An Examination of the Private, Personal, and Public

I was planning an essay to post on here, about someone from a previous employer who really was formative in my personal growth and professional development over the last 7 years. But, I struggled to finish the essay. Actually, I couldn’t really write more than just sentence outlines.

This left me puzzled. I wondered what could be holding me back. After some digging, I realized that I was holding back because I needed to share some private details in order to provide context to the extent of the impact of this person on me. I considered sharing these private details. What could go wrong? This is how it is now, I’m just sharing and this is acceptable now on social media, even on LinkedIn.

I decided against sharing these details and posting the essay on LinkedIn. A couple of ideas emerged as the main reasons why.

The first one was that I didn’t want to set the precedent for myself that sharing private details is part of my activity on LinkedIn. I don’t believe in constructing a work-friendly persona of myself. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! Anouk Pappers puts this in these terms:

“On the other side of this dichotomy, people usually use “professional” presence to refer to a scrubbed, work-approved persona. But this too is not realistic. We shouldn’t present ourselves as someone we are not, or even express inauthentic views, just to fit into a particular work culture. I think it is becoming increasingly important that we be our authentic selves online and that we position ourselves in a genuine manner. In essence, we need to establish and maintain an online presence across all of our accounts that accurately reflects who we are and how we want to be perceived.”

Rather, I didn’t want to turn my vulnerability into a currency, that I trade with, with hopes that the trading brings in ‘income’ later. I remember reading a Facebook post (in Arabic) a few months ago about a TikTok vlogger who had converted his overweight state into videos that brought in money for me. The post lamented that this is all it was now for him, to eat and show off his physique on TikTok. I thought further of another TikTok vlogger, who has become his signature dance – a dance and then showing off his afro. Is that all that they are now – their ‘products’? I am nowhere near their reach or fame, but I am close to them in that I could easily transform my inner life into some form of product.

The second reason was that I reflected on the differences between private and public information. I remembered a conversation I had years ago with a journalist in Sweden, who taught me the distinction between public, personal, and private information. From his training, he was taught that private is like the contents of your journal, stuff that’s for your eyes only. Others may not understand the context or importance. Personal information is where you can write about your experiences, but in a way that resonates with others. Think of you talking to friends about your experiences, showing them that they can relate. That’s personal. Public – news, commercial and legal texts. No emotion. “Just straight facts,” in my friend’s words.

Given this model, what I wanted to share in the essay is private information. I would extend his definition of private to include those also in my inner circle. Personal is what I’m prepared to share with friends and perhaps some at work, while public is whatever I post online.

The line between private and personal has been blurry for me for a while. I have written vulnerable essays on Facebook that I have set to public. Was that really a sound thing to do? The answer to that question didn’t strike me with much confidence. I wouldn’t say that I regret posting those essays, but now there may be archived pages on the Wayback Machine. 

The food for thought for all of us is, what are you prepared to have the Machine index? 

George Couros puts it in another jaunty way, quoting Seth Godin:

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

This pithy quote gets to the heart of my objection, that I don’t want everything on my permanent record.

The final reason was that there was no way to write the essay without these private details. Leaving them out would make the essay cryptic, and then there’s the danger of cryptic-posting in order to get people asking for more in the comments. Or, writing around the details would make the essay harder to understand. Then, what is the point of even posting it?

I found this quadrant diagram, while doing the thinking for this post. It takes the models, put forward by George Couros and Anouk Pappers, cited above to a further level.

When I analyzed my essay idea, the core idea – the guy whom I wanted to celebrate – was in the green quadrant. But the meat of the essay lied in the red square, and I struggled to argue to move it to the yellow square.

Thinking holistically – that is, engaging my emotions while activating reason – is helpful in evaluating what I put on the public record.

#ProfessionalDevelopment #CareerAdvice

Liking One Person and Liking Them Intensely

We’ve been on two dates. My feelings don’t correspond to where we are in the development of our contact. At this point, it’s a burgenoning contact, nothing more. But my feelings are intense.

She’s shorter than me, with stark blue eyes, straight black hair, a calm assurance to her voice, and pale skin. She’s soft-edged and kind, against a backdrop of strength, resilience, and integrity. She’s intelligent, political, and spiritual. And when she hugs me, the warmth emanating from her body throws me off. Her body seems to open up in a vulnerable, but sensual way, as if she is acquiescing to the embrace, in a moment of trust, knowing that she will pull away when she wants.

It’s also been a while since I’ve felt a bodily charge from a hug. I haven’t felt a woman’s body heat in a long time. Most hugs are side hugs or standard Stockholm shell hugs – where the form of a hug is present, but it’s about as personal as being ghosted.

