If this town’s your sinking ship then you know where to jump

Note: I wrote this entry nearly three weeks ago and never published it, apparently.

A conversation that I recently had with a friend made me realize that, to a certain extent, I have sort of lost sight of what is I want in the intermediate term future. It was pretty surreal coming to this realization as, once upon a time, I always had my eyes firmly fixed on the horizon. Perhaps I’ve been hyper-focus on pushing myself through this odd period of personal growth and maturation that I’m in right now or perhaps I haven’t really let myself imagine that there is a future quite as much as is once did. When I was in my teens, and even earlier in my twenties, life seemed pretty linear: finish undergrad, get a job, start grad school, save some cash, etc.

Now, sitting just over a month away from turning 26 with a Bachelor’s degree, a stable, well-paying job, and a graduate program set to begin in less than a month, I don’t know what’s left in longer, but not quite long, term. I really have wrapped up (or am in the process of wrapping up) what the majority of what once were my long-term goals, making now a pretty logical place in time to do some reflection.

Even though I’m not thrilled with every minute detail of my life (really, who is?), I am pretty happy with the direction in which I’m heading. There are definitely things which I want to do over the next few years (save more money, advance my career, travel, finish grad school), but save for that last one, they aren’t really markers in life. During the next three to four years while I’m in school, my life will realistically be quite static, but everything I do during that period will push me towards where I’ll end up once I’m done with school and staring 30 straight in the face.

I highly doubt that I’ll reach any super intense conclusions just from writing this one blog entry, but it’s a start, right?

My Story is Not Done

Ever the inconsistent blogger, I have reemerged from the shadows to quasi-publicly ruminate on the state of my life at present.

I have been challenging myself a lot lately: professionally, personally, and soon, academically. Being so far out of my depths in so many areas of my life has left me absolutely drowning in the feelings of discomfort and self-doubt which accompany being a neophyte. Granted, I recognize that these feelings are a good thing; they mean that I’m outside my comfort zone and consequently growing. However, knowing that I’m acting in my long-term best interest is not a salve strong enough to ameliorate the burn of an almost-overwhelming frustration with myself for not having developed flawlessly and immediately. I have been attempting to partially counter these growing pains by spending my super-limited free time indulging in things like playing video games and reading fluffy literature: activities which replenish me rather than drain me. If the majority of my day-to-day life is going to be spent dragging myself kicking and screaming toward becoming a bit more like the version of myself that lives in my head, then I have sure as fuck earned the right to spend my leisure time as unproductively as I so choose. To that end, I am not beating myself up for not living up to other people’s wishes as to how I should be spending my leisure time. Selfishness is a virtue which I’ll simply have to embrace (at least in the short term) if I want to cling to the few shreds of sanity I have left.

So, yeah. I am definitely 100% in the midst of making progress in life right now. Consequently, everything feels so foreign and awkward and uncomfortable right now because it IS all of those things…and that’s okay! I think a large part of my growth as a human being will be learning how to deal with those feelings without being plagued with self-doubt and turning to self-deprecating humor. If anything, I should be proud of myself for doing what so many people don’t and actually taking action to rectify the areas of my life which need improvement rather than simply shrugging my shoulders and stating “it is what it is.” Life is hard right now, but that’s a good thing.  Here’s to the struggle of the present and the pay off of the future!

And to those who would choose the safety of inaction over the danger of taking a stand, I have this to say: You bloody cowards. May you have the world that you deserve.” ? Mira Grant, Deadline

I know what I know, if you know what I mean.

Lately I have been a lot more social than usual and, accordingly, quite insecure in my interpersonal abilities.

Despite the fact that I am quite introverted and mildly socially-anxious, I am normally pretty much okay with this fact. Just because being hyper-social and/or the center of attention isn’t my favorite thing the world, doesn’t mean I can’t do it and do it well. I can feign extroversion well enough that I can confidentially masquerade as someone with a natural proclivity toward being outgoing. The only catch to to this ability to emulate extroversion is my inability to keep the charade up for extended periods of time. As grateful as I am to be able to prepare my ass off and give a solid presentation or contribute to a meeting, I still find myself lacking when it comes to long term, low-level social skills, and thus my insecurity is introduced. Perhaps it is an unfounded fear, but I find my.self fretting that my tendency to frequently zone the fuck out and hyper-focus on tasks and thoughts, coupled with my preference to listening vs. talking in most situations, will make me come off as being anti-social or a bitch.

