4 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Years

It’s my 3-year anniversary at my job, so here is some advice I have upon reflecting that passing of time. This draws from some of my own experiences, and from a few other friends in similar positions as I.

Be mindful of supportive, but neutral people.

There are certain people, maybe those in Talent Development (if your company has that) or maybe even HR, or just upper management that you’ll want to go to for advice. It’s important to remember that, while they seem and usually are supportive of you, often times they are also quite neutral, neither rooting for nor against you, per se. They aren’t out to get you…but they also aren’t on your side exactly either, so much as they are looking at the best interests of the company. No one at your place of work automatically is championing you, and no one is obligated to be, even if they agree to meet with you or offer some friendly advice in the moment. Which is why it’s so, so important to find people who are–allies, mentors, managers who you can speak to confidently and confidentially to assess things and seek advice from. Some times, HR just has so many people to deal with that they will feed you lines just to have something to say. They’ll make a lateral move seem like a good strategy because the company is too small and they don’t know what else to do when there’s no upward mobility and morale is low. This applies more if you’re in a less specialized area like management versus an artist or technical role. Know what is safe to include and leave out of conversations depending on who that person is and what role they occupy.

It sounds paranoid to tell you to be mindful or how much you share or think you can trust different people at your job just because they are polite and offer advice. You just really need to know who is in your corner. I’ve personally gotten too comfortable with the wrong people in the wrong situations and have had it negatively affect me, and a lot of the above are things I’ve heard from others in similar positions.

Listen to the older people in your department.

I’m lucky to work in a department who have people who used to work in 2D animation, way-back-when, at places like Disney. They’ve got the stories. That being said, they are also the ones whose advice I find most valuable. And when people who have been in the industry for 20 years (and much more) and seen it change so much, you listen. When someone who is 40 years old warns you that the opportunities that they thought would come to them after years of hard work never came to them, you take note. You see them now trying to make things for themselves, start asking for things, and you heed their advice sincerely when they say “don’t be me in 20 years.” It’s eye opening and humbling.

Perception is everything, unfortunately.

In so many aspects of life, image is what drives people. While we all wish life was a proper meritocracy, there’s a fair amount of bureaucracy to wade through. This is especially true when you’re at a smaller company. Word travels fast, whether or not it’s true. People who don’t know you at all will think they know you based on a one-sided 20 minute conversation. People will gather in rooms to discuss your future without your input, will misinterpret a comment you made, will make you feel uncomfortable with being yourself and open about your passions. You show interest in something not 100% related to your career path and suddenly you’re not committed. You’ll notice people who seem unaffected by these things, and others who the goalposts are constantly being moved around for. Regardless of intentions or future plans, it’s important to act the part. It’s disheartening when you are sincerely invested and it isn’t seen that way.

Side projects are important.

Even at the world’s greatest job you will have bad days. Even if you are working at your dream job or dream company you will have bad days. It can be dangerous, as an animation fan, to work in animation. It’s sort of like the idea of never meeting your idols. See get to see how the sausage gets made, but you may not be able to stomach the process at times. Which is why I think and am learning myself how important side projects are. That being said, depending on the type of side project you have, you want to keep it on lockdown, or else perception issues will likely arise.

But it’s important to remember that your job or career is not your life. It should not define you. I say that knowing fully well that that’s not even accurate, at least in the US. We do put a lot of emphasis on our identity being tied to our career (just start up a conversation with anyone at a bar or party and the first thing after name is “what do you do?”). You just need something else, be it an escape or the thing you really want to do. There’s nothing wrong with working a job you’re not as passionate about (but still perform well at) in order to support yourself in other ways.

I hope these don’t sound negative so much as honest, solid, and helpful.

