On Doing Something (Anything!) via cracked.com

Last week I read the realest article I have read in a long time. Maybe ever.  If you want to check it out, head over to Cracked.com.  I mean, I am going to summarize it here, but it’s definitely worth the read.

Can You Stinkin’ Operate?

At some point in the recent past I came to the following conclusion which is also the author’s main argument: I am only worth what I can do.  It doesn’t matter if I almost never miss a graduation/birthday/wedding/ baby shower, etc. I doesn’t matter how good I am at paying my bills. (I am a pro at that if anybody’s wondering.)  All the world wants to know is, “Can you do the d*** job that I need you to do?”  That’s. It.  As I’ve been mentioned before, I have a Cushy Corporate Job at a call center, and, honestly, I’m a little embarrassed by that fact.  Answering phones is not a highly skilled skill, so I do not feel like I’m worth much.  And I have a bachelor’s degree.  I have a bachelor’s degree and I answer phones for a living. Without making a grand statement on the state of the economy, that’s a pretty depressing reality.  Also, aside from the fact that the author of this article and I came up with the same conclusion, he:

a)     said it first, so he gets the credit.

b)    said it in a tangible way on the website he co-created.  And,

c)     probably got paid to do it too.

At the present moment, all I’m really doing is responding to work he’s already done.  And though I am happy to write (because I love writing), the ideas that I’m presenting to you aren’t entirely new. And that, my dear friends, is exactly the point. What is unique about you?  What new thing can you offer to the world? Can you be honest, philosophical, and funny all at the same time? (I’m so impressed by David Wong’s tone in that article.) Can you consistently provide entertaining content that will make people want to return to the same website over and over again to read your work? Can you do anything of value at all??? It’s a tough question. And I hope that you can answer it confidently on your own terms. Personally, I have struggled with this issue for a long time and this blog is one of the ways I’m starting to answer that question. But in the past, I used to fall back on the fact that (most of the time) I’m an extremely nice, highly loyal person. Here’s the thing about that….

Nobody Cares How Nice You Are

At least not if you can’t do the job. The world needs closers. (Again, read the Cracked article.) If you can close really well and you’re an a$$hole. That’s fine. We’ll take it. If you can close really well and you’re a genuinely nice/thoughtful/funny/exciting person, awesome! That is highly desirable and almost rare. But if you’re a great person and you can’t close? Well…. Thanks (sort of), but you are a non f%&@ing factor. This is one of those life principles that totally sucks. I’ve been on both sides of the situation (being able to close and not being able to), and I’d like to say that the nice guy always wins out just for being nice. But it really doesn’t work that way. There is, however, some good news.

You Don’t Have to Be Good at Everything

All you really need is a niche.  In the article the author makes an interesting point I had never thought about before. He says, “How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made ?” When I first read that line, I felt teeeeeerrible. Almost all my time goes to consuming other people’s creations. (YouTube, Hulu, Netflix. Hell, the entire freaking internet!) And in the case of my job, all my time there goes toward building someone else’s empire rather than my own. (I hate you, Corporate America.)  But the bigger picture is that the world we live in is so highly specialized that consuming other people’s creations is perfectly acceptable as long as you have a talent or skill to give back to society. That’s right. If you’re really good at something valuable that people need, the world will allow you to be mediocre, even bad, at literally everything else. Plus you get bonus points if the one thing you’re really good at is also meaningful to you or makes you happy. But that’s another post for another day.

Last Thoughts

This is a can do world that needs can do people. Stop hiding behind what you don’t do (I don’t lie. I don’t kill people. I don’t steal stuff. I’m never late to work and I never miss a day.) and start living by what you accomplish. Because remember:

  1. Nobody cares how nice you are.  Not lying/killing/stealing/being late are minimum requirements.
  2. Thinking about all the things you don’t do is a little bit negative. Whether you realize it or not, it’s screwing with your self-esteem because even you don’t fully know what you’re worth.  You don’t know what you can achieve.

Now, to the latter fact about self-esteem I’m sure the author would say, “Wanna feel better about yourself? Learn to f&%!ing do something!”

Touché, Mr. Wong. Touché.

I would, however, like to offer a small modification to that statement.