So, what to do? I cannot change the fundamental nature of my personality (nor would I want to), but I can do two pretty crucial things:

  1. Get over myself . I am 99.98% certain that no one pays as much attention to my self-perceived weaknesses and flaws as I do. I am not the center of the universe and being so hung up on my own shortcomings dramatically decreases the amount of free “processing power” that I can dedicate to more meaningful and more useful tasks.
  2. Push myself out of my comfort zone. If am going to be hung up on an insecurity to the point of feeling quazi-shameful about a fundamental component of my personality, I am sure as fuck going to doing something about it. Just because being super passive in social situations is my default behavior does not mean that I cannot force myself to behave differently.  I am going to put some thought into it and come up with some minor SMART goals that are easy enough to achieve that they don’t feel impossible, but are substantial enough that they force me to develop my areas of insecurities.

I had forgotten how much of a cathartic outlet writing can be. I would say “I will do this more often,” but we all know how that promise goes.

Are you standing still or will you step into the great unknown?

I received and accepted an offer for a job located in Central Maryland last week.

Accordingly, I resigned from the Pittsburgh-based position which I’ve held for the past 3.5 years and will work my last day on May 15th.  My old job is the last concrete thing tying me to the Pittsburgh region so it feels very odd to know that in a few short days, 100% of my life will be situated in one place. After spending six years straddling state lines, suddenly living, working, and playing in the same area code somehow heightens the feeling of a new beginning which comes with starting a new job.

Geographic ruminations aside, I am very excited about this new position. Admittedly, I am slightly nervous about the learning curve since I am moving from an industry which I  have a very intimate knowledge of  through experiences both personal and professional (higher education) to one which I know nary a thing about (ad tech), but I think as long as I put my nose to the grindstone and take advantage of all the resources and opportunities which are available to me, I’ll be fine. The Company (which is how I’ll refer to my new employer from here forward – no name dropping from me!) is in the midst of a really exciting period of growth which is a stark contrast to the environment I’m coming from. (Ironically, the day I resigned from my old company, their stock slid 28% in a single day- the most in nearly five years – upon announcing a  loss of $467 million during the last quarter.)

Despite the familiar fondness which I posses for my former employer and all of the wonderful people I worked with during my time there, I am very excited to be moving on to big and better things. I have grown and changed a lot as a person over the past several years and as a result of said growth, my desire to seek out new challenges and gain control over the direction of my career became too loud to ignore, thus my need to move forward. While I am certainly a bit sad to be closing the book on a chapter of my life during which I made many memories and achieved many goals, I am beyond thrilled to be joining The Company.  After spending so many years in corporate America, I am absolutely head-over-heels with the stereotypical start-up “work hard, play hard” ethos and ambition that so pervade every interaction I’ve had with The Company thus far;  I am definitely not in Kansas any more, that’s for sure.

But you know what? That’s okay! I am keen for a challenge, I am keen to raise the bar I’ve set for myself, and I am keen see to what comes next. Here’s to new beginnings!

I’ll tell you why I don’t want to know where you are

Author’s Note: The bulk of this entry was written on October 26, 2013; some minor edits were done at the time of publication.

Sylvia Plath once said “I like people too much or not at all. I’ve got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them” and man, can I relate.

My relationships — with both people and life itself — are either passionately-dispassionate, unwanted interlopers upon my cherished silence and solitude, or a sickening, fuzzy mess of simultaneous love, terror, and jealousy which I desire to both hold close and run screaming from in terror. Inevitably, both circumstances lead to burnout and are accordingly temporary. Each eventually metamorphosing into their respective evil twin and restarting the cycle. Sometimes I feel capable of doing all these great things and feeling all of these warm, analog feelings, but other days, I can’t do anything other than round off the edges and rough bits of life in order to make things simple enough that I can drag my reanimated corpse of a soul from one day to the next.

It’s sounds stupid and I feel almost like I’m lying by saying it, but maybe it is for the best that things are this way? At least for now. I don’t think that it is a completely sustainable mode of existence (my brief moments of burning need to for some deeper connection and some less transient form of attachment to this life belay this fact) but it has been nothing short of a gift to have such a long and blissfully complete period of intimacy with myself without a constantly resonating pang of longing to invite someone else to share in the beautifully-shabby little space in this world I’ve carved out for myself.

