textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
As mentioned elsewhere: I finished my Camp NaNo project last Friday. I'd already hit the 50k a week before that, but I finished the story, too--the rough draft, of course. It'll need a lot of expansion and editing before it's truly done. Still. Yay?

But I also still have my mental Mean Girl nattering away in the back of my head, telling me that it was a big waste of time and that considering myself a writer is the height of ego, so I should just stop this silliness and go get another soul-crushing desk job again because that's all I'm really suited for. (Yes, my mental Mean Girl is a nasty creature and if she were a real human being I'd probably punch her. Damn fake people in my brain making me upset. Bleh.)

What's pushing me that direction is how much deja vu this is with my attempts at putting together singing and journalism careers. I'm entering this industry right when it's changing drastically, and when it's being flooded with amateurs and mass-market crap, all of which is far more marketable than I am. I may be more talented, and my work may be better, but because neither I nor my work is in the flavor-of-the-week sweet spot, my chances of getting paid to do this are pretty small.

But, unlike those other two careers, the work itself--if not the getting-paid part--doesn't necessarily depend on other people; here the only enemy is the aforementioned hateful brain squatter. She's tough, but I'm tougher. Or at least I hope I am. I'm coming to realize that I need a lot of work to get my stuff into sellable form, and I'm trying really hard not to be daunted by that.

Talent v. skill )

More than feeling guilty about not having a paycheck job, I feel guilty for not fulfilling the promise I had when I was a kid. I really was smart and talented and had the world in front of me then, and a lot of shit got in the way of me doing anything with it. Now that most of that shit is cleared away, I feel like I'd be doing my child self a great disservice by not picking up where she left off and fulfilling my potential. And, best as I can tell at the moment, my greatest chance of doing that is by publishing a novel. At least one, maybe a lot more.

Which means that the stupid mental mean girl needs to shut the hell up so I can learn how to do this right and make that happen. I refuse to die without having my obituary say something more than "survived by" so dammit, this has to happen, and soon. And the only way it's going to is if I stop thinking that only those people who are born to do this in their sleep can get paid for it. It's NOT true that unless something is easy for you, you're not good at it. Most everyone had to start somewhere, and I'm already well on my way. No sense in steering the car off a cliff now.
textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
Still high on my success of last November, I decided to do the summer version of NaNoWriMo, and I conquered it! Got the first 50k done in 24 days, and now seeing how much closer I can get to finishing the story by the end of the month.

Assuming I do finish it--and I'm sure I will--this will be my third completed novel in the last two years (fourth, if you count the 120k-word fanfic novel) and to be honest: I'm gobsmacked that I've done this.

I'm sure many reading this won't be surprised. I'm ridiculously verbose, after all (an LJ post of less than 500 words is incredibly short), so banging out ~300,000 words of fiction theoretically doesn't seem like much. However, most of that verbosity is in blog posts, commentary and other short-form nonfiction. Even my fanfic, until I started writing the series that eventually became a novel, was rarely more than 3,000 words each. I've been writing since I was a kid, and I've always had something to say, both in commentary and fiction, but I've never before had the stamina and focus to tell a long-form story. My ADD and tendency to get bored easily would always kick in, and I'd move on to something else before I'd got more than a couple of chapters in. There are probably as many words of unfinished stories sitting in various notebooks and hard drives as there are of the ones I've finished the last couple of years.

So what changed? How am I able to do this now when I wasn't before?

