The After Party or What I Deserve

[Note: I began writing this at the end of June 2018]

I was laid off last week so I’ve got a lot of time on my hands for a bit. The transition to unemployment is a gentle one, which I’m thankful for.

I’m cool and all, but if things go sideways in a few months you may see me promoting my photography or trying to sell gear from my hobby rations.

TABULA RASA

My life is pretty much a blank slate right now. All the dials and sliders have reset to zero.

There are logistical things I need to take care of but I do have the luxury of being able to chill for a week or two. Truth be told, I’d be backpacking in the nearby wilderness right now if it weren’t for the fact that I’m afraid of bears, and lightning, and lightning bears. (Make yourself look big, back away slowly, and make sure you’re electrically grounded.)

Then I have to go over my finances and lower my burn rate. I’ve had long unemployment stints before and they were life-changingly, and unnecessarily brutal and financially devastating. Not in a hurry to do that again.

PROFESSIONAL

Then I have to get serious and figure out how to adjust to this new job market and environment. Software development, namely web development, is a roiling, churning conglomeration of tools and techniques. There’s always the latest and greatest things to use and trendy (but ultimately ephemeral) ways to use them and everything is becoming more powerful and exponentially more complex as the boundaries between disciplines becomes blurred. Web dev is different, to put it mildly, and its wild, hectic, democratized, smoke and mirror roots have been domesticated by a thick, imposed, multi-layered veneer of conventionality.  For better and for worse.

I can’t tell if things are headed to a point of resolution or closure (pun intended for you JavaScript folks out there). I suspect that it’ll just keep on being a chaotic mess until we begin to rely on artificial intelligence programming entities, or Google and Facebook will merge and benignly dictate the ultimate development and user interaction patterns.

INTO THE MILD

Occasionally I wonder if this is a Moment — a true capital “M” moment.

This is the point where people typically will change careers, go back to school and get another degree, or do something drastic.

Go become a certified SCUBA instructor in the Caribbean. Go wander off into the wilderness or bum my way around the world living out of a backpack. Make an all out effort to become a social media “influencer”.  Wander my way into a scraggly bearded adventure photographer/musician/writer life. Move somewhere where they’ll call me papi.

You know. Those inspiring, yet head scratching, stories you read about every now and then. “This substitute teacher who lived in his parents’ crawlspace dropped everything and now lives in a tiny house in the Arctic Circle growing blue pistachios. And now he’s a multi-billionaire with a super model girlfriend and virally trending pug. His GoFundMe url is….”

(I accidentally wrote “girlfiend” before autocorrect called me out. Freud much?)

Grandiose isn’t really my style. My life is already spartan, in a non-material sense, so there’s nothing I’m running from or need a cleanse from (other than questionable food choices and screens) in a social, interpersonal sense. I’m not opposed to anything grandiose, of course, excepting for the reality of finances.

But I do like the problem solving that my occupation provides. It can be rewarding and gratifying. I love building things and solving problems. I love learning. I also like having a reliable income, living under a roof, and eating.

Also, if I were to consider making a go out of something a bit more bohemian, I’d face the dilemma of turning a beloved hobby into a job. From personal experience, I can tell you that that can be miserable.

I’d love to travel or go adventuring or explore the heck out of regions of the US and be paid to take photographs, make videos, and write about it. Wouldn’t we all?

Here’s the crux, though. Here’s what it all boils down to:

WHAT I DESERVE

I’ve been thinking about what I deserve. Deserve is a funny word because it has a sense of entitlement about it.

No one owes me anything, right. Even when I have expectations, those expectations are in my head, reasonable or unreasonable. Unless there’s some kind of formal or strongly implicit agreement, expectations are illusions and sometimes delusions. I think it’s critical to point out, also, that no one owes anyone attention.

I had a moment of clarity a while ago as I was trying to find and define boundaries and it applies professionally now as well as personally. I deserve better from myself.

I deserve to be happy and healthy. If I work for it, of course. I don’t deserve to lose weight if I don’t do whatever it takes to fight the unraveling telomeres of middle age and get lean. So, “deserve” has some nuance to it.

If I have goals in life but also weak points, I deserve more from myself than to stay or place myself in situations that either exacerbate the issues or are counterproductive to my goals. It’s bad for the ego. It’s bad for confidence. It takes the eyes off the prize.

Modesty aside, I have a lot to offer and a lot to contribute. Not everyone or every organization wants, needs or will appreciate what I have to offer and contribute, though.

That’s fair but I deserve people and places that do.

Here’s the short version, conveniently provided to you after the long version:

I deserve better than to “audition for roles” that I don’t want to play. If I find myself in a role I don’t want, even if I realize that I put myself there, I deserve better than to remain there.

If a goal or main drive is to not be isolated and to always be learning, I probably should try to not work from home 100% of the time. I like working from home. I don’t like the isolation and often being out of the loop. I like having a job that’s relatively secure but I don’t like being stagnant while methods and tools change rapidly out there in the world.

In my case, getting the boot certainly helps move things along. It definitely makes things less ambiguous. It’s also a great opportunity.

I have a limited amount of time to explore these possibilities but then again, this is life. We have a limited amount of time to explore these possibilities.

TO CLARIFY

None of this talk about deserving things, or looking out for number one, or pursuing one’s bliss, negates the obligations that I do have. I want to be a good, competent, reliable human being. I want to contribute as much as, if not more than, I get out of life. To family, friends, colleagues, etc.

Alright. Guess I’m going to push some of these life sliders around, tweak some dials, and see what it do.

Is there a way to get paid for touring museums and photowalks?

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