oddEvan

Slightly uneven since 2005

Category: introspection (page 1 of 2)

Here Comes 2015!

Here we go again with another New Year’s Introspection!

  1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Attending Grok 2014
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Learning to deal with the pain of regret and disappointment on a bigger scale than I thought I’d experience.
  3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? Giving my new camera a workout.
  4. What was an unexpected obstacle? See #2.
  5. Pick three words to describe 2014. Finding our equilibrium.
  6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2014 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Highs and lows
  7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2014 (again, without asking). Learning and growing
  8. What were the best books you read this year? Pretty much the only books I read were The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey and Storm Chase by K. M. Carroll (a.k.a. NetRaptor a.k.a. best thing to ever happen to Sonic fan fiction). Anyway, I’m hoping to read more this year.
  9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? My wife, some of my co-workers, and one of my old roommates that’s living in town.
  10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? I’m writing more.
  11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I experienced deep pain and did not die. I despaired, sure, but I lived to tell the tale.
  12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? Learning—again—that God doesn’t operate on my schedule.
  13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? See, you keep asking this question, and I actually did make it up to a “healthy” BMI this year. And I got the cholesterol to go with it.
  14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? Learning to have empathy/compassion for jerks and bullies.
  15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Getting recognized for accomplishing something worthwhile.
  16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Learning to stay focused and where to direct said focus.
  17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? I think sudoku and webcomics are tied.
  18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Actually completing a challenge and publishing something again.
  19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? If I want to, I can still be as awesome as I used to be. (But maybe not as awesome as I thought I was. Because I never was.)
  20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2014 for you. Recovering and stabilizing from 2013.

Brittany did this too. Have a great year, everyone!

I Like To Appreciate

I appreciate a lot of things, and I like a lot of things. They are not necessarily the same things.

In my personal dictionary, when I appreciate something it is usually on its more concrete qualities. I appreciate the workmanship of a well-built desk. I appreciate the fuel efficiency of a moped. I appreciate the cuss out of my laptop’s battery life. These are all quantifiable qualities: I can back up my appreciation with numbers and comparisons.

I also appreciate less-quantifiable things. I appreciate the way an illustrator uses facial expressions to convey emotion. I appreciate an author’s use of language to set a mood. I appreciate a composer’s ability to weave chords and melody together and a drummer’s ability to play the cuss out of some drums. These things are less quantifiable but still concrete to some extant.

All of these things add up to a healthy appreciation for something, and that is usually the biggest factor into whether I will recommend something for general consumption.

But it doesn’t mean I like it.

To me, liking something means I can connect with it on an emotional level. This connection is usually dependent on very personal factors: my temperament, my experiences, my ideals. Something I like will often remind me of or awaken in me a strong, unfulfilled desire for something, and it almost always ends up inspiring my imagination to go to new places.

It’s hard for me to recommend things on this basis alone. Usually if I like something, I’ll say things like “It’s not for everyone” or “Your mileage may vary.” I’m well aware of the personal nature of my feelings, and it’s hard to justify a recommendation simply based on that.

Maybe it’s a confidence problem: I’m not sure enough in my own taste to confidently recommend something. Maybe it’s a language issue, and I need to figure out the right words to use to differentiate my feelings. Or maybe it’s a false dichotomy, and I simply need to accept the fact that as a complex human being my opinions can be equally complex.

Maybe I just need to appreciate that I don’t always know why I like something.

Looking To 2014

Brittany does this every year, and it’s a good idea.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Publishing my first iPhone app.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Getting laid off 2 weeks into the year.
  3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? Actually learning how much Brittany loves me and will stand by and behind and in front of me.
  4. What was an unexpected obstacle? Losing my job and everything that came with it.
  5. Pick three words to describe 2013. Okay, plan B?
  6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2013 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Beauty from pain.
  7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2013 (again, without asking). Broken but good.
  8. What were the best books you read this year? … ask me next year.
  9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? Brittany, Andrew and Elizabeth Ramos, my former team at Blackbaud, my new co-workers, and my family.
  10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? Last year, I learned I needed to do things. This year, I did them.
  11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? Learning not to tie my self-worth to my job.
  12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? Learning to trust God, even when it’s the last thing I want to do.
  13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? Are you going to ask me this every year?
  14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? It’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to take it when it’s offered.
  15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? After years of doing nothing but fixing bugs, it was so refreshing to work on building something new.
  16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Trying to find work and deciding what work to pursue.
  17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? Probably Doctor Who, though I rediscovered YouTube recently…
  18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? PillTimer.
  19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? God will provide, just as He promised.
  20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2013 for you. It sucked getting here, but you’re here now; make $#!% happen.

As an aside, this is the first time in forever about 4 years that I’m starting the year off without fearing for my job. The year before last, my fears were justified 2 weeks in. Last year, my fears were realized about 2 weeks in. This year, not only am I not sensing impending doom for my job, but I’m actually enjoying it.

So here’s to 2014.

The Voice

It was the middle of the night in the middle of winter my freshman year when God spoke to me.

