The last two years have been a combination of beautiful moments and dark times in my life. The beauty has come from my marriage, being the best man at my best friend’s wedding, and the adoption of a wonderful dog and cat who complete our family. The dark stems from my ongoing battle with depression. The bouts have gotten more frequent and deeper in intensity. Let’s examine the past and what is around the corner in my life:
When my wife and I were dating, I was an up-and-comer in my career. I was in my mid to late 20s, in a top ten market within my field of work, and damn well sure that I would continue my way up the food chain with relative ease. I was a self taught natural at my task of choice, using unorthodox thinking to get the job done. Compliments from my superiors came in on a regular basis. I felt on top of the world. There was no doubt in my mind that I could become one of the best if not the best at my task of choice on the planet. Perhaps I was arrogant and naive, but I definitely enjoyed my success.
I traded in my trusty Ford Mustang to buy a bright red Porsche convertible. It was a symbol of my success and a blast to cruise around in. Growing up, my family always had boring yet dependable vehicles. There was a Pontiac Grand Am, Toyota Camry, Toyota Yaris, even a lowly Geo Metro. These were all substance over style. I had obtained substance and style, a reflection of my successes and growing ego. The Porsche, humorously nicknamed the Apple Rocket by my wife, was older and well used. The dashboard was cracked, the seats were falling apart. It didn’t matter because I had it made in life.
While I was at the top of my game a sweeping change began at my workplace. The next position up the food chain, which was my target, was moving away from being technical in favor of ease of use. Unfortunately for myself, the appeal of the job was the technical difficulty involved. Those technical aspects of that job actually shifted down to my current position. At first I was thrilled, as the combination of my two favorite duties were now rolled together as one. I could have happily stayed in that position for years. I had the joy of teaching all of my peers how the new duties were to be done, every one of them learned from scratch admirably. Unfortunately I wasn’t to join them in enjoying the new ways of the job.
Soon after I trained my peers, multiple people left their positions at the job I had been aiming to get promoted to. Due to my technical knowledge, the department leaned on me to fill in for the shifts. Doing so took a toll on me in two ways: I was now filling in for a position that had lost all of it’s appeal to me due to the lack of challenge; I had much less time with my then fiancee. It was a raw deal all around. Months went by where I was exhausted all the time, barely seeing my fiancee and resenting my work situation. I felt as if I were buried in quicksand. I was working fifty to sixty hours per week doing duties that failed to challenge me in any way. I pleaded with my superiors to catch a break, but was left out to dry. After a few months the overtime slowed and I was offered a promotion to receive the title of what I had been doing.
I felt so trapped at this point that I accepted the promotion. It was frankly joyless. The increase in pay was nice to have, but I had passed the point of no return. I had the title that I had been seeking, but all of the challenges had been stripped away. The job continued to evolve for the worse after I took the promotion. After losing all of the technical challenges, we were tasked with policing our co-workers. Documenting their mistakes, all in the name of “cleaning up the product”. Co-workers who once praised my works now cringed when I came to speak with them. They assumed that I was about to point out what they had done wrong, prior to documenting the mistake. Being a “creative soul”, this was as far from fulfillment as possible. Mistakes are bound to happen, and can lead to breakthroughs and progress. They shouldn’t be demonized and documented to hold against people. To this day I still cringe as I point out and document people’s mistakes.
One thing I have learned about myself within the past few years is that I crave creative projects. I need to have one going on at all times, something to ponder during quiet moments and sleep. When I was going through the deepest depression, all of my projects had been put on hold. I was at a low point, avoiding writing and drawing. I felt a numb indifference all the time. My guitars hadn’t seen even semi-regular use in a few years’ time. They finally hung next to my bed after months of my wife suggesting that I should have them in plain view rather than hidden in a closet. Eventually I got her point and started writing a song.
I am terrible at completing tasks. My to-do lists are always halfway complete. I have a tendency to restart a video game rather than continue on once mistakes have been made, for example. Of course despite starting playing the guitar on and off since turning 18, I had never completed a song. With my creative outlet at work well behind me, I figured I’d give it a shot. There was no need to play it for anyone unless I really cared to. So I wrote. And wrote more the next day. On and on. Within a week I had written and recorded a song front to back. A long time goal attained. Confidence boosted. I’m currently working on two more songs and will be releasing a three song demo once they are ready.
I’m getting my swagger back, a day at a time.