Hello, I’m (becoming) a developer: Self-Discovery Series

I’ve started taking coding classes.

But I’m afraid. Is this just the next in a long line of potential career paths that will fizzle and die along with my invested time and money? Or will I keep the momentum I have for it now? Is it worth investing if I don’t know I’ll keep it up?

Honestly, I’m tired of these questions, because they’re the wrong ones.

In the first place, I’m a multipotentialite, so going after a million different interests is what comes naturally to me. I’d be doing myself a disservice to curtail my passion because of a lack of future certainty. (Which, hello, no one has.)

And in the second place, coding is an incredibly useful skill, so even if I only learn a little, I’m far better off than I was. It’s not like the time I got all into herbal medicine and spent money on a beginner’s class and got a certificate of completion which let me do…nothing. I mean, I had fun, but it wouldn’t be near as useful as basic programming skills in the job market.

But job relevance in only part of my interest. Today I put this picture up on my wall.

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This is Ada Lovelace, considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. She’s a WOMAN. And has amazing fashion. I was hecka inspired when I found out about her.

Yes, I’m hoping to get a really good job with these skills. I’d like to be a front-end developer because it seems to be as creative as it is technical. Or a full stack developer, which just makes me think of pancakes.

Either way, whether in the future I am a programmer or whether this fizzles out in a few months, I’m adding programming to my list of hobbies and interests.

In the language of Ruby:

puts ‘Hello World!’

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Help, I’m a Self-Improvement Junkie: Discovery Series

I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Manson articles lately. I really like the guy. He gives good advice, hard advice, with wit and swearing and a little (okay, a lot) of ouch.

There was one article he wrote that had me sitting back heavily in my chair, blowing a breath into my hair as I stared at the wall above my computer.

He said too many people have become self-improvement junkies. And this was not a good thing. Well, he said it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not as good a thing as the junkies think it is either.

Here’s what he says about junkies:

Self-improvement junkies feel like they need to jump on every new seminar, read all the latest books, listen to all the podcasts, lift all the weight, hire all the life coaches, open all their chakras, and talk about all their childhood traumas — both real and imagined — incessantly. For the self-improvement junkie, the purpose of self-improvement is not the improvement itself, rather it’s motivated by a subtle form of FOMO (fear of missing out). The junkie has this constant gnawing feeling that there’s still some magic tip or technique or piece of information out there that will create their next big breakthrough (again, both real or imagined).

Self-improvement for the junkies becomes a kind of glorified hobby. It’s what they spend all of their money on. It’s what they do with their vacations. It’s where they meet their friends and network. – Mark Manson

That’s me. To a T. I know me, and that’s me. Yikes.

I’ve turned self-improvement into one of my major interests. I was proud of it. Super duper proud, because I knew I was just getting better and better all the time.

But wait, what about my panic disorder that developed in the midst of my junkie reading? What about the latent anxiety that has gone unresolved since childhood? What about the depression I struggled even to accept was real? What about that?

Self-improvement books hadn’t made it go away, no matter how many techniques and toolkits I built.

I had the positive thinking down. I knew how to reframe situations. I could throw a book at anything.

I was a junkie, riding the highs of each book and inspirational article I came across. It’s the exact same feeling I have when I get a new idea for a story, or a new idea for a D&D campaign, or a new idea for a crafting project. In other words, it flows just like all my other hobbies and interests. It makes me happy, but that is not the same thing as being healed.

So I’m a junkie. Great. Now what?

Fortunately, Manson tends to follow up his brutal life lessons with practical advice.

The only way to truly achieve one’s potential, to become fully fulfilled, or to become “self-actualized” (whatever the fuck that means), is to, at some point, stop trying to be all of those things. – Mark Manson

His advice? Become a tourist instead of a junkie.

Other people only come to self-help when shit has really hit the fan. They just got slapped in the face with a divorce or someone close to them just died and now they’re depressed or they just remembered they had $135,000 in credit card debt that they somehow forgot to pay off for the last 11 years.

For self-help tourists, self-help material is like going to the doctor. You don’t just show up to the hospital on a random Tuesday saying, “Hey Doc, tell me what’s wrong with me.” That would be insane.

No, you only go to the hospital when something is already wrong and you’re in a lot of serious pain.

These people use self-help material to fix whatever is bothering them, to get them back on their feet, and then they’re off into the world again. – Mark Manson

This is golden advice, even to my junkie mind. I want to be in “the world” again, or even for the first time, since I’ve spent most of my waking memory engrossed in the improvement of every aspect of myself.

