Archive for Quitting

Gettin’ Back on Track

Alright, seriously guys. You need to get back on the wagon, because now your laziness is affecting me. I’m skipping posts because I am infected with your lazy. Fix it.

See, I’m doing it. We can muddle through, even when we have nothing to write. Except I kind of do.

I’m looking for a job, at a snail’s pace. I should be going faster, given how much I need any kind of income right now. But I’m stuck. Resigning from that last job shook me more than I thought. Once the dreams about my grandma died down, the dreams about the ranch came back. Horrible dreams where I’m blamed for constant streams of failures I am powerless to prevent. Gee, I wonder where that comes from.

Shows how selfish I am, though. The second I get any kind of closure from the death of a loved one, I go right back to feeling sorry for myself. Not that I’m dealing with that one like a champion, either.

You ever feel like you need to vent, but you don’t know what or how? That’s where I am right now. Trying to piece together the last three months, while moving forward like a healthy human being.

 

Back in Black

Well, I’m back.

I would be lying if I said I just “took time off.” I just quit writing. I got bummed out when a webcomic project didn’t launch, and the weather, and life in the city took that disappointment and made it full fledged depression.

The worst part of my failure to post for the last few weeks was that I brought my contributors down with me. Clark followed not too long after, and finally, even Austin stopped fighting the good fight.

I have been depressed. Hell, I still am some days. But I am writing something important to me. Not just this blog, but my other blog, and several other projects. And I have to keep reminding myself that in order to be a writer, you have to write.

You have to write every damn day.

The longer I stay at this, the more second nature it becomes. But with hard times, family trauma, and failed attempts at greatness, the comfort of writing is also a blight. Because no matter how much I write and no matter what the topic, I can’t shake the feeling that I suck at it.

Please, do not comment or message me any reassurances about my “talent.” I am not fishing for anything. I am simply voicing my very real fear that I am, in fact a terrible writer.

I think this feeling comes with the territory. The craft of writing requires a lot of critique and it doesn’t have a finished product like computer programming or architecture. Does the program work? Does the building stand? Job well done. But, do the words sound right?

Maybe. I can’t ever tell.

I’m trying. Not very hard, some days. But, I try. And as I keep growing as an artist and a person, my life is improved not my my progress in the craft, but simply by doing it. I am made more human by the act of  trying to achieve, and striving to be better. And most days, it is still a hard sell.

But, I keep going. I fall, and stumble, and screw up with surprising regularity. And when I look back on these past mistakes, I can become paralyzed with fear. But I have to keep going. And I still ask myself why and and tell myself I am kidding myself, but I keep moving forward.

Why? Because I must. Because that is my task in this life. To push to be a story teller and to try and build something. Not so it can stand the test of time or be the greatest story every told, but because in the act of trying, I am made whole.

So here’s to being back. I’m sorry I ever left,

-DC

Some Kind of Medicine

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, and it still stings. Fiercely, if I’m being honest. Most of my time and mental energy is spent staving off the unhealthy. This is on top of my grandma’s failing health, car trouble, money trouble, and who knows what else. Understandably, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

But let it never be said I can’t take my own medicine. I’ve worked with people who were in situations as crappy as the one I’m in now. Crappier, even. I have a new appreciation for what they went through.

There’s something I used to tell my clients who were down, out, and unemployed. Coming back from something big isn’t something that happens. It’s something you do. It’s a habit you create. Right now, the dark thoughts and the listlessness, those are the things I have to fight. Not letting them get a foothold is a habit I’ve used before, and will use again. It’s a bigger job than I thought it would be.

That said, I’m taking a couple weeks, before I start looking for work again. I think I’ve earned that much simplicity. It might be hypocritical, it might be spot-on. I’m not sure.

I’m trying to stay busy, at least in spurts. Dan and I have big things coming out this week. In fact, there are going to be a few announcements this week explaining that better. And it’s going to be something We’re very proud of.

So there’s a silver lining at least. Stay tuned.

-Austin

The Addendum

So, I resigned from my job.

We talked it over, my boss, HR, and me. We agreed that this job wasn’t the best fit for me, and no amount of wanting would change that.

