What’s next.

Aside

“If you’re going to be the death of me, that’s how I want to go.” – Panic! At The Disco, Collar Full.

No relation to what I’m going to write about(probably. You never really know how it’s going to end, when you’re at the start of a blank page) – I was just listening to the song. Panic! At The Disco’s new album is out! And it’s just as much joyous fun as their other albums! I’m happy.

I like the line. Everyone’s played that game, haven’t they? “How would you like to die, if you had the choice?” I like the idea of being able to choose your own death – being happy about it. It’s the one thing about life that’s inevitable – the one thing a person can say is their destiny.

The one thing we really don’t have any choice about.

And I love the idea of facing something there’s no choice about and dealing with it on your own terms, in your own way. Of facing down the universe and telling it that your life is yours, no matter what. Brings to mind those awesome Bon Jovi lyrics – “When the world gets in my face, I say – [beat, beat] ‘Have a nice day'”

I am wandering far, far away from the original intent of my post, but I’m okay with that. I tried doing this yesterday, when the feelings and thoughts were fresh in my mind, but it just wasn’t working, at all.

I was applying for jobs, yesterday.

For those who aren’t aware(specifically because when asked what I do, it’s easier to just say ‘student’ than to get into this), college has – once again – fizzled out. I failed to attend the minimum amount of classes necessary to be able to write my exams. This being like.. my third chance at trying this and failing, I’m thinking that it’s probably best to put college on hold until it’s something I can pay for myself.

Having decided that, I was faced with the uncomfortably large question that follows all life even conclusions – “What next?”

People who have actually graduated from college have this made a lot easier for them – I’m not saying they get things handed to them, but there are programs in place – college placement and the like, things that try to make the transition from student to employee as smooth as possible. Plus, they have a degree, which gives them access to a larger amount of jobs than they could have had before, which was the entire point of those three, four, five years of college they went through in the first place. However, when your college days end because you have, once again, simply failed to get to that magic day at the end with robes and square hats and nostalgic Facebook status updates flying about everywhere – well, then that big “What next?” has a harsh accusatory glare that seems to be implying rather heavily it’s just itching to give you a stern lecture about responsibility and acting maturely.

So I did what any self respecting youth would do when faced by a stern glare and an upcoming lecture about acting responsibly – I completely turned my back on it and joined the circus!

Well, alright, not a circus – it was a theater production group called Barking Dog whom I owe another long blog post to – but close enough to be able to make lame circus jokes about. I was involved with them for.. a couple of months. I’m bad with dates and stuff(I relied on school and college semester to keep track of months for me, so now I’m lost in a mostly calendar-less world(although I do know that Halloween is coming up in… a certain number of days! Yay!)). But even that ended, and though I’m… reasonably sure… somewhat sure… alright, mostly uncertain but still the teensiest bit sure – that I’m going to be able to work with them again, they’ve taken a three month hiatus after their exhausting work on the Green Room Project.

Which will get a later blog post.
Really.
Would I lie to you?
Or tell you I’m going to get something done and then procrastinate it long enough that you just stop waiting entirely?

I’m sensing doubt creeping up in your mind – I WILL DISTRACT YOU WITH BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK!Image

Robson Borges, everyone! The amazing, astounding, astonishing Robson Borges!

Now, with no more Green Room Project to drag my attention from the big “What next?”, it began hounding me, relentlessly. Which is why, when my friend Pavi(read her blog! asbeesgeometry.wordpress.com) linked me to a job application… I applied.

Doom.

I’ve avoided really applying for jobs for.. well, pretty much ever. The last – and first,actually – job I had I got into only because of that gigantic “What next?” and it didn’t really work out so well. I’m not cut out to be a primary school teacher, let’s leave it at that. I’ve had two internships – which I breezed through rather quickly without really seeing if I could turn ’em into paying gigs. And there have been these things from all over – all over – you know how they are.

“So, you’re interested in writing? I know this company that’s looking out for a content writer”

“This website is excellent when it comes to finding jobs, you just fill out a resume and get some experience working in what interests you”

“Aunty’s looking for someone to help around with her suchandsuch business..”

“I need this person here to be… taken care of, if you catch my meaning.”