I was skirting the edge of depression and worrying about the future. In this particular case I had worked up the courage to walk across campus to see if some girls I had been hanging out with were around. They weren’t. On the way back to my side of campus I stopped at the lake to calm myself. The part of my brain that I should never listen to (yet always do) was yelling again about how much trouble my future was in. In this case, it was how my fear of approaching women and my general personality and just absolutely everything about me was going to mean that I was not going to find my wife at college even though most people do and that meant I was never going to find a wife in general and so on.

So I went down to the lake to pray.

Now, when I say “pray,” you should read “talked and sometimes yelled out loud at God because there was no one else to listen.” It was more than a little irreverent, but it was what I needed. I poured out everything: how anxious I was about the future, how I was afraid that even if God brought the right person into my life I’d be too stupid to notice her, how lonely I was, and how afraid I was that I’d always be lonely. And while I didn’t hear a voice, my thoughts went in a direction that was completely different from where they were going.

In that moment, it was like God took the scared, freaking out child that I was, took him gently by the shoulders, knelt down, looked him in the eyes, and said, “Evan, I have been watching out for you your entire life. Why would I stop now, especially on something that is this important to you?”

I was still scared. But a lot less freaked out. And—spoiler alert—I found her.

This week, I’ve been skirting the edge of depression (maybe more than skirting, to be honest) and worrying about the future. In this particular case, I’ve been without a job for three months now. I’ve been searching and interviewing, and I’ve been subject to the usual delays and pitfalls of a job search. Despite my relative success at keeping myself busy with a nice side project, I’ve been giving into panic more than I care to admit. The part of my brain that I should never listen to (yet always do) is yelling again about how much trouble my future is in. In this case, it’s how my lack of what I perceive as a robust background is going to mean I can’t get a job and if I do get a job is it going to be one that I will enjoy and not just show up to and will I really be able to do the job if I do get it and so on.

Time to go down to the park to pray, but somehow I don’t think the message has changed.

I Tried To Make a Good "Blackbaud" Pun To Title This Post But Nothing Can Top "Raisers Edge"

Today was my last official day at Blackbaud. Never you mind that I haven’t done any work for them since I got the news two and a half weeks ago. I knew a lot of great people there, and I will miss working with all of them.

I want to be clear right now: there are no hard feelings on this end. Maybe someday later I’ll post some navel gazing and tell all of you in Internet-land just how I’m feeling right now, but suffice it to say this is a beginning, not an ending. I’m chasing down some leads here in the Greenville area, but if you know of anything that fits my resume please get in touch.

If you’re thinking about working at Blackbaud and you’ve ended up here by some happenstance, let me tell you to give them a shot. The people you work with and report to make or break your experience, and all of the managers I’ve worked under have been great. They’ve congratulated me on successes, given me a push when I needed it (and I have needed several), and taken an interest in me as a person, not just an asset. They have set a high standard for anyone else I will be working for.

So now we get to wade elbow-deep in the cesspit that is free-market insurance (until I get a full-time job). It’s not as bad as I was afraid it would be, but it still leaves much to be desired. I’m finishing up my iOS self-study program; no idea when I’ll get an app in the store, though you can bet I’ll post here when I do. All that to say, to those that have supported us, thanks. We’re ok, but we might ask for help. In the form of cookies.

My God is so big…

Edit: Altru: no faults. (Thanks, Brittany!)

New Year’s Eve Reflection

Brittany does this every year, and it’s a good idea.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Mountcation 2012. It was nice to remember that we could actually get out and enjoy life some.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Brittany’s dad passed away this year. This has affected both of us more than we realize.
  3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? Being surprised by just how much my wife loves me.
  4. What was an unexpected obstacle? Seeing the possibility of me losing my job but having to put aside the stress and work hard(er) anyway.
  5. Pick three words to describe 2012. The long game.
  6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Growing and maturing.
  7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012 (again, without asking). Victories and trials.
  8. What were the best books you read this year? Didn’t read many books, but I did finally get around to starting the Dragonriders of Pern series.
  9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? Brittany and my family (though I need to work on the second more).
  10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? I’ve re-learned that things don’t just happen; you have to do them. To wit, “if you were the inventor of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”
  11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? See previous. I’ve spent less time spinning my wheels wishing for life to change and more time trying to change it.
  12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I’m recognizing my need for God, but I need to spend more time seeking Him.
  13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? I HAVE A BIG HEAD AND LITTLE ARMS.
  14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? Trying to talk less and listen more.
  15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? I spent about two weeks on a side project that has netted me at least a week in saved time/energy. It was fun to get back into the mode of solving problems.
  16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Showing up and doing good work even when I don’t want to.
  17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? Stress and/or escape.
  18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Working on bettering myself and working on my marriage.
  19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? It will not “just work;” I need to make it work.
  20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you. S#!% just got real.

See you guys next year!

