So…last time’s post happened.
Turns out people aren’t too keen on a huge post with long blocks of text, and my analogy wasn’t as a strong as I thought it’d be. But luckily, we’re back to the original format, so…moving on.
(They can’t all be winners, Don. Sorry.)
My last two pieces were not so much blog posts but more topical essays, so I figured this week I’d talk a bit about my life and what I’m doing, which was pretty much why I started this blog in the first place.
Now, when I returned from Korea, I was so grateful to be back in a first-world country and be safe that I wasn’t thinking too much about what I’d do next. When Strawberry-teacher heard that I’d left, she asked, “Are you sure you’ll be able to find a job when you get back to New York?”
To which I automatically replied, “I’ve bounced back from worse.”
(It’s a road I’ve been down before *sigh*.)
I’ve spoken before about how I’m from a working class family, so to warp back to America without a clear cut plan of where I was going to be working next simply wasn’t going to fly, regardless of the circumstances.
I really feel (and this is especially true in New York) that if you’re willing to work, and you’re an excellent employee (an asset) then you will run into something. Fortunately for me, after escaping the Hagwon from Hell (which I hear isn’t doing too well; go figure) I was unemployed for a mere week before my aunt got me a temp job doing paperwork and answering phones in a dispatcher’s office.
(“Trucks left an hour ago. Should be there any minute, human. Er…I mean, sir.”)
Some of you reading this may be crying “nepotism” but that’s really the name of the game on Staten Island; because the economy isn’t the best and a lot of the work is unskilled labor, the whole “It’s not what you know but who you know” maxim holds a lot of weight here.
But I digress.
Anyways, I started working…a lot. Like…overtime a lot. Which is fine. I’m young and willing to put the hours in, and I’ve been down this road before, working for places where it’s the busy season and you have to be there a lot. As well as past situations where I was balancing stuff like working, going to school, doing homework, and writing.
(“The essay’s due this weekend AND we’re entering the busy season? Well, I’ll be an octopus’s uncle!”)
And that busy time is what I’d like to talk about in today’s post. See, being so busy has drilled the skill of time management into my brain, which is probably why I graduated with a 3.6 GPA from CSI (Go Dolphins) but it’s also come at a cost. That cost?
You people know what I’m talking about, right? It’s that feature on your car where after you’ve hit a certain speed on the interstate highway (or some such) you click the cruise control button to maintain that speed. You take your foot off the pedals and just lay back and watch the car drive itself. No work necessary!
( “Ah…technology. Wake me up when we get to Gary, Indiana, wouldja car?”)
But humans have autopilot too, and it’s similar to the car’s feature. How people do it (myself included, of course) is they let their habits and routines take over, without doing much else that’s different. Let’s use a practical example:
Dude gets up in the morning at the exact same time.
Dude commutes to work.
Dude arrives at work and works.
Dude commutes home.
Dude watches 4-6 hours of television when he gets home (the national average) or plays with his kids.
Dude showers and goes to sleep.
Pretty basic, right? When the days blur together and you feel yourself going through the same motions, that’s autopilot. It’s necessary, and is often an important tool, but problems can arise from this lifestyle.
(“Kill me now, God. Don’t play with me.”)
Since this blog is supposed to be about me, I’ll comment on my routine and some of the problems that arise. My autopilot is pretty simple, depending on how packed my schedule is. It’s basically thus:
Get up and go to work (or school before I graduated) and then try to write as much as I can.
I do other stuff like shower and brush my teeth of course, but my main focus is the above, and everything else is just an obstacle—in my mind, at least. But that fancy italicized sentence is a lot more demanding then you may think.
See, writing isn’t like doing laundry or walking the dog; you can’t just squeeze it in when you’ve got a few spare minutes. It’s a delicate process, one that taxes the brain, and ideally you’d be well-rested and in a quiet place when you’re hunched over that little laptop.
(All while wearing a four thousand dollar outfit. Very important.)
So over the years it’s been a challenge to work and write, and there have been periods where I’ve gone into an Autopilot Trance to pull it off, causing some important things to fall by the wayside.
Like friendships, for example. Because my schedule is so tight, I don’t have a lot of free time (or money either, but that’s another post), so I can’t be hanging around with a different friend every night of the week. Even keeping in touch with people over Facebook or Skype is difficult, because again, I’m in an Autopilot Trance a lot, and to do those things are outside of it.
(“Bro, I’m totally Autopilot Trancing now. Call me back later, playa.”)
One of the best experiences of my life was almost three years ago when I did a study abroad program in Europe. I made a few friends there who lived in not only the NYC area but also in other American states. I planned on hanging out with them once I’d returned home, but…my routine got in the way. I was working 30-40 hrs a week, going to school full time at CSI, and working on a book. The days blurred together.
I was in an Autopilot Trance. Full throttle.
And now, almost three years later, I’m regretful for not putting in the time to maintain those relationships. But the truth is it’s been going on even before that. I remember even as far back as 2009 I set up a lunch or something with a friend I graduated high school with four years prior and I cancelled on him because I was entering a writing contest and had a deadline to finish what I was working on.
I sucked. I really sucked back in my early writing days because I wasn’t too great at time management. That friend posted a passive-aggressive comment on his Facebook about how “self-serving friends” really suck or something like that, and while it hurt to read, he wasn’t wrong. I was in the wrong.
(And I’ve no problems owning up to it.)
To some it may be a small consolation, or a classic example of “too little, too late” but I just want to come out and apologize. I’m sorry. Sorry for not calling every day and sorry for appearing distracted when we do talk.
School’s done and my temp job’s busy season is over, so I should expect a few weeks off as I make the transition to start working at (insurance company) full time in early May. Even though I’m up to my neck in edits for my novel (my editor expects it in June) I should be coming out of my Autopilot Trance temporarily, and hopefully I’ll be able to dedicate a bit more time to the important people in my life, and also reach out to a few friends I haven’t had time for.
(If you find this peace offering in your mailbox, don’t be alarmed.)
Thanks for reading, and if you like what you’ve read please be sure to SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL so you don’t miss a post. If you have a friend who might enjoy this, please SHARE the post. And of course you can always LEAVE A COMMENT below (Do you ever feel yourself drifting into an Autopilot Trance?).
Next post should be up in 2 weeks per the “Post Schedule” tab I’ve added at the top.
J. F. Seegitz
P.S. I know last time I warned that this post may be a bit offensive because I was going to lay out some “harsh truths” about how people live their lives, but I decided not to go that route. I remembered that the blog is primarily about me, so I wanted to talk about my autopilot experiences instead of making a general post about other adults who are on autopilot.
I had this whole analogy and diagram planned out. It was pretty cool.
Oh well. Maybe another time.