When strangers ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer. Then they ask me if I'm published. Well ... )
textualdeviance: (Default)
Last post reminded me of all the major stressors I've dealt with in the last 1-2 years:

-Job/career stagnation
-Two pets dying
-Two surgeries (and two more upcoming--part 2 & 3 of the dental surgery)
-Adoption prep and related somewhat-tight finances and partial house re-orging.
-Ongoing health issues of various sorts, including discovering that my hearing is going
-Major disappointment with the chorus thing
-Family drama
-Shitty politics (seriously: seeing how openly racist/sexist/homophobic/ableist/etc. people can be is unbelievably awful)
-Helping M manage his own job ick

There's been good stuff, too, of course: travel (though that has stress of its own), finishing my novels, etc. And I've kept myself together by diving into fandom/gaming stuff. Still ... no wonder I'm so fucking exhausted and burned out. Maybe it makes sense that all I want to do this weekend is hole up in bed and sleep. Maybe read a little. I don't think I've really given myself enough free time to just heal from all this.
textualdeviance: (trapped)
So, there was one slightly odd thing about meeting my lovelies: I wasn't remotely nervous about meeting them, and don't necessarily feel particularly giddy or anything even now. As is most likely obvious to anyone reading here regularly, I've not been terribly stoked for much of anything lately (and quite anti-stoked on a lot of things--the horrid job, the tedious adoption process, stupid health stuff, etc.) Still, I'm kind of surprised that I wasn't more in fansquee mode for this.

Fading )

Not that there's necessarily anything on the horizon. GoT fandom is a horrid cesspool, so I'm staying quite firmly on the fringes of that, and nothing else I'm into inspires any real squee for me right now. That goes for non-fandom stuff, too. The only two things likely to give me any great joy anytime soon are the adoption and getting my novel published. Both of those things are ponderously slow and the payoff for them depends greatly on other people, so true squee is somewhat unlikely anytime soon.

I suspect I might also be in the middle of a depressive slump, too. I've had so much grief/disappointment in the past 12-18 months (job, cats, chorus, health, politics, blah blah blah) that I'm just exhausted. It's not been horrible all the time, just incredibly stressful, and I've not had a lot of outlets for burning that off. The one thing that was keeping me from dwelling on the bad stuff--fansquee--is fading, now, so I'm left with a lot of ick, and nowhere to put it so I can ignore it again. I expect I'll find something eventually--I usually do--but this limbo period is going to be tough. Damn shame I don't/can't drink. It'd be lovely to just remain pickled while I'm waiting for things outside of my control to resolve themselves.

Anyway ... yeah, I'm kind of sad that this wasn't more of a fangasmic experience for me, even though some of that was deliberate limitation on my part. Trying to stay calm to avoid crushing disappointment is sensible, of course, but it also avoids elation, and I could use a bit of that these days.
textualdeviance: (Default)
This piece about unflattering photos feels especially relevant to me today, as I'm sorting through vacay pix to find some I feel comfortable posting.

As is the case with most of our travel pics, I'm behind the camera, and 90% of the photos are of landscapes, buildings, etc., with M in a few of them. The majority of our travel photosets don't have me in them at all. It's almost like I wasn't even there, since there's no telling who was wielding the camera. There are plenty of pics of me on Flickr, but most are carefully edited and chosen shots I did myself. No candids. No photos of me actually doing something or being somewhere. And almost none of them are fully public--friends/family only. I avoid being photographed so much it's like I'm attempting to erase myself from my own life.

When I bought photo shoot tickets for Collectormania, I did so because I wasn't sure whether there would be a proper chance for an autograph or any other one-on-one contact with the folks in question, not because I actually wanted a photo of myself with them. They're so beautiful that it seemed like putting me in the pic with them would be somehow blasphemous. I got the photo anyway, largely because I promised someone I'd do a photo shout-out for her. The pic of me is decent, as that goes, but I still don't want to scan it in, because the contrast of how gorgeous they are with ... well ... me ... is just so stark.

As the person in the link above noted, though: I look like that. Flattering or no, and allowances for the odd physics of 2D stills considered, those images of me are more or less what people see when they see me in person. I've not yet become a complete hermit (though I seem to be aiming that way) so other people do see my physical existence regularly. But that's not really by choice. Who I am as a person is so detached from my concept of what I physically look like that they're entirely incongruous to me. Given the choice, I'd rather present myself in a way that reflects who I am, rather than what I look like.