Whatever opportunities there were for me there dried up. They wouldn’t move me into something different until I mastered the job I had. Which makes sense, but it wasn’t an option for me anymore.

My first time working with kids, my first time in a milieu, and my first time in care-taking. No small wonder I wasn’t cutting it.

I’m trying to tell myself it’s not a failure, that it’s a learning experience. I’m also trying to tell myself that knowing my limits is just as important as knowing my strengths. And that in this line of work, a job that only lasts a couple months isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

All that said, I tried as hard as I could, and it wasn’t enough. That’s gonna sting for a while.

Now comes the hard part. Moving on. Making peace with the way things are. Making a fresh start, maybe trying to grow a beard. Finding opportunities in this town. Again.

The Meeting

God, December was a terrible month. So terrible, in fact, it rolled over into January. Here’s the crisis du jour.

Saturday, my boss calls me in to her office. She tells me that I’m not as far along as I should be in my job growth. I’m a headache for some of the other staff. She then tells me she, HR, and I have a meeting on Monday, which is now today. Which is, at press time, a couple hours from now. She wouldn’t tell me what the meeting is about, but she was fairly insistent it wasn’t about being fired.

So, boom. Another bomb dropped on whatever zen I’m trying to cultivate.

At first, I was pretty shook. When anyone is trying their hardest and gets told it’s not good enough, it hurts. And with as much as I struggled with confidence and competence in the past, this opened up some old wounds.

And then I started thinking. I worked my ass off for grad school. I spent time, money, and effort pushing limits past what I thought I could do. Because of that, I can say I am good at what I do. It’s just that what I do isn’t what my job is right now. My job right now is care-taking. I took it because they promised me that after a couple months, I could move into a job where I know I can do good.

I kept at it this long because for all their faults and my headaches, I do care about the kids at the ranch. I want to help them, and I want to learn how to help other kids in their position. The management has made it clear that I can’t do that where I’m at now, and I agree.

Now comes the hard part. I have a ticking clock on getting my license to be a therapist. On top of being told I can’t stand still where I’m at now, despite promises they made when they hired me. So, at this meeting today, I’m going to have a lot to talk about.

Stay tuned, I’ll do an addendum post to tell you how it went.

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Nana’s Last Christmas

God, I’ve hit the hat trick for late night updates. It should be a wake-up call. This time though, I have a pretty good excuse.

My grandma has been sick and getting sicker this whole month. Memory trouble. When it started, she was remembering things that didn’t happen. Turns out, a string of tumors in her brain is slowly squeezing the life out of her. The breast cancer, it seems, has had the last laugh.

I didn’t tell anyone. Even the other guys at the blog. When they read this tomorrow, or maybe the day after, it’ll be the first time they hear (surprise!). I always isolate to process. It’s a bad habit of mine. Besides, I reasoned, it’s Dan’s first Christmas with his wife, and he doesn’t need a Debbie Downer eating up all his time and attention. Truth is, I’m afraid telling people will make the whole thing real.

I’ve been numb, more than anything. With the stress of the new job, the 5 stages of grief have been slow in arriving. I might still be in denial. Or maybe the early stages of compassion fatigue are forming a soft pillowy callous around the emotions.

I didn’t know what to get her for Christmas. At the beginning of the month I got her a glass rose. It has a glass butterfly on it. It’s gaudy, it’s kitsch, and she’ll love it. But I usually try to get someone something long-term when I go shopping for presents. That seems selfish now, that her possessions will soon return to me.

She’s in hospice now, on medication that is somewhat successful in bringing down the swelling in her brain. She still comes and goes, from what I hear. My work schedule is keeping me from visiting her. I’ll never forgive myself if it keeps me from seeing her before she goes.

We’re trying to give her one last Christmas at our house. She wanted it at hers, but she isn’t doing well enough to manage all the stairs there. That’s what hurts the most.

I ended up getting her chocolate. The best I could find on short notice. It seemed fitting, like a sugary mandala. Beautiful and temporary. Even someone who can’t remember the name of the gift-giver can remember a gift like chocolate. Even if it’s just for a little while.

