Reempowered

After a week away from “life” and enjoying this year’s birthday celebrations, I return to my writing another year older and freshly inspired in all my endeavors.
In the time since my last entry, things have improved greatly. I’ve managed to knock out a good share of outstanding financial liabilities, and thankfully no new ones have cropped up to replace those settled. The days are getting longer and the weather warmer, so everything is lining up for me to actively start pushing myself back to where I was at the end of December in regard to fitness, and to keep making progress on my other personal projects.
Now that I can see the light at the end of what’s been an eight-month-long tunnel, I find myself amazed and excited at the shift in perspective that has come with it. Throughout these past months, I’ve been living a very meager life (one that I’ve captured in detail throughout previous entries). In that time, I’ve had a very mechanical and enthused perspective on life. The stresses of having to exert extreme financial restraint in order to make bill payments and other basic life necessities. When I assessed my situation throughout that time period, I always came out feeling trapped and helpless to enact any change in the matter. All I could see were all my rotating debts and circumstances binding me to my current arrangement out of necessity. I’ve been stretching an income stream that’s smaller than it should be for someone of my accomplishments and capabilities, and in the process was rendered a zombie-like drone — fulfilling the daily responsibilities, and waiting for nothing other than the start of a new day to do it all over, one step closer to a pre-spent paycheck.
It’s here that I wish I could offer up some useful tips on dealing with that particular situation, which I find myself hard pressed to come up with considering I didn’t conquer it. If I found myself back at that point in time again and had to do it all over, I would have made a stronger effort to hold to the personal affirmations I would come up with for myself. I’d think things along the lines of “I’m paying my dues in life and struggling at the outset of the journey like everyone else does” and “It’s just one of life’s tests of character, and I’m not going to be broken so easily”. I would muster up an unyielding determination and evoke the inner warrior, but only so long as needed to see it through extremely trying times. Once things got to a sufficient level of “less crappy”, I checked into complacency and lamented what wasn’t instead of continuing to focus on what is.
Over the past week, I’ve had a vastly improved take on my days. With the finish line finally coming within reach and a mini-vacation away from work spent reconnecting with friends and celebrating another birthday, I feel reinvigorated and back in control of my life. Even sitting down to write, just two weeks ago, would have felt like a resented chore. Now, it’s something that I feel an earnest desire to allocate a part of my day to. I’m going to be trained on real estate loan dislcosures at work over the coming weeks, and my studies in my downtime in programming Python are moving along well. While I know things are going to continue to stay on the “hard” side of things for the next few months, I also have so much moving through the pipelines that I expect to be in a much better situation in the not-so-distant future.
Having endured not only the financial hardship, but also the debilitating feelings that come along with it, my heart goes out to all the people out there who are struggling with finding employment in the current economic climate. I recently spent a day at work having my computer read me articles from Gawker’s unemployment story archive that made me feel lucky to have the problems I’ve been contending with. For me, my personal narrative is that of the lower-middle class born self-made man who achieves success without having been able to afford a college degree (despite my personal goal to earn one regardless of my circumstances), working whatever jobs along the way necessary to fund those goals. Simply put, I expect fiercer competition and having to work harder to compensate. Yet, for so many others out there, the narrative one of living at home with relatives, unemployed and hounded by the debts incurred by their continued education. So much time, work, and money invested, and worse off than the guy in San Diego who’s only been able to afford a couple semesters at community college. Despite the feelings of inadequacy that come from comparing my life now to how I envisioned it, the fact that I have a full-time job and don’t have mountains of student loan debt puts me in a far more advantageous position than those who’ve sacrificed so much. As a result, I feel an added pressure to pick up the pace and start meeting all of my goals. My ultimate self-plotted destination is a position in life where I’m not only doing well for myself, but am also leading projects/teams that will hopefully create a few jobs and help independent & small businesses grow.
The storm has been weathered, and now I can start to truly settle back into my life. Knowing that I’ll soon be able to afford to start partaking in social outings, paying credit card debt, saving money, buying new clothes, I now feel completely engaged with daily life, with the same vivacity and promise of bounty that I used to have throughout my childhood years.

Medium.com

Medium.com
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a social writing platform by the name of Medium. It’s like Twitter (and uses Twitter for authorization) for full-on stories and ideas instead of 140-character updates. There’s a lot of talented writers and good ideas out there – I think I now spend just as much, if not more, time reading stuff on Medium as I do reading in my RSS client. 
I think I’ll make it a goal for next month to write something specifically for posting on Medium. 

