Category Archives: Work Life Balance

Idle Musings – Fear

Fear is a summers day in the garden, with the birds singing and the daisies being gently chained by your children.  Fear is that indescribable, wonderful moment where he finally works up the courage to ask, and you finally say ‘I do’.  Fear is graduating, diving, riding, dancing, singing, running, playing, joy.


Fear is your best moment on your best day.


Fear is the benchmark, by which all things after are measured and found wanting.  And when found wanting, its that sickly feeling in the pit of your stomach, the whispers in the dark at night saying it’ll never be that good again.


From the moment we’re born until the day we choke out our last breath, we fear.  A little is a good thing; it drives us to improve, make things better, explore.  Too much fear combined with too little improvement and exploration causes problems across the board.


It’ll start small, you won’t notice.  First as dust, then as a mite…  progressing to caterpillars, snakes, worms, dragons – it never ends if never addressed.  Sometimes when you notice it’s too late and you have a battle on your hands to return.  Sometimes you refuse to notice, instead doing all in (and sometimes outwith) your power to avoid triggering it, all the while telling yourself it isn’t there.  Other times it doesn’t grow past a certain point, becoming more like a pet than an insidious, devious, killing machine.


Don’t let the puppy eyes fool you.


If caught early it can be turned aside, chopped, boiled, burned, stomped on – pick your destruction.  Get good enough and it becomes a game.  Fail at the game and the very things you’re afraid of losing move that much further from you; fear causes problems, rarely prevents them.


Oh, and it also saves your life.  Best to throw that in there; it’ll stop you doing truly dangerous things, like a guardian angel or over-protective parent.  Pushing through it prevents stagnation and ultimately decay.  It’s a beautiful thing that lets you appreciate what you had, have, and could have.  It’ll run your life if given an inch, it’ll save it if not.


I’d recommend you juggle; someone dear to me said that was nonsense, and  you should fly.

Relaxation Guide; Make Your Weekends Count

In the past we’ve talked about ‘Sudden Lull Syndrome‘ and taking a break in the middle of a project.  Which is great, and we should definitely do more of that (me included, it’s a constant battle).  This post isn’t about relaxing after something big.  Today, ladies, gentlemen, and frogs we’re going to talk about weekends.

Behaviour One – What are weekends?

When Saturday rolls round do you look at the calendar, shrug, and go back to work?  Or (worse) do you say ‘Yay, Saturday!  Now I can catch up on…’?  Does this happen on Sunday as well?

If so, for the duration of this post, we’re going to classify you as an ‘Intentional Workaholic’.  Do not be alarmed (whatever a ‘larmed’ is) I know lots of people in the same boat, and for the purposes of this post that’s my current label too.  Score one for the team.

Behaviour Two – Sweet! It’s the weekend!  I can do something fun, just after I check on…

Do you play Facebook games?  Are you forever losing hours and hours to simple things like msn and gmail?  Do you check stats and messages constantly throughout the day?

Then proudly attach ‘Attention Wanderer’ to your list of labels.  This is my typical Sunday behaviour, because I make it a rule not to work on anything in particular.  Time likes disappearing in this mode, and usually I wind up feeling bored after the first hour – too bored to do anything more fun!  Horrible isn’t it?

Behaviour Three – Screw you guys, I’m not doing it any more!

Do you get to the weekend and want to go into hiding?  Does the hermit lifestyle sound appealing so long as you have all the necessary comforts and distractions?  Have your weekend gaming sessions exceeded 3 hours at a time?

Congratulations, you have the ‘I’ve had it’ label.  After a particularly stressful week this is what I turn to; completely ignoring everyone around me, I retreat into something fun and solitary for the better part of the day.  Then feel guilty that nothing got done.  Aside from the guilt, this is probably the least damaging behaviour.

You can now throw away your labels

Or burn them and dance round the fire should you wish.  If you’ve read this far you’ve already found something to relate to in one of the situations above, and that means this post is for you.  Hi there.

For the especially observant among you, you may have noticed that I ascribe to all three behaviours.  Who am I to tell you how to do things differently?

I’ve made the wrong choice often enough to know its the wrong choice

Somewhere, you know it too.  Inside there’s something you’d rather be doing when you’re working on a Saturday, chatting for hours on msn, or hiding with a game.  I don’t know what it is, it’s different for everyone.  What I do know is that so long as we keep on as we are we’re missing out.  Big time.

