Get a Life
January 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
Team Sanan writes,
I want to stop fangirling, but it’s too difficult. How can I be a fangirl with moderation? I’m too distracted and I think I can’t focus on my own life. One of my habits is to download pictures, videos, and other stuff, to know who they are dating, where they live, and what school they are in. I think I’m too engrossed with their personal lives that I can’t focus on my own. Sometimes I feel envious that they get to experience a lot of things while I’m stuck at home and stalking them. I need help. I need to get a life.
Inching towards non-conformity
May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
So I’m pressing through this enormous task of writing a book. Being a writer is like playing a video game. Every time you succeed at something, you basically unlock a whole new level of mental illness. My book is my bipolar odyssey. I am manic when I am writing. Giant snowdrifts of index cards fill the room. Sentences come together, paragraphs disappear altogether. Accumulating words feel like my new life savings. 20,000. 30,000. 40,000. And then my knees knock as I lope down the mountain. When I’m not writing, I’m worrying that I should be. I think about writers who’ve built bigger platforms than I have, people who have an army of followers. Am I doing enough? “Enough” is the worst word there ever was.
Last week I finished reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. It’s one of those books that most people will dismiss as being unrealistic. Yes, most of us cannot make many dollars traveling to every country in the world and running a self-help blog. But I decided to take it seriously. I take fictional people seriously when they veer off the map, so why not a real person?
About a year ago I decided to take my dreams seriously. I began to examine whether a life of private practice, or non-profit paper shuffling, or academic politics was really right for me. Sure I was making money writing articles and ghost writing for therapists, but that income was like the icing on the cake. Icing that I’d scoop off and dump in my student loan balance. And until my debts were paid, I was going to have to get a real job, in a real office, and watch my vacation days accumulate at a glacial pace.
Guillebeau writes, “Change happens when the pain of transition becomes less than the pain of the status quo.” That was certainly the case for me. Three years of indentured servitude in a doctoral program was enough status quo for a lifetime. So I never walked into that office. I took a job that mostly let me work from home. And I found a second one. I started teaching in the evenings. And I wrote. I wrote like there was no rejection in the world that was going to keep me from writing. And no rejection did. Now I wake up whenever I want. I make coffee and sit on the porch in my pajamas, writing about hairporn and anxiety. Nothing else can happen until those 1,000 words are typed. My morning sentences are tadpoles, but they have strong legs by the time I’m done with them every night.
I work when I want, and where I want. The fact that this is even a possibility tells me how many myths we are fed about extreme adulting. But I also work hard. Because I don’t get paid if I don’t work, there is a constant fire under my butt. And because of that, my income is twice what it would be if I were in that office or writing that research paper.
I share this not to brag, but to challenge others and myself to consider the narratives that hold us in place. Why do we seldom challenge those myths that there are certain ways life has to be lived? Ways that students, helpers, mothers, and even fangirls must follow, no matter what. These were the lies I told myself:
- I can’t pursue my dreams until I pay off student loans.
- I need to finish my dissertation before I can write what I want to write.
- Turning 30 means it’s time to stop fangirling.
- No one wants to pay me to write about what interests me.
- 40+ hours a week in an office provides stability.
That last one is the funniest. I feel more financially secure than I ever did with a single job. You don’t have to worry about having the rug pulled from under you when there are 27 rugs.
Inching towards non-conformity looks different for different folks. But I think most people can agree on this one simple radical act: make sure your direction for the day doesn’t get buried under a mountain of “shoulds.” Under busywork and Internet usage that distract us from where we want to be. My favorite exercise from The Art of Non-Conformity includes questions to ask yourself when you wake up and when you go to bed. This is something I’m going to try and keep doing until it starts to invade my thinking about my work and my life.
- “How am I feeling?”
- “What do I want right now?”
- “What is the single, most important thing I can do today?”
- “Who did I help today?”
- “How much time did I spent creating today?”
- “Did I move closer to one of my big goals today?
