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. 

About 2012

I’ve been losing momentum on the blogging front recently, which is a personal point of embarrassment for me considering how little I got done. However, this lack of activity doesn’t mean I haven’t intended to post anything, I’ve simply been having difficulty finding the words and the time to commit them to text. One thing that’s repeatedly crossed my mind is how my recent posts have felt like laying a foundation — setting the stage for myself to start meeting my own expectations and goals, and expressing that with clarity and focus. To that end, I’ve been feeling the strong desire to revisit last year. Though it hasn’t been that long since I archived and unpublished my previous posts for divulging too many personal details best left committed to an offline journal, this is something very central to a fundamental change in my life that I’ve been implementing. Like a great accomplishment, which in some ways I suppose it could be argued to legitimately be, my 2012 is something that I do want to share with pride.

At the end of 2011, I was in a bad mental and emotional state. As I unintentionally let on in my last post, I’d been depressed for a many years at that point. I don’t mean that I was trapped in the listless melancholy that the word “depression” immediately brings to mind. In actuality, I’m fairly certain that outside of anyone that I personally shared personal details of my life with (or anyone who came across my previous writings and actually read them), no one thought anything was wrong with me at all. But there was something wrong, as far back as 2005. It was then that I first recognized that there was an irreconcilable disparity between my expectations of life and my reality. Back then, it was focused on my situation with my familial relationships. Having grown up in a Mexican household, I was raised to believe in the importance of family and the unending love and support it brings. Yet, I found myself not only cut off but betrayed by the people I’d trusted and cared for implicitly. Over the years, that gap between reality and my expectations extended to other areas of life — work, friends, dating — in almost all areas, I was constantly finding myself the odd man out getting screwed over in spite of all the praise and compliments I would receive for who I am and how I do things. Come 2011, I stopped being able to handle it all. Emotionally, I felt worn out and empty. Mentally, I felt stressed and overloaded, incapable of focusing and collecting my thoughts.

I convinced myself that a drastic change was necessary, and took a page out of one of my favorite books, Musashi, the story of the eponymous legendary Japanese swordsman. As the story goes, he was a brash youth named Takezo, desperately seeking to make a name for himself on the battlefield. Eventually he’s captured and imprisoned to three years of solitary confinement, with only classic Japanese & Chinese literature to keep him company. When he’s set free, he emerges a different person and given the name Musashi by the emperor who’d sentenced him. Realigned and set on a new path, he achieves greatness in many aspects of life. Since I couldn’t commit to three entire years, I settled for one. I deactivated my Facebook, broke communications, and focused on school (which I was able to afford to attend at the time) and work. I envisioned using that year devoid of any distractions to improve myself and acquire the knowledge and skill that I would need to measurably redirect my own path. Instead, I spent that year working on myself internally and attempting to undo a lifetime of faulty “programming”.

By stripping away external influences, I indirectly ripped out core components of what used to build my identity. Without the obligations to my friends and family and the roles and expectations that come with those relationships, I was left having to answer the question of who I truly am, what and whom I care about when I have to choose for myself rather than draw on past experiences and interpersonal influence. It was a transformative experience that I’m extremely glad I elected for myself. Without the guiding vision I built for myself, many of the challenges I faced this year (and undoubtedly, those still yet to come) I would not have been able to successfully face before.

Earlier this year, I was inspired by a post on Lifehacker to map out my career path using a mind map. Though I did create my own, I find it to be more of a representation of where I want to go rather than of who I am. To that end, I think it’d be best to allocate some free time in the coming days to putting together a personal manifesto. Though I’ve yet to verbalize and/or visualize it, it’s nice to once again feel attuned to my life and my identity without all of the fear and doubt that plagued me in years past.

Getting Started: The Hardest Part

Two weeks ago, I wiped the slate clean on this blog in an effort to start building a cohesive online identity that supports my present goals. In contemplating the process, I’ve been admittedly overwhelmed by the various points of consideration that have crossed my mind. I’ve more or less decided not to engage in any extensive reputation management efforts and clean up the traces of my past scattered about the internet. Being an internet user for so long and having delved into so many different services and technologies over the years, doing so would be a time-intensive endeavor that I cannot afford. This leaves nuking all of my profiles and content as the only feasible alternative, and it was hard enough to do that with my prior blog posts; I simply can’t bring myself to support the notion that all of the experiences in my past and the time I invested in documenting them have to be eliminated for the sake of appearances.

Moving beyond the past and shifting focus to the present & future, I find myself similarly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of goals I want to accomplish and the various knowledges I aim to acquire and master over the the next few years. It’s a lot easier for me to come up with ideas for things that I should write about than it is to stay focused long enough to translate the ideas in my head into text — this is something that needs to change immediately.

Luckily, this weekend is a three-day holiday weekend. I have nothing scheduled, and am free to utilize it for productive purposes to get caught up with myself. This is something I’ve been in desperate need of, since the hours my current job had me working up until the start of this month have been taking up the majority of my time and leaving me too mentally exhausted to use my free time productively. I’m really feeling the pressure and necessity to upgrade myself and my life to get myself to the point where I need to be, and this is where it all begins.

Boxed, Sealed, and Archived

Some time around the middle of July, I decided (after giving the matter lots of consideration) to temporarily un-publish all of the posts on the blog. After my last post, I kept reading through the archive and decided that I needed to wipe the slate. When I first decided to start keeping a blog a couple of years ago, my intended outcome was a lot different than it is today. At the time, I was struggling with a lot internally and had started actively reading on the topic of personal development/self-improvement. I imagined compiling, over time, a kind of public online journal chronicling all of my internal/external changes as I sorted things out. Unfortunately, what I ended up drafting wasn’t as progressive and meaningful as I’d hoped. Instead, I ended up writing would have best been kept as offline DayOne journal entires — the thoughts and feelings that shouldn’t be readily available to a search engine query.

Personally, I’d have no personal issue with leaving them publicly available. I’m constantly cognizant of how much I’ve changed throughout my life, so much to the point where I’ve ended up externalizing different periods of my past and see them as the different people I’ve been over the years. In turn, I treat the things I write as what’s one day going to be the past of my future self. I’m human and imperfect, but not ashamed of myself in any way. Same goes for photographs; I don’t subscribe to the idea of deleting all unflattering photos of yourself. I don’t see a point in creating a record of your life if it’s not going to be honest.

However, in this hyper-networked era of social networking, mobile computing, and evolved search engine technologies, it’s imperative to put your best foot forward and craft an online presence that leaves a good impression. All of my existing content doesn’t support that goal, and it’s certainly not what I’d want a neighbor or prospective employer seeing first. Not only that, but that narrative doesn’t suit me anymore. I’m not the 17 year old that developed that writing style over years on LiveJournal. With all of the information available on the web, it’s time to step up the game and start creating things that are worthy of consideration.

So, now that that’s settled, let’s get this show on the road.