Humble Beginnings

It’s been a good few weeks since I’ve done some writing. I’ve been neglecting both the blog and my offline journal, focusing on the goings of daily life, exercising, and planning my next steps carefully. The last update I posted on the blog was very cathartic for me; getting into a lot of the smaller details about the past couple years and everything that’s changed in that time has given me a sense of finality to a chapter of my life that I needed to bring to successfully bring a close since my younger self decided it was something worth introducing to the web. Moving past it, I feel like I’ve just woken up from a bad dream to a giant mess to clean up.
From experience and what I’ve read on the matter of productivity and goals, journaling and capturing life at its different stages provide excellent points of comparison against which to measure progress made. Here is the narrative at present.

Career

I’m 27, and on the cusp of turning 28. I’ve been in a prolonged state of isolation, almost two years, in my own journey of personal development. I’ve fought to reconcile myself with my past, reclaim my sense of identity, and redefine myself, my goals, and my expectations in life. I fight to give myself the opportunities a person of my capability deserves and to realize my full potential. I also recognize that the road ahead is long, and filled with challenges greater than those I’ve already overcome. Though I showed great promise as a child, I was not raised in conditions that agreed with academic achievement. I didn’t produce the scores and work to qualify for scholarships or even realistically apply to any university. Without any money having been saved by my family to pay for college, I joined the work force immediately after leaving high school. My plan was to take a couple years off to just have fun, and save money to buy myself a car and a computer capable of running software for graphic editing and web design, then return to school starting a local community college, and transferring into a university after a couple years.
From 18–20, I worked a series of jobs in retail and coffee shops. I bought myself a car, which was stolen only a year after I bought it. I came upon the opportunity to work a part of a startup marketing company that a group of close internet friends decided to form at the age of 21. For the first time in my life, I was able to apply all of the technological and organizational skills that I’d picked up through my hobbies and areas of interest for self-study. I spent 12–16 hours a day in front of my computer, writing emails, drafting documents, templating stationary, coordinating teams, managing projects, conducting research, processing data, and compiling business plans and campaign deliverables. The results the team produced opened the doors to some great experiences, traveling to Japan and meeting the bands I used to listen to in high school in a professional capacity.
Eventually, the marketing startup phased out of operation, and I returned back to “normal” life. I worked at a couple of restaurants before landing a job in a tech-oriented field as a support specialist for a local SEO company. At this point, I started making good enough money to buy myself another car, and build sufficient credit to finance a MacBook Pro to replace my aging computer that was unable to keep pace with my performance needs at work. Early last year, I transitioned away from that job, and after a couple of months wading through a highly competitive job market for a replacement income source, came upon my current position as a temp for Union Bank at a corporate office site.
Right now, I find myself frustrated and feeling trapped by my current situation. My job entails duties that are way below my capabilities. I’m constantly bored, and resent that I’m forced to spend my time doing what I do when I could be doing something more meaningful, and in turn, higher paying. I’m at an age where I should have a bachelors/masters degree and time invested with a company, or finishing up a doctorate degree. Since college wasn’t academically or financially viable for me and all that time lost can’t be reclaimed, my path is now forced to be one of the self-made success. I’ll admit that despite my age, I do have a strong intent to obtain the academic dress of a degree. However, the cost of education is something that I’m going to have to find a way to finance myself. Essentially, I’m going to be doing things backwards – getting the job to make the money for the degree, not getting the degree to make the money. Unconventional, but that’s just the way my life is.
Right now, I work my day job to cover the essential living costs. I’ve been in a constant state of financial constraint for almost a whole year now, causing me to further resent myself for letting myself get into this current position, but also motivating me to do something to change it. In my down time, I’m focused on buffing up my knowledge in various disciplines in a systematic order. Right now, I’m concentrating my efforts on getting acquainted with computer programming by learning Python, and soaking up everything I can in relation to finance and taxes. One thing I’ve noticed in all the loan applications I process at work is that successful people applying for high principal loans all have extensive investment portfolios – indicates to me that I need to learn how those work. I’ve also been planning to make a stronger effort to develop my writing ability, both by building a blog with read-worthy content and keeping my private offline journal consistently up to date. Once I can successfully design & build for the modern web landscape, I aim to freelance my development talents to make the income needed for school, and to upgrade my lifestyle. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to make another income stream out of building useful software for computers and mobile devices.