Possible Actions for Possible Results

  1. Get up at the same time as you would during the week
  2. Work for at most two hours on a Saturday morning to prepare for Monday
  3. After the work go and play for a few hours (whatever this means for you)
  4. Check your websites etc in the evening
  5. Then go and unwind with a film or book
  6. Instead of work on Sunday, do something that makes you truly happy for a couple of hours
  7. Rinse and repeat

Between us, let’s run a test.

From a whole boatload of reading and paying attention to my own emotions and energy levels I came up with the short list above.  I think it may save our sanity and our weekends.  I’ll follow it myself, and you can choose to do the same if you like.   Feel free to suggest more points, or strategies in the comments; we could even make a case study together at some point.

Until then, let’s just keep this between us.  One weekend waster to another.

Fifth Life Crisis; The way forward

Reading the rest of the series becomes optional at this point.

Cutting the rest of a long story short, visiting another country opened my eyes to what’s possible.  Both of the rest of the world and the potential there, and of myself.  I’ve moved on quite a bit since this site started back in January, and some of my interests and focuses have certainly changed since then!

So why bother writing about it at all?

Well, had I come back and just altered the way I did everything with no explanation I’d have had people wondering if I’d sold the site (not likely, for the record) or gone insane!  This series was my way of making sure we were all starting from the same, new page.  It went on a little longer than I’d originally intended however I had a lot to say this time.  For better or worse I indulged in my own need to talk about some things I’d learned.  My bad.

Statement of Purpose

To provide students in 3D and film (with a particular emphasis on visual effects) with the background knowledge needed to make full use of the tutorials and tools at their disposal.

Changed quite a bit from ‘Tutorials, Reviews, and Advice for 3D Students’!  The reason for this is that you can find tutorials anywhere, many of them as good or better than the ones I’ve had the time to create for you.  You can also find the larger concepts all over the place; the whats, whys, and whens of the art.  Arguably the concepts are far more important than learning any one tool or technique, since they are what allow you to create your own.

They’re also harder to decipher for beginners or those with a minimal amount of time to learn.

And they have the side bonus of being far more interesting to me personally as well.

Commence Evil Plan Beta Testing

Twice a month I’m going to research and write an article (between 1500 and 2000 words long) on one of the key concepts behind what we do.  In those posts we’ll look at what the concept is, what it does for you, how to start implementing it, and where to find out more information.  No fluff – the real nuts and bolts.

Every time I write one of those posts I’ll be learning as well.  Because of that there’ll also be a list of references or further reading at the end of each post.  This means that even if you don’t particularly agree with me you’ll have access to the same material I did.

Extra New Shiny Things

In addition to the main concept posts some of the other site features will keep running.  The Practical Tips series will continue once a week, along with the Student Advice posts.  Not much is really going to change for either of those features except the day of the week they’re delivered on.   Reviews are once a month, other than the frequency they’ve not changed a lot either.

Tutorials will run each Wednesday, however they won’t be written by me.  Guest posters are going to be brought in for the bulk of that (possibly with some compensation, more details on that soon) or, if none can be found for a week, I’ll link you to some of the better ones on a certain topic.  The reason I’m no longer writing or recording them myself is that I’m now in my degree year.  I no longer have time to make independent projects one day a week, every week.  While I do enjoy doing them it’s taking more effort than I really have the resources to give just now, so it’s time to let other people share their ideas with you.  Higher quality, better presented, wider range…  Bonuses all round.

The last new update I need to cover is the introduction of progress reports and monthly roundups.  As some of you are aware, I have projects of my own that I need to complete for college.  Rather than keep you in the dark about these (as I did last year) I’m going to spend a little bit of time once a month showing you  what I’ve worked on.  This can be anything from a short paragraph or two discussing what I did, or examples of my work and how it was achieved.  When a project is finished you’ll be able to see that too.

Those posts will also have details of where else I’ve written over the month, things I’ve found particularly inspiring, and an idea of what’s going to be covered next month.

The Master Schedule

Monday:  The first and third Mondays of the month are for the concept pieces; the real keystone content.  Second Mondays are for reviews, and Fourth Mondays are for the new progress posts.

Tuesday: Evil Masterplan

Wednesday: Tutorials from guests, or links to tutorials on another site.

