Doing stuff

Sometimes it is really hard to do stuff.

I started this blog after listening to the Forward Tilt podcast from Praxis, which I highly recommend to anyone looking to better themselves. One of the points the host, Isaac Morehouse, consistently hit was the importance of just doing stuff. Do you want to be a journalist? Write and self-publish articles. Reach out to local professionals with your work. Do stuff that has to do with journalism. Do you want to be in marketing? Submit campaigns to companies. Find ways to get interviews and really sell yourself. Do stuff that has to do with marketing.

Many young people, myself included, feel (or felt) the need to jump through the hoops of higher education in order to secure a career. The conventional wisdom tells us we need a degree to accomplish a great many of our dreams. That piece of paper will open up doors for us that we just couldn’t access without it. This is the narrative that is fed to American students almost from birth, and so going to college has become more of a rite of passage than a means of elevating one’s education.

Anyone with even the most basic observation skills will recognize that degrees are not the magic bullet they are propped as. A degree might be necessary for some careers (medicine or law, for example), but for many it is totally frivolous. My father has been a police officer for over 25 years, and not once has he been glad he earned a four-year degree. It was a net loss for him to get it. In an episode of Forward Tilt, Morehouse told two stories of aspiring journalists. One was a journalism major, taking classes and sitting through lectures. They had not published a single piece of work. The other had never gone to college, but went straight to the source instead, submitting his work and making himself known to local companies. He is now on the local TV news, and didn’t spend four years of his life and tens of thousands of dollars to get there.

Nothing I’m saying is really new. Thousands of words have been written on this topic, and almost all of them handle it better than I am in this blog post. But I want to emphasize the importance of doing stuff because for a long time, I was one of those people who would sit and wait until I was absolutely sure the stuff I did was going to be perfect. I had to make sure all the boxes were checked, all the programs completed, and all protocol followed. For example, when I was at music school, I hated practicing because I didn’t want people to hear me struggling. I wanted to waltz out onto the stage like I’d been imbibed with the power of jazz in the womb. I didn’t want anyone to see my process, the work I put in and the mistakes I made, because it made me feel vulnerable.

Since discovering Praxis, and through it, Forward Tilt, my mindset has shifted. A month ago, I would not be able to write this blog post, because I don’t think it’s any good. I think it’s mostly rehashed ideas that aren’t even phrased very well. But I’m writing because I now realize the impact doing stuff has on you as a person. Once you get over those barriers of feeling vulnerable and just start putting yourself out there, things begin to change. At least, they have for me. I used to let no one watch me write. Again, I didn’t want anyone to see me struggle to come up with a word or sit staring at the page for five minutes wondering what I was going to write next. Now, I am putting something new out every day.

I’m not really sure what I want to do for my career. I am passionate about a lot of things, and I’m pretty good at a fair number of them. But that doesn’t matter. I don’t need to be Ernest Hemingway to put out a blog post, and I don’t need to be Charlie Parker to record a solo. I just need to do it. If someone else takes notice and thinks what I’m doing is good, or if they see the work I put in and think I would be a valuable asset, that’s great. I’m not doing this for them. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it because I believe doing stuff is essential to greatness, and so I’m going to keep doing stuff until I run out of stuff to do.


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