Questions

Who are you, really?

The question comes when you don’t expect it. It’s asked of every hero, every villain. And there’s always a choice.

Do you want to know who you are, really?

Some of us would rather not. Some of us would rather keep on living like we’ve been. Floating through without stopping to look.

Can you handle who you are, really?

It can’t be answered until you know. You won’t know until the first question’s been asked and you either want to know or the answer’s been forced on you. Some people avoid the question altogether.

Or at least for a while.

Stranger World

How do you prepare for the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

You wait. You wonder. You cry. You push it away.

You’re “fine” once you’ve pushed it away. You’re so good you hardly know you’ve done it.

Till something makes you remember, and you feel the jolt, it’s closer now. It’s gaining on you. And it’s going to catch you, no matter how fast you run.

How do you prepare to be caught?

You can think about the other side. You can think of the last time this happened to you, remember that the scariest things turn into the best things. But that doesn’t help until you’re on the flip side.

Really all you can do is know that you made the right choice. It won’t seem like the right choice. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be sad. And you’ll be alone.

Know you made the right choice when it’s about to catch you. Know the price you pay is directly related to the prize you glean. Know pain counts for something. Know it will be worth it, one way or another.

Welcome to the world, stranger.

Guitar Monster

It’s a monster!

Two legs, three arms, at least one head, and it’s making noise! What is that thing? We can’t tell. We don’t know. We’re running away!

Chickens are scared of guitars. They’re not too smart.

Wait, what’s that chattery sound? What’s that jar? The monster has corn! Oh! Oh! What do we do? How do we get the corn?

Chickens are crazy about corn. Even when it’s near a guitar.

Eek, run, the monster’s close! It’s opening the door! Quick, scoot out when it’s not looking. There. Wait, it’s throwing corn! GET THE CORN! This has got to be a safe distance, right? Now that it’s giving us corn…

Corn trumps guitar monster.

Missing Something

I walked up to the documentary filmmaker after her presentation at my school.

“I’m a filmmaker too,” I said. “Well… it’s more of a hobby.”

She smiled and nodded encouragingly. “That’s how it starts.”

She’s right.

What’s the difference between a hobby and a career? And how do you differentiate your serious professional passion from your serious personal hobby?

This is what I think: No matter how talented you are in a certain area, if you don’t mind letting somebody else do it, let somebody else do it. Example. My major included a heavy-handed serving of design, and I impressed a professional designer whom I deeply respect with my emerging design skills. Though I have above average ability in design, I’m totally happy leaving it to others. Design is not my calling.

Instead, pursue subjects that you’re not only talented in, but that you feel shouldn’t be happening without you. Example. In summer of 2016 I was a tour guide in Admissions when I found out last minute that a video crew was coming to campus to film. I could feel myself getting antsy as minutes ticked by that morning. I was missing something. Something big. I was in the wrong place. I plucked up my courage and asked my boss if I could go, and was greatly relieved to hear the gracious yes.

This is the difference between a hobby that stays a hobby and a hobby that becomes a professional passion. If you can tolerate other folks doing it for you, if you don’t feel possessive about it, then it’s not really your passion after all. If, however, you feel you’re truly missing something when the work is being done without you, that you’ve just got to be in the fray, you’ve found your niche. Chase it. Catch it. And take the time to encourage wannabes.

Don’t Stare

IMG_4971s

 

Don’t stare at the sun.

That’s what I’ve been told
more than once
till I stopped looking.

Don’t stare at the sun.

That’s what the manual said
but I didn’t read it
till later.

Look at that thing
ball of fire
lighting the earth.

A furtive glance
just to remember
you can’t
see that bright.

Nobody can.

Not even my Canon.

Still I try.

 

The Introvert at Work

Keyboards click all around me. I’m blissfully unaware. It’s 3pm on a sunny September afternoon, and this is my freshman composition class. We’ve been instructed to free write, individually, as a class. Alone together. My fingers punch the keys like a madwoman until the girl behind me growls, “Do you think you could type a little quieter?”

Oh. Sorry.

The spell broken, I try not to pester my classmates with frenzied keystrokes. I tiptoe along on the same thought train, and think to myself how happy I am.

Introverts don’t hate people. Introverts are sensitive to people. Introverts need walls to protect them from people and at the same time can only find so much happiness alone. As an introverted college grad and professional, I know there’s a sweet spot when it comes to social interaction and the ideal work environment, and it all boils down to the recipe discovered in English 101.

1. A lone worker is a lonely worker.

This is something I never would have believed even a few short months ago, having had to put up with arbitrary team projects for too long. But as a working professional who is able to spend some time in-office and some time working remotely, I’ve experienced firsthand that positive social motivation occurs when working in close proximity with others.

2. Alone Together

This is this introvert’s ideal work environment. Being in fairly close proximity with peers who are working on related projects, whether it’s their own creative writing or a client’s new website, provides both social motivation and the mental space needed for an introvert to get to work.

3. The Team

A sure way to destroy an introvert’s ability to be productive is to ask them to think fast in actively social situations. Brainstorm sessions always get me, because interacting with teammates usually takes all my brainpower. This isn’t to say introverts can’t handle teamwork; rather, introverts shine when allowed to do their own thing, and love to see their work helping to further a greater cause.

It’s a sunny summer afternoon in the office, and I’m hearing keyboards in surround sound. Behind me on the right is Web Dev. On my left is Marketing. They each have distinct sounds. Tap-tap-tap, fast and furious: email being sent to client. Swish, swish: mouse being dragged across screen, designing an ad. Bang bdang bang: code being typed on full-size keyboards, not these flat newfangled Mac things. And then there’s me, left mentally alone to complete my tasks, yet furthering the project we’re all working on in different specialized ways.

I’m the introvert at work. This is my ideal.

When I Grow Up

To-be-a-DENTISTUp and through college, it seemed to me that the ideal thing was to know what you wanted to do with your life and then head for it. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question everyone gets asked, and when you give multiple answers, it somehow seems less ideal than a decisive, “I want to be a dentist!”

The truth is, no matter how passionate you are about your chosen field of study, it won’t be enough to satisfy you. Creative people in particular need variety to grow on and inspire their work. Screenwriters will tell you that you can’t just be a screenwriter—it’ll sap your life energy. Variety really is the spice of life.

If you know what you want to do, by all means, go for it. If you don’t, then experiment. And even if you’ve found your calling at this point in life, take a break to pay attention to your hobbies. You’ll be better prepared for whatever it is you’re made to do as a Person of Many Interests and Talents.