I became emotional on the tunnelbana platform on the way home on Sunday. The overwhelming nature of intense feelings for one person stayed with me for a while. My heart and mind have already raced ahead and that’s alright. I woke up yesterday and today, missing her. Missing her, knowing that I will see her in a month, but feeling like a month is too long. My mind seems to be at the station after dating and before a more solid relationship – the spontaneity of wanting to see each other at a moment’s notice, wanting to share everything or anything that reminds you of her. It’s an intense place to be in when it’s this early in the process.

We kept on finding ways to connect, to share embarrassing secrets that weren’t intimate or private, activities and interests we shared. The hopeful in me sees in it more opportunities to do things and more opportunities to meet, while the rational in me tempers those expectations and looks at it as signs of a healthy friendship being forged over a quiet flame.

The twist is that I haven’t been on a third date in three years. The last same-city contact ended really after the first date, despite several futile attempts in extra-time. And it’s the first person this year, whom I like, that lives in the city and doesn’t require extensive planning to meet them.The last year’s attempts have been with unavailable women or women overseas. And the first date didn’t accelerate in any direction. It was just a first date. The simplicity and normalcy of the first date accelerated the intensity of the experience in me!

So here I am, looking forward to some time after Gregorian-calendar Christmas, for a third date with her, with the emotional intensity of 20 dates. And I just accept it. I have no idea if she feels or thinks the same way; I find it beneficial to maintain that given it’s this early.

I haven’t like one person and liked them only intensely in many years. I say it like that because it’s obviously earth-shattering that people like lots of people a lot and date them all. I was like that, too. And I took it even further. The experience of liking only one person intensely is a fearful one. How can one person make me feel this strongly? Old temptations have been coming up over the past few days, to decrease the fear of the intensity, but I haven’t given in. The intensity of liking one person is only intense for a little while, and then it just stays there in your stomach as knowledge, like a glowing ball. Then it doesn’t hurt or burden or bother you. It’s you carrying that person with you.

When my mind starts planning the future, I tell myself that it’s just been two dates. When my mind starts dissecting the two dates, looking for clues that she likes me she likes me not, I tell myself that it’s just been two dates. When my mind starts questioning the intensity and suggesting I weaken the intensity by throwing in another glowing ball, I say resolutely no.

I like her. I like her only. And I like her intensely.

Inside A Bitter Artist There May Be A Basic Person

It’s strange to be writing again. It’s strange to be doing anything creative again. It’s strange being a producer, rather than a consumer, a consumer of whatever is out there, whatever is interesting, funny, shocking, outrageous, rather than producing something with any of those qualities.

Producer versus consumer, creator versus commentator, maker versus aggregator, it seemed inconceivable to me over the years to have been the latter in these binaries. I am an artist! I am a creative! I live on a higher plane than others, I said to myself. I don’t have to show up when I consume. I don’t have to know the full story to be a commentator. I don’t have to develop my craft to be an aggregator. Basic powers of cognitive ability and pattern recognition (this makes me angry, this seems to be popular with others) is needed to be the latters.

Credit: Tiberio Gracco

I have changed over the years, ever since the writing of the very first blog post on Blogger. (I’m sure you can find it here in the archives.) Back then, I was a tortured “artist” – being very tortured and producing very little art, except in short and intense spurts. Now, I am a “frustrated” “artist” – not frustrated and not making art. I have however identified too deeply with that frustration such that that frustration has become me. The frustration has solidified into bitterness. It could be possible to find an object of my bitterness, but that would be dishonest. There is no object of my bitterness or frustration, there is no deep existential unease, and I am at peace with myself. But it’s like the smell of shit in a clean bathroom. It stays for a while. And you can’t ignore it unless you’re lazy or delusional.

The truth is that I find it hard to read a book, to sit down and listen to a piece of music, without it intuitively being pushed to a background activity, while I pick up my phone to do something else. Even if it’s just to stare at the Home screen. I find it hard to watch TV. I find it hard to read a magazine or just sitting down with a musical instrument to jam a little bit. Writing is hard. Even journalling parts of ideas or random thoughts seems the last possible choice when I have some downtime because my hands instinctively go to my phone. I wake up and fall asleep to the sight of books, CDs, vinyls, and DVDS, sitting quietly while they gather dust. My apartment has become a museum to and for a person who doesn’t really exist anymore – or is a fugitive in a new, unexpected existence.

I am not even bitter like I used to be! I am growing in inner peace and serenity by the day. But it has come at the cost of long years of artistic malnourishment. Nobody can grow on occasional injections of essential vitamins and minerals. I just want to sit on TikTok or YouTube, or scroll through social media, or watch endless streams of videos on Facebook Watch. I have become that person I decried many years ago.