But the problem with obsessive junkies is, as Mark points out, flawed, because it assumes that there is something to be improved. Something wrong in the first place. It stands in the way of the present, the now, where life is actually lived and enjoyed.

I like how he relates his solution to the 80/20 Principle as well, telling us to just focus on not messing up the biggest decision in our lives. He doesn’t mention what those might be, but I would put job and marriage in there for sure. Maybe attitude as well, especially regarding a growth over fixed mindset. Raising kids with love would be another one. But the little things, the daily habits, morning routines, perfect fitness regimes, and all the other stuff junkies (aka me) thrive on…maybe those don’t matter as much.

Not maybe. They don’t. On my deathbed I’m not going to have my habit trackers before me feeling proud of all the checkmarks. I’ll want my family around me, my legacy, my work made with love.

I feel like a lot of people are junkies, and a lot of them don’t realize there’s anything wrong with it. I was just like that the instant before I read Mark’s article. I thought all those books would help me live life, but while I was busy reading about having a great life, the life itself was moving away from me.

Thanks, Mark.

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Changing My Life: Discovery Series

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I realized something the other day that got me really excited. I am someone who exercises.

Let’s back up. My whole life I have been someone who never exercised. I’ve never enjoyed it and all my attempts invariably failed. Like many kids, I did soccer and basketball and equestrian sports through high school, but there’s a difference between that and exercise.

After high school, when I couldn’t afford jumping lessons anymore, I stopped altogether. Sure, I tried P90X and various other “fun” and “x-treme!” cardio videos, and even aimed for the Color Run one year, pounding away around my apartment complex, but I never, ever enjoyed it. I figured that exercise was just a necessary evil that I would probably never really do with enough consistency to make it matter. I even got into boxing while in Korea, but though I loved doing it, only stuck with it a month.

To sum up; the storyline and identity I had in my head about myself was that I was not a person who exercised. That was true until this year.

This year, I moved home from Korea. This year, I decided to exercise every day. This year, I have exercised every day. And I had to stop and realize that the old identity (someone who doesn’t exercise) isn’t true anymore. I’m now someone who exercises every day.

How did I do it?

I made a plan while I was still living in Korea. I had just been hit with a devastating health crisis and knew I would be moving home to deal with it.

My plan was to start with gentle yoga, which I could just about handle. Find a good series and do the beginner videos, and if I had to stop halfway through, that was okay.

Next would come more intense yoga as I built up strength and flexibility from zero.

Then I planned on getting into pilates and more cardio type stuff, moving from there to boxing again (since I enjoyed it so much) and maybe even to MMA (I’ve always wanted to learn).

Right now, I’m smack dab in the middle of the intense yoga and pilates phase. I’ve been doing yoga every day and this week I started a pilates program. (Let me just say, I did a booty bootcamp video and haven’t been able to walk straight for two days. Um, success?)

It’s an audacious plan, and obviously I don’t know how far I’ll go, but so far? I’m doing really well.

I decided to exercise every day before breakfast. I have no idea if that’s the best option or what, but for me, it definitely is. If I know I have to wait to eat until after I’ve worked out, I will get to my room and roll out that mat first thing. Plus, tying it to waking up is a strong habit signal.

I wake up, drink some water, head to my office and the very first thing I do is roll out the mat. I usually meditate first as well, but the first action I take in the morning in that room is to roll out the mat. I made sure that no matter what else happened, that mat was out. Some days I was already starving before I began, other days not. Some days it felt like the worst thing to do yoga, and other days (more and more these days) it felt amazing.

And it worked! I went from someone who never exercised to someone who exercises every day. It’s become habitual!

The Results

I did gentle yoga for all of January, alternating between several of Adriene’s videos on Youtube.

In February I noticed I could do downward dog for once, was getting less shaky overall, and was actually enjoying the practice each time. I was enjoying pushing myself (that had never happened).

So by mid-February, I knew I was ready to move up, and started Adriene’s 30 days of yoga series she did a couple of years ago. I figured it would be a good way to progress naturally. I alternated it with other, gentler videos for days that were rough (as someone with anxiety, I need that option to be kind to myself), but mostly I kept up with it.

Now in March I’ve been finishing up her course and, as I said above, starting in on Pilates.

I’m using the Blogilates videos by Cassey Ho. I’ve followed her on Instagram for a while and I love her personality, so it was an easy transition. Well, I say that….damn my thighs and butt hurt.

