I hate confrontation.
Most people aren't fond of confrontation, it seems too close to conflict. Someone's feelings could get hurt, and we all avoid that. People know me as a low key person, and that's true, I'm very nonconfrontational. The exception being if you’re someone I know on a deep level, or you’re a complete stranger that I don’t plan on seeing again. Maybe that’s one of those “all extremes are the same” things. In either case, you’ll get to see my anger problem.
An anger problem, at least in my case, isn't just an anger problem; it's an expression problem, and it affects all of my emotions. Anger is just the quickest to identify when it goes off the rails. Expressing anger is a healthy part of being human. Learning how to do it in a way that’s healthy, however, is very, very tricky. If love is blind, then anger is blind, deaf and mute. It has no interest in reason, being proactive about your situation, or doing damage control. When I’m angry, I want heads to roll.
That’s the reason I avoid confrontation. Even if I’m right and have perfectly valid, rational objections to what’s going wrong, the words I'll pick are pure emotional bile. It’s a phoenix in the fireplace. For the most part, that beast is contained and can even be wielded in my favor, acting as a kind of makeshift confidence I use when my own sense of self worth is lacking. Every once in awhile it blows out of control, then shrinks to ashes while I’m left to sweep up the pieces and rebuild.
It’s not a matter of if, only when, I lose it.
The world is full of complex people with problems of their own, and I'm not breaking any boundaries by having them myself. For the most part, we keep our emotions within socially acceptable range, but once in awhile, something or someone gets under our skin.
That's where I am now. It is a small and insignificant situation to anyone other than myself. For me, it's a frustrating waste of my energy. I find my own behavior childish, and despite the fact that I know better, I simply haven't figured out how to *be* better. There's an interesting correlation to being and behavior; one showcases the other. Having an intellectual nature doesn't stop you from being human or having human emotions. I haven't figured out how to bridge the gap; I can know how my actions differ from my rationale, but I can't align them. When I try, I feel more like a liar than when I'm genuinely lying to someone, does that make sense?
Maybe that goes back to the idea of belief; that a liar wants the victim to believe it. I don't really care if you believe my lies or honesty. I had to come to that in order to deal with my own life. But to try and behave in a way that doesn't align to the way I am as a human being, that feels like a dishonesty I want you to believe; that I want to believe. I haven't reconciled that yet, so that's just going to hang here.
I’m emotionally reactive about everything. If laughter is spontaneous and involuntary, so are my tears and insults. I think I come off as a relatively placid person because I have spent so much time trying to smuggle my time bomb around casually and leave before it goes off.
I only really started noticing this boiling behavior when I looked at it in terms of depression. Depression can keep you in a kind of stasis for a while, and likewise, you can contain it. Much like our firebird, that tidal wave can only be dammed for so long before it spills out into everything.
The only benefit I've ever had from having anger is that occasionally, it becomes a powerful motivator. My first ex told me I wasn't funny. For that matter, so did Jay. Friends of mine who I can't (or don't, to be fair) talk to have had all sorts of opinions about me and what I'm capable of, what I look like, and so on. Being competitive with my older brothers taught me how to harness those criticisms and make them an advantage.
There's other sources for that advantage though, namely encouragement.
So here's the thing about motivation from either source. Self awareness plays a pretty big role, as well as having a pretty good grip on how people perceive you. In terms of spite, you're proving people wrong. In reacting to encouragement, you're proving them right. Whether or not the person talking to you understands that is completely on them. How you handle it is on you.
About a year into comedy, I had hit the point that I think every new comic does where you start doubting if anyone is going to notice you're there. There's a lot to say about that, but I have to save it unless this post wants to turn into a novel. What I will say is that I had encouragement, not flattery. I had a comic I respected tell me I was "consistent". That doesn't say anything about how funny my material was, but it indicated that my efforts weren't being wasted.
There's nothing wrong with telling someone that they've got this if they keep trying. You don't need to blow smoke up their ass and say that they're already great, or that they're ahead of their time, that kind of bullshit. You don't even have to lie and say you like something that you don't, or tell them they have potential if you're honestly not sure they do. In fact, don't do that. You're hurting them more than "hurting the scene" because they can't get better if they're going off of purposeful misdirection in order to spare their feelings.
I highly recommend aiming for encouraging someone to be better over getting them to change out of spite; it's just more constructive and has a much lower risk of negatively impacting someone who's suicidal, which is very common in creative fields if not especially in comedy.
