I'm a self-taught designer and developer focused on helping people achieve success through education. Currently, I'm a designer on the team at Treehouse and am thrilled to be helping people learn the skills to build amazing things.
It was only two years after moving into the city that I realized I had taken up habitually filling up my week’s calendar. If there was an empty night, I needed to find something to fill the time with. A block to create. Drag it down, fill it in, schedule drinks with friends, events to attend. Excuses. Promises.
Sometimes we like to call this the disease of always being busy. “I’m so busy.” We’ve all heard it. I used to say it to people I was trying to avoid having drawn out conversations with and things I took pleasure in procrastinating. It’s the sort of disease that breeds selfishness and narcissism. Because who isn’t meaningful and worthwhile if their calendar is full with people to see and things to do?
It took about a year for me to realize I had built a lifestyle that was not sustainable. I was trying to build a card tower of confidence; a tall structure in appearance, yet vulnerable to the slightest breath. Creating my own noise. Some might call that realization ‘growing up’.
During the first few years after I moved to the city, whenever I’d take a reprieve to my parents house in not quite rural Maryland, late at night the only white noise my body could silence my mind with was the static ringing loudly in my own ears. It’s so quiet when there’s only three people in their own corners of the house, in the dark, surrounded by a forest of trees, many miles away from bus lines and sidewalks and drum circles in the park and drunks stumbling home or away far after the clocks have turned their last hour. At night out in the woods, in that big house, the only fears I had to face were all past echos. The only distractions: the noise I created to shield myself from the silence. Then, as soon as I became aware of the static, I seem to forget it, only to return again the next first night of my visit to that house.
I was at a show recently where one of my favorite bands was performing. It’s one of those nights you set expectations for without realizing it. I’ve been listening to their music since high school, so I’ve had over a decade of expectations to set. It annoyed me the first time I caught my mind wandering away from the scene to whatever mental checklist I was compiling for tomorrow or what I needed to do for some project (all things I have forgotten now). Yet, it kept happening. A few minutes would go by, I’d catch myself not paying attention and then attempt to force my attention back. To be present. To just be.
Constantly distracted minds will wander.
There are certain experiments I like to have to train myself to be less distracted. Morning meditation, deleting social media apps from my phone, or limiting the amount of time I spend in front of a screen outside of work. These have all been worthwhile in training myself to be more present. Yet, nothing is as present as confronting the source of that internal noise.
It took me a while to be ok with being alone again. (And not in the let’s sit at home and binge on Netflix kind of alone.) It took me a while to realize that confidence is building the house of cards, not the cards themselves. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t losing possibilities or purpose by not filling every minute of my day with some activity; that some things happen all at once and it’s ok if others emerge slowly.
It took me a while to give myself permission just to be.