3 Passions

This post is in response to a “homework” prompt my professor gave me after I confided in him that I felt a bit lost where career was concerned:

     Passion is a funny thing. To me, passion is consuming and blinding. It heightens our emotional responses and it can make us feel invincible or incredibly vulnerable. Passion is volatile, dangerous and fleeting – a flame in the dark, quickly snuffed out. It is the meaning of life and our ultimate undoing. Passion scares me.

     When I was young I was passionate about everything. Any moment could be filled with love or hate by turns. I was a strong-willed child who knew what she wanted and always got it. I was persistent. I was persuasive. I was passionate.

     In high school, I had a variety of unique opportunities to shine (politics, science, sports, music…you name it, I tried it) but the ones I enjoyed the most (and for which I received the most praise) were those that dealt with music. I am a gifted signer, so people have and continue to say. After being invited to 5 All State choirs and dozens of small choral groups and festivals I knew music was my passion. I geared my high school experience towards singing and when it came time to decide on a college and a major, I headed to DU to pursue a degree in Jazz Performance as a vocalist. I loved music in high school…and I hated it in college.

     Growing up I had other hobbies. In particular, I spent a great deal of time reading. I was perfectly content to sit alone in my room, in the car, at restaurants and parties (even in movies) and just read. I was in love with the fantastical worlds and people in my books. And I was good at reading…and reading critically. I understood plot devices, recognized symbolism and rhapsodized to my unwilling parents about the overarching themes.

     When I left music school, I decided to explore this other passion that I had set aside. My mother was very happy…she felt that studying English was my path all along. She told me that she had always admired my ability to entertain myself through literature. She envisioned me as a teacher…and so did the university. Now, I’m great with kids and I enjoy sharing knowledge and I can be very patient…but I do NOT want to be a teacher. I panicked. I don’t want to teach. I hate teaching. NOT being a teacher is a passion of mine. After a semester of boredom, frustration and fear of being forced into teaching, I quit English too.

     After music and English schooling, I shelved my passions. I didn’t sing at all for the better part of two years and the only books I have read since 2011 are the Harry Potter series (…again). It hurts to remember how much I used to love those things. Now I only feel fear, hatred or apathy.

     I decided to abandon passion, it had burned me too many times in my career aspirations…and I won’t even go into how it has burned me in relationships…so I was done with passion. Passion was too unpredictable. Passion had almost ruined me ($60,000 in debt, a brief stint on anti-depressants, living with a drug addict…I could go on…) so I wasn’t going to explore passion anymore.

     When my dad passed, I resolved to grow up and leave behind my foolish childhood dreams and passions. Any lingering sentimental attachment to passion was buried in the wake of that loss. I threw away my costumes. I sold my PA system. I picked a nice sensible major with a wealth of career opportunities. Shockingly…I hate this too.

     I’m pretty good at Mass Communications. I get it. I’m creative and analytical…but I’ve been pretty good at everything I’ve tried (with the notable exception being my season on the swim team my junior year of high school…that was a fiasco!). Aptitude does not equate to enjoyment or fulfillment. Since my father’s passing I don’t have the same emotional range that I used to. I don’t hate or love as fiercely as I used to…but I hate mass comm. I find my peers to be shallow, manipulative and lazy. I find the suject matter to be redundant and in many cases painfully obvious. I abhore the amount of group work forced on us and I find the “working for real clients” projects to be an unethical practice that takes advantage of inexperienced workers (aka students). But I graduate in the spring, so I’ll stick it out and get the stupid piece of paper that says “Ya done good.” It can’t hurt to have a bachelor’s degree after all this, right?

     After I graduate, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I could get a job in mass comm, no problem. I could find work as singer or get my certification and be a great teacher too. Heck, I could brush up my mixology skills and bar-tend again and probably make more money doing that than anything else! But I don’t want to do any of those things. I don’t know what I want to do. Passion and logic have both failed me. I don’t want to do just any old job, but I am also afraid of getting burned by my passions again. I’m afraid that if I admit to being passionate about something I’ll find myself in the same situation again and I’ll end up hating another thing I once loved.

     I know what I’m good at: public speaking, writing, singing, drawing, talking to and teaching kids, reading and analyzing texts, persuasion.

     I know what I hate: mornings, desk jobs, math, strangers, alcohol and drugs, bars, nonfiction, research, meat.

     I know what I like: yoga, archery, ukulele, compliments, boys.

     And I know what I love: Scotland, England, science fiction, fantasy, books, costumes, sleeping in late, staying out late, conversing with friends, daydreaming.

