Monday, March 13, 2017

Being Good at Everything, but Great at Nothing

Photo: Jim O'Connor (@obsidiandreams)

I was hoping to have some good news to share in the coming weeks but sadly that's not the case. Some of you already know this, so before I'm asked again what I've been up to and whatnot, I'll just say it here: There was an interdisciplinary graduate school program in Japan that I had been longing to enroll in, and I wasn't accepted. It's not really a shock to me; I was already prepared for the possibility, but it unlocked a wave of depression and low confidence that I've been feeling for years. During the application process, I had a nagging feeling that maybe I wasn't cut out for graduate school, and at the same time, maybe grad school wasn't for me. The more I thought about paying thousands of dollars to possibly become overeducated and even poorer, the less it appealed to me.

Photo: Luis Zapata

So not being accepted into that particular program wasn't what hurt. Rejection hurt. I've been silently rejecting myself for years, because I am a realist. Most people consider my talents worthy of appreciation and a smile--but not money. That's why I would try to tell myself that I was "doing things for fun and for myself." I'm good enough for myself but unfortunately I can't pay myself a living wage. I tried translating for a community that's been begging for translations, yet not a single person offered me even a donation for what I produced. Someone offered me $5 to translate an entire comic, and when I told her what I would and wouldn't translate for free, she happily asked me to translate only what she wouldn't have to pay for. I could go on and on about this but I'd rather not because it's not going to change anything. Right now I am an (intentionally!) unemployed mess who is tempted to feel like she made tons of big mistakes these past two years. The truth is that, behind all of these cosplay and modeling photos and blog posts about a country I once lived in, is a lot of sadness and pain. I've cried myself into a headache and a panic attack over the weekend and I'm crying again as I write this now. While I haven't been diagnosed with depression, I've felt for a very long time that something in my brain wasn't working correctly. I have a tendency to try to do too much at once. My attention span is very low and I find myself with a plan the night before but doing something else as soon as I wake up. I'm a "Jack of All Trades, Master of None." I can give you a long list of things I know about: I can teach ESL; I'm terrible talking to a camera but I'm great at talking to an audience; I can make my own costumes and props (to my satisfaction); I have basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, a lot of which is self-taught; I can draw; I have years of experience with Photoshop; I know Japanese language and culture; I have experience modeling; I've been complimented frequently on how I do my own makeup even though I've never taken a lesson or watched a tutorial all the way through; I know more about computers and technology than the average user. But I have no true expertise in any of these things, and I have no idea which one of these things is the correct one to pursue. The only thing I'm really good at is being me.



I avoided anything competitive because I was afraid of losing and being seen as "not good enough," even if I felt on the inside that I WAS good enough. I shunned popularity but craved it at the same time--not because I wanted attention or for people to like me, but because I thought that popularity was a sign that I was on the right path as someone who is artistic at heart. Yet I don't feel like I've grown--in fact, I feel like I've become worse. I willingly gave up teaching and living in my dream country of Japan to take a chance for once, because I long felt like I was on the "safe" route in life. I convinced my amazing, loving parents to support me while I take a risky, unpopular path in life and I feel like I've failed them miserably. Everything up until now came naturally, and now that I'm on my own, I feel lost. I feel like someone took the training wheels off my bike and I found out that I CAN'T ride a bicycle after all (if you know anything about my teaching experience in Japan you'd know that I have quite a bit of experience riding one). It feels like I'm on the edge between "getting by" and "failure." I've been watching my friends working hard and having fun and accomplishing so many things, and I feel like I'm being left behind. I don't know exactly what to do--I have been working on figuring that out every day--but one thing I cannot allow myself to do is to give up.

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