I am happy where I am for now, but I am not opposed to reconstructing my view of who I am and how I interface with the world should I eventually feel dissatisfied with this mode of being. There is a fine line between self-acceptance and self-denial and I am aim stay to the right of it.

And once more with feeling

Edit: This was supposed to have been published on 10/24 when it was written, but I fail at WordPress now, apparently.

I went to an of Montreal show last night and started a new medication regimen today.

Consequently, I feel capable of actually writing tonight. Year in and year out of academic discourse had (has?) left me with a self-imposed inferiority complex about my writing; I have spent so much of the past few years writing to impressively fell or build arguments while casually showcasing my masterful diction and analytic skill that writing to simply decompress or expurgate an idea or mood that’s banging around inside me seems foreign and terrifying. Ironic given that it was once the most natural thing to me in the world. A loss that’s a result of growth in other areas? Who’s to say. Not me, certainly.

Creative barriers both biological and egomaniacal aside, I am trying to channel the wisdom of Kevin Barnes (the front man of the aforementioned ‘of Montreal’) and not imagine a specific audience when I’m writing. This is difficult. While I do in fact primarily keep this blog for my own record-keeping purposes (no matter how poor), it is very hard for me to disengage my current one-sided communication from the idea that perhaps the written word will somehow once again become what it was to me in years past, will somehow give me a voice that speaks of things beyond surface depth. In doing so, my thoughts are naturally permeated by fictitious conversations which I vaguely hope will happen and it is hard not to let them run rampant.

There is more that I would like to say, but I feel like it would make for a very messy entry. Perhaps I will keep notepad open and do the whole “stream of consciousness” thing tomorrow and post anything fruitful which results? While I hope that I feel inspired to write about nothing in particular again soon, I will make no promises to do so; I have roped far more than enough albatrosses around my neck as it is.

Let’s hit the road dear friend of mine, wave goodbye to our thankless jobs.

Now that I’m finished with university, I’m moving out of my college apartment. Accordingly, I’ve been going through a lot of the things that I’ve amassed since I moved in here three years ago: deciding what to keep, deciding what to toss, and deciding what to donate. This evening I decided to wrangle with my front closet: a haphazard pile of boxes that I’ve been prolonging. I expected to find a family of dust bunnies, a dead bug or two, and maybe a few boxes worth of questionable fashion choices that have followed me back and forth across state lines over the past half decade.

While I did find those things (sans the dead bugs, thankfully), I also ended up finding fodder for a multi-hour nostalgia binge. I won’t delve into a bunch of interesting-only-to-me details of the little, and major, reminders of my past that I found hidden beneath a layer of dust and loving neglect, but I will say that browsing through remnants of old hobbies, successes, failures, loves, and loves lost has made me realize that the only time that I feel like a complete person is when I’m looking backwards. It’s only when I’m knee-deep in yesterdays that I feel like an actual, honest-to-goodness person. Having tangible, physical indicators that I have done things with my life, that I have made progress, that I have hurt, that I have weathered bad times and kept moving forward makes me remember that I am more than the face staring at me in the mirror at present moment.

It’s a good feeling to be reminded that I’m not just where I am in life by happenstance, but rather by careful and deliberate planning. My tastes and interests are not merely traits acquired by a roll of the dice, but rather pearls of knowledge through trial and error. Given that I’m now entering a phase in my life where I’m going to have to make a lot of strategic decisions, its really nice to remember that I’ve done this before and its worked out well.

As soon as I’m legal, this love affair is over.

Life is weird.

I am officially done with my undergraduate education so it seemed fitting to make a blog post. Perhaps not to necessarily talk about the closing of this chapter of my life, but just to talk in general. Now that I’ve reclaimed a fair amount of my free time, I can focus on doing things like cleaning my apartment and preparing to pack for my upcoming move, playing Guild Wars 2, studying up on my data structures and algorithms in pursuit of a job, updating my portfolio site, actually catching up on my 2013 reading challenge, and taking guilt-free naps. As nice as it is, I still feel sort of antsy and rudderless but I suppose that’ll pass once: a.) final grades are posted and b.) I settle into a new routine without the continually pressures of academia. In the interim, however, I continue to feel like a college student who just happens to be on break. But then again, I only turned in my last final some two days ago, so I suppose I should expect to still feel somewhat transitory.

