So What Now?

Sometimes I find it funny how alike we are, Daniel. This morning I sat down to write my blog post, but couldn’t find any inspiration so I sat for twenty minutes looking at old Tumblr posts I like to distract myself. Yesterday, on my lunch break, I re watched a bunch of old Jenna Marbles videos instead of reading my book or working on one of the many goals I’ve set for myself because I was tired.

You mentioned that your friends and family are out hustling and getting things done. Well, just so you know, in between these small bursts of productivity in my life, I’m re watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls and eating cereal for dinner because I have no motivation to do anything else. I guess I’m not as much of a hustler as you think.

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I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have anything in my life that I find exciting. I enjoy running and crochet and reading, but sometimes my stress gets in the way of these things. I’ll come home after a hard day of work and want nothing more than to just sit on the couch, browsing Tumblr on my phone with the TV on in the background. On those days, I usually have to force myself to get up and do something. I know I’ll feel better after I find something else to do, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.

Anyway, I didn’t want this post to be a long-winded lecture about motivation and pushing yourself to achieve your goals. I am by no means an expert on motivation and nine times out of ten my motivation comes from a feeling of anxiety. Like I said in my last post, I feel anxious when I’m unproductive and adding anxiety on top of my stress is not a good thing.

What I want to talk about is my answer to “so what now?” What comes next for me? Where do I want my life to go from here?

Last October, I turned 26 and officially moved into my “late twenties.” It wasn’t a hard milestone for me. I’m happy with where I am at 26, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what I could possibly regret in another ten years. When I turn 36, will I look back and wish I had had the motivation to get up and do something different with my life?

I am fortunate that I found a career that I really enjoy. When I started college, my plan was to become a writer. Well, I reached that goal and also found out a lot more about what I want from my career. I love event planning and project management and website development. If I went back and asked 17-year-old Emily if she wanted to plan events and make spreadsheets, I’m sure she’d look at me like I’m crazy. The thought never crossed my mind in high school.

So when I ask myself what now, I wonder if I should be trying new things? I know I love my career, but what if there are other opportunities out there? Would I fall in love with donor relations or nonprofit development? I don’t know until I try.

But, I also know that I’m happy where I am. I love my job and my coworkers. I live in a wonderful community, have a loving husband and amazing friends. Should I risk all of those things at the small chance there’s something else out there for me? Maybe, maybe not.

Keeping on that train of thought, if I choose to stay where I am, what’s next? Should I be looking to buy a house? Should I start a family? If I decide to keep on my current path, it would make sense to start putting down real roots. Yes, I have a life here, but I’m still renting an apartment and have made no solid commitments to my community. Should I start doing that? Is that what I want?

Right now, I just have a vague feeling that I should be doing something. Don’t get me wrong, I am making progress toward my goals. I’m working on opening an Etsy shop and I’ve been writing more, but what else will I regret in ten years?

9995fc5ecf7abe34582a61c8205a295eBeing an adult is hard, and not just because there are bills to pay and responsibilities to keep track of, but because there is so much at stake just from day to day. There are also a lot of decisions in front of me that can’t be undone.

So, Daniel, whenever you look at my life and think that I’m hustling and bustling, just remember that I have no f*cking idea what I’m doing. I feel like a 15-year-old who put on mom’s makeup and somehow managed to trick the world into thinking I’m an adult.

-EMS

Let’s Get Existential

Continuing a trend of being very cerebral recently, lets kick it up a notch and take a close inspection of myself.

While I’m certainly not ever going to be a great philosopher (we reserve titles like that for Ian Tewid) I have definitely been trying to understand the components of myself and my life.  I do this to try and figure out how I got where I am.  Sounds like a simple question.  I grew up, I went to college, I got jobs.  I was me- how hard can that be to figure out?

Those don’t hold up to scrutiny when I look back in my life.  I got good grades in school because I would get into trouble if I didn’t.  I went and graduated college because I grew up my entire life being corn.  I got a job when I was younger because my parents pushed me to do it.  I learned to drive and develop skills because it was expected of me.

So lets ask the golden question: was I really in control of my life?  Did I do those things because I wanted to?

I would argue in most cases that no, I didn’t really want to do those things.  My mom, like many who want the absolute best for their child, tried to get me to do so much stuff when I was younger.  I remember being in tee ball, baseball (I think), soccer, taekwondo, and learning the violin.  Middle school it was basketball, drafting and guitar.  In high school it was polo shirts and blue jeans.  She had this vision for me of being the varsity jacket wearing prep boy.

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I’ll make diamonds of her hopes and drams.

I feel bad because if you remember anything about me from high school, that must’ve been a huge fishnet shirt wearing surprise.

