It’s seriously like I am back in elementary school.
In elementary school, I was a smart kid. A “gifted” one. One that was always ahead of the class and learning things that other kids couldn’t understand, and learning them better and faster than those that did comprehend them could. I wasn’t a super-genius, not some kind of Ender Wiggin wunderkind that was destined to save the galaxy; I simply had an above average intelligence.
We had what were called “reading buddies” in kindergarten. You had a “buddy” who was in 3rd grade who would help you learn to read through partnership while learning to take books out of the library. Except, I was a better reader than he was. I had read my first “chapter book” (The Boxcar Children) by the age of 5, and was on to more chapter books by the next year. My reading buddy was still stuck in The Berenstain Bears (which I did like), but only casually flipped through at that point in time. So as it turned out, I started teaching him how to read. It even got to the point where I started getting books that were below my reading level out of the library simply for the reason that I could teach him to read better that way.
It was like that all throughout elementary school. There were not really any accelerated classes, and besides the “gifted program” they had for kids with an elevated IQ, I was mostly stuck with my classmates learning subject material. I never tried or applied myself, and coasted through elementary school with straight A’s across the board, not yet having learned what “real work” was like. School was easy, play was fun, life was good. Aside from my slave driving parents that is, who liked to burden me down and teach me character building and discipline with chores. I mean, why couldn’t I just play RollerCoaster Tycoon all the time? (Side note, I suppose I am thankful now for the way they raised me then. I eventually beat every RCT map anyway.)
I bring this up now, because I see my current job as elementary school. Without going terribly in-depth, I’m exceedingly good at what I do. It isn’t anything terribly special, but I am just good at it. In less than 8 months of employment, my bosses have put me in three completely different areas of the warehouse that I work in and I have excelled. In all three areas, I have been offered promotions but have turned them down because the hours of work were not what I wanted, and the pay raise wasn’t enough. After the ninth such offer, I finally found one that suited me and started the application process, which I am currently still going through (which is why I still have time to write this while at work). The sad thing is, in my opinion I haven’t even done anything special while I’ve worked here. I have done my job. I have even read about twelve books and done my fantasy research every Sunday morning. And still with only eight months of employment under my belt, one of the supervisors who isn’t even my boss said that I’ll be “the next clerk turned supervisor”, referencing a coworker who recently went from being an hourly associate to a salaried supervisor (which is about a 1.5x pay jump). One of the stockers even went as far as to talk about me (and subsequently tell me about the discussion) to the Union President about how the ‘new young guy’ is one of the few people who actually “gets it”. Yet, I don’t think I have gone above and beyond my duties, I’ve just showed up when I was told to and done what I thought consisted of my job. Apparently, just doing that is deemed going above and beyond the call of duty. It’s like elementary school all over again. I am not even trying, yet I’m blowing away the competition.
Which leads me to a couple of points. One, that if you’re a fan of or have read my past blog (a link is posted on the “Meet the Writers” page if you’re ignorant to this fact), how absurdly pathetic my past employer was. In eight months here without working nearly as hard as I used to, I have attracted the attention of multiple “higher-ups” who have set about in a way to best utilize my skills and reward me for doing good work, something that was glaringly missing from my previous occupation. To synopsize, I was only ever given one opportunity for advancement at my old employer (which I took) and at the same time, one small pay raise from above the abysmal depths of minimum wage, in more than five years of work. That goes without mentioning the fact that I never called off, always came in on time, and always stayed as late as needed, whenever I was needed (which was always Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Of course, said ex-employers have also have the audacity to plan opening a new store soon, at an expense of millions of dollars and the mistreatment of their staff, regardless of personal talent.
It also made me realize several things about myself. Right off the bat I realized the fact that without my past blog, and without writing about what a terrible company I was employed for, chances are I would still be there. I would be stuck in the doldrums of underacheiving mediocrity and a life that ill befit my talents. My life would be entirely different now if for some reason I had succeeded in reconciling with the grocery store. I’d like to think I did myself a favor in displaying such truths on the interwebs and thus getting myself canned, but in my vaunted opinion the old Company still owes me recompense for unemployment.
In turn, I started to question not just my motivation but how my motivation is contrasted with that of others. What drives me? Do I have any long-term goals that are more than just fantasies, or am I simply being a temporal hedonist? Am I just trying to get by with the least amount of work for the greatest personal profit?
Some of those questions I can’t answer because I have not yet matured to the point where I know most everything about myself. Every year I look back and see that I’ve grown in leaps and bounds in the year prior, but usually just through temporary personal experiences instead of time invested journeys. I have learned that I am not terribly hard to please, in that I am satisfied with just getting by and flying under the radar. I dropped out of college because I didn’t feel the need to attend or even try to go back, because I could easily get by without it. I stayed at my old job because it paid the bills that I needed to survive. It wasn’t until I needed a new job that I applied myself to upgrade my life and take it somewhere that it hadn’t previously been. I found out that when driven by need, that I was capable of taking myself to a better personal state.
But as my state improves, need starts to disappear and I return to the vicious cycle of lethargy. In order to best use my talents and elevate my personal being, I have acknowledged the fact that I must learn how to be driven by my wants. And not just my desires, but how I can best use the talent and motivation behind those ambitions to better others in the world around me.
What I needed, was a goal and a plan of attack. I am a list-writing person, who sits at his desk at work with all sorts of scraps of paper in his pockets littered with things that need to get done. So, I came up with an idea for a long-term goal and started a list.
I have decided to write a book. I have faintly sketched out the details, creating a plot that is loosely based on a modern day retelling of the Greek Mythological story of Jason and the Golden Fleece, with the story being told through the eyes of Jason’s Guardain Angel.
Of course it is a long way from the inception of an idea to it becoming fully realized. As a perfectionist when it comes to things that I’m good at, each chapter will more than likely receive multiple re-writes and revisions before a rough draft of the final project will be a reality.
Which is where you as the reader comes in. As I have stated above, I’m not terribly competent with long-term goals, so keep me honest and ask me how progress is going. Just don’t ask to read any of it, because the answer will always be the same. Secondly, in more direct relation to this post, find out what motivates you and what you’re good at. Make a plan to achieve a long-term goal that won’t just affect you, but will have a positive affect on others around you as well. Accordingly, as friends hold you accountable for your hopes and dreams, hold them accountable right back to ensure that they are making an effort to better themselves in a way that truly reflects their unique talents. And if you are having trouble finding that motivation, remember that that horrible cliché about there being no better time tha now is actually true. Especially, during the Christmas Season, which I have found is always a good time for miracles.