First, a mea culpa: I am very unproductive when I get stressed.
This is weird to me because I used to thrive on stress. Give me an opportunity where someone else will crack and I will not only survive but I’ll succeed and get better. At work I used to love stressful deadlines or big projects because I felt like I had an advantage over other people who would inevitably crumble. In sports I always wanted to be the one figuring out how to score the game winner.
It’s not that I don’t want to do those things now, it’s just I get damn tired of putting up with everyone else crumbling or holing up. Perhaps I’m older and the precocious petulance of a child who doesn’t know better has evaporated and I’m left with the logical questions of “why should I keep doing the tough job if these others folks are still going to reap the rewards”.
Then again, this is the time of year when I get rather melancholy and anti-social on the whole.
And that’s the mood I was in this morning when I realized that I had the weekend “off” but still had a number of side-projects to work on. Namely, a guest post that’s a week overdue and a weekly column that I need to catch-up on as I’ve missed deadline yet again. Plus spring cleaning wouldn’t be a bad idea.
So, instead of doing any of that, I ended up checking out and buying new music on iTunes, and that’s how I rediscovered this song. I cannot believe I’d entirely forgotten about this, but as soon as that clapping drum-beat entered my ear, I was transformed.
I saw a Venn Diagram that indicated that Habit is where Skill, Knowledge & Desire overlap. Well, that doesn’t explain these habits that I wish I could get rid of.
In no particular order:
1.) Nail-biting: As near as I can tell, this is a combination of stress and perfectionism that leads my mind to wander off of whatever I’m watching/thinking of and finds some menial task that must be done before I forget about it. Forget the financial situation or huge work project on my mind, when the hell did this damn nail get extra long? It’s not clean, I wish I had stopped years ago when my mother threatened to put Tabasco on my nails. (I knew it was a bluff because she never bought hot sauce)
2.) Always having to be Right: Various reports have told me this is one of my most annoying traits. Supposedly, people don’t like to you to remind them that you have the right answer. I’m not quite sure why this is, but I am willing to accept the theory. I have yet, however, to come up with a way to keep my mouth shut when I hear someone saying/doing something #FAIL.
3.) Eating Junk Food: I know how to cook. I enjoy cooking. I know what healthy food looks like, and I enjoy the taste of loads of healthy food. So then why do I eat so many cheeseburgers and tacos and pizzas and fatty fat shit? Don’t give me the whole “culture of obesity” bit, this is my failed life choice and it’s time to turn the ship around, damn it! Right after I finish the left over pizza in the fridge…
5.) Procrastination: Prime example, I was supposed to write this blog, along with 6 others, last night. Instead, I put it off and now I’m jamming it out before work while my shirt & pants are in the dryer (because the dryer is how you de-wrinkle clothes when you’ve put-off hanging them up nicely). How much more could I get done if I just hopped to it? Years ago, when I was first living alone, I intentionally did not have any television signal, and got load of stuff done. Bills paid on-time and filed away, books & magazines read faster than I could acquire more, took random trips exploring places in the city just to see what was there. It’s miraculous what we can get done when I just unplug and go live.
I stumbled across this great picture on one of the design blogs I subscribe to, and it got me thinking…
How do you see yourself?
- in the morning
- when you need to get psyched up
- when nobody’s looking
For me, Monday’s post is pretty true. I look at myself and I either witness or enforce Awesomeness.
Yes, I know that probably sounds douchey, but I haven’t really come up with a better term for it.
I used to be a shy kid, and still don’t entirely open up around folks I’m first meeting (as discussed here).
Then one day when I was about 16 or 17, during the days when you’re a young boy and you have a “crush” on like a dozen girls at a time and you’re just hoping ANY of them will give you the time of day; I decided to stop being the way I was, and just start being awesome.
Well, actually I decided to start being confident.
Instead of having weaknesses, I figured they were actually strengths in disguise.
Instead of being dorky (think Gifted Program & Monthy Python Holy Grail), I switched it to intelligent, insightful, clever.
Instead of being an outsider, I became the new guy. Having different groups of friends meant I didn’t have the typical “close, best friends” scenario, but it also meant when I ticked people off I didn’t have to be alone. I could just pick up and go elsewhere without losing much.
Instead of being not this race and not that nationality enough to fit in with one group or the other, I became Ryan. “the guy with the tan skin and slanty eyes and, oh damn, you see his lips?”.
When I decided that I wanted to move into management at work, I stopped being frustrated and feeling oppressed and started proving that I was the guy who could get things done; because that guy got to make his own rules.
After-all, Caesar said, “it’s only hubris if you’re wrong”.
Warning: long, quasi-neurotic, self-revelatory post below.
Let me start with a mea culpa here…
(Is it me, or are a lot of my posts starting that way?
Am I trying to appease some minimalist lean while still sticking to my resolutions to improve my writing?
It’s not clear, but I disgress…)
…. there are often different “versions” of myself that I present to people.
I know we all have our “work selves” and our “relationship selves” and our “close friends” selves. Those are societal roles we need to maintain to be able to sort out our acceptable behaviors and not all live like dirty hippies.
I’m cool with those.
What I’m talking about a shift in the Ryan I present to people that depends entirely on the number of conversations we’ve had previously.
I am confident that anyone who has spoken to me 4 or more times knows that I am far from a “wall flower”, and usually by interaction 9 or 10, you’re thinking “this guys kinda dick, but I also kinda like having him around”. (that’s right about where I get ya hooked…ha ha)
However, if I’ve talked to you less than 4 times, good luck getting a whole lot out of me.
Typically when I meet someone for the first time, I rarely talk at all.
