Here Begins the Job Hunt. And I ramble about things.

Well, I finally finished my online portfolio. This is no small feat—in my mind anyway—since what I do feels so varied and so much of it is sort of behind closed doors. The majority of the stuff I write doesn’t exactly have my name signed to it, you know? (I’m working on changing that.) And I do worry that some of the examples being out of context will not be the asset to me that they have been to the brands they were written for. But I think I’ve managed to collate a decent enough representation of what I’ve been up to the last few years, for better or worse.

Now I have to find a company or organization that actually values worthwhile content development, community management, and brand building over cheap tricks and content spinning, and then convince them to hire me.

Hey, did you know there’s a buzzword for that? It’s “content marketing”, which basically means website content that isn’t a total waste of everyone’s time. That is, meaningful, quality content vs. regurgitated garbage or pointless, rambling drivel. Kind of depressing that there has to be a buzzword for that concept to be taken seriously, huh? And that it’s not just the default way webpages are written? (It’s hard not to be a little jaded about it after working in SEO for even just a couple years; there’s lots of pressure to spin content, pump out a lot of BS copy, and do other cheap tricks.) Fortunately, “content marketing” really is the only viable long-term marketing strategy if Google has its way in the end, or if you want to do meaningful brand building.

Okay, so I sort of have opinions about web content.

Or maybe I’ll try to find a front-end dev job and hope for the best. I don’t know, man. I just need employment so I can pay my rent and fix my car. I tried to freelance and I don’t think I have the balls to do it full-time. At least, not at this stage in my life.

And you know what else I’m done with at this stage in my life? Hiding who I am. I’m quick and quirky and eccentric, and I understand that sometimes makes folks uncomfortable (which I do what I can to mitigate.) And maybe it makes them think I’m not “professional” or something along those lines. But, you know what? I am plenty professional. I’m also creative, innovative, diplomatic, honest, and I’ll always, always, always go above and beyond to help out. It’s just in my nature. If something so superficial as the color of my hair or my name being Hal or the hobbies I have somehow overshadows that to someone, then it’s really, really not my loss, and I have to keep telling myself that. Because I genuinely need to not feel ashamed about who I am for 40 hours every week. It’s a line in the sand I’ve drawn. I don’t want to work for anybody who wouldn’t hire me.

Anyway, tomorrow I start sending out my resume. I’m a little nervous about it, if I’m honest.

Coming out as Anxious: Yes, it is a Disability.

So, I have a generalized anxiety disorder. It’s not something I talk about a whole lot, because on the whole there’s not a lot of understanding beyond an abstract idea that it’s a mental illness (and thus not “real”), which isn’t exactly helpful. So it’s just sorta like … why?

But talking about it is good. It helps combat that stigma.

Photo of Hal

This is what an anxiety disorder looks like.

I have frequent anxiety attacks over practically nothing that last for hours and hours and intensify. As I ignore them or try to calm myself, my brain starts playing dirty with continuously worsening psychosomatic symptoms that I assure you are very real: cold sweats, racing heart, sore throat, coughing, light-headedness, dizzyness, randomly occurring aches and pains, insomnia, and a feeling of suffocation or drowning. It can make it very, very difficult to function reliably in a workplace or a social environment. I think a lot of people just assume I’m a flake.

And I’m not saying I’m not a flake, sometimes. Who isn’t? Just calling a spade a spade.

Speaking of calling a spade a spade, this disorder is a disability. I sometimes have trouble calling it or thinking of it as a disability, because I genuinely feel like I should be a very capable person and I get very, very upset with myself that I can’t always be. It’s a real kicker to the self esteem, let me tell you. And it’s no coincidence that most people with anxiety disorders experience depression too. Also, mental health disorders that aren’t cognitive or developmental are not treated as a disability most of the time. People run out of patience for you very fast. There’s lots of stigma.

I understand the desire of folks to express empathy when I tell them I am having an anxiety attack, but I don’t really feel like I want or need hugs, support, or well wishes. This is how I have been for many years. It sucks, you know? But it is what it is. The last thing I need is my friends dwelling on it over who I am as a person. My disorder is a barrier to me really being the person I feel like I am—acknowledging me primarily in the context of that barrier just makes me more ashamed and frustrated.

The best thing you can do for me and anyone else with an anxiety disorder is to have patience and understanding. Acknowledge that the disorder is real, it is a disability, and treat it as such. And don’t dwell on it. If you want to be supportive, try engaging me on a topic that will take my mind off the pointless garbage my brain is doing to me. Really, honestly, truly, that’s it.

Hello, Interneter.

Welcome to my fancy, new, re-designed website. I have a blog now. Blogging is cool.

Not much else to say right now, but since you’ve found your way here, enjoy some Tolkien verse that I think is probably about surfing the ‘net.

O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
despair not! For though dark they stand,
all woods there be must end at last,
and see the open sun go past:
the setting sun, the rising sun,
the day’s end, or the day begun.
For east or west all woods must fail…