It’s been crazy for me to realize that it’s already been so long that I’ve been at Blue Sky. The last five years of my life have not really felt like mine yet. My time at SVA feels like a blur, like I witnessed it through the eyes of a totally different person. And I don’t even mean that in an “I’ve changed so much you wouldn’t recognize me” sort of way so much as things kept happening so fast, things went from high highs to low lows so frequently that all I could really do was hold on and worry about processing it later. Still downloading…

8 Things I Failed at in 2016

Some times with social media, people present a clean-cut version of themselves. It’s not necessarily a lie so much as a high-light reel ignoring the blunders. Y’all have seen the thousands of think-pieces about this. But there are some good things, like #TotallyHonestTuesday and hilarious photos people will post of themselves with a really nice selfie next to their worst/most unflattering/silliest face. Like any blogger, I’ve done my share of overindulgent pats on the back. Conversely though, I think that I’m pretty safe on here when it comes to the shit things in life, and the same goes for Twitter. Because this administration year has been such a rage fest for me on social media, I actually deleted a bunch of apps, including Facebook, from my phone. I rarely posted/post personal things on Facebook anyway, instead opting to overshare many a WaPo or Vox article that my conservative family will ignore. Instagram can be a little dangerous in terms of my only showing the good (and delicious), but I sort of justify it since I’ve got this blog to show all dem unflattering angles. Also the 1 Second Everyday I made of 2016 was a good mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve built up a world where it’s not okay to fail, and that’s just not how life works. Failure is all around us, and it’s crucial to growth. I think part of that is the weight we place on the word. A failure can be a simple trial and error that you immediately find the right answer to after the first mistake, a non-issue, or, sure, it can be a giant thing with actual repercussions. Regardless, it’s an often necessary step in any process.

That being said, I think it’s important to talk about failure. I think it’s important especially being an American, and having been steeped in a culture of results, of “America first” rhetoric, where we did indeed get participation trophies (that none of us asked for or expected, but whatever, parents/Boomers). God sports are the worst. I just wanted to take karate, man.

Anywho, I thought it might be embarrassing enlightening to take a look at some things I set out to do in 2016 and just totally dropped the ball on, for one reason or another, and maybe help that inform what is left of this year.


Continue reading “8 Things I Failed at in 2016”

Mice, Pee, and Sleep Deprivation

That title sounds a lot more interesting than this post will be, but here we go.

I’ve been struggling for some reason, struggling to fall asleep. I guess I probably have to blame the holiday we had in the US at the start of the month…though even when I think about that, I was in another country and was still managing to go to sleep at a decent time. And it was only to Montreal (Canada) which is the same time zone as me. So that’s a pretty debunked theory. To be honest, there was probably some night where I was out all day, either from watching a movie or recording a podcast and didn’t get home until midnight and then still needed to unwind and decompress and so I stayed up late and I haven’t been able to kick the habit and now it’s 1:40am.

I tried to just go to sleep, but even before I welcomed the blue light of death from my laptop I was wide awake. The boyfriend and I enjoyed a day where we left work at a normal time and…then I dragged us to the library. He’s got homework from an online class and I have a script for Animation Complex that I’ve been working on for literally like two months that I’ve finally had a breakthrough of sorts on. So we powered through. Library closes at 9, headed home and cooked one of our Blue Apron meals1 2 and by then it was 10. Still a solid 1.5 hours to work (factoring .5 for hygiene and whatnot, y’all)  before 12, when I usually go to sleep. I’m pretty good about switching off electronics a half hour before bed, trying to get it up to an hour, but again, it sort of sucks when you only just get home past 11 and there’s still stuff you want to do as well as boring domestic stuff you need to do.

I’ve been way better at managing the time I have…when I have it…which isn’t often…which is fine until it’s not fine. It’s fine until you grow resentful. Which is why I cling to my weekends so desperately, and tend to consider weeknights a loss. I really do need to rework that. Part of it are little things that are unavoidable like my slightly-longer-than-wanted commute, which is a compromise to live in a city that I both adore and can afford.

What does this have to do with mice and pee?

As I was leaving the library today, I made my way back to the parking garage a block away. When I rounded the corner to enter the concrete labyrinth, I was startled by a small mouse running past my feet–practically on top of them–from a patch of grass to a small hole where two slabs of sidewalk overlapped to create a perfect mouse hole tucked away. Mice don’t freak me out. I used to have a pet mouse actually. But any sort of wildlife excites me.3 I’d much rather explore a cove filled with snails, crabs, oysters, and hermit crabs than go hiking, or walk around a swamp looking for turtles and egrets. The highlight of being dragged hiking to Bear Mountain is the small zoo with animals that are either in rehab or permanently unable to return to the wild, like the adorable 3-legged fox.4

I stopped dead in my tracks and followed the mouse until it disappeared. I was SO excited, like, sincerely thrilled to see a small sampling of wildlife in a populous downtown, especially in a dang parking garage. I was so impressed with the little one, but my Eliza Thornberry bubble was immediately popped by my less than enthused boyfriend. This is not a dig at him though. I get it–it was late, his brain was fried from the day job followed by more work, and we hadn’t eaten in eight hours. BUT A MOUSE!!!

