Hello…Again.

It’s been another apallingly long time since I’ve updated—130 of them, to be exact. In that 4 month time equivalent, the dust storms on the horizon that I had back then have largely settled, and things worked out rather well. Soon after my last entry, I ended up picking finding what started as a part-time job doing in-office tech support and website administration for a property investment company not too far from where I live. I’d applied to an office admin/executive assistant posting, but even though they ultimately went with someone else with more industry-relevant experience, I interviewed well enough that they created the a position for me.

The job was initially set to be 4-6 hours 2 days a week, it changed to 3 full time days on my first day. Right at the end of my first month, my co-worker had to resign from the position to move home to help her family with her dad, who’d just had a serious medical episode. On her last day, I sat with her and looked over all the resumes that she’d received from the Craigslist ad for her replacement. I was out the following week, having thrown out my back. When I returned to the office the following week, I was expecting to find a brand new face waiting for me. Instead, I got called into a meeting in the middle of the afternoon and was offered the position, making me the all-in-one office support I intended to be. This mean I would have to resign from my part time job with my previous employer, but when I interviewed at the new place, the question *was* posed as to where I’d fall if I were told they needed me join the team full-time, to which I’d replied I would definitely do it. It was sad to slowly phase out over the course of a few weeks, but the time spent in transit traveling the 9 miles out to La Mesa and back working for someone already in semi-retirement in comparison to a 13-15 minute bike ride (and that only because of city traffic) for a new venture made all the logical sense. Now fully able to take a page out of the millenial playbook and forego car ownership and its many expenses and rely on biking and ridesharing, I’ve been completely in love with my commute. Being someone that actively recycles and cares about the planet, trading in a carbon footprint and ongoing fuel/maintenance expenses for some moderately light exercise feels like a major win.

In regard to the job itself, it’s been a fun and engaging challenge juggling multiple projects and learning how to work for two people instead of just one as well as having to learn and adjust to their expectations and styles of communication. Project-wise, designing and implementing a filing system and an AP/AR processing workflow tailored to the needs of the company has been the focus of my time thus far. The volume of the backlog and having to design around *multiple* operating entities and partnerships instead of a singular business entity has been frustrating at times, but reaching the final stages of execution and being able to see how I’ve tamed the mess has been far more gratifying. My days are never slow, and I get to spend them working with two really great guys, and two days a week, a sweet-yet-feisty older lady.

Admittedly, the busy days at the office have been leaving me fairly gassed out. With barely enough energy to tend to household maintenance, I haven’t been as proactive with my running/exercise as I was before, and I’ve fallen behind on keeping my personal life as organized as the businesses I do it for during working hours. But I have been giving a lot of thought on the the next push forward. At the start of the month, the guys at work paid for me to go take a notary certification class & exam. Seeing as how this is the third job in a row that has ended up pertaining to homes and property, I’ve pretty much settled on the idea of taking classes next year to get my real estate license. All the while, I still haven’t given up on content creation and web development or this blog, so I’ve got a lot in the pipeline. Regardless of how “ready” I feel, life’s at a point now where it’s time to think less and just act.

Absence

I’ve finally sat myself down in front of the computer screen with the intent of writing a new blog post. Referencing my most recent entries like I normally do, I’m utterly astounded at how long it’s been since I last pushed an update. I started to gather a lot of steam back at the beginning of early July, and that went flying out of the window with a series of health issues that came at me through a revolving door of illness from the middle of the month to the very end. Right around that time, a new PS4 game (Bloodborne) found its way into the household. Being incapacited and convalescent, I got in the habit of ignoring my to-do list and escaping through the distraction of video games. Apparently, I’ve been in a zombie-like routine — work, commute, eat, play, sleep, repeat — for far longer than I thought. To me, it felt like only three, four weeks at most.

That loss of momentum is a real shame; I was really riding high on a motivational train, up until it derailed and crashed into the metaphorical mountainside. There have been times over the past weeks where I’ve tried to recapture that feeling, but each time, I was stared down by those old nagging questions: what is it that I’m really saying, and what is it that I even have to say? What progress is there to report, what is there worth writing out when it feels like the needle isn’t moving at all in real life? Where is the proof of that power I’ve waxed on about in recent months?

In times past, having my body break down on me and separate me from that better version of myself that regularly works out and leaving powerless in front of those sort of self-analytical questions would have left me racked with anxiety and doubt, ruminating and pining for days when things were “better”. This time around, there was no break. It simply was what it was: something to ride out and patiently convalesce through until I could get back to real work. In all areas of life, I’ve been put to the test in practicing those ideals of strength and stoicism that I covet, and I’ve been able to do so without feeling like an utter failure or an impostor pretending to be something he’s not. Putting it all into words has been the real challenge.

What I’ve come to realize is that it’s the challenge that I most need to conquer first. Every time I put mind to what it is I should be doing to bolster my marketable skill set, it all ends up taking back seat to the writing I do on this blog. It feels vain in it’s own way, placing so much priority on writing about myself than on other things that would be of real use to others (and myself, by way of income generation). But monetary success isn’t my driver, legitimate and tangible self-improvement is. Here is where I’ve plastered myself online in the most honest and self-deprecating way, and as I know I’ve written before, deleting it all or sweeping it under the rug won’t do. If I am as removed from that past self as I want to be and think I am, I should be able to write with more ease and focus, and my words should inherently reflect that personal change.

