Nobody tells you the things you really need to know when you’re young. Ten year olds are pretty intelligent people who are not only sincere, but they also understand way more than grownups typically give them credit for. I would have been all ears if a grownup walked into my fifth grade classroom, — especially if said grownup was dressed in bright colors, a large sombrero and high top sneakers — blew into a kazoo, and announced:
When you grow up the world will expect you to mimic their likes and dislikes, talk at their same volume and pace, laugh at what they decide is funny, read mostly what they read, and entertain yourself with only those activities they say are best and most popular. As a matter of fact, you can make it easier for yourself if you simply put the brakes on your independent thinking right now, because in the grownup world independant thinking will be considered self-centered and foolish. Pay constant attention to trends and you will know what to do.
The only drawback, kids, is when you get home from your future jobs, you will be so busy getting over all of the day’s activities and trying to remember your own personal priorities, that you will be too tired to do the things you like and/or need to do.
Yeah, if I had known some of that sooner, I might not have lost so many years chasing my tail. But it’s okay. I’m not dead yet. I’m still here, still learning. It may have taken 51 years, but guess what else? I’m better. Better better better! And it feels fan-fuckin-tastic!
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The journey of self-discovery is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have learned lately what some people learn sooner, — especially creatives like musicians, painters, dancers, entrepreneurs and other artists — the daily nine to five work-life does not fit with my personality. I would rather see my home foreclosed on than go back to working in an office. I’ve been voluntarily homeless before (one week in a Salvation Army shelter, twenty plus years ago, with my two small children), I would not be afraid if it happened again. That’s not going to happen, I’m just sayin.
As an employee, in every job I ever had, I didn’t know how to keep the co-workers, the office drama/politics, and the actual duties of the job out of my head. I took them all home with me everyday and sometimes I even let them join me in bed. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of wonderful jobs in the world, jobs with great people to work with and attractive perks. My husband has one of those kinds of jobs. So I know they exist. As for me, I think I was a mental mess for too long to find the right fit before I turned gray, so I had to take the drastic but necessary measure of job quitting to recoup a happier life. It’s been a wonderful year, a year beyond my best dreams.
When I was still in the workplace, my behavior was what would be classified as socially awkward. I get that we all need to be seen and heard. We’re human beings, it’s within our nature to want to connect with one another. I get it. But I was too lost to myself to participate normally (or functionally) in the social structures of the workplace. I didn’t understand why it was so important for me to participate or act interested in whatever was trending. Seasonal celebrations, current news trends, trending online social network activities, weather report discussions, weekending trends, television programming trends— ugh! I couldn’t hear myself think!
By the time I would get home after a work day, all I wanted to do was decompress. And who knows how long that would take and in what form. I might eat two bowls of ice cream or sit on the couch, in front of the television with a bag of chips or some chocolate, avoiding the laundry and dirty dishes. After a few hours were completely wasted doing nothing much, I might play catch-up, being productive just before bedtime and wake up the next day and start all over again.
Since I got sober seven years ago, I’ve read a number of life-changing books. Last summer one of those books was The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. It was in this book I was first introduced to the idea of giving up some of my distracting habits for thirty days. As soon as I closed the book I decided to take a thirty-day break from Facebook and Instagram. That break helped me to realize how unimportant Facebook and Instagram was to my daily life; I ended up deleting both accounts.
I don’t know how other people are managing all the numerous activities and constant informational buzzing in their lives. I salute their abilities, it’s admirable. As for me, I’ve learned I’m wired for a more simple kind of lifestyle. And if I can keep things simple, I’m able to produce some really good work. Speaking of which, now that I’ve gotten blogging crossed off today’s to-do list, it’s time to get back to my other work routines.
P.S. This posts sounds abbreviated. So let me add this: I know we each, in our own way, question a number of individual social norms. I think it’s worth looking deeper and looking at the overall social design. I’m not suggesting anarchy, necessarily. But I can’t be the only one who sees our overall social construct as a bit archaic, while it smacks of unadulterated bullshit. No? Well, maybe it’s just me. Carry on.
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My two favorite quotes from The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp:
1. Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable.
2. I’s vital to establish some rituals — automatic but decisive patterns of behavior — at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.