Monday, November 17, 2014

on being fired and cleansed of some self-doubt.

The job fell out of the sky and into my lap. It seemed stupid to reject opportunity, and I am glad that I took it. I learned important things about my (gag) "new normal" as it is right now, about what I want for my existence right now. The job left as swiftly as it appeared, and after a few days of existential crisis dotted with pools of ennui I am relieved.

For certain people, that was a dream opportunity. A foot in the door at the most technologically-advanced stop-motion animation studio. Regardless of the endless low-rung grunt work, it is a good gig for the right person. Someone whose sights are set on a career in animation or film. The pay is good, the people are mostly awesome, the setting is regularly jaw-dropping thanks to the thick concentration of talent employed there. It's not my opportunity. Partly because I still have chemo brain moments where the synapses fire the wrong way and I don't remember if I am coming or going, or think I have done something just because it happened three previous days in a row. Partly because I don't care if I work in animation. Animation and film are the extended families of theatre, writing, and fine arts, but they are not the parts of the family where I belong. I like to design sets for the stage,  paint trees/skies/dreamy scenes, write short stories and poems/prose and letters. Yes, those things have a role in animation when there are puppets and massive set pieces at work, but my ambition is not to work for a studio, no matter how cool a job that might be. So when I was "asked to resign" to make room for someone who can get along with the corporate aspects of the place, who had ambitions to be an animator, I didn't take it personally.

I was hard on myself for a couple days, not for the rejection but because there was a time that I had enough drive and just the right amount of self-deprication to flagellate my spirit in order to be a rockstar at work. I had an incredible capacity for a wide spread of attention, a desire to be at the top of the heap, a brutal eye for detail. It hurts that some of these have softened or changed. The adjustments that have happened to my personality take time to recognize and embrace. I am constantly updating the list of what I can do and what I need to let go, and there is a lot to reconcile. I chased an opportunity because I swore I would say yes when opportunities appeared, but in doing so I had to let go of my resolution to live a full, satisfying, present life. So I am relieved to be let go.

There are ways in which I lead a blessed existence. Not the least of which is my intimate, reliable network of close friends and family. I was mortified and nervous telling people I had been canned, but a truly healing thing happened: I fell and was caught in a net of loving arms. I didn't want to tell them I had failed, but I did and was met with, "is it really failure? You tried something that sounded promising, and it wasn't a good fit. Breathe now and be kind to yourself." There have been hard whole years recently, harder than what a lot of people ever have to face and the people who love me most dearly have seen that and watched me creep away from cancer like a whisper, shoot into my new life like a cannon, and won't let me see this as a set-back if I don't also appreciate it as a nudge in a different direction.

"I'm sorry this happened, I'm sorry you're sad, but you are kickass and I know it won't stop you," said my mom.
"I'm proud of you for giving it a go, and I know you will find the right thing. Be easy on yourself," said my dad.
"Now you are free! Follow your heart!" Said a best friend.
"Take a beat. Don't rush into anything out of fear or frustration. Make art," said my love.
"All I want is to paint. All I want is to run into the woods and take photographs. All I want is time to write when my brain is most fertile," said me.

The next step is no grand thing, no demanding 9-5 or foodstuff job. The next step is to breathe and do what I set out to do at the start of summer: paint, draw, write, adventure. This life is ephemeral. This life is what I fought for, and not to be squandered feeling inadequate and impotent. The letdown of being fired lifts and the gift beneath is the chance to do exactly what I want to be doing. And so I have committed the rest of 2014 to writing and making art, exploring and adventuring, nurturing my relationships. My new life is mine again.

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