Thursday: Evil Masterplan

Friday: Practical Tips Series.

Saturday: Student Advice

Full steam ahead!

What do you think of the new schedule?  Any questions or queries?

5th Life Crisis; Cutting to the end

This is not a Home.

If you’re just joining us head on back to the first post, or view the entire series.

Wrapping up this story

The author of this tale has become bored.  From past experience, this happens to me with every single story I’ve started to write, been distracted from, then tried to return to at a later date.  I genuinely want to continue in the same vein however the mindset and emotions have moved on since.  Thus, we’ve arrived at the part of the journey where the writer had one or two clever things planned, cuts some out for expediency, and finishes the whole thing out of a sense of duty and due course.  In order to dash off to that bright, shiny object in the distance.

I’m still going to add my clever things and there will still be one more post after this to tie it all together properly (and raise more questions than I could ever hope or want to answer).  Still want to skip though, partly.  Therefore I’m going to be as concise as I can possibly be, take far longer writing a post because I want to be concise and clear, then somewhere along the line re-capture my vein of thought and have a climatic final post.  Sound good?

Returning ‘Home’ and Travelling back to Scotland

As it turns out, not the same thing at all.  Before you go racing off thinking I mean that Canada’s more home to me than anywhere else, I miss it, and I don’t know why I ever came back – wait a moment while I explain.

Home cannot be a place.  It cannot be a person.  It cannot be a thing.

For a long time I’ve been thinking of it as something more than ‘just’ any one of those things, but up until I left my usual haunting ground I still had ties to it, or people (mostly people, a fact that creeped some of them out) being an important factor.  I thought that so long as I was with x person I would be at home.  I thought so long as I was somewhere I found welcoming, or beautiful to me I would be home.  I thought that so long as there was some place I could call my own, where no one else would bother me and I could do whatever I wanted (within certain confines) I would be home.  As a result, it’s taken me this long to figure out what home actually means for me.

Home is an emotion.

Or, if you will, a set of emotions or experiences that trigger a specific feeling within yourself.  Whenever I was with that person, or in one of those places, at times that would create an environment where the ‘correct’ set of emotions would present itself.  Hence my overall confusion.

When I left Canada again I felt confused and a bit hurt.  I didn’t want to go back to my old ‘Home’ because I’d found somewhere that felt more like it for me.  I was in a place that caused the right set of reactions, with people that triggered the right emotions, and in an environment that allowed me to grow and be myself.  Returning left me disjointed and lost, and for a short while I forgot what I’d learned about choices and being happy.  I felt too out of place and awkward to remember.

Time, Improvements, all that stuff

Over the last couple of weeks I remembered the ‘choices’ part of my new mindset.  It got thoroughly adopted again and I’ve been in an extraordinarily good mood ever since.  Ups and downs still, as you’d expect through the course of everyday life, but nowhere near extreme enough to phase me, or rock my mood in any lasting way.  More up than down, in a balanced manner, for the first time in my teen/adult life.

Over the last 4-5 days I’ve been thinking about and discovering something even more important.  Something that’s taken me from feeling ‘happy’ to feeling whole.  This one thing has given me more lasting comfort, freedom, and granted me more permission to play than just about anything else I’ve come across.  Recently.  I have to add recently because there’ve been quite a few things in my life that have revolutionised the way I think to that extent.


What really lets us come home is accepting ourselves as we are, not wishing to be anyone else, and if we truly want to become better – it’s the belief that we can.  It’s treating yourself well; your thoughts, your emotions, your ideas, who you are.  It’s loving yourself enough to stand with yourself, by your beliefs, and not apologise for it.

I don’t know everything, I haven’t experienced everything, and over the course of my life I’m going to make as many mistakes as I possibly can.  Let’s be honest, if that’s my goal I’m already on my way (and I’m sure that everyone here can say the same).  I’m happy with the way I am, and with the knowledge that I can continue growing.

Return of a Thought

Going back to the second post I wrote in this series, I asked what would happen if you took someone away from the life they lived and placed them somewhere else, where everyone knows them as the way they present themselves online.  The best of themselves, for the sake of argument.  I hope you had an answer in your mind, if not just think about it for a moment; what would happen to you if that was the case?

… I’m serious – think about it.

Do not read any further until you do.

