Determination?

So, this one got a bit… long. I’ve been thinking about it a lot over the last month or so. I spend a great deal of time analyzing the last few years of my life because they represent a very strange shift away from how I would have traditionally described myself. I’m also fairly certain I have discussed this in past blog posts as well.

I am not, historically speaking, a person predisposed to long-term interest in… anything. The advantage of this, is that I have a really broad spectrum of really shallow knowledge as I pick up something new, hyperfocus on it for a couple of weeks, then burn out and move on when the project doesn’t immediately meet my expectations. General time frame tends toward 2 weeks. Anyone that was to follow my gaming time would see a similar trend there. The overall cycle reminds me of the first two panels in a Chats with the Void comic:

I generally credit Blaugust for being part of the change shown in the last two panels because it seems to have been the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. Extra credit to Justin from Massively OP for plugging it in the podcast.

At that precise moment in time I was bored and disenfranchised not just as work, but in general. I had been in my particular position for just short of five years and realized that while I was effective, I didn’t want it to be a career. There was little left to learn and study in that context given the resources I had and some of my more in-depth work had been labeled “overly academic.” I interpreted this as meaning the business did not find it relevant and discontinued that effort slowly over time as what little interest it did garner dried up.

My motive for undertaking the Blaugust challenge was really two-fold. One, it gave me something to do that was specific and timely. An activity to focus that energy on that was new, fresh, and interesting. Two, it would help me establish a different and more diverse skill-set in hopes that I could eventually solve my career issue.

I never expected to reach the end of the month. I certainly didn’t anticipate doing it a year and half later, albeit with some holes and gaps. Not only had I finished the month with daily posts, but I just kinda… kept going, for a while anyway. Not because it was easy or effortless, but because I still enjoyed it. Most importantly, it broke the traditional activity cycle I had grown familiar with and left me wondering what else I might accomplish with my newfound powers.

Simply thinking about it provides me with a measure of energy, makes me want to do something. It is, in its way, a natural drug of sorts. Filled with that energy I turned toward the world at large and became angry. How dare it be filled with hatred and lies! What right does “life” have to keep me from my goals? If “life” doesn’t wish to cooperate, then I shall attack it and seize what I desire anyway.

I convinced myself, with my slightly tempered vigor, that the world wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be on its own, but that I had to “be the change I want(ed) to see in the world.” Someone needed to do it, and that someone may as well be me. This isn’t to say that I expected to singlehandedly change the world or anything so dramatic, but I could certainly function as one little cog in the greater machine of change.

Front and center for me at the time was “corporate culture.” Workplace morale was low where I was and the list of problems tied to corporate culture seemed large and important. I also was beginning to realize I enjoyed talking about financial statements. I would see questions in MMO chat about marketboard taxes and inflation and the skeptical mindset from my earlier work project began to engage and wonder how factual it all was. I was also beginning to feel that dissatisfaction with my job creep back in.

All of those factors sort of blended to form a plan. If I wanted to change corporate culture and understand financial markets, I needed two things. A degree that qualifies me for management positions and organized structured knowledge to replace my piece-meal reading. The latter was conveniently included in the former.

I continued to think of myself as being motivated by righteous anger for quite some time. How else could I possibly describe this rather intense desire propelling me forward? This was not helped much by some of my early classes revolving around U.S. government and history. I found my tolerance for the indiscretions of leaders past and present to be quite low. I would often feel like I was being overly judgemental and I didn’t like that. I felt angry all the time. I felt as though I was wielding that anger as a weapon, and was growing increasingly concerned about that.

I was beginning to see changes in my behavior. I seemed much more assertive and decisive than I used to be. Anyone critical of me and my choices became an opponent. Where that was once discouraging it instead began to harden my resolve. Screw those people and the horses they rode in on.

I am, and was, keenly aware of the fact that anger is rather exhausting. I questioned how long that motivation would last and what would happen when it began to fade. Lately, I realized I seem to have established a strange balance. Dedicated enough to continue investing the same amount of effort in the things I want, but decided more patient and less angry. I was at a bit of a loss on how to describe it, though.

I eventually settled on determination. Partially because I listen to a lot of game-related music and I felt that the very Undertale phrase “the thought fills you with determination” seemed extremely fitting. The whole undertone of violent v. non-violent determination also seems appropriate, but that was not part of the original thought.

So, for now, I suppose I shall consider myself filled with determination. Even if the thing I seem most determined to do is see exactly how many activities I can spread my time across and still succeed. Something, something, productive efficiency.

Y’all take care. I hope all of you manage to find something that fills you with determination as well.

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