Health

Along with the career situation at present, the subject of health commands the majority of my efforts at present. I’ve been meaning to address my physical deficiencies for a very long time now, and I’ve grown tired of constantly carrying the guilt of failure at actually getting anything done. Over the past year, I’ve been making solid strides in making that part of me that enjoys running a regular part of my routine. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been completing my 5+ mile routes multiple times a week. Admittedly, I haven’t been dieting too well because I’m hesitant to push to a lower weight at the moment – doing that would mean having to buy new clothes, and I’m still not out the woods enough to accommodate that investment. Still, I run regularly now, and have also starting implementing arm and core workouts into my exercises.
This year, I’m going to reach those high goals I set for myself so long ago. I’m running out of 20’s, and while I’ve still got youth on my side, I want to experience the what “the other side” feels like; I’ve been a husky kid and an overweight guy pretty much all of my life, and I’ve got no excuses for letting things stay that way. I want to enjoy runs in different parts of the world. I want to be able to go rock climbing and hike long & difficult trails. To know what it feels like to sprint down a shoreline or lose myself in the middle of a crowd at a dance festival without a shirt on and feel confident.
There’s a giant laundry list of experiences and sensations that I want out of life, and being the pudgy, sedentary, overweight smoker I’ve been over the past few years has outlived its viability as an option.

Relationships

In my time away to myself, I aimed to get myself back to a state of mental/emotional self-sufficiency. Though I’ve proven to myself that I could very well live out the rest of my life in permanent solitude and in perpetual pursuit of a better self, living life isolated and alone is not how I want things to ultimately pan out – one of those just because I can doesn’t mean I will type of situations. So in addition to everything I’ve got on my plate in direct relation to myself, I also aim to start reestablishing my “tribe”. Back before I started focusing on all of this self-improvement, I was a pretty active social butterfly and networker. Now, after so much time apart to myself, staying in touch and constantly in communication with people has come to feel very strange and irregular. Yet, now that I’m once again confident in my ability to create, nurture, and maintain relationships with people, it’s a part of life that I’m very eager to once again partake in.

In Closing

I look ahead at what the year will bring, and I see wave after wave of continuous hardships and challenges. I no longer have the naive belief that I’ll reach some certain “point” at which I’ll feel happy and content. I’ve got a lot of dreams that I want to accomplish and some pretty high standards that I’ve set for myself, and I’ve got a lot of lost ground to make up for. My story hasn’t been a happy one, nor an easy one, but I accept it. More than that, I celebrate it. Had my life played out to all of the better alternative outcomes of my past experiences, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. For a long time, I focused on all the negative results of those experiences – the self doubt, the feelings of abandonment, the unwillingness to fully trust the people closest to me in life, etc. Now, I’ve reconnected with that inner fire, that unwavering confidence in my identity and capabilities. I’m ready to pick up the fight again and start doing everything I should be for myself.
May this year be filled with things that I’ve legitimately earned. I’m ready and willing to hurt, sweat, and bleed however much it takes to get things done.

Discussing the Weather

I was going through my RSS feeds, and read an article on Mashable about the current cold weather blasting through the country right now. I showed him the temperature map, and started laughing at how San Diego is sitting fine and dandy.

US Temperature Map
San Diego vs. the rest of the US

“Yeah, San Diego is hi-lar-ious. Even in “The Day After Tomorrow”, San Diego: fine. That shit just stopped, right up there – Orange County, done. San Diego is always good…unless we got T-Rexes. Then we’re in trouble.”

Unprofessionalism

Unprofessionalism
Halfway through the article, my brow furrowed — the following paragraph was telling me that in this world of constant connectivity and personal branding, the qualities I value most in life (well, save for that last one) are not “professional”.

The behaviours that make us human are not professional. Honesty, frankness, humour, emotionality, embracing the moment, speaking up for what you believe, affection, sincerity. Quoting extremely offensive trolls. These are all things that will make some people love you and others hate you.
 

Then i got to the end, and I grinned in complete agreement:

This year, I’ve been more myself in public, and taken more opportunities to be unprofessional. Unprofessional in the best possible sense: taking my humanity just as seriously as I take my profession.
 

