Blocked

I’m in one of my regular cafes right now, trying to fill out an application that I am very excited about. I’m so excited, in fact, that I have writer’s block. On any given day, I tend to think and talk about so many different parts of life and reality that I don’t really get this kind of block very often. There is always some idea or concept rattling around in my head, ready to burst onto a computer screen or the page of a journal. However, it’s much harder to write about yourself or your accomplishments than it is to write about your ideas.

My standards are high, but only for myself. I wouldn’t call myself a cynical person, but I tend to expect less from others because I don’t want to overestimate what they might bring to a project or task. I always assume that I am going to have to pick up more work than my team members because that’s what I’ve typically done in the past. This is a reality of my life that I don’t mind. If you want something done well, do it yourself, right? Since graduation, this unequal distribution of work has slowly been getting better, as I am now working with teams that actually want to be a part of what they are doing and aren’t just forced into a coworking situation.

However, I still hold myself to a higher standard. I expect more than my best, I expect to achieve the “impossible.” I’ve accomplished a lot for an eighteen-year-old, but it’s not enough for me. A lot of family members and friends will make efforts to remind me that I am already ahead of the curve about most people my age, but that doesn’t affect how I see my productivity. I don’t care that I’m ahead in relation to others, I want to be ahead in regard to my past self. I don’t care if I’m ahead for my age, I don’t think that warrants any kind of arrogance or praise or extended laziness. I want people to push me and challenge me and be tough on me because I want people to expect more from me. I know I can always do more and I want my employers or coworkers or team members to know that too.

Sometimes, when I get a block like this, I try to remember that I shouldn’t ask anyone to hold me to a higher standard like I hold myself. If I receive this type of pressure internally and externally, it may eventually cripple me. The pressure I want from external sources is a mild challenge. I want those asking me to produce content or do marketing work or any kind of task to see that I am capable of doing better than I am already doing.

So this block is causing that higher standard to be challenged. Internally, I tell myself that I shouldn’t ever have writer’s block because that is something that people who don’t meet my standards have. That idea is not only false, but it’s also toxic. It’s not that I have to give myself permission to not meet these standards constantly, it’s that I have to understand what aspects of life this standard is applicable. Sometimes, I can’t control or impact whether or not I have a block. Writing about myself often gives me a block because I begin to think about how they compare to others and that irritates me.

I have a desire to be so good at what I do that I cannot be compared to others. That it won’t matter what I don’t have because what I do have is too remarkable to let anyone care about what I lack. That is not the case right now, but it is what I strive for, and it is what I will achieve one day.

Eloragh

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Balance

Throughout my life, I have always struggled to find the right balance between working and relaxing. I tend to lean on either side for too long and end up neglecting my responsibilities or my health. My life is not very stable at the moment, but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. With a constant flow of work, phone calls, emails, and things to be done, I am always making an effort to reach that perfect equilibrium.

This time last week, I felt bored. I had completed a lot of the work I needed to do and had more time on my hands than usual. I remember feeling frustrated and lazy; there was, of course, research or communications I could be doing, but I didn’t think any of it would truly benefit my projects at the moment. I try to not work just for the sake of working, especially when what I produce ends up being useless or unnecessary to whoever I’m working with at the moment. During this period, I read a lot, explored Montreal, and continued my day-to-day blogging and outreach work.

Today, however, is a different day. My to-do list is probably the longest it has been since I moved to Montreal. A lot of the tasks are menial and simple to complete, but I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of them. People drop projects, need more information, want help in different places, etc. Work springs up quickly and often catches me by surprise.

Today, someone dropped a massive project and then someone else dropped that right into my lap. I have associated with this project already, so I understand why the responsibility fell to me to complete it, but I will admit that I am worried about my distance from the “client.” I’ll be back in New Mexico for the first three weeks of August to complete an internship, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to work with this organization remotely until then.

Finding the balance between distance, responsibilities, physical and mental health, and enjoying your life is a big challenge for everyone. I find that setting a beginning time, a lunch break, and an end time helps. Sometimes, working from home can feel like time travel. You sit down to send one email at 9 am, and suddenly it’s 6 pm and you haven’t eaten or moved all day. This, in some ways, is good, it means you enjoy your work. In other ways, you won’t be adding value to anything if you sustain this type of lifestyle for too long.

When I was a junior in high school, I would watch my grades religiously. I updated the app on my phone after every class and made a note of every assignment and grade shift. I remember crying myself to sleep one night after watching my history grade drop from a 92 to an 89. The next morning, I woke up in a daze and decided that I was due for a reality check. Metrics, data, scores, grades, views, followers, paychecks, and other forms of success through numbers are fantastic ways to measure how much your work is paying off, but they are easy to become addicted to.

Measure your success by those numbers if you so choose, but measure it by other means as well. Measure your success by your happiness, by your quality of life, by those around you, by how you feel in your mind and body. There are many other ways to appreciate your work. To thrive, you have to think about the balance between work and play. Having adequate amounts of both will benefit your success in every aspect of life.

Eloragh

The Bleeding Edge

My recent introduction to Rogers Innovation Bell Curve was an interesting one. I spent a long time evaluating where I may fall on the graph and concluded that I was most likely crossing the “chasm” between “early majority” and “early adopters. That chasm is the most difficult to overcome, as it is full of shocking new ideas and concepts that would frighten most of the rest of the curve.