But, some might argue, aren't those the same thing? Isn't what I look like part of who I am? Well, insomuch as it's influenced how I've developed as a person, yes. But that's not necessarily a good thing. My physical self has earned me so much horrific abuse that all I've built from it is a crapload of internal scar tissue. My desire, therefore, to ignore it as much as possible should be understandable. And when I tell people who try to encourage me to live in my own skin, and be more present physically to fuck the hell off, they need to understand why I say that. Only people who are chronically clueless or have been blessed enough by the genetic fairy that they don't get abused by strangers for how they look would think there's merit in that. You may as well tell someone with terrible allergies that they should get out and smell the flowers in spring.

I'm an odd duck: a vaguely post-modern realist. As I've argued about other things before, I recognize cultural and social constructs for what they are--malleable, changeable and in no way biologically essential--but I also acknowledge that just because a thing is built by humans rather than naturally grown doesn't mean it doesn't exist. A building is entirely a human construction, and just as it has been assembled where it is, so can it be dismantled. Yet it's still a very real thing, it still affects its environment, and it still changes, in ways both large and small, the people who encounter it.

The social constructs we have around gender and physical appearance aren't inherent and unchangeable, no matter how much quack evolutionary psychologists may like to argue otherwise. But that doesn't mean they don't exist, or that they don't have the power to do harm. Much as a well-meaning parent might try to teach a child that beauty is only skin-deep, and looks don't matter, and it's what's inside that counts, the reality of life in a gender-stratified environment in which appearance is commodified means that yes, looks DO matter, especially for girls and women. They shouldn't matter, and children should of course learn not to judge people on things over which they have no control, appearance among them, but they also should learn that other people WILL make those judgments. And that those judgments can, in some cases, do some fairly serious damage. If you want your kid to come out without too much of that damage, you help them learn how to avoid it. It's just like teaching a kid about crime. You teach them not to steal, and that stealing is a bad thing, but you also teach them to lock up their valuables, because other people steal whether they're supposed to or not. No, I don't want my kid living under a cloud of paranoia, and the onus of responsibility for abuse lies with the abuser, but I also have a responsibility to keep my kid safe as much as possible--and that includes teaching them how to avoid becoming a target for the world's awful people.

So, this is why I don't make many pics of myself public. I know my looks don't define who I am, but I also know other people will define me that way, and that most of the people who do will judge me a lesser creature, and someone worthy of torment, because of them. Anyone worth my time, energy and affection won't abuse me that way, of course, but as I can't live life surrounded entirely by only those people, I still have to make adjustments to avoid the jerks who will. I don't personally think that being fat or having an unattractive face makes me a bad person. I think I'm a very good person, in fact. But I'm not stupid. I know other people do think that, and that if they're given enough of an opportunity, they'll do anything they can to make my life miserable. It's a form of closeting, of course, but it's an essential one. Just as I wouldn't be stupid enough to out myself as queer in a rural town full of violence-prone holy rollers, neither am I going to go pasting my picture everywhere that the attack dogs of the intarweebs are going to see it. I've already been the victim of some pretty hardcore bullying, both online and off. Why on earth would I voluntarily open myself up to more of that? If other people want to martyr themselves like that, fair enough. I'm not going to be happy about pressure to do so myself.

So, no. I'm not going to post vacation pics of myself in public spaces, and when someone does post an unflattering pic of me, I'll ask them to untag it or otherwise make it less obvious who the person in the pic is. People who know me already will know my face, and know that's me. Strangers don't need to connect that face with my name, because far too many of them will use that knowledge to hurt me. I've been hurt enough already. Sue me if I'm trying to avoid suffering any more.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Back from London, which was awesome (pics/report later), but good gods, I'm exhausted. Even though this trip was half as long as the first, it was hotter/more humid, and I did a lot more walking, so I'm just wiped. We went to bed at 8:30 last night (got up at 4--ugh) but I feel like I could still sleep for two days. Needless to say, being back at work today is extra miserable. Bleh.

