Monday, June 19, 2017

I Have A Problem

Yes, I said it.

And I will say it again.

I have a problem.

Okay I have many problems, I will admit that. But I want to talk about one problem specifically; my inability to just participate.

I am someone who is looking for something. I am looking for something that I can belong to, be a part of. Something I can enjoy. Something I that can be a part of my life, but not consume it. Something that doesn't come with a shit ton of politics, drama or outright bullshit. Two things I cannot handle... boredom and drama.

But I don't want to lead.

Boredom for me is defined as, "not learning". This is why I have learned to play two musical instruments, computer science, photography, drawing, painting, writing, gaming, poetry, podcasting, and so much more. Self taught, and not great at any of it, but good enough. And "good enough" means, I get bored with it or burned out before I have a chance to become great at it.

Drama for me is anything where things just go horribly wrong and always involves people and their egos.

Let me give you a little backstory.

Back in 2008 I was trying to learn photography. I joined a local newly formed photography club to engage with others who were looking to do the same thing; learn about photography and go out and photograph things. A few months later, the leader of the club left due to some long term family medical circumstances and I was thrust into a leadership role, which I accepted because at the time, the club would have dissolved entirely otherwise. But, I didn't want to lead this club of 30 plus members on my own so I recruited a few other members to help with various logistics; treasury, member management, website and other various aspects of running a club.

Fast forward a few years; I have learned just about everything I can about photography, so I am bored. My creativity is tanking so I am not engaged. And, I am burned out since running an organization that has over 100 members, who all have lots of criticisms and put forth very little effort in helping make the club successful, makes for a lot of drama. Many of the other leaders had already left the group, silently slipping out.

There was a lot more drama than just complaints, lackluster leadership and lack of participation by club members. There were times where individuals came in tried to take over and turn the club into their personal payroll machine.

Friendships were hurt and people still hold grudges to this day.

So, having reached the end of my rope, I handed off my duties to others, stepped down from the club's leadership and walked away from the club. I picked up drawing again, rediscovered a love of comics and began the downward spiral into engaging with the geek community.

I know... I used the term "downward spiral". There's a reason for that.

I made some friends quickly, joined a group, started attending meetings and then was asked to take over the scheduling of meetings. And, because I valued what I was getting from the meetings, I agreed. On the surface, the group was great. People excited similar things; talking about movies, comics and figures and delving into theoretical conversation.

But, the leader of the group, who I shall call Holdenburger, was all but absent. He would chime in on the group's facebook page with quips like, "I love this group!" or "This is the best geek group around".

About the only time he wasn't absent was when it came time to take credit.

Holdenburger decided after someone else held the first comic con in our hometown that he could put on a better event and better yet, he could get people to do it for free and even better yet he could get others to pay for the event.

And he set his mind on doing just that.

I was asked to be a part of the super secret committee. Holdenburger liked my writing and wanted my help writing documents for him, like solicitation to vendors, celebrity guests and the like. And even though I didn't agree with the motivation for doing the event, I agreed initially, simply because I wanted to see community get more good things happening for it.

Then, around Christmas time, the first con ran into some problems. And as it turned out, another member of the secret planning committee for Holdenburger's con, actually had something to do with a terrible story going public, (he actually called the local news station and reported it). Suddenly our community was up in arms about reports of vendor's being ripped off, refunds being denied, etc. All sorts of hell broke loose. In the end, the other con was saved by being sold.

When the original con sold and was reported to be moving ahead under new leadership; this is when things turned dark for Holdenburger.

He began getting angry about the other con, and telling people that the con was sold to corporate beast from California. And while yes, the con was purchased by a corporation that was based in California, the fact remained that the man who owned the "corporation" lived in our hometown and wasn't the corporate beast Holdenburger painted it out to be.

Now during this time, I had been listening to a lot of Podcasts and was toying with the idea of doing a podcast. After leaving the photography club I needed another creative outlet.

I even did a two episode stint on Holdenburger's cable access show. That ended up being a horrifying experience. It started when he asked me what I thought of doing a television show and I liked the idea. So I worked with him to co-create the format of the show, the initial concepts, developed the recording schedule and so on. He wanted to do interviews with local artists, collectors, etc. I wanted to talk about geeky events and places locally.

So I co-created a part of it and I was the co-host for episodes 1 and 2... my only stipulations going into the creative partnership was that I didn't want it to be part of the brand for Holdenburger comic con event and that I could talk about local businesses, products and events; including other cons. I wanted it to be our thing and I made that clear.

But in the end, it didn't work out.

Episodes 1 and 2 were fiascoes for me. Public Access doesn't allow shows talking about businesses and the services they offer. And Holdenburger demanded the show be branded after his comic con. .

