Sunday, January 13, 2013

Like riding a bicycle

I have less than a week left of daily blogs, so I wish I could make this one count. Unfortunately, I don't have much to talk about. My life has been strangely satisfactory lately. And as we all know, it's when we're the happiest that we lose our ability to write with any sort of apparent interest. It's the manic depressive in each of us that enables the interesting story construction. Once that fire has burnt out, what is left? Just a lot of happiness and a desire to expend that enthusiasm in the real world rather than the digital or written (or some combination of the two) universe.

But I guess I've committed myself to writing this, which means I have to find a topic. The only way I can think to do that is to choose something to complain about. So I guess I'll look back in my compendium of negative thoughts and choose the most willing target.

The wheel has been spun and it looks like I've landed on a topic...

That topic is my regressive skillset.

I'm a university student. I write articles, I study journalism, I take film and history and political science classes (among other subjects of course). I am relatively smart. I read for fun. I like to explore new mediums of art all the time and I like to learn new things. One of my favorite television shows is NOVA ScienceNOW with previous host Neil DeGrasse Tyson and new host David Pogue. I'm a nerd. I like to learn about the world. My favorite shows on the History Channel are not about Nostradamus, they're about How the States Got their Shapes.

The point of this all is to say that I'm the type of person who prides herself on obtaining and maintaining a large set of knowledge.

But I have the perfect inability to remember any of it after a certain period of time has passed.

I hate that saying about remembering how to do something being "like riding a bicycle." I never learned to ride a bike, so it may be some combination of resentment for a lacking skill and also an inability to maintain talents that I once had. Whatever the reason, it frustrates me that a phrase like that even exists.

There are people in this world who can learn something once and let it stick in their brain forever. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people.

The example I'd like to use to support my argument involves a little pet project of mine when I was in middle and high school.

I used to like to make websites. I was obsessed with Corel Paint Shop Pro. Photoshop was foreign to me because the version I used never worked on my terrible old Windows desktop. But with PSP, I became wildly proficient.

I'd spend hours clicking away at a vision. I created backgrounds, downloaded pngs, made div layers and layouts galore. I figured out various HTML and CSS codes. I knew them by heart. When I didn't know them by heart, I used reliable resources to remind myself of them. I was on my way to becoming a computer or graphics-minded person. It was something I really loved.

It was during this time that I made about four or five moderately successful fansites. I used them as a tool for self-promotion. I'd send my link to other fansites of similar topics and put their links on my site, hoping for a mutually beneficial relationship. My site was well-constructed, so I did receive links in return. I was learning how to be a marketing agent. It seemed like a natural effort in the progress of making a product I wanted to sell.

On my websites, I'd write dozens of articles. They were all short, but they were topic specific. They pulled from various sources and required quite a bit of research. I put a lot of effort into them. Considering I was 13 and in middle school studying fairly hard (I'm pretty sure I received straight A's for most of that year), it was quite a feat to be going home from school each day to work on a website. But I did it. I was a content producer. I'm still very proud of that.

These days I've begun to feel old and useless. Whereas I used to be a one woman show, creating a website all by myself and running it in my own way, as time has passed I've become less and less of a sophisticated creator. I've turned to journalistic and writing-centric exploits. I abandoned my web design skills, stopped marketing my work and essentially stopped working in the same way I did before. Other things became more of a concern and I guess I forgot what it was I loved so much about making and keeping up with websites.

And in the process of forgetting, I lost a lot of my skills.

The other day I looked for a tutorial on making animated gifs in Adobe Photoshop. I looked up some information on Adobe Illustrator. These are skills I want to rekindle so desperately. It confounds me that I ever had the skills in the first place. It is most certainly not like riding a bike.

I wish I could wrap up this issue with some sort of crisp, clean conclusion. But at the moment, I'm in a place where I don't feel confident. I want to learn so badly and I wish I had the skills that I once did. But time changes everything and I seem to have lost my ability to learn these abilities that I so readily absorbed years ago.

If I have time in the next few weeks or months, I want to return to all my editing software and to new modes of media and marketing management so I can explore the talents I used to have before. Among other interests I have, this is certainly a top concern. I'm convinced it might actually help me in the long-run.

So I guess finding fault with myself, even in the midst of a fairly comfortable time in my life, can actually lead to good. Because if it's the last thing I do, I will learn to ride that bicycle again.

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