Tag Archives: professionalism

The Care and Feeding of Me

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I’ve seen so many articles in the last few years that seemed to be geared towards “educating” normal people on how to treat people with forms of anxiety. Like how to take care of introverts, hyper-sensitive people, people with anxiety, and other personalities that simply don’t tend to follow social norms. And at first it wasn’t such a big deal. I read that first one on introverts and thought, that was a nice way to break the ice. It was new and innovative and I saw no harm in it.

And then more popped up. And then more, and more again. Each one repeating the same maxims like, “don’t pressure us to talk,” “don’t take it personally if we don’t make eye contact,” “don’t be offended if I don’t want to talk to you.” Some were helpful. Some were border-line demanding/whining. At first I was happy because it was reaffirming that a lot of the things that bother me (loud noises, big crowds, talking to strangers) bothered other people and that it was okay.

But you know, the more lists I see now, the more people post about how they should be treated specially, how they require warnings and notices for everything, how they are highly intelligent and therefore deserving of more allowances, and generally how much “better” they are than normal people, I started to get annoyed by these lists. I knew they were about people like me, but I was starting to want to distance myself from these listicles.

Sure, I don’t like to be uncomfortable in big crowds, but sometimes I have to endure them—I table-run at conventions! And sometimes I don’t want to go to parties, and celebrations for my friends, but I do it anyway because my friends want me there, and people I like are worth making sacrifices for.

If I posted this list and insisted that everyone adhere to it, I’m like that one jerk who goes to a Mexican restaurant and demands eggplant Parmesan. “You don’t serve eggplant Parmesan? Well too bad! That’s all I can eat and you should accommodate me!” When in truth I should either a) try some Mexican food, or b) take my business elsewhere.

The world isn’t meant to accommodate me. I have to adapt to the world. That means pushing myself into situations where I’m uncomfortable. It means practicing until I get better. It means gathering my courage and realizing that if I want anything from the world, I have to be willing to meet it on its own terms. And if I’m not up to the challenge, I need to make a quiet retreat until I can try again.

I’m also not so arrogant to believe that I’m the only one with problems. I may hate crowds, but maybe someone else is really nervous without them. I hate loud noises, but what about people tormented by silence? I hate talking to strangers, but what about the person who’s worried they’ll talk too much? Everyone has their hurdles, and we should be insightful and compassionate enough to help people who are obviously uncomfortable.

Most importantly, we should be brave enough to be honest with our friends and family. Instead of posting passive aggressive lists online, why not try telling our friends how we feel. “Go out to the club tonight? No thanks, I actually don’t like loud places so much. Maybe we could do something else like Pho?” “Yeah, I’ll go to the Christmas party with you, but could you introduce me to some people? I have trouble striking up conversations,” and most importantly, “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Do you mind if I excuse myself to collect my thoughts?”

Anecdote: For the longest time I would get panic attacks at checkout counters. When I was with my husband, I’d always say, “I’ll take the kids to the car and fasten them in while you finish up here.” And leave before he got to the register. He never knew exactly what was going on, and I really didn’t want to tell him I was having a panic attack, but one day we were shopping without the kids. I didn’t have excuse to leave him so I had to be honest and say, “The checkout counter always gives me panic attacks. Can I just meet you when we’re done?”

And darling hubby, just shrugged and said, “I figured it was something like that. No problem.”

After that, I started to get fewer panic attacks. It was enough to know that he knew what I was going through and that I could walk away from the register without having to explain it or make an excuse. Our openness actually helped me with my anxiety.

Living in a bubble, untested, untroubled, and most of all, alone, is no way to live. We stagnate, we fester, we’re never forced to challenge ourselves so we never win and we never grow. I’ve seen too many people who have shut themselves off from the world because the world would never bend to fit their needs. You can’t live like that. You’re a human as much as everyone else. You’re special, but so are they. So here’s my:

CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS.

  1. Never assume.
  2. Ask how they feel or what they would like.
  3. Treat them like individuals with their own lives and interests.
  4. Feel free to help them understand you.
  5. Try your best to understand them.
  6. They will make mistakes. Forgive them and try again.
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I Need a Tumblr of Gin

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The other day I swished the dust off my Tumblr account (yeah, I actually have one.) It was suggested, by a friend and colleague, that I get a tumblr account and keep it active. I agreed to do this, but honestly I feel like this:

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Weeeeeee-oooooooo-eeeeee-aaaaaaah…

I have no idea what I’m doing. Do I post things I like? Do I post work-related stuff? What’s a page? Oh, so it’s kind of like a blog meets facebook. So why do I have a blog and facebook???

Honestly it’s going to take some time until I figure out what I’m doing. In the meantime, I’m mostly going to posting pretty gifs and random pics until I know what’s what.

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You know, like I do.

You can follow me at doctortangent.tumblr.com while we try to figure this out together and I’ll still keep posting on this bloggy thing as well, no worries there. Onward to the big and scary beyond!

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You Are Your Job

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This is advice that I am putting out to all people who build their business from home. The internet is a wonderland of opportunity where anyone can sell anything to anyone. But it’s also bigger than you think and it never forgets you. What self-starter people need to realize is:

YOU ARE YOUR JOB.

Most people in the 9-to-6 world out there? They get to go home. They get to leave their place of work and go home and the job stays there.

You don’t get to do that.

Most jobs are manned by hundreds and thousands of people. They’re protected and shielded from being singled out because they’re just one ant in a colony. So what if they say something or do something on the internet? It’s not like anyone’s going to connect them to their place of work. And most times they’re right.

