One more year of residence and then I can go out into the whole wide giant world and print my thesis wherever I want. Like, right now I’m thinking Borneo. Or Tierra del Fuego. Or Novaya Zemlya. But mostly Borneo.
In the meantime, here’s some advice from my Inner Coach, who seldom wins against my Inner Critic, which makes him an underdog coach, which is the best kind…unless never winning makes him an infamously crummy coach, in which case, never mind. Except, my Inner Critic’s ten times as mean as a monster that’s half Balrog and half Gojira, so maybe it’s impossible for any coach to win against that sort of horrendous power. Entropy always wins, after all. Just like gravity…or, well, not just like, but you know what I mean. Maybe.
Anyway, the “you” is “me” using Coach Voice:
Clear the decks and keep them clear, because you have tons of work to do.
There will be anywhere from 100 million to 999 zillion distractions. Don’t let them distract you. Ever.
Nothing matters except the work. Nothing matters except the work.
Only you can do the work you’re supposed to do. You can’t do anyone else’s work and they can’t do yours.
We are all on different paths. Which is good. Everyone going down one path erodes the path into a storm drain and then a gully. (Sorry, bad at metaphors.) Everyone going down wildly different paths is way healthier because multiple paths inhibits the growth of monocultures.
Your only competition is yourself. Seriously.
Don’t do the work for anyone but yourself. This is one area of life (maybe the only one) where being selfish is a virtue. Maybe. Or maybe that’s totally wrong. Mostly, though, it seems that if you do the work for other people, it usually just ends up being a waste of time, which is always in super-short supply.
If you fail (as you usually will) to win over the old Inner Critic, if you fail (as happens more often than not) to make a completely successful work of art, if you fail (999 times out of a thousand) to make it through even half of your daily task list, it doesn’t matter, because you have the rare gift of the rare partner who actually loves you, and nothing else remotely comes close to being as awesome as that.
If, on occasion, you don’t fail at something, remember that failure is normal and that not failing is anomalous, so don’t let it go to your head. As if that could ever actually happen.
Remember: you’re not making art for the Illuminati or anything. You don’t even really have an easily identifiable audience. Just do the work you want to do and don’t worry about whether or not some particular clique will like it. Most of them time, most folks won’t. Which, again, is just a plain old fact of life, and not something to rant about or get drunk over. That would be ridiculous.
Remember: in the Outside World, people sometimes do like your work. It’s sort of a miracle, but it’s true, nonetheless.
Remember: you’re not middle-class. You have always been and always will be way down there with the proles. Which is a fine place to be.
Remember: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” is the single most radical and challenging and nearly impossible thing anyone has ever said ever, so if you can somehow get into that frame of mind, then that would be quite an achievement. Even if 98% of the time your dog-owning neighbors make you want to build the world’s tallest and thickest hedgerow ever.
Ugh. You can see why I’m worried about making it…right now I put my odds at 100:1. Of course, the odds were about 1,000,000,000:1 that I’d ever even get to go to grad school in the first place, since I’m not grad school material in any way, shape or form. So, we’ll see…although, I guess that’s why I’m skeptical, since it seems crazy to think I’m going to be allowed to defy the odds forever.
Anyhow, back to work. I have six years worth of stuff to do and two days to do it in.
P.S. The best advice of all: stay the heck off the Internet!!! Like, now for instance.