<
p>That line of thinking is why I have no issue writing about certain personal matters and posting them to the web. My weaknesses and failures are just as important and as much a part of me as my strengths and accomplishments, the unpleasant but necessary aspects of my own human experience. I refuse to accept that professional and social success is contingent on denying the negative and distorting reality. 

Reconciliation: Recovering From a Mid-Life Crisis at 27

In migrating my self-hosted installation to my previously-abandoned wordpress.com blog, I’ve found myself re-reading past entires as I’ve been going through and changing the visibility on past posts I’d forgotten were still on the web; I archived everything when I was self-hosting, and you know…consistency. One entry that stood out at me was one that I composed back in August of this year regarding my personal journey in isolation throughout 2012. I can vividly recall my mindset when I wrote that: I felt unburdened and free, yet lost. I’d been a highly self-critical introspective mental-emotional train wreck for so long that when I allowed myself to let go and move past that, I didn’t feel like I had an identity of my own. So I wrote about the circumstances, the inspiration behind my decision, and the result (which, admittedly, is something that I’ve done many times before, each one feeling like I failed to capture all I really meant to say). Though the writing was on the wall throughout the entire length of that post, the one thing I didn’t touch upon was what the core issue was: I had been recovering from a conflict of identity and lack of self-esteem — a “midlife crisis” in my 20’s. This is what working through that has been like.

Depression

I tried to work these things out at the age of 25 when I first identified and acknowledged them, but it was like working a math problem that just didn’t add up. How could someone who’s constantly told that he’s capable and produces great work still be wading in the shallow end of the career pool at college-graduate age? How could someone who grew up knowing a large loving family turn out to be a person whose family is his greatest source of emotional anguish? Why, if I’m as smart as I think I am, have so many of the choices in life I’ve made turned out to be costly mistakes? Every day felt like I was trapped, confined to an contradictory existence. Day to day life felt like I was trapped behind an invisible screen, watching some meaningless life unfold. I remained functional; I went through the motions — went to work, hung out with friends, spent time with the little family I still had an active relationship with — but at the end of the day, I felt hollow and worthless, a pitiful jumble of inner turmoil and self doubt.

Resistance

In 2011, things improved financially to where I was finally able to stabilize myself, and could afford more time and mental energy to really focus on self-improvement. Though I’d been trying for quite some time to sort things out alone, convinced that I could solve my own problems by myself, I finally caved and decided to seek out professional assistance. So I started seeing a therapist.
I’d wager most people picture a patient lying down on a couch having a cathartic emotional breakdown when the subject of therapy comes up. I’ll admit, that was part of what encouraged me to give it a shot; maybe if I just loaded someone up with all the details and have him systematically hit me with each one, I could just cry it out and move on. The reality (which is much better than what I’d been secretly hoping for) was rather ordinary. It was like paying to have the conversation I needed to have. To discuss my innermost truths with someone of an objective and analytical mindset, not with someone who’d be quick to feel sympathy or validate my opinion as friends are prone to do. Someone who would carefully listen to what I was actually saying, and know the right things to say and the right questions to ask. That helped alleviate a fair amount of the pressure, and for awhile, things were looking up. Then things in the then-present personal life took a steep nosedive. I hit a breaking point, and I snapped. So I made my decision to have my 2012.

Self-Exile

In that year alone, I put a distance between “me” and myself. I stopped seeing my past as a linear history, and more like a collection of different people that I’ve been. It was partially externalizing all the chaos in my head, and partially an invitation to escapism. I put serious consideration into the idea of leaving all my social media accounts deactivated, getting a new phone number, disappear and head off to the opposite end of the country, and just completely start over during those first few months. While this approach helped me in getting some needed distance to get a better perspective on my sense of self, there was an unintended consequence. With every day restricted to absolute minimum social interactions and lots of time with my thoughts, there was nothing to really trigger emotional response or engagement. Day after day without the company of friends of the comfort of family to look forward to. No love, no happiness, no sadness, just…me. I stopped processing emotions, and was still in a detached state, only without the saddening pull of depression.

