When I started this blog in April of 2020, we were all just beginning to figure out what it meant to be living in a pandemic. In America, we had an aspiring fascist for a president and an election on the horizon that was one major test of whether the country was going to persist as a representation of democracy or not. I started writing primarily as a way to cope with all the chaos and uncertainty in the world and in my head. I have shared much about myself as well as some of my vaguely intellectual, but not especially hashed out theories about things I observe in society that may not be obvious to others. I also wanted to test out whether the chaos of the pandemic created an opportunity for me to work on a project and be successful in a different way, without a stated goal in mind.
As I have mentioned in past posts, goals have always been something I struggle with. I have difficulty staying committed to one thing for any length of time and for large goals, that is precisely what is required. I used to say I could do anything if I only knew what it was, and that may be true, but if it is a big thing, how would I know that I would still want it by the time I had the end in sight? Perhaps it is a fear of accomplishment or of the letdown I hear is a common psychological phenomenon related to accomplishing large goals. What would be the point in doing the thing if doing it didn’t make you happy in the meantime or once you had done it? And for long term goals, what about the opportunity cost? I mean, if you spend all your time focused on this one thing, what might you be missing out on and how do you know which is going to be more fulfilling when it is all said and done?
For me, and maybe others, goals feel like a trap, like something you convince yourself you want in order to be (or appear to be) productive. And what is productivity, really? Productivity doesn’t inherently pay the bills. Most of the time, productivity isn’t even related to compensation or to the value placed on the product at all. So what is the point?
I think about those people who train for the Olympics, starting at an extremely young age. Either they know at that point what they want to do with their lives (really?) or they are pushed/pulled into a practice because they have a particular talent they could hone. But it takes discipline, training and coaching to get there; many other people are on your team to help you achieve your goal. This is all extremely fascinating to me, but I simply cannot relate at all.
Instead, I have many talents, but no real desire to hone them or use them in any capacity beyond participation in groups of people with similar skills/interests. Band, for example, is one of those groups. I have gotten to the point with our music that even after more than a year of not touching my horn or playing at all, I still have the songs in my head and can play them with the ensemble from memory and by ear, as though we had never taken a pandemic break. This combination of skills that allows me to do that is pretty unique and makes me stand out in the group, but I don’t really WANT to stand out. I just want to play. There are plenty of players who do things that sound way more amazing to me than what I do and obviously, being a wind player, I cannot conjure the sound that we put out collectively if I were playing by myself. The beauty and magic comes from the gathering of people each with their own magic skill that compliments all the others. This is the part that I truly love.
But I digress. I suppose my real point is that I could never have imagined in April 2020 that I would still be writing consistently in this format. If I had gone into the project saying “my goal is to write 100 blog posts” I most certainly would not be here writing my 100th blog post. For me, retaining the freedom to take on projects without knowing or even considering what they will look like in the future is imperative to making any progress whatsoever. Because as soon as someone asks what the project is or what it will be and I cannot define it, I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve failed to plan or define my goals, which everyone knows is the only way to measure productivity. And, if course, you want to be productive, don’t you?
Hogwash, all of it. You do not have to know what you are doing, just do something that feels authentic and that helps you reach out and connect with the world. Bonus points for vulnerability. Your career may not be a straight line and that is just fine. It is perfect, because it exists and it is your path. The future will be created by those of us who operate in between categories, those who have 13 self-descriptors in their email signature line. Do the thing you are most passionate about and find the people who believe in your work and will help support you.
100 posts is pretty miraculous for me. I’m actually proud of myself. This is the first intuitively authentic thing I have worked on since my diagnosis and, while it is not 100% my doing, I’m running the show for now. We will see what the future holds.
Here’s to the next 100 posts!