But it wasn't until he did an interview with the local paper that Holdenburger showed his true colors. He talked about his event, his show and his "group", the comics fan group that many others were running, scheduling meetings for, etc. He claimed he was solely responsible for the success of everything. It was at this time that I removed myself completely from his group as well and closed that door forever.

Now we are back to the present.

So following the recording of episodes 1 and 2, I walked away from "his" show and "his" con and looked into developing a podcast that was branded with the tag line, "Sponsored by nobody, free to talk about everybody"

I talked with a "new" friend about this podcasting concept, he said he was interested and we took off and did our own thing. We developed it together, we executed it together, we grew it together. We were invited to record at the con that was "saved". We interviewed celebrities, talked with local businesses about awesome things they had planned and we talked with local artists. The podcast wasn't branded to tie in with anything else. The podcast was never about making money. We kept it positive, we kept it fun. It was ours... and it was good.

Life was good.

But then... I started offering to help... so many others.

When you look at the underbelly of society, you see the darkness that hides under the belly of the beast. The exposed nature of this beast's underbelly is ugly. Petty rivalries (both secret and public), rabid snarkiness towards one another, insecurities, covert ops, secrets, spies, illnesses (and not colds and allergies, I am talking alcoholism, public intoxication, etc.) hatred and really, just plain ugliness.

I loved podcasting. I loved meeting the people I met. I loved hearing the awesome tales from the Geekdom. I loved engaging with so many talented and giving people. And most of all, I love the friends I have made. But the underbelly of the beast took a toll on me and I have completely withdrawn from the community as a whole for the most part.

So why am I so sensitive to ugly in the world?

I regularly take the Briggs Myers personality test. I like understand who I am, why I do the things I do and how to avoid the pain that life brings. I every time I test I find that I am an INFJ, not just in overall definition, but deep into the detailed definition of an INFJ, that is who I am. And I mean, my results have never been anything but INFJ

So what is an INFJ?

An INFJ experiences the world internally, via intuition. INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. INFJs tend to see helping others as their purpose in life, but while people with this personality type can be found engaging rescue efforts and doing charity work, their real passion is to get to the heart of the issue so that people need not be rescued at all. The passion of their convictions is perfectly capable of carrying an INFJ past their breaking point and if their "drive to help" gets out of hand, they can find themselves exhausted, unhealthy and stressed.

And that is where the problem lies.

I wanted to help others succeed. I engage to the point that the ugly side of the culture becomes overwhelming. Time and time again, I engage to a level that I get exhausted, start feeling unhealthy (both physically and mentally) and I get stressed. And when this happens, my sensitivity forces me to do everything they can to evade these situations. And if the circumstances are unavoidable, I can fight back in highly irrational, unhelpful ways, like just about every INFJ does. But rather than lash out, I typically withdraw, isolate myself from everyone and everything including my wife.

When this happens it feels a lot like depression. The things I loved before loss all of my interest.

And, in the end, that's my ongoing problem: I can't just participate.

I can't just attend something. I am a person that wants to offer to help; not because I was raised that way, but because I am compelled to. I know what it takes to organize an event for a community. I know the amount work and energy that goes into things like this. I so deeply want things to succeed, so I offer to help... even if I already purchased tickets to the event. But that level of engagement seems to open doors that aren't in the best interest of my health.

So I inevitably withdraw.

I withdraw from helping at my local comic con.
I withdraw from helping at my local comic shop.
I withdraw from my podcast.
I withdraw from my job.
I withdraw from my friends.
I withdraw from my family.

I sit in my room day after day, remaining exhausted from something that happened months ago, or even a year ago. I don't talk to anyone unless it is absolutely unavoidable. I am trying my damnedest to just let go of the things that wiped me out, yet I can't.

Call me a fair-weather friend, unreliable or whatever it is that makes you feel better about me. It's easy to read my withdrawl as "I don't care", but nothing could be farther from the truth. The problem is,I do care, immensely.

And here I sit today, pondering my future with communities I still love. Pondering my need to just participate against my hardwired compulsion to help. I don't know if I will ever be able to find a balance. Where do I go from here. Do I re-establish some ground rules for myself with others, or do I just walk away assuming others won't understand or accept my "new" rules for engagement?

Can you make a dog stop being a dog?

So if you are wondering where I have been for so long; why I haven't posted any new photos, drawn any new pictures, written any comic reviews in so long, or recorded any new episodes of the podcast or even come into your shop... you can rest assured, I am sitting at home, bored out of my freak'n mind half the time and driving my poor wife nuts the other half of the time; trying to figure out what's next.







No comments: