Don’t Believe Everything That You Read (You get a parking violation and a maggot on your sleeve)

Years ago, I wrote an eBook titled, “How to Find a Job Online.” At the time, I was unemployed.

To be clear, I never said it was guaranteed to get you a job. My intent was simply to provide people with an understanding of how to use the internet to find jobs. Fifteen years later, and many computers and backups later, and I’ve lost the eBook. I’ve even tried using the ‘Wayback Internet Time Machine” but I fear it’s lost to the ages. It’s probably for the best.

When I wrote it, I was not a writer. I was an engineer. Trained by the Air Force on telecommunications systems, I had been plying my trade as a telecom engineer around the country as a contractor. I had also started doing some technical writing, then writing training manuals (for the things I was teaching others how to use).

Then the bust layed a big egg on mine, and a whole lot of other people’s lives. I was out of work for months. But, I had already been using online job boards, successfully, to find contract work, so I put all my efforts into helping others do the same–all while looking for a job myself.

Eventually, my wife convinced me to go back to college and pursue something other than engineering, which was not only out of favor at the moment in the job market, but it was not something I enjoyed terribly much.

I went back to college; got my B.S. in Communications, and my life has been better ever since (at least until Covid-19).

Like many people, I use LinkedIn. I use it, not because I like it or because I have some deep-seated need to brag to my peers. I use it because it’s a necessary evil. The interesting thing about LinkedIn is that it’s still just social media. Sure, the content is work-focused, but it’s still just a bunch of people pretending like their professional lives are perfect and that they’re all just normally-adjusted, rational beings. Which we all know is bunk.

Had LinkedIn existed back when I wrote my ebook, I would have, no doubt, changed my status to “Freelancer,” posted the eBook on Amazon and bragged all about it–along with a link to purchase it–right there on LinkedIn for all the world to see and admire.

And it would have been a big, fat lie. I have to keep reminding myself that, if I considered doing it, others HAVE done it and are doing it. I know the stories behind some people’s meteoric rise to fame. I know their personal lives. I know their work habits and peculiarities. I know that their professional lives are nowhere near as glamorous as they pretend. Particularly now, when we’re all scared to death of losing our jobs and what that might do to our finances and families. And that’s on top of existing fears around the pandemic and just coping with the new normal.

It’s easy to compare yourself to others online and think that you’ve come up short. To start questioning the choices you’ve made and to wonder “What if?”

Just remember, online is not reality. It’s what others want us to see. And that goes for the news as well.

Stay safe out there. Pray for yourself, your family, and our leaders. We will get through this.

I’d Have to Live to Be 92 for this to Be a Mid-Life Thing

I discovered Reddit several years ago. I started out just looking at Gifs, and then those mostly turned into people posting about their cats. So, I looked around and there are definitely some other good subs there.

One I found that I followed for a while is r/askmenover30.  There’s a plain “r/askmen” but most of the conversations there are about things that don’t even fly into my radar. I find the “over30” sub much more “my speed.”

But even that sub lately consists of many of the same types of post: “Anyone else here just generally dissatisfied with life?”

There are a LOT of these posts. So many that I barely even look at the sub anymore.

Casual observers would probably discount this as “mid-life crisis” posts, but the fact that they are so prevalent, and they generally all say the same things, is worth a minute.

Most of these posts include one or more of the following comments:

  • On the surface, I should be happy.
  • I have a good family, a decent job, and I’m in pretty good shape.
  • I don’t LIKE my job much.
  • My marriage is “meh”.
  • I don’t have many friends, or really ever have meaningful conversations with other people (read: other guys)
  • Is this all there is to life?

The sad thing is, I identify with nearly all of these. Life IS “meh”. I’ve given this no small amount of thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that yeah, that’s life. If you’re not happy, you can make the decision to change things, but know that it’s likely you’ll make someone very unhappy. Most transformational corrections don’t happen in a vacuum. Your big choices and changes WILL impact someone else and not always positively.

My wife once said to me, “You’re not stuck here you know.

I don’t know if I was more hurt by that statement, or relieved. Like my own dad, I have a pretty deep sense of responsibility and nothing short of my wife stabbing me in my sleep (or having an affair) would cause me to just up and leave. Even knowing that she has no desire for intimacy anymore (her words) isn’t enough to make me leave (the “or worse” part, remember?). Which means that I’m here. For better or worse, I’m here.

The bigger implication is that “No, your life–my life–probably isn’t going to change considerably for, what I’d consider “the better” any time soon. Maybe never.”

I saw this article the other day, “How to Be Mediocre and Be Happy With Yourself ” and I was both relieved that it’s OK not to be glamorously successful, and saddened that I’ve come to this place in my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I never wanted the glamorous life. I turned down opportunities at my last job to be highly visible. I even have “Professional Guy Behind the Guy” on my LinkedIn profile. But the fact that I’ve personally accepted this fact, is depressing on its own.

But yeah, “mediocre” is an apt description. Middling. Average. Fine. All good descriptors of how I feel most of the time.

But you know, only 30 more years of it, or so.