Tag Archives: creativity

The Point When Your Dream Ends and Someone Else’s Begins

How in one breath can reality shift from a romanticized daydream of being a somebody who creates to success begin defined by job title, income, and home furnishings? Of course, this didn’t all happen in just one breath, but today I stop to pause in half-congratulations, half-jealousy of a fellow graduate who has gone on to do great things in the arts and now, 10 years post graduation, has worked hard and created and become one of those people who I thought I aspired to be and I’ll never become because – why? Because I was afraid? Because I didn’t believe in myself? Because I didn’t know what I wanted. I still don’t. Perhaps I never will.

I could easily blame money – the fear of not having money especially – but that was never really primary to the equation. I never gave myself the opportunity to not have money. When I failed in roles that mattered little to me psychologically early in my career I just moved on to the next, each role one further step removed from my deep-rooted passion to make something form nothing and so on – no comment on whether or not I had or have the talent to do so. It doesn’t matter. I’m one of the everyman. No better or worse or different than the next person who is here and gone in the blink of an eye, atoms of self splattered back out to the universe in due time.

Every single day I lose more and more of myself. I try to tell myself that’s a good thing. That’s growing up. That’s being an adult. That’s taking charge of life – grabbing it by the balls and saying fuck you world I wasn’t supposed to do this well but here I am. I’m doing well at that game I didn’t have a clue how to play and fucking A I’m faking everyone out and trying my best when I’m not having panic attacks and somehow I convinced people to pay me a lot of money and now every day I wake up knowing that I’m not a good actor after all and the opportunity is slipping from my grasp yet again… but I never clutched it tight enough to feel so distraught about losing anything anymore. I am not directing a performance where opening night will make or break its run. I’m not painting a picture which might one day hang in a gallery somewhere and be talked about in schools. No one will sip tea and muse over by blue period… of marketing. That’s life. I should be so proud. So proud that I let go of dreams because I wasn’t confident they were even my own, and just said fuck it, I’m going to just do whatever it is the world will have me do and pay me for because that’s better than sitting on my ass, wallowing in self pity and drowning in my solitude.

But I’m always one step, one moment, one millisecond away from this inevitable crash which I return to time and again. It’s as frustrating and horrifying as it is soothing. It’s my eternal womb state to return to, when I am shaking so much I cannot do much of anything except curl up in a ball and cry, deeply wailing alone because I know that there including anyone else in this pity party would only be a childish, selfish activity outside of any paid therapy sessions remaining in my FSA funds. But there I am, a grow woman, falling apart again, just like she did at 5 and 12 and 15 and 21 and always. Growing up doesn’t really go up if you’re constantly falling down. And, I admit, there are so many times when it feels so hopeless. I have these serious deliberations with myself over whether or not it makes sense to keep trying, keep faking it, when I’ll just always be a lie. I’d like to think it’s imposter syndrome – plenty of women suffer from that – but trust me, it’s not. I’m not a fit for this world, but I also wasn’t a fit for any other.

My self worth is defined by my networth. I am $320k give or take in happy with myself at the present moment. I am what I consider approximately five years away from being destitute without outside help, and five years away from having too much pride to ask for any. I could maybe last for five years on about $50k a year and spend down my savings. I’m five years or less way from total failure. I don’t think I’d ever let myself get there, though. If things got that bad  – I don’t know what I’d do. But  I can’t fail like that, I have too much pride. I’d find some freelance work. I’d do something. I’d get another job. I’d pick myself up and walk again. I’d walk as fast as I could until I fell. Over and over again. For many years. Until it’s over naturally and no one can accuse me of being suicidal or selfish for wanting to disappear or any of that nonsense. I’d just be old and gone and have made it, have survived through it all – for what, these days I’m not so sure, but I’ll keep on running until I see that finish line and when I do I’m sure I’ll regret having wasted all that time sprinting with my eyes only half open.

