What Should 2023 Look Like?

It’s strange to think that 2020 and 2021 were arguably the hardest two years in global history of the last century, and yet, on January 1, 2023, I’m left feeling like 2022 was the worst of the bunch. I think it’s because this past year should have been a “recovery year” from the previous two. But it wasn’t. Instead, at least for me personally, and from what I could gather from family, friends, and neighbors, it was a year of assessing fallout and trying to rebuild a castle made of butter while sitting in a frying pan.

I spent most of the year looking for my career, which still hasn’t reared its head. I tried a career “pivot” from the art that fuels my soul to writing, which I also love but as it turns out, not many others do. And I made profiles on all the sites and apps that everyone says you need to be on to find a job. But despite having a big green hashtag that says #OPENTOWORK, I was inundated with desperate morons trying to sell me their services. What the fudge? As it turned out, the one (and my first professional) freelance writing gig I did get was through this blog and networking with a friend. It was really cool at first but quickly became really stressful, and literally paid a fraction of the US minimum wage.

Thank god they fired me!

In all seriousness, I’m thankful for the few months I had there, and it definitely served its purpose. I learned so much about writing in general, but specifically journalism and how to not blog. But blogging is the writing I love. It allows you to use your voice, and say what you want to say, which may or may not be a good thing, nor anything anyone else wants to hear. But it’s you, and that’s important. However, another thing I learned is that most professional/corporate writing jobs just want to assimilate your voice, dumb down your personality, and have you excrete vapid minutiae so that readers robotically keep clicking on their “content.” I hate that word. It’s the written embodiment of everything that’s wrong with us. Just keep the content flowing, regardless of quality, because as long as there’s enough of it, some of it will resonate with the automaton that’s developed within each of us. And it needs to be fed!

“Content”, it’s only worth 9 points.

I just realized as I “exclaimed!” that last sentence, that in 3 months and 63 pieces that I wrote for that site, I never once used an exclamation mark. Not once! There’s two! Three… It wasn’t allowed. How bizarre is that? How soulless is that? And that’s what 2022 was for me. Soul sucking. Disparaging. Discouraging. I’m going into 2023 feeling of little worth. And I know that every one of my family and friends would tell me that I have SO much worth. And I do, and they have, and I love them for it. And it used to mean so much, but it doesn’t anymore. And it’s not because I value those people’s opinions of me any less, but because my career, or more importantly, my purpose, my calling in life still hasn’t arrived. And I’ve looked! Trust me, I’ve looked. I spent 10 years testing with police and fire departments because I truly wanted to be of service to my community and help people. But those jobs always come down to the luck of the draw. Which is very disturbing. Then I spent another 10 years as a toy designer and artist, which I’ll always do at least on the side. But that amazing career became stagnant, and digital art now reigns. Which is also a bit disturbing.

So that’s when I decided to pivot to writing. And I love writing, especially nonsense, which you’re aware of if you’ve read this far. But I feel like I chose the wrong avenue of writing and it almost discouraged me from ever writing again. Which is why I wanted to sit down tonight, on January 1, 2023, and vacate my grammatical bowels. I have a lot of plans for my writing, and I have a lot of plans for 2023. I hope to finally get the children’s book series about me and my dog that’s been fermenting in my head for years on paper and into the filthy fingers of the kids of the world! I will continue to write copy and scripts for my podcasts, and market my toy and character designs on my site and various social media death traps. And most of all, I hope to