I didn’t think about it until it happened; not in those terms.  I just wanted to go and see someone, and I was nervous about going so far though I was more excited than anything else.  Nothing could have prepared me for this.  Frankly, I don’t think I wanted to be prepared anyway.

Sometimes you have to leave your ‘home’ to find yourself.  Cliche, maybe.  Tired old phrase – sure, why not.  True?  I believe so.  Go find out for yourself.

Fifth Life Crisis; The Magical Moment

You can find the first post in the series over here, and all the posts here.

Winding down to a neat ending

Confusing part of the story dealt with, a new sense of enthusiasm for the tale, and a night of drunken debauchery (Sounds much more fun than it was) later we’re ready to continue on with the clean, fairytale ending.  In a mad race to get things over with the writing takes on a pace of its own, cliches are thrown around to taste, and everything wraps up neatly into a nice little package.  Until said author gets bored with the sappy, happy stuff.  Ah well.

The lightbulb that changed me

It was a concept so simple, so easy, so ludicrously effective that I’m actually embarrassed I didn’t figure it out before.   Overnight it took me from a rebellious, moody teenager/new twenty year old to someone pleased with life and happy to live it her way.  It wasn’t even one of those huge industrial-sized lightbulbs either; it was one of those small energy savers you pop into lamps and ceiling lights.  Pretty common fare really, nothing special or dazzling.

In fact, the lightbulb was so common that I’m certain people had been trying to explain it to me for years.  One of those lightbulbs.

Hopeful, but not certain

When I first got it through my skull I didn’t quite believe it was so simple.   The first moments were full of hopeful disbelief.  Like those moments where you’re sitting on Christmas morning, hoping you get the super-amazing-skateboard of doom (as an example), you see a package that looks like it could be it from your parents.  You hope that’s what it is.  Sincerely, hope that’s what it is.  Time comes for you to open it, by now you’re getting excited, hoping that its the skateboard (of doom) but somehow managing to keep a voice in your head saying ‘That can’t be it’ in case you’re disappointed.  At the very last moment you see something that makes you believe your initial hope, you open it up, and you’re rewarded.

Happiness and running around like a lunatic ensues.

It was like that with this idea.  I hoped it was right, it felt right, I was excited about it being right, but I didn’t expect it to be anywhere near as easy as it was.  I remained unconvinced until after the first day of testing it out.

Then I was blown away

I started the day happy, I ended it happy, and wouldn’t you know it – the middle part was happy too.  No hiccups, no mood swings.  And most important of all, it didn’t feel forced or fake.  It felt real.  Damn it felt good.

So I tried it the next day, and the next; same results.  By then I was nearly jumping for joy internally – I’d found it.  I’d figured it out, and I was no longer hard work (well, not in the same league in any case).

The secret that helped me?

It’s only a choice.

You can choose to look at things from another’s point of view.  You can choose whether to be happy, or to be hurt.  You can choose how stressed you become over simple, everyday things.  You can choose not to feel like the whole world is out to make you miserable (because it isn’t).  You can choose to really care for another’s comfort and well-being, without sacrificing your own.

Not flashy or sparkly but fundamentally useful

Unfortunately, it’d taken me right up until the last week to figure it all out.  I went home a few days afterwards, back to my old dynamic and set of rules.  I love my family dearly and I’d been missing them a little bit; do you think I really wanted to return?

And more; Do you think my new found ‘happiness’ could survive the plane journey home?

Fifth Life Crisis; Muddled Middle

If you’re just joining the series start at the first post, and for those already following – have you read part two?

Jumping back into the story

Having had our thoughtful pause it’s now time to carry on as if we’d never stopped for the interlude while bearing in mind what was said.   We’re now entering the middle part of the story; everything gets mixed up and thrown around by the author though not much seems to happen in the story itself.  This is the part where the writer starts wondering whether they’re chasing the right tale, or using the right tone.  Traditionally, this part is boring and has to be edited out later.

I’m not a huge stickler for tradition any more.

As I started to explain in the first part of this little series, some things have changed with me for no more discernable reason than living someone else’s life for a while.  Admittedly, that life was completely different to the one I was used to and I was so rocked by it that-

Let’s rewind a bit so we can both be on the same page.

I said before that I was instantly captivated by the Canadian lifestyle, and felt immediately more at home.  This is true.  It’s also not entirely correct.