Much as I hate admitting it, I think I'm going to have to cut back on hardcore trips like this. My body's just not up for it anymore. I'm still up for smaller-scale stuff, but I think the big cons, weeks spent at amusement parks, etc. just aren't going to happen. Even ended up cancelling our Comic-Con plans for that reason (also realized that the only few Famous People I still want to meet won't be there, so there’s pretty much no point to braving the heat/crowding/walking.)

This is, of course, depressing. I deal with my physical limitations every day, and I know very well my lifespan isn’t going to be huge, but I've sort of been in denial about exactly how much I'm going to be limited/slowed in this last ~20 years. I have planned for some of it--delaying parenting, for instance, so I could travel while I was still young/healthy enough--but facing the music now still stings. There's just so much more I want to do before I die, and knowing I won't be able to because of my stupid body really sucks. Theoretically, I could skip the parenting and squeeze in more of this stuff, but as parenting is also a huge entry on the bucket list, I'd rather not. It's not ideal, but I can always do some sort of creaky person's round-the-world cruise or something later. Best spend what energy I have left on the high-bandwidth baby-and-toddler stuff.

Will say though: seeing this quote from the recently late Ray Bradbury while I'm feeling like this really hit home:

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there."

… and this is why I write.

Being keenly aware of the ticking clock now means this is a lot more important to me. I get that some people are content to merely live on through their families, or don't even think about things this way at all, but for me, it's really important to have at least some little bit of myself that will continue on long after my body is dust. When I was younger, I figured that would happen with performing of some sort. Now that that's not really possible, all I have left is the writing. Yes, I'll have a kid who remembers me after I'm gone, but I need something more tangible than someone else's memories. I need something more than just a bunch of blog entries and photos as the residue of my existence. With so little energy for anything more elaborate, writing it is.

But! In order to do that--in order to do what I need to prove that I was here--I need to have the temporal bandwidth. Which in this case means I need to get rid of this horrid job. I have enough experience/resume fodder at this point to get a paycheck later if I really need one, but the huge things I needed to earn money for--travel, house, kid--are basically taken care of, now. It’d be nice to have more gravy, of course, but not at the mental health cost that this gig is charging me.

All that's left, I guess, is trying to figure out how to leave without burning bridges. So I think that's the challenge remaining for me for the rest of the week.

Well, after I've had more sleep. Eesh.
textualdeviance: (More You Know)
Thinking further about abortion-related issues tonight ...

IMHO, the difference between progressive and libertarian thought comes down to this:

Libertarians assume that if government/society (and, occasionally, religion) simply gets out of the way, everyone will be free to make whatever choices in life make them happiest.

Progressives know that without a public framework in place to ensure that everyone, no matter where they start in life, has access to every choice available, there is no such thing as true freedom of choice.

We are all created equal. But we are not all born equal. )

As the bumper sticker says: no one is truly free while others are oppressed. And if we continue to allow this oppression under the idea that overreaching authority is the only thing standing in the way of everyone being free, happy little clams, we are shirking our responsibilities as human beings in a civilized society.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Just scanned the introvert quiz posted by [livejournal.com profile] thefirstalicat and was unsurprised to see I scored relatively high. However, there were a few items that were not only not true for me, but were an emphatic "no."

See, I'm a weird combo of introvert (or Aspie, possibly) and ADD. I adore multitasking, for instance, and am hardly a slow-and-thoughtful speaker. I have a hard time finishing things, I'm impulsive and I always have six dozen different projects in various states of completion. It's actually quite hard to get me to shut up when I'm chattering along with people I like on subjects that interest me.