I’m doing the 6 Week Body Toning Bootcamp, which is one video per week, but I guess you repeat each video to get a full workout. I did the first one, the booty one, two days ago but could only get through two runs. I mean, I barely made it through the first run. And between the pilates videos I’ll keep up yoga to help stretch the sore muscles.

I’m really happy. I did it, I’m sore, but I’m not discouraged. My whole attitude has changed along with my identity. It was amazing when I stopped to realize that my whole identity had to be altered.

If you’ve ever struggled to keep up an exercise program, don’t get discouraged! I thought I would never be a person who could do it once a week, let alone every day, and here I am. I tried and tried for years until I found something that worked, and you can too!

Best of luck!

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Hello, I have Panic Disorder: Beginning a journey of healing

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(Caption from Instagram) Goodbye Korea! I didn’t think it would be like this. Twenty stripes. Twenty panic attacks in six weeks. That works out to an attack almost every other day. Some days were fine. Some were so, so bad. .

Mental health is never easy to talk about. Never easy to admit to having trouble with. I don’t know what caused it. Maybe it was something that built up over a long period of time. Maybe there was some unknown trigger that started it all. The doctors couldn’t say for sure. Maybe I’ll never know. .

Panic attacks. Anxiety disorder. Insomnia. Paranoia. Claustrophobia. Agoraphobia. In the past few months I’ve run the gamut. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either. It happens. People get sick. I’m lucky I can go back home to heal. I’m sad to leave Korea in this state, when it’s unavoidable, but I will be bringing with me many happy memories.
Thank you to everyone I met, everyone who impacted my life. I’m grateful for the lessons learned, the experiences, the good times and the bad. I’m living, I’m growing, I will get better.
Here’s to you, Korea, and here’s to me, and a brighter future!

It’s funny that the last post I had up on here was on October 10th, the day my life went all to pieces. I think I had it scheduled because what happened at 3am that day would not have let me post it in any kind of frame of mind.

Let me back up.

On October 10th, at 3am, I woke up having my third panic attack in my life. It had been nearly four years, so I’d forgotten what it felt like. And because panic attacks make you PANIC, I thought I was having a heart attack. I was convinced if I didn’t get medical attention at once I would die.

So I went to the ER. Nothing showed up on the EKG or any other tests, and by then the panic had subsided and I figured I must have had some kind of attack. I was given some medicine and told to see a psychiatrist. O-kay.

I didn’t go to work that day. I went the next day, had a panic attack that night. Had one the next night, and then three over the weekend. Cut to December 22nd, the day I came home, and that number had reached 20. Twenty panic attacks in just over two months. Not a fun time. Especially as I decided to work through the end of the semester.

I got on medication about a month before I left, which helped, but also didn’t help in learning that addiction to those medications and coming off of them can be just as terrifying as going through life with the attacks.

I don’t like talking about my mental health. I don’t like admitting I have a problem I can’t handle. I made the above post on Instagram and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to post something like that so publicly.

But I think I was also really brave to do it. Mental health still gets a bad rap. People on feel-good medication are still treated like they’re just not trying hard enough. I bought into that until I dealt with depression in my teens and early twenties, and even then the measures I took were by half. So my anxiety ripened and got worse.

Here’s the thing though. I’m INCREDIBLY grateful this happened. Like, so, so glad. I was in a position I didn’t like, doing work I didn’t feel committed to, living in a way that didn’t let me pursue what I wanted. I had a lot of pent-up emotions and anger that had never been expressed. But I wasn’t doing anything about it. I was too scared/lazy to change jobs or move anywhere else and was seriously just going to stay at the same job for another few years. Exactly the trap I had been so adamant about not falling into.

I had been praying for direction but had turned my face to the wall. So I think God gave me a kick in the pants and, well, let the consequences of me not facing my anxiety or issues EVER happen to me. I’m an HSP. An INFJ. An empath. Repressing things makes my body not well. Eating poorly and not exercising makes my body not well. Internalizing the negativity of the culture around me makes my body not well. Having no boundaries with my self or others makes my body not well. I didn’t listen until I had to. So I’m glad it happened.

Yes, I’ve had to move back into my parents’ house and start a process of healing. I’m going to have to go to *gasp* therapy and figure out what’s causing all this crap. I’m going to have to admit this to you all, which is very, very hard.

But so is dealing with agoraphobia, insomnia, claustrophobia, panic attacks, and anxiety of many kinds.

That’s why I have been offline since, well, the Day.

But I’m happy. Happier than I have been in a long time. I’m home, I get a chance to get better, really get better, and I can have some downtime.