There were teething problems; being in an environment where it was suddenly ok to be myself was disconcerting to say the least.  To say the most would take quite a while.  To get a feel for it imagine filling a bottle with air at high altitude.  When you’re up there the bottle stays the same shape, and is fairly light but not compacted.  Bring it down to water level and that same bottle is crushed, because the pressure itself has changed and the air inside it isn’t as ‘dense’ (for lack of the proper word).  Taken in reverse presumably the bottle would expand unless the air was released on the way.

For a while in the middle I felt like I was both the bottle going down the mountain, and the bottle going up.  Suddenly being able to express myself left me able to expand (with sometimes explosive consequences), but just as suddenly having to deal with the real world put me under more stress.  In a sense I was literally being left to grow into a new mold; free to stretch into some new areas but unable to continue with some other, older habits.

Around that middle time I was a nightmare to be around.

I can look at it now and see why I reacted the way I did.  However lets make something clear; at the time I had no idea what was going on with me.  I was emotional – happy one day, angry and hurt the next.  Completely irrational as who I’d always been and who I was becoming warred, yet here’s the thing.  I also had moments of absolute clarity, where everything made sense and nothing could phase me.

Followed rapidly by a tantrum (I kid you not) over something childish.

Guess we all have to learn somewhere, right?

This wasn’t a stage that passed quickly.  It did ease gradually as I hit lightbulb moments however the change in me wasn’t ‘complete’ until I realised one, simple thing.

That I’m going to make you wait for the next part for.  Naturally.

Fifth Life Crisis; Introducing New Thoughts

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties Courtesy of Wikimedia

If you haven’t already, go ahead and read the first part of this story – I can wait.

A Thoughtful Interlude

Having established the protagonist in our story, provided a bit of background information, and started to build the tension it’s time to do the most infuriating thing I’ve known authors to do.  It’s time to take a break from story advancement to fill in information and ponder.  While in theory I could just advance I’m fairly sure the literacy police would be after me if I did.  Sorry.  Can’t do it.  You’ll have to take a small pause with me to reflect (tradition, see?).

The horizon is broad.

With the new connections we have open to us thanks to the internet we’d be forgiven for thinking that the world (or the technological part of it at least) was starting to merge together.  Surely by now everyone would be pulled into this larger melting pot, stirred round, and left much the same as everyone else?  Why should it make a difference whether you’re in Canada or Scotland?

Some of us have grown up being able to talk to people from around the world as if they were sitting right next to us.  For others it’s a newer thing.  The idea of having friends thousands of miles away is becoming mainstream.  Playing games with people you’ve only ever met online against other people you don’t even know there isn’t news either.   In many respects we’re far more capable of connecting with others than we have been previously and this may blind us to the cultural differences that still exist.

Aliens may experience slight discomfort…

Turns of phrase, words, pronunciation, spelling, currency… these things acquire different meanings the second you step off your porch!

What’s more everyone looks different, behaves differently, acts differently, sounds different, and have their own styles.  Each country has their own history and their own political standpoint.  Positives in one country can be negative in another.  Unimportant things to one person can be a grievous insult elsewhere.

Logically, an outsider would feel even more alien while visiting far off lands than they ever would in their home country.  Logically, they’d grow to feel homesick.  Right?

Then why would I admit to feeling more at home and at ease somewhere I’d never even visited previously?

Look at it in isolation for a moment – it just doesn’t make sense!

Yet I’m willing to bet that, with the way things are changing, I’m not the first or last person to feel that way.  This is huge.  We’re creating our own families, our own sets of friends and lives independent of our birth location; even 50 years ago I doubt they would have seen that.  I can’t vouch for that either way; I wasn’t even a foetus 50 years ago.

Keep that image in the back of your mind and lets relate it to something we can all relate to.

Social Networking

Facebook.  Twitter.  Blogs.  Forums.  Gaming, Surfing, Researching, Buying, Selling, Instant Messengers.  Every time we use one of these tools we’re communicating.  What’s more, we’re communicating with people we can’t see with our eyes, can’t hear with our ears, can’t touch with our hands…  Yet we’re touched in our minds and hearts.

Before we get all skeptical and head to the comments (or close the page, that could happen too), dear readers – does it hurt when someone insults you online?  Do you feel happy when people you’ve connected with are happy, or do something nice?  Have you ever had a crush on someone half a world away, and waited around all day for them just to appear on your screen?