Michael Jordan (I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. But he was, like, kinda good at basketball.) was once quoted as saying, “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”  Many sources have cited that Michael Jordan was passed over on his high school’s varsity basketball team as a sophomore and that moment was the fuel that helped him focus better, train harder, and make the team the next year. The rest, as they say, is history.

But he had to believe that he could do it first. If Michael Jordan hadn’t believed he was better than another guy who got chosen before he did, he never would have put in the extra effort to get on the varsity roster the next season.  And then the rest of us never would have experienced the amazing talent that is Michael Jordan.  That’s almost a tragedy if you look at it that way.  So, I totally agree that doing something (anything!) will get you out of the I-hate-myself funk. But you have to first believe that you can get out of it. You have to believe that you’re worth more than the junior varsity status the world has incorrectly labeled you with. You have to believe that if you aren’t a success already, you should be. And you will be. If –ENORMOUS if- you actually act on that belief, build your skills, and prove to yourself that you’re worth it every single day. And in the process of proving it to yourself, you will prove it to everyone else too.  Who knows? If you work hard enough and you have that spark, you might even change the course of history.  So Git Up, Git Out and get something, Big Boi. Time to find out what you’re made of.

I’m Back. And I’ve Got Lots to Say

Hello, friends. I don’t know who’s reading this, and maybe no one ever will. But I don’t care. It is my mission to write. My voice was meant to be heard and I have always known this. So, I’m back to blogging, and I intend to stick with it this time. Any and everything will happen here at wildflowerpastiche. I hope you’ll stay around.

First thing on deck is my response to one Ms. Susan Patton.  In case you missed it, last week a Princeton alum wrote a piece entitled “Advice for the young women of Princeton” that got such an overwhelming response on the Daily Princetonian that it crashed their site. In her article, which broke to the public on April 1, Ms. Patton told this generation of Princeton women to find their husbands while still in school. If they don’t, she suggests that they probably aren’t going to have a good relationship with a man on their level. Ever. (If you’d like more details on what Ms. Patton actually said, you can read some of her thoughts on Madame Noire here or follow the link to the original CNN Money article here.) Well. That’s pretty disparaging advice. And while I can see where she’s coming from, I think there are some strong points she missed about the world of dating during and after college.

The POSITIVE of Post Grad Dating

I think Ms. Patton is forgetting a very large, modern exception to the rule: Online Dating. I have a female friend who is recently engaged to a man she met using an online dating site while in grad school. She is over-the-moon happy; they’re going to be great together ‘cause he’s a comparable, suitable match for her on every level; and her search barely interrupted her studies and career goals.  Call that dumb luck if you want, but let’s not completely overlook online dating as an answer to the question of how to expand the limited post grad dating pool.  And that’s to say nothing of finding people through things like shared hobbies, mutual friends, work, religious groups, or other community settings centered on common values.  Yes, the game is way different after graduation.  But if you are amazing, single, and looking with degree in hand, who’s to say your match isn’t out there doing the same?

The NEGATIVE of Post Grad Dating (from the female perspective)

On the flip side, I do have to agree with the author that it probably would be easier to find a like-minded partner with similar interests while still in school. I mean, that’s kind of a “duh” point, but still.  A lot of my female counterparts aged 24-34 like myself are smart, self-sufficient, and pretty happy with where they are and what they’re doing. A lot of us are also more than a little anxious about our continued singleness.  It is a truly bewildering experience to find a mature, well rounded, “manly man” who gets your personality and whose values and idiosyncrasies mesh with yours.  For me the toughest case in this regard is a friend of mine who I frequently refer to as The Strongest Woman I Know.  And she is.  She is uncommonly intelligent, hardworking, tough as nails, wise, exciting to be around, strong in faith, loved by everyone she meets, a great mom, sexy, successful, focused on her goals, open and ready to love and to settle down … and still looking.  She is the quintessential, Maya Angelou “Phenomenal Woman” and I can’t understand for the life of me why someone hasn’t snatched her up yet.  Had she dated more in college, would she be married by now? There’s no guarantee on that. But maybe she would be.

On Men with College Degrees

It’s a piece of paper.

