Settle Down

Guess what?

I started a new job, got engaged to my long-term boyfriend, and Friday is my birthday.

Guess I’m getting my life in order, huh? Looks like I’m settling in and settling down. Adulthood, and everything.

Right?

More like “yeah right.”

I haven’t been busier or more worried about the future. There’s so much to consider, and everything is in flux. I have calls to make and flowers to arrange. I have birthday cake and wedding cake to taste. I’m looking forward to the weekend at the same time that I don’t want to grow older.

So, I tell myself, It’ll calm down. And then I can start figuring things out. Things will settle down, and then so will I. 

Which is what I told my mom last night when we started talking about arrangements. And she classically rebutted, “But it won’t ever settle down.”

And I opened my mouth and then promptly shut it. Because she’s right. I’ve been saying this same thing for weeks upon weeks upon weeks: when this weekend is over, I’ll be able to take some time for myself. And I don’t have to tell you what happens when that weekend ends and another one begins.

So, the point tonight is really incredibly simple: you are not going to settle down to settle down. You have to go with the flow, even when the flow is really going. And if you think you should wait until you’re ready to do anything in life, then you’ll be waiting your whole life.

Seems Fake

Have you ever seen a person when you are out and about and they just have it all going on? Their hair is slicked back, their style is on point, and they just have that swagger? Do you know that person I’m talking about?

Well, do you want to know a secret? That person is faking it. All of it.

And I don’t mean that his or her suit is fake or that his or her hair is fake. As in inauthentic. I’m saying that his or her persona is fake. As in an impersonation.

No, really. Here’s something you should always keep in mind: The entire world is engaged in one big, long poker tournament. The people who are really successful believe that they have great cards and (make others believe it too), even when they don’t. As for the rest of us? We think our cards are okay. And in both cases, we’re right.

And when you’re faking it, the only person you have to “fool” is yourself. I mean, think about it. The people on the street don’t know you. They people in the grocery store have never seen you (but they are making judgments about you when they see your grocery cart.) Even your co-workers don’t really know the real “you,” living day to day in close cubicle quarters like you are. To them, you’re just you, whatever that means. And do you know what that actually means? You can believe that you are anyone at all, and people will have to believe you. They have no reason to think you are faking being as smart, talented, or funny as you seem to be.

I mean, really, does anyone know how to be an “adult”? Do you think that you just get a briefcase and a pinstripe suit on your thirtieth birthday, and your vocabulary expands to include words like “ROI” and “401K”? No! We’re all just children playing dress up to impress people we don’t even like. And we’re succeeding at it because we’re faking it.

So, don’t even give it a second thought. Don’t worry that people may be able to see that you are faking it. Because what you’ll really find is that the more you fake it, the more you are acting exactly like the person you are and the person you’ve been all along.

Do Your Job So I Can Do Mine

Okay, I’m going to do some math tonight.

Now, that should set off some alarm bells in your head. The size of the bells of Notre Dame, to be honest. Because I’m not a math person. Therefore, I should not be doing any math of any kind, even under pretend circumstances. But humor me. (Hope your funny bone is the size of your femur).

So, basically the world has this equation to determine if you are doing what you should be doing with your life. It’s simple: direct societal contribution + deliverable good  = your job.

Now, think about it. For example, you have an architect. What does he or she contribute to society? Places to work, eat, and sleep by building structures. What does he or she deliver? Those buildings, more opportunities for revenue, etc. That’s a one-to-one relationship, if I’m not mistaken.

Now, think about another job. A professional dancer, let’s say. (The math is going to get significantly harder, here.) What’s the societal contribution? Beautiful art. Sadly, not enough people seem to appreciate this societal contribution or consider it as such. What’s a deliverable good from a professional dancer? Well, it certainly isn’t tangible. But professional dancers create memories for their audiences. Visual interpretations of what a piece of music is “saying.” More art.

Not exactly the most straightforward equation. So, many people look at a professional dancer’s career and see this: 0 + 0 = 0. Which isn’t the correct math (even if my own math is not always sound).

Now, I have no grudges against architects. I don’t hold anything against professional dancers, either. But when professional dancers are forced to become architects because society sees value in architects but not professional dancing, then we start to have a problem.

Because this happens all of the time. Professional dancers, and other people who don’t fit into the stark equation outlined above, think that their passion cannot sustain their lifestyle. In many cases, they are right. Since society doesn’t value their contributions or deliverable goods because their careers do not benefit society as obviously as other professions (see above equation, again), they are told to pursue other things. Then, their passion is thwarted, and we get lifeless accountants who were supposed to be painters, we have frustrated attorneys who were meant to be novelists, and yes, we have jaded architects who were meant to be professional dancers. We get people who are displacing themselves to make a living, which then, in turn, displaces the people who really wanted to be accountants, attorneys, and architects.

Which brings me back to my original point. I should never, ever do math. I’ve never been good at it. Even trying to double recipes is difficult for me. I’m a writer. I like words, not numbers. Which is not to say people can’t like both. I’m just not one of those magical, incredibly talented people.

The point is, I should not be forced to find a job that is outside of my realm of expertise simply because society doesn’t think I can make a real societal contribution or deliverable good from writing.

Basically, you should do what you want to do, no matter what. Because if you can’t follow your passion, then things won’t really add up for you, no matter how (badly) you do the math.