Still Too XYZ
The other day I was going way back in this blog’s history, and even back into the Too XYZ days. The initial intent was to go back and remove comments and in some cases guest posts from former friends of mine who have either stopped talking to me, or in a few cases straight up betrayed my trust. I know that some of you may view that as heresy, but I do not, in most cases. What I blog is not journalism, first of all. If the foot prints of small-minded people have been left all over my personal area of cyberspace and I want to remove them to clean up the place a bit, I’m going to. I might make an exception if any given one of my posts had somehow sparked a large, wide-spread debate that gained notoriety all over the internet, but believe it or not that hasn’t happened. So I feel no compunction to hold on to a single comment or an entire post by people whom I no longer respect. (Though some are too deeply embedded in a thread to extricate at this point.)
That being said, I rarely delete an entire post, though I would delete one before I would edit it for content. I do consider changing the nature of a post to be unethical beyond a certain point, even if certain circumstances have changed since I authored said post. I’ll still correct a spelling error, even years later, if I happen across it while reviewing older material, but not the actual material. So after my former-friend purge, I started reading a few of my oldest posts. More specifically, the Too XYZ stuff.
For those who may have come to this blog having never read Too XYZ, I’ll mention that Too XYZ was the first version of a general Ty presence on the internet. Before this site, before Twitter, there was Too XYZ. It was so called because I did, and do, often feel that I am handicapped or delayed by certain traits and truths about myself that in many cases lack a specific name. The grand amalgamation of life experience, strengths, weaknesses, perceptions and circumstances that lead us all to our position in life has often been, in my case, problematic. But I can’t point to a specific reason for this in most cases, so I referred to myself as being “too…something”. That concept eventually was “too xyz”, and my blog and “brand” were born. I transferred some, but not all of my original Too XYZ posts to this blog, as you can tell from one of the categories of posts you see on this site. Sometimes I will still tag a post here with “Too XYZ” if I think it sort of fits that gestalt. It’s a gift I gave myself to make up for the disappointment of closing down Too XYZ in March of 2012 for having not achieved it’s stated goals.
Early on in the life of Too XYZ, I got sort of sucked into the self-help, success/career advice crowd, and many of my posts from the first year or so of Too XYZ reflect that. I felt compelled to publish a perspective of someone who just couldn’t make the standard advice work. It wasn’t my intention, but I stumbled across, and became a leading member of a community called Brazen Careerist in its early days, (before it became the total cookie cutter snooze-fest it basically is today.) So before long I posted many views on success in general, as well as my personal success, (or lack thereof.)
I noticed a few things looking back on those old posts. One thing is that most of my fellow success bloggers or career go-getter types with whom I conversed (argued) back then are no longer in the spot light. The links to their projects and platforms included in their comments are dead in most cases. This isn’t to say, of course, that none of those people continued to succeed. I imagine many of them did, even though I couldn’t locate all of them online. But it does say to me that in a few short years many if not most of them for whatever reason abandoned their established brands and platforms that they had appeared to construct so meticulously. I wonder who did so for what reasons. Who just moved on, who got burned out, who changed their mind and who did come to at last realize my warning to them; that the further they would get from college, the more difficult it would be to believe in the, “failure is impossible…I make my all of my own luck…hard work always pays off” mentality so common within their ranks? I almost contacted a few that I was able to find and ask them, but I opted not to.
Another thing I noticed is that several of the people I still talk to today were less gung-ho about some of these issues than those who are now missing in action. I’ve often wondered if part of the reason I do still enjoy talking to them, and that they are still out and about online is directly related to the fact that they were usually the less gung-ho types. Is their very willingness over the years to move a bit with a tide one reason why I still like them, and they me? I can’t know for certain, but nor can I believe it has nothing to do with it, either. I look back over some of the arguments and exchanges I had with people I knew only casually, (I didn’t delete them) and marvel at how long I put up with some of it.
You see, in the end, I was of course Too XYZ to fit in with the advice-dispensing self-starting Millenials that made up most of that crowd. I think a lot of people who visited Brazen, as well as a few other places I frequented were drawn to my blunt, passionate posts at first, but expected me to build some kind of movement, or lecture, or series of e-books, or a start-up, or all of the above around my thoughts. After all, why else could anyone possibly write about their thoughts, if they weren’t building a brand out of them?
That was never my intention with those posts though. I think once a lot of those other folks realized that I truly was blogging about not being a good fit in this world and that I was hoping to inspire others who also eschewed the system, they gave up on me. When they realized I wasn’t using my writing to build “Too XYZ, Inc”, (or worse yet, “Ty Unglebower, Inc.”) their interest in and tolerance of me waned.
Not only that, their indignation began to rise. It’s as though they resented the very notion that I could possibly write, blog, have a college degree and yet still not be somehow pulling high five figures. It had to be because I was lazy, or a trouble maker. I must not have given enough extra attention to my college professors (??) or cold-called enough people, or opted to move to nearby Washington, D.C. It couldn’t actually be that I was Too XYZ for much of the work force. So off they went to launch their five start-ups, four blogs and a podcast, never to be heard from again.
Yet the main thing I took away from peering into the Too XYZ vaults is that in many cases, my views are unchanged. I know that sounds immature and shallow in a way, since we’re all suppose to be open to change. And I didn’t say I have not changed as a person over the years. Nor did I say that no opinion of mine has changed in that time frame. Only that most of what I wrote in regards to personal success and the rat race is the same as it always was.
I still think hiring practices in most cases are grossly unfair and rather absurd. I still think that most hiring managers are incompetent. College, in my mind, still borders on a corporate swindle and I maintain to this day that a string of poor luck, totally outside of my control has held me back at time. Do I still think the system is often rigged towards the superficial and extroverted? I do. Am I just as convinced now as I was before and during the Too XYZ era that monetary production is given vastly too much weight in assessing the worth of a human being, especially one such as myself? I am. Do I continue to eschew the unbridled Protestant Work Ethic. Yes. Do I get just as angry today as I did back then when advice for success centers around picking up tabs for your boss, investing in 300 dollar haircuts, sending handwritten ‘thank you’ notes to interviewers, using platforms I don’t need, working the cocktail party scene and equating fashion sense with business acumen? You’re damn right I do.
And I’m not ashamed of it. Actually I’m rather proud of the fact. It says to me that my views have never been merely knee-jerk reactions to circumstances, social trends or other people’s writings. It says to me that though I may be somewhat calmer, more deliberate and embrace a broader swath of topics on my blog today, I was nonetheless perceptive and insightful enough back then to get to the true heart of some of these matters. Far from being merely obstinate, I’ve found that my assessments about some of these topics were solid enough to withstand the test of time. (Though it be in some cases no more than five years ago.) I’d say that’s pretty good, even if you don’t personally think any given assessment I make is right.
I guess I could spend the next few posts trying to convince you that I’m right. I could lay out an entire argument, with charts and graphs and the like. But I won’t. In the end, I’m still Too XYZ for all of that.