Things People Don't Know About Me #3
This is part of a series of personal entries inspired by James Altucher's listicle, "33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer." One of them is:
Don't be afraid of what people think.
In the expansion on that one-sentence suggestion, he ends it with, "...for the next 10 things you write, tell people something that nobody knows about you."
For the record, I think this will be the last of these types of entries. I mean, hell. Most of the things I write in these entries here aren't revealed to anyone else, anyway. So I think it's already a habit. Also, if anyone is reading this, be prepared for a fair amount of stream-of-consciousness this time around. There is a point to it, I suppose, though regardless of that the main reason I think I want to stop writing this kind of entry is because it simply reminds me of my faults and doesn't necessarily help me feel any better about myself. I lack the time for self-pity at this point in my life. Spinning my wheels really isn't an option. Plus it would make me feel shitty about myself and the life I have, even more so when I realize that those feelings and criticism are self-inflicted.
So here we go. One last thing people don't know about me is that I feel like I wasted most of my early life. It took me until I was nearly in my 30s to hit my stride, so to speak, and become a useful member of society. I don't think I had any significant accomplishments until I was like 28 or 29, at least.
From an early age, I wanted to be "creative." I learned to read by the age of 3 - so says my mother - and I know I voraciously read books as a kid. I also drew pictures, and ended up being on stage for school plays. The first performance I recall being in must have been in 1st grade, then from 6th grade until I graduated high school I had been in every school play and musical, including starring roles. I ended up being granted achievement awards during graduation for singing and stage performance I'd done through the previous four years.
In my junior and senior years of high school I debated on whether to go to school for visual art or theatre. Those were the two disciplines I favoured the most. Theatre won out, and while it took me five years, I eventually graduated college with a Bachelor's of Science in Theatre Arts. Most of the time I had been an actor, but I also had trained as a director and screenwriter. It took many years, but I eventually performed enough - and had been burned and frustrated enough - to eventually realize that acting was something I don't ever see myself pursuing as a way to make a living, or even as a casual hobby.
Beyond academics, I had engaged in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. Sports, of course, were very common. From an early age I had played "tee-ball" and then baseball. I also participated in youth track & field, and because of my performance, our family planned and went on several summer vacations through the US so I could compete in national competitions. I futzed around with "intramural sports" in middle school, though in high school I was a starting lineman for two of the three years I played, and then competed in state championships on the track & field team for all four years of my schooling.
When I was quite young, I participated in Cub Scouts, and then Boy Scouts. I ended up quitting Boy Scouts prior to earning much merit (for those in the know, I earned "2nd Class" then bailed). Camping was fun, but actually doing work for merit badges seemed boring (though I'd give a lot to be able to "turn back time" and take on a number of those projects back then, honestly).
My first job was as an office cleaner, at age 14. I worked with my uncle/godfather, who had a second job in the evenings cleaning various local businesses and offices. I remember riding on the back of his motorcycle from place to place, vacuuming office carpets and emptying the garbage. He's the guy who treated me to my first cup of coffee. I remember burning my calf rather badly on his motorcycle's exhaust pipe. I had a large scar for over a decade before it finally wore away completely.
Now, the part that hurts me, personally.
Like many Gen X white guys, I spent a tremendous amount of my life playing video games. I mean, holy shit. I suppose this is the impetus for me writing this entry. I'll sum-up this critique by stating that since I'd been here at the eco-institute, it's become clear to me that there were so many other - more useful - things I could have spent my time with, so that I would have gained some actual skills instead of just easy dopamine hits. Since I've been here, and been put in charge of supervising interns, I simply have no time or energy to play games beyond maybe 10 minutes of old-skool Donkey Kong in the morning, maybe once a week.
I think back on all the time I sat in a dark room, playing some RPG video game, or some space shootemup or whatever, or even the time I've spent making video games (a crafty illusion of useful skills, honestly), and I feel like a dipshit. I feel stupid for doing that for so long, for so much of my life. There was a point where i was paid to play video games (when I worked for a local video game studio), but even then I was quickly dropped when the studio down-sized because I had no useful skills for them to utilize. Hell, I could have been socializing, chatting with women, having much more satisfying relationships in general.
Here at the eco-institute, I have a tremendous opportunity to rectify all of this, to a point. Nearly every day I am here, I am learning something new. I practice it, because my first attempt is fairly dreadful (as it would be for pretty much anyone, I guess). The reality is, however, that I'm going to be 46 years old in about a month, and I'm easily 25 years behind where I would be had I taken my life more seriously. What piddly difference would another average guy with a theatre degree make in the world? Who cares if I made some "really fun" video games? The rinky-dink plays I acted in, directed, or even wrote... Who cares, really? None of that made a difference beyond momentary enjoyment or distraction for the audience, and it only deluded me into thinking people liked me or thought of me as a useful person.
I know I did great things at my previous day job. I left there because even though I was accomplished, the results weren't impactful enough for me to be satisfied. Individuals were uplifted, no doubt, however the environment I lived and worked in remained terrible. Coming out here to the wilderness seems to be my last resort, and I'm still very, very terrible at most of it. I lack the experience and the formal learning and knowledge to be effective, and the one thing that keeps me going is my personal motivation to live this lifestyle as well as possible.
I have plenty of catching-up to do. I suppose I'll feel like I'm constantly behind my peers for the rest of my life. Whenever I make mistakes for the first time, they'll have made them decades ago. So I suspect that whenever I die, it will be at a point in my life when I'm still considered "average" at best in this field of work and lifestyle.
Maybe there's nothing wrong with that. Even if there is, well, it's what I am.
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