With increasing paranoia and striving for some strict level of perfect readiness, I shut myself down and locked myself up. I was mentally retconing parts of my stories I only told so few people and the thought of their possible reactions scared me. I felt inadequate to write other stories. I was lost in the delusion that at some mysterious point in the future, everything would come together and I would write.
Some time in April, I came across a question that was something along the lines of “what do you want your life to be like a year from now?”. All of a sudden, my usual brain fog disappeared. Two clear, firm thoughts appeared in my head, one of them to be posting on TrainerKelly’s Network by April 2021.
That was enough for me to start thinking clearly on how I was going to get there and what I needed to do. However, that wasn’t enough to actually start doing it.
Three things happened pretty close together that made me wake up and say to myself “WHAT AM I DOING?!” and actually get back to dang work!
What are the three things?
- Realizing I’m a failure
- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Realizing I’m a Failure
This year marks 10 years being out of high school for me. That’s almost crazy for me to think. Has it really been that long? A part of me can’t believe it, yet I can. I was a lot more miserable back then than I am now.
My high school (an online one) reached out to all their alumni, including me, to record videos for the class of 2020. Normally, the school would all gather in a state to do graduation in person, but thanks to COVID-19, it got cancelled and could only be done virtually. They asked for the video to give some words of encouragement and briefly about what you are doing right now.
What a horrid realization I had when I repeatedly read that requirements.
I had to say what I was doing?
Do you know what I was doing? I was finishing up my last few weeks at a job I became disillusioned with 10 months prior. The place where I wanted to be was no where closer to where I wanted to go than it was 10 years ago.
A big hole seemed to open up in my chest and I felt cold and heavy.
I realized I was a FAILURE.
I talked to my mom about it. She assured me that I wasn’t a failure and if I recorded a video, just mention that I was working as a supervisor, but I have my own business I was working on. I was working another job because I “had to make money”.
I didn’t want to say of that because I knew I was a failure and the reason I took the job wasn’t because I “had to make money”, but for another reason I couldn’t pinpoint.
I had to sit with this terrible realization and the depression that came with it. What exactly made me a failure when it came down to it? And why the heck does it bug me so much when people are like “this thing doesn’t pay the bills!!!” because I know there’s another reason that I don’t think others realize.
Well, after reflecting on it, I came to the following conclusions:
1.) I am a failure because my definition of success is sharing my works with others. If I’m not sharing my works with others, I am failing.
2.) Working jobs is for the experience, not for money. Even money is a part of that experience. Jobs help to teach you skills you don’t have otherwise, expose you to other people, and really help to hone your skills, whether you realize it or not.
After realizing my definition of success, I started to really buckle down on what I was going to be doing.
Steal Like an Artist
I started reading Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I know I’ve seen the book a few times before, but I think what really inspired me to pick it up was a book list of recommended books for web developers & designers. I know that may seem like a weird list to find a book like this on, but it has great advice for all aspects of your life.
I absolutely loved the book. I found literally one or two points that I did not agree on (I’m mainly looking at you, pg. 121 – I agree with staying out of debt, but I don’t agree with “saving” money. I’m all about that ~RICH~ life, as talked about in I WILL TEACH YOU TO BE RICH by Ramit Sethi), but for the most part, the whole dang THING was inspiring!
It was also another wake-up call.
I think chapter 6’s title summarizes what woke me up:
“The Secret: Do Good Work and Share it with People”
This is pretty much where I started shouting out myself “WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME?!” How could I let myself be so deeply worried and delusional that I literally stopped doing the work that actually would get me to my next step!
The book honestly soothed a lot of my internal fears and gave me another push to really start posting once again, as well as get back to dang work!
Of course, realizing I was a failure and reading Steal Like an Artist weren’t the only things that really pushed me to return back.
If you are going to tell me “All Lives Matter”, you aren’t understanding what “Black Lives Matter” means. It’s not saying that “only black lives matter”, but rather “black lives matter too”. The USA has over 400 years of the mistreatment of black people. This mistreatment is interwoven into the fabrics of our very society. It’s woven into our police forces, our medical care, our workplaces, our social class. It’s so integrated, it often goes under the radar from people who benefit the most from the system, such as people like me who are white.
Protest erupted after George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police kneeling on his body and crushing him to death (all over a supposedly fraudulent $20 bill). This wasn’t the first time there had been protest over a black person dying, but something was different this time.
Very, very different.
People were actually being heard.
People were actually listening, reading, and amplifying voices that normally get buried.
The whole thing and the way it unfolded was amazing to me.
So…what exactly about this movement inspired me?
As I made my graphic in support of the black community and figured out where to start, I was frustrated with myself internally. I have almost no reach. Even if I amplified the resources, the voices, and the stories, almost no one (or no one at all) would receive them. And these are important messages for people to receive.
One of my goals with TrainerKelly’s Network is to help people out, whether it’s by writing my stories that inspire people to reflect on their own lives, train them to do what I do and make it their own, or showcase awesome people and their works. If I’m not in a position to do that and reach people, then I’m not doing my job.
I want to better position myself to help people and make a bigger impact.
And for me, I knew I couldn’t do that without getting my work done.
I’m going to be 100% honest with you here, but I’ve been really crappy about on my own anti-racism work. I think some of it is hurt still from 2015, while some of it is focusing on other projects that need my time & dedication. I think I’m mostly just afraid of the pain and embarrassment that will happen as I learn more, but I know the pain is not going to be anything compared to what black, indigenous, and people of colour go through every day. Maybe. I don’t know. For all I know, learning more about their stories will suddenly uproot a bunch of issues all down the line for me and I’ll experience a great healing myself. But I don’t know. I actually need to do the work.
Where to Go From Here?
I need to get back to anti-racism work because I suck and stopped and let other things I was doing take my attention away from it. Other than that…
I decided to start sharing again and the fastest way to do that was with Rambles, this blog. I have a decent back catalog of artwork, which started being posted just the other day! I also wanted to throw in some additional posts, such as behind the scenes, personal reflections, tutorials, and such things. Besides from fulfilling my own need to share (even with no feedback), I’m hoping that these Rambles help to generate interest (and perhaps hype?) for my works.
I’ve started summarizing stories and even started writing one of them! I haven’t fully decided on the format as of yet, but by the time they come out, I’ll know. Additionally, I started working on research (and by “research”, I mean reading stuff and letting my subconscious spit back up inspiration like it often does). I’m sick of hitting walls with my stories!
I started working through a bunch of business courses. I’ve been working on web development. I’ve been learning how to write copy. I’ve been practicing Japanese through LingoDeer. I’ve been practicing singing, even though I haven’t been to voice lessons in a few months. I’ve been studying perspective drawing and so far, it is going great, I think.
I’m preparing myself for April 2021, because as I said earlier – by then, I want to be posting on TrainerKelly’s Network.
Books to Start With:
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
Other Videos to Watch (Available on Netflix):
13th (Netflix) (Available for FREE on YouTube, NO ADS!)
Time | The Kalief Browder Story
Who Killed Malcolm X?
See You Yesterday
When They See Us
Dear White People