Reconciliation

When you spend that much time with a person, you inevitably have to make peace with them. This year, I focused on filtering out all the negative “programming” I’ve picked up through life and reconnecting with all those “past selves” I turned my back on. Around the same time I wrote that post on 2012 in August, I read an article on artofmanliness.com that analyzed the quote “the child is father to the man,” and described something very similar to what I’d been feeling in regard to my own history. This November, I toyed with the idea of partaking in National Novel Writing Month. As I did some research on story structure, I read about the “Hero’s Journey”. I tried translating my own experience into the monomyth model, and realized why it is I’ve been having such a hard time writing about this all. I thought I would find myself at the final stages in the model. Ultimately, I placed myself towards the beginning, at the step labeled Atonement with the Father. Since then, I’ve reconciled myself with the child I used to be, and hold in such high regard. I accept that he’s gone through some heavy ordeals in life that have led him to a place of unhappiness, and that his story is mine. The grief I carried for so long is not a result from an inability to meet societal standards or the expectations of others, but simply in having failed to deliver on the promise I used to hold, like I somehow managed to make all the wrong choices in life for myself in spite of my better qualities.

Redemption

Things now are, for the most part, in a pretty good place. I’ve got a laundry list of things that I need to get done in the near future – namely, developing a second income stream and finding something to replace my current primary – and some financial hurdles that I’ll be carrying over into the coming year. Those details aside, I feel whole and in complete control of myself, something I’ve been struggling to regain for a very long time now. I’ve rediscovered my inner warrior, that part of me that is fearless and thrives in adversity. I’ve been actively exercising, running 5+ miles on a regular basis. I’ve also been buckling down and pursuing mastery in the various areas of interest I’ve acquired over the years, my present focus placed on writing and getting to know computer programming by learning Python.
When I was a child, I envisioned my adult self to be someone who is genuinely interesting to meet, one of those people who are knowledgeable and proficiently skilled in multiple disciplines. Now, after so much internal struggle, I’ve remembered who I really see myself as, and have belief in “me” to give myself the chance to become that person.

Marketing

When I revisit my headspace back when I was in my teenage years and early 20’s, I remember a paralyzing inability to come up with a response for the question of what I wanted to do in life. I’ve always been pretty technologically inclined throughout my life, so doing something involving computer science or internet technology seemed like a plausible career path. At the same time, I’d started developing a heavy passion for music and found a deep affinity for writing and research. I was pretty capable with image editors and html code as well, and as I kept learning of all the different types of specialized jobs people can have, I found myself facing countless possibilities without any concrete direction as to which vocation to pursue. Eventually I came across an opportunity with a marketing focus, through which I found something that I felt a genuine interest and passion for.

My Introduction to Marketing

In 2007, I was lucky to be part of a small startup that a close circle of internet friends decided to start. We a plucky group of kids in our early 20’s with a deep love of Japanese rock, a niche music genre that had started taking a modest foothold on the web. Right around that time, Japanese bands started probing for overseas market interest and started experimenting with touring the US. That summer, a supergroup comprised of some of the most prominent artists in the Japanese rock scene scheduled a debut performance in Long Beach at the Anime Expo convention. Though I decided to attend AX that year simply to catch the music show, a lot of the other people in the group were already planning on going for the anime focus of the con. Since everyone was going to be in the same locale, the idea of putting together a last minute street team to promote the event on site to maximize attendance was kicked around, and received with great enthusiasm.
Within a two week span, we generated promotional materials and devised an execution strategy. I ended up serving in a coordinative capacity, overseeing the on-site team’s functions and relaying all the operational information and live updates to our team director, who was pushing all the information live to the web. Social media and mobile phone technology were very rudimentary compared to the present day, but we still achieved a really strong response from fans all over the world who wished they could be present and were eager to get any sort of information on the event. The results of our efforts did not go by unnoticed, and a few weeks later we were approached by the group that had organized a Japanese Rock festival in Los Angeles the year before to serve as their marketing services provider. In the months that followed, our team rebranded the client’s project and set up an online community to promote fan engagement. We and traveled to Tokyo to meet with different artists in the Japanese music space to generate content as well as explore promotional opportunities with their respective management. In 2008, we were contracted to facilitate an international ticket sale for a major Japanese rock band who was reuniting for their first performance since disbanding in 1997. In an effort to promote overseas engagement, a pool of tickets for the three-night reunion show were set aside to be sold to fans outside of Japan. Using the web technologies and tools available then, we managed the sale of individual tickets as well as VIP packages that included tickets for all three nights, airfare, lodging, and tour guide services.
With the team being globally distributed, getting the necessary work done while working across multiple time zones required extremely long work days (on average, 14 hours a day) and an unprecedented level of commitment. Even though I was forced to take up an unforgiving sleep schedule and prioritize these projects above many of my personal commitments, I still got a high level of enjoyment out of it. In the mid-late 2000’s, finding information on Japanese music without the ability to actually read Japanese was near impossible. Being a part of a mechanism that allowed people across the world who felt passionately about this particular band to actually purchase tickets to the event and travel to Japan — essentially, eliminating the hurdles of language barriers — felt so motivating and empowering.

