Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An Ultimate Guide or Fair Warning

This morning I read an article about introverts that basically describes the arc of my life but it's written by a white dude and somehow his superiority over figuring it out kinda irks me. This is not advice anybody else needs, dude. To assume everybody else is deficient because they still regularly do things they don't like is obnoxious. I'm kind of jealous of them that they don't seem to mind other people telling them what to do. I wish I had that ability.

I think what really got under my skin was his unrecognized privilege. Just delegate anything you don't want to do; profit! If my blog comes across like that then I'm mortified. I try to write stuff less as advice and more as a reminder to myself of how freaking hard it was. I hope I don't sound like I'm advising other people to be like me. I guess since I often put more than one sentence in a paragraph I'm probably not at risk of being another James Altucher, even though I am the exact same age and have similar introvert coping strategies.
From The Ultimate Guide to Being an Introvert by James Altucher: (highlights)
Notations by me
How I Deal With Being an Introvert
#1 — FIRST “Quiet” by Susan Cain is a good book. 
This is a book, not a coping strategy.
Done. Most days I wake up and can't wait to go to my lab to do whatever I feel like doing that day, all by myself.
Every day I want to make more choices for myself, instead of letting other people make choices for me.
I'm up to 99.9% on #3. I take commissions but they mostly tell me what to make, not how to make it. This is the most important part to me.
It took me a long time to realize I wasn’t shy. I thought the reason I had trouble talking to people in groups was because I was shy or insecure.
Nah, I just thought it was because they didn't like me.
That’s the ten years part. I was so deluded about my strengths that it took me ten years. Maybe it will take you fewer.
Or maybe I'm not deluded, I just lack the white male privilege to get away with treating people like they don't matter to me.
It requires asking yourself throughout the day: is this activity giving me energy or draining me?
Energy is everything in life. At night we have little of it, so we need to sleep.
When an introvert is around a lot of people, it drains quickly.
When you are around people who put you down, it drains instantly.
When you aren’t creative, it drains.
When you aren’t happy with your current moment, it drains because anxiety and regret are leeches on our energy.
When you are with someone you don’t love, it drains.
When you are at a job you don’t like, it disappears.
Note that none of the above has anything to do with money.
Energy is more important than money. Energy is what makes you live a long and productive and happy life.
If I wanted a billion dollars I wouldn’t sit around writing and reading and podcasting a good chunk of the day.
I wouldn’t hire people to help me run the various businesses I’m involved in because it’s hard for me to meet with employees and do “business things”.
I’d run a hedge fund, or directly run my businesses, or buy a company and become a CEO. I’ve done these things before and failed miserably.
Not because I don’t have the knowledge. But because it doesn’t make me happy. And those activities drain me.
If I could hire people to run various businesses I'd be a white man and not a woman who has to do everything her damn self. If I was a white man people wouldn't ask me to do shit that hurts my hands and back because I have seemingly endless free time and lady skills like dusting, vacuuming, laundry, dishes, and a unique skill at restoring plumbing fixtures. If I was a white man could I get four figures for couture knitted items and sci-art instead of getting orders from relatives who want to pay the same thing they would pay for clothes at Target?

Also he forgot to mention the importance of arranging your life so you can live without a lot of money. None of this works if you have a mortgage and two kids to put through college. I guess if you're a white man it works out for you because people will still give you a lot of money for trivial effort instead of expecting you to do complex tasks or pennies per hour.
Be humble enough to realize what you are not good at.
I have never been afraid to try something I've never done before. It was sort of my professional speciality back in the day. I'd come along as a consultant and figure out the new thing and then when it didn't turn out to be as profitable as the management thought (because they assumed it would be easy) I'd leave and they'd blame the whole thing on me. Everybody goes on with their life.

I don't think I'm very good at anything. I'm a generalist. Sometimes I find myself thinking, "That was easier than I thought it was gonna be." But I NEVER say "That was harder than I thought it would be." I am happy to go into a new task with open ended expectations. It takes as long as it takes. I try to plan stopping places to accommodate my physical limitations. But it would be an insult to people with experience and skills to presume anything I don't know how to do is going to be easy.

An ex-boyfriend of mine called me recently and asked how to build and insulate walls and a ceiling inside an airplane hangar. I told him. I sent him YouTube links to Fine Homebuilding videos to watch to learn techniques. He called me a few weeks later and said it was a lot harder than he expected. So many layers! Yeah, I know. He lived with me while I was building an addition on a house in Atlanta and we still dated for a year after I had to move away and build a whole other house from scratch where I could live on less money. But I guess mainly he wasn't paying attention. Not sure why he assumed it was easy. I was a little insulted. It was only slightly gratifying that now he understands that carpentry is damn hard. His room doesn't even have to be weatherproof or survive live loads and he thought it was hard. You think that's complicated layers, do it again to stand up to wind and keep out rain. Good grief.

I made a video last week that is over 17 minutes of showing exactly how hard it is to ombré dye a heavy cotton sweater. When I finished the project I didn't really know how to show the end product. I decided to try the Facetime camera on my monitor to record straight into iMovie. It's great to have an articulating arm on my monitor. I did the rest handheld with my phone. I would normally never do anything with such low production value, but the bar is so low now for how-to videos on YouTube it would seem like topping it the knob to use a tripod and a real camera. I was surprised how good that dot on my monitor works as a camera. Free with $1000 monitor. Why didn't I try it before? Probably because I was horrified at the idea of actually appearing on camera. I think I have passed a Fuck It threshold. It must be this Nazi Youth haircut I got by accident at the walk-in barbershop a few weeks ago. (FYI, fashy is short for fascist, not fashionable.) I had the Facetime camera intentionally chop off the top of my head so the place where they shaved off my cowlick isn't so obvious. Thanks to being an always-alone introvert it's not a big deal if my hair looks stupid. I only go out in the daytime and it's perfectly acceptable that I always have on a hat. I started to do the video in a wig AND hat but I thought it would be draw the eye away from the flaws I was pointing out in the sweater.

I really never meant anybody to see this video but me and my niece Kara who is into crafty stuff. She said it was a good video. She wants me to dye a hat next. But I might as well put it on here since it's thematically valid. This is not a how-to, it's for me, and for people who were thinking about trying to dye a sweater and need to be talked out of it. Maybe that's the Ultimate Guide we all need. You have a fun creative idea and you look for tips on YouTube and wind up saying fuck, that's a lot of work and what would I even do with that? Never mind. (I'm looking at you, making a hollow concrete sphere with fiberglass and a yoga ball.)