I love the freedom I have right now, and there’s no other situation that could replace or replicate it!

Why Passion Is Overrated

Passion is such a gigantic preoccupation with people, I think. It seems like most blogs have at least one post or two about passion, what it is and how to attain it. But I can’t say that I necessarily agree with living passionately, or doing anything with a great deal of passion.

Why? Because passion is similar to being an adrenaline junkie. There are times when I’m on a roll with accomplishing specific tasks, like applying to jobs, and I feel this insane surge of energy and purpose. There’s a certain amount of clarity when I’m getting things done; I rather like it. But then, within hours (and definitely by the next day) I’m out of juice. My energy levels have gone back down and I’m back to where I was. Before, I used to try and reclaim this passion, I used to wonder aloud, “How do I feel this way all the time?

My answer is that you don’t. I am naturally a very low energy person. Even though I enjoy running errands, and hanging out, I tire out very easily and enjoy being alone for huge chunks of my time. I can’t sustain passion, literally, it’s too much energy.

But people treat passion like it’s the cure-all for a “boring existence”. I’m almost weary of the term, “Finding your passion”. Passion suggests that you can’t live without it, something you need to keep you going. It seems to me that if you’re not SUPER PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING then you’re missing out and your life is without meaning or purpose.

But that’s a bit extreme, isn’t it?

I will be honest: there isn’t a lot (if anything) that I am passionate about. I enjoy many things, like writing, playing with kittens, going to the movies but I can’t say that doing these things gives me a gigantic sense of passionate accomplishment or sense of purpose. On occasion, I feel the surge of energy from doing what I like, but as I said before: I can’t sustain the energy levels necessary to constantly be passionate. I need a break, I need to do something else for awhile.

On the flip side, you have people who can maintain high energy levels for a long period of time, and for them, perhaps living an adrenaline-based life is better.

But not me.

So instead of trying to “find my passion”, I vote more on the side of clarity, peace of mind, a stronger sense of self and dedication to something because to run on passion is like trying to survive on energy drinks. Eventually you’ll crash and then you’ll probably think there’s something wrong with you because you’re not full of passion anymore.

Maybe I’ll focus more on finding something I enjoy doing consistently, that brings me joy but doesn’t rob me of my sense of self. Because not everyone can be a passionate person; I sure as hell am not.

Appreciating Stillness

 

I don’t have a lot of patience. I used to think I did. I used to think that because I could wait twenty minutes in line, that it meant I could tolerate waiting.

But in reality – I’m an insatiably impatient person. 

Currently I’m still unemployed, wondering what I need to do to get a job. I just got an e-mail from US Airways – a place I applied to so long ago I don’t even remember doing it – to tell me that they rejected me. What do I have to do to get my feet off the ground? How do I get started on life? That sounds really silly - but I wonder how I can move forward if I’m not making progress RIGHT NOW. I’m using the social media/networking thing at a very slow and awkward pace. I like Twitter, but can’t seem to generate insightful tweets. I like Brazen Careerist, but am not sure I know what I’m doing. And I like blogging, but it’s a process that takes time since it involves cultivating relationships and marketing oneself.

Of course, there is tons of information about how to use all these outlets (and more) to generate traffic, awareness and potential jobs. But again - another thing that takes time. I feel like I have NO time, that I want my future in my hands right now. I think about it – I’ve been here in this position since February and it’s almost May – that’s a lot of time. Imagine how much I could’ve learned or done in the three months since I’ve been here? 

In May, I will have been out of college for a whole year. And I have accomplished a lot, even though it doesn’t feel like it. I moved to the west coast and ended up working three different jobs, living with a person I didn’t know and then moving back when I decided that enough was enough. Now I’ve started blogging, and even though I’m not exactly Seth Godin or Penelope Trunk – I like it. I like the people I’ve met so far, and I’m hoping to meet more people in the future. I’m trying to be more proactive.

So I’m trying to appreciate the stillness because right now I feel stuck. Trapped at a crossroads and not sure where to go from here. But part of my leaving Seattle was to understand myself on a more internal, and spiritual level. To figure myself out and try to make healthier and more informed decisions about who I am and what I want.

I’m not working. At least not in a capacity that’ll make me money. But I’m working on it – slowly and awkwardly. But right now, I’m going to try and appreciate what not working gives me: peace and a chance to grow in another way.

College is Overrated. Get a job instead.

I just read an article about Peter Thiel and the education bubble. The article describes Thiel’s opinion on the education bubble:

Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe.

As a recent college graduate, it doesn’t seem my very expensive BA has earned its keep. I constantly complain about the uselessness of my degree (if I could do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college) and it’s made even worse by the never ending mantra of my BA becoming a high school diploma; everyone is getting one, and we’re all going to need higher degrees to stay competitive. Bu twhat having a degree doesn’t prepare you for is work, which is what employers are looking for in prospective job applicants. During my four years of university, I probably had one or two group projects. And unlike some of my more successful, or invested peers I didn’t have any mentors, didn’t participate in any internships and definitely wasn’t involved in any real capacity while on campus.

