Archive | August, 2012

Are You Doing What You Thought You Would Be Doing in Life?

20 Aug

Today I had a moment where I recognized myself as the person that I always believed I could be.  I was sitting at a table with 20 other people and I was telling them how they could promote their book, all eyes were on me.

If you had told me this would be my future when I was 8 or 11, my response would’ve been, “of course.”  If you had told me this when I was 20, 21, I would’ve answered the exact same way, but if you had whispered this into the ear of my 23 year old self I would’ve given you a blank stare and a, “yea right,” laugh.

Something happened to me when I graduated college.  Maybe it was moving back home, maybe it was the realization that I had never put one thought into, “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” which now seems ludicrous, but I completely lost that inner compass that had faith in me.

This didn’t happen overnight, it was slow erosion, grain by grain my self-confidence went to the wind, shape-shifting, struggling to fit the cube that I was supposed to enjoy sitting in.  I hated this cube, I wondered, “This is what I was working toward?”

I know I’m not alone in this experience; that young adults all across the States are working 80 hours a week, are going Excel-blind, are entering data and questioning the future that they had been told to want; that they had been sold.

Many of these people burn-out at 25, myself included, and feel demoralized by their efforts.  For me, it was continuous failure.  At my first internship the woman that I admired betrayed me, and I said the wrong thing at a departmental meeting and received a horrible review.  This followed me for the next three years of my career.

I felt defined by this review.  Each day at my first, adult fulltime job I strove to be better than my beginnings, and while these efforts paid off, led to my next job in a whole new city, I basically had a breakdown in the office and then got cut in the third round of layoffs – it was 2009.

At that point I felt completely disconnected to the competent, confident professional that I had been becoming, my review was right, it seemed I, “didn’t understand diversity,” or really what life was asking me to be, and I knew even then I was not alone.

Being smart doesn’t always help you professionally.  This is a lie that you’re told in school, “that it is good to be smart,” and it is good to be smart, but not the complex, critical thinking kind of smart, but the smart that knows to darken circle A on the multiple choice exam, meaning basic common sense.

I had spent my entire life delving into the nuances of literature, not color coding spreadsheets and filing.  While simple, it was new to me and extremely tedious, especially so because I wasn’t exactly sure what I was working toward.

Recently, I read an article by a young woman who questioned why so many people in Ivies automatically went into i-banking or managerial consulting.  Mainly it was because they were told this would, “help launch their career,” and for, “the money,” but their dreams were becoming playrights, green planning and opening up restaurants.

Not investing other peoples’ money or telling them how to do their job, which personally I think is ridiculous because how many 22 year olds are really qualified to do that?  It’s just no one else wants to travel five days out of the week.

I get starting at the bottom, I get tough love and challenge, but why do we as a society spend so little time helping our children, teens and young adults find their own personal path?  Why don’t we encourage gap years and better provide different professional environments while still in school?

More importantly, why don’t we teach all three age groups to value finding their own path because that’s really the basis of most choices, “what’s important to me and how do I make that happen?” and I’m not so naïve to think money isn’t important.  It is, but what is money soaked in unhappiness and confusion?  It’s the power to fill the gap with the material, which does stimulate the economy but can also bring more debt.

And not just financial debt, but human debt: Don’t we want to be healthy?  Isn’t the whole idea of procreating hopeful; that we can create beings that can be better than ourselves and therefore better the quality of life for all?

Yes, the beings might not know what they want to do, or they might think they know and then be sorely disappointed but if we don’t restructure our world the 21, 22 and the 23 year olds of the world will continually be asked to hand over youth’s dream in exchange for a paycheck, and who else believes themselves to be invincible enough to achieve anything?

However, even in our sickened world all hope is not lost.  It is possible to buy the dysfunctional product, inhale it, spit it back up, lie down for a year and get up renewed.  Then suddenly you can be standing in front of 20 people in the encasing you always thought you would inhabit, encouraging them, and telling them what to do so that they can be heard.

Can The Truth Be Written?

17 Aug

I haven’t written a blog in over two weeks.  I’ve really missed blogging, but I’ve been avoiding it.  I am overwhelmed with all of the thoughts, feelings and perceptions I cannot write about; they are too personal.

Not to me, but to other people.  I know if these people came across my blog they wouldn’t be pleased to read all of my thoughts and realizations.  They might even be hurt.