But even if encouragement is ideal, that doesn't make anger, spite, or negative drives disappear. I’m not really sure how to release my internal squall so it doesn’t consume me, but I think the healthiest thing to do with my anger is actually to force confrontation. The trick here is only to be confrontational when I also have empathy for the other person. If I can genuinely feel for the other person, even if I believe they’re in the wrong, I’m much less likely to go for their guts.
This has been a learning process, and I often miscalculate. I don’t realize how mean the words coming out of my mouth sound until they’re circling in the air like vultures. I’ve never been physically intimidating, and when I was bullied as a kid, I learned how to come up with words cruel enough to weaken a fist. I learned how to be the loudest not in volume, but in impact.
When I tried to stop that drive to insult as an adult,I forced myself to wait things out until I figured out how to say what I wanted to. Putting things off led to me not wanting to say anything at all, because I’d burned out for the time being and didn't feel like it.
Someone told me to express my feelings when I had them even if I didn’t have words to, which is both the best and most difficult advice I’ve ever tried to apply in my life. Verbal talons are only one side of having an anger problem; ironically, the other is the difficulty of expressing myself with words at all. It’s tough to formulate a calm, rational argument when there aren’t words in your head, just little pictures of explosions and war footage you’ve seen.
There is no “right time” to say you’re upset, and it makes very little sense to finally verbalize it when you don’t feel it. I get that this conflicts with the idea of “cooler heads prevail”, but cooler heads may not care, or diminutize the issue, or worse, dismiss it entirely. If you never address your anger, you’ll never really be controlling it. The misguided advice of “just let it go” is a platitude people tend to use without realizing that if you want to let an experience go, you have to experience it.
Sometimes I can’t do better in the moment than closing my eyes and telling the other person, “I’m Upset.”
I consider that basic sentence a huge leap forward from being able to look someone dead in the eye during the same rage and coolly saying, “Even when you’re trying your hardest, you’re still a fucking failure.”
I’m no longer looking to attack people when I confront them, and I think that’s why I’ve grown more comfortable doing it. As a result, even if it ends up being a long conversation, uncomfortably public or otherwise inconvenient. The opposite of Anger is kindness, but kindness doesn't mean you have to be nice.
Kindness comes from the root words for "kinship". The roots for "nice" are similar to that for "naive". Being kind to an angry person is expressing patience, not putting up with their bullshit.
I’m convinced that feelings are, and will almost always be, inconvenient. That’s sort of why they pop up, it’s your way of expressing your “being” in the moment. You have to recognize what it means to express yourself and attempt to be aware of why. Asking yourself why will teach you a lot. Trying to be more confrontational is my way of tending the fire. Maybe if I take care of it consistently, it’s less likely to blow out and leave ashes where some of my friendships used to be.
I never thought it would be easy, but the hardest part of trying to being...whatever it is I'm trying to be, is figuring out how. I've been going through some freelance blogs and found some slim pickings in terms of writing gigs, but at the moment, I've fallen into the same whole that hopelessly in debt college students usually do; experience is always required.
I've also come across the pitfall of accepting jobs that simply don't feasibly pay enough for the amount of work they require, but more on that later. I've only been at this a couple weeks and haven't really made enough to be even halfway stable. Admittedly though, I've only put in half the effort I thought I would be, because the other half of me is just amazed at how much better I feel now that I'm not working. My energy is up, my mood is more level, and I write prolifically, both for these silly little odd jobs and for myself. That's all I could really ask for.
I'm not really sure what I'm doing, and I know for a fact I'm making some big mistakes, first and foremost would be the selling myself short thing. Since this is my blog, however, I figured I'd keep track of what I've tried, what's worked and what's been a waste of time. Maybe that can inspire others, or maybe you have some pointers for me. Either way. This is the end of Week 1.
Strategy : Donation
This is first on here because I've been hoping to figure this out for awhile, but I haven't had a lot of luck. Admittedly, I don't "advertise" this much. I think that falls back on my idea of a job being what people can "get out of me" versus a hobby being something "I get something from". It's hard to consider this a job because how much I love doing it.
I would never set up a crowdfunding campaign simply because I don't know what the return to investors would be. That being said, offering a donation to this site helps keep OdDmosis ad free, supports the graphic novel, cartoons and articles that are here; ideally, in that sense you're paying for the content. If every weekly visitor donated $4, My rent would be paid strictly through this project. You can do that by clicking the above picture of my crippling debt. Or not. I honestly won't know the difference.
Strategy : Comedy
Paradoxically, I make the most money through this, but not enough to make a living off of. Between booking and running shows, this (for the self-employed moment) IS my only "steady" income. Ideally, I'll figure out how to make it my real income, which would mean I wouldn't have to run this site for donation or pressure myself with low income freelance gigs. If I figure that out, I'll let you know, it would probably be one of the more insightful articles I put up.