I guess the short of it is that I have no idea who I am anymore. As a child I defined myself as an artist, even though I knew I wasn’t good enough to really BE an artist – but I wasn’t an athlete or mathematician or scientist or academic or much of anything else — I could only see myself as an artist and the only purpose of life was to create – to output something(s) unique that no one else could share. To give some gift that comes from my hands or my voice or my mind – because I was raised to think this is all I was worth, my entertainment value. And now, I wake up, I go to work, I crack a few jokes I probably shouldn’t be cracking in order to maintain my appearance as a senior business leader (as if I actually have that appearance in the first place is a funny and inaccurate notion), and then I come home, and I go to sleep, if I go to sleep, to do it over again.

When I have children this will change. My life will be for their dreams. And maybe that’s ok. I don’t want to push them towards any dream of mine that went unfulfilled. I know that’s a recipe for disaster. But I’m at this point where I feel so empty because I don’t have anything to care about. I could do a better job caring about myself to start, for sure, but I have so much to give externally and I can’t help but think that’s motherhood calling, hello biological clock. Or maybe it’s just what is feels like to truly mourn the loss of possibility, accept and embrace the status quo as my forever now, just suck it up and live without wanting life to be anything more than a collection of mundane moments with the occasional exceptional spark which warms the heart until the next one comes along.

 

Absolutely Terrified of Making the Wrong Decision

All my life, I’ve been a jill of all trades, master of none. I’m at the point in my career where I want to invest significantly in becoming an expert in one area – but I’m still perplexed as to what that one area is. I always come back to the fact that my current savings of $325k, growing at 5% annually for the next 30 years, gets me to a $1.4M nestegg in retirement. That assumes, of course, that I’m not touching any of that money until retirement – but that’s quite a reasonable expectation if I can manage to make enough yearly to at least cover my expenses.

So – I could move to somewhere super cheap, take on a few side jobs to cover housing, health insurance, et al – and whatever I have left over use for travel or taking art classes. Kids will be expensive, that’s for sure, but my boyfriend would also be working – we would never be rich, but we should have enough to have a decent retirement. Heck, if it 325k compounds at 10% year over year then in 30 years when I’m 62 that would be worth over $5M.

Why bother spending $100k now on myself when I don’t trust the investment will pay off. I just don’t have much faith in myself and for good reason. Even now as I browse the help wanted ads for a variety of different positions I return to how today I’m qualified only for roles people are desperate to fill, if that. I started to put together my resume and I couldn’t think of one valid accomplishment in my current role to put on there. Not one. Clearly I deserve to be laid off. In the meantime, I’d like to actually add value that I can talk about later. As a trusted mentor once told me – no job is forever, focus on doing the things that will help the company but that will also be the achievements you’ll put on your resume. I ought to get to that asap, if there is still time left.

There are so many different things one can do in the world – but it’s hard to imagine what would actually make me happy over the long term. If I was already a millionaire and money wasn’t an issue, what would I do? I’m not the type who actually wants to sit around all day, or who wants to spend years traveling the world. The funny thing is – I like to work. I like to work a lot. I like to feel like I’m actually contributing to something greater than myself. So I don’t want to just sit on my ass and waste my life away. But then, money aside, what is it that I would actually be able to do? I’m really awful at so many things. I’m pretty bad at responsibility overall – which is pathetic, but true. I’m forgetful, unorganized, and while I tend to do a lot of things at once I’m a terrible multi-tasked. I’m pretty much the antithesis of who anyone would want to hire today. I should be doing whatever it takes to keep my job because god knows it is going to be awful hard to get another one.

But then I come back to my frustration with myself, and acknowledging that maybe I’m not ready for this position. Every role I’ve taken on in my career I’ve started from scratch, pretty much. New field, new industry, everything new. I liked that – it was exciting and kept me on my toes. But it’s also been really hard. And I’m just not good at certain parts of my job that I don’t think are trainable, it’s just either you are good at it or you’re not. Needless to say this is not a long-term career. I give myself 60 to 180 days at this point. Maybe less. Not by choice. And given my performance, I wouldn’t blame them.

It’s just I don’t see myself ever succeeding at anything. I’d be wise to quit while I’m ahead, hibernate my life away, invest my cash and wait until it compounds enough to actually see the light of day again. That’s a bit dramatic, but it is actually an option. There are things one can do for little money to entertain themselves. One laptop or pen and paper if you really want to rough it and you have all you need to write the next great american novel. A few colored pencils and a sketchbook and you can draw your days away. Reading is pretty cheap, so is going to the occasional movie or watching television. Exercise is free. Food can be affordable if you cook yourself. Really, work doesn’t have to be the central part of one’s life once you have a decent savings. I’d never want to quit work entirely – but I don’t want to have to rely on it. I want time to live.

