Not that holiday that pretends to predict the end of winter, or hastening of spring. I'm thinking more of the movie with Bill Murray where he keeps repeating the same exact day over and over and over stuck in some horrible space/time loop until he finally changes who he is for the better after repeatedly failing to understand why he's repeating this day. It's neurotic and real, that here's this guy who's not even initially aware of what he needs to learn to get released from some endless purgatory, until slow, unknowingly, he starts to alter himself because he's finally learning something.
Yesterday something was going on that made me look at my Facebook profile through the eyes of someone else. I don't typically scroll down into my past posts to retroactively curate my SM. For 'fun' I rolled backwards a touch over 1 year past just to see how much my life has changed, each post being a little snapshot of what was going on at that time. I was surprised at what I saw, and also the gaps in posts which is indirectly also a snapshot of what was going on.
THINGS I LEARNED:
1. The biggest thing. The hardest thing. The thing I need to work on before anything else I do in my life. It's easy to lie to me.
I think my best trait is also my worst weakness. I'm deeply empathetic. So much so that it attracts certain personality types that know how to charade what wins me over. If you don't know this term yet look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder then look up Gaslighting. I wasn't aware of these things until people who saw what was going on (some just by seeing the dynamics on my profile/posts) started educating me. Ironically right at the end of 1 year back I saw some posts that reminded me that this wasn't the first time. But again, empathy, combined with a little self sacrifice and always seeing the best in people. Put that all together and I not only was in denial but actually buried that memory.
Moving forward I am learning to be more careful. MUCH more selective. I'm not picking fruit at the damn farmer's market, I'm allowing someone to have the power to hurt me. I know what I can offer and that I'm valuable, so I need to be protective of the softer sides of me so I don't lose it under a mountain of scar tissue. I don't want to become hardened. I'm honestly tired as hell being like Bill Fucking Murray repeating this same shit over and over because I haven't learned whatever lesson the universe is trying to teach me.
2. What I do for a living really changes people's lives.
My entire career has been in the arts. I'm a professor teaching visual arts, specifically Graphic Design, but I approach it in the same way I was taught in grad school at Mason Gross (Rutgers). You're an artist. Go learn about yourself then let that power your work. In my class I really let my personality out, the real Basem. I'm totally over the top insane at times. Last week I did my Gordan Ramsay workshop where I locked the doors and went Hell's Kitchen on them for 20 minutes (not serious of course but there was a lesson they learned).
There were so many posts from graduating students and alumni thanking me for pushing them to succeed. Here's that empathy thing again. I see the students as real people, human, and I try to get to know them personally, sometimes we even become friends. And they get to know me as well, on a personal level. I think that makes it an easy environment to learn in, we have fun, we make fun of each other, we go out to eat or order food, we rally together to help each other out.
In some of the things they wrote, and private messages they sent me, it was clear that somehow in my short time with them I inspired them. And they all talked about how they grew as adults and artists by learning who they were as people. That touched me. I don't think they know this but I learn from them too. We're actually influencing each other in the studio because like I wrote in the last post, I'm always going to be growing.
This is something I want to remember, and cultivate, in my life. That I'll never get lazy trying to get someone, including myself, to look inside of themselves, into all the dark ugly corners, and all the bright shiny spots, so they can learn how to make things that change someone's world. Sometimes that someone might be themselves, or myself like with this thing I'm doing writing). I don't ever want what I do to become my job. If I'm not passionate about something, someone, some words, then I'm not doing it right.
I hesitate to say I'm good at what I do, because that rings of narcissism (see #1 above). But I can say with confidence that I know how to push people to believe in themselves and kill their excuses. For most of my life I wanted to change the world and I found in my classroom I can at least change someone's world, one driven person at a time.
(I'll continue this in my next post)