Sunday, October 24, 2010

You have to do it for YOU!

Some people are baffled by the fact that they are never able to see anything through to completion. The workout plan they abandon after just a couple of weeks, the graduate degree they never claimed and... yes, the creative writing project they have yet to finish. We've all been guilty of getting ourselves all geared up to engage in a brand-new endeavor and then wind up scratching our heads trying to figure out what went wrong, how we were able to lose focus and end up back to the drawing board on a never-ending cycle of start-and-stop that leaves us chasing our tails but never really being able to check that objective off our to-do list.

The most commom excuse I've heard - and I've used this one quite often myself - is that "Life got in the way." While it's true that circumstances sometimes delay the pursuit of our personal goals, the fact is that a very small percentage of us face the extenuating circumstances that truly excuse long-term lack of productivity. More likely, the issue isn't the opportunity, it's lack of motivation.

Let's be honest: The problem isn't that we don't have time to do get things done. The problem is that we lack the motivation to make the time and effort to progress. Every day should, ideally, bring you one baby step closer to your ultimate goal, but this requires time away from distractions and a sharp enough focus to block out all of life's little inconveniences.

The question of motivation then arises... And you must ask yourself, "WHY am I really doing this?" Although the underlying purpose of this blog is to help provide advice and guidance for writers struggling to make it in a world where everyone and their mother thinks they have the chops to have their voices be heard, this question can really be applied to all aspects of life.

It seems to me that, in today's celebrity-obsessed world of social networking sites and reality television, so many people out there do things and then obnoxiously announce the details of their lives not out of a sense of accomplishment or aim towards self-improvement but out of some superficial pursuit of fame. It's almost as if some people are filling their time with activities specifically so that they can have something to share with the masses.

While tools such as Twitter and Facebook can be useful in keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives, they have also perpetuated the worldwide trend favoring celebrity over personal growth. It's the same reason that a little part of me shudders at the thought that nonsensical entertainment like "Jackass 3D" sits atop the box office and crapfests such as "Jersey Shore" and basically anything else that airs on MTV these days are lauded by an entire generation of teens and twenty-somethings.

Maybe this is just a sign that I'm truly becoming too old to fully grasp the next generation's "perception over reality" mindset, but to me, it just seems as if so many people have chosen to live as a caricature rather than as themselves, following their own dreams and goals in life. No one's real. No one's authentic. No one... is doing it for themselves because they are all so focused on creating an "image," on letting others define who they are and who they should be.

And I'm not going to allow myself to sit atop some equine pedestal and claiming that I have all the answers or cling to some delusion of superiority. I'm just a guy like anyone else, and while I too often find myself sharing my daily exploits on Facebook, the difference is that the rationale behind it all is one of the utmost sincerity. I don't put on some facade to try and gain the attention of those around me.

Here's the thing: For so many years in my past, I have felt socially awkward and lacked the confidence that who I am inside is truly enough. So I trapped myself in my own skin, afraid of the criticisms people would hurl in my direction and how those insults would only cause further damage to my sense of self. And because I didn't trust myself and my ability to handle myself, I let numerous opportunities, personal and professional, slip past me.

However, times have changed. Now - and especially in the last couple of years - I have become increasingly comfortable in my own skin and have systematically taken steps to progress in all areas of my life. I have continually met and actually exceeded my professional goals and have kept busy in a number of "extracurricular" activities. I have steadily developed my own personal social network and moved into my very own living space for the first time. I have also reclaimed my desire to progress with my creative writing and get into better physical shape. And most importantly, I'm no longer afraid to share who I am with the people around me. Or, at least, I'm becoming more and more open with being exactly who I am inside.

And all the little quirky things about myself that I once tried to keep hidden away... the fact that I like to do impressions and voices, that I really enjoy singing and actually can carry a tune, that I possess a vast and random assortment of entertainment knowledge and that I have a wry and playful sense of humor... I am now free to share with the people I know personally, with my Facebook "friends," with each and every person I meet.

So if I happen to post sometime online about myself, it's not in some vain attempt to gain recognition or to try and win anybody over. It's simply an example of me being me and embracing the fact that I no longer feel a need to remain locked away in my shell. I don't have anything to prove to anybody, and quite frankly, if they can't handle me being exactly who I am inside, then it's a pointless endeavor for me to create a customized version of myself simply to please someone else.

I've said this before, but let me reiterate. Unlike a lot of people who focus entirely on the moment, I see the big picture. I view my life as a journey, and while I may regret certain segments of the past and worry about what awaits me in the future, the fact of the matter is that the present is all about me doing what I need to do for me to get my life in order.

Somewhere in today's fame-centric world, people forgot that the only one you really need to win over is yourself. If you possess that sense of purpose, that understanding of and love for yourself and your place in the world, that pride in the fact that you are working to become the very best person you possibly can be, that's all that matters. Everything else will simply fall into place from there.

Happy writing (and living),