On the other hand, I am completely the type who lives to work. I can’t not think about my job – ever. I’m always thinking about what needs to get done, the overall industry, and creative ways to tackle problems. I don’t actually go on to execute these well, but I know I am happier when I have a job I can throw myself into 110%. So if money wasn’t an object I’d probably still work. I’d still want to get really good at something so I can finally feel successful and productive. But what is that one thing? I’ve always been interested in too many things. Too many interests left me with no direction. I don’t know how I got where I am but it all feels like a giant sham. And it is. I’m tired of the charade. I just can’t fake it, and everyone sees it. When you’re in a field where results are easy to quantify, there’s no place to hide, for better or worse.

When I invest in the stock market I always invest in what I think is stable or is solving a key market problem that will only get worse over the coming years. In other words, I’m smart about my investment choices. If I were a business and I knew everything I know about myself, I wouldn’t make the investment. That’s why I’m so scared. I don’t think it’s worth it. I don’t actually believe in myself one bit – not to do anything I actually want to do. Be an accessories designer. A photographer. A film editor. An interior designer. I don’t know. Be something that has nothing at all to do with enterprise software. To create something tangible. To spend my life on projects that have a clear beginning, middle and end to them. And to reach some level of creating something that is well received by others. That others want to see or buy. To actually create that said thing. If money were no object, I’d be a maker, not a marketer. But the grass is greener and I had my time in life when I was studying the “making” side of things. That didn’t go over so well either.

In any case, I do need to figure something out. It won’t be the end of the world to go on unemployment and have six months to get my head on straight, but that isn’t forever. I just hate feeling like I’m back at square one, yet again.

Am I a Writer?

I write an awful lot, but unfortunately it’s all redundant non-fiction bullshit about life and admittedly rather benign. If you were to read any of my attempted academic content you would might have a good guffaw over my inability to successfully support a thesis. My college teachers, much like my high school teachers and middle school teachers before them, were vehemently confused over the nonsense I turned in for reports, which would often be rewarded a C at best, and the long musings which poured out of me in opinion essays, which most often received the highest mark, always punctuated with a +.

There is a musicality to language which I adore. I wouldn’t say I’m a great writer – my vocabulary is limited and often used incorrectly – and any content of mine that has been published in print has been thoroughly edited. But of all the things in the world one can do – if I’m inspired, writing comes the most naturally. I wish I could turn my little writing hobby into an actual career. Well, I have turned my little writing hobby into a career – and unfortunately that career required other talents which I do not have – playing well with others, maneuvering my way through corporate politics, maintaining relentless, unbridled enthusiasm for some product which, based on my experience, I will likely long outlive.

I’m angry at myself for not being able to write anything worthwhile. Even a memoir would be impossible – my life is yawn-inducing with the exception of a few non-memoir-length moments of my youth that shall be reserved for a never-to-be-printed appendix. I haven’t done anything special enough to merit a memoir – and the only illness I suffered through as a child put me in the hospital for a week and then I was fine. My own neurosis aren’t tragic enough to be considered art, they’re just cumbersome.

It seems, if I’m going to be a writer – a novelist, a screenwriter, a short story creator, a playwright – well, I need an imagination. You know those people – who you grew up with, who were just constantly inventing stories and ideas? Yea, I wasn’t one of those people. There was a story about a magical peacock I wrote in third grade, I think that might have been my last dose of sheer inspiration to date.

The challenge is I’m not much of a reader either. I’ve tried to get into fiction and I always return to reading the news. I watch a ridiculous amount of television so perhaps that is my calling, but attempting to generate believable dialogue when I barely interact with humans proved futile in my few attempts.

Maybe I just need to do a shit load of drugs.

Who am I kidding? Getting high leaves me sitting indian style on the floor noshing on a bag of avocados. That’s not quite the right writing nudge.

It’s just all those people out there who have managed to write – who love to write – who just fucking write, I am so envious of them. For their wild imaginations. For being able to close their eyes and envision whole new worlds, new people that never existed in real life – you know, the way they speak, move, and their own fears, hopes and dreams.