But it may be because I'm so scattered and chaotic to begin with that adding more people into that mix is maddening for me. The more people around when I'm trying to get something done, the less likely I am to do so. Every person around me is another demand for my attention, and since there are usually a dozen of those just on baseline, I quickly get overwhelmed and shut down. And if the people in question don't have significant value in some way or other, I actually get angry. I absolutely hate the idea of working in a "collaborative environment" (read: open-office plan) because the constant buzz and nonsensical chitchat around me would make it impossible to get anything done. (Oh, gee. I've gravitated toward being a writer. Duh. ;) )

I'm somewhat less upset when there's order to a crowd, and when I'm somewhat separated from it. I adore performing, for instance, even though there are people everywhere, because it's something I have control over, and something that has a rehearsed, set order of business and social expectations. The audience is expected to shut up and let me do my thing, and to react when and how I want them to. There's little danger of them getting in my face and throwing me off my game, which is what happens with virtually every other kind of work I've ever tried to do that involves being around other people.

I think this may be why I didn't quite succeed in a traditional journalism career. I can think on my feet and react to breaking news in an instant. I can keep multiple plates spinning. I can, actually, handle the buzz and chaos of a newsroom, because it's a tightly coordinated dance in which everyone plays a part. But when it comes to going out there and managing the public for first-person reporting? I'm entirely useless. Park me in a corner of the newsroom and let me go to town researching data, checking facts or editing copy/layout/photos/code, and I'm perfectly content. But throw me out with a voice recorder and notepad and tell me to get in the middle of a news event? Oh, good lord. Panic city. Reporting class was the one thing I was miserable in, because there was too much being-naked-in-public stuff for me.

I've worried a little bit about how I'm going to handle parenting, since little kids aren't exactly predictable, and they don't easily understand the whole "Mama's working. If you're not bleeding, go away" thing. But I think that'll be different for me than it is with adults. If you're old enough to know that I don't like being disturbed when I'm working, and you do it any way? I will set you on fire. If you're three and are just so damned excited about learning how to somersault that just you HAVE to show me? Fair enough. Though I will do my best to train you to understand those boundaries, as part of a general "learning how to respect others" education.

So, yeah. I dunno if I'm introverted so much as just avoiding the mental monkey wrench that other people throw in my works. I like people, but I get really, really angry with those who think that they have the right to interrupt what others are doing for any reason other than something vital. I get that others thrive on collaboration and constant feedback and interaction. I respect their desires to have jobs and working/social environments that support that. But I also expect people to respect that I'm completely the opposite. If I tell you that I need to work alone, for the love of fuck, let me work alone.
textualdeviance: (Default)
I really wish I could get rid of the Mean Girls who live inside my head. Problem is, there are just enough of them out there in the real world, and they are just rotten enough, that it takes a few dozen nice people to bandage every wound they've ever left me with, and that's left me incredibly gunshy of doing anything that might put me in their sights.

There are a lot of reasons why I often stop just short of true success in one area or another: getting bored, distracted with other stuff, not wanting to commit myself 100% to just one thing, etc. But probably the biggest one is that I'm desperately terrified of tall poppy syndrome. The higher I rise up a given ladder of success, the more salient I am. And the more salient I am, the more of a juicy target I make for people who consider any successful woman fair game for abuse.

Pardon the ego for a moment, but this isn't a matter of lack of confidence in my own skill. I know I'm good at what I do. Not world-class, and I'm always trying to improve, but I know I'm a better writer and singer than a significant percentage of people who already do those things professionally. Problem is that I'm not quite good enough to make it past the initial gauntlet of bile one has to pass through in order to start getting those paychecks, and I don't have any other advantages helping me along. Someone who is utterly mindblowing at this stuff can blast right through the first layer of hate and quickly earn herself enough of a posse to fend off the dogs (see: Adele.) And someone who already has other advantages, from a trust fund, to connections, to a pretty face, to being the pride and joy of a small town, can survive the onslaught long enough to get a toehold.

