Friday, March 2, 2018

There’s Such a Thing as Too Much Research

“In books, hell yeah there’s such a thing! Why are we still talking about this?”

Well, true, but I’m not talking about how a historical fiction book might detail an entire ten-course meal down to the prongs of each fork. I’m talking about how informing yourself too thoroughly might cause some problems.

I like to be aware of how hard I should expect something to be. I think this helps me to know that if the difficulty is a sign I’m going about it the wrong way, or if it is merely just that difficult. However, I think you can psyche yourself out, and there is something to be said for walking into a situation blind.

I discuss how I miss my younger self. I would describe her as a baby in a Looney Toons skit, happily wandering around as anvils and toasters place an attack on her life while she keeps on, going after whatever prize her eye is trained to. Meanwhile the cat rushes after her, attempting to protect her from all the horrible dangers in a state of pure panic only to end up the one who gets her teeth knocked out. The cat is older me. Very conscious of all the things that could go wrong, scampering around attempting to fix problems and getting hurt by things that never even grazed me when I was oblivious to them.

Knowing something will be hard makes it less likely that you’re going to try.

I had a good friend in college who was very talented and very insecure. She would make statements about the statistical likelihood of her success. She'd go and spend an hour talking with a professor about her directing project—what should I do, how should I do it?—guaranteeing her to get an A, but sucking all the fun out of it. She was a realist and that set her up to not put herself out there.

She’s doing well, graduated with a masters in her field and is working, from what I understand, full time in the theatre. We have long since gotten out of touch. But watching someone keep her goals low for the sake of reality taught me a valuable lesson: shit happens without your control, and sometimes it’s positive.

You can’t expect to be the norm. You have to hope luck and destiny will nudge you over the top. Sure, being reasonable about your expectations is key to not getting discouraged, helps you confront controllable problems head on and take the helm in the situation, but it’s just as important to aim big, try for things you might not get, and take a random stab regardless of the odds.

The harder I know it’s going to be, the more I put it off. If I think it’ll be easy, I go big and I rip the Band-Aid off. It’s sucks to put your all into something only to yield nothing in return, of course, and getting out there a second or third time is awful, especially if you’ve realized you’ve done something stupid the first go around.

There is something to be said for doing your due-diligence before throwing yourself to the wolves, but I find that the fear-mongering it can be much more problematic than you’d think. Point is, if you’re looking for publishers, a career change, a relationship, a new apartment, or basically any big time decision, the most important part is to go for it. If you feel like all your reading is just making you scared, remember that life is not a predictable pattern, what’s true for the internet won’t necessarily be true for you, and you never know what will happen.

Sometimes it’s important to put Google down and actually live life. I’m often surprised at how different reality is than what the realists say.

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