I have ideas, of course, but they don’t go anywhere. They’re not plots, they’re themes, concepts, visions of future worlds in which my story might live. I haven’t yet imagined one believable character, and I’m too terrified about pissing of people anyone I know to borrow them for inspiration.

So maybe I’m not a writer. Or, maybe I could be one. Some novelists do start out in their 30s. But how to even get started? I should have written that damn 50 Shades of Grey book. I’ve dabbled in erotica, but my erotica has been much less mainstream, even compared to that. And 90% of it was written before I so much had been to second base. So that’s out of the running.

I would love to write strong female characters for film – because they’re sorely needed. But I’m not sure where to begin. I have this one idea for a romcom – it’s actually a cute idea, one that could be quite mainstream, or indie if the jokes are a bit wittier – I’d like to start with that. Still, I just waste away my little free time writing about how I can’t write here versus actually being productive and churning out a few pages a night.

A few days ago I had an interview for a certificate program I’m considering applying to, and they asked me what is one accomplishment I am most proud of over the last 10 years. I had to stop and think because I’m really not proud of ANYTHING I’ve done over the last 10 years. I managed to talk about a few work projects and then the first show I directed, which was now seven years ago. The only thing I will ever feel proud of is my creative work – my completed creative work. Nothing else – I don’t care about my title or how much money I make or save – feels remotely rewarding.

It might be the outcome of narcissistic parenting, but maybe it’s my truth, and I ought to listen to it.

My hope was that my stock from my prior company would be worth enough to free me up to lead a creative life, but instead that turned into a loss. I’ve saved aggressively but it’s not enough. If I were to hit $1M in my 30s I’d be perfectly satisfied working part-time to break even on a monthly basis and allow my savings to compound while I pursue whatever art I find myself actually getting good at. But that $1M is so far off. Even if I were to keep my current job for the years to come, or one like it that pays as well, assuming an average of $50k savings per year, that will take me another 13 or so years.

That’s not horrible – at 44 I could retire and maybe by then I’d actually have something to write about. But I know I can’t mentally maintain work like this for long. I’m falling apart. I see the schizophrenics wandering all day on the streets of San Francisco, babbling to themselves, screaming at the world, and I think to myself — how far away am I from that, really? I often want to just grab a shredded blanket, wrap myself in it, and wander the streets screaming, maybe even sobbing – I think I’d fit in more with them than the people I work with who are far more civil and far less insane.

 

 

Ambition, Or Lack There Of, Or Partial

In business, there are the hunters, and then there is everyone else. The ambitious play life as a game, moving one piece at a time and never fully being satisfied. The rare few have a greater mission, some intention for greater good or art, but most just enjoy the game itself, and, of course, winning.

My current mass media obsession is Mad Men, the television show, which I’m woefully behind on – all the way back on season three. The lag is due to the fact that I only watch television these days with my boyfriend, outside of the occasional reality trash, and he can’t stand the show. At first, I didn’t understand why he didn’t like Mad Men – it’s well acted, it has a long, drawn out storyline, and plenty of television connoisseurs adore it. But then, as I let myself drift through the slow-moving episodes, it hit me why he can’t stand the show, and why my own engagement has lagged: the show is entirely about ambition, cut-throat, self-absorbed, occasionally sociopathic American ambition. The 1960s were much like present day, although a New York’s advertising agency could be easily replaced by a technology startup. Or maybe any business which blends creatives and sales. It is, at least up until season three, a story of ambition and the American Dream.

I’ve forgotten what my American Dream is – or, quite frankly, I can’t make out if I ever had one. In Mad Men one thing surely that led to its success is that most everyone can relate to someone in the series – perhaps even more than one person. Peggy, the character who worked her way up from secretary to first female copywriter in the agency, who is awkward and an outsider, despite being successful for her gender and age at the time, is the one I can most relate to, in some ways. But her drive far surpasses my own. Maybe if I were a full-time creative I’d be equally ambitious. Maybe if I were born at another time, when writing copy for an ad meant coming up with the best content to fit in a 11×14 print, I could have found some other American Dream to pursue. Today, all I know is I feel entirely lost and ambition-less. I hate myself for it, for lacking that fighting instinct, for wanting to feel something, I don’t know, magical – that poof, here I am, I’ve made it, I’ve found where I’m meant to be. And the jarring, jagged edge of the reality that I’m no where near it, if it actually exists.