-Austin

Goodbye to Spokane

When I first arrived in Spokane, I was scared out of my mind. I was in a new city where I didn’t know anyone, starting a program I knew would kick my ass, moving into an apartment my landlords technically didn’t own yet.

I still can’t say exactly why I decided to come to Spokane. Maybe just because it was a hell of an opportunity and I wanted to see if I could. There were times I almost couldn’t, most of them in the archives of these blogs. I know I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t have the people standing behind me that I did.

for my first year in Spokane, I couldn’t wait to leave. At times, I even saw this place as a sort of prison, a temporary purgatory on my way to something better, though I had no idea what “better” could have meant. Now, surprisingly, the place has grown on me. It’s difficult for me to leave, a thought that would have been alien even a few months ago.

Although, maybe it’s not the place so much as the people in it.

There really are too many people to thank for who and where I am. Maybe it’s just a lucky side effect of spending my time around mostly counselors and professional helpers, but the people here that I’ve come to know are some of the best people I think I’ll ever meet. I hope that in the coming years I’ll be able to pay it forward, and be for other people what my friends and teachers have been for me.

So, goodbye Spokane, and everyone in it. For as many difficulties as I’ve faced here, I’ll always owe a part of who I am to this city. And that’s exactly the capstone I’ll place on my time here.

Spokane- I came with hope, and I left with wisdom.

Defrost

When it comes to scary situations, most people react one of two ways: fight or flight. Well, I’m here to tell you about a less common reaction: freeze.

Like a deer in the headlights or a possum playing dead, I freeze when met with extreme situations. As much as I wish I was a brave fighter or a fast runner, I’m much more likely to put my head down and hope the problem goes away.

Before I go further, I should say that I don’t freeze often. I’m very capable of solving unpleasant or difficult problems. It takes a special cocktail of awkwardness, anxiety, and frustration for me to freeze. Unfortunately, I found this exact combination at one of my jobs, and I started to freeze over the course of a couple weeks. When I found myself consumed by the anxiety, I made the decision to leave my position.

The quitting process sucks, but I’m learning some lessons along the way. For one, I’ve realized the importance of practicing what I preach. I always talk about pursuing passions, yet I found myself at a job that left me feeling empty. I had great coworkers and a flexible schedule, but I couldn’t overcome the voice in my head asking “why are you doing this?” I settled for “good enough” when my subconscious wanted more. Like it or not, my mind won’t let me settle.

So now I’m facing a new situation. With no schooling, jobs, or social obligations, I can apply for jobs anywhere I choose. I could join Dan in NYC as an analytics pro, or Austin in Washington as a software developer. The world is my oyster, and I can now explore the many things it has to offer. I’m equal parts terrified and excited, but I know without a doubt that this the the adventure I’ve been dreaming of for months.

Theory and Practice

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I’ve never really believed in fate. Things happen when they happen, and I’ve never really put much stock in a celestial pattern behind it all.

But sometimes, like the Rolling Stones said, you get what you need.

I was driving home to see my friends and family for Christmas. Then my alignment failed and I slid off the road and into the median, scraping up the side of my car and leaving me with two front wheels that pointed in two different directions. On its own it wasn’t that bad, except this was the second Christmas in a row that something like this had happened. I was more than a little upset. I doubt many of my clients would’ve recognized me from the colorful language coming out of my mouth that night as I hobbled into the nearest mechanic.

I used a number of coping skills that night to keep my head on my shoulders. Though, in the moment all I felt was brimstone and hell-fire, I finally got a chance to practice what I preach.

I often tell my clients that it is important to practice in the real world what they learn in session. As I am quick to point out, it is easy to talk about using a coping skill. It is another thing entirely to put it into practice. I needed a taste of my own medicine, and the universe obliged, as it tends to do.

It’s easy to tell other people what to do. I often wonder if I have any right to assume the things I know could possibly apply to someone else’s problems. Having gone through this recent ordeal, however, I feel vindicated. I survived using the same tools I teach my clients. An “I told you so” moment if ever I’ve had one.

That, I think is the difference between theory and practice. Anyone can tell you what to do. There’s a special power in doing it yourself first. Maybe that’s the trick.