Accepting yourself as a scanner

What should you do when you want to do everything? If you're fascinated by everything, and you've been called dabbler, dilettante, undisciplined, indecisive etc., this forum is for you.

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Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby juliette » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:33 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm new here and am SO happy to have found this forum. I have read through several posts and felt so comforted (and amazed) to find so many people I share my scanner traits with! We also seem to have careers in common.

I just finished Refuse to Choose last month on the heels of The Artist's Way (Julia Cameron) in the hopes of being able to move forward in my life. I'm in my 40s and while my resume looks like I'm accomplished, behind the scenes, I have for many years focused on this "missing piece" - the golden cup, the holy grail - whatever you want to call it, but it's the "a-ha" behind what it is I want to do with my life. It was only this year that I dipped into "scanneritis", as it's so fondly referred to here, and considered another possibility.

However, while the book has been amazingly supportive, I feel perhaps, more stuck than ever. I am still trying to figure out why I feel this way and I think it could boil down to not accepting myself as a scanner. Have you dealt with this?

A little background ... I'm very fortunate to have the "good enough" job that allows me to actually fulfill, at times, my scanner desires. I do web development, planning, design and some social media marketing on a daily basis. My background is in foreign languages and that, coupled with writing and project management have kept me employed. Outside of work I still spend a lot of time coding and designing but I also am a photographer and I have a strong interest in cooking and health, particularly in naturopathy.

Yet when I've tried to apply the principles behind these disciplines into my art (photography) - the thing that brings me greatest passion, I feel like I CANNOT MOVE FORWARD! I feel torn between trying to find a way to connect all of my skills together and create business (though I HATE trying to market and sell myself, which drove me away from entrepreneuership and back to employment) or trying to work on selling my art... but then again I can't seem to create a viable direction for my art. :bash:

I know it sounds like a mess, but it's probably more a mess in my head.

Back to the original question: How did you come to accept yourself as a scanner? Have you dealt with being stuck or feeling stuck - and what worked for you?

Thanks,
Juliette
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Re: Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby Nytecrow » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:46 am

Hi Juliette!! I'm a newbie to this board, and to posting on the web. I just ran across the 'Scanner' thing on PBS, downloaded the book to Kindle, and fond the label 'Scanner' fits me perfectly. I'm 50 yoa, female, and have been employed in my 'good enough' job for 27 years. Probably a record, for a scanner!! But even though I basically hate my job, which is so boring they could teach monkeys to do it and pay a lot less, I also have acknowledged long ago that the 'good enough' job is what enables me to be a scanner in my spare time. And before anyone asks, the way I deal with the boring job is one of two ways...I bring my personal computer and/or Kindle to work to pacify my racing brain between the boring tasks, or I turn off my brain before leaving the house. Three more years to go, and I can retire and be a Scanner full time!!

The list of my hobbies could literally fill a book. I have several different types of shops set up all over my house, and I move between them and different projects at will. If the projects get finished, great. If not, I may clear them away in favor of a different project, that also may never get finished. I have learned not to stress about it.

Now, to address your anxiety...why must you earn a living from your passion? My practice of my passion for picture painting, for example, sometimes produces a bit of money from EBay or Etsy, but the PRACTICE is the point, not the money, and this is why....I have found that when I concentrate on earning money from my art, it feels like a JOB, like I'm being FORCED to produce, and consequently I produce NOTHING!!

It may be different for you. Perhaps your anxiety is about the marketing that you hate, selling yourself when you believe in your heart of hearts that your art should speak for itself. In that case, HIRE someone to sell YOU, and concentrate on the art that you love. Pay for a website where you can showcase YOU, have flyers printed, whatever you feel is necessary, and then let it go, and concentrate on your art.

As for accepting yourself as a Scanner, well look at it as a priviledge. I have often thought to myself over the years, "Gee, I wish I was stupid, so I wouldn't be so AWARE of all the problems in the world, my country, state, city, block, life, job, marriage, blah, blah, blah. But ask yourself this...Can you imagine NOT being YOU?? Being a Sheeple? Just like everybody ELSE??

I have had to deal with resentment for my intelligence, my abilities (self taught), my strength (physical, mental, and emotional), my creativity, stubborness...the list goes on. But everything I am, everything I have, I DID!! I learned, I grew, I toiled, I SWEATED, I cried, sometimes I failed, most times I succeeded, but it was all ME!! And I'll be darned if I bow down to anyone because of their jealousy, their insecurity, their laziness. My bumper sticker sums it all up for me...it has a picture of a duck call on it and it says "Blow Me". I apologize to anyone that finds that rude, but the sticker will stay right where it is!! :)

It's funny, but as I read through Babara's book about Scanners (Refuse to Choose), I'm finding that the coping strategies that are mentioned are things that I have naturally put in place throughout my life. I have notebooks/journals/scribbled post-its EVERYWHERE, and calendars, lists, Fav Save on the computer, etc. are all my best friends. Being highly organized saves a lot of stress, and money, since I don't pay late fees on bills, and I don't purchase several of the same tools because I misplaced them. :D
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Re: Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby SquarePeg » Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:27 pm

Welcome, Juliette!