Maybe it’s just my millennial tendencies, my Achilles heal, the need to be credited for my work while ensuring that work is uniquely my own. I grew up at a time, in a community, where life was comfortable. Unlike my parents who grew up just on the cusp of poverty, I had everything, and thus sought to be different, to be – not a doctor or lawyer – but something – someone – outstanding and different. But ambition itself never painted itself clearly enough. I spent my life running blind towards a target I could not see or imagine.

I can’t say I’ve wasted my life because my bank account would disagree – but is this it? I should be grateful and thrilled to have the opportunity to thrive, I should shut up and keep my head down and fight to move up the corporate ladder because – that is what I should do. That is what young women in 2015 who were born without a trust fund do. We work and often our careers far outshine those of our significant others. Somehow we procreate and manage to keep a job that pays the bills of increasingly expensive households. We trap ourselves to never be free again, to be tied to the responsibilities of an overpriced life, or we settle for a life that is less comfortable than the one which we grew up in. Or we find a rich husband, perhaps, and likely watch our own Mad Men scenario play out and our marriages fall apart.

Perhaps this is all impossibly dramatic, but I can’t help but constantly returning to this fact that I feel so empty and lost. I have this great job, I am making more than I could have dreamed of 10 years ago, and I continue to save towards my lofty annual networth goals. Yet the only happiness I find in life is waking up cuddled up in my boyfriend’s arms. I imagine us together in some small town, far away from this expensive region, far away from our few friends, and even far away from family, and still there I’d have him, and our walks together and our crazy jokes and my horrible and likely offensive accents and his which are spot on, especially his british, scottish and slightly gay german.

But we do still need money. Of course we do. Life isn’t cheap, even if it can be cheaper. We’ve locked ourselves into another year of our rent, now $2400 a month for our 850 square foot one bedroom, cementing another year of who knows what life will bring, but at least I know where it will bring it. I foresee a summer floating in the pool, unemployed, not by choice, attempting yet again to figure out what it is in this entire world that might fulfill me, or how to shut my needy, whiny, self-absorbed self up long enough to grow up.

While my boyfriend was never ambitious, and doesn’t have an inkling of ambition in his blood, I believe I once was ambitious. I can still relate to the characters on Mad Men, I can taste the excitement of the opportunities ambition paired with a little bit of luck and the right timing can bring. I wonder how different I am from my peers – are they truly happy or they just doing what they fell into, just getting by. I struggle to find motivation purely for pay, which is ridiculous, but I know for me I’d be happier if I had a job which somehow intrinsically motivated me – and perhaps I ought to cool off the aggressive savings for a while. Ambition is useless if it doesn’t fulfill any of one’s needs beyond the basics of survival.

Earlier today I read an essay from the creator of Mad Men who didn’t manage to get his first job in television until he was 30. He received his masters in film from the prestigious USC, but couldn’t get his foot in the door. He eventually obtained a gig for $600 to help make a television pilot funnier, which he did well enough to get offered another job. Even then his script idea for Mad Men was turned down by virtually every television studio. But a few people believed in him enough to give him more work, and eventually AMC took a risk on the project. The point of the essay, which is a collection of stories from “mentors” that I must read, is that few who are successful are willing to share how hard it is to get where they are. Artists are especially ashamed of the “brushstrokes,” so to speak. But it takes time and a heck of a lot of grit to make it.

It’s not the fear of failure that is holding me back. It’s the fear of not living up to my own expectations of myself – as a creator. When you’re not the best shaped cog for a machine it doesn’t hurt quite as much in comparison to building a machine that is missing half of the parts.

What Did You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

When I was a little girl, I never for a moment envisioned myself as a grown woman. I’m not sure how many kids actually picture themselves as grow ups, so maybe this isn’t that strange. I could easily imagine myself as a teenager, but not any form of an adult – not a working woman, not a mother, not anything other than an awkward child.