It feels like I am a basic person who has been hiding in a fossil. Maybe I was artistic before and the years in the fossil ate away at me.

Fret Not, My Heart

Thank you to all my readers who have been on here, while I have been inactive. It means a lot to me!

My heart is heavy with grief today. I revealed my feelings for a friend yesterday and she doesn’t feel the same way. I waited a long time – a year – to do this. Waiting didn’t make it easier, neither did revealing the feelings. There is some relief that it’s out in the open, but there is some gnawing sadness, holding onto its leg.

I’m glad I did this, that I conquered the fear and that I am honest with this friend.

But, my heart is heavy with grief. And it’s now going through all the memories and mind-pictures that it thought were signs of mutual attraction… and it’s realizing that they were just the signs of a strong, kind woman who is able to express her affection for a man.

Fret not, my heart. You will recover from this, stronger and healthier.

Fret not, my heart. I won’t be unfaithful to you and try to escape by rushing the process of grieving, or seeking another person to medicate the pain. We’ll get through this together as partners and we’ll be just fine.

This woman was different. I can tell by how much you’re hurting, my heart. But I can also tell how much you’ve grown in how you were yesterday. You stayed honest and present. You listened. You responded. You were honest. You are an honest heart now.

Fret not, my heart. This too shall pass.

Looking Back on the Colories Series

What started off as a curiosity with what could be done with a rubber duck, became a month-long comics series. I have been really moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on there, and the range of people I’ve encountered.

Yesterday was the last post on Instagram.

seize the sky.
ep 30, Colories

I wanted to reflect on the process, my favorite posts, lessons learned, and what’s next.

The Process

The goal was to produce a piece within an hour or two every day, for as long as the idea or concept seemed interesting to me. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the production or execution or polish. I just wanted to make art every day.

I really enjoyed making this series. Sometimes, I would get the idea a few minutes before taking the photo. And at other times, an idea would come to me and simmer for a while.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. I decided all that when I took the shot. This kept me out of my head and ensured that the idea would be simple.

A few times, I ran out of ideas and so I would play with a cultural reference, pun, or simple using a prop.

ep 27, Colories – can you guess the reference?

ep 24, Colories – “turnin’ trix on myself”

ep 20, Colories – “amongst the scraps”

My Favorite Posts

Episode 16

“I’m a shit sandwich”

Episode 8

It was fun making the double exposures in Photoshop.

                          “all over the place”

Episode 1

I found the card in some advertisements in my mail.

“we’re OK and you’re OK”

Episode 7

My first stop-motion animation film. I really became interested in the medium because of this episode. There’s a separate write-up here.

Lessons Learned

  1. Show up every day. I made this a part of my daily morning routine and it paid off. I looked forward to producing something, even on days where I felt low or empty. The process, rather than inspiration, carried me.
  2. Listen to the weirdest idea. This is risky at first because it’s counter-intuitive. I thought that weird had to be planned or part of some greater theme. But just noticing and then following through with a weird idea is satisfying.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in execution. Enforcing the external constraint of time (doing it quickly) helped me stay pragmatic in how I would make the episode.
  4. It doesn’t have to be episodic to be episodic. The whole series is more an exploration of feelings and states, rather than a conventional narrative of a rubber duck. Sometimes, it was about me and sometimes the duck personified an idea or a problem, or just a human struggle. Keeping it loose and going also helped me to stay current and just keep on producing.

What’s Next?

I’m about to finish a 30-day doodle challenge. I will write a similar post about that.

And then… I want to make more art! And learn how to draw. And paint digitally out in the world.

Keep checking back!

My Strained Relationship with Software Development

I wrote the original version of this piece, last year on Medium. This is an expanded and less guarded take.

I didn’t want to study software engineering in college. I first wanted to study English literature and drama. That wasn’t an option at home. So, I looked at the other things I had dreamed about since childhood – architecture. I put together a portfolio and applied to Bartlett School of Architecture in London. They hid the rejection letter from me and told me no. So, I fought them and the first compromise was computer-aided product design. I just wanted some art in whatever I studied.

There was none of that. It was all math, physics, and science.

Continue reading My Strained Relationship with Software Development

On Fantasy and Romantic Relationships with Others

I am open to be in a relationship with someone. I no longer think and feel that you have to be ready in order to be in a relationship. When you meet someone and a connection sprouts, there is no time to be ready or prepare. The call is to just put all in and see where it goes.

