About one year ago, I wrote a very revealing blog post that quickly became the most popular that I had ever written.
25 Things I Never Told You (Or, a Writer Upping the Ante) was an idea that I borrowed from my buddy (and all around incredible guy), Corbett Barr — a personal challenge to see if I could open up a lot more and really share things about myself that I hadn’t ever told you, my readers, because this technological medium can tend to be pretty impersonal.
One year has passed, I’m one year older. And, looking back on that old post, I feel like I’ve grown a whole lot and changed in some great ways. So, today, I’d like to open up again and share 26 more things about myself that I’ve never told you.
Will you accept my challenge and do the same, yourself, on your own blog?
And even better than that, today I’m releasing my long awaited Anti-Resume! It’s a bold declaration of intent for 2012 and beyond, including the “what” and “why” behind my Empire State of Mind and moving to New York City!
Grab it below, after the post. :)
1. When I first moved to Washington D.C., I dreamed of one day becoming a Presidential speechwriter. The art of rhetoric is a natural passion of mine — may be why the loose format and rule-breaking style of my viral “Unspeech” post was so well-received last June. I think that today, by contrast, I certainly now prefer writing speeches for myself than I ever would writing them for someone else — even a President.
2. I defeated anxiety this past year. Last May, I disclosed my history with depression and anxiety publicly for the first time, right here on this blog. Today, that seems like such ancient history. There certainly wasn’t “a” moment when I “defeated” anxiety — it was more of just “letting go” than any sort of a fierce, dramatic lightsaber battle. And “just letting go” definitely required lots of hours and many attempts to continually push myself well outside of my comfort zones.
All that anxiety really is, is pre-emptive failure. It’s a conditioned, self-imposed habit: anticipating fictional circumstances that haven’t even happened.
And, getting over any shred of anxiety became easy when I realized that detaching from that assumptive, anticipatory failure is literally without effort, as opposed to hanging onto the fear, which requires effort.
In other words, hanging onto anxiety is actually more work than just letting go of it. Letting go is seamless, effortless. Now, I still get a little “get me the hell out of here” after a certain period of time in big group situations, like in conferences (especially because I am SO damn popular). But I’ve learned that that is a just product of my personality, and actually that escaping from “all the noise,” so to speak, benefits me deeply and in all sorts of great ways.
3. I have a weird, hard-to-explain personal goal to see my work banned by oppressive governments in foreign nations. To me, creating empowering literature that preaches equality, liberty and love AND that scares closed-minded governments is a genuine mark of being a global change-agent. It’s like the romantic idealist in me meeting my hardcore defiant side.
4. I’m a total computer geek, although not as much these days as I used to be back in high school. Back then, I dabbled in programming and even thought of one day going to MIT for computer science and specializing in web security — not that I’d have the grades or intelligence to accomplish either!
5. I cannot stand being told what I can’t do. I far and away prefer to figure things out myself and with the help and advice of others — it’s what helps me actually learn. Secondly, being told what I can’t do puts a loud fire in my belly, and suddenly I want to go to extreme ends just to make a point:
“You really think so, huh? Watch this.”
And, the beautiful truth of the matter is that I do love when people tell me what I can’t do. They told me my book “couldn’t be done.” Few things drive my edge, inner rock’n’roller and quiet-defiant side harder and further than that.
6. I am a rock junkie, and I often find myself singing — more than I’d care to admit in any public forum. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are my all-time favorite band. Another favorite is Shinedown, who I’ve seen in concert around 6 or 7 times. I grew up with grunge rock in the ’90s and still adore that music. The first album I ever bought was Silverchair’s Frogstomp, followed by Bush’s Sixteen Stone. I would adore to one day hear my words sung on stage, but since I have no musical talent, I may have to settle for hearing someone else sing ’em :)
7. I believe that dreams are wishes, and that wishes are prayers. I believe with an unshakable faith that humanity is naturally good; that our nature is kind, gentle, social and loving. Don’t let news headlines shake your belief in people. In this life, only love endures.