Now that all the lament and melancholy that used to pervade my entire waking day is no longer in place, it has become a lot easier to think and process things about myself, my “self”, and my life, and more importantly, to verbalize them. I am finally back in my own corner, filled with unshakable confidence and determination in all those moments in life that don’t end up a status update or in a blog post. And it feels great.

Domain Mapped

Tonight, I decided to knock out a long-standing to do list item and get my domain registration renewed. After I got it done but didn’t have a corresponding hosting service to point it to, I paid WordPress the $13 to get it mapped to this blog for a year.

Sure, I plan to get back onto a self-hosted installation some time later this year, but in the mean time, this will definitely do.

Hesitations

Over the past week since my last entry, I’ve been putting constant thought towards my next update, but haven’t been able to firmly nail down what to address. I try to focus myself by asking the question “what is it I’m trying to communicate?” Immediately, I’m flooded with so many different ideas itching to be transposed from thought to text, but as I start mapping one out mentally, I trace dependencies on other past events/people/places that I’d need to also write about in order to provide full and proper context and get overwhelmed by all that needs to be written. It feels like I need to author an autobiography of my life so far for everything I have to say to make sense, but it also feels ridiculous to put time and energy in diving deep into the past when my present and the subsequent future demand are so demanding of my attention.

I tell myself that I’d already have it done after all these years if I’d spent even a fraction of the time I’ve put into that repeated deliberation towards writing, and that it probably wouldn’t end up taking nearly as long as I imagine it would if I made a concentrated effort. Once I get those doubts pushed out of the way, I leave myself confronted by my final and greatest hesitation: the burdens and responsibilities of disclosing truths.

Little over a decade ago, when the beginnings of my inward spiral were freshly transpired, I took to the internet and wrote about them. Since the internet was screen-name driven and largely anonymous at that time, I was safe behind the cover of whatever LiveJournal username I had in use at the time. So I wrote about myself, my family, and what had happened then, overflowing with unbridled rage and hatred. I removed them from the web sometime in the early 2000’s, and since then have not allowed myself to write about them until I’d achieved the capacity to revisit those memories without being affected by them; emotional bias has a tendency to skew the truth, and likely being the only documented perspective on the events of my past, I’ve been very hesistant to believe myself capable of creating a record that accurately reflects reality.

Even if I now feel myself capable of doing so, my life hasn’t always been the isolated existence I’ve forced on myself in the recent years. Even if I were to avoid using names and stuck to relative references to people, public records and online social networks make it very easy to pinpoint a person’s identity. I’ve made my peace with airing my personal past public knowledge, but the inherent nature of also making parts of other peoples’ past as well in the process isn’t lost on me. And it makes the thought of playing the part of historian feel like a very arrogant prospect.

But at this point, it’s just something that has to be done – my alternative is to throw in the towel and sweep everything under the rug by purging all of my internet records, which even then wouldn’t guarantee anonymity and something I refuse to ever do again. So over the past few days, I’ve been firing up Scrivener in small stints, getting familiarized with the application and cobbling together the story of the past 28 years. My expectation is the more I get through it, the more I’ll be able to work out those reservations I have through refinement.

Delineation

Earlier this week, I sat down to write my monthly snapshot in my journal. When I finished and compared it against last month’s snapshot and the blog posts in the time between, I was surprised to find that almost an entire month has gone by since I’ve made an update. Which is something that I’ve long been wanting to change, and now have a pressing need to finally put into action. My last entry touched upon a variety of career related struggles I’m wrestling with:

  • Being 28 and not having a degree or certification
  • Feeling like I’m limited to where I’m at because of how hard it was to find my current job when I was unemployed last year
  • The feelings of self-loathing and resentment I have for “not being able” to improve my financial & professional station
  • The feeling of uselessness from having my most noteworthy professional accomplishments lie so far in the past
  • The obligatory explanation for why and how I write

In distilling that post into concise pieces, it’s easy to see that the common underlying problem has been succumbing to the trappings of “feeling”. Or as a philosophical stoic would call it, “unhelpful perception”.

In my day to day life over the past few years, I’ve reclaimed my sense of self and confidence. As I represent myself here, I haven’t moved very much past the weak and senseless wreck I used to be a few years ago. Initially, it was necessary. It was a way to writing was a theraputic form of self exploration (which happens to be the tag I’ve grouped those past posts under), and it satisfied a craving to know that it was possible in some way for my real thoughts and struggles to be knowable.

But the ultimate goal was to move past it all, and having done so, my personal site should reflect that. I can’t very well claim to be capable at content creation & strategy skills if my personal site is an abject mess using a past self as an excuse.

This week, I’ve been working on establishing a better organizational hierarchy and navigation flow, updating my about page (both here and on various other websites), and planning future content formats. I hold no illusion about being a hard sell at being a 28 year old generalist with no degree, but I’m also once again willing to trust in professional track record with exceeding expectations and earning the respect of all my past employers & partners. It’s time to truly start fearlessly putting it all to work again.