Strategy : Fiverr
Forseeably one of the easiest ways to get ripped off in terms of pay per labor, if any gig takes me longer than half an hour, it's absolutely not worth it. That being said, the types of jobs I'm offering aren't ones that would typically take me longer than that. I've already had one approach, so I'm hoping this can be a good way to build a base portfolio over the next couple weeks. All I offer is quick blurb writing (which is still a goddamned steal) and line work illustrations that I've timed out to taking about half an hour. You can try and snag some work from me here.
Strategy : Upwork.com
Combination of extremely encouraging and discouraging; Upwork was formerly Odesk, a known content mill. The site has revamped itself where freelancers can name their hourly rate, as well as apply for gigs with fixed pay. The fixed pay gigs are far more common, and tend to fall squarely into the "not worth it" bin, but who knows. Maybe I can turn it around.
So that's the start. It's pretty meager right now, but I'll keep you updated the further I get along. Thank you for your support, Pup. I'll get there eventually.
I might be screwed.
I quit my job, unceremoniously and in a way I regret. I had reached whatever breaking point I had felt coming for awhile and simply didn’t know how to verbalize. This culminated in a drinking session that I also quite regret, which left me vomiting blood and anything else in or near my stomach for the next couple days. I knew I’d been depressed, and I knew that for me, depression was the big red flag meant to block out everything from view until I figured out what my problem was.
Maybe I lack self discipline. I feel resistant on a very primal, physical level when faced with something I don’t want to do. I have an uncanny work ethic and drive when it comes to something I love, like joke writing, this blog, whatever, but my fight or flight kicks in when I’m bored, unhappy, feeling underutilized over overwhelmed. I could sneeze the wrong way and feel the need to drop all and run.
Likewise, stability is a tough concept for me. I recognize it and I’m sure I need it, but I’m incapable of creating it for myself or sustaining it for long periods of time. I don’t know what that means about me. I don’t know if that’s self fulfilling prophecy; what I do know is that my bouts of reckless behavior usually leave me feeling released from whatever tomb of depression I’ve been buried in. Currently I’m enjoying a peace of mind I haven’t had for months. High risk, taking chances, those are things I feel comfortable with. Maybe I should rephrase that; I’m not likely to gamble if I don’t think I can win, although that certainly seems to be waning given I have to figure the fuck out how I’m going to support myself now.
Since I’ve had plenty of time to do nothing but think, I’ve given the idea of jobs a good once over. I know why I hate them, and can’t sustain them. I also know how difficult financial security is going to be for people like myself; a job is what people can get out of you.
That’s the difference between a job and a hobby, regardless of how serious you are about one or the other. A hobby is something you do for self fulfillment; it’s the reason I struggled in art school and ended up flipping the whole thing off. It’s also the reason I have no idea what to do now. If I sit down and genuinely think about it, what do I have to offer? What can people get out of me?
I guess the other part of this idea, of what I have to offer, is that I’ve hit a point where I don’t throw it all in, I’m going to have trouble attempting to later. The day job has become less of a life raft and more of an anchor at a point where I’m not happy. Trying to balance it with what I feel driven to do was also taking me to a very dark (and very drunk) place. Quitting my job is just following the same emotional road map that’s led me to where I am and where I feel the most content.
Maybe that’s a cynical way to think about passion. I pursue mine simply because I see no alternatives. There’s nothing but death in compromise. Gambling is literally my lifestyle. I’d rather take odds, get hurt and blow things out of proportion. I don’t know where it comes from, but I behave this way because there is something intrinsic in every part of me that firmly believes that I’ll be fine. Maybe all that means is I have a very low standard of “fine” and since I don’t require much, I’m reasonably confident I can maintain that base level.
Millennials and the subsequent Generation Z are faced with a peculiar economic condition. Tons of jobs are being outsourced, and now freelancers can piggyback on outsourcing by offering native speaking labor for less than what they’d be paid at a corporate gig, but with the benefit of more freedom. It also seems like we’ve become a customer service society. The bulk of jobs that are available semi-cater to this more flexible, less stable lifestyle that arguably most of my generation prefers. The caveat? Can we really be sustainable as an economy at large if most of us are driving each other around or making food? In some ways, we’re returning to a community based economic system, which is small scale and many ways my ideal, but I’m brought back to that question, what do we get out of it, what do people get out of us?