While earning a degree shows a certain level of follow through and ambition, it does not guarantee a man who is relationship ready at graduation. I’ve seen that first hand. College degrees don’t guarantee higher intelligence either.  Two of the smartest men I know do not have degrees at all.  They are self-taught, highly principled men who did not require formal education to be knowledgeable and cultured.  Of the two of them, one is currently pursuing a bachelor’s, but he’s really only in it for the increased earning potential.  What he’s studying isn’t as important to him as having the paper.  And for the record, he and I met on a dating site online.  And while we are good friends and I have my reasons for not dating him, I’m fairly confident that one of the reasons he is not dating me is that I – the one of the two of us with a degree – am not smart enough for HIM and I don’t have enough to offer HIM intellectually.  How ‘bout them uneducated apples?

What I Believe at the End of the Day

You attract what you are.  It’s a law of life.  And the fact of the matter is that many of us, at 22, don’t know who we are and what we want. At least not completely. Because we’re not mature enough yet. So, yes, one could choose to leave college with a lifelong mate in tow.  And it works well for some people.  But it certainly isn’t for everyone.  And let’s not forget that in 5 years at age 27, your wants and needs may be totally different.  They could be even more different 5 years later at 32.  As I grow, I believe more and more that personality brings people together, but character keeps them together.  So while I agree with Ms. Patton that networking, dating, and finding a mate in college is easier than the post grad alternative, I wish she had been able to see that the easy way is not necessarily the best way.  I wish she had told today’s graduates not to just arbitrarily make relationships, but rather to learn how to make good relationships work. And how to spot a person with strong character who knows how to do the same.  That is the real skill.  That is the real goal.  Healthy relationships that balance healthy ambition are the real triumph. And if you can’t master that while you’re in college, fine.  It’s really not a big deal at all. Live your life. Work on you. Have fun. Learn stuff. And, of course, keep going on dates. Your shelf life is longer than you think.

Wildflower Pastiche Brings New Voice to Blogoshpere, Seeks Readers

When you begin blogging on WordPress.com, the site gifts you a with a complimentary first post entitled “Hello, World!” How, clever! I thought when I read it. And how appropriate. In my 30 minutes of pre–research into blogging – yes, geek that I am, I looked up who blogs, how to blog, etc…don’t judge me – one blogger stated confidently that the first post is paramount, as it establishes your audience and your point of view. Really? Seriously? I thought I was just writing some stuff about my life like everybody else. Thanks for the pressure.

In any case, I have to admit to myself that creating some kind of image of my online presence was a fairly good idea. So here I am, doing exactly that.

Let’s begin with my blog’s name. Wildflower Pastiche.  I have been told that I march to the beat of my own drum and have been called a free spirit many times. But my favorite variation on this theme came from a dear friend of mine who once spontaneously nicknamed me, “Wildflower.” I kind of look up to this particular friend because she’s naturally graceful and wise, so to be blessed with such a beautiful and accurate moniker made my day. In fact, it’s pretty much the best nickname I’ve ever had, so henceforth I shall claim it proudly. Lol. Pastiche is the artsy fartsy word for “collage.” (Like, instead of jamming a bunch of pictures together to make bigger picture, pastiche is when you take different literary works or genres and cram them together to make a new genre, or when you take different pieces of music and  put them together to make a new musical work. Hmm is that crookery or creativity?… Depends on how good the pastiche turns out, I guess. Maybe we should ask the current hip hop generation.) I think of my life as a collage, a hodge-podge of a few random things here and there. And at this particular point in my life as I enter *ahem* my bigger twenties – I refuse to say, “late” –  I am acutely aware of how each thing I choose creates the picture of me. But I am so, so very excited to be creating that picture. This power to choose is the upside of adulthood. The door is finally wide open, and we are free to do whatever we want. That’s actually kinda cool when you think about it. Who knew?

As for the rest of my blog? Well, I would say expect a little more of the same. A little philosophy, a little humor (Maybe? Yes? I hope you at least smiled), maybe some social commentary, and some unnecessary and possibly pretentious teaching funneled through the lens of some sort of topic of the day… or week… or….something. Also I’m single, and it’s been driving me crazy of late-an unfortunate by product of the la…I mean big twenties- so there’ll be a lot of theorizing about relationships. Some whining too. Lol. My hope is that you will read along with me as I sculpt my adult life and reinvent myself, comment, and encourage a friend or two to click through. Thanks for reading. See you again soon.

~Wildflower Pastiche