Me, though? I'm basically an army of one, and if I go riding out on the battlefield, proudly waving my banner around, I'm going to be an arrow-filled pincushion in about 10 seconds. I don't have the thermonuclear device of talent to strike fear in the hearts of the orcs, and I don't have shiny armor or a well-armed cavalry surrounding me, either.

If I wasn't so emotionally invested in my passions, I'd probably take the risk anyway. Truly, there's very little even the most determined orc can do to me at this point in my life to make things genuinely awful for me. They'd have to resort to actual criminal behavior to do that. But I have such dread of the idea of my work being torn to bits, even by people utterly unqualified to do so, who are motivated only by jealousy or a fear of competition, that I'm just not yet comfortable throwing it out there for them to piss on.

Obviously, there are some things I do put out there, but the confidence that leads me to do so--quality and knowing there's already a (small) army of support within that field--is what allows that. I can post fanfic and vids, and know that most people who are interested in the subject matter to begin with are probably going to like my stuff, and that anyone who doesn't is going to be in the minority. Likewise, I can do a bit of solo singing here and there, knowing that I'm generally supported by the rest of the group and a positively-predispositioned audience.

But I have no such reassurance for the other stuff, yet. I don't know for sure that higher-level music or writing folks are going to approve of my stuff. And because I've seen how easy it is for the snark brigade to lay waste to someone's work, I'm just not yet ready to go primetime with it. Maybe soon. I hope. I can see the light at the end of that tunnel, I think.

I just wish this fear didn't get in the way of me doing the work in the first place that will get me there. Getting past the voices of the mental mean girls to just sit down and write something, or hammer on sight-singing or vocalise work is a chore, and I wish it wasn't.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Thanks to a friend's q on FB, I think I nailed down why I hate exercising for its own sake:

If my brain doesn't have something else to focus on, the only thing I can think of is how much pain I'm in and how exhausted I am. Walking around for an hour shopping, birding or sightseeing? I don't notice as much, until I'm finally in the car and it hits me all at once. Walking around for an hour for its own sake? I'd never get through it.

No, it's not laziness or self-indulgence, thanks. )

I realize I look like I'm going to drop dead any second because many people my size are in truly dire shape. Those who gained their weight by eating garbage and never moving at all have undoubtedly done other harm to their bodies that shows up in the numbers that matter. But I've made it to 40 without going diabetic or having enormously high cholesterol and BP, and I feel better now than I ever did when I was trying to do it the "right" way.

I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do caffeine or mammal flesh. I do low-fat dairy and heart-healthy cooking fats. I get plenty of protein, fiber and calcium. I take vitamins to correct for various deficiencies. I am, even at my size, probably living a healthier lifestyle than the vast majority of Americans at ANY size. But I don't "diet" and I don't "work out" and I never will again, because I already know that doing those things will make me worse, not better, and also make me miserable in the meantime.

It's entirely possible that as I continue to improve my overall health, some weight may slowly--very slowly--come off over the years. But it ain't going away entirely, and it ain't happening on a short schedule. I am, for all intents and purposes, going to be this size, or close to it, for probably the rest of my life. This is what I have, and this is what I'm working with. And I AM working with it, even if small-minded, prejudiced people think otherwise.

I just wish there were an easier way to tell this to the world--to get them to trust that I DO know my body quite well, and manage it in the way that gets the best results for me. Because the constant body hate in my culture is the one thing that's making me sicker than anything else.
textualdeviance: (XKCD Complicated)
Sometimes it's really frustrating to know I've already done just about everything I can do to raise my position in my culture's food chain.

Aside from the possibility of lucking it out with a bestselling book or having some other career breakthrough, I've gone about as far as I can go. No matter what else I do, I'm always going to have several millstones around my social-status neck, and thus will always be furiously treading water just to stay where I am, much less get any farther.