That 2.5% in purple labeled as “innovators” is also referred to as “the bleeding edge.” Those are the people who propose things that 97.5% of the rest of the world think is ridiculous. They are the people who believe in ideas like competitive governance and solutions to world problems that don’t involve political action or intervention. There is a lot of fear around the bleeding edge and being involved in it.

I desperately want to be on the bleeding edge. I have always lived a safe and reliable life, so the bleeding edge is exciting to me. It’s full of risk and adventure and potential rewards beyond the ends of my imagination. That particular demographic of society is teeming with people who want to change the world and alter how people think the world should be changed.

There are many things I want to do that would put me very close to the bleeding edge. Every day, I inch closer to this cliff of ideas. Who knows where I would end up if I jumped? Is the risk better than the anticipation of not knowing? That’s always the question we are posed with – if we don’t try, we will never know what may have come of it.

I remember when I was 15 and fell in love with ballet. Every single person in my life, including those closest to me, encouraged me to pursue it without the hopes of a future career. Most people were kind about it, saying this such as “you should enjoy it and embrace your love for it, but understand that your physiology and late start would never allow you to get anywhere with it professionally.” Yet, here I am, at a four-week ballet intensive, in a level with people who have trained for 10+ years, after I have only trained for 2.

That fear of being told that I couldn’t turn what I loved into a sustainable way of life was what gave me the energy to push myself. I come home sore, with aching feet and new blisters every day, but I get satisfaction from knowing that they are products of hard work and will only make me stronger. If I had listened, if I had only ever seen ballet as a hobby, I would never have known what I was capable of. I have fallen many times, but those failures pale in comparison to the joy this passion has brought me. In some ways, I was on the bleeding edge of ballet. I shoved my way into an art form that wanted to spit me out the second I set foot in a studio. I refused to be told what I could and could not do.

In some ways, I think that experience is one reason why I am so drawn to the bleeding edge. I love proving people wrong, especially when I gain a lot from doing so. It’s that combination of satisfaction and achievement that motivates me. I love being told I can’t do something, only to turn around and do it better than everyone else.

So I say don’t fear the bleeding edge. Embrace the possibility that it offers. Yes, people will think you’re crazy when you proposed your wild, innovation ideas, but their words will become their own humiliation when you prove them wrong. The mere fact that you exist at the time you do is so unlikely, why not stand at the edge of the cliff? You will only have one chance to do so.

Eloragh

Approaching Fear

I do my best not to push my fear to the side. I feel as though ignoring it will only make it much worse when I have to inevitably face it. Lately, I’ve had a lot of fear. Graduating high school did wonders for my self-esteem and stress levels, but definitely did not help the impending sense of dread that accompanies adulthood. It’s all about balance though.

You see, I don’t let fear stop me from doing much. Every once and a while, my fear will paralyze me. Fish, for example, really freak me out. I have always hated swimming with them, eating them, or touching them in general. The only exception would be fish tanks, but that’s really an aesthetic thing. Because of this extreme dislike and fear of fish, I rarely swim in the ocean. I will work myself up to be able to do it, wade into my knees, and freak out at the sight of a little cichlid. It’s really unfortunate, I love everything about the ocean except those finned freaks.

The fear I’m experiencing now is a lot different. It’s less of a fear of something tangible and real, like a fish, and more of a fear of the potential. The potential for failure, for loss, for missed opportunities, that scares me.

But I still won’t let it cripple me. I have to keep moving forward no matter what I fear may stand in my way. My determination and resilience are two qualities I refuse to give up. They sustain me, they inspire me, and they took a lot of work to develop. I have these qualities for moments like this, moments when I need my strength more than anything. I will hold onto it and fall back on it like I am meant to do.

Eventually, when I do face my fear, I will only be stronger because I acknowledged it and didn’t allow it to paralyze me.

Eloragh

Posture

Posture says a lot about a person, which is why it makes me so furious when my stance is lazy. I hate slouching (even though it may feel amazing after a long day) because it puts my body and my mind in a state I can only describe as sloth. Slow like a sloth, my mind drags along like a snail, leaving behind a trail of wasted time.

I am motivated by productivity. If I can get started, it’s easy for me to continue. In fact, it’s painful for me to stop working once I’ve found my rhythm. I like to prep my space and my body in such a way that I have no excuses for lack of effort or progress. I get enough sleep, I wake up with coffee and get something in my stomach, I exercise every day to keep my blood flowing and my stress low, etc. I also keep my space incredibly clean and organized. There is nothing that I hate more than working in a messy area. Posture can be rumpled. Life can be messy.

Right now, my posture is not good. I am sitting up on two decorative pillows, and I am 100% sure my spine is not in alignment. My body is already in the way of producing work that I am proud of. However, I have had a long day. I sometimes forget that my body has to recover for me to make actual progress towards my goals and passions. So, I am allowing myself to slouch.

As I allow myself to slouch, I don’t let myself to ignore my to-do list. Having something to show for every day is motivating as well. It is productive, admittedly not the most productive I’ve ever been, but still productive. I produced, I grew, I continued to reach for those goals.

We will have good days, we will have great days, we will all have days where we feel like we ascend to the highest tiers of production. Yes, we will have bad days. We will have days where our bodies or our minds or our experiences kick us and throw us to the ground. All that matters is that we remember our good days, our great days, our golden days and reach for that level of creativity. Progress propels us forward and lifts us up when we feel as though we have nothing left.

Eloragh