8. I believe that we ought to live life hypocritically: admitting to ourselves that we really don’t know anything; we need to stay in constant state of exploring — of “always-learning.” If we’re not living hypocritically, we’re essentially living like fundamentalists: staunch, hardened, egoic, afraid to move and refusing to change, deceiving ourselves into believing that our immobility is “strength” and “righteousness.” This only leads to negative places. It’s OK to admit that you don’t know anything. None of us know anything, honestly, but admitting that is when we really start to get a clue.
9. I believe that the Lead Without Followers alternative leadership philosophy — still young, and ever-evolving — is destined to be my life’s work. I have no idea how it will manifest, develop and evolve throughout my life, but I’m quite certain that I’ve been called on to understand, develop and deliver this message.
Today, my desire to move to a new environment like New York City and begin working extensively with new groups, small businesses and start-ups represents a new fold in the evolution of my alternative leadership philosophy: expanding beyond the individual, and into a dynamic group setting.
10. I never want to be known as “an expert.” To me, being called an expert means you’re the best at knowing what’s already known. I don’t want to be the best at what’s already known. I want to excel at exploring so many hundreds and thousands of incredible facets of life and this world and its people — especially through ink and verse.
11. My ideological political beliefs have become completely undone — intentionally so, and thnak goodness. What a relief it is to not feel subscribed to a particular party or individual politician, or feel obligated to draw battle-lines with every possible social issue. Without the troublesome convenience of compartmentalizing your political beliefs into a rigid box, you begin escape the divisiveness and battle-nature of modern politics.
So, what then do you do to interact responsibly as an engaged citizen?
When making voting decisions, rely upon yourself: how you believe that your simple beliefs, values and appreciations — all of these, combined with your personal understanding of human nature — would be best manifested for others.
12. I love being introverted. And I love my newfound comfort with intently escaping commotion and unnecessarily negative and draining environments; diffusing bombs without a whisper; and being able to answer a question in as few words as needed. Strength lies in quiet. Loudness reveals weakness, insecurity and fear.
While we’re at it, can we stop using “introvert” and “extrovert” as personality labels, and instead use descriptive “introverted” and “extroverted” instead?
The tags are merely descriptive of personality, not definitions of them. We need to loosen that usage instead of encouraging people to box their personalities into comfy-feeling but totally misleading definitions.
13. Seeing a word-cloud of my 60,000-word book brought tears to my eyes (yeah… three times). Why? When I first saw it, my eyes darted from adjective and adverb to noun, dozens of words that I’ve quietly striven to live by for years and years:
Within. Human. Others. Life. People. Good. Positive. Believe. Gratitude. Happiness.
I guess it shouldn’t have come as a shock that those would be the most common words in my book, but I was so elated to be reminded of that.
14. If I could have either fame now or fame later, I’d far and away prefer for my words to be famous in death than in life, centuries down the line. There’s something deeply poetic and beautiful about writers whose words transcend time and continually speak to people throughout the ages, regardless of how wildly our world and everything that we know about it changes and evolves over the years.
15. I always sleep with a book, note pad and pen. The book, I rotate a classic that reads lightly and poetically — no heavy thinking or vampire stories. I make sure to keep a book near from a divine writer like Gibran, Thoreau, or Rumi whose words are truly worthy of sharing that sacred dreaming space.
I also have a habit of writing a poem, essay, note or short prayer right before sleep. What’s great is that I often forget what I write (since the brain is already powering down), so it’s pretty interesting to look back on them the next morning or even months later.
16. These days, I’m pretty much flat broke. I’ve poured more than just heart and soul into my work over the last three years of self-employment since saying “I quit.” It’s not something I worry about much at all. I go through money-interest swings, but being the idealist that I am, I know deep down that I’ll come out way ahead in the long run — I already am.
Cultivating, understanding and developing the business side of things is a growing interest of mine — partly out of need, and partly pure fascination. Opening up new and exciting work opportunities in New York City is something I’m very excited for in 2012.
17. I’ve realized that I kind of live in two-to-three year swings; cycles of living that, on a schedule, suddenly feel the need for a major jumpstart. Within those two or three years, I live in a pretty tempered pace. Then, at “the cycle’s end,” I feel the need to over-accelerate and pursue fresh growth with a very dramatic and overwhelming urge to suddenly uproot, do something uncharacteristic, take a huge risk or leap of faith, and just dive in. New York City, here I cometh.
