My Purple Gorilla

One of my favorite shows on television is “Duck Dynasty.”

Before you laugh at me, let me say that I thought it was ridiculous before I started watching it.  My entire family was obsessed with it and I had no idea why.  These were a bunch of bearded weirdos running around and shooting things who just happened to have made a lot of money making duck calls.  Why would I want to watch that?

Well, after actually sitting down and watching an episode, I figured out why.  The show is not only laugh-out-loud hilarious, but warm, heartfelt, and endearing.  You can’t help but love the Robertson family, from sweet Miss Kay, the grandmother everyone wishes they had, to Jase, the smart-ass older brother with an all-play and no-work attitude, to crazy Uncle Si and his beloved tea glass.

In one episode, Si becomes determined to win a giant purple gorilla from a kids pizza place.  Willie, the ever suffering CEO and loveable butt of every joke on the entire show, insists that it’s impossible, that Si will never win that stupid gorilla, and that he’s just wasting time.  Si accepts the challenge, goes on to win 5000 tickets, and walks out of the pizza place holding his beloved gorilla.

Si explains to viewers that he set his mind to it, he visualized himself with that gorilla, and he did it.  Work hard, believe you’ve got what it takes, and there’s nothing you can’t do.

My purple gorilla is going to be the road I take to self-publishing.  I have every confidence in my ability as a writer, but as a business person?  You’re probably better off putting your faith in a giant stuffed gorilla.  Business just doesn’t work in my head.  It’s just like Calculus, taxes, and ancient Chinese.  I look at it… and it just looks like strange marks on a piece of paper.

It’s not uncommon for the right-brained creative person to completely suck at something as left-brained as the fine-workings of business.  In fact, I think it’s pretty much the norm.  The idea of business-type stuff makes my head spin.  It forms a pile of confusing clutter in my already messy brain.

However, this is not the first time I’ve felt this way.  The first time I ever felt that sense of, “Oh my God, I’m so dumb and I’ll never get anything done and I’m going to fail and then I’ll be a loser forever,” was last year, during my final semester of graduate school.  I was in a class that focused on the objectivity and subjectivity of documentaries.  I signed up for the class thinking I’d get to watch a lot of documentaries and learn a lot of cool new stuff.  Nope.  This class was boring as all hell.  We were assigned to read the most useless of all academic articles (which are pretty useless to begin with, in my humble opinion – seriously, if you want someone to learn and appreciate what you’re writing, you have to make it interesting, but that’s a whole other blog post), and to top it all off, the documentaries we watched were about as awesome as a dried piece of fruit.

At the end of the class, we were supposed to come up with an original argument about the meanings and implications and is-it-subjective-or-objective and a lot of other stuff that just made me feel really dumb (graduate school will do that to you) and write a 15-20 page paper on it.  Now, I am the master of writing papers.  I can BS with the best of them.

May I just say, I thought that final paper was going to be the end of my grad school career.  I have never felt so intimidated in my life.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.  I got an A on my paper, got my Masters, and lived happily ever after.  In the end, the assignment and the paper turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Yeah, it was long and a huge pain in the butt, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

My biggest problem, I realized, was my own mental block.  It’s kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you allow yourself to believe your goals are impossible and that you can’t handle it, you’re going to stress yourself out and, if you’re anything like me, end up eating a lot of self-pity popcorn.  But if you tell yourself, “You know what?  You can handle it.  Yeah, it’s going to be challenging and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but you are perfectly capable of doing it.  You’ve already proven that.”

It’s just like Si and his purple gorilla.  Of course, if Willie had his way, Si would be putting that kind of effort into being productive at work.

But then, he wouldn’t be Si.