It’s week ten. That’s quite a run. What I’ve learned in the last 84 days of blog writing is that consistency is the most important element for success. I’ve got about 10x the readership I did in the first month and I haven’t really done anything different from those earlier posts. No goofy ad promotion, no social media trickery, just a post every day.
I’m pretty sure everything works like this. Just show up everyday. Eventually you’ll either hate it and quit or succeed and be rewarded. The only thing you really have control over is showing up and doing a good job. On to the questions.
How can you figure out what your true calling is?
I don’t believe in true callings or soul mates. Sure, you might have a natural talent for something or you might fall immediately in love with someone, but those are flukes. Careers and love both require hard work to be successful.
I’ve been thinking about this work thing quite a bit lately. There’s a great book I’m about ¼ of the way through called So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. It’s by Cal Newport, who also wrote the excellent Deep Work. Newport’s basic work thesis is the thing that makes people the happiest at work is competency and time on the job. When you master something you will have a decent level of satisfaction. That’s not enough, though. It also has to be a job that covers your expenses and you can’t hate it.
I was really good at bartending, but I hated it with every ounce of my being. I don’t drink and I can’t stand being around drunks. I hated being treated like shit by idiots. It doesn’t matter what you do outside of work, when you’re serving drinks most people treat you poorly, unless they’re really into bar culture, then they treat you better than you deserve.
My favorite job ever was working at farmers markets. It’s such an idyllic environment, you’re outside, people are friendly, and if you work for the right company, you’re probably doing good work. The only bummer is the pay is pretty low. There’s no way you could be comfortable in the Bay Area only working markets.
The best public thinker on vocation is probably Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame. He has observed something I’ve noticed; the people who seem the unhappiest work in offices. I don’t know if it’s the lights or the office politics, but it seems to be true.
I’ll end this question with the one thing I know for certain: no matter what you’re doing now, you should do it better than anyone else. Game recognizes game and being great is a habit. If you suck at putting groceries on a shelf, you’re probably going to suck at more important tasks. No matter what your calling is, you’re going to want to be excellent at it.
What are some legal ways to experience “whoa” moments?
Travelling is the best way to experience novelty. Especially when you are doing it out of your comfort zone in some way. One of the only things I might do over in my life is travel more outside of the country at a young age. I think the cliché European backpacking trip is an awesome thing to do.
Another tremendous thing to do is volunteer. It will put you into contact with people you’ve never met and make you consider things outside of your own experience. Last month I did an afternoon of work at the Alameda Food Bank and it opened my eyes quite a bit to the needs of fellow Americans right next door. It was definitely a “whoa” moment.
Have you ever been to Burning Man?
What are your thoughts on routine infant circumcision?
Since I’m already circumcised and I’m not having kids, I’m not too up on this one. I do have strong feelings about the way this is practiced by Orthodox Jews. I don’t think “god wants it done” is a compelling reason to cut a piece of a baby’s dick off and the whole sucking the blood off the tip by the rabbi is just creepy to me.
I know it’s a part of their culture, but there are places in the world that do some creepy shit in the name of culutre and it’s ok to look down on them. For example, there’s a tribe in New Guinea that believes a male child has to consume semen to become a man, so they basically make the boys sex slaves. That culture needs to be obliterated.
I’m not exactly equating the child fucking with the child mutilation, but it’s in the same neighborhood and “culture” should not be used as an excuse for bullshit. Think of it this way, if “culture” was a logical enough reason to keep doing something, we’d still have slaves in the South.
There are two secular arguments for circumcision. The first is that it’s somehow more hygienic to lop the tip off. Most of the material you read about this these days says it’s really easy to get kids to clean their dicks and it’s not a big deal. The second reason is that Western women don’t like the way an uncut dick looks.
Circumcision can go really bad. Kids lose function of their penises or have other permanent damage. I guess when it comes down to it, I don’t think the risk is worth it for religious or aesthetic reasons.
What are scarier? Movies about ghosts or serial killers?
The fact that serial killers are real and ghosts are not will always give serial killers the edge. That said, the skill of the film/show makers is always going to be the dominant factor of what’s scarier. The Silence of the Lambs is an all time great scary film, whereas the show Dexter is not scary at all. I was terrified by Poltergeist as a child, but don’t find any of the new supernatural films scary. All they ever really have are cheap scare like when something jumps out at you.
I’m planning to watch The Witch tonight with Mrs. Lott. It’s supposed to be a pretty scary movie about a haunting. I’ll let you know what I think in another blog post.
A relative of mine who is a very critical thinker recently became a “qualified hypnotherapist” which made me ponder how credible this field is. How does it work? Is it effective?
Since hypnotherapy is basically what sets Peter Gibbons in Office Space free, I really want to believe it works; however, I have no direct experience with it.
Joe Rogan sometimes tells a story about a comedy hypnotist that he worked with in Boston that has one of those acts where people get hypnotized and are made to enact crazy shit like, “you are now having sex with Madonnna.” Apparently people are either susceptible to it or they aren’t, but the act is real.
I would be interested to try hypnotism, but I’d be wary of anyone who also recommends things we all know are bullshit like crystals and Reiki healing. If it works, it has something to do with the mind, not magic.
When is the right time to move in with my boyfriend? We live in the Bay Area (if that matters).
The fact that you live in the Bay Area will add a ton of stress to this situation. You will likely need another person to afford even the shittiest place, and it may as well be someone you’re fucking. But here’s the rub, if you stay in the same place for a while, you will benefit from rent control, but it will make it extremely difficult to leave if things go bad.
Mrs. Lott and I lived in a 400 square foot apartment for about a decade because it was cheap and we were trying to save up for a place of our own. If we had split up, I would’ve had to probably leave the Bay Area due to cost. So make sure you’re moving in with someone you can count on for the long haul.
Moving in with someone in the Bay Area is pretty high stakes, so you should have a conversation about what the future looks like. You should be on the same page about career, kids, and marriage (if that’s a thing for you). You should work on a budget together. You should have a plan for what to do if you get evicted.
Living together is basically mini-marriage and it will either make or break your relationship. Make sure you have a plan for whatever way it goes, but you should be pretty optimistic about your chances. If you’re not, then it’s not a good move.
How can I learn to be more confident in my own skin?
The best way to feel better about you is make yourself better. If you don’t feel good in your own skin, you need to improve yourself. I know it’s popular to say shit like “you should just accept yourself.” Nonsense. There’s always room for improvement and just the act of trying will make you happier.
Start by making an assessment of yourself. What do you like? What do you hate? Get a pen and paper and actually make a list. Once you’ve written everything down, put the list in order so the most extreme things are on top. Now pick the things you like the most and hate the most about yourself.
Work on doing more of the good stuff and fixing the bad stuff. You will probably find that concentrating on the good will crowd out the bad. For example, say you’re a pretty good cook, but you want to lose weight. This is a perfect opportunity to learn how to cook healthy meals. You are building on your excellent kitchen skills and becoming excellent at that. Cooking at home is a great way to lose weight. You can control portions and there are no hidden calories. Just cooking your own food and walking will keep you leaner.
Now look, the reason why I’m picking weight as an issue here is that it’s a concern for a lot of people. If you’ve got some heft and you’re happy, there’s no problem with you. If it’s something that contributes to you feeling bad, you’re never going to be able to accept it, so don’t lie to yourself. Just work harder.