And I’d brush ’em all off with a “Yeah, sure, I’ll take a look at it. Sounds interesting. Maybe” (except for that last request. I just turned and ran. Turned and ran and never looked back). So I applied to the one my friend linked me to. It’s a pretty cool job, actually. Heck, it was my dream job from ages 12 to 16, only abandoned because it was just too good to be possible. And seeing as I’ve not heard back from them yet, apparently still isn’t but just listen – I’d be a scriptwriter for games. None of the actual programming and animation work needed, I’d just be sitting with the guy who did that and giving him the plot for the game, ideas of what he could do, turn a client’s concept into an actual game – working with concepts alone. A job where I get paid to sit around and say in my serious voice(I have one, guys. Honest!) “Can you make a giant spring? Oh, and enemy pandas you can destroy with lemon pies?”. And they’d be educational games, which were my childhood – I had some truly excellent ones and I really believe that with gaming on the rise, a good education game with an amazing story can truly drag a child into a world of learning that the stale dull overcrowded classrooms of today just can’t.

Alright, The Educational Games of My Childhood gets its own blog post, too!

So I applied for that job. Only, in order to apply for that job, I had to sign into the website that the job application came from(careesma.in, for the curious), and in order to do that… I needed to create a resume.

And right there – right there is everything I hate about job hunting. The resume, then the profile making, then the more extensive profile making I did at odesk.com(I figured, hey, if I’m going to be registered for a site, it might as well be one I’ve actually gotten money from before(I helped a friend with a proofreading job and she paid me! IT WAS SO COOL!)) and the cover letters I had to write to the other jobs I applied for once I’d caught the job application fever(it’s settled down for a bit now, thank heavens)… there was a lot of stuff. None of which was comfortable or easy for me to write.

I’ve always liked the feeling of looking at what’s expected of me and saying “Screw that” and just doing it my own way. Being my own person, no matter what(oh, hey. Look, it does relate to what I was writing about at the beginning of this post after all!). It was enough for me to be happy with who I was, and with the way I did things. My opinion was the only one that, ultimately, mattered to me.

Then you start applying for jobs, and your own self worth matters very little in contrast to how much your potential employer thinks you’re worth. It’s not enough to be you. You have to be what they want. Suddenly I’m worrying about my appearance. About my online presence. Suddenly it’s not enough to have writing flow – I have to wonder if the words show me in a good light. If they show I’m a clear and coherent thinker, with efficiency in words(oh, how I wish..) who’s got enough professionalism to be an instant and awesome addition to the team despite negligible prior work experience. I can’t use words like awesome… seriously, guys, if I start working, I may never get to say ‘awesome’ ever again without wondering if I’m going to get fired for using such a vague adjective.

Every word I write, it fills me with anxiousness. I agonized over every word in the cover letter. As I told Pavi, “Suddenly it’s not enough to Just Be You. You have to really be Just What They Want. Suddenly I’m constantly worried about how messy my profile must seem. I’m literally being judged for money here.”

“Welcome to the Real World” she replied.

Can you blame me for avoiding it for so long?

I mean, I get the logic of it. Of the all the judging. If they’re going to be giving someone money and trusting them to do a job, they need to make sure they hire the best suited person for the job.

It’s just that I can no longer just be the Armaan I’ve always been. I have to re-imagine and re-invent myself for the corporate world. But here’s the thing I loved about dipping my toes into the waters of job application – I don’t have to be a Dilbert-esque cubicle slave.

In appreciation of you reading this far in, here is a Dilbert cartoon!

Image

I don’t have to be that guy. The jobs I applied to are jobs that would heighten, hone, and expand my creativity, not stifle it. I applied for editing, proofreading, critiquing jobs for creative fiction. I found another dream job – I do constant editing for friends, and sometimes online strangers on storywrite.com, and I love the process – and there was a guy offering to pay me for it. I don’t have to change who I am completely. I love writing. I love words, and stories, and creative means of expression. And the world is increasingly becoming a place where one can make a living without having to be shackled to a desk in a joyless company just in order to make a living.

None of these jobs were offering a LOT of money, true… which just means I’d have to work harder at doing things I love, which, since work seems to be an inevitability, since ultra-hard work, in fact, seems to be something I have no choice about.. is the kind of work I don’t mind doing.

“If you’re going to be the death of me, that’s how I want to go”

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Superman – Secret Identity

Aside

I would like to share with you a story I just finished reading.

