Another “Stream of Conciousness” Post. No guarantees whether it will be coherent or worthy, but up here it be goin’!
Sitting at work here, waiting to get the latest data for what I’m working on (which is about a short blog’s worth of time), I was thinking about work. No, not my specific work to my employer’s dismay, but work and employment in general.
When I was little, I was exposed to a lot of cool things – so I never really had that_one_dream_job a lot of kids have growing up. I loved my art classes, so I wanted to be an artist. I loved gymnastics, so I wanted to be an elite gymnast and maybe a coach later. I loved doing plays, so I wanted to be a famous actress. I loved my dance classes, so I wanted to be a dancer. I loved math and logic, so I wanted to be a math teacher. I thought waitresses had awesome uniforms and thought it was awesome they could carry trays above their heads, so I wanted to be a waitress. I loved to write, so I wanted to be a novelist. I loved singing, so I wanted to be a rockstar. So on, and so forth.
As I got older, some things fell off as dreams while others stayed. When my body started falling apart and I quit doing gymnastics, I also started coaching kids. That was the most demanding 20 bucks a week I have ever earned in my life, and I realized I wasn’t that into it. I would always just want to be DOING and feel resentful that I was just coaching. I waited tables through college and still to this day thank my lucky stars I have moved on. Cool uniform and leet tray skills or not – working in a restaurant servicing picky customers and dealing with catty coworkers and asshole managers is not worth the short hours and potentially awesome tips (plus some days, the tips were very un-awesome).
My first year of college I tried exploring the actress, artist, and writer paths. My major started as education (due to the myriad of awesome teachers I had in my school career, I wanted to follow in their footsteps), and I was looking for a minor. The first art class I had turned me off completely on art at the college level. My instructor – who was also the department head – had one rule in his class. Everything had to be perfect. One super glue line on the paper sculpture he had us make (required to be only using white paper and geometric shapes)? Grade: B. I did not want to deal with that schmuck for 4 years so art went out the window. I took some creative writing classes and was always the star of the class (I know, what happened, right?) but the sheer amount of old literature classics I would have to dig through to minor made me cry – so there went my english minor.
Theatre however, was fantastic. The first class was interesting, but the teacher let us know about auditions for the college theatre company. On a lark, I auditioned, and I was in! I caught the bug hard and did plays either on stage or worked backstage every single year. I was able to fulfill a minor with mostly acting classes (and very little technical theatre which I was less interested in), so there I was. Now, I just had to figure out my major.
I knocked out most of my basic classes the first year and took the first education class the second year. It was so awful, and I found out what teachers made as starting salaries, and realized I didn’t have the passion for it I thought. College professor – maybe. So, the same semester, I took a psychology class and it fascinated me, so I changed my major. After some great classes, I decided I wanted to stay in and get my PhD and do research (I loved the labwork). Then, after a horrible process getting my honors thesis done, I decided I never wanted to go to school again and I’d take my chances with the job world after graduation.
My plan was to wait tables for a year then go back to grad school. Getting a job as a waitress is harder than it looks when you have a degree – everyone thinks you’ll just leave when you get a real job. The next part is history – got into the gaming industry (which I think I detailed before but if not, it’s a post for another time), and here I am.
I tried to pursue the admin part of the job (operations type things – being on call if something goes wrong at late hours and getting it fixed), I tried to pursue web design and art (those poor people that I kept sending my comics and resumes to when I worked at SOE…), and then finally fell in love with where I ended up – as main bannana on a little game where I could put my varied talents to use. I was able to use my writing skills, to a lesser extent my art skills, my not-shy-to-get-up-in-public-and-make-an-ass-of-myself skills from theatre, and my logic skills trying to become one with schedule-fu and finding the most efficient and bang-for-the-buck way to do things. It also piled a billion pounds on me and ate my life, but I can’t even hate it for that.
Now – I’m out of the limelight. I am one of many on a team that has put out a pretty darn successful game, and instead of running the show – my boss’s boss is the one getting recognized (as he should be, it was his baby). Some days, it gets me down. It’s like being the only child that gets all the attention, and then your mom has triplets, and you’re all of a sudden chopped liver. However, it’s made me realize something very important. To be the best at something – to even attempt to be truly great at a young age – you must give your life to it. You have to choose something. If I would have picked gymnastics, I might have been in the olympics, or at least at a top college and then perhaps a world renoun coach/choreographer. If I chose being top bannana, I would still be there, working 100 hour weeks, consumed by the game and appeasing it’s followers, up at night wondering how we could add subscibers and solve problems, pursuing raises and title bumps, and eventualy continuing what I was doing on a new game.
I still dream about some of those things, though. I kinda feel like I had my time to pursue art and failed, but I still get the urge to paint every once in a while. Beading necklaces sorta fills the artsy fartsy void. I started this blog to coax out the writing – I still have aspirations about doing a novel some day, and I have never stopped writing (be it paper and pen, content for work, content for my website, or just livejournaling. I have aspirations about auditioning for plays again – Austin has a great theatre scene and I’m actually pretty well connected through work and contacts I’ve made doing the voice over stuff. I am really and truly someday going to get a keyboard, a mic, and some sound editing software and give being a rockstar a go, since I never did that.
However, this all takes time. Right now, I get up around 8 am and I’m not done training/working/eating dinner until close to 830-9pm. Then I have 2 hours to relax, and I get my stuff ready, go to bed, and do it again. On the weekends, I have friends, fiance, and family that feel neglected during the week and want to hang out. There’s laundry and groceries to get and meals to plan. There is the ever-so-coveted bike ride adventures, ice skating, rock climbing, waterpark going, and other fun stuff. In the background there is a to do list with stuff that rarely gets done.
So, at the heart of it, my life is so balanced, I don’t have time to excel at anything. I work essentially middle management in a really fun industry for a successful game making a decent, living wage, but I leave work at work when my 40 hours are up. I have great friends and family close to me who are always wanting to see me when I have time. Plus, I make it a priority to keep myself healthy through workouts and food planning/preperation (though most of the cooking and cleaning is done by the fiance, I admit). I am too busy being happy to be bothered being a rockstar right now. And – I’m slowly becoming OK with that.