Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Let Me Share My Wisdom

It's tempting, as you get older and figure out stuff, to share your wisdom as absolutes. Don't major in this. Only take notes like that. Real writers do this. It ignores the following.
1. Some lessons have to be learned. listened to a "Love and Radio" episode with someone who thought they were trans only to discover they "just" had gender disphoria, and one of the things asked was what do you think you would have listened too, and their answer was - I'm paraphrasing here - nothing.  I would not have listened to someone telling me I maybe wasn't this. In those cases, sometimes all you can do is share your story and hope it helps someone.  Not everything we share and do has to provide an absolute right answer for a younger version of 
2. I realized when talking to a younger cousin who was looking at some colleges my sister had applied to that my first response was to tell her to talk to my sister.  But that...my sister had already (as have I, since I'm older) been out of college for some time.  It's a natural reflex.  So-and-so went there, worked there, looked at that, you should talk to them.  But let's face it.  Since I graduated college, even putting to the side the huge ginormous shifts in the economy, many things have changed.  The SAT has changed.  I applied before the common app was the big thing it is today. I mailed my college apps in.  There are things that are still the same about the college experience.  But there is a lot that changed.  So, my ability to advise incoming freshmen based on my path and my college experience is limited. 
3. Talk to enough authors and you will find there are a trillion different paths.  (I'm using authors as an example here.  Watch a "Chopped" marathon.  You'll see the same.) There are authors who got their first contract while in high school.  Authors who had six or seven careers before even trying to write.  Authors who wrote for ten years before self publishing.  Authors who published the first thing they wrote.  The point is there are lots of ways to become an author.  I can share my advice, the advice I would have given myself, but it may not be the best advice for you.  In fact, one of the things I look for in writing workshops is people who offer disclaimers.  Because people who think there's one true path are almost always wrong about how that path will work for me. 
4. My two siblings are both employed in a job that matched their college major.  However, my sister changed her major three times.  I changed my major from a more specific choice to general (aka liberal arts) because I figured out I could save myself a year of school and still have the qualifications needed to get the further degree I had planned at the time.  Having a plan is good. Being open to opportunities and figuring out what you want is an ongoing process not limited to college majors. 
5. As with so many things in life, people often tell you what they did as if it was an absolute.  I didn't major in English, they say, because what would that have done except teach me how to read, write, and communicate well.  Who needs those as job skills?  If anything the last decade or so should have taught us, it's this.  I have no idea what the job market will look like in four years. Social media jobs didn't use to exist.  Ride-sharing has changed drastically.  There are all types of jobs and skills that rise up and change.  Some of them will last.  Some won't.  Pursuing things that make you curious and interested can be satisfying in itself. 
6. People's brains are different.  Therefor the tools and techniques that are great for you, may make me bang my head against the wall.  And vice-versa.  So presenting your life hack as as all successful people do X, assumes that all successful people are like you.  And hi, I don't know you, but I'm pretty sure that's not true.  
7. People's bodies are different.  I write using a combination of handwriting (with a tech enabled pen), typing on a word processor, and touch typing on my phone.  I know folks who use dictation, do the whole first draft on their phone, do the whole first draft by hand.  How is kind of the least important part.  Getting the words down is what counts. If you do that typing with your nose, then, I raise my glass to you.