     I don’t think that knowing these things can help me find three passions. Even if I do find passion, I don’t know what I would do with it…run away most likely. Passion hurts, but so does life without passion. I don’t know if I can take the leap of faith into a new passion. I think I might like to write…but what if I start to hate that too? What do I do then? Where do I go next? I don’t know if I have three passions…my guess is that somewhere under my hurt and fear I have a hundred passions…but I don’t think I’m ready to uncover them yet.

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NaNoWriMo

     It is November, folks! That means it’s time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The objective in NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Now…it’s probably a pretty terrible idea for me to take on another task right now, but I’m not very good at saying no to things…so I’m already over 12,000 words in.

     Why would I put myself through this? I’m already over extended, and exhausted. I’m already doing a dozen things all of which are suffering because they are being juggled alongside all the other commitments. Should I really be writing a novel right now? I think the answer is yes.

     About a month ago, I attended a convention where I sat in a panel session where they discussed NaNoWriMo. The panel repeatedly made the point that NaNoWriMo is not about great writing. No one expects your novel to be brilliant…they expect it to be written. As the panel leader so wisely said, you can edit bad writing, but you can’t edit no writing. So I’m writing.

     I have learned over the last two years that I kind of hate Mass Communications. I chose this major blindly and after the initial period of curiosity, the novelty wore off. I have found that as I have gotten older I have gotten increasingly introverted. I increasingly appreciate my quiet alone time and I do my best work alone. I have also found that when I get stressed out, I indulge in escapism. I create fantastical scenarios in my mind, other worlds and lives. I have also found that writing is cathartic.

    So writing this novel is a release. While I am trudging through the difficulties of each day, trying to place nice in group work and make it to all of my various commitments on time and fighting all of the stress-related ailments that have befallen me this year, I can write. I can create characters and send them on adventures. I can work through my feelings and live through their actions. Writing a novel is how I plan on staying sane this month.

     Writing this novel is also about proving something to myself: that I can finish what I start. I have a bad habit of giving up halfway through things. I get bored or tired or scared and I run away. When my dad passed away last summer I made myself a few promises concerning this. Number one, I would finish college, and number two, I would not cut my hair. So far so good…but I’ve realized something else in the pursuit of these goals.

I shouldn’t do anything just to make others happy.

     I hate college…a lot. I am having a very difficult time right now. I don’t have friends in any of my classes, I am behind on most of my work, I am disinterested in the subject matter…I could go on…but I know my dad would have wanted me to finish college. I know my mother and my friends and my friends’ mothers want me to finish college.

     I also hate long hair. Part of me really wants to look like Angelina Jolie and have super long hair that I can curl or braid or whatever it is girls with long hair do…but I don’t really feel like that’s me. My father would have liked to see me grow my hair out like a normal person. My mother would like me to grow my hair out (“you have such beautiful hair, Kimberly…” – Mom), many of my friends and friends’ moms agree…blah blah blah.

     But here’s the difference: I see value in my college career…not for anyone else, for me. I believe that finishing college will be empowering and that my education will open doors. So even though I hate college and I wish I had never started, I will see this thing through. My hair on the other hand…? I’m cutting it. I realized that I wouldn’t curl or braid my hair if it was long anyway. Hair drives me crazy and I don’t like the way it looks on me and I don’t know what to do with it and I just don’t feel like me with it. Besides, I can always buy a wig if I really want to look like Angelina Jolie that badly.

    My decisions may draw positive and negative reactions from the people I know and care about, but at the end of the day, the one person I really need to please is me. If I’m not happy with my life…if I don’t see value in what I’m doing….then why do it? To that end, I am writing a novel this month. It’s going to be hard and the novel will probably be pretty terrible, but I can always edit it later. Writing this novel is something that I want, something that I enjoy. And what makes this journey even more awesome is that in one month I will have finished something. I will have met a goal and that’s going to feel great. I have left so many things half finished, but this I know I can do and I know I will do. NaNoWriMo is for me. Hopefully what I write will have potential and I can turn it into something that I can share and even make money on, but for now it is a symbol of my ability to do something.

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Why I Hate Group Work: A Poem.

As a self-proclaimed introvert, control-freak and perfectionist, I HATE group work. Always have, probably always will. I am currently enrolled in four different upper division Mass Communication classes. All of these classes are culminating in large…GROUP…projects. Awesome. My grades (grades, mind you, that are in classes I have to pass in order to graduate with my chosen degree) depend, to a large extent, on group work. This is so not cool on so many levels.

