But now, God knows, anything goes (pt II)

24 06 2010

I don’t much like bosses, orders, obedience, rule-for-rules sake, cheerleading, team-building, hand-holding, attitude-adjusting, and doing something because ‘this is how it’s always been done’.

I may have mentioned on one or two occasions previously my anarchical streak.

But this isn’t just reaction against authority. I’ve had good bosses (as I do now) and have followed reasonable rules (and snarked about unreasonable rules and have almost never been sincere when obeying orders), and am not opposed to structure. I just don’t think that the structure of a phenomenon matters more than the phenomenon itself.

I likes me some liberty.

I have also, it pains me to say, not done terribly well with the liberty I do have. I may likes me some liberty, but I needs me some structure within that liberty—not to overwhelm it, but to support it.

I noted in the last post that I have been depolarized, and to no good effect. Both GeekHiker and Sorn argue in favor of moderation, and it’s not that I disagree with them so much as I need those poles in order to find the middle. I don’t know what that middle is without checking out the edges.

I may admire Aristotle’s golden mean in theory, but I am Goldilocks in practice.

(Not in everything, of course, only in the things which really matter.)

Hence my dilemma.

Those poles provide a kind of existential structure for me, so lacking a set of positive (as in articulated or existent as opposed to negated) opposites leaves me uncertain of where I should stand, of how I could find out who I am (becoming).

Economically, the issue is less one of dichotomies than of having a set of expectations; structure, in a job, comes in the purpose of the job itself, tho’ often as defined by someone else. Thus, even a bullshit retail job is manageable insofar as there are tasks to be performed, results to be measured. It may be a soul-suck, but I can at least see what I’m doing.

That it’s a soul-suck, however, means that it’s not something I care to do for long. I’ve done it because I needed the money or the benefits, but, given a choice, I’d rather not. (That there’s rarely much money or great benefits praaaabably enters into the equation, as well.)

So, given a choice, what?

I like teaching, and want to continue doing that. There’s some structure, but as most of it is internal to the process itself, I’m able to use my autonomy as a professor to shape that structure in service to the purpose of the class itself. I’m not always successful in doing so, but every semester I have the chance to get it right.

Unfortunately, I don’t make enough money teaching to rely upon that as a means of support. I’d thought that I might try to find some kind of suitable corporate work, but, ye gods, even as low-key a job as I have now is damned near unbearable. Nine-to-five for the rest of my life—just because nine-to-five is expected? Yeesh.

So, too much and too extraneous a structure.

I like work, hell, I need work, but I don’t necessarily know how to go about creating work that others will pay for.

In other words, I’d like to freelance in some form or another (I have a few ideas), but am undone at the thought of how to do so. Once I get the work, the need to meet the expectations of my clients will provide sufficient sinew actually to do the work, but jesusmary&joseph how to get that work?

That—a big enough barrier—is not even the main one; no, that, unfortunately, is the very basic one of saying ‘I can do this.’

‘I can do this.’ I know I can do the work, I know that what I have to offer is valuable, and that someone or some organization would pay for it.

Yes, I’m being vague about that ‘it’, but the problem is less with the success or failure of that ‘it’ than my inability even to try.

I know I can do the work (itself), but I don’t know that I can do the work (of approaching and persuading others of the worth of that work).

I know and I don’t know. Two poles—ha! I should be fine! But I’m not. I’m shrinking away from my own possibilities because I lack those infuriating, banal, and soul-sucking externalities.

I have to set my own markers and convince others of the purpose and value of those markers.

Too bad I have no fucking clue how.


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3 responses

28 06 2010
Christien

“Getting the work” has always been my problem in freelancing as well. I basically lucked into my current situation.

Bu hey, when in doubt, see if there’s a book on the subject. I’m willing to bet there are several dozen on how to launch a freelance career. Once you’ve done that, you can write your own book: Launching a Freelance Career for Anarchists.

I foresee a whole “for Anarchists” series!

28 06 2010
geekhiker

I don’t think I was arguing in favor of moderation, simply that the external factors you were citing aren’t necessarily the poles within yourself.

Reading this, you remind me of a teenager, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It reminds me of that teenage desire to constantly push the limits (of authority, of safety, etc.) in order to find one’s limits. Of course, most of us are pushed out of that, told and motivated to, at a certain age, settle down, settle into a career, settle into a family life and just… settle. “Stop pushing the boundaries, you’re an adult now.”

But that’s societal dictum. You still feel the need to push the boundaries, find out where the extremes are, and in doing so find out where your middle ground (and, presumably, happiness) lies. For that, I applaud you.

28 06 2010
absurdbeats

@C. Ha. Do you think ‘Getting Organized for Anarchists’ would work? How about ‘Living Well for Nihilists’?

(Actually, anarchists have to be extremely well-organized if they’re actually going to accomplish anything; puts me in mind of the Oscar Wilde quote about socialism: ‘too many meetings’.)

@GH. It’s not about pushing back just to push back; in fact, I don’t really see what I’m doing as pushing back. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t find the middle without veering from one side to the other. Once I find a way that makes sense, then I can stick with it; it just takes time for me to find my way.

I think moderation—especially in terms of reflection and (re)consideration—is a fine thing; it’s just not something I can tune into directly.

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