What’s up / Mai 2022
Optimism can be a distraction from reality – choosing to focus on the future as a way to avoid the present. See also, productivity as an escape. But as a wise traveller told me, an artist should do both – escape but also engage with reality. The trick is to find a balance that works for you.
I was ready to move earlier in the year but it would have been stressful without a work visa so I decided to run that first, and so far Tech Nation is doing a fantastic job of kicking my ass.
The application has been more difficult than I imagined, the biggest problem being that I don’t have a public persona: I don’t do talks, I don’t do events, and I don’t have press mentions.
It makes sense that external validation is a marker of excellence, but I don’t believe it should be the only measure, so I’ve made my case. Now I’m waiting to hear back. Fingers crossed.
This experience has really been a mixed bag. One on hand, it has helped me put myself and roughly the last ten years into perspective. On the other hand, it has been a painful reminder that, in certain contexts, a public persona can supersede real work. (Not that you can’t do both.)
I’ve always been comfortable with obscurity and this hasn’t changed that, but I’ve resolved to make sure my team is more visible. It’s a good way to focus all this clap back energy.
Meanwhile, I’ve been spending a lot more time with friends and family. I’ve had quite a few really important conversations and dealt with some early-on issues that I completely buried.
It’s like I’ve been preparing to move by rooting myself into the communities I want to be a part of when I’m away. Quite exactly what I planned to do this year, but I couldn’t have imagined how it’d play out. I feel more connected to my past and more authentic as a result.
I tried to write about some of this stuff earlier but man, I’m just not comfortable putting myself out like before. I’ve considered a private blog where I can curate the audience, but I haven’t really had the time for that.
I’ve been writing half-thoughts in a private journal, which has been pretty nice, but then recently I found a random blog that inspired me to publish by reminding me to care less about my narrative.
As humans, we like to weave our life experiences together in concise narratives that articulate who we are. We carry these narratives with us, and in theory they not only convey our identities to others, but help us find meaning in our own lives.
To be “against” narrative identity is to recognize that we’re unreliable narrators. Unreliable both because we’re too close to ourselves to get a clear picture, and because we could never accurately reduce who we are to a single story.
The essay is definitely worth a read because what I took away is a little left field from the point.
For me, the idea of an unreliable sense of self was freeing because it became an inquisition: “am I holding back because I care too much about what I think people perceive me as?” Not all the time of course, but if the answer is yes, fuck it, write your shit and move on.
So here we are.
This year has been quite the evolution. I feel very different — more down-to-earth, more patient, more daring, less angsty, less patronising, less conflict-avoidant etc. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone in many ways and it is amazing to live this life.
Most recently, I’ve started French classes online (it’s so fascinating, but I don’t think I ever met a Chinese or Scottish person until this) and the 2-hour classes with complete aliens have quickly become the highlight of my week.
Apart from the joy of learning and being around people who make me feel young, being a student is so satisfying because it’s a persona I haven’t assumed in a while. In class, I’m not an employee, not a manager, not a maker, not a friend, not family. I’m just me, doing something for myself that I’ve always wanted to. C’est fantastique!
I’ve also gotten better at swimming by practising. I still very much will drown if you throw me into the deep end, but my breaststroke has never been better. I suspect I’ll get much better with proper classes, but one at a time.