With this openness, which is new to me, comes a whole new world, light years away from how I conducted myself in relationships. That world is called no apps, no websites, no games, no bullshit, and no fantasy. I thought the first four would be the hardest to deal with because it had to do with other people and it’s easy to rail at others, who seem to be the cause of your misfortune. But that last one, no fantasy, that quiet guy holding a beer at your dinner party, taking up no space in conversation or energy, that is much, much harder. It’s harder because it’s about yourself and how you parse the world.

I’m not talking about sexual or erotic fantasy here. Rather, what I mean is the fantasies we engage in when we meet someone and our mind starts to wander from room to room, possibility to possibility, hypothetical scenario to hypothetical scenario. This ‘no fantasy’ idea is made seemingly inescapable by the way we spend talking to others — that is, via the Internet or digital words through phones. All we have is that person’s words and their other digital accessories — photos, tweets, updates.

The idea for this piece really came from a fantasy about someone with whom had been talking sporadically for a while. I kept on treating her like I knew her. My mind made every possible interaction or scenario seem familiar. I know her, right? I’m thinking about someone I know. Actually. I don’t. It’s just words. I know her words. I met her a long time ago for about 3 shakes to a millisecond and since then, it’s just been words.

Fantasy looks like reality because the words are real, coming from a real person with a data plan and a semi-interesting life. The bitter sweetness of fantasy is that it’s quaint and yet all happening in your mind, most probably far away from the person about whom you’re thinking. Fantasy seems to share the same bar stool with reality. Sitting next to each other, looking the same, drinking the same beer, but they’re two different people with two different sets of buttcheeks.

You have to change your perspective to know the difference.

When the thought of this woman, or any other person whom I barely know, or just saw on the bus, or caught her looking my way, comes to mind, I close the door. Every single door. And just like after all your guests have gone home, you turn around and look at your home. And you realize that it’s just you and this space.

Having no fantasies is lonely, grueling, and empty. It’s counter-cultural and it’s counter-intuitive. It’s the former because what’s wrong with a little daydream about that person you met seven months ago, going for an imaginary walk with you? And it’s the latter because it’s so much easier to go on the imaginary walk than deal with the possibility that your paths may never cross, that they’ll marry someone else.

So, I’m open to be with someone. And until that happens again, there will be no buffers, no antidotes, no human-sized fillers, no medication. It will be me, my empty home, and no fantasy.

Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate it when my readers hit the recommend button. Even more if you drop a comment to share their thoughts!

You can follow me on Twitter @minaddotcom and Instagram @minadimyan.


Posted in Essays by minademian

Recovering from a Freshly Ended Relationship

First, it was the hollowness in the messages trickling in on my screen. They felt like they had just survived another chemo session. At least there was a trickle, some kind of rapport being exchanged. Conversations could last all day and be infested with memes, but we laughed and laughing is glue.

Laughs dried up with the last messages that stopped coming.

Then, came the final meeting. When there’s been little, authentic talking and no meeting in person, a meeting is like a chug of cold water after a run. But the water was tepid and hard. There was no eye contact, no touch, no glimpse of giving this goodbye a decent burial.

Water on my face was gifts bought for her, returned to me. Amongst them was a gift to me, but I stared at the returned books. All hands were on deck pulling back the strings on my tongue.

It was now time to leave. Suitcases needed to be tucked to bed. Not a hug. Not a kiss. Not an excuse to walk to the car. It was a hug under duress.

There was no last phone call that she suggested. And there was nothing else in her words except a cold breeze that shut the door behind me.

As the plane rippled through the clouds, tears dropped and dried.

And now, life as I had it before I met her. Long days, no one to share puns and memes with. She made me appreciate both. No one to check in with and say hey, and to take in a ‘I love you’ like a snack bar. The small interesting things we see and find during the day, that you had grown accustomed to sharing with that person.

Today, I was on the train and I looked up from my flash cards. She had a face, carved with a miniature knife, delicate features and serene eyes. No real resemblance, but the same draw of my lover. I felt the draw and I missed her, for the first time in weeks.

Now, I just miss the ordinary moments where I found her there, where we would talk or jest or just ask questions until the day was over.


Posted in Essays by minademian

9 Ways of Being for Men Who Have Been Looking for Love For a Long Time

Congratulations. You met someone different — really different. He kisses like Lord Byron, and handles you with grace and quirkiness. You may have heard of him say, “It’s been a long time.” This somber list is for women in new relationships. Let it be your Lonely Planet to his lonely soul.

1. Alone time has become a jail

Attempts to weave confident, wise tales of contentment for himself about singlehood have failed. He’s tired. Alone time sucks. Friends are great, but they’re an oblong peg for a rectangle hole.