First of all, I really dislike talking to strangers and I REALLY dislike interacting with my peers. I suffer from anxiety and these types of interactions can (and have often in the past) resulted in panic attacks. I go home after some such interaction and cry and vomit for hours because I am so stressed and overwhelmed. Add to this the fact that I just don’t like many of the mass comm kids and you really have a problem.

Secondly, I have found that the majority of Mass Communications students are: lazy, manipulative and obnoxious (see above comment about not liking these guys). I am really annoyed that my education will be in jeopardy because I will be forced to work with these kids. The end result is either I do all the work and we all get good grades or I give up and we all fail miserably. I don’t like either option.

Thirdly, I’m a busy girl. I have 5 classes, 1 1/2 internships, a part-time jobs, 3 choirs, I’m the secretary on a non-profit board, I babysit, I perform, I’m in a literary group…I literally have something to do for 5-12 hours a day 7 days a week. I don’t have much in the way of free time to meet outside of class. Trying to juggle my schedule against those of my peers is nigh-on impossible. Not cool.

All of this culminates in the main point: I don’t appreciate having my grade rely on all of the above factors. College (and life) is hard enough without throwing in the added stress, confusion and frustration of group work. To that effect, I have written a lovely little poem below that sums up how I feel about group work.

G Going insane, Grabbing at straws. Got the Get this Goshdarn* Group project off the Ground.

R Rushing aRound. Reading texts of “Running late.” oR “I Regret to say…” Ridiculous excuses, Redundant Reasoning. Really would Rather do this alone.

O Objection! Can’t I do this On my Own? Oh nO. Out of this rOOm, On my Own time AND Of all the unOrganized Oafs I got stuck with yOu? Oh nO. On and On and On, the ObnOxious assignments keep coming. Over the weekend, On my night Off.

U Uh-oh! I though yoU were researching for Us. Utter chaos. Unending miscommUnication. I’m Up to my ears in misUnderstandings.

P Poor Planning. Please let me Pass this class. Procrastination is the Predecessor to Productivity. Poo on you, GrouP Work.

 

W Why, oh, Why do We have to do this? Will We ever need to Work like this in the real World? I Want to Wander off and Weep. When Will it end!?

O  Overwhelmed. Overworked. On my last nerve. Why, Oh,why can’t this be Optional?

R Relying on Rude Rookies who can baRely Read, Remiss in their contributions. Ready to Run away and Reenlist in some Renegade troupe of deRelicts. Release me from the buRden of gRoup work.

K(C) Keeping my Cool Cn’t last forever. These Classes are Costing my  Carefully Kept sanity. Creating a Cohesive Communication of inConseQuential Characteristics with this Classroom full of Clowns? You’re Kidding me, right?

 

fin.

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The Art of Saying “No.”

This is a lesson I have had innumerable opportunities to learn. Saying “no” is something I have struggled with my whole life. I routinely involve myself in too many activities. I have said “yes” to dozens of things I didn’t even want to do, things that scared me or bothered me or simply didn’t interest me. But I did them anyway. And I still do.

Why? I don’t really have a solid answer to this, but I do have some theories. I don’t like to disappoint people. I always feel honored to be invited to participate in things and I hate letting people down, so I agree to do things regardless of whether I have time or energy to devote to the endeavor. Another possibility is that I don’t like to miss out. Life is short! I don’t want to pass up an opportunity that may never come around again! If not now, when? Might as well do it while I’m young! etc. I’m not terribly adventurous, but I do have a desire to taste all that the world has to offer. Theory number three has to do with ego. I like to feel important and wanted, and I feel really impressive telling people the long laundry list of things I “have” to do every month. Being busy, to me, is a sign of achievement, something to be proud of, something to envy. And my last reasoning is simply that I get bored. I have a hard time focusing my attention on one task or skill set for a great length of time. I need to mix it up! I like variety and I have a lot of interests that I want to explore…so I explore them all at once.

As you may have noticed, none of these are very good reasons to say “yes” all the time. My rationale is based on ways of thinking that repeatedly do me harm. Where has saying “yes” gotten me?

Right now I am in 3 choirs. I have 2 internships. I’m taking 5 classes at school (all 300 and 400 level courses, mind you). I have a part time job. I babysit. I’m the secretary on the board of a nonprofit. I occasionally perform around town. And next month I am going to write a novel.

Right now I am sick. I wake up most mornings to find that my voice is almost gone. I can’t sleep at night (my bedtime is somewhere around 2 am most nights). I can’t wake up in the morning, routinely sleeping through my alarm. My mind is so scattered I have a hard time sitting down and concentrating on anything. I miss class frequently. My quality of work is diminishing. I can’t remember things. I have panic attacks…

Sounds great, right?

