Evolving

I had a love/hate relationship with being a technician back when I was one.

I loved working with mostly geeky guys and not being afraid of tech talk. The work was ok, I was. . . competent.

But very quickly after getting what should have been a dream job, I realized I was not happy or fulfilled. In fact, despite making more money than I ever had and living in a great apartment that I loved and being medicated, I was getting depressed. Again.

I think one reason why I was laid off that time was because of my depression. I started leaving work early or staying home because I had a headache or felt “sick”. I spent a lot of time online on a forum I was a frequent contributor to. I did my job, but half-heartedly, and I I wasn’t really comfortable with it. After 15 years, I never really became all that comfortable with it. It never felt right.

I was in touch with myself enough to realize that this meant I wasn’t supposed to be an engineer and to change my major – to math.

Math is also not a very. . . soulful, fulfilling path. It can be rather esoteric and philosophical, though.

But I really struggled with a couple of courses (abstract/modern algebra and real analysis, if you have to know).

As in, took them multiple times and celebrated a C/C- grade.

Funny, every non-math class I took, I got a B or even an A without even trying.

The math classes? My actual major? Not so much, once I hit the upper division classes.

Now, I did choose math in part because it was hard. Because I’m stubborn (or is it arrogant?) that way.

See, I can read and discuss history, philosophy, ethnic studies and a zillion other subjects on my own. But math beyond calculus? Was never going to be able to teach myself that.

Besides, we keep hearing about how the schools need teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, so it should be easy to get a job, right?

Except it took me twice as long to finish the degree as I thought it would, because of depression and not working and then working and still depressed and so on and so on and so on.

But I did finish.

Then I got into a program to get my credential.

And choked on the finish line.

I WILL finish that this April, but the path here has been arduous.

And now I’m feeling like that may not be where I’m supposed to be.

Way back in the early 1990s, I considered leaving the military. I had an opportunity to leave before my time was up.

I consulted a couple of people, thinking I should be doing something metaphysical – since every time I go for any kind of reading, the reader invariably says, “You could do what I do.”

But everything at that time came back saying, “No, stay. It’s not time.”

Right now. . . I don’t know.

Things feel. . .  very strange.

Different.

Full of possibilities.

But at the same time, I don’t think I’m manic. I’m sleeping well, for one thing. (Less than four hours sleep a night is usually a pretty big indicator that I’m swinging that way).

So, I’m trying to get down as many ideas as I can, write as much as I can while this is in my head.

Maybe it’s time for something  . . . different.

I know I’m supposed to Teach.

But maybe that’s not math.

Creativity and "not good enough"

I have caught myself being stuck with the “not good enough” feelings lately.

I’m not a good enough writer.

I’m not a good enough teacher.

I’m not a good enough friend.

I’m nowhere near good enough to do anything creative.

I have a friend who is in a similar head-space.

Getting myself out of that space feels impossible. I try to counter it, but the position that I’m in for right now (financially, emotionally, socially) seems to confirm it.

But trying to get my friend out of that space, and suddenly I’m all optimistic. I can see the good things in life for him, but not for myself. So, I find myself listening to what I say to him.

And it’s all true for me, too.

“It’s bad/hard right now, but in a few years, it will be better.”

“Yes, you can do that, I’m certain you can. Here, let me help you.”

“People care about you.”

“You are creative, and you can totally reach your creative goals. How can I help?”

The things I’m saying to him, to inspire him, are things I need to hear.

That’s interesting, I think. How often do we do that? Give advice to someone that is just what we need to hear?

I was researching something on optimism/pessimism, and came across this fantastic piece by Ira Glass (of This American Life on NPR). Watch it. . . Listen to it. . .


Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

“Everybody who does interesting, creative work went through a phase of years where they had really good taste but they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn’t have this . . . special thing. . . that we want it to have. Everybody goes through that; it’s totally normal. The most important thing you can do is a lot of work.”

 For some reason, this just really resonates with me.

I’ve told myself for years that if I was really a writer, then I would write more. But it all always sounds so stupid when I read stuff back later. It never feels “good enough” to share with others.

For years there are things I’ve wanted to do, started to outline to do, and just ended up saying, “I’m not as smart as dy/dan” or “I’m not as quirky as Havi Brooks (and her duck)” or “I’m not quite as upbeat as Leonie Dawson” or “I’m not as gutsy as Naomi Dumford.”

I’m not organized enough.

I’m not brave enough.

I’m not good enough.

I bought Havi Brooks’ Monster Manual (that’s a link to the description of the manual and coloring book, but if you’d like to buy it, please buy it through here. I just checked and the price has gone up quite a bit – it is now $60 for the basic kit, but I’m pretty sure I only paid $25) a couple of years ago to try to work through this particular Monster.

my coloring and notes

Havi calls this the:  

PUHleeeeeeze,everyone else is doing the thing you want to do better than you ever could so why even bother – really why are you still even thinking about this

Monster.

Obviously, since I haven’t done much with it in almost three years, just looking at it and coloring it didn’t help me much.

But maybe I can do something now.

The recommended method of dealing with it is to say, “Ok, so what? What if that’s true?” and go from there. . . I think I need to meditate on that for awhile.

What holds you back from doing what you want to do?