It’s a Christmas miracle, everyone. I finished a coloring book page and made no mistakes. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. I’m still in shock, and I’m not sure I expect this to happen again. After I realized this, I was suddenly faced with the question of what do I do with that page? I thought I’d be proud – oh, who am I kidding, I was proud – but I was also a little disappointed. I can’t very well post a perfect piece on “Where’s Whoopsie,” can I?
No one really cares about my art. Presumably, readers are reading this post right now because I write something else alongside that art. I get the satisfaction of knowing someone other than me will see my coloring when the bully-in-my-brain tells me it is a pointless waste of time. My readers, I hope, get a moment’s worth of amusement and/or maybe identify with something in my post. It’s a win-win. A perfect page is just that: a perfect page and nothing more profound.
Feels like there should be a life lesson in there, doesn’t it? I’m not someone who sees fated or spiritual meanings in things. That’s kind of a dangerous prospect for someone with a trauma history: that way lies religious justification that you deserved the $h17 that happened. I’ve seen that dangerous type of religion further traumatize others in my family – heck, some of it was on display in my partner’s family over Thanksgiving – but I have always instinctively shied away from it for self-protection. I also genuinely hate the idea of post-traumatic growth. I mean, seriously, can we not better ourselves and speak up for others without going through trauma first? Saying trauma is what shaped me into a good person feels suspiciously like saying I can only be good because of a fear that otherwise God will get his smite on. God and growth are both inherently fine things, so please don’t take this as an insult to anyone for their beliefs, but telling me either made the trauma itself “worthwhile” will always be cold comfort.
Thus, my attempted life lesson will come from career coaching. After all, I did start this blog as one way to jumpstart my path to the C-suite. One of my friends was quite alternative when I met him in college. Goth alternative, to be precise. He has since entered the professional world, and he no longer dresses that way. (I’m unclear if he still identifies that way in private, in the same way I’m privately a geek but don’t talk about D&D at work, or whether he has moved completely out of that lifestyle.) Either way, he maintains a whisper of Goth style in his work appearance. He wears business casual or even suits to work, so, as you can imagine, it’s very subtle. It’s always there, though, and he uses it as a launching pad for “bonding” with clients via stories. As he explains it, expensive suits – or even Zuckerberg-style hoodies, casual wear and a tattoo or two – are common in startup culture. You’re a dime a dozen if you fit those profiles. You almost can’t find a unique style anymore in the startup world. But expensive with a wisp of Victorian Goth? Especially a wisp that ties to your history and is perceived to be one of the less cliché flavors of alternative? That’s memorable. That’s cool. That’s a personal brand.
I haven’t figured out what my personal brand is at work. It is probably closest to absent-minded professor, but there’s too much truth in that brand (ADHD and all) to control the presentation of it in ways that work for me. I’m always memorable, but not often cool. Unless I correctly predict the next pandemic from my open office while running weekly reports, the mad scientist persona probably won’t get me far in data analytics.
I guess I have a personal brand on my blog, after all. That’s a start. I fail at things and make a game of it. It’s not always a fun game. Work failures and trauma are kind of the opposite, in fact. Where’s Whoopsie is fun. Improv is fun. Sometimes failure is fun. The key seems to be that the failures I sought out are fun. The ones I didn’t ask for…still suck… but the bully in my brain is apparently a control freak more than a true perfectionist. Even it was kind of relieved that, try as I might, I am unlikely to create another perfect page for some time. Inattention is a hallmark of ADHD, so genuine mistakes will still be my norm for tasks like coloring where I can’t ctrl-z the evidence.
I think I’ll post the perfect page in some future Where’s Whoopsie, though. Call it a super bonus challenge round: can you find the lone example of perfection? I can’t laugh at myself for unintentional mistakes, but I can absolutely volunteer my perfection for laughs. I guess that’s as good a lesson as any other for now, and a second minor miracle that I’m attempting a generically “uplifting” style post.
Just don’t expect regular life lessons from Where’s Whoopsie moving forward. On frustrating days – like say, oh, being highly triggered by some discussions heard over Thanksgiving that I’m attempting to figure out what, if anything, to say about on this blog – I’ll snap at the idea of life lessons like I do at the concept of post-traumatic growth. On most the rest of the days I’m still an Improv “art-eest” at heart if I’m an art-eest at all. Snark is far more natural to me than sagacity when it comes to self-acceptance.