And I just remember not wanting to do that stuff.  I wanted to play video games and watch anime.  So much of my time was doing things I didn’t want to do, but I had to do them.  They became chores.

And that has definitely spilled over into adulthood.  I hate making plans even today because I feel like I’m a kid again who has to go do something because my parents want me to.

The only thing I was really into was girls and sex.  Wisconsin Sex Ed. totally did not prepare me for this shit.  So when girls started having hormones like me, and even more surprising, started having sex with me- it’s all I cared about.  Having a girlfriend became the one locus of my identity that I chose.  

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I’m still not sure what the banana was for but boy was my girlfriend surprised.

So from high school forward, I spent most of my time and energy figuring out how to spend as little time and energy doing the things I didn’t want to do.  In school I only took classes that I was already naturally good at.  I’d switch out of classes that I wasn’t already familiar with.  Same thing in college.  For my classes I picked the ones I had essentially already taken before (I.E.  Basic physics and math).

I didn’t want to spend time and energy doing other stuff.  I never tried to challenge myself.  I never really explored other opportunities because I didn’t want to put forth the effort.

And now I sit before my work desk feeling like I’ve made a mistake.

While I enjoy doing 3D rendering work in theory- I feel like all this internal exploring has stifled my desire to do this.  I feel so bored now.  Its the same thing over and over.  My days drag on forever.  Am I really doing what I want to do?

A while back I was hanging with my buddies Dan, Kyle, and Fry.  Yes from Futurama.  They had the newer season of BattleBots on the TV.  We all got sucked into it.

I really got sucked into it.  Especially the behind the scenes stuff where you see the teams repairing their robots.  The metal working tools and electronics looked so interesting.  I’ve always wished that I had more aptitude for this stuff.

I started thinking.  Why don’t I learn how to do this?  It’s actually something that’s always fascinated me.  I love metal working shops, 3D printers, and laser cutters.  Those crazy kits my cousin used to get that let him build remote controlled arms and shit.  Why did I never learn how to use them?  Those Principles of Technology classes in high school were awesome.  Why didn’t I do more and learn how to solder circuit boards?  Create rigs?  Learn scripting and coding?

Because I’ve never done it before.  Because it would be hard.  And hard things are like chores.

For an internship I had to do for high school I shadowed a biomedical engineer at the local hospital.  She showed me how to fix various break downs.  We also got to replace the ceramic container inside a refrigerated centrifuge.  Holy crap it was cool getting all the wires reconnected and watching it slowly come back to life.

Similarly, in college I remember hearing about the earliest versions of prosthetic limbs made in 3D printers.  I remember 3D printing my first abstract shape in college and thinking to myself, “I am a polymer God!”

So why am I not doing that either?

Why not do both and make robotic prosthetic limbs?

Would I feel more satisfied with my work?  Less confused about my path?  More passionate?

Speaking of passion- I see so many of my friends be like head over heels in love with their hobbies.  I don’t feel that.  I haven’t really played a game or read a book that had my chomping at the bit to get home and do again.  Not since I was younger.  I would straight up run home from the bus and kick on the PS2 to play Kingdom Hearts or Megaman Legends.

Where is that passion now?

I greatly enjoy comics, books, and video games; but it’s been a long time since I felt that keening adrenaline in my chest.  I used to feel that when I would go play Pump It Up back in the day.  Finding a parking spot felt like an eternity because all I wanted to do was get on that dance pad.

I by no means am sad or bored with life.  But I do feel like a key component of myself went missing.  I was reading some really old Facebook conversations a few months ago.  Old friends, classmates, ex-girlfriends and family.  I used to be so different.  So lively.  I used to be fucking hilarious.  When did that shift?

The obvious point is that there was a pretty significant shift early in 2013.  My girlfriend at the time dumped me and that signaled an “end of an era” for me.  It was a pretty brutal breakup for me and it demanded that I grow a “self respect.”

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It wasn’t a sword in my heart, but paychecks that I got to keep.

What a wonderful thing to have in my back pocket.  Self respect is pretty cool.  Now when people disrespect me I get mad!  And that’s important!

It probably was the very start of me evaluating who I had become.  It was the end of my locus being external and rooted in my current lover.  I became very selfish (in a healthy way).  I was doing things I wanted to do instead of always worrying about the wants and needs of another.

But then it went too far.  I didn’t want to be selfish, impulsive, or a dick.  I spent a lot of time re-applying my self evaluations of me.  Dismantling the motivations for my actions, dismantling the actions of others.  Trying to peer behind the curtains.  Trying to find out why people acted the way they did.  Why I acted the way I did.

