When employment isn’t working.

If there’s one thing I hate it’s wet socks. Your feet get all wrinkly and even the gossamer wings of a butterfly are enough to rip your soft skin to shreds. Then comes the stench. Suddenly you’re telling co-workers that you drunkenly ate a skunk whole because it’s less embarrassing than the possibility of your body being that appalling. The worst. If there are two things I hate, then job hunting gets the second slot.

It’s a constant parade of inviting your insecurities to ride shotgun on your back. For the past while, reading a job application has involved skipping over the duties straight to the qualifications. I pride myself on efficiency, so I cut right to the part where I’m not good enough in order to congratulate myself on being a failure. Ain’t no party like a pity party ’cause a pity party is another name for life. Not only does everyone still require ten years experience for entry level work, but the range of skills and expected aptitude for any job is ridiculous. Who do these people think I am? Somebody with self confidence?

An ex-girlfriend once gave me good advice re: job applications. She told me that the “requirements” for any position were a way to weed out excessive numbers of applicants, not a necessity to perform the job. Ex-employers have verified this, saying almost universally they’d rather have people they can train than people who know everything already. This way the new employee will be able to learn good habits from the boss, rather than that employer having to rid them of old unhelpful ones. Ex-bosses have also suggested that it’s risky to take overqualified people, as they could use it as a diagonal move and you’d be stuck having to employ someone new almost immediately. My ex told me that it wasn’t my job to tell them I wasn’t good enough, but to just say I could do everything and then learn to do it. You’re not lying if you’ll be able to do it by the time the start date rolls around.

So why not listen to any of this ex-cellent advise?

The sad truth is that it’s much easier to talk yourself out of something than put in effort. Heeding the call to adventure, then diving in headfirst seems like suicide if you’re sure the water will be filled with sharks. Could I do most of these jobs? Probably. Do I have proof of the skills they’re asking for? My problem is that I answer “no” instead of “not yet”. How do you get content creation experience? By creating content of course. The one thing standing between you and practice managing social media audiences and streams? BY INTERACTING WITH AUDIENCES OVER SOCIAL MEDIA.

There’s always gonna be an excuse, right? The path of least resistance is to do nothing. Being gainfully employed means that I can stay static without suffering huge consequences in the short term, but that’s a pretty limited view. Why should I need Fire underfoot or my back against the wall to get moving?

My socks aren’t even wet right now, so why the cold feet?

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Okay, so I looked up the word “irascible”. Get off my back. And lawn.

I’ve spent enough days staring at this blank page blankly to know that the best way to steer out of it is to merely start. I know that addressing a central theme is the easiest way to burst out of the gates exuding chutzpah, but when all else fails, simply taking the lead until an idea forms can suffice. By this point, four years in, I expected that daily writing would’ve gotten easier. Half the point of this exercise was to stimulate that forebrain and jog my front of mind-ed-ness. Given the past sentence, you can see that it hasn’t been a total success. Yes, I’ve written each day, but I’d hoped by now I would’ve found more improvement with the 1400+ entries I’ve committed to the page. That’s a lot of words, though how many of those are unique is another question entirely. I’ve written a lot, but my skills haven’t risen with the word count quite like I’d expected.

Of course, I’ve always fallen into the trap of expectations. As a kid I rarely had to struggle through work, which in turn failed to develop a backbone of discipline and effort in order to overcome tricky situations. Things kind of came naturally to me and even if I didn’t put in a heap of hard work, I’d usually do okay. As the years progressed life got more challenging and as a recurring theme, I stopped putting in effort. If I couldn’t simply roll up and do it, was it actually something I wanted to do? I’m not saying that I’m lazy in every aspect, but often when the going gets tough, I go elsewhere.

At the moment I feel like I’m stuck in some form of rut. This ain’t a unique moment. Rather, it seems like this vague ennui rolls around multiple times per year. My mindset right now is creatively, professionally, interpersonally and motivationally mired. While my job isn’t a shitshow, it’s very unfulfilling and easy to phone in because I’ve been doing it for so long. This results in a slog of a workday that feels like it’s chipping away at something inside. How long before I give up, buy a TV and watch reruns of Last Man Standing (too soon?)? Work bumming me out overflows insidiously into other areas of my life. The lack of creativity in what I do affects how I see myself represented. This digs at my self-confidence, skimming away at my seminal (screw me, I was looking for a synonym for “creative”) energy (plus “seminal energy” is fun to say. This is my circus and I’ll let it run rampant as I see fit). If I’m feeling shitty about how others may see me, I’m not raring to put myself out there for others to see. I withdraw from social obligations and turn into a irascible old hermit. I GET OLD SOMEHOW, YOU GUISE.