It’s a comic book story, and though it’s been less than five minutes since I finished reading it, I’m pretty sure that it – for a long while at least – is going to be remembered as one of my favourite and most cherished comic book stories ever.

It’s called Superman – Secret Identity. It’s not really a Superman story, it’s not set in the regular DC world of superheroes and villains and as many twists to the rules of physics as there are in the plot. It’s set in a regular world, where two ordinary Kents who live in Kansas think it would be funny to name their son Clark. As you can imagine, growing up with the name Clark Kent meant constant ridicule and teasing for the boy who, incidentally, doesn’t even like the Superman comics. One day, though, out alone in the fields of Kansas, a meteor falls… and immediately after, Clark Kent discovers that he has, now, all the powers of Superman himself.

That’s the basic premise for the story, the essential “what it’s all about”. But that’s not what I loved about reading the story – what I loved was the way it was written. Clark Kent was characterized so well, and everything revolves aroundthat – not on his superpowers, or what he does with them, the center of the story is Clark. Kent.

It’s what I’ve always wanted my superhero stories to be like. About the people more than anything else.

Clark is shown as a thinker, and a bit of a loner – not someone who shuns society, but who really prefers the quiet and being alone with his thoughts. The writing, the coloured word boxes(which have replaced thought bubbles in most modern comics, if you didn’t know), and even the art are all quiet, reflective, thoughtful, insightful and, as he gets older, increasingly wiser. Okay, the art doesn’t really get wiser, but it’s certainly quiet and thoughtful sort of art. No bright colours or loud fanfares to put the boom into action.

Also, Clark does a remarkable job of living his own life, making a place for himself in the world and not being defined solely by his superpowers, although they are a big part of him. Most superhero comics fail in this aspect too, but the thing is, I realize, is that regular comic book industries have to cater to their fans, and most fans don’t want to read about their favourite heroes growing old and starting a family. Superman – Secret Identity was a four issue mini-series, the whole thing being in just four parts – so the writer, Kurt Busiek – had a lot more liberty in what his story could be.

I think I look for more humanity in my stories because there is so much about being a person I don’t really know. So I like seeing how different people handle different things. In seeing all the different ways people handle different situations, I find myself – I see moments where one person chooses to do something I would have done completely differently. I see thoughts and opinions I relate to strongly. And I need these things, because there is so much about being myself that I do not know.

Lately, things have been falling into place in just the right places – places that have been empty in me for years. And I finally feel like I’m becoming part of a world and as I see myself there, I see who it is that I am, and I’m proud of me. I’m liking me. And I’m knowing, more surely, day by day, that the choice to like myself isn’t blind egoism. Egotism? Self-centeredness? Nar- there, that’s the one. Isn’t blind narcissism.

I’m going to share with you my favourite page from the story. I don’t always have a favourite page, but in this one, I do. It’s the one that appealed most to me, resonated most strongly with me. You know how you’re listening to a romantic song but there’s that ONE moment, that ONE note or ONE line that strikes the strongest resonant chord within you? This page is like that – I’m reading a story that settles in my mind as a the life of a person doing what he can to find his own, person place in a six dimensioned world(the sixth dimension being feelings. Emotional significance. Whatnot), and this page resonates that in me the strongest.

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It’s the art that catches my eye are first. If I could float, I would so sit cross-legged at night over any city I want to. The words are just part of the flow of the story as the art fills me with joy and that’s-where-I’d-be-ness. Then I see the words and I love them – sitting in a location like that just to ponder about deep philosophical quandaries that define who he is – and he’s already forming ideas on how to write about it. And that’s why I relate to this page so strongly – because that’s me. That’s how I think. It’s how I look at things, and it’s so much of who I am and it’s one of the things I love about being someone who has ink and words flowing through his bloodstream.

At the same time, Clark is different from me in many ways. He’s more grounded than I’d ever be. Far less random and sparky and much less of a dreamer. He’s not into comics at all other than random trivia enforced upon him through his name. He’s up to date on current event and is completely aware of political situations. He plans things in the quiet, smart, well thought out way of plans that actually work the way they’re supposed to, allowing him to balance doing what he wants and doing what he needs and doing what he wishes he really didn’t have to do.

He’s got boatloads of patience, too. I wish I had that. I don’t want to be this Clark Kent, but I sure as hell admire the character.