I have a theory, and it may be one that other people have explored in greater depth or even studied extensively.  It’s one that’s just becoming apparent to me by looking and living and being an ‘internet person’.

Connections we make online cause more of an impact.

When we can’t see or hear signs of displeasure in other people while communicating with them, we’re going to be less afraid to open up.  I don’t mean pouring out your heart and soul (though that does happen) I mean giving your real opinions and talking about stuff that matters to you.  Sure, we can all fake a persona online and a lot of people do it all the time – that works for them.  What if they only think they’re faking?  What if, the person they’re pretending to be (on purpose or not) is a reflection of who they always wanted to be, of who they are, or of who they’re afraid they are?

And if you’re ‘pretending’ to be who you’ve always wanted to be, what happens when you visit the people that know you as that person?

Points to Ponder.

Fifth-Life Crisis; Is this where it all started?

First off, I want to say hello.

This may seem strange to new readers, but at the time of this post I’ve been ‘gone’ for the better part of four months.  Older readers may have some idea of where I’ve been; the next few posts are going to tell a story.  Specifically my story – my hope is that you’ll get something more out of it yourselves.

The Very Beginning

Every story has a beginning although the quality of each beginning varies.  Some leap straight into the action, others take a longer route to the point, and still others like to start with a conversation or a question.  I’m going to be contrary and start with a challenge:

Have you ever burned, crushed, twisted, squeezed, stomped on, and utterly destroyed ‘You’… for something better?

Before I left on ‘vacation’ I could have been described as a workaholic.  Outside of my own industry and comfort zone you’d be forgiven for calling me ‘dull’ or ‘quiet’.  I spent a large amount of time listening, and a larger amount of time feeling awkward.  If anything I was shy and afraid to push at my own bounds; I’d try new things in my own time and only within certain parameters.

A Blogger was Born

In January I started writing and speaking to a wider audience.  Yes, I’m referring to you.  I’d talk about 3D, about Art, about life as a student; everything I felt comfortable with.  I read other blogs until the information got repetitive, I talked to other bloggers, and occasionally to people within my industry.  Slowly I expanded my social group however I remained in constant control.  Safe.

Boundaries I didn’t enforce were pushed and at times utterly destroyed – good things happened over the months after, you could say I learned.  Looking back, I suppose I was starting to think of myself as a butterfly – fresh out of the cocoon, bright, and hopeful.  I was busier than ever before.  College took a huge toll on my time, this blog more of it, and other social commitments got pushed aside.

The stress I was putting myself under was huge; I pulled off a lot during that time, some of which mattered and other parts I only thought did.  My physical fitness deteriorated a bit, though of course that got brushed aside as a concern for later (doesn’t everyone do that?).  I was miserable I suppose, though by then I saw no other way.

Then it all stopped.


Because on the other side of the ocean I had people that cared about me, and I was going to visit them for the summer.  This isn’t to say that I don’t have people that care about me here, far from!  The thing that made me finally stop and breathe was making the journey elsewhere.

It was the scariest, most wonderful thing I’ve ever done and I’m glad I went.

Canada is not the UK

There’s a long and very comprehensive list on the differences between them.  While I could spend the entire rest of this post (and several more) talking about those differences there’s far more interesting things to be on about.  I’ll save you some of the preamble and filler and cut right to my point.

I was suddenly in an environment where I was welcomed, at home, and free in the truest sense of the word.  No one really knew that much about me, so I didn’t have to live up to any expectations.  The sun shone almost constantly, the people were really friendly and for the first time I could joke and laugh like, well… a normal person.

While I was there I worked full time (unpaid work experience) in the local Booster Juice, my first experience of being in a store or fast food place behind the counter.  The rest of the time I spent talking to people, hanging out with my new friends in the bar (rarely actually drinking), and sometimes visiting different parts of the country.

Living Life was Taking Precedence

Recording it seemed so much less important.  There weren’t enough hours in the day.  It was a whole new life, a whole set of new experiences.  My comfort zone had been shattered, smashed open, and danced on; I found I didn’t want it back anyway.

What’s more, I didn’t want to hide behind words any more.  Maybe it was time to step up and be me.

What’s wrong with being who you are?