Beyond Japan & Music

Though we managed to accomplish so much with virtually no formal experience or training in marketing, the timing was unfortunately off. The music industry as a whole was still transitioning to digital downloads, and without the proliferation of the smartphone, was still desperately trying to cling to physical CDs. Working primarily with the Japanese music industry further complicated matters in this regard. Even today, Japan’s industry is still trailing the US adoption of digital distribution. The disparate nature of the both countries’ music industries backed us into a paradoxical corner. We were intended to promote Japanese artists and build interest in the US, but were limited by Japanese practices that directly contradicted successful domestic marketing strategies. Facebook and Twitter were seeing rapidly increasing adoption rates in the America, but in Japan, artists were barely starting to jump on the already dying MySpace bandwagon. Music artists in the US that had a MySpace presence uploaded promoted tracks in their full length; Japanese artists were only uploading 20–40 second clips to their profile playlists. These limitations became too cumbersome to deal with on an ongoing basis, and with our team transitioning into adulthood and focusing on our individual educational & professional goals, our startup gradually ceased operations in 2008.
Later that year, I jumped on the smartphone wagon with the purchase of an iPhone 3G. As I became familiarized with mobile computing, I found myself becoming even more of a tech enthusiast than I already was, and started subscribing to various blogs on the subject and reading them regularly. As they do today, the tech blogs I followed covered the activities of the tech firms as much as the individual gadgets. Up until that point, my interest in technology had been focused on consumer hardware & software as an end user. Yet, as I read about the people behind the technology firms and how their decisions developed and drove the market, my areas of interest expanded dramatically. The more I read about marketing in relation to mobile computing technology, I began to draw parallels and identify the power of the marketing process in many other areas of life, and found it all extremely fascinating. In turn, I began to pursue communications with an emphasis in marketing as my primary field of study in vocational development.

In the Now

Admittedly, I considered abandoning marketing as a primary area of specialization last year. With all of the messages and communication channels available on the web today, it seems like anyone who has an internet connection can constitute as a “marketer”. Pursuing the knowledge that actually goes into the discipline started to feel like a waste of time, since the professional label is used so flippantly on the internet (and thus, probably not taken as seriously as it should be). However, given how integral legitimate marketing is to a successful business, I quickly abandoned that line of thinking and recommitted. One of the initial concepts I encountered in the first marketing textbook I read was the idea of ethical marketing. Living in our present day economy, it largely feels as if ethics in marketing are an idealist principle that’s ignored in favor of measurable results and the bottom line, which makes little sense considering the highly social interconnected online environment we deal with today. I want to continue developing my capabilities as a marketer, both online and offline, to contribute to the pool of honest and meaningful communications out in the world.

Unhosted

I’d like to say that life’s “been keeping me pretty busy”, which while it admittedly has, is also a total copout as to why I haven’t been keeping up on my writing. Truth of the matter is, I’ve still been allowing myself to fall victim to a pretty lame behavioral cycle where I end up contemplating on all the things that I have/want to do that the pressure of it all just makes not doing anything at all very easy to do. As I’ve acknowledged before, it’s something that I don’t have the luxury of doing. Not just in regard to my goal timeline, but more recently, also because of present circumstances. There’s a lot of upgrading that I still need to do with myself, but things have also started to come across my plate that demand that I be in top form in order to successfully carry them out.
Last week, my car broke down on me, causing me to have to shell out a few hundred dollars for a new battery and alternator not just the week before rent is due, but also at the end of the calendar year when a lot of my service subscriptions come up for renewal. One that lined up perfectly with this ill-timed misfortune was my hosting plan. Since my current finances can’t afford the $120 renewal, I migrated all of my entries from my self-hosted WordPress installation and merged them with all of the old entries I left on my abandoned WordPress.com hosted blog. Though I’ve toggled the visibility to all of them to private so that they’re part of the “archive” I put a lot of my pre-existing entries on the previously self-hosted blog, there’s a certain personal sense of “reintegration” that I’ve gotten from breaking down the separation between the logs of my past.
Furthermore, I see the loss of the self-hosted WordPress install as a good thing. Sure, I won’t have my avenue for tinkering with site design and development, but I’m also forced to focus on organizing all of the things I have written and coming up with new content. I’ve been actively trying to develop marketable talents in different areas because I have a burning desire to be able to do more creatively, but in the process I’ve been neglecting the thing that I’m most “naturally” talented at. Time to start making as strong an effort at playing my strengths as I’ve been putting towards developing new ones. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and now I’m at the point where success is contingent on me realizing the best version of myself.