It didn’t help that the stairwell inexplicably5 smelled like pee. Human pee. Very strongly. BUT A MOUSE!?!

Hey, if our human noses are absolute shit, imagine how that poor mouse felt. I think that’s what I appreciated about that moment. Well two things.

1. The fact that two people can get two VERY different takes on a moment:

1a. I optimistically saw the mouse’s determination to survive in full force as it flourished in a seeminly unlivable environment. To be honest, I was immediately reminded of my favorite episode of The Magic Schoolbus, a…season four episode, I believe6 where the students are all transformed into animals and they learn about how different animals have adapted to survive in urban environments. To be fair, it was also my favorite because three of the kids turn into foxes and like, foxes are my jam.

Boom found a clip:

1b. The bf on the other hand, was totally skeeved out that this nasty wasteland of a parking garage he had to pay to store his car in had mice AND smelled like pee.

2. Two is the same as point 1a, but it’s my take on the situation and therefore the correct one and thusly I wanted to focus on it. Animals survive with so, so little, especially when you factor in how much humans have taken away from them.

It makes me want to survive better on what little time that I have. If it takes a few minutes in a stinky stairwell looking at a mouse that’s no doubt young, scrappy and hungry7 to remind me of that than GOOD. I’m grateful.

Please enjoy this video clip of an elementary school teacher feeding her students literal garbage:

It’s now 2:15am. Good night.8

1 Delicious shrimp po’ boys
2 I should really do a post about my experience with them…
3 Except squirrels, seagulls, and Canadian geese. Fuck those guys.
4 Car accident
5 Not that I want an explanation, christ.
6 I know it’s season 4 because I re-watched that whole show on Netflix. Fight me.
7 #YayHamlet
8 Told ya this was a shit post. But at least it wasn’t a shitpost. </nerd>

A Response to Privilege

I was casually scrolling through the dumpster fire that is my FaceBook feed this morning can came across a post someone made sharing this video:

“So the lesson is that some people are born into better circumstances than others? That’s not profound, it’s banal. It’s also not exactly hidden to people with this ‘privilege’. It’s also not as important as making good life choices and applying yourself.”

“Is it my fault that over the course of 3 generations my family has moved from peasantry to the 1%?”

“I do not, in fact, accept any obligation to people born in the ghetto or otherwise in difficult circumstances.”

“”Privilege” is merely the latest progressive update on “original sin”.”

And some attempts at a discussion:

“No. you just have to be aware that for some people it is much harder to achieve your standard of living and help to accommodate those who cannot quite reach that level.

“Privilege in this context just means you have certain advantages in life that you may not even be aware of. It’s only a problem when you start blaming others for not succeeding as well as you when they don’t have those advantages. This kind of privilege is something to be grateful for and humble about.
The more traditional version of privilege is “private law.” That’s where you use your wealth and power to make sure that the law for commoners doesn’t apply to you. Because you’re better and deserve to get away with stuff. That’s the territory you stray toward when you get arrogant about your advantages.”

And more negative responses to those statements:

“It’s only a problem when you start blaming others for not succeeding as well as you when they don’t have those advantages. The real problem is the reverse. I don’t see many people asking the government to put a tax on poor people. I do see a lot of demands by ‘disadvantaged’ folk to take what is earned by others.”

I started writing a massive text response (which I will be reproducing below) and I had a moment where I balked–these people won’t change their minds just from my argument, surely not if they are capable of saying such things as listed above. I spoke with my friend who also felt that, while intentions were good, I was mostly doing it for myself (which is valid and probably the reason we get into such comment fights). These people did not seem like the type of people that I could have an actual discourse with, if they seemed to lack any empathy or self-awareness to…frankly…how privileged they sounded.

I think a lot of the ideas of being mindful of privilege have been reduced purely to wealth in this thread, but that’s only one part of it.
Continue reading “A Response to Privilege”