I've learned so much this year and I'm very excited to talk about it. I've separated all the lessons I've learned into 3 categories: lessons learned dealing with art and creative pursuits, life lessons and miscellaneous lessons I've learned. Each list will be bulleted with the lesson learned and a small blurb at the end summing up all the lessons.
Lessons in art and creativity
Learned how to produce a series of animations effectively in Toonboom Harmony.
Learned that I could focus on one idea and strengthen my own artistic voice.
Strengthening my skills at motion graphics in After Effects due to my job.
Learned that if a freelance project drags on for longer than it should, it's probably not worth it to continue pursuing it.
Learned that I enjoyed doing improv as a hobby.
Learned that my pursuit of an audience via social media led to needless strife and that by cutting out most of the social media networks, I can focus on platforms that actually have worked for me help me better connect with others.
Learned that I don't have to spend every waking hour animating, and to plan for down time.
Re-Learned that I can pull inspiration from anywhere.
Learned the power of telling an authentic story about myself. How good it feels to tell it successfully and to be able to connect with others through it.
Learned to better balance work, personal art and life. I'm not quite where I want to here, but I'm closing in.
This was a good year for me in regards to art. Before this year, I had put out kinds of scatterbrained pieces. This year was very much one of focus and finding my voice. While I have released very little work this year, I focused mainly on creating libraries of assets and setting up a production infrastructure for my "Frame of Mind" series. The work I spent setting this series up behind the scenes will begin to pay dividends in a few months. I should be able to easily release 1-2 minutes of animatio a month. Production is a different beast though and I think it'll be feasible for me to create 5+ minutes of animation in a month. It's kind of crazy because I'll be able to put out higher quality animations at a more consistent rate than I did in the past. Once the wheel on this series begins to spin reliably, it will free me up to create other kinds of stories (that's something I'll discuss next year though).
The other things I've learned were more in line with refining lessons I learned last year. Basically applying what I learned about establishing boundaries to my clients. It's kind of odd, because I am usually good with this, but I had a bunch of experiences this year where I slipped and ended up making life more difficult for myself. In fact a big reason my "Frame of Mind" series was put on hiatus was because I failed to establish some boundaries with a client and that messed up up entire production for the fall. On a less serious note, I took improv classes this fall and I enjoyed them a lot. It was a great learning experience for me and I'm glad I took the class. I learned a great deal.
Lessons in personal growth
Where my own boundaries are in relation to romance.
Overcoming my own approach anxiety.
That I can survive on my own after moving out.
Learned that with proper budgeting I can do everything I want without having to worry too much.
Learned that I am pretty good at dealing with confrontational situations.
Learned when to bail on situations where I might be overstaying my welcome.
Learned how to work a room.
Learned how to maintain bold behavior and channel my emotions.
Learned to better identify someone else's boundaries and to respect it.
Better incorporated a practical level of indifference to how other people think about me.
Minimized time arguing online to focus on more important things.
Learned to practice conscious dating.
While the lessons I've learned as a creative minded individual were more focused, the lessons about personal growth I've learned were a bit more scattered. I think there are 3 lines of improvement: my dating life, my independence and my fears. While a gentleman does not kiss and tell, my dating life has been leagues better this year than it has been in ages. A lot of it is because of how I pushed myself to be bolder and more conscious when i'm speaking with someone. It also meant overcoming my own issues of approach anxiety when out socializing. I'm not going to go into too much detail about that specific point as I'm sure I'll write a dedicated blog to it sometime in the future, but rest assured overcoming approach anxiety was probably my biggest personal game changer this year. This year I also moved out of my families home, which had been a crazy experience all it's own. I learned an incredible amount by moving out, perhaps the most important lesson being that no matter what happens I've been able to survive. Through the good times and the bad, I'm still here. That's a powerful message of self assurance I've learned, and it helps reinforce the other lessons I've learned.
The last part is kind of a marriage between the other two points. Learning to take time out to dedicate to overcoming my fears was also an important thread for me this year. We all have fears and it's ok to be scared for rational things (like a lion eating you or whatever), but this year I made a very conscious effort to face my irrational fears and I've made incredible progress. A big fear I had was in confrontation. I always feared if I had expressed my true negative feelings to people there would be a crazy fallout, but I've learned that I am very good at getting my point across without offending anybodies sensibilities. More importantly I learned that if they are angry at me, that's ok, because I don't think it's right for me to stew in all of the negative emotions someone gives me. It's ok to give that back to them and by doing so, I think I've elevated my quality of life by a great deal.
Miscellaneous lessons and thoughts
Mourned and miss my cat.
Expanded my food palette.
Miss singing and would like to start it up again.
Embracing the little detours in life instead of running past them.
Always felt my purpose would be to make a TV show which always felt a little hollow, but for the first time I feel like I'm doing something I'm really meant to do.
Taking life at a slower pace.
Being aware of emotional inertia.
This section sums up some other experiences and lessons I've learned that were hard to categorize. A lot of these are self explanatory, but I do want to highlight a few.
The first point is my dear kitty Madonna passed away this year. I had to put her down because she was in poor health due to a thyroid problem. It was an incredibly difficult experience for me to handle, but I was there for her until the end. I'm working on a nice video about her. I don't want to rush it so it'll be done when it's done. She deserves the best send-off possible.
Next I would say it's about enjoying life's little detours. This is a saying I got from one of (if not my favorite) anime/manga, Hunter x Hunter. Basically, for a large part of my adulthood, I've had this feeling of wanting to get from point A-Z with as little sidetracking as possible. This year has fortunately hit the reset button in that regard. I've come to re-read that what makes life beautiful and vivid and, well, lively are the detours and distractions. That's where you make the best memories, the best friends and learn the most impactful lessons. I wasn't always someone who was so one tracked. In my childhood I was all about diversions and distractions, but once money and responsibility started impacting my life, I changed and felt that I had to do everything I could to expedite my success. It turns out though that whether your successful or not, you'll always get thrown for a loop. If that's so, why not lean into it? You can't fight everything at all times, so being able to consciously feel through a situation or an experience has become my golden goose for growth.
Lastly I want to talk a bit about emotional inertia. I had an experience recently that really tested my patience. I ended up in a situation where I had to fix a problem. I thought I'd be able to dish it out in an hour or two max, but it took my more than a day. You can imagine that I was pretty angry. What I found interesting about that experience is that every thing I did just built up the frustration. It was essentially the concept of adding fuel to the fire. It also dawned on me that if was already angry, little things that didn't work would make me even angrier. It was as if the intensity of my anger increased no matter what I did. Eventually I realized it was better to take a breather and leave, but it dawned on me that I hadn't accounted for how emotions can multiply, and because of that I wasn't able to clear my mind until I reached my limit of frustration. This was a great level of insight because I realized that whatever emotion you're feeling will be compounded by the events happening around and intensify the experience. Realizing this, I believe I will be able to better control my temper or remove myself from situations if necessary (I was already good at this, but now I have an extra tool).
2018 has been a long, grueling and painful year. There's a lot that went wrong and living in this country is more tense now than it ever has been in my life, but through it all I've developed more as a person in the past year than I have at any other point in my life. While I've been fatigued and on edge all year, I'm also the happiest I've been. I've taken real control over my life and there's no stopping the momentum. I have no idea what's waiting for me in 2019, but I will say I am facing it with a sense of excitement, curiosity and whimsy that I haven't felt in a very long time.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope life gifts you unique experiences and great success.