Cornered

In this recent lack of updates, I’ve come to the realization just how much weight it carries in my mind. As a tech enthusiast whose primary field of study has been Communications with an emphasis in Marketing, I’m aware of the importance of having a well established online presence. However, after taking so much time to work on myself and living outside of my old life, with strictly information internet usage and minimal social media engagement, the story I had to tell changed. I became less the tech savvy internet marketer who was part of the senior leadership of startup organization that helped bring Japanese rock to American shores, and more the survivor of a prolonged identity crisis. In my earlier years, I used to use writing as a means of processing life’s happenings, a way to collect and reflect intelligently on things. I made the effort to reconnect with that process, and the decision to publish what I wrote openly on the web as well. As a long time internet user, I’ve seen the unintentional and unexpected positive ways in which sharing a story can help other people. As a self-aware internet user, I have no objection to contributing my weaknesses and shortcomings to the version of me that exists in the collective internet cloud. I feel it would be wasteful to not be honest about these things, and throw away the First Amendment privilege we have in being able to openly express ourselves for the sake of appearance, presentation, and personal branding. That may sound a bit naive in ways, but sometimes I’m just a stubborn idealist — I accept that about myself.

All that being said, I feel that in focusing on capturing the present narrative throughout so many past incohesive posts, I’ve delayed pushing it forward. There’s a lot of areas of improvement that I’ve identified for myself, but my efforts have been greatly scattered and unfocused, resulting in very little improvement. Life calls for the actualization of the idealized self I’ve been striving to embody, and I’m ready for the challenge. But I feel encumbered by the story my younger self decided to share. After having painted so thoroughly a picture of myself as a broken individual in the process of reconnecting with his true “self”, I now feel like I’ve got some imaginary mountain of writing output that I have to generate to clean up after that decision. I’ve talked about the challenges and the struggles, but not on the resolutions and the takeways. I’ve been open about my weaknesses and my fears, but I’ve neglected my strengths and my accomplishments. It was a means to help myself sort it all out, and I’ll admit it worked, but everything has it’s cost. Fighting this feeling of obligation towards my writing is the one I’m currently facing, and the ramifications it has on my professional prospects because of its representation of myself as an individual. Overcoming everything that I’ve been struggling with internally the past few years is what’s been holding back my confidence and proudly demonstrate everything that I’m truly capable of.

This past weekend, I spent all of my day Saturday doing some initial business consultation with a friend who’s aspiring to start a catering business. I set her up with a collaborative online workflow for us to work together on, initiated conversations on branding and identity, establishing and communicating a story, and procured templates by which to compile a thorough business plan, and more specifically, a marketing plan. Having engaged in work of that nature and produced positive and measurable results as well as engaging in a new and ongoing project has sparked that old fire. The fact that I spend every workday conducting a routine set of basic administrative and data entry tasks in an enclosed room instead of doing something measurable that utilizes all of my capabilities is suffocating. And at my age, beginning to border inexcusable.

Now that the heavy lifting has been completed, it’s time to bring those chapters to a close and move on. Every day now brings an feeling of great promise that goes unseized and unexplored because I’m not exercising enough focus and determination. I recognize there’s a certain irony to my current situation, feeling inhibited by my past efforts to put my issues with my personal past to rest. Yet, having spent that recent Saturday doing something impactful that I enjoy, and writing about all of this now and getting the actual narrative up to speed, I feel an immense sense of progress and an equal sense of relief. I’ve regained trust in the idea that there’s a wealth of great ideas and talent inside my head. Successive failures in life knocked that belief out of me, but not being able to perform to my true potential is starting to eat away me. Reorienting and reclaiming myself has been my struggle, overcome but not completely told. As a result, what I have to show so far is the introspective lamentations of a troubled personal past and a weight loss project that routinely stalls out.

All I’ve written, to date, traps me in a corner, the image of a self-doubting incapable wreck. Though a lot of it has to do with the personal image I’ve been addressing, a lot of it stems from a personal fear: the fear that I’m not good enough. It’s a message I received repeatedly growing up, and though I’ve made my peace with it on that front, the realist in me knows that the world is not a very friendly place. The last time I actively looked for employment, it took months to finally end up where I am now, and reading so many of the unemployment stories on Gawker, where university graduates have gone months unemployed or having to settle for minimum wage, to desire to want something better begins to feel audacious, considering that despite all of my past professional accomplishments, I have no formal certification that gives entry to higher paying jobs.

But I remember that despite all the failures, things have paid out when I’ve taken bold moves in the past. I have that sense of unyielding confidence and unshakable resilience that I felt I lost so long ago. This corner is a trapping of my own, and I’ve conquered challenges far greater in life.

Zen Habits

Zen Habits is a great blog filled with the kind of content I wish I could generate on matters related to mindfulness & mental health, but I think I still have a way to go before I see myself actually being on that level. Still, I definitely recommend everyone check out Leo Babauta’s blog, or better yet, subscribe to it.