Posts Tagged ‘achievement’

Well folks, it’s been about a month since I walked away from Chadron State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Literature with a minor in music. I’ve done what few others in my family have managed to do. I should feel proud, shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t I feel like I’ve accomplished something?

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To be honest, rather than feeling accomplished, lately I’ve been feeling tired. It’s as if 4 years worth of determination and hard work emptied out of me and left my old bitter self behind. People ask me about grad school. People ask me about a career. I have no answers for them.

What I want to do is jump up on the table and scream at the top of my lungs: “I don’t fucking know, okay?! I’ve done nothing but take tests and write papers for the last 16 years of my life, so how the fuck am I supposed to have it all figured out? I don’t even know where I’ll be next Tuesday, let alone 5 goddamn years from now, so get off my fucking back!”

I don’t do that though. I mention writing. Getting a decent job. I say what I think will give me the least amount of pain in the ass explanations and lecturing. You’re told all through high school to go to college, that you’ll amount to nothing otherwise, make no living for yourself. You finish college and you get a slap on the back and a “well, that’s nice!”

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I’m tired of my efforts being seen as a “good start.” I’m tired of my band not being taken seriously or considered a priority. I’m tired of my writing being rejected by all but the same 2 publications. I’m tired of people having phones for the express purpose of ignoring them. I’m tired of classic literature, I’m tired of Jazz elitists, I’m tired of the ignorance of news media and conservative Christians, ladies and gentlemen, quite frankly I’ve had my fucking fill of the world today.

I told myself I would take this summer to work on my writing, and I haven’t. It’s completely my own fault. I discovered a bad habit that I’ve taken on. I only “feel like” writing when I’m in a shitty mood. This is pretty counterintuitive to wanting to be able to write every day. My guitar sits lonely in the corner because I feel like picking it up, trying to learn something new with it is just a wasted effort. I’m going to be disappointed in the results, be them from me or from others.

Maybe I’m just bitching. Maybe I’m just in a funk. Is post-grad depression a thing? I don’t intend on feeling this way forever. Frustration isn’t a good look on me. Do I feel like shit because I haven’t done anything new, or have I not done anything new because I feel like shit?

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Frustratio

TED Talks, to me, have always been sort of a recipient of my love-hate complex. I love listening to the stories of people with remarkable professions, how they got there, what that entails, and I love hearing innovative ideas that inspire. On the flip side, I hate the hallowed ground that TED Talks tread on. People walk away inspired, but often do nothing to change their lives or improve the world. They simply feel revitalized in a brighter, better future in the hands of all of these geniuses, and continue with business as usual. To me, that isn’t enough. To change things, feeling good about yourself isn’t enough, sorry to say.

It was difficult to find a TED Talk that was willing to go against the grain. When it came to ones with popular appeal, I found only 3. One by Sam Hyde, where he intentionally lied about the subject of his talk and trolled the audience for 20 minutes, one by Benjamin Bratton, where he rather viciously tears down our fetishization of ideas, and finally, one my Neale Martin, where has emphasizes that for TED Talks to matter, the inspiration we feel has to come to action to mean anything.

Your Brain on TED Talks

Martin, a former alcohol and drug counselor, focuses most of his talk on why our conscious brain has a difficult time turning our unconscious thoughts into actions. The conscious brain is lazy, easily distracted, and easily tired out. He says, as I’ve been saying since the class began, ideas aren’t enough. It isn’t enough to be inspired. It isn’t enough to want to do something. Something has to be done.

Martin dedicates the first half of his talk to describing how our human brains have evolved up from primitive, dinosaur-era simian brains, to our squishy, lazy, social-media driven ones that find us bored when travelling 65mph in a steel bullet. Besides his all-important assertions that inspiration and ideas aren’t enough to make change, Martin does make one other main point that I feel is equally important.

Photo CC- by pee vee, and life won’t wait

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Emotional Response is the Only Response

We’re taught from a young age to disconnect emotional thinking from logical thinking. Logical thinking is considered superior: we are able to look objectively at a problem and assess it properly without the cloud of human emotion in the way. We make emotional decisions when it’s gut-check time, when our hormones and involuntary responses get the better of us. Right?

According to Martin, wrong. Your emotions tell you what’s important. Your emotions give your logical list of things an order of importance. If you make no emotional connection with something, you will not remember it. Martin says that when we combine emotion with logic, we get the human-specific capacity of judgment. Martin asserts that making a decision without including emotion is nigh but impossible, and that that’s alright. He claims that it isn’t our fault we have such a hard time adhering to diets, New Year’s Resolutions, and new habits – our conscious brain is simply too easy to sway. We get tired, we get hungry, and all “logical” thinking capacity is thrown away.

Trouble in Paradise

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I did have a few problems with Martin’s talk, particularly toward the end when he’s describing how to turn goals into habits. At this point in the talk, it begins to feel like just any other TED Talk. We’re being given a “how to do this in -BLANK- easy steps!” list that many probably won’t remember, and won’t abide by. It’s in this particular instance that I would prefer Benjamin Bratton’s crass, rude delivery. Bratton seems like kind of a jerk, but his self-assurance and condescending tone make you pay attention. Anger is a great motivator.

Still, at the end of the day, I think Martin has a great point. Discipline is the only way we can change behavior. To do that, though, we have to care about more than a good idea. Only we’ve got the power to do more than just be inspired.

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