Happy 2019!

I hope everybody had a good New Year, or at the least stayed out of trouble.

I’m back in the office organizing everything for the new year, new month, new week, etc. I try to avoid making resolutions. I’m sure most of us have fallen into that trap of thinking January 1st we’re going to be an entirely different person than we were on December 31st, only to beat ourselves over staying the same and concede defeat. Instead I prefer to set goals I want to achieve and figure out the steps I need to accomplish them. As somebody with ADHD it helps to have regular check-ins with myself to see how I’m doing, remind myself what my goals are, and occasionally realize I need to change direction. It’s very easy for me to get hyper focused on a particular task because I’m comfortable carrying it out or excited by what I find. Then I have to switch gears and do something else – something different, potentially new, or just something I’m unsure about doing properly – a thing most people don’t have trouble doing. Consider playing Super Mario Bros.:

Super Mario Bros. World 1-1 via GIPHY

Most of us are probably familiar with this game. You move Mario from one side of the screen to the other as the camera follows him, jumping across platforms, avoiding enemies and pitfalls, collecting coins and power-ups to help you along the way. You can see what’s coming and react accordingly. This is how most people perceive time and tasks for the day. They’re aware of their environment and can judge when they need to respond to things. Now consider Mario’s point of view:

First Person Mario via RocketJump

He has a vague idea of what’s in store for him after his next jump. Probably some blocks, some pipes, and a few enemies to watch out for. It feels disorienting not being able to see things pulled out, especially if you’re used to playing this level in the traditional view. How do you judge when the goomba is in the same place you’re going to land? Are you at the right distance to jump that pipe? It requires a level of awareness about your abilities. You have to internalize how high you can jump and from how far away. This is closer to how I see time, tasks, and appointments. I can zoom out and write dates down, sort them by their various properties, but when I’m in the thick of my day I have trouble concentrating on jumping the flagpole at the end because I’m preoccupied with the ledge underneath me in the moment.

It’s not necessarily that I’m forgetful. You can know all the steps to a dance but do them in the wrong order and it’s not the Macarena. Often times I’ll be carrying around too much in my head. In school I would use the fact that I couldn’t recall something as a reminder. That works well in the short term, like if you always forget one word on this week’s vocabulary list, for example. The problem comes with maintaining it in long term memory. I can memorize dates long enough to answer them on a test but keeping them straight by the end of a semester is another story.

Rote memorization isn’t always the best indicator of learning something. Boring repetition makes information difficult for me to absorb. I can repeat things back without actually thinking through what they mean. Ever read assembly instructions without illustrations to visualize what they mean? On the other hand, if it feels like I’m engaged in the conversation with an instructor, I can pick up on everything without notes. (I did this in Art History where it felt like we were gossiping about the lives of artists through the ages.)

Plans for 2019

1. Animate!

It’s what I love to do. So why don’t I do it more often? Mostly because I’m worried about spending too much time on the wrong projects. I try to make things perfect and spend months on something I should have shipped off and shared already. This year I want to focus on smaller projects and getting better at putting them out there.

2. Freelance!

I’ve dabbled in freelancing gigs but I get so apprehensive about finding new ones. I spend too much time trying to make new material to customize a demo reel to send out when I should really be building up relationships and getting what work I have ready in front of people. This year I need to be better at how I present myself.

3. Design More Cool Stuff!

I spend a lot of time looking over specs and requirements. What DPI does this file need to be at? What aspect ratios does this site want? There comes a point where you have to get out of the measuring phase and start to cut. This year I want to spend more time drawing, making things, and sharing them online to get feedback.

4. Get Out of My Own Head and Communicate!

This is the biggest hurdle for me. I’m terrified of seeming unprepared so I spend too much time researching and trying to guess what will come up. This year I need to share what I know and what I can do. That includes posting on this site more as well as Twitter, my Facebook Page, and adding content to my Instagram, IGTV channel, and my YouTube channel.