The education bubble is equally frustrating because most students probably don’t even know they’re in one. Several of my peers wondered how they were going to use their majors, particularly those who felt it necessary to have double majors, or double minors. A common question became, “What are you going to do with that?” While the talk of grad school seemed innate to our situation; how else can we get a job if we don’t have a bunch of degrees and distinctions? And I often find myself particularly envious of those whose degrees (like Economics or Finance) practically guaranteed them a lucrative position after graduation (especially if they had internship experience).

Inevitably, the problem with the bubble is largely one of ignorance and denial. When I was applying to colleges, I hadn’t really a clue what I was doing or real concept of how one goes about paying for school. It’s ignorance because I lacked the forethough to educate myself, because others didn’t think there were any alternatives to college. It’s denial because the American education system is deeply rooted to cultural beliefs; that college helps a person advance in the world, that college is the life boat on the Titanic that is life. If you have a college degree, you’re going to be better off than the people who don’t. It’s denial because those truths don’t seem to be existing anymore as post-grad students like myself are suffocating from the debt (and their collectors), are worried that with such a large burden – how does one manage?

The bubble needs to be popped so that if a high school student wants to go to college, they’ll go knowing informed and hopefully able to pay for it.

Beauty Privilege: how it effects the job hunt

Worldoffemale.com

When I typed in “beautiful women” into Google, it took three pages before I could find an image of a woman of color. And although Halle is black, she’s mixed, which tends to be the favorite flavor of black when they cast non-white women in film roles. But for black women, it seems, Halle Berry represents the epitome of beauty.

 
I’ll often hear people say, “Well, if Halle Berry can’t keep a man, then what about me?!”  Then going into an argument that beauty isn’t the great equalizer, that a man will leave you no matter what. This seems a paralyzing idea, because beauty privilege is the most subversive of any race, gender, socioeconomical discrimination because people play into it. Heavily.
 
For instance, it was suggested to me that I need to do “something with my face” everyday, like combing out my bushy eyebrows and wearing lipgloss on a regular basis. The merit for this is the idea that you have to “look” a certain way in order to get a job. To me, physical appearance relied more on clothing; being neat and presentable seemed, to me, the acceptable ideal. I don’t have to be pretty to get work, I just need to look as if I don’t live on the street. Fine by me.
 
So – this idea that I’m going to have to up the ante on an otherwise incredibly sensitive subject feels about as good as being torn apart by Cenobites
 
I didn’t grow up with beauty privilege – which is when people treat you better because of how you look. This privilege can be seen in how beautiful women are happier, make more money, and are popular. There’s a gigantic circular effect: people treat you better because of the way you look, therefore you’re happier because people are so nicer to you, and that creates more people becoming attracted to you.
 
 So how, as someone who is not attractive, navigate a system tailored to those who are? The thing about ugliness is that it’s a very individual experience; no two people are ugly in exactly the same way. Beauty, on the other hand, tends to follow trends in terms of presentation. For example, long, flowing hair might be attractive one year, and short, boy cuts the next. 
 
But ugliness is special because it’s so demonized in American culture. Call yourself ugly and people flip their shit, rambling on about beauty subjectivity and how nothing can be ugly because it implies that there’s black and white (re: objective views of beauty). People want to be surrounded with beauty, and if they’re not naturally attractive, they’ll find all sorts of ways to attain something that resembles beauty; make-up, clothes, dieting, exercise, or plastic surgery to name a few.
 
So how does this play into job hunting? Because the techniques that work best for securing a job have little to do with actual physical appearance:
  1. I keep a blog so people will see who I am before what I look like
  2. Networking with people is more about conversation and interconnectedness than beauty
  3. Securing skills, and getting results is vital because it shows you can do the work
  4. Volunteering, and exercise are ways to keep you spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically healthy
  5. Have an up to date resume detailing what you can contribute to a company
  6. Being a half decent person in general

 

Not being pretty means that I am forced to spend more time on myself, as an individual, because I lack the beauty privilege necessary to help me open doors. Not being attractive means my short-comings (both physical and otherwise) are more glaring and can’t hide behind a beautiful facade. Not having beauty privilege means that I’m unique, because no two people are ugly in exactly same way.

A Dream Deferred

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

- Langston Hughes

On a fairly daily basis, my former co-workers will post on Facebook about how much they don’t like their job, or their general dissatisfaction with their place of employment. While it’s amusing, it’s also incredibly tragic. It’s not simply upsetting because life is too short, but because freedom is a choice. Enslavement is just as much mental as it is physical; take a look at any civilization still reeling from white, european colonization.

It’s also about addiction because  misery is easy, and there are more than enough people who would happily join you. How many people do you know who have fulfilled their dreams? Or have careers that make them sublimely happy? Or at least it makes them excited about their future and what it holds. I am personally acquainted with at least 3 of these types of people:

  1. My friend who has gone to teach in Japan.
  2. My friend who got hired with an airline where he can now fly internationally
  3. My friend who is getting her music career off the ground and will probably be moving to Paris because of it

My music friend asked me what was the one thing I wanted to do and the first idea that popped into my head: write a fiction novel. And to move to France. While she was telling me to DO IT! all I could feel was my own mild jealousy – how did I get to that place? How do I make my own dreams and hopes come true?

when I moved back to the East coast, it was with the idea of constantly moving forward, of not standing still. An excellent place to start is to realize that dreams are there to be actualized, lived, and enjoyed, or what would the whole point be?! So… no more dreams deferred.