18. I believe that humanity is consciously evolving: this unique age is accelerating rapid evolution of understanding and growth. I believe that Western society, in particular, is experiencing a significant undoing of it’s “at any cost” mentality and becoming genuinely more human, as we should be.
The last ten years have been tough, and so the heart-hardened aspects facets of Western society are becoming more and more unraveled: we are becoming more finely tuned to our true human nature.
19. More and more, I’m itching to start making a straight f*ckin’ raucous. Some days, you just want to make some damn noise, shake the world and see what happens. I want to put everyone on my back and see what super-villain we can tackle. It’s the rock’n’roll to my zen; the yang of my inner renegade to the yin of my “quiet leader.”
20. Writing my book was far more of a trying ordeal than I ever thought it would be. Creating something for public consumption is a mental and emotional beast that demands pure reckless abandon. Publishing the book made me appreciate the creative process so much more, and value what creatives, writers, actors, musicians and others go through to create work and share it.
21. After publishing my book, I seriously contemplated shutting down this blog — a few times. I’d have either started all over again, or temporarily gone into blogosphere exile. Why? Well, I kinda felt “over” blogging and like I said what I had to say, and needed a good quiet time-out. I’m glad I didn’t, because I absolutely love to be able to speak to people all over the world from this outlet.
22. I have two younger siblings, six cousins and of them, seven young second-cousins — you’ll notice me sharing their cute pictures often. My only living grandparent is my 80-year-old Grammy, Dora, who is amazingly generous, an incredible cook (typically Italian, she forces food down our throats nonstop) and has the personality of an occasional firecracker. My other three grandparents — grandpa Carmine, grandma Ida, and papa Daniel — passed away when I was at the ages of 6 months old, 8 years old and 12 years old, all to various forms of cancer. I think of them often.
23. I’ve been single for about three years, and then the last relationship was another two years before that. I do get pretty tired of being asked why I’m single, like there’s a big mystery or dramatic story behind it — I know, it’s soooooo shocking that a stud like me can manage to stay on the market for this long!
The simple truth is that I just do enjoy being single at this point in my life: rockin’n’rollin on my own, trailblazing my path, traveling wherever I want and when, writing awesome stuff, and not having to buy gifts on Valentine’s Day. It also helps that, outside of the “romance”, there really is no shortage of love in my life. Everywhere.
24. I love to drive. There’s something very therapeutic about the open road, and turning up the music with the windows down. Living without a car is going to take some serious adjusting to.
25. My book sold just over 300 copies in its first three months. It’s an extremely modest sales number, but honestly far more than I could believe I’d ever sell. My big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) was (is) to sell 10,000 in the book’s first calendar year. Stretch? Oh yeah. But I have some fun ideas and big plans in mind to spark a landslide. Watch for it soon :)
26. Looking back on last year’s “Things I Never Told You” post, I realized that I’ve grown a crazy amount in just one year. Opinions I thought were “me” have changed dramatically, even over such a short period of time. And the more that time passes, the more that I grow, I have a tougher and tougher time describing myself.
The labels mean so little.
I cringe at describing my personality — how the hell am I supposed to describe it? I think it’s the external sense of identity, of ego, melting away. It can feel frustrating. But it’s also purely liberating. And, in the long run, I’m pretty sure it’ll be a good thing.
BONUS ROUND: The Anti-Resume!
Here’s my big, bold, unconventional and hopefully eye-catching attempt to literally create an environment that brings about the changes that I currently desire in my life: new work in a new city.
This is my “Anti-Resume” – a 29-page presentation, which also includes three “intentions” for you and me, throughout 2012 and beyond:
1. Download it here: http://bit.ly/anti-resume
2. Or, read any time on SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/daveursillo/my-antiresume-2012-by-dave-ursillo (Update 2/3: Fixed the display error!)
Shamelessly-endearing photo credit: sneaky cousin who snapped this candid of me and my god-daughter, now age 9, this past Christmas.