Maybe if I had some vision for myself as an adult, this all wouldn’t be so hard. If I had grown up watching a mother put on a suit each morning and go into the office, coming home with stories about her own boss and sharing her tactics for handling adult life. My mother, like many mothers of babies born in the 1980s, was a stay-at-home mother.

She was a helicopter mother because she didn’t have anything better to do. Her entire life consisted of bragging about the accomplishments of her children. Every tiny win was a huge victory the world needed to know about. Every struggle was ignored. Emotions outside of anger and anxiety were not allowed in the household. No one knew how to handle such an emotional, insecure child. I never learned how to handle myself.

This weekend, I saw the movie Birdman, which is a film about a man who has basically lost his shit because life didn’t turn out quite the way he expected. While his psychological illness is one of delusion, I could relate to the feeling of hopelessness and angst surrounding all aspects of life not particularly epic. Perhaps it was the two-drink brunch and stresses of my work that brought me to tears through the film, along with my own compulsive self obsession, but I felt as if I were drowning. The film tossed many personally uncomfortable themes together – regarding life, parental misguidance, and the need to be not just loved but admired.

Gasping for air as I shoved a bag of drunkenly purchased move theater candy into my mouth, I didn’t want my friends who were also at the movie to my right to notice that I was having a minor emotional meltdown. I escaped to the woman’s restroom once the credits began to roll and muffled my overly dramatic tears with a few fraudulent flushes.

I’m far too sensitive. Both my boyfriend and a friend have said this in a different combination of words and looks of concern. Despite getting myself into professional situations where I take the brunt of deprecation, it is my own fault for allowing others actions to push me down so quickly and so hard. My boyfriend, like my last therapist, reminds me that so much of ones mental state has to do with their own internal monologues. He says that I need to actually believe that. I believe that if I believed whatever it was I was saying to myself – but just switching the talk track in my mind from “god I am so terrible at this” to “I tried my best and I think what I provided was actually good” is not going to change the fact that I believe I am so terrible at it.

Or, I have no ability to gauge what good enough is, since the only good I’ve ever learned is the one which can be paraded about for the neighborhood to see. It was artwork which wasn’t extraordinary but pretty good for a teenager. It was performing a solo at the school talent show despite being partially done deaf, and all of the photos which could come from the occasion. When one is not rewarded for being average or being just as good as the next person, it can effect a child in different ways. For some, they work harder, always feeling better than everyone else, but never quite being fulfilled. For me, I lost the tastebuds for the modicum of success that one must survive on in adult life.

The advice I received is not to let things said to me at work effect me at such a deep level. If my boss is not going to be happy with the work I produce, then either I figure out how to produce better work, acknowledge no amount of work will every satisfy him and do my best, or I look for another job. There is no point in just wallowing in self hatred because despite how much effort I put into my job I feel like I can’t produce what is needed for success. And, while I rarely discuss my emotional turmoil with those I know outside of those who read this blog, I can’t let myself slip into the land of suicidal ideation. Even though I’d never actually kill myself, it’s not at all productive to spend the remaining minutes of my life when I’m not at work or doing work fantasizing about the beauty of just being done with the world, since that’s the end result of all this anyway.

While I never pictured myself as an adult, today the picture I have of myself as the adult I hope to become has nothing to do with professional success. Today, my only sense of satisfaction comes from seeing my networth increase towards my annual goal. I do not find happiness or satisfaction in anything else, except perhaps exceeding my clearly quantifiable quarterly goals at work. Since when did I become so boring? I can’t make small talk because I have no hobbies. I don’t have time for hobbies beyond occasionally pouring my heart out in an anonymous psychological illness journal disguised as a personal finance blog. I tried to sign up for a club in the evening during the week after work but then my boss required me to meet in the evening and so I was unable to go to the club. So much for trying to build some sort of non-professional “life” for myself.

I fully acknowledge that I’m getting paid extremely well at this point in my life and I don’t want to fuck it up. I’m learning a lot and even though each day brings its meltdowns and takes weeks off of my life due to the stress that I let build up in my chest, I am in a very good place for many reasons. If I screw this up, I don’t know if I’ll ever have such a good opportunity again. I keep reminding myself this is not a forever thing, this is a focus and just move mountains now thing so I can open doors for the rest of my life and have options thing. I know I’m so fortunate to be in this place, yet I seek to find some resolution to the emptiness, the wanderlust for the epic, the acknowledgement that after all these years of thinking life was more exciting on the other side of the great youth-adult divide, the reality is that life is just a series of repetitions until our bodies fail to reboot for yet another go at it.