For a creative person, I’ve always been somewhat pragmatic; I struggle with what would appear to be inherent narcissism that comes with “trying to make it”. I wonder if it becomes a vicious cycle in which the mentally unstable consume themselves given the volatile and emotionally unstable nature of show business. We are trying to make something that fulfills us that matters to other people. When you realize how big and difficult that is, it makes sense that it could take a lifetime to achieve.
I really don’t know if people get something out of this blog, or my jokes or anything else that I do, because in that respect I know I’m hopelessly biased, just like most comedians. I have to believe they do because I do, and if I didn’t think anyone else did, I’d have to stop. I’d have to get a day job. I’d have to figure out how to not kill myself by doing something that other people want that I can only force myself to do. This logic applies to my feelings on most grand institutions, like marriage, school, family. I only see what other people would get out of my choice to pursue those things. There’s no part of me that thinks I’d feel fulfilled, and I’d be forced to look elsewhere for that sensibility. Given how much time those things require, I don’t know how I’d manage to do both.
So I’ve spent this unintended sabbatical thinking very honestly about what I have to offer. If I am brutally honest: Not a lot. I can write, and I can write quickly. (Not counting this sentence, this article spans 931 words typed in about 20 minutes.)I like to learn, and I can compile research and take notes. I’m funny, but if I’m being realistic I still have a lot to learn before I could do consistent performances longer than about 20 minutes. I don’t really know what the practical application of that skill is, but that’s probably the best one I’ve got. I can draw, and produce simple illustrations quickly. I’m not really sure where to go from there. How do I make those things valuable to other people?
I’ve hit some kind of point of no return but I can’t see what’s in front of me. I’ve been in this situation before and I’m always calmer than I think I should be. I guess finding a job is a lot like finding a place to sleep when you’re a stranger; you just have to figure out where it is and who will let you. Here’s hoping that answer floats down towards me soon.
I never expected the “self destruct” part of my psyche to light up once I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I know depression is something that doesn’t simply vanish after an epiphany, but I guess I figured the sense of frustration and aimlessness that I’d been dealing with would wane once I had something that I was passionate about. Earlier this year, I hit a wall. I’ve been coping with the same depression that sneaks up on me from time to time, and it’s been particularly rough lately. I do this dance between not wanting to be seen by anyone to not trusting myself to be alone.
There’s something that seems very self defeating about turning your passion into a chore. There was awhile where I was forcing myself to write, not because I had writer's block, but it had become something I simply didn’t enjoy. The cruel counterbalance to that feeling was this yearning that any creative feels that I wasn’t doing enough; not writing enough, performing enough, getting out there enough. Not only did I stop enjoying what I was doing, I felt like I sucked at doing it. Try hopping out of bed in the morning after that kind of logic.
Sure enough, after feeling run down and generally shitty about the hole I’d dug myself into, financially, emotionally, psychologically-- The suicidal feeling wrapped around me like a worn out blanket. I started thinking about where I could fit suicide into my schedule. That kind of mental gymnastics is how depression works for me; it’s not constant or all consuming. It hangs around in the background like chili farts. I do my best to pretend I don’t have them and it feels a lot like so does everyone talking to me.
I say that last part because I’m not capable of hiding it when I’m unhappy, or happy for that matter. Whatever state I’m in I tend to advertise over my head like some cheap motel; No Vacancy, I’m consumed by my own sadness. That’s part of the reason I withdraw, I don’t want people to have to deal with Sad Kira. You won’t cheer me up, I can’t pull myself out of it, the dark thoughts are on repeat.
There’s a lot of pressure in comedy (and probably most art for that matter) to be seen, to be out at the right occasion, show your interest, whatever the fuck that means. I realized that the days I walk out wearing a storm cloud as a fashion accessory might not be an impression worth making. I don’t want to be seen as a moody, sad person, even if I suppose that’s what I am, if I’m honest.
A friend of mine confided in me with the same frustrations about depression, because it doesn’t go away, it ebbs and flows. It doesn’t make it better to know that other people feel that way, but it's illuminating. Sometimes you’re caught in the deep end and there’s not a lot you can do except ride it out until the chemicals in your brain align themselves. I say that, but I should add that there’s certainly things you can do to make it easier, and likewise things (like drinking, for me at least) that can make it a hell of a lot harder.
When I felt this way last year, that suicidal impulse, I forced myself to view “I want to kill myself,” as “This is killing me.” (Read that one here). Now that the panic and depression has returned, I’ve had to face that I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. I work a day job to support myself financially, hit mics, run shows, attempt to write whatever I assume is “enough”, taking on new projects like sketches and try maintaining ones like cartoons and these articles. After writing that down I still feel incredibly dissatisfied that that’s simply “not enough things”. I don’t really know what I quantify as enough, or if I’d know it when I saw it. It’s frustrating to think you may not be capable of doing everything you idealize as what you want.