Passion

A few weeks ago, my roommate returned home from work with a copy of Richard St. John’s The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common that everyone at his office had received as a gift. Since it’s relatively light reading, I decided to start incrementally working my way through the book and see if there are any good takeaways to be gained from it. I cracked the book open, and quickly read through the first chapter discussing trait #1: Passion. I read different accounts of how identifying one’s passion has led many well known individuals to go from underachieving to overachieving, the importance of following your heart instead of your wallet, and suggestions on exploring and finding passion. As I closed the book and contemplating what that all meant for me, I concluded that one of my big issues has been that I’ve been missing the passion element from my day-to-day life.

The lack of passion isn’t something new in my life. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons I implemented the great seclusion of 2012. At the end of 2011, I lacked passion because the strain of dealing with my past drove me to compartmentalize all of my emotions and detach from my feelings altogether. Yet even now, well since I’ve made peace with my history, I’ve still been emotionally hollowed out. It seems that all the distance I’ve placed between me and my past self and all people & elements related to resulted in a wider general disconnect. This is something that I’ve noticed exemplified in my inability to engage with music and enjoy it on the level to which I normally do, and more recently, have accepted as a factor as to why my writing and other creative endeavors haven’t been going anywhere. To fix that, I’ve have been making a stronger effort to actively reintegrate socially in life, though present financial limitations have been proven a formidable obstacle in that regard. Still, now that I’ve begun to allow myself to open up on that front, I’m left with the identification of the things that drive me as the only missing piece of a solid foundation for my personal passion.

Some Background

Although it feels like it’s something that logically goes without needing to be stated, my passions are strongly tied to my outlook on life. I subscribed to the philosophy of secular humanism when it was first introduced to me as a teenager by an old friend. From the the material I reviewed on the subject, it read like a formalized version of my personal guiding principles, specifically the individual examination of ideology through science and philosophy. Some time not long ago, I had the pleasure of stumbling across Discovery Channel’s Prehistoric Disasters on Netflix while looking for a good documentary to watch. That selection turned out to be a five-part series exploring the various cataclysmic disasters that happened on Earth before humanity came into the fold. At the end of it all, I walked away with the realization that life as we know it is simply a chance occurrence. In the vast expanse of space a very long time ago, the right bodies happened to be in the right place to collide and form the Earth and the moon. The chain reaction from that, Earth burning, Earth freezing over, Earth being hit by an asteroid…everything that needed in order to create a planet hospitable for sentient self-aware humans to exist and thrive the way we do. Merely existing is the product of winning the universal lottery multiple times over. It doesn’t seem like anything too special when there’s over 7 billion of us out there, but life and the human experience are a unique and rare opportunity that we owe ourselves to make the most of while we have it.

Having been born in the latter half of the 80’s, I was part of the Millennial generation that grew up in the midst of a huge technological stride. I still vividly remember when hooking up a simple 8 bit gaming console to a TV using an RF adapter and home stereo systems that had both a tape deck and a CD player, and a Windows 95 machine with a CD-ROM encyclopedia set were cutting edge technology. As we’ve transitioned to broadband wireless internet and mobile devices over the years, we’ve all witnessed first-hand the technology’s ability to improve quality of life, and how advances in tech across all industries have been accelerated by the ability to communicate and collaborate on the internet. This something that has undeniably influenced my passions in life.

So, What Are These Passions?