Don't let the aliens find out what's in your head before you do

How often have we heard the phrase ‘Be who you are’?  Probably too often, I can tell from the rolling eyes in the back there.  We’re going to talk about it anyway, because without this firmly in place you’re going to fail.  What’s more, you’re going to fail so badly you might not even realize you’ve failed.  Maybe even if you get to that situation everyone around you will think you’ve succeeded; you’d have the job, the partner, the kids, the house – what more could you ask for right?

A lot.  I have one thing to say here that’ll sum up the rest of my post (though I’d encourage you to read it anyway of course) – Having everything you’re taught you should want doesn’t matter if it’s not what you want.

Since this is a 3D/Art blog, I’m going to choose a generic creative person to illustrate my point.  You can apply this to anyone and it’ll still be true, but for now lets keep it consistent.

A day in the life

Our guy (Ooo lets call him ‘Guy’) is in his mid-thirties, has a wife whom he tells everyone he adores, a son, a nice house with a mortgage, and an office job.  Let’s say he earns $50k a year; that’s not bad right?  He’s always polite and pleasant, never has a bad word to say about anyone, and seems happy enough.  In fact, let’s take it even further and say that he’s consistently employee of the month, people come to him for advice all the time, and everyone likes him.

Everyone that is, except himself.  When it’d been time for him to choose a college course he’d wanted to go and learn something to do with art or games.  His parents had sat him down and, with the best intentions in the world, explained how there was no money in it and how he’d struggle because he wasn’t ‘exceptional’.  He filled out his applications with their help to go and be a lawyer or accountant.  He accepted accountancy because when the offers came round they’d schmoozed him the most.

When he was a little older and had started college he had a female friend that he’d met at one of the art galleries he’d snuck off to on one of his holidays.  They spoke online all the time, and soon he fell in love with her.  She wasn’t absolutely stunning, but in his eyes she was perfect; talented, fun, caring, vibrant, creative.  He proposed to her, and she happily accepted, but due to circumstances in their own lives it was going to be a while before they could meet.  Delighted, he told his friends about her and was met with a steady stream of ‘oh, long distance relationships never work…’ and ‘How do you know she’s not with some other guy?’.  Again they all very well intentioned and meant to protect poor Guy, but in the end it made things so strained that he broke it off with her out of fear and married a local girl, also an accountant in training.  His parents and friends approved.

After graduation he wanted to pack up and travel the world before settling down; he took out a loan and bought a house.  He also got a local job and stayed there, despite hating every second of it.

A couple of years passed and his wife wanted a kid.  By then he felt that she must be right he supposed, and 9 months later she gave birth to a son.  He loved his kid, but he didn’t really want him.

Every day he goes out to work at his boring 9-5 job, listens to his boss go on about projections and plans, nod along with those plans, keep his head down and have safe conversation with his co-workers.  He’d offer help to anyone that needed it, he always got his work done on time, and he had some of the best results of any team in the company.  When Guy got home he’d have dinner with his family and make small talk about their days.  After dinner he’d have to go and prepare for work the next day, his son would play alone in his room, and his wife would clean then go and prepare her own work.  Bed time was a solemn affair; at least until his wife had left the room.

Then he’d happily tell his kid stories (his wife considered filling the child’s head with nonsense to be a bad thing) of dragons and ogres and similar magical creatures or of treasure and princesses and good guys always getting the glory.  This was probably the highlight of his day; things went steadily downhill after that.

He’d go downstairs and listen to his wife gabbling on about her day and what the ladies at the office were talking about.  Or her family.  Or their collective incomes.  Every few nights he’d get to hear about how he never did much in the way of house-work, and how he was a kill joy and her sister said she could do better.  Then she’d get a strange look on her face that he supposed was meant to be ‘sexy’ and order him to bed.

Guy hated every second of his life, and while I’d love to make my fictional character suddenly burst out of it and follow his dreams – most people don’t.  They keep going until they convince themselves that its all they deserve, or worse, that they’re happy.

Let’s get personal

So how, exactly, does this affect you?

Have a look at your life, how much of what you do is because you truly want to do it?  Are you being prodded into something you don’t enjoy under the guise of ‘this is how life works’?

Why aren’t you angry about it?  Or if you are, why are you still doing it?

Personally I think we all do this, up to a point.  Me included though I’m doing my utmost to change that right now; what’s your story?