And now that’s become what I do.  In my quiet moments, in my free time ; constantly trying to make sure that I make no assumptions, that I make fewer mistakes, that I piss off less people.  Still trying to keep myself on a path I care about, but now I spend my energy trying desperately not to be like the people that irritate me.

Is that causing me to forget who I am or used to be?  When I was younger I felt like I was funnier, more present, and definitely more concentrated in my personality.

Now that I’m constantly walking on eggshells so that I don’t become someone I don’t like- I feel like I have essentially stifled the ability to become someone.

I am a person trying really hard not to become a person.

Sounds confusing but its a pretty profound thought for me.  By essentially spending too much time trying not to be someone I hate- I have prevented myself from being someone.  Quirks, mistakes, and impulses are what make the people we love people and all I’ve tried to do is suppress that in myself.  Who am I?  I am the result of making my personality more digestible for people around me.

So who the fuck am I?  Am I anyone?  What defines me as me if being me is dependent on those around me.

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So the existential statement that almost literally occurred to me in a dream:

I have spent most of my life trying not to do things.

Not doing anything new or hard because it required effort, and not being a person because I’m afraid of who I might become.

So whats the solution?

I’m doing my damnedest to just be, instead of evaluating what being me is.

And I’m going to build a motherfucking robot someday.

And boy howdy it will suck if I find this profound answer in my life and then I’m like, “God fucking damnit building robots suuuuuuucks.”

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Or it’ll be fucking awesome.

-DTM

Tabled: The X-Wing Story

Hello my name is Daniel and I’m a kinesthetic learner.

Feels really good to admit that.  I feel like I’ve been hiding my disability my entire life.

While I’m at it with deep, personal, devastating confessions: I really like strategy games.

I’m sorry to drop this on you all.

I don’t exactly know what it is about strategy games that I really like but I guess its similar to the feeling everyone has: feeling that you are a cunning strategist and you are unstoppable.  I acknowledge that I’m not but it would be fun to be good.

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Currently I’m into X-Wing.  I enjoy playing it but I have way more fun collecting and preparing.  I spend a lot of time planning out game lists, planning maneuvers, and reading about historical strategies.  It would be a great conversation topic except I almost universally get schooled at these games.  I played Warhammer 40k for many years, and my win/loss record was pretty bad.  In those years I won probably less than 20 games total.

I don’t play Warhammer 40k anymore because the people who make the game forgot to make the game fun in recent iterations.  Most recently I’ve started playing X-Wing.  A cool tabletop involving the Star Wars universe.

I’d probably say that I’m a quick study.  While I understand the nuances of the games I’ve played, learning to be good is much harder for me.  Its pretty frustrating sometimes when I plan my army lists days in advance, compare and contrast pilots and upgrades, and think about complicated maneuvers only to have my friends turbo-stomp me.

What annoys me the most is that I know why this happens to me.

While I am a quick study, I am a shit learner.

I know what your thinking, “Daniel you fucking idiot do you even read the words you write?”

Being a kinesthetic learner means that I don’t really learn anything permanently unless I do it myself.  I don’t learn well when I’m listening or watching.  I’ll learn the fuck outta stuff if I have to do it myself.

This is why sometimes I’ll talk to people about things I’ve recently read.  It helps me remember it when I’m teaching it to something.  I’ll talk your ear off about 3D rendering techniques even if you don’t care, I’ll talk about European politics if you give me the chance.  Hell, I’ve given my cat a long lesson on the Syrian Civil War.  I learned so much more about those topics when I “teach” someone this stuff, and I also learned that my cat is a shit student.

Playing X-Wing with my friends caused me to learn the rules of the game really quickly, but for nuanced strategies I don’t fucking learn whats successful or awful until I sacrifice the lives of many rebellion pilots.

This is true for Warhammer 40k, Battlecraft (formerly Flipit), Risk, Axis and Allies, Magic the Gathering, even checkers.

I’ll plan, I’ll scheme, I’ll research, but it all falls to pieces because I can’t see the problems with my strategies because listening and looking aren’t helping me.  I have to lose first before I can learn what works and what doesn’t, and its super annoying.

I still have fun!  Don’t get me wrong.  I just like to muse about the fact that I’m inherently bad at strategy games but I love them anyway.

This is probably confusing my buddy Devon who I play with since our last game I did really well and claimed victory.  I’m pretty sure all total we’ve played something like 10 -15 games, and I’ve only won two times.  As we keep playing I hope to eventually prove a consistent opponent for him and our buddy Scott.  Games get boring when they’re easy, so I want to prove my mettle (plastic?) by continuing to lose until my limit gauge fills up.

