Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The last two years: In retrospect

Hi. You could be just reading my blog for the first time, or you could have read all of my posts, or you could have seen that I posted a new entry on my Facebook and followed it through because sometimes words come out of my mouth and sometimes they are interesting.

This is a little bit of a reflection on the last two years, those being 2014, and 2015. If you've been reading my posts for a while, you'll probably notice that that's about when the regularity of writing on Gone Aerial started going out the window, and there's a few reasons why.

I figured it was time to write something again. I've always had more to say, but when the jobs you're working have you either physically or mentally exhausted at the end of the day, there's not a lot left for writing. Still.

Here's a brief rundown of the last two years.

I finished Uni at the end of 2013, and my hopeless optimism thought that finding a job straight after WAVE of 2014 would be easy. I wanted to work after I finished uni, because I knew I didn't have a lot of life experience and I probably needed it. When I hit 22 in 2013, I realised that I was the same age as Mum when she'd gotten married, and it was probably time to start thinking of myself and acting like an adult.

What followed was a steep learning curve. I threw resumes at anything that moved. I picked up work in a local Chinese restaurant, but it wasn't enough hours or income to support myself, so I started falling behind on rent, and eating my way through the strange cans of food my Pop had given me a few years before, because all I could afford to buy was milk and apples and mi goreng. I'd fill up my car, not knowing if I'd be able to buy more fuel when I ran out.

This went on for a bit more than a month, before all the forms I'd submitted to request a bit of welfare subsidence kicked in. I was also helped out by my parents and some folks from church. Even then, there wasn't much of a rest. I'd spend a few nights a week working at the restaurant and the rest of the week, I pretty much lived at the Hub - the warehouse in Broadmeadow that doubles as my church's office/headquarters/place for things that aren't Sunday meetings. There, I continued applying for jobs.

I can't remember how many I applied for. There was a lot, and sometimes I'd get a rejection letter, but most of the time I'd never hear back. At this stage, I was pretty grateful for Centrelink, even if there were a lot of forms to fill out. I was able to buy food. I could pay rent. When the registration of my car came around, I was able to do that myself - something that really counted when you consider that I was trying to be a responsible adult.

About halfway through the year, I picked up some contracted writing work, and this eventually turned into my second job - writing blog posts for a marketing firm. Once this piece of information comes into play, you can kind of see why I didn't do a lot of writing of my own material - it's a little hard to write all day and then be motivated to come home and write some more.

So that was 2014. There were some hard bits, and some good bits, and some other pretty important lessons learned, but I'll get to those in a minute.

2015 has also been a pretty turbulent year, but for different reasons.

Because I had had a lot of spare time in the year prior, I'd started a few different types of ministry. I had time, so why not? Problem was, I was nearly working full time hours on top of part time hours spent in ministry.

I got sick, and stayed physically sick, for about three months. It was debilitating on my body and my mind, and I burned out. Recovery took longer, and I have to check in even now and still consider if I'm back to fully operational.

Burning out was problematic for more than just that reason though - it opened up a whole new can of worms, one which was marked 'mental health'. Although I don't know if there's anything in particular that has become my problem, I can testify that the inside of my head has not been a pleasant place to be at times during this year.

But, there were still really good things, and really challenging things, and things to learn from.

At the moment, my hours have changed, for both places, for a variety of reasons. Things are definitely going to change next year, not in the least because I'm planning on moving out of my house. Living alone is fine if you are mentally stable. Which I am not. So, some housemates are in order. I'm a little anxious about how things will go, not in the least because I've lived by myself for the last two years, so my house skills have gotten a little lax. But. Housemates. That's important. Need stability.

Where does this lead to? There is indeed a purpose for this blog post - not just telling you how my last two years have been. There's been a few hard-learned, but important-learned lessons I've picked up along the way, and thought they were worth sharing. Hence, post. But like, I don't want it to be like the posts I write for work, so it's not a numerically listed thing. But, uh.

The Rest Of The World Cares Less About You Than Your Lecturers And Teachers

I'm talking secular, working world. My church body has been highly valued and I'm so very thankful to them for looking after me. But the others?
When you're in school, your teachers have some degree of care about you. In uni, if you build a good rapport with your lecturers and tutors, they'll generally want you to pass a subject.
The same isn't true of the working world. The manager you just talked to doesn't know squat about you, and doesn't have a reason to care about what you can do unless you give them a reason.

It's Easy To Feel Entitled

And why shouldn't we? If you're a first world kid, growing up in a first world, cushy life, it's easy to feel like you're owed a job that you like. Whether or not you can find one of those jobs is another matter. I work in the service industry and you will never find another job where the people you meet will feel like making your life miserable is well within their rights and duties as a customer. It's even easy to try and use my sense of entitlement to try and rise above all of that. "I've got two tertiary qualifications, therefore I have the right to a better job," kind of thing. just doesn't work like that.

Some Things Are Just Hard Work

In the last few weeks of my uni study, my church sat the students who were graduating down over dinner and we talked about what life would be like as a worker - the things we'd need to be aware of, and the ways we'd be challenged. One of the most helpful things I was told was "The first two years will just be hard work". They were right. No shortcuts. No cheat codes. Just a lot of honey chicken and oil burns.

Nobody Else Has It Together Either

I'm now a worker. I still have nights where I don't have enough energy to do anything. Weekends are a joke. But, I was raised with this crazy impossible standard where the things are supposed to be clean and I'm supposed to have it all together. After all, I'm the oldest, and I'm supposed to set and example and not be a bitter disappointment and blah blah blah. No. Nobody else my age seems to have it together. Which is a bit of a relief, because it's honest and it's real and it makes me able to admit my fears and weaknesses to other people, and ask for their help, because there's a lot of things I cannot do by myself.

