The Tru(e)man Show

I suppose it was obvious to most people, but it wasn’t to me. That’s either the beauty or curse of individualism, depending on how you look at it. At 4:00 AM tonight, I started watching The Truman Show. I guess I just wasn’t tired. Last week, I was depressed—I had been for at least a couple of months.
I had just come back from a week-long vacation to California with my girlfriend. The vacation was wonderful, certainly destined for a memory of great happiness, but the months prior to leaving, and the few days after my return were becoming progressively worse.

I worked at the United Jewish Appeals Federation of New York, as a support team member in the TeleGiving Department. For those of you not familiar with UJA-Jargon, TeleGiving is the nice word for TeleMarketing, and support team members are part-time employees without titles, and usually without a team. My particular role was, more or less, computer operations support though in practice it turned out to be computer operations period.

It was a horrible job.

I hesitate to delve into too many of the reasons, for they are both long and somewhat disturbing. As a result of my employment, I have lost all faith in large businesses and organizations, not that I had that much to begin with. I started as a Caller, which meant if you are Jewish and living in New York, I have probably spoken to you and asked you for money. I was “promoted” when the circumstances allowed and was made to do paperwork and data entry, but had soon computerized my job and found myself with little to do. In the process, I also automated a fellow co-workers job (her job was essentially identical to mine: we both did stupid repetitive tasks that I ultimately automated) and she was subsequently laid off. (Oops? My bad.)

To quote Sylvia, “If we don’t go now it won’t happen.”

All of this is background to the realization I had while watching The Truman Show tonight: That nothing can happen unless and until you act to make it happen.

That realization is nothing new for me, by the way. I seem to recall many times in my life when the same message has gotten through to me via various mediums, like books or conversations with family and friends. Despite this, I sometimes have trouble remembering these “realizations” when I can apply them, such as the past two months while I was working at UJA-Federation. Therefor, these re-realizations are very necessary things.

That message of the importance of your heart’s wishes is extremely relavant to day-to-day life, and has been even more so for these past few months for me. Perhaps somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered that one of this movie’s interpretable messages is to encourage you to act upon your desires and that’s why I pushed it into my VCR. There is no question that I was feeling trapped when I was working at UJA. (Actually, I’m not sure that “trapped” is an emotion. It’s actually a verb, but I’ve never been particular good at verbalizing emotions so it’s the best I can come up with at the moment.) I hadn’t smiled in weeks. I became complacent and lazy and every aspect of my life was being affected.

I needed to do something.

I quit. The first day I came back to work after my vacation, I quit. It was a surprising turn of events, even for me. Just a few months prior to my resignation I had gotten full health benefits. I earned all the wonderful things employees get like sick days and their own email addresses, so quitting meant being without a source of income and losing health benefits. Which, I understand, is a big deal.

Still, it became increasingly apparent that there was no other option. I believe most people are like me: they will not be happy with anything other or less than what they want. I do however wonder how many people posses the willfullness/recklessness/stubborness to actually go ahead and follow through with what they want to do. And that is a key point. It was not the quitting that I wanted to do, but it was the quitting which enabled me to do what it was I wanted to do: learn to design professional quality web sites with CSS and PHP.

I am happy because I am following my heart.

During the last week, after (sort of) tidying up some loose ends at work, I have done almost nothing except hone my skills and increase my knowledge and familiarity with the medium in which I love to work. I am gaining confidence, gaining experience and capturing opportunities I would never have had otherwise. Most important of all I am enjoying myself, and I am happy because I am following my heart. That is an accomplishment in and of itself. One that is worthy of a pat on the back and a bowl of jell-o.

Looking back on my experiences (and on parts of this entry, actually) it strikes me that there are two extremes in my decision-making actions. One is that I choose something and won’t compromise until I get it. The other is that I cannot make that choice because I am unaware of which one I want.

I will have to get better at the middleground. Practice starts now. :)