At the very least, X-Wing is a pretty concise game.  The rules are succinct and straightforward.  The rules aren’t needlessly complex, and each model you buy comes with every single thing you could possibly need to field it.  Its awesome to play so if you are new to table top strategy games I highly recommend X-Wing.

Its funny though, even though I’m playing X-Wing pretty consistently I do yearn for a more complicated game.  Warhammer 40k had so much material and rules guys.  Just the most.  And being able to wield a complex army makes you feel so good when you know the ins and the outs.

So yeah- I love strategy games.  I’m just not inherently good.  But these games teach me to accept my faults and turn them into strengths.

I hate ending on inspiration lines like that so, uh, fuck the Empire.

-DTM

Overwhelmed by What I Want to Learn

I really enjoyed your post about acting on impulse.  I feel its a lesser known wisdom that people don’t take advantage of more often.  Being an artist I work on deadlines that are sometimes absurd.  In this line of work, sometimes you need to grab whatever appears to you first and just sprint.  The toughest part is learning to ignore or overtake your doubt.

You were a pretty studious and organized kid.  It was the family joke for a while that you don’t actually need friends or loved ones as long as you have books!  Hilarious!

Then you got married and we all had to begrudgingly shut up.

As for me as a kid, I was definitely distracted.  I wasn’t a bad student, or a bad kid, or even just unfocused.  I use the word distracted because I spent a lot of time and energy finding and utilizing the path of least resistance.  I had other priorities!  There were like, video games to play, Thundercats to watch, and weekends to look forward to!  Who on earth has time for reading, school, books, and planners?

I got middling grades throughout elementary, middle, and high school.  Even the first half of college I spent a lot of time just treading water.  Not really falling behind, and never really sprinting for any finish line.  I didn’t want to fail, but I didn’t care enough to get that A.

And now, long after school is over and college is finished, I kinda, sorta, maybe resent my past self.

Its really unfair and unrealistic to expect a kid to try and please their future selves.  It takes away from being a kid.  We’ll blame the parents for this one.  But looking back I skipped a lot of interesting classes and picked easier topics so I had more time for dumb things in my evening, like bad girlfriends and Kingdom Hearts.

I’m a 3D artist, and as any artist can tell you there are always more techniques to learn and skills to practice.  I’m also a college graduate, and as any college graduate can tell you, you almost never learn as much as you needed or wanted to.

So now I’m an adult and now I have found the drive to not tread water, but to run and climb the enormous mountain of stuff I need to learn.  Not even need, I want to learn.

There is a list of crap I can list for what I want to learn in 3D.  I’d list it all here but it’ll seem like I’m picking words out of the dictionary and turning them into verbs.  I need to learn to skin, rig, deform, animate, bake normals and all sorts of other stuff.  The techniques I use in my work are what I found work the best in my workflow, and that is fine!  But I watch movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Ratatouille and I can only think to myself “I want to learn how to do that!  I want to tour these places and work with them to create amazing things!”

Meanwhile I’m building just an insurmountable amount of store fixtures.  I’ve made so many fixtures that they could fill a Wal-mart.  I’ve built the fixtures that actually belong in a Wal-mart.  That’s how my cover letter would go:

Dear Dean Dublois,

I heard that How to Train Your Dragon 3 was announced and I want to be an artist working on the movie.  If you have need of someone to create, say, a Wal-mart full of store fixtures for your movie about vikings and dragons, I am your guy!

Regards,

Daniel

I want to create these amazing things!  I already get to create super cool designs for specialty sports stores and those are cool, but I could make Toothless.  The big problem is that I don’t know how.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I’m doing in my career, but I think it’s human nature to want more.

And this is just my rant about my career!  There is so much about the world I just don’t understand.  And I’m trying to learn!

Seriously though, I didn’t understand the financial crisis in Greece, and I don’t understand the refugee problem in Syria and Europe.  Why did we go to war in Iraq?  People try and give these things really succinct causes and effects but the reality is that humans simplify because generally they are too large to fathom.

I fundamentally don’t understand the pros and cons of immigration in America.  I live here.  I should know, shouldn’t I?  Politics, man.  That’s its own little wormhole.  The police situations in Ferguson and other similar situations.  The internet and the media hype it, but is there a bias?  Am I getting the whole story?

If only we had some sort of institution in place that would educate a kid from age 6 to 18 about all the goings on in the world.  Man that would be handy.

I want to be well educated individual.  I don’t want to be manipulated by bias and agenda.  I don’t necessarily believe that everything is trying to trick me, but I think there is value on being able to teach myself and form my own unique opinions and ideas.

Its just so much.  Its so intimidating.

I’d better go relax myself by playing games, watching Thundercats, and thinking about the weekend.

-DTM