Thursday, May 03, 2007

On the right road, and the side trips were actually part of it



The Best Damn PM Ever
Photo by Nicole Bruni.

First the numbers: 219.4, Fat Percentage 46.5. Down 1.2. This time for sure, people, I feel like I'm back on track. For sure it was the stress of putting on the show, and if anything good came of that, it's that I really have to be conscious of stress as a binge trigger. I was having issues, I wasn't turning to people for help, instead I reached for food. I didn't plan anything, I just drove through fast food and shoveled it down my throat on my way to meetings, to getting things done. So if anything, the victory is in recognizing this, and having it thrown in my face in such an obvious way.

This is a picture taken of me by one of my colleagues, and I admit, it's not the most flattering picture of me ever taken. But I really, really like it anyway, for reasons besides the generous title she gave it. And I'm discussig it here, because as I'm learning, my fat is not a cause of my pain, it's a symptom.

As you may know, I have this day job in corporate amerika that, as far as day jobs go, really isn't that bad. It's high stress sometimes, but pretty much all the things that suck about it are all the things that suck about having to work, period. But its still not where I want to be, it's still not the dream. The dream is making a living creatively: writing, photographing (music will still be the obsessive hobby!), in effect, telling stories. I'm not turning in my notice tomorrow; I've got a few more years in a cubicle before I can make that jump. (I have a mortgage, college funds to seed, a little debt to get out of). But I'm fine with that. I'm confident in my plan. The events of the past few weeks and months have convinced me I'm on the road I want to be on, going in the right direction, and the journey is as every bit important as the destination.

When you're in college or art school or wherever studying creative as a youth, you are pretty much conditioned to reject Corporate Amerika like it was the devil, the dark side. It's like you're being baptised into the creative, and you're paraphrasing the catholic baptimisal rite: "I hereby renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises." Nothing about this world can be good for a creative, you must reject it all or you're One Of Them. Well, I'm One Of Them. I'm a fucking yuppie. I drive a nice car, my house is nice, my kids wear good clothes, I have health insurance. I can afford to get a massage and facial every quarter (and you bet your sweet ass I do). But for many years I looked longingly at my creative friends who were toiling away, and I was jealous. They never sold out to The Dark Side.

The thing is, though, when I got out of college, I didn't start writing right away. To be successful at creative, you have to have a certain confidence in ones self that will push you through the constant rejection that all creatives get. Much of that rejection comes from your own soul, that you aren't good enough. (Gee, my fat friends, we don't have this problem, do we?) You have to have a side that says "Yes I am!". I didn't have it. I didn't see myself as a writer/artist/whatever. I saw myself as a pretending wannabe. I didn't take myself seriously.

Over a bunch of years I flailed about, tasting different lives, always sad that I hadn't become the creative I always dreamed of being. Then I landed in Corporate Amerika, and bit by bit, I took classes, learned skills, and started to realize that there was a place here, in staid, stuffy old Anonymous Law Firm, for an obnoxious, take-charge, boisterous extrovert like me. I'm at the point now where I'm making a good living, as a Project Manager, using phrases like "action items" and "deliverables" and "agenda topic" and such. I'm taken seriously for it, and I can tell because I can stroll into a project meeting, populated by a bevy of network engineers and desktop managers and web developers whose language I can read write and speak, (but not fluently) -- and yet wield authority because, as I often introduce myself and my job, "I don't really do anything, but I get things done." But I'll repeat: they take me seriously, and in turn, I'm taking myself seriously.

For the past few months, I've taken these management skills -- skills I and many of my creative colleagues pooh-poohed as skills only those on The Dark Side valued -- and applied them to something I have passion for. I used them to help put together the art opening I've obsesseed on this blog about. They were an element of why it was a success. (It goes without saying that the entire team kicked ass, and this was my piece.) But I never once felt any self-doubt about the value I offered as a project manager, and as I warmed up to this group of photographers and our style of working together, I felt confidently authoritative arriving at our meetings, agenda in hand, action items to assign, deliverables to evaluate. In turn, we produced an event, and in doing so, we've all discovered something about ourselves that we take seriously.

When people who have been in Corporate Amerika decide to leave (for something more "passionate"), often they do so with that same rejection of values that creatives have against The Dark Side. Not here. I'm going to be a success in Creative, I'm going to be a success as a writer/photographer (and, to stay on topic with this blog, a not-fat person!) because of the experience and skills I learned in Corporate Amerika. My being an IT Project Manager is the reason why I even had the guts to say, "Hey, guys, I think my photography's good, and uh, by the way, I have these skills I think will help us get it out there…"

That's why I like this otherwise unflattering picture of me so much. I don't look like somebody in Corporate Amerika: I'm disheveled, no makeup on. I'm wearing hot pink and I'm sitting outside on a Sunday morning, enjoying a cup of latte. But do you know what I'm doing in it? I'm conducting a Post-Project Lessons Learned Meeting, and specifically, checking my palm pilot for a next meeting availability!

I'm here, I'm at a point where I'm taking myself seriously as a writer and an artist, because of my years in the Dark Side. So when I finally am ready to shake off the golden handcuffs, I'm not going to be rejecting Corporate Amerika doing so. Its always going to be a part of me, and it’s the part of me that was missing for so many years of insecure self-doubt. Its given me a confidence that is spreading to the parts of my life that I need confidence in. That will always be me, organizing meetings and setting agendas, even while I'm tattooed, wearing funky headbands and hot pink, and arguing with myself what my next project's theme is going to be.

Thanks Nicole, for this shot. Its so perfectly demonstrates why I haven't (and never will) completely renounce the Corporate Amerika that many so pointedly regard as Satan.

Oh, and I'm down 1.2 pounds.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Well written and well said. Jobs teach us a lot, pay the bills (hopefully), introduce us to great people, and maybe they're here to stay, and maybe we move on. We move on because of the lessons learned, and hopefully we do it better and do it our way.

It's all by design.