  • Utility: Doing things in life that are carry meaning, and taking pride in the outcome.
  • Self Improvement: Just because there’s too much in this world to ever truly know and experience it all doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
  • Community & Compassion: One of the best things you can do for yourself sometimes is helping someone else in need.
  • Honesty: Being a good man does not permit being a dishonest man.
  • Communications: Collaboration is where innovation is born and productive rational discussion enables progress.
  • Technology: It helps us take better care of ourselves and our world.
  • Music: To me, the most powerful form of expression. I enjoy listening to it and gradually teaching myself how to play & create it.
  • Children & Education: As someone who’s lived the story of the gifted child who wasn’t afforded the support and environment to become the best version of himself, I’m a strong proponent for active parenting and education improvements. Kids are the future and our ongoing legacy; it’s our duty to help them grow into the adults they’re meant to be.

On: Web Writing

For a long time now, I’ve been struggling in my attempt to get back in touch with my writer’s voice, and to develop my talents with word craft to where I see myself as a capable communicator and not some half-hearted hobbyist. To that end, I’ve begun pushing myself to pay a closer analytical eye to the various articles I read online on a daily basis and writing regularly in my DayOne journal. Throughout that process, I’ve also started giving this blog a bigger degree of consideration. I’ve asked myself why I haven’t been writing as regularly as I want to be, what the different challenges and mental barriers I encounter are and how I should be working around them, weighed the things I think about writing against the online-identity-appropriate filters, analyzed and questioned the matter from all manner of different angles. Yet it wasn’t until just yesterday that I asked myself the question that should be asked by any self-respecting writer: why would anyone want to read what I write? I managed to think of a few reasons as to why others may find interest in the things I write about, but when I substituted “I” for “anyone”, I found myself at a lack for an answer.

When I look back at the things I’ve written, my primary audience has always been myself. From long form LiveJournal entires in the early 2000’s to recent social network updates, I always share my thoughts with the primary goal in mind being to leave a record somewhere of the events in my life. While the engagement that comes from sharing is gratifying, it pales in comparison to the satisfaction that comes from being able to sit down at a later date and revisit the past in detail. Yet, the entire time that I’ve been working on building out this blog, I haven’t felt a sense of ownership over my output. Without that sense of engagement, it’s hard to get a feeling of accomplishment from creating new content. More importantly, it doesn’t allow me to look forward to looking back on my writings, the whole reason I do it in the first place. 

When I used to write on the web in the past, the internet landscape was a lot different than it is today. Back then, screen names and their inherent sense of anonymity were the norm. With search engine technology not being anywhere near as refined and efficient as it is today, it was easy to focus on writing itself, and not having to worry about the personal brand online activity creates or it’s real-world ramifications. Back in mid-August, I pruned the content on this blog in an effort to wipe the slate clean and start focusing on tuning up my online identity. But in the time since then, every time I’ve had a new idea for a post topic, the enthusiasm behind it gets killed when I start questioning whether or not it’s something I should even bother investing the time to write. In short, the self-censoring is killing my creative drive. Questioning whether or not I want something I write tied to me or publicly available introduces concerns in my mental process that feel unnatural, and editing myself to build an “ideal image” feels dishonest. 

Over the recent weeks I’ve repeatedly contemplated throwing in the towel and dismantling the site, quitting blogging altogether and sticking to offline journaling & social networking. But after so much time and so many repeated attempts that have ended in failure, I can’t bring myself to walk away from this blog. When I first contemplated having a personal site back in my high school days, I envisioned it as a portfolio and public repository for my thoughts and ideas. By the time I finally acquired hosting service in my mid-late 20’s, I’d lost touch with that creative spark and internal drive. As much as my year of isolation served as an opportunity to identify all of the things I wanted to remove from my life, it was also a chance to revisit my past and remember all of the traits I’ve lost along the way that I’d like to reconnect with, the most relevant to this post being my self-confidence I had as a teenager. I recognize that a good part of it may have been the arrogance of youth, but I also remember everything that was going on in my home life at the time, and how much it forced me to become self-reliant. As a result, I had an uncompromising sense of identity and the unwillingness to apologize for being who I am.

While I still aim to build this blog to be what I initially wanted it to be in regard to my creative endeavors, the events of life in my 20’s has resulted in a new additional objective. Last year at the age of 26, I did not like who I was. I refused to accept the person I was then as the culmination of all of my past experiences, and sought to push myself towards realizing my idealized self. Writing about that change helps me define that self, and pushing it to the web gives it a feeling officiation; once it’s out there, I either have to adhere to it or make a fraud out of myself.  It’s for all these reasons that I write, both for myself and on the web.