There is an upside, though. Knowing that I'm never going to reach those higher levels takes a lot of pressure off of me to keep trying for them. I'll never, for instance, feel the need to carve up my body to try to meet some ridiculous attractiveness ideal because no amount of surgery will ever make me pretty enough. And I ain't never going to be straight or femme enough to make some people happy, so I'd never even try to fake it. Nothing I can do about being born poor and not having the connections for a name-brand education. Nothing I can do about having had to work my way through school and therefore never having the chance to properly train for any life's work when I was young. Nothing I can do about not having the pedigree or spotless personal-life record necessary for a political career. An awful lot of life's doors permanently closed for me the moment I was conceived, and trying to pry them open is only going to make my fingers hurt, so there's no point. Which is a relief.

And really? I think I've done pretty damned well so far with opening the doors I could. Not quite ready to rest on my laurels just yet, and there's plenty more I can do with the time/bandwidth I have left, but I think I've fulfilled quite a bit of my potential so far. The fact that I've not fulfilled potentials that were never mine to begin with shouldn't matter.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Scalzi posted something recently about new writers trying to find the time to write with busy schedules, parenting, etc. The gist of his advice was this: If you really want to be a writer, you find time to write. The obvious extension of this idea is that if you really want something, you find a way to make it happen. (Obviously, taking into account actually insurmountable limitations.)

This idea has been gnawing at me the last several days--the idea that if I don't have some of the things I want, yet (a proper career, a kid, etc.) then I must not really want them that badly because I haven't found a way to make them happen.

Only... I don't think that's actually true. It may be true that I haven't put massive effort into certain things, but it's not that I don't want them. It's that I'm afraid of putting in all that effort and coming up short anyway. Because that's happened to me so many times I no longer have any confidence that hard work/sacrifice is always or even most of the time going to pay off.

A couple of examples )

I'm absolutely willing to put in quite a bit of effort if I have some sense that doing so will give me at least some semblance of the results I want. The uprooting thing, for instance. I worked my ass off to make that happen because I knew that there was a good chance it would. And, well, a year later, here we are, happy as little clams in our new pad. Same thing with my last degree. Spending $30k and living in B'ham for almost two years wasn't exactly easy, but I knew I could do it, and at the end of it, I have a pretty little certificate hanging on my wall and a far greater earning potential than I would've had otherwise.

Yet if I'm not certain, or don't think I have at least a fighting chance to reach my goal? Then no. No matter how much I may want something, if I don't have at least some confidence that the odds are in my favor, I just can't see blowing that much time and energy on it.

It may break my heart--and does, to an extremely painful degree--that I wasn't able to put together an opera career, but once I realized that no matter how good I was, it wasn't good enough because I didn't have the right pedigree, I gave up. Likewise, I dropped my music degree at the very end of it because there was no physical way possible for me to pass the keyboard competency part of it. I wanted those things. Really, really, really wanted them, but it eventually became clear that wanting and working at them wasn't going to be enough, so I had to let them go and move on to a career in which I had a fighting chance.

I sincerely believe that hard work is necessary to reach most goals. Some folks are born with privilege such that they don't have to work as hard as others, and that sucks. Level playing fields would be nice. But aside from that, yeah, all of us need to put in some effort. However, I really dislike the implication that if we don't have something we want, it's just because we don't want it enough to work at it.

The truth of life is that, even beyond hard limitations outside our control, often the effort required to reach a goal is far, far out of proportion with the chances of getting there, and with the benefits of that goal. At some point, you have to ask yourself whether what you want is really worth the massive outlays of time, money and energy necessary to get it.* And just because someone isn't willing to torture themselves like that for something doesn't mean they're lazy or don't "really" want it. It just means that they've made sensible choices of what to do with their resources and have decided that those resources are better spent on something else.

Pursuing a dream is all well and good and sounds romantic, but reality and responsible adulthood aren't often compatible with that pursuit. A person who acknowledges that reality and responsibility isn't a lesser being for having done so.

And yes, I'm musing over that question a lot these days wrt the adoption.


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April 2017



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