Prompt: Pretending you have the expertise to make the product a reality, what do you wish you could invent?
One of my biggest regrets is that I’m not an inventor. Despite my proclivity for writing, I cannot conjure something new out of thin air, apply practical knowledge, and create it. I read about Ahmed Mohamed making his clock. I watch my friend develop a gaming app. I back Kickstarters with new, innovative backpacks and fabric, and I would love to do all that. Sometimes, I think that I can, but there’s always something in the way – I don’t have the money for supplies or workshops, I don’t have the time to learn something new from scratch, or I don’t have the aptitude to understand how to do it. And so I give up.
Well, that’s not quite true. I don’t necessarily give up. Instead, I try to figure out whatever the thing requires and then find people who can help piece it together. “Do I know anyone with video game development experience?” I call out on social media. “Anyone have expertise in bacteria? Who knows how to do papier-mâché? Where can I find information on web design?”
Sometimes I get a response, and very, very rarely will someone hold up their hand and volunteer, despite the fact that I know by name those of my friends who can do what I want. But I don’t blame them. Often, someone will call for help editing, formatting, or doing graphic design and I will be conspicuously mum. It’s not that I don’t want to help people – it’s that I don’t have the time. I am constantly running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything I need done finished, often foregoing sleep, health, and relationships. Adding in something new, especially if I’m not enthused about the project, is a great way to get me to stop answering emails. So it’s just not always good to volunteer.
Honestly, I am often resentful of my work, school, and personal responsibilities because they do keep me from learning new skills. If I didn’t have to work, I would be able to learn how to code at least well enough to customize my blog. If I didn’t have to go to school, I could create a podcast and learn how to do sound well (or at least not embarrass myself with it). If I wasn’t taking care of people, I could brush up on my Spanish. But I can’t. Instead, I spend about 90% of my day at work, PT, or maintaining my life, and the other 10% trying not to have a nervous breakdown. It’s not really conducive to learning.
I think this is what happens to most people. We get burned out with family and friends, working, and paying bills, and so any spare moment we have we devote to trying to relax. We deserve it. Hell, we need it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing. That’s why I advocate for free tuition, healthcare, and a living minimum wage. We should have the means, time, and mental fortitude to make our lives and those of others better, and we just can’t do that if we’re too stressed out and busy. Everyone should have something they want to do and be working on it. Otherwise, life just seems empty.