Where the Hell Have I Been? An Update
It’s been a bloody long time. I thought I’d try and write a concise catch-up post to re-launch Virtual Wombat and describe why I’m picking up blogging again. I’ve been almost entirely absent from social media for months now and to the friends who wondered where I’d gone, I say I’m sorry and I hope what follows makes some sense!
Giving Myself Too Much to Do
The last published post on here is from back in November last year. It was all going so well, then burnout happened. I’ll be the first to admit I was trying to do too much. I was trying to get used to a new night shift pattern, making two or three comic strips a week, writing blog posts. The list goes on and on and eventually, I just crashed.
I fell into what I can only describe as a weird social media anxiety and I think I was staring depression in the face too. Early this year I basically wiped myself off of the internet. Facebook, gone. Twitter, gone. The whole lot. Every social media account I had was deleted and I’ve enjoyed about six solid months with very little to worry about online.
I only have myself to blame though. My wife told me I was taking on too much, stretching myself too thin. The thing is, I have this awful habit of falling head first into something, whether it be a project or a hobby and not being able to rebalance the rest of my time around it. The inevitable result tends to be a brightly burning flame of creative zing, then an embarrassing fizzle as the interest disappears into obscurity.
The odd thing is that six months “off” so to speak, has given me a strange new perspective on managing my own time. I had a brief but interesting foray into the world of Twitch streaming and learned a few interesting lessons. I’d become capable of balancing my own time more effectively. For those that aren’t aware, Twitch is a streaming service where you can game, draw stuff or do any number of other things for others entertainment.
Three short months as a Twitch streamer enabled me to dip a toe back into Twitter and Instagram (Sneaky promo: You can follow me via those links!), without the previous obsessions I had with whether the content was being seen. I spent hours creating artwork for my channel and even for fellow streamers, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I became active in a few Discord communities too and before long I realised that I could manage my time effectively if I just bothered to think about it rather than getting lost in the tasks at hand.
Seeking Some Re-education
That brings us to about two months ago when in an honest conversation with the wife, I asked myself what I REALLY wanted to do. Dabbling in blogging, streaming and even to a certain extent the cartoon drawing phase all seemed to be symptomatic of a simple truth; I’m not being challenged doing what I do. In fact, my current career is not really where I ever intended to be.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m reasonably well paid, work for a company that looks after me very well and I have a level of freedom in work that’s seldom found with employers these days. The real problem is that haunting thought in the back of my mind that I always wanted to do something different and if I don’t do it now, I may regret it for a long time.
What did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut? A paleontologist like my son? Darth Vader? Whatever it was, how close did you get to the dream or the goal?
I wanted to be a scientist. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but as a sci-fi obsessed child, I was developing a passion for physics that progressed all the way through school, on to college and eventually… Disappeared into the gloom of a reality in which I was not going to get to university. I won’t go too deeply into the reasons why, but suffice it to say that it took several years before I found my way back to education.
By then I had responsibilities. I was married, with a new baby and all the commitments associated with adulting. So I pursued an apprenticeship program after some time with the Open University and found myself eight years later where I am now. Successful in what I do but longing to do what I always wanted.
That’s the question. What do I really want to do?
Back to University
So that was that. I applied to a university on the back of my engineering qualifications and experience. Then there was a grueling wait for a few weeks where everything was processed. But at the beginning of this month, I was given an unconditional offer to attend Sheffield Hallam University starting in September this year.
I figured slinging myself back into full-on degree level study would be foolish. So, I’ve opted to take a kind of refresher year in maths and physics principles before I embark on the degree proper. From September, I’ll be working reduced hours at work on night shifts certain days of the week and attending uni during the daytime.
Which brings us all the way back to where this bloody blog is going and why I’m typing this in the first place…
A Renewed Virtual Wombat
I’ve decided to pick up the site as a way of keeping myself motivated and kind of recording my journey. I’ve trimmed away a lot of old posts and completely re-designed the whole thing. I’m a mature student, working to provide for my family and I think there’ll be others who are in a similar place, who might be encouraged by the story.
I plan to do a general blog update like this one on at least a weekly basis. Then a few times a week I’ll write up in more detail about my efforts to save cash and drive my working hours down or even something a bit more fun, we’ll see how it goes. I’d love to have you join me on the journey.
And if you’ve felt the way I did, believe me when I say following something you’ve been dreaming of, really does feel amazing.
You should do it too.