When I feel stuck, I simply leave the topic and move on to another one. The latest example is that I had planned to exhibit some of my cat photos at the local library. The purpose was two-fold. First I wanted to advertise the cat shelter and raise funds for it (in the unlikely event that a print were purchased, the proceeds would go to the shelter) . Second it was to set an example for my artistic teenaged daughter. But I kept putting it off. sigh

I'd never hoped to find a job that would combine all my interests. But I worked with "What Color Is Your Parachute" to find a field and job that I could feel comfortable for most of the day and that would support my scanner lifestyle. Just as Nytecrow wrote, the idea of getting paid to follow my passions turns me off immeasurably. And her advice is great -- find someone to handle the business side of it.

My dad was a machinist by trade, but he enjoyed lapidary as a hobby. We'd take our gems and things to a gift shop about once a month, pick up the money of things that sold before.
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Re: Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby juliette » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:00 am

Thank you both so much. I think I was just having a "moment" and needed to remember who I am and these posts helped! I look forward to reading more in the future!
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Re: Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby emspace » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:39 pm

@Nytecrow: Wow, I’m jealous of you! I wish I were better organised. That’s definitely my Achilles heel. All the things I could do if I could simply follow an organisational system. But I’m hopeless at them.

@Juliette: Hi and welcome to the club! I’m on-side with SquarePeg and Nytecrow about being paid for what you love. I have been paid for doing what I love (which also happens to be photography, by the way), and it’s not all it’s cut out to be. There’s not as much freedom in it as you would want when you’re being hired by someone else to shoot, and there’s far too much “business” involved that is not photography at all.

If you talk with professional photogs (and I’m sure other artist-entrepreneurs or indeed any type of entrepreneur), they’ll tell you that being an entrepreneur means 95% marketing and 5% photography. Does that appeal to you? It doesn’t for me. Doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try it, freelance part-time and such. But honestly, there are a lot of skills you have to learn that are completely unrelated to your passion if you want to have a steady income at it. If you don’t want to do any of that, as the others have suggested, you need to partner up with someone who will do all that while you can focus on your thing.

Photogs I’ve seen/heard from/met/read about who have fast-tracked to 6-figure income in 5 years or less all have one thing in common: They partnered with a spouse/gf/bf/bff/sibling/roommate who handled all or half the business-y stuff for them. It makes sense. You can’t become a master at both arms of your business at the same time in a really short period of time.

If you’re already a thoroughly experienced photographer whose portfolio already speaks for itself, or you have an MBA equivalency and can shoot at least average, then you only need to improve one arm. But anyone trying to get footing in both art and business at the same time will have a bit of a slog ahead of them.

+

As for your original question, I can easily accept myself as a Scanner—until I run up against advice that tells me I need to obsess over my one “passion” or I’ll never amount to anything. 10,000 hours and all that. That’s a tough pill to swallow. What happens when I’m stuck is that I just focus on one output: one thing that will put me ahead of where I am right now.

Last year, I really wanted to find another job (still might), so I focused all my “stuck” energy on designing a creative resumé. My follow-through is so bad, that I’m still not done, plus my inability to stay the course means I keep changing my mind about the format. Originally, I was writing and illustrating a boardbook story, but now I’m thinking about a pop-up book. Weird for someone looking for a digital media management job, but whatever.

Whether it gets done or not, it’s distracting me from how much I want a new job. Probably because the reason I want a new job is so that I can do something different and my side project is requiring me to learn different things, so I’m less itchy at work.

I’m pretty convinced that practicing (as Nytecrow rightly has it) and producing stuff is all a Scanner needs to focus on to stay unstuck. If someone comes along after to marvel at what we’ve done and offer us a bag of money for it or something like it, well, hell, that’s a great by-product! But it can’t be the main desire or else we’ll stay stuck.
Last edited by emspace on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Accepting yourself as a scanner

Postby juliette » Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:36 pm

emspace: You and your words are seriously uncanny and angelic! Just today, around the time you wrote this post (insert spooky music) I got a call from a former coworker asking me if I'm interested in pursuing a job working for her at an agency in a account director position. I was sweating over this call when it was planned three days ago. I didn't know what it would mean for me and I wondered if there was an answer there to my turning point.

Well, it's a hell of a job. 5-10 years ago, I would have jumped at the chance to travel to Latin America 3 times a month, work on a team of 70 designers, creative directors and the like from across the globe and have the potential to advance to a client partner role. Today, I declined to go farther with it because I KNOW in my heart of hearts that it's not my "good enough" job... that I don't want to return to advertising... that my "good enough" job - for right now anyway - is this project management/designer job that lets me work from home 2x a week and requires so little of me... that I NEED this job so I can evolve into more scanneritis.

Of course, I went into a mild depression when I got off the phone. I wanted to chastise myself for never sticking with that industry (oh, what I could have been by now... ) I wanted to feel "less than" for this job that I've "settled" for and I wanted to feel sad about closing the door to that life, further delving into "what if" scenarios and the "I will never get anywhere" internal monologue.

Just when I was trying to talk myself into the whole "maybe I can just do photography" train of thought, I got a notification in my inbox from your reply to my post, which was well over a month ago. Sweet serendipity!

Your post makes enormous sense. I think practicing and producing make me "happy enough". Actually, I damn well love practicing and producing. Yes, what you said makes sense and resonates with me so I think I'll stew on it for a few days.

Thank you so much for writing this. Your message was so well-timed that I have to believe it was meant to be. :)

-Juliette
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