I’m sharing my journey to recovery because while I was waiting to come home, I read a lot about anxiety, and hearing people’s stories was encouraging. I hope mine will end well, and I hope it will help anyone it can.

I’m building my own ladder, one rung at a time, celebrating the small victories and eating all the Mexican food I can (verified therapy food, right?).

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Hello, I’m a Multipotentialite: Discovery Series

I am a Multipotentialite, MP for short (Military Police, Member of Parliament, Multipotentialite, all basically the same thing…).

I was going to start off this post talking again about how uncomfortable I am adding all these labels to myself, as if trying to apologize for my uniqueness. As if trying to explain away the part where I’m justifying all my odd behavior.

That’s a terrible thing to do, especially when part of the purpose of the discovery is becoming MORE comfortable with me.

Here we go then.

What is an MP? This is the simple definition given by MP hero, Emilie Wapnick, on her site Puttylike.

A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits.

(If you want to read more or think you are one, head to her website. Seriously, I could spend hours there.) 

An MP has many interests, and those can be far ranging and disparate. They don’t have to match or verge on any scale.

There are different kinds of MPs. Some pursue one passion for a while, then completely switch to another, while some pursue many at the same time and some switch between these two paths.

I learned I was an MP when I heard Emilie’s TED talk. It was serendipitous. I wasn’t looking for it. In fact, I think I was so bored I resorted to TED to pass the time. But when I heard her describe Multipotentiality, my brain sat up and took notice. Yes! I cried. Yes YES! This is me!

All my life I have felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Something ingrained in me that was just…off. I could never settle on any one passion or hobby. When I was young, I was very artistic and hands-on. I did knitting, jewelry-making, needlepoint, quilting, doll-making, woodworking, and any other kind of handiwork. I basically lived at Hobby Lobby.

As I got older, my interests expanded to be more academic as well as artistic; I got into 2D mediums like drawing, started reading about science, linguistics, history, politics, and scoured every shelf of the nonfiction section in my library.

From there, it has continued to expand. Self-help, comic art, philosophy, feminism, spirituality, herbalism, holistic living, Asian culture, team building, the psychology of creativity, dream meanings, and so on.

Right now, I would put my biggest passions as writing, blogging, self-discovery, and multipotentiality itself (exploring what it means).

That’s a huge list. You can see how frustrating it was to bounce back and forth and think each new “thing” was “the thing” that I was meant to do with the rest of my life. I kept thinking I needed to settle down and find my “soulmate” of a career. Never mind that I never believed in romantic soulmates either…

When I never could settle, when my passion inevitably wavered after a month or six months, I felt like an utter failure. A short period of bluesy depression would fall upon me. Until the next passion hit, and I was off again, convinced that I had finally found it. And thus, the cycle would repeat. I thought I was a flake. I thought I lacked grit. I thought it was just laziness.

Now I know it’s not. Now I know that in reality, I’ve been embracing and living out my life as a multipotentialite. A scanner. A renaissance woman. I learn what I need to, and I move on. I enjoy this life. It’s not like having all these interests has ever stressed me out. On the contrary, I love that I can talk about raising horses, WWII politics, quantum theory, language families, and whatever else. It makes life a heck of a lot more interesting.

I could never thank Emilie enough for opening my eyes. It has given me new direction in life as I try to understand how to leverage my strengths and varying passions for a new kind of career. It has also given me comfort. I don’t hate myself every time my interest in something wanes. I don’t feel guilty for letting something go, even when I’ve spent tons of money on it. I don’t feel like I have to justify myself when people say, “Weren’t you going to do/be this?” Most of all, I don’t feel pressured to settle on one thing, an idea that made me feel suffocated.

I want to share more about this. I want to talk about it until WP has to impose a new word limit on posts. I want to hear about your stories. I want to spread them all, and let the hidden MPs know it’s okay to be you. I want the world to accept us, accept our way of life and thinking, and make it a little easier to live our way.

My next post about Multipotentialits will be about how I’m seeking an Umbrella – a general theme or idea that links my passions together. And when I have it, I can think about a business that will use them.

It’s an exciting life, and I’m grateful to be excited again!

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More in the Discovery Series:

Hello, I’m an INFJ/HSP

P.S. For more information, head over to Puttylike. Or read Emilie’s book, How to Be Everything. There are other books and resources as well, but I’ll try to make a neater list and share that seperately.

P.P.S. I was on vacation in Middle Earth recently. I’m still going through pictures, of course, but you can expect some amazingly awkward stories coming soon!