This is something that I continually struggle with.  As a writer, I want to share my truth.   As a friend, girlfriend or family member, I want to protect those that I love.  It’s a delicate balance that feels stifling.  My unsaid words get stuck in my throat, and at times I find my mind encircling itself, and so I end up silent.

Yet, don’t I believe in, “the truth”?  Don’t I constantly encourage others to express theirs?  Isn’t staying silent a crime in certain situations?  Why should I sacrifice my truth?  Shouldn’t those who love me believe in mine?

“Yes,” I think, “yes, they should believe,” but the truth is the truth isn’t always necessary or right; that there is a time and place for things and it isn’t always in a public forum.

I know this dilemma isn’t going to go away, it’s going to follow me as I continue to blog and write.  Already people that I love have been hurt by my words, and it made me regret every single one I put down; that is until my inner-artist said, “no, it’s what you believe,” and so I stood by them.

My stance did not take away the desire to provide the antidote to the pain that they caused; my stance never will.   Yet, I will still stand by what I choose to share, unless I whole-heartedly believe that my words should have been kept in the closet, though we all know that most people aren’t happy there.

I know one day I might be my own sacrifice.   If I ever write for a large publication the comments section will flay me, and I will be torn by whatever cruelty comes my way, but that won’t stop me either because I know all truths sear.

The truth, the real truth, whatever it may be for anyone who’s out there is entirely personal and therefore divisive.   It is both mean and generous, both judgmental and understanding; the truth wears the face of everyone; both sides of our own masks, in darkness and in light.

When mine rears its beautiful ugliness, I hope it does so because it must, and not because it just wants to.

Quiet Lightning Performance – Chamber Music

13 Aug

Showing Up To Write

1 Aug

There are times when I’m overcome with the urge to write, and a trapdoor opens up in my mind, and I fall through it; the words are waiting for me.  If I don’t grasp them in that exact moment then they dissolve, and I’m left with the desire to tell what was there.

Lately I’ve been wanting to write a book, and friends say, “why don’t you just write the next Hunger Games,” or I read about young woman securing million dollar publishing deals, and I think, “yea, why don’t I just do that?,” but the truth is I cannot control what I say, I don’t chose it; it just flows out of me.

Ray Bradbury sat in an attic in Northern California with a family below and tried to scribble stuff down.  He only had an hour or two a day because he was too busy trying support his family by lumbering, or being a night-watchmen, or taking his two fingers and picking fruit for an entire summer.  In his mid-thirties he was still unpublished and he wrote, “telling my Dad I wanted to be a writer was like telling him I wanted to be a plastic surgeon,” and no one in Bradbury’s family had attended school past the eighth grade.

I recently read an essay by Bradbury, so that’s how I know all of these things, but I needed to hear them.  I lament in my own mind for my own personal lack of language; for all the words that won’t come when I call them, and I start to feel a bit sorry for myself, I start to feel like there is nothing for me to say.

This is a common creative problem, and I know I’m not special, but I am the center of my own universe (and let’s be honest, we all are because everything we comprehend emanates from our own point of view), and the problem feels special to me.

Then I learn that Henry Miller, in his 40s was writing in a borrowed room, “Where any minute the chair he is sitting on may be taken out from under him.”

Bradbury wrote that, and he said, “Until recently this state of affairs persisted in my own life,” and I think I can relate, but then not in the same way because I was never that threadbare, yet all creatives need a space to create; that is a must.

But it is more than just space it is the fortitude to show up and sit no matter the circumstance and trust that the words will come; trust is a tricky thing because it asks us to trust it and we never really did in the first place, but it won’t reward us otherwise.

It was freeing to read Bradbury; to learn that he turned to short fiction because that was all the space he had.

I find in my own life that I am stretched with the busyness that has infected 98.7% of people, being pulled in different directions with messages and communication; with interruptions that close those invisible creative doors in our minds.  I sit down to write the book that I tell myself to and the clanging in my brain won’t stop, so nothing comes, but after reading Bradbury I realize it doesn’t have to.

I don’t have to write a novel, in fact, I believe the age of the great novel is dissipating (though it breaks my heart) because there is less space for it; people don’t have hours of time to give and there is so much competition for just plain attention.  Like all I must work within my limits, despite my occasional lack of faith, discipline and all other self-obstacles.

Bradbury sat in a tiny room above his family, he stole his time and still nothing came, but it didn’t stop him from showing up; from putting his pen to paper and to patiently wait for the story that got him published in Esquire, and when it arrived nothing was ever the same.