I am unemployable.
Really. I mean, not only am I functionally incapable of having a typical 9-to-5 J.O.B., I just feel it in my very bones.
In the best of times I say to myself Hell yeah! This is the shiznittle! No one can hold me down! I make my own path and build what I want to build! and in the worst of times I think Good Lord, I’m so pathetic; I can’t hold a regular job down to save my own effin’ life.
Depending on the day (or the hour) you’ll get one of those responses from me, straight from the heart and both equally true.
And if you’re like me at all then you’ve probably felt the same way, especially if you’ve been labeled a “Creative” or have some of those qualities and characteristics. Sure, you may actually be in a nine-to-fiver right now but you know, deep within your very soul, that this was never supposed to be the plan and you’re constantly looking for the best escape exit (or “pod,” if your head is in outer space like mine).
But I’ve been thinking about this more and more as I get deeper and deeper into my most important and personal projects, Pressgram. I’m spending every waking moment (and some parts of my dream layer) thinking about images, digital editing and filters, building community, and sparking a movement of a more intelligent class of digital publishers who know their rights as artists and who won’t stand for bullshit.
It’s made me become even more comfortable in my own skin in a way and also begun to burn even more bridges back to the mainland of comfort and security (e.g. a “normal” job with a salary, benefits, and vacation days – by the way, what the hell is a “vacation day” anyway?!?).
As some personal method of catharsis of my internal struggle with feelings of deep insecurity, failure, and disillusionment I decided to list out some of the concrete reasons why I am, for the most part, completely unemployable. Don’t laugh, just think:
- Authority – I have a general disrespect and mistrust for authority. I recognized this very early on in life even before I began receiving some sort of compensation for my work. I boiled it down very succinctly many years ago when I realized that I simply believe that I know better on how to do X and execute Y and surely do it with speed Z. Call me “arrogant” if you’d like but I pretty sure I’m right nearly 100% of the time. Let the LULZ begin. Oh, and don’t you dare tell me what to do. Sorry kid.
- Unorthodox Methodology – My methods are my own and they are not easily replicable by other people. It means that I find alternative methods to solve problems which may cause incredible consternation among old-guard systems and processes. I have learned to communicate better my thoughts (and blogging has been the #1 way that I’ve learned this, btw) but internally my thoughts are a chaos to others while they are nothing but order to me.
- Pragmatism – For those that have worked with me closely they know that I’m hyper-pragmatic. I don’t have time for bullshit and I hate wasting time. Theory is necessary and I can “blue sky” all day with the best of them (I actually spend a lot of time doing this in a consultative role) but otherwise I have to bite my tongue when people spend a second more in the “clouds” rather than doing what is right in front of their very faces. If the outcause isn’t ultimately and fundamentally pragmatic I will write you off right quick.
- Direct – This is the “nicer” way of saying that I’m fairly forthcoming with my words and my opinions. Others have used such phrases as “brutally honest,” “curt,” “unfettered,” and other such euphemisms. “Undeniable Asshole” is probably a better term if they were to reciprocate in kind.
- Language – If you want the “authentic” and “real” John then you’re going to get one that is “hard” on the ears. There’s a better explanation for this (at some point I’ll explain more in depth) but for the time being many people can’t seem to get over or past the specifics of my delivery. I think Too bad… since they are missing out on some really good stuff.
- Visual – I am a literal thinker (see #3 above in relation) and I can’t seem to process much without seeing it in a visual frame of reference. In fact, this goes much deeper than what I’ll share here but on a bad day I’ll simply ignore any signal that doesn’t fit one visually, even if it’s super-important. People like to talk and I like to look. I wish lips created visual pictures for my brain but they don’t as they only produce a lot of boringness and spittle. This is why an image-centric application is so deeply personal to me.
- Lone Ranger – I like to work in isolation and very much by myself so at times I’ve been thought of as very much a “lone ranger” type or some sort of anti-social creature. True on both accounts as I’d rather interface with my notebook computer and the tasks at hand than meeting with a group of people to talk about some crazy-ass futurestate idea that has no bearings on the here-and-now that need to be done. I hate meetings with a passion and so you should know that if I do choose to meet with you I am sacrificing my personal comfort and preference to create value on your behalf. Yes, I’m willing to do that but I am becoming less willing to do this as I get older and more “set” in my ways (I suppose).
- Contradictions – I apparently contradict myself a lot. Paradoxical in a lot of ways. If you need a better and more robust explanation then you can just go read this article here which clearly states some of this conundrum in simple terms. It really is true that I seek to rebel at every opportunity and yet I’ll be rigidly dogmatic about similar things at the very same time. Haters gonna hate.
- Emotional – I am a very emotional creature and many have experienced a volatility that makes them very uneasy. In fact, even some of my previous partners found this barely sustainable. You have to have a gut of steel to work with me for a long period of time. It says a lot of my previous partners, by the way, and the quality of who they were to work with me and to create a successful venture as most people would have folded much earlier.
- Speed – I work fast and I expect fast-paced work. I have little time to waste and almost zero patience when it comes to waste. Combine this with my communication style and on a very bad day I’ll make you feel like shit. I don’t feel good about this, by the way, and an apology is very close at hand, but it makes it very difficult to employ me. This means that existing systems and legacy programs are a literal thorn in my side as most of them are inefficient, incredibly flawed, and move at a snail’s pace.
- Mannerisms – I have a number of “different” (I wanted to say “strange” but they aren’t strange to me) behaviors that are not “typical” and you have to somehow get over those or beyond them to work with me efficiently. Perhaps I’m more “in tune” with them than others and don’t make much of an effort to hide them in plain sight like others but it is what it is.
- Contrarian – Some have called me this and I think they’ve gotten it grossly wrong. I’m just over stuff really quickly and much sooner than most people. By the time the general populace has found something to their liking I’ve moved on months (or years) ago. By the time my wife joined Facebook in a serious way I was done with it; I was “over” Facebook back in 2009 but it took me much longer to quit (sadly). I’ll admit that I’m “over” Twitter and have been for some time but I still use it as a vehicle for marketing and general tomfoolery. Don’t forget I’m a pragmatist so Twitter still has some valid use-cases in my profession at this point in time.
- Control – In many ways this last point aggregates much of these things above into one word which is “control” – I just like to be in control of things and when you work for someone else you really aren’t in control. This is why consulting and the occasional contract relationship isn’t too bad since I get to declare my position and stipulations upfront, but the salaried role under some insane corporately governance doesn’t seem to fit me very well. Oh well.
As I reviewed this list and read and re-read it a few times I know I’m opening myself up to a ton of criticism and probably even shocking a few of my readers. I may even be closing some “doors” in the process, both professionally and relationally, but at this point I’m quite unafraid of the consequences.
People’s opinion about you and I have far too much power already and we must relieve ourselves of those shackles if we’re ever going to do our very best work. This blog post serves me in a way of affirming that “popular opinion” and the voice of the masses will reside where they should be – outside of my own personal worldview of who I am. In addition, what matters the most to me and those that love and know me the very best is how I will be defined and characterized. My faith plays a significant role here as well.
If we are to ever be as bold as the world desperately needs us to be then we need to be first comfortable and honest with ourselves. Sadly, most people will live their lives as apparitions, shadows of who they really ought and want to be.
Please be bold with your identity, with your work, so that you can impact the world in a way that’ll last beyond your own lifetime. Anything less would be an utter waste of your life.