Take One Day At A Time

Rolling with it is something I've had to get used to. It's not my favourite, but it's helped me see beyond the insurmountable hill of responsibility and just get down to putting one foot in front of another to keep going. If I can keep moving forward, then things have the opportunity to get better.

Celebrate The Small Things

You found your keys? Throw both arms in the air and yell in adulation. You survived another shift? Give yourself a pat on the back. There's still a lot of things I can't do. So when something goes right for a change, no matter how small, I remember that it's a good thing, and that we should celebrate victories, no matter how small.

Set Some Boundaries

This is important.

Remember To Rest

So is this. Like I said earlier, secular world isn't obligated to care for your shocking day prior. They only want to know that you can work. I have one night a week where I am home, and that's because I vigilantly protect it as The Evening I Am Home To Rest. If you're a people-pleaser, it's easy to keep saying yes to things until you collapse. I've done that once, and I don't ever want to do it again. So, make sure that your lines in the sand on what you can do, and what you can't do, are drawn, and maintain them, not because you are selfish, but because you need to keep functioning.

Remember The Gospel

As a Christian, the gospel is what keeps me going. Knowing and remembering and dwelling on it is what means I can come back for another round of work even though I was in tears over work the night before.
It's easy to gloss over it - be like, 'yeah, nah, I know this. I need some deeper theological truth to look at'.

No. Noob.

The gospel is where we start and end. Theology only serves to enhance our understanding of the gospel - of knowing and understanding that here is God, the creator of the universe, who would send his Son Jesus to bear my sins and failures to bring me back into a right relationship with him and make me into something better.

Know Your Value

Here's the kicker. I end up with this problem where I feel like my value is attached to what I can do. Or what I am. Problem is, when you take away my capacity for doing things, or make me feel like I can't do anything, the perceived value is going to go down the gurgler pretty quick.

But, here's the thing, and it fits into the gospel. Nothing I can do can attribute to my own value. (Therefore, I can end up feeling like I have no value).
But, the Creator God trades his Son, who has Infinite Value, for my life.
And here's the thing about this trade, about this purchase.

You don't pay for things you don't want. And you don't pay more for something you think has less value.

So even though intrinsically, I have no value, my life - my future, and my eternity - have been purchased with the most expensive thing there is.

Therefore, I am valued at Infinite, by the King of the Universe.

And he's the biggest power there is. There's not another power, bigger, who can say otherwise, or usurp that authority or purchase. This is what happens when you start dealing in absolutes - either things are or they are not.

I still have problems with remembering that I have value on a regular basis. When you're taught that everything else is more important than you, this can be a hard thing to shake. Which is why I keep coming back to the gospel, and why I have to keep remembering that I have value because of the gospel.

So yeah. that's where I'm at. Hopefully next year will be easier, (although I have my doubts). I'll just have a little more experience, and a better understanding of the grace that is sufficient for keeping me going.

I hope your new years are bright, and full of promise.
Happy New Year, guys.

Brooke Out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First Sight and Second Thoughts

In the Discworld books about Tiffany Aching, Terry Pratchett did something that all authors can do, and he did it wonderfully.

He put into words things that people feel and can't articulate.

First sight and second thoughts are abilities that the character Tiffany possesses. First sights is an ability endemic to the witches of the Discworld possess. It's the ability to see what's really there, instead of what your brain tells you should be there (that's Second sights, and is what normal people have).

First sights lets characters spot inconsistencies in the world, and the willpower that anyone who's encountered Granny Weatherwax before has experienced is usually enough for said character to step in and stop the elves from conquering the world/the hiver from eating minds/winter from destroying the world/whatever happens in I shall wear midnight.

Second Thoughts is defined as 'the thoughts you think about the way you think'.

Tiffany also possesses Third and Fourth thoughts, which are thinking about the way you think about the way you think, and thinking about the way you think, about the way you think, about the way you think. Tiffany also sometimes walks into doorposts, according to the wiki.

Why does this warrant conversation?

I would like to know if second/third/fourth thoughts have a real world equivalent.

Because that's something I do and it's useful and terribly inconvenient at the same time.

See, I'll want to do something, but will be thinking about how many people that will impact, and how they'll think and feel about the situation, and what that will mean, and then how I should act as a result.

And I'll think more about every action, which the ripple effect will have impact the people around me, and how they think, and what they do, and how I'm supposed to think about that.

It's an endless analysis. On the one hand, it allows me to care for and look after people in small ways that might not be considered otherwise.

On the other hand, I can't ask for help because I'll be aware of how much it inconveniences people, or just be aware of how much of an impact any action makes, as though I'm trying to navigate my way across a floor covered in eggshells, and I'm trying not to break any of them.

Second thoughts also leaves you slightly disconnected from any interaction with people. You're always thinking about how you're thinking, and often are too busy trying to decipher someone else's facial expression and words to actually respond the right way in the right amount of time.

I don't say 'right way' from a manipulative or insidious perspective. Not at all. It just takes a while to process stuff, and because you're thinking about how you're thinking and how you're acting, you become aware that there is in fact a proper way to react to any situation.

So if you ever notice me lagging in a conversation, just bear with it. I'll get there eventually.

Where it becomes more important is when I get overwhelmed with things or need to ask for help. The knowledge of how I'll impact and inconvenience people becomes paralyzing, and I'll end up trying to do everything myself rather than bug someone else.

So yeah. That.