- “What do I want for tomorrow?”
Even if my morning answers are always, “Tired, Coffee, and Write,” I will keep asking myself what’s important instead of just what’s urgent. And then I’ll do exactly that. I won’t pay bills, I won’t sign paperwork, and I’ll try my best not to check Twitter until the most important task is complete. I climb back up the mountain, and try to descend with a little more self-compassion than I did the day before.
Goal Setting Fangirl Style: The BAMF checklist
July 8, 2014 § 1 Comment
I wanted to talk a little bit today about how to use your fangirl nature in setting and meeting the goals you have in life.
So often we think of fangirling as a central impediment to accomplishing what we want in life. I mean, it’s hard to see how watching so much tv in a row that Netflix feels like it has to intervene and ask if you are alive and want to continue (Yes, Netflix, the answer is always yes for fuck’s sake). Or how the emotions invested in crying over screencaps and gifs and fanfiction can be redirected to life stuff.
But it can! If you’ve read my book, then you already probably know a lot about how to change some of your thinking about fangirling as it applies to your life. But most of the exercises in the book are big-picture thinking, so I wanted to give you a few simple daily tools you can use to power your motivation with fangirl fuel.
Tool #1: The BAMF checklist.
We all make to-do lists. Ladies in particular love them. We make them in boring staff meetings, when our professor is droning on forever, or when we’re riding the bus home. But a visual or verbal reminder of a character that inspires you can make a huge difference when you’re outlining your tasks for the week.
I have 7 things that I want to accomplish every day. They include making my bed, flossing, taking vitamins, etc. I have much bigger goals in life, but I also know that if I keep up daily healthy habits, I’m more likely to accomplish them and look fabulous doing it.
The problem with daily habits is that they suck. So I slap a different screencap of Diane Lockhart from The Good Wife on my weekly BAMF list, and voila. My motivation isn’t just to get shit done anymore. I see the cap and think, “OH GOD. If I don’t pack my lunch and save money I’ll never be that fabulous.” Forget whether this is actually true. The screencap MAKES it true.
This is probably my favorite tool because as a stats geek, I can quantitatively track my improvement from week to week. When I first started, I was hitting maybe 40% of the tasks every week (gold stars help too!). Now I’m averaging around 70%.
So think about what favorite person, real or fictional, will get your ass in gear. If you can connect your desire to live better with your passion for a character, then there’s no telling what you can do.
Stay tuned! I’ll be posting more goal setting tools in the coming weeks.
What’s your Story Arc?
January 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
Just checking in again to see how your 2014 is going! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about using fangirl concepts to craft motivation for the goals that you have for yourself.
To start, I want you to imagine one of your favorite badass and/or successful characters. Now think of something they achieved or acquired in a book, tv show, etc. Rewind your mind tape a little, and imagine they had internally debated whether or not to pursue this feat and then decided against it. Or procrastinated to a point where the goal or prize was no longer achievable.
Was this hard for you to imagine? Even if it wasn’t, was it a particularly compelling scenario? Did it make you feel anxious or uncomfortable, perhaps because it resonated with your own insecurities? These types of story arcs don’t exist in fiction, because. . .well because they are boring as hell. Characters may have internal struggles about relationships and romantic love, but when it comes to getting shit done, story arcs are about actively trying and often about actively failing multiple times.
So today, I want you to think about what you want your story arc to be for this year, or even longer. What if you chose external action over internal strife, even if it resulted in being disappointed? For me personally, there is no worse feeling than knowing I am the only one responsible for sabotaging myself. For more about this, check out chapter 3 in the book.
Success and failure aren’t different muscles in your mind. They are two sides to the same mechanism, a muscle that is about moving forward rather than being stalled by all the what ifs we use to clog progress.
Here’s one “what if” I think we could all remember. What if you stopped mentally vetoing the possibilities life holds? And started living your story?
Feel free to drop a note letting me know how the year is going or if you have a fangirl dilemma.
Until next time, BAMF it out.