Is it so horribly wrong to want my parents to be impressed with my accomplishments? My father constantly reminds me that I can’t hold down a job, even though I’ve informed him time and again that spending 2-4 years in one company is completely normal for my industry. There are days when I just want to tell him exactly how much money I’m making because perhaps that would be enough to impress him, but that would open up a whole new can of worms. I’d forever regret having explained to him how I’m making the same if not more than most MBA graduates my age, despite having only an undergraduate degree in something unrelated to business — it would turn into some guilt session about how I should buy them nicer gifts, or how I should be purchasing a house now instead of renting. Worse yet, when the day comes that I leave this role, and if I was to decide to pursue something that pays less, which would be likely, I’d never hear the end of it. So I keep my mouth shut. I think to myself, every time I receive a paycheck, how proud they’d be if they only knew how far I’ve come.

Then I think to myself, damn, it’s sad that your parents aren’t proud of you for, you know, being in a stable relationship, or being “happy,” or having a job in the first place, or that you even care so much about what they think, even though you’re now a living specimen of a grown woman.

The whole overly dramatic depressed rambles aren’t very productive, but they’re what goes on in my mind day in and day out, nonetheless. I wish I could turn all of this energy into something useful. I think of all the great authors who have suffered with their own inner demons, who feel deeply enough to express the intricacies of human joy and suffering, yet create fiction with lessons for humanity that far outlive their demons. It is wrong to romanticized the disturbed creative mind, but it is at least calming to acknowledge that most of the world’s greatest poets, painters, and writers would probably feel just as tortured attempting to neatly fit into the box of corporate executive #280258019.

For all my incapacity for embracing the lull of routine, I’ve managed to force myself into a box in which I clearly do not fit. Every morning of everyday I roll out of bed, wipe my eyes wide open, and fold myself into myself until I look halfway presentable as some grown up woman going about her day. And I fight through my life with the hope that maybe someday, somehow, I’ll no longer feel so far removed from the world around me, that I’ll wake up and know what it’s like to be “normal,” and not waste so many precious seconds drawing out a romantic fantasies where either I’m some great savior or gone.

Lopsided Star Struck: A Thousand Different Ways to Live

Los Angeles is the epicenter of my type of childhood dream. Whenever I visit the City of Angeles — and I’ve spent a month living here previously at age 17 — I feel further and further removed from the amorphous dream that is LA, and not even sure if I ever really wanted any of this to begin with.

I write from a Reality TV editing studio nearby all the other TV studios where my long-time friend is an editor. I’m visiting her for the weekend and have the pleasure of doing my daily work from a desk in a room with two producers who are plotting out the storyline for an upcoming series (not one you’d know, and no, I won’t be able to give away the ending of this season’s Bachlorette, sorry.) It’s certainly not glamorous. But here are two very creative people who are spending their lives scripting reality. I’m not sure that could have ever been me – but I feel like I fit here — making up crazy plots for reality series — more than I do in technology — making up crazy value statements about products.

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Holiday. Celebrate. It’s All Right.

For that record, that song is way too perky for me. That said, I’m looking forward to this three-day weekend in the States to memorialize people who fought for this country and/or just sleep as much as I actually should be sleeping every night.

My boyfriend and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend and off on our annual getaway to a state park nearby. I used to think it was silly to pay for a hotel in an area that’s less than two hours from your house, but now I like the idea of it. When you spend so much time working it’s nice to have a little getaway, even if you could have just gotten up early and returned the next morning from home Continue reading

Etch-a-Sketch: One Life Creative, One Static

The model’s gaze centered across the room, off at a wall, lips pursed to silence the pain throbbing in her left shoe. Indie music rocked the background as men and women of all ages hunched over clipboards and sketchpads capturing the model in quick gestures of line, with some works created in 20-minute spans much more detailed than others.

This was a typical Thursday night at drink & draw at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. A college friend, I’ll call her Lisa, invited me to meet up to sketch after too many posts regarding my lacking of creativity in my life.