At present moment, I’m jumping back and forth between writing this entry and cleaning my sun room; I’m planning on finally buying/playing Bioshock Infinite tonight or tomorrow and I want to be able to hang out in here and play it without being surrounded by the ghosts of junk mail past which are presently all over my desk. I actually really want to get all the preliminary cleaning of my apartment done this week so I can start packing in earnest. I’m not moving until late-May or early-June, but I want to get as much done as I can before it starts to get really hot and disgusting outside since I don’t have central air here.

But for now? I am going to indulge my inner 14-year-old and attempt to get into the anime Spice and Wolf.

All of my aspirations are wrapped up in books.

I am somewhat intoxicated at current moment, so naturally, this is the perfect time to write a blog entry.

Despite the pressures of work and school, I’ve been making a ton of time to read over the past few weeks. Consequently, I’ve made my way through eight books so far this year and I’m presently in the midst of  books nine and ten. Granted, several of them were fairly short (under 200 pages) novellas, but regardless, it’s been nice to actually sit down and carve out the time to read books like Story of the Eye and The Stranger and Candide which have been on my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads for the better part of two years. Reading has in general just been a really nice way to escape from all of the craziness that’s been going on in my life lately. I know I say this all the time, but I really am in a period of flux (and extreme busyness, but that’s neither here nor there) right now and being able to say “fuck it” and go off and hide in a world where I don’t have to worry about things like post-college aspirations, love and loss, and letting go of the halcyon days of my youth.

I had the intention of writing a real entry, but now I’ve gone from bouncy-drunk to sleepy-drunk, so I think I may just eat a Popsicle and watch YouTube videos until I fall asleep. I’ll update again soon, though — I want to talk about the productivity software I’ve been using.

 

Underachievers, please try harder.

Good ole' Courage Wofl; this is my motto for the next 16 weeks.
Good ole’ Courage Wofl; this is my motto for the next 16 weeks.

Despite the fact that Spring  Semester (a misnomer, considering that it was 18 degrees this morning…) started yesterday, I really want to hold my feet to the fire and continue to stay in the habit of updating here with some regularity.

I think I’m in for a fair bit of a challenge with my Algorithm Implementation course this term; you know that a class is going to run you through the ringer when a professor straight up tells says “good enough is good enough…don’t do more than you have to” during the first class meeting. That said, I only get one go at passing this bitch if I want to (finally) finish my minor in April, so I’m going to have to really stay on top of everything and not be too prideful to ask for help when I need it, because I’m sure I won’t be able to just breeze through this class without a care. I’m also getting my first taste of a low-level programming language this term in Systems Software which is being taught using C; as terrifying as it’ll be to actually do any real coding in a language that doesn’t protect me from the nitty-gritty stuff like managing memory, I’m excited for the both the challenge and the opportunity to expand my skillset.

That said, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t suffering from impostor syndrome to some degree. As of right now, I’m dealing with it by telling the little nay-saying voice in the back of my head to slide its forked tongue back behind its teeth and fuck the hell off. I suppose I’ll just have to bust my ass and prove my competence to myself to completely quell it, though. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on r/getmotivated, too which always helps me feel a lot better about myself and my abilities.

Semi-related, I’ve been eating and exercising really well the past few days which has been nice. Now if I could only get my sleep schedule to an equally good place, I’d be in business. Between work and school, Monday – Thursday are all roughly 10.5 hours days for me, not including studying and commuting, so I’m really going to have to take damn good care of my body if I plan on making it through this term without a repeat of last semesters fainting episodes. All-in-all, I tend to feel a lot better both physically and emotionally when I’m treating my body like something other than a display case for my brain, so I guess that’s a pretty good impetus to keep it up in and of itself.

At present moment, however, I have minimal desire to do anything other than spend some quality time with my Kindle and continue to work through The Joy of X by Steven H. Strogatz which is really blowing my mind in the best way possible. I realize this doesn’t mean too terribly much since it’s only January 8th, but of the three books  I’ve read already this year (and the two I’m currently reading), this is the best book I’ve read thus far in 2013; perhaps I’ll write about it when I’m done. But for now, back to reading!