So Long…

There’s about 3 hours left in 2011 here in South Carolina. I’m probably going to do some new years survey thing in the next 24 hours or so. But for right now, I’d like to end this year. And so…

To everyone, my friends, my family, my co-workers, my wife, my God: I have not been all I could have been this year. I have probably let you down at some point this year, and for that I truly apologize. I don’t regret this year; there have been some amazing memories and triumphs this year. But right now I’m painfully aware of my shortcomings. This hasn’t been brought on by one particular thing; it’s just some general depression and anxiety I’m dealing with. And right now I want nothing more than to leave all… (gestures to all of that) this in 2011. In the past.

So here’s to a new leaf, a new beginning. God’s grace is new every day, including tomorrow. Happy new year, everyone; I’ll see you in 2012.

Because I Don’t Blog Enough

What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Getting married. Mostly because that set the tone for the whole year.

What was the single most challenging thing that happened? See above.

What was an unexpected joy this past year? Learning the extent to which my wife cares about me.

What was an unexpected obstacle? Our expectations (realistic and otherwise) about marriage.

Pick three words to describe 2010. Wait, what? Okay.

Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). You okay? Breathe.

Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking). Roller coaster ride.

What were the best books you read this year? More like only books, and I can’t even remember them.

With whom were your most valuable relationships? Brittany

What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? Learning to share life with someone else, not just live in the same area as someone else.

In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? Learning to talk about stuff instead of internalizing everything.

In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? In the words of U2, “Sometimes you can’t make it on your own.”

In what way(s) did you grow physically? I plead the fifth.

In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? It’s really hard to tell; I’m just now learning just how impossible it is to please everyone, but that’s a recent development, so the jury’s still out.

What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Solving a problem.

What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? Maintaining communication and motivation with a team that is 200 miles away.

What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? Netflix streaming, particularly a particular TV show.

What was the best way you used your time this past year? Better knowing my wife.

What was biggest thing you learned this past year? No one is perfect: not you, nor the people you thought were.

Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you. It’s time to talk about what we learned today.

See also: Brittany and Lena.

Next To Godliness

I had a job satisfaction crisis earlier in the week. In reality it was more of a life satisfaction crisis, but a crisis of that kind is usually called a “mid-life crisis” and isn’t supposed to come until you’re 32, not 23. Besides, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it led to a realization that, while not completely positive, is better than the depths of despair.

This particular crisis was instigated by the realization that I’m spending a third of my time on a project that isn’t mine. I knew that going in. That’s what comes with any job where you aren’t self-employed. Duh. I figured I’d make up for it with my spare time projects like I had been doing in college. For a while I did that, and I managed to get my album out the door in the process. And then it stopped.

Normally around this point I’d say something to the effect of ‘I have no idea why I stopped.’ But now I do. See, I’ve finally realized that I work best creatively in a clean environment. And my room is a mess. But logically it makes sense. Why does my room get in a mess? Because I don’t feel like I have the energy to put things in their proper place. In other words, if my life is a mess, my room is a mess. So if my room is a mess, I feel like my life is a mess and therefore cannot focus my creative energy appropriately.

Right now, my room is a mess. That’s about to change. Brittany, hold me to that.

2008: Time To Grow Up

If I had to sum up 2008 in one word, it would be “woah.” If you could give me an extra word, though, it would be “growing up.” In my personal life (and in some ways the world around me) this year has been about growing up.

2008 was the year I finally had to come to grips with the fact that not everyone I meet or spend time with will like me. And even when I’ve apologized as much as I can (or even farther), other people may still decide not to forgive me (despite what they say to my face). And in the end, what I’m responsible for is forgiving them; anything past that is in God’s hands.

2008 was when I was hit in the face with the fact that the best laid plans of mice and men will quickly come to ruin, especially if God has anything to say about it. Case in point: this time last year I was hoping to get a web development job in Greenville. Between February and April, I shifted focus and ended up taking a .NET programming job in Charleston after being offered my ideal position in Greenville. Crazy, huh?

2008 was when we as a nation finally realized that placing most of our investments in funds and bonds that were so complicated even the best economists didn’t know exactly how they worked was a bad idea. Those funds? They were backed by shaky mortgages. Maybe easy access to credit isn’t such a great idea after all…

2008 was also when we as a nation took another giant step forward in moving past racism. It already says something when people in my generation have to be reminded that racism exists. I know that it is far from eradicated–and this election doesn’t change that–but as a symbolic gesture, the fact that we have elected a president whose skin tone is different from the majority of the population says that it is far less of a stumbling block than it once was.

2008 was when I realized that maybe I had skills other people might want. I thought it would be much more of a struggle than it was to find a job. Yes, I interviewed several places that said I wasn’t experienced enough, but I still received more than one job offer. I still ended up talking to organizations that I never thought would consider me.

And that spilled over into other areas too. See, 2008 was the year I finally got tired of being the odd-numbered wheel. But since I wasn’t willing to try my luck with anyone around me, I signed up for an online dating service. And said so on facebook. And was promptly chewed out by someone I was kinda interested in. See, there were people around me that I was afraid to notice. But when I finally decided to allow myself to think in that direction…

2008 will always be the year I graduated. The year I got my first job. Moved out. Finished my CD. But I will always remember this year as the year I fell in love.

Maybe growing up isn’t so bad after all…

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