I’m not sure if it’s a learned technique to “get the lay of the land”, or if it’s more of a sub-conscious thing of not knowing what to discuss with this new person I’ve just added to my memory banks, and so, in turn, my mind draws a blank and says “just nod and give short answers… that’s the best we’ve got Cap’n”.
(yes, I imagine my mind calls me Cap’n, Crunch-style)
Today, I’m pretty sure the awkward-newness vibe goes on for about the first hour or so I’m speaking with somebody. Yes, I know not holding up my end of a conversation for up to an hour is pretty shitty of me, and probably has lead multiple people to think I’m either:
Less than interesting
Pompous and blowing them off
Not to say there haven’t been times when one or both of these claims weren’t true, but that’s still not the type of first impression I want to leave on someone.
This seems like a good time to tell you a little story.
Here in Phoenix (where I imagine most of you live, but if not, hey, come on down. We’re recruiting new awesome people all the time…), we have an event called #buzzcation. I say “we” but really other, more compassionate people organize it, and I just show up, drink, donate, and try not to drink so much that I tell people stupid things, like reasons why I’ve unfollowed someone on Twitter….
However, before I attended the first such event, I was pretty sure I’d pull the ol’ wallflower card, and even liquid courage wouldn’t give me someone to talk to folks about.
That’s when I realized that my quietness was really bound up in a desire to not seem like a tag-along, or an irrelevant sycophant. Sure, once I get to know people, it’s pretty easy to build upon common interests, but prior to that, how to you unlock the “what do you like” box?
Maybe you make little fact sheets and pass them out?
No, that’s stupid. Don’t do that.
(well, if you want to try that and let me know how it works, go ahead….)
So, we’re still in the same spot. How does one go about “being one’s self” without knowing which bits are going to be fun and which bits will get you snapped at for laughing at the wrong thing?
Lately I think I’ve settled on, “ask better questions”.
I tried this out a few times lately, mostly when I met people who I was “aware of” before we met (bloggers, people about town, etc), basically people I really didn’t want to seem like a doofus around.
So instead of going the doofus route, and definitely not wanting to go the “pretentious” route, I thought I’d stick with “interested is interesting”.
One of two things would happen:
the person I just met would bounce from topic to topic in a roughly organic narrative until such a point that I thought I could contribute consistently to the topic at hand,
the person I just met would employ the same tactic on me, tossing a few questions my way, and then my ego/pretentious side would kick in and I’d start talking about something I was passionate about that day.
All in all, I’m still not sure I make a “great” first impression, but hopefully it’s better than the first two options above.
And if not, I’ve still got my devilishly good looks to fall back on.
I feel like there’s a social experiment or two in the works there.
Below is a picture of a Mighty Mugg figure I saw on Agent M’s blog.
Aside from the fact that Agent M might have the coolest job in the world, and therefore everything he mentions takes on a nerdy-Bondsian cool-factor, this dude pictured looks like something I’d want to have on my desk.
Oh wait. I do have him on my desk
(just not the same one)
I remember when I bought this dude, Anie looked at me very puzzled, and asked why I was buying it. The simple fact was I wanted to own a Wolverine figure, and the price of $10 was no deterrence.
Then I realized that what she was talking about was really, “why would you buy a random thing like that to put on your desk at work”.
I still haven’t worked out a good answer, but everyone who’s seen it seems to like it, too.
It does puzzle me why, for a pseudo-minimalist, I like to have random thing around. Perhaps my dark-side is a secret horder.
Nah, that can’t be it.
Maybe it’s because I couldn’t get this stuff when I was a kid, so now I buy it for myself?
That’s probably closer to home, but in truth, I had all the ninja turtles I wanted as a kid, just far less than the kids down the block.
Maybe it’s something totemic, like the Wolverine on my desk is a modern version of the idols we learned about in Art History class. Instead of fertility, I’m seeking to channel virility and latent aggression?
How about you? Do you have anything on your desk (at home or at work) that really doesn’t belong there but you always want to keep it around?
I’ve been reading this blog for the last few weeks, ever since I got a referral to them, and one of the first thing that hits me every time I visit their site is the great header. Hell, I wish these were truths I could say about me.
If I had to make one about myself, I’d say that everyday I’m becoming more:
corporate, humane, green, realized, caffinated, organic, arrogant, charming, round, whiskery, grateful
Admission: I’m sometimes obsessed with tattoos. My parent’s weren’t a lot of things, but one thing they did do was always support creativity. Not that they encouraged me to pursue my creativity, and indeed even stopped me from being able to go to NYU for Fine Art, but that’s another story… Anyways, since I was a kid, I was surrounded by tattoos, and while I have none myself, everyone else in my family does, and I think some are pretty cool. As such, one of the blogs I repeatedly check out for inspiration is fuckyeahtattoos. My most recent visit featured a lot of people with clocks or dates on their shoulders or collars. This got me to thinking…
Idea: What if we were born knowing the time we would perish, but not the date? Could you imagine checking the clock, waiting for 10:17am every day and being thankful that today was not the day? How much would you change your schedule to try to be somewhere safe, somewhere loved, etc?
One of my favorite odd-indie movies is “Happy Accidents”, where the protagonist knows the date and time his girlfriend will have an accident, and he tries to prevent it without making her think he’s gone completely off the deep-end. Pretty good film overall, but also quite amazing to think about what we’d do for each other.
In fact, while pondering this concept of “what if I knew the minute of my death” and writing this last paragraph, I just realized that better/worse than knowing my own time would be knowing her time. At my age, mortality is an extremely distant thought, and we conceive that by the time we’re snuffed out, we’ll be old and will see it coming from miles off…
Still, I’d be damn sure to talk to her every day just before that minute came.