I always surface from this rut, but through distraction rather than progression. I’ve been trying to move into other avenues of work, potentially more fulfilling jobs. These attempts have come with multiple disheartening rejections. While my mind is screaming that I’m at an impasse, I’m sure this isn’t the case. I am however unsure of what to do. The answer is most likely to dig in and upskill, or put myself out there in my own time. The problem though is that these ideas smack of good honest hard work and that makes my brain crave familiar and safe spaces. Effort is difficult and failure is terrifying. Improvement doesn’t come easily, but continuing to go through the motions isn’t sending me anywhere help. Is this why people get life coaches? So someone else can do the hard yards of telling them what to do?

OH WAIT GUISE. WHAT IF I BECAME A LIFE COACH? THEN I COULD FEEL FULFILLED TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO WHILE NOT HAVING TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS MYSELF.

Feeling outclassed? Get your learn on!

If there’s one skill I’ve honed over my past 30 years on this planet, it’s building up an impressive flight response. My flight response is so swole it’s surprising that I haven’t ended up Forrest Gumping off into the wilderness, imbibing nourishment only from sunbeams I photosynthesise. If there’s one thing I love more than getting shit done, it’s finding any excuse not to get shit done. If I could be accountable to nobody, not even myself, that would be my ideal existence. Consequence feels so anathema to my being that getting up every day should be acknowledged as a much larger accomplishment than it is. If I’m scared of something, I’m highly adept at turning and running in lieu of facing those fears.

Which is why I guess it’s good that my friend couldn’t hang out tonight. I’ve been meaning to head along to drop-in improv classes for some time, but handy excuses have popped up without effort. It’s gotten to the point where I was aiming to work out tonight in an attempt to dodge improv class. After 15 years, working out remains something that I force myself to do day after day as opposed to gleefully anticipating it. Improv is something new, therefore terrifying. It’s a skill I struggle with and constantly makes me feel like I’m about to fail. Getting trapped in any kind of situation relying on improv is an anxious razor’s edge that I’m certain will cause me to plummet. Flashes of Carrie rotate in my brain. They are all gonna laugh at me. So I could just not.

I was a drama kid, so of course I faced improv on the regular. That didn’t mean I improv-ed. It’s always been a struggle, I get mentally choked up and it’s hard to go with my instinct when my instinct tells me I’m about to be impaled with negative reactions. My nerves get the better of me and my mind stutters, I choke (in a freestyle rap manner), feel sheepish and fail to deliver. The next time I get an opportunity to improvise, my mind casts back to the previous time I choked (whether it was three minutes or three years) and I follow suit. Unless puns are involved. I guess that’s my safety net.

Thing is, improvisational skills would help me out a bunch. First and foremost, this here piece that you’re reading right now? Improv. I’m putting to paper (metaphorically, of course) the thoughts that’re beamed from my brain to my fingers. If I had better control over how to structure or select from my available pool, wouldn’t that contribute to more enriched writing? What about the Pawdcast? It’s a wonder I manage to talk as much shit as I do bouncing off my co-host, but my ability to yes, and… is severely limited. Oh the places we’d go if only I could come along for the journey. Or my RPG playing. That’d certainly blossom from an increased ability to think on my feet (while I sat on my arse). My girlfriend is fantastic when it comes to improvisational character work and it’s awesome to see. I get mildly envious that I feel so green in comparison (yes, that was intentional) and I’d love to be able to go toe to toe with her and help lift my contribution to the campaign with it.

I’m tired of being scared and feel like it’s time to take action over it. If anything, at least I’ll raise the bar when it comes to making creative excuses.

Is it possible to exercise demons? Smite them with treadmills and shit?

This post is gonna be a hard slog. I’m operating at 25% capacity today.

I feel swampy right now. In my effort to shunt back to healthier habits, I’ve taken the cold bucket o’ water approach to a couple of things. No coffee today. The duelling tensions of sleep vs activities, artificial vs naturally produced energy, have meant that my coffee use has escalated as of late. It’s been none-too irregular for me to have four or five cups a day. Considering that all bar one of those are shitty brew coffee that I don’t even like, begs the question as to why I’d go there in the first place. Pretty sure it’s a combo of boredom consumption and habitual addiction. Too much coffee has meant flailing afternoons, which have led to crashing in the evening, no energy to get out and do things. I’ve been way less social than I’d like, unless prodded by alcohol. Not the place I want to be.