So you think by now I would have learned the value of saying “no.” Already for next year I have committed myself to a choir, to being the maid of honor in a wedding, to 9 more credits than I need to graduate, to grad school, to two trips…Apparently I’m still not very good at this.

The real problem is that there is a conflict for me between the things I think I want to do and the things I think I need to do. I need to finish my bachelors in Mass Communications BUT I want to take more creative writing courses. I need to make more money to pay my student loans back BUT I want to work in creative (low-paying) jobs. I need to learn professional skills BUT I want to learn archery and ukulele. I need to go to bed by 10 and wake up by 7 BUT I want to sleep till noon and stay up till the sun rises. I need to get a career BUT I want to make my own path. I don’t know how to reconcile these things, so I attempt to do both.

I stay up when my body wants to stay up, then I wake up when my obligations force me to wake up (so I’m constantly tired). I take mass communications classes, then sign on for a month-long writing workshop (so my coursework is sub-par). I go to my internship, then come home and play the same ten songs I already know on my ukulele (so I don’t focus on either).

I don’t know how to say “no” because all of the things I would choose not to do are the things society tells me I don’t really have a choice in. Maybe someday I can reconcile my wants and needs and strike a balance between the two, but for the time being I will probably continue to suffer from my self-imposed over-extension.

 

 

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Ah, the internet!

So…we had this presentation in class last week about social media. Of course, being a Generation-Y kid, I am familiar with a lot of these sites and how they work through my personal use (I am blogging, right?). Nonetheless, the presentation was very informative. While I already knew how Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and the like work, the application of these sites as a marketing strategist were intriguing. Take, for instance, my last post. That post was a blatant plug for a company who makes boots. (I posted it in hopes that sharing it would help me win a contest they’re holding). How is this relevant to me or my education? To that I answer: practical application.

Here’s how the contest works: I’m on Facebook and I see that a friend has shared a link promoting this “GiPSY Dharma handmade boots” company. I read the link and it tells me that if I 1.) “like” this post, 2.) “comment” on the post, 3.) “share” this post, and 4.) “like” their page I am instantly registered to win a free pair of $350 boots! Awesome. So simple. Why not? In addition to this, I can up my chances by clicking the link to their website and 1.) “tweeting” about their products, 2.) putting in a Facebook “like” from their website, 3.) “pinning” their products to Pinterest, and/or 4.) posting links to other sites…such as WordPress! So I did all of the above. Because I really want those boots. And because this is a brilliant example of using social media in an integrated way. All of these social media sites have been linked back to their product. In my pursuit of winning those free boots, I have just made all of my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers and WordPress subscribers aware of their brand. How cool is that? This is the age we live in, folks. It is THAT easy to get hundreds of people aware of your brand (and if any of my friends/followers/subscribers want those boots too…well, they’ve just networked in a few hundred people of their own). This is FREE advertising. This is word-of-mouth in the Digital Age.

…I really hope I win those boots.

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GiPSY Dharma unique handmade clothing and leather boots for women

GiPSY Dharma unique handmade clothing and leather boots for women.

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What’s wrong with Generation Y – an explanation or an excuse?

I came across this article today (click on the title to view the actual article) about why Generation Y has such a penchant for unhappiness. It’s an interesting read with helpful and silly illustrations throughout. This article got me thinking though, is this an explanation or an excuse? Can I just tell the rest of the world that I’m sad because my mommy and daddy raised me to believe I’m special and no one else has recognized it yet? Somehow I don’t think that’s going to fly.

On the other hand, what do I do with this knowledge? I can’t change the way I and the rest of my generation was raised. Is knowledge power in this instance? If I understand that my sense of entitlement is a fabrication built on the shoulders of my parent’s hard work, can I overcome my narcissism and become a successful adult?

Even as I write this, I fall into the trap of thinking, “Yeah, but I really am special, so it isn’t really the same for me…” and to a certain extent I believe that is healthy. Maybe I’m just a product of my generation, but I don’t think that means I should sell myself short either. I know that I have a lot of skills that make me valuable (dare I say, special even?), and I think that self-esteem and ego do not have to be one in the same. The true difference comes in what I choose to do with these skills. Do I rest on my laurels (forever reminiscing about the awards I won in high school and college) or do I continue to seek improvement and challenges?

Yes, I am a GenY kid. Yes, I am unhappy with where I am today compared with where I think I should be. BUT! I am talented. I am special. And if I balance my skills and abilities with the work-ethic of my parents I truly believe I can be something extraordinary!

What do you think?

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September 17, 2013 · 5:40 am