Chaos Attraction

Let's Maximize Our Strengths

2018-08-14, 10:39 p.m.

(This is an entry that I wrote last week, then found something new today and added to it even though that was not found during the time frame. I doubt anyone cares.)

I found this and it seems relevant to my interests.

"You’re not going to successfully choose between having a regular job and making art. This is because you need food to live and a house to live in, and no career in the arts is going to provide those things for at least (AT LEAST) the first decade, if it ever does at all.
“Of course,” you’re saying. “Don’t patronize me. I know that. So what I’ll do is get some day job to pay the bills. Something undemanding, so that I have my mind free for the things I really care about.”
I’m here to tell you something: the day job is a mug’s game. What you want is a job that you really care about. Yes, that’s correct: I’m suggesting that you should have both an art practice that you are passionate about AND an actual, regular, out-in-the-world job that you also deeply care about. This was the only solution that worked for me, because going to a job I didn’t care about was actually profoundly enervating and depressing. In fact, I was too enervated and depressed to work on my art in my free time. The amount of time you need to spend on something to earn a living at it is simply too much time to spend on something that doesn’t matter to you. You will feel dead. You will feel like you’ve been cryogenically frozen. You’ll think it’s because you should be working on your art instead, but it will actually be because you need a better job."

There’s also Ask Polly on the same sort of subject:

”I’ve always been a big believer in maintaining a day job while doing what you love on the side. Dropping everything to write a book can sometimes lead to a worst-case scenario in which not only do you sink into debt, but your financial worries eventually incite writer’s block. That said, when people have day jobs they dislike, it affects everything in their lives negatively. They constantly call their day jobs “just a day job,” downplaying the built-in frustrations of their work life by reminding themselves not to take their careers seriously. But there’s a kind of inherent ennui that comes with not taking your career seriously. You show up to work and you hate everyone you see. You don’t take your coworkers seriously. You don’t take yourself seriously. Every day is a supremely irritating farce. And that’s not to mention how extensively people with “just a day job” tend to talk about how much they loathe their day jobs. It’s like being married and wearing a T-shirt that reads, “I DID IT FOR A GREEN CARD,” everywhere you go. The one thing other people know about you is that you spend 40 hours a week hating what you do, hating yourself, and hating the whole world along with it.”


”Even so, my best advice is to never, ever listen to your co-workers’ panicked talk about how we’re all fucked forever and ever. Plug your ears and remind yourself that you are a motherfucking ballerina from Mars, so the rules don’t apply to you. Then go out and a get a job that doesn’t make you want to hide in the supply closet, scrawling HELP ME in highlighter on a million and one Post-it notes.”

I wish, y’all.

I agree with this logic, but dear lord, I can’t find something like that. It really sucks to be an artist sort of person. I wish I was really into oh, accountancy or helping people or something that the world actually wants and needs instead of what I like, which is generally expendable. I have had no luck applying to get back into journalism and that field is so unstable anyway I don't even really feel bad about it--I can't blame them for not hiring me when more recent writers are still working in the field.

Heck, I do miss the days of “something undemanding.” I used to have that after I had the job I cared about. Now I am drained dry daily. I have lost my care. But I have also no opportunities to move onto anything else, as far as I see when I can stomach looking at the job boards. I can’t bear to do that much any more, it makes me feel worse to see how bleak the prospects are. Yes, I am that person panicking that we are all fucked forever and ever and I can’t ignore me most of the time! Except when crafting or reading, anyway.

On a related note, we have to have another work retreat and as per the usual with these things, they are based around personality tests. This year’s trend is Clifton Strengths Finder. I am down with this because jeebus christ, I am sick of this place focusing on what I suck at. Let’s focus on what I’m good at for a change. The office paid for us (this is a paid quiz thing if you haven’t heard of it) to get our top 5 results. I admit I wasn’t super excited at the top 5 I came out with, because I would have really liked to have gotten stuff like Significance and Communication, (storytelling) in the top ones. I’d bet they are in the top 10, but the office didn’t pay to go that far.

I came out with Maximizer, Input, Strategic, Achiever and Adaptability.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I came out with Maximizer as my top one because what’s that about? Concentrating on what you’re good at and not focusing all the time on what you’re bad at. AHEM. Also, it says I hate problem solving, which I totally, totally do. It drains me dry.

Input is...intellectual hoarder, I guess? This will surprise no one about me. This is fine.

Strategic is what I call contingency planning and what does that link point out that I hate? Shitty status quo always staying the same and having to sit around waiting on slow people AND THAT IS ALWAYS GOING ON IN MY JOB! I spend so much time trying to work around people and figure out better ways to do things.

Achiever is, well, me crafting. I’m always working on some project. On the night I’m typing this, I’m patting myself on the back for finishing two essays to submit to a storytelling festival and finishing two newsletter entries before getting to finishing this up.

Adaptability is basically me being a chaos magnet and being used to it. I’m not saying it’s a fun thing to do in this job, but that’s how it goes so you have to work with it. You gotta drop everything for some stranger every 5 minutes, what else can you do? Don’t even bother with much planning of your day under those circumstances.

After I finished taking this test, I had to do some writeup of my results and how I felt about them and turn them into whatever consultant they are bringing in for this. I pointed out that the reasons why I suck at customer service here (despite the Adapability one saying I should be good at it) is because I was forced to work pretty much blind without not nearly enough information to do the job (Input again), not to mention that everyone is judge-y and always focusing on what I do wrong (Maximizer). Unfortunately, while this job originally started out as a great fit for me because I could basically sit in the corner without anyone bothering me and churn out tons of work and BOOYAH, it has now evolved into a whole lot of Stuff I Am Not Good At. I am not into Restoration (what they call enjoying problem solving) and people-wrangling (Woo).

However, they will never take away the customer service aspect of my job entirely now. That has been stated officially. I may no longer work shifts at it, but I am usually on call for panicked questions for most of the day. At least these days they’re asking about things I KNOW, which as far as I’m concerned is a lot better, but according to everyone who hears me speak, I am still terrible. Sigh. They won’t ever let that go.

As for the strengths that didn’t show in the top 5, Significance and Communication indicate that I don’t like being ignored and having to keep my mouth shut. YUP.

I am curious to see if we’ll do much of anything with this after the retreat. Probably not. I expect talking about talents for a day will be pleasant, even if the threatened team building will probably make me want to hide.

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