Drinking a ton of coffee is symptomatic of a larger addiction to consumption. It’s both because of this addiction and a cause of this condition. I feel a need to consume, which extends to filling a cup of coffee. The more I drink, the more my inhibitions are lowered. My sometimes foods, while usually during outside meal times, have become a larger part of my daily intake. I’ll make an exception for something I wouldn’t usually have, then make that same exception the next day “because it was okay yesterday”. Then I feel grumpy and bummed out that I’d veered so widely, leading to eating my feelings later on in the evening. At work our new-ish boss always has a well stocked treat table. If I had the discipline to not be treating myself constantly, I’d exercise it. With the way things have been, it wouldn’t surprise me if a caloric consumption (not that I’ve been counting) of one and a half to two times my normal intake has been the rule, rather than exception.

It’s a dumb, but understandable pattern to fall back into and it’s been throwing my mood way out of whack. I’ve been alternating between extreme grumpiness and fatigue. I’m distractible all the time. It’s shitting on my ability to concentrate on work, turning me into a home-bound mope and making me feel shitty about my body. It sucks. It’s also something that nobody else can really help me with. Sure, there’s emotional support, but emotional support is not habit forming and won’t help me get anywhere. It’s something I need to take care of on my own, because it’s not something I’m doing for anyone else. It’s also far from the first time I’ve hoisted this bugbear atop my shoulders and I’m sure it won’t be the last. As always, a long term view, self-compassion and hard work will be lead me in the right direction. Right now though, it’s slow going.

One foot in front of the other. Again and again.

C’est la vie? More like sa-lie-va.

A use the urinal often. For peeing, obviously. It’s also one of the select few places (aside from the shower and my hope basin) that I spit. Sometimes if I’m really congested I’ll spit into a gutter or drain outside, but I’m sheepish about it. Spitting in public feels like a gross thing to put into others’ view. The urinal doesn’t feel so bad, provided nobody else is there. It’s not a private shame or anything, but maybe it would really put someone else off. Who knows? In short, what I’m really trying to say is how surprised I am that I only just spit on my dick.

I’ve been alive for 30 years. How did it take so long?

It’s not like I was aiming for it, but neither was I intentionally trying to avoid it. I always assumed it wouldn’t happen. As always, my arrogance was my downfall.

After it happened I froze for a second, unsure as of how to handle this bizarre circumstance. Usually at the urinal liquid comes out of my dick, but doesn’t loop back onto it. It’s not like I pee on my self on the reg, so I was ill equipped for this eventuality. Though I knew I was alone, I looked around just in case before reaching behind me. There’s a paper towel machine behind us with a sensor. I waved my hand underneath and hastily dabbed at it, then tossed it into the bin. Problem solved, right?

But what of my confidence? I’ve used the urinal since and I was a tad shaky (like, before peeing, not in the post pee shakedown). Is this something I’ll need to be cognisant of from here on out? Or can I chalk this down to a one off anomaly? It’s taken this many years, I could rest on my laurels and tag it as a statistical blip in the radar. What if it wasn’t though? What if this is a new trend? Should I be spitting pre/post-pee? Should I skip the spitting altogether? But what will I do when I have excess phlegm? Will I ever even learn how to spell “phlegm” without spellcheck coming in to save my arse? Did I just learn it by having to re-type it?

So many questions and for all I know, the answer is that I’m living a lie.

Things used to be so easy. Ignorance was bliss before fear entered the equation. Now it appears that my ignorance was piss and the harrowing outcome of my wilful recklessness. I’ve been hanging fast and loose (and ten) and my rule has come to an end in the form of drool. I guess the girls on the playground were correct with their astute gender dichotomy.

Heavy lies the crown too large for the head.

Unlike A Simple Plan, I’m not sorry I can’t be perfect. I am sorry for getting that stuck in your head though.

Yup, so yesterday wasn’t a great day brain-wise. It happens. As I predicted, I woke up this morning feeling both fine and dandy. It’s a known phenomenon. Whether it’s due to a lack of sleep, an abundance of stress or feelings of being trapped, some days are rougher than others. I’m fortunate and I mean that with utter sincerity. A rough day for me means still getting up on time for work, eating three square(+) meals a day, going to the gym and recording a podcast. I can operate fine while in a mental fog, I just feel terrible about the world while doing so.

I was still way down in the hole on my way to the Pawdcast and resigned to the idea of a withdrawn episode. Somehow being in that environment shook things up. We had a fun guest and the novelty of offloading endless complaints about a children’s movie based around literal Christmas Magic helped somehow. The episode was great, there was a fantastic flow, emboldened as we were with a bond of support akin to wartime brothers in arms. It’s gonna be a fun one when it finally sees the light of day. I left the recording with both spirit and fugue lifted. Maybe I can attribute this one to some early onset Christmas Magic.