You don’t get to do that either.

Because you are your job.

So what baffles me is going online and seeing young independent businessmen and businesswomen go onto the internet and act like spoiled children. They bully, they libel, they slander, they harass and generally act out to get attention or vent frustration online. They do this under their own names, and in full view of their potential customers.

And then they wonder.

They wonder why they didn’t win a competition. They wonder why they didn’t get commission work. They wonder why they didn’t get into a convention.

And then they continue to complain, whine, and bully.

Well maybe it’s because they not only ruined their personal reputation, but because they ruined their company’s reputation too. They messed up because they never thought it would affect their business life and they’re shocked when it does. It always does.

Because you are your job.

And that’s hard! There’s been so many times when I’ve wanted to take someone down a peg, where I’ve wanted write a rant that “it isn’t fair,” where I’ve wanted to complain about a really hard customer I’ve had. I understand that. It happens to us all.

But I can’t talk about it online.

That group I’m making fun of? One might be a client, and they’re having second thoughts about recommending me to their friends.

That convention I’m whining about? Their chair is reading every word and deciding to never work with me again.

That more-famous artist I’m denouncing? They might have been planning a collaboration with me and now they’re deciding I’m not worth their time.

I am my job.

Which means when people have a problem with me, it affects my job. I don’t get to hide behind the anonymity of someone who works at J.C. Penny’s or Starbucks. I don’t get to act like a bitch to people and not have it follow me home. I work at home.

So if you’re an indie businessperson trying to get a leg up? It’s time to wise up. It’s time to be cautious, always take the upper hand, and to walk away from the keyboard when angry. It’s time to second-guess yourself, and never let your emotions get the better of you, and to never let your despair lead you to prejudice and hate. Most of all, it’s time to stop acting like a spoiled child with a grudge.

You’re in the business world now. Act like it.

Our jobs are fun, creative, and sometimes even rewarding (if we’re lucky), but with it, we lose that ability to take off the mask.

You are your job and you can never NOT be your job.

Are you ready to deal with those consequences?

If not, then maybe—just maybe—you shouldn’t post that.

Why I stand with Revolva

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This morning someone posted this on my wall: it’s an article from Revolva’s blog, where the contortionist was contacted by Oprah’s people to perform as a side act for the “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend” that would draw people from all over the country with its $99-$999 tickets. Only one caveat… they didn’t want to pay her. You can read the whole account here.

A few people commented that Revolva’s response was just a temper tantrum—a beat-scene avant garde complaining when  the honor of performing for Oprah should have been enough. That this could have been a huge opportunity for her. That she was lucky to be contacted with such a huge queue of people dying to get in. That this article was simply because she felt slighted.

I saw red for a moment and then in a frenzy of rage-fueled justice I wrote this in reaction to the people who took Oprah’s side.

Revolva’s not “feeling slighted” by Oprah’s company and she makes a good point. This is about a billionaire empire that is trying to stiff a hardworking woman.

Did her booking agent get paid? Yes. Did the venue get paid? Yes. Did the roadies, the techies, the caterers, the marketers, the transport, the hair, the makeup, the wardrobe, and everyone else it took to make that show get paid? Would the show be the same if there was no one to light the stages, or put them up, or to coordinate everything? Of course not ! They’re valuable people.

So, don’t you think the people on those stages deserve the same professional courtesy as a roadie or a techie? Doesn’t she deserve to be able to pay her rent and buy food like everyone else? 

She wasn’t “slighted” by OprahCorp. A billionaire wanted services from her and thought that her services were less important than her hair and makeup. That she was less important than the people who light the stage. That she was worthless, or at the most only worth the toll for the bay bridge.

That’s what it’s like to be an artist today. We’re always supposed to be grateful to be chosen. We’re supposed to feel lucky that we’re gifted. We’re supposed to share our gift with the world… only we’re not allowed to ask for money for it. The “glory” is supposed to be enough.

And there’s very little of that too.

*mic drop*

How to Juggle 28 Balls at Once…

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After completing the first draft of Linus Book 3 (working title: No Shoes No Service), I realised that it was time to get my head in the author game. That meant opening up accounts on stuff. LOTS of accounts.

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That’s something I’ve always dreaded for a few reasons:

1) I can’t remember most of my passwords (I have a plethora of them)

2) It’s time consuming and takes up time in which I could otherwise be writing or drawing or pretending to do both.

3) Does anyone really need multiple venues to check on me and see how I’m doing?

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Well, I finally took a deep breath and leaped off that cliff for one reason which was more important than the others:

My business life can not be the same as my personal life. The fact that I have a business life is a new and foreign idea to me, and one that happened gradually, but there we go. There’s a very fuzzy line right now between friends and colleagues, and I like that for the most part, but what about the future? I have kids, I have obligations to their privacy and protection. I’m also starting to miss out on business opportunities because I don’t look professional enough. For some reason there’s this funny idea that you can’t talk about family and work in the same place. 

Is it hard? Yes.

Is it time consuming? Hell yes. I had to look up all these Forrest Gump photos!

Does it need to be done? VERY yes.

So there we go. I’ll do my very best not to fall off the posting and update wagon, though I suspect my fervor will peter out. Whether anyone reads these will be the ultimate deciding factor. But I’m nervous/excited/nervouscited about this new step into professionalism.

God have mercy on my soul.

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(Imagaes are property of Paramount Pictures. I do not own the rights to them.)