2. It’s easy to stop your life when you meet someone special

You’ll wonder why he’s willing to drop everything to be with you. Remember alone time and how much he loathes it? He may have a thanks-but-no-thanks approach to the solitary life now. This means that now you’re here, the mundane of his life can be suspended in air for a bit while he weaves his words and daily routines around your presence on his phone, computer screen, and couch. It just means you’re special and he wants to savor it.

3. The search has eroded sense of self

Maybe it just won’t happen, he’s said too many times. It didn’t happen before; hope seems out of reach. Every rejection and ruined relationship and failed fling has left a mark on his confidence and vigor.

4. He fears the “turn”

I heard this used by a friend. It’s that moment when something beautiful and crazy ends abruptly, your affections cool because he comes on too strong or is “too real, too soon”. He fears it coming because it’s always looming for him. Your man has had a dozen strong encounters and maybe twice as many “turns”. There is no “too soon” in his lexicon. So, extend grace.

5. Rushing into emotional, affectionate talk and outward forms of romance

You may only warm to holding hands after date six. He’s been thinking about it since minute 25 on date 1. Understand that the cry of his heart is for the first drop of affection, that first grip of flesh. You’re being wise and he’s being honest. You two will figure it out.

6. Rejection is both numbing and stinging

It’s happened so many times that it would be neurotic to deny it. But, it’s normal to let it wash over you. Most guys gave up after the first heartbreak, but this guy, like many others, kept on going until he got to you. Like the “turn”, the taste never leaves the back of his tongue, so bear with him if he brings up the fear of rejection.

7. Being in the moment is hard

You’ll pick up on this a lot. It’s not fake, but it’s a little odd. He’s there with his look and affection, but his mind is stuck in a some distant workshop, figuring out how to remain cool and desirable at all times, with the well-timed story, anecdote, and quip. All the previous points flow into this one; a lifetime spent in his head makes more sense to him than being present with you. He has stalkers — regret, his own faults and weaknesses, past mistakes, the past in general — trailing behind you two on every date, so don’t mind him if he steals away in his mind for a minute to look over his mind shoulders.

8. Looking into the (near) future is second nature

It would be out of character for him to talk about marriage or your children’s political beliefs, but he will talk about many, many future dates. He will mine your words for ideas, things to do together, and your random thoughtfarts for sweet ways to spend even more time with you. It’s tired-heart speak for, I want you.

9. Pornography and bro culture has marred his understanding of women

You don’t know about his relationship with pornography yet, whether it’s complicated or committed and steady. You will find out in time that he may be the sweetest man alive, but he may have some deeply held ideas about women that he’s never had challenged. These ideas will spill into everything he does with you; but, he’s here with you, which means that he’s also sick of that world. If he is edging, with a surgeon’s caution, towards a relationship with you, then there is space for you to call him out on his shit and encourage him to change himself.

Posted in Essays by minademian

The Job Search as Fire

We like to use spatial metaphors for matters pertaining to work, money, and employment — the process, the journey, the ways, the search. It belies our assumptions, that we’re ready, subject to incremental improvement and that the destination, along with the starting point, are arbitrary. I don’t have something, stuff is done, I get the something done or I achieve the something. Do a bunch of stuff, be the best version of yourself, persevere, and it will come.

I knew my A, unemployment, and my B, employment that promises a new career. I did all the transactional work of analyzing the past and seeing where I went wrong. I applied myself to the searched and networked. 7 months later, no result. More analysis. More searching. More transactional work. Nothing.

The questions were: What am I? What skills can I market? Which companies give me the most perks or pay?

I answered all those questions. I spruced up my LinkedIn. Still, nothing. I grew tired and frustrated, further burnt out by ranting and railing against the successful mission of the job market to keep me to be down-trodden.

“Rock-star developer with killer communication skills, passionate about [insert cause(s)], must know DevOps, great client handling skills, must make soufflés.”

I thought I was all that. I’m not. Opening myself up to a time of reflection and skills audit made me realize that my skills need deepening, need to be proven publicly, and my focus sharpened, too. Competition is rife and a thousand developers are punching out code — and getting paid for it — while I’m twiddling my toes.

The job search is no longer a search. It’s a sauna of fire, a refining fire. The focus is the person and who they are when they get out. Fire removes blemishes, scalds a person, gets a person to jump out of its way, or harness it.

It seems then that A and B don’t actually matter. Or, the A and B are there, but you’ve gotten to B and gone back to A, considered C, done D on a fluke, and now you want to get back to A. The destinations are irrelevant until the person is ready to compete in the market. To be ready, the person has to face themselves and be willing to be changed.

Face the fire.

Verified by ExactMetrics