I’ve been trying not to withdraw, despite the fact it can’t “look good” to be quiet or on the verge of tears for reasons I don’t even know. That being said, I’ve also had to acknowledge that I have to slow down, rest, and not tackle on every project and obligation I so desperately want to. I’m not balancing anything at the moment, I’m starting over. Starting over one something you’ve been working on for a couple years doesn’t seem to make sense. I suppose if your approach has proven to be ineffective or self detrimental, you don’t have a lot of choice.
I'm not sure where to fit this paragraph into the flow of this article, but given the fact that more than one comedian has comitted suicide in Colorado that I know if within the past year, all I can do is urge anyone who has that feeling to reach out to someone. Even if it doesn't feel like it helps. Even if they say the wrong thing. There's hotlines you can call, which I've never done, but if you need that help just ask for it. One time at a coffee shop I used to work at, I asked this woman how she was doing she told me, "Not great. I have cancer."
20 year old baristas aren't the most skilled psychologists, but we talked for awhile, and at the end of it she thanked me and told me that when you don't give a shit about yourself it helps to know that someone else will for a little bit, even if it's just their job. I don't even know her last name, but I still think about that sometimes. I think about the people that let me sit next to them without saying anything. I think about the people I don't know how to ask if they're okay. We all want to connect to one another, the worst part about depression is that it makes it seem like you're not capable of it any more.
If you’ve read this blog before, you may know some of my crazier ideas, including the one about the Kokadrille. I’ve never felt “whole”, or even like the only occupant of my body. Also, I feel like an occupant of my body and I don’t consider myself to be my body. There’s some pros and cons to this belief but either way it’s not one I can simply concede is false, because that’s how my perception of self works. It amazes that there are people with holistic views of themselves, I can’t conceive of what that would be like. Not feeling whole is part of what keeps me going; I owe it to my body not to kill it, because it doesn’t want to die. Even if I managed to stop caring about that, the monster in my head doesn’t really like the idea of losing the body either, and goes to extremes to stop me from ending it all. I realize that’s probably one of the most insane things I’ve ever written, which is why I hate honesty. Because if I’m honest, I scare myself.
Enter the social circle. It's still tough for me to reach out to friends when I'm feeling upset and frustrated, but thankfully I have people to reach out to, I honestly don't think I could handle myself if I didn't. I've sat with friends while completely mummified by my depression, unresponsive despite their best attempts to make me feel better. I don't know if they felt like they failed, but they didn't. Having someone there when you're that low stops you from ending it. Believe it or not, you're leveling out that sad asshole who's not responding to your jokes.
I don't know if I've ever heard of someone talk about "doing (Insert form of self harm) for attention" since high school, but I think that fear lingers in the back of any major depressive's mind. You can't imagine that people can sympathize with you, in part because you're so out of your mind with sadness that you can't even sympathize with other sad people. You feel like an asshole because your friends are trying to help you and you don't feel better. You're suddenly obligated and the whole idea of them helping you has turned on its head and made you feel worse about yourself. You're afraid of losing the people you have left, who ironically are still concerned about you.
It's hard to know what to do when you're that unhappy because you also don't have a schedule for when that feeling subsides; but it will. Maybe not for as long as you'd like it to, and it might not be replaced with a reciprocal high (sometimes you go from "sad" to "meh" back to sad a few weeks later with none of that bipolar high you hear about), but you have to understand that it is temporary. Once you wrap your head around that, you have to wrap your head around accepting help from people, even if you suck at accepting it, even if they're not the best adapted at helping you.
There's this sappy sentiment you see in a lot of articles dealing with suicide that regardless of whether you know it or not, you matter to somebody. Even if you don't know them, your death will negatively impact somebody. It's hard to learn about someone who's killed themselves, because it's easy to put yourself in their shoes, walk through their decisions, and see yourself doing it, too. If feeling like I'm only one of the residents of my body has taught me anything, it's that no being fully wants to die; something wants whatever is going on to stop.
I don't know the meaning of the word "enough". I don't think we're given that as kids; we're told to work as hard as we can, and we don't know what that means or entails, what sacrifices are worthwhile and which ones aren't. We push ourselves into the ground and feel robbed when there's nothing to show for it. The only thing you'll find when you push yourself into the ground is a grave, pup. You're not showing people that you want the elusive "it" more than anyone else by killing yourself with your lifestyle. This round of depression has been another learning experience, to figure out what it means to do "enough" and let go of the idea that what I'm doing doesn't qualify.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.