After posting something similar on Facebook, I had an outpouring of support from worried friends. Check ins and assurances, which were both welcome and appreciated. It’s not often that I tend to openly and honestly vent in a public space (outside of here of course), which made the surprise from friends understandable. Thing is, I don’t want this kind of thing to be hidden or an unknown quantity. It’s important to me that stresses, fears and existential dread are out in the open.

People can present a picture of whoever they want to the outside world, but I’m big on authenticity and part of that is admitting when things are shutting down. I don’t want to showcase a shiny life without cracks, ’cause that’s not who I am. I’m a very lucky, privileged person and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. That being said, that insight doesn’t preclude my subconscious from seeing everything turning to shit in my hands. I want friends to know that if they hate the world or hate themselves I hear them, because I get that way too. All the light and positivity in the world doesn’t preclude shadows from existing and sweetness means very little without an understanding of bitterness.

We all cope in different ways. Some better than others. Some of us have built up strategies or plans to compensate. Some of us push to the breaking point, then put ourselves back together. Some of us need a mental dusting from time to time, shake out the cobwebs and re-align. Hell, if I’m gonna spend the next ten days watching three or four comedy gigs each night (in lieu of decent sleep) it’s probably better to have gotten this out of the way before Space Madness sets in.

There’s a difference between venting and seeking validation. As you can tell, it’s pretty slim.

Having one of those brain days where everything feels like a festering pile of shit. It’s fine, because I know I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling normal, in love with my life. Today though, I’m questioning why. So you, the lucky reader, gets pure stream of consciousness. Let’s get back to our roots!

Today I’m wondering how some days I wish my arms were twice the size so I could hug myself all over, then others I question whether it’s possible to loathe myself any more than I already do. I wonder when I’ll be funny enough, smart enough, attractive or desirable enough, informed enough, aware enough and what “enough” even means. How do you decide where you want to be when you have no earthly idea what form that takes? Why persist in this quest to find passion when that feels like too much work, when you could just dwindle away in obscurity instead? Why give a shit about anything when you don’t know what you want and even if you did it would seem too hard? Why do people care when you don’t? Why do people think you have it together while inside you’re crumbling, splintering into pieces too fragmented to ever come together?

I once interviewed an embalmer. I asked her what the worst thing she’d ever had to do was. She said some girl once got hit by a truck. Little girl, somewhere in the range of 5-8 years. She shattered, just came apart. Some of the pieces were smaller than a five cent coin. It was this embalmer’s job to put “humpty dumpty” together again. How do you even do that? Look at this scattered mess of skin, organs, bone, hair and muscle that used to be a tiny human who formerly lived, breathed, laughed, cried and loved her parents and think that there’s any justice, mercy or meaning to any of this? We’re all just bits, so many gross, squishy bits and after all this is done we’re just gonna be bits again.

Why am I doing this? Any of this? Why am I writing every day when I very obviously stopped caring so many entries ago? When was the last time I wrote something I was proud of? That wasn’t putting words on a page to fill a daily quota? What’s keeping me running? Some ill-conceived sense that it’ll lead somewhere? Or just inertia? How am I gonna sit in front of a microphone for an hour tonight, recording the tenth episode of a podcast about a fucking children’s film, that only started because of a one note joke? Why will there be a warm body hugging close to mine tonight when we’re both gonna be nothing but bits in the end? How has she not wised up and left yet?

Why is society such an overgrown rot? Why is anyone ever sure of anything? How do we keep butting heads with some misguided notion that we’re right, or that there is such a thing as being right? When are we going to cede that we’re all a little bit wrong and things wouldn’t be as polarised as they are if we didn’t constantly tell the other side that they’re assholes for thinking differently? How do we think that’ll help? As if calling someone out doesn’t immediately make them raise their hackles and stop listening to what we’re about to say because they don’t want to hear that they’re wrong? How can I say this knowing that people feel real, true, bone deep pain and it’s in every way reasonable that they’re gonna want to lash out, even if it’s the reason that we’re all gonna fail without getting anywhere? Because it’s so easy to confuse hurting someone who hurt you for actually feeling good. That utopia will never be possible because all of us, no matter how open-minded we are, don’t really want that, we just want to be right, affirmed and validated. We want to be heard and told that we’re not the problem, but we all are in some tiny way. Thinking that any of us have it figured out is the biggest joke of all.

It’s fine to not feel okay. Pretending otherwise doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself. Be vulnerable, accept that sometimes you’ll fall apart and that’s just part of picking up the pieces and putting them back together again. We’re all broken and admitting our own weakness is what makes us human. We’re all just bits in the end, right?

Plus, there’s always tomorrow.