Seeing Lisa was like seeing the very other version of myself I could have become, you know, the person who is the you that you might have been if you just said “fuck it world I just want to do what I want to do, and I’m going to do it.” Lisa started college with me at the same time (I can’t recall how or when we met), apparently dropped out, went to another school for film, dropped out of that, then finally returned to my alma mater to finish her degree.

Despite being Chicago-bred, she is so New York. She is the New York I’ll never be.
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Pretzels and Aging, and Money and Roller Coasters

If it seems like I’m posting an awfully lot lately about my fears of my adulthood simultaneously while being an adult, you’re quite astute. I am, it feels, either at a crossroads or the end of a formerly cyclical journey where I’ve gone through first-world chaos and landed back where I began.

At 17, I left home for college, not because I wanted to go to college, or knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew what I didn’t want to be. I knew I didn’t want to live in a house with parents screaming at each other night and day. But I also was well educated in the suffocation of stagnant suburban life. The long nights with crickets chirping. The circumference connecting one mall to another mall to another mall which stood for the area in which my life took place, sans occasional outings to the big city. Even New York felt small in comparison to the whole world, its looming skyscrapers twinkling into the night sky, and thousands of people dispersing from subway stations and walking every which direction, was just a speck of a world that was far from reach. Continue reading

Today’s Therapy Session: Try, it Might Be Fun

So in today’s talk-about-myself session, we discussed a variety of topics, namely my issue with stress-related binge eating and my fear of doing things that might make me happy. The takeaway and assignment was to pause every hour to a notification that would remind myself to “try, it might be fun.”

I have so much damn anxiety about everything that the simplest activities become overly challenging and complicated. It’s frustrating because it really hinders my relationships, professional opportunities, and damages my health. Most of it, clearly, is all in my head, but that doesn’t make “it” any less real. It is real, because it effects what I do every second of the day.

She asked me to think of my life if I just did what I wanted to do, versus caring what other people think. Problem is, I have no idea what I want to do. My entire life has been based on what other people want. It would have been nice to grow up in a household where my parents supported one being average as opposed to being special, just like everyone else versus an asset to brag about. But that wasn’t the case. Yes, I’m 30 now and I should get over it, but therapists are in business for a reason.

But what would my life be like if I could do anything and not care what anyone else thought? Geez, I really don’t know. Maybe at this point I would take some of my life savings and move somewhere more affordable, get a job with a flexible schedule and take art classes. I’m not sure I’d really do that or want to do that. I wouldn’t be happy dipping into my savings when I could be earning six figures a year. I’d always be berating myself for giving up the income and security later in life. I don’t know if my fantasy of living in Santa Fe and becoming a waitress actually makes any sense. I love living in the Bay Area because of the climate and the energy. Could I find a place I loved differently but equally anywhere else?

I feel like if I did that one day I wouldn’t be able to tell my parents. I’d just make up some story about how I’m still working for my startup years later… or I’ve started working for some big corporation where every single asset I write is published under other people’s names. I’m just an anonymous well-paid stable sufficient healthy regular worker who everyone loves and who will never ever be fired. But in reality I’m working for $3 an hour plus tips in Santa Fe, dipping deep into my savings to afford healthcare, and taking figuring drawing classes on the side. They’d never have to know.

That said, I would. I’d have to know what I left behind. The opportunity to save $50k per year… and instead trying to make enough to break even. Being some sort of half starving artist with a savings to prolong pre-starvation purgatory. What kind of life would that be? I never felt like a true artist, the one who gives up everything to create. I’m not really talented, or that talented. I could learn, but even then — I don’t think I’d ever want to paint to sell my work. Artists who paint for a living have to create what other people want. That would be much, much worse than a career in marketing. I don’t think I’d be any good at it.

Try, it might be fun. Well, if I say that about every whim I have I’ll try a whole bunch of things and end up… I’m not supposed to be thinking negatively about everything but I do. Because I’m a practical person. So maybe I shouldn’t try everything. But I could try something. I just want a hobby that I can commit to which inspires me and makes me feel like my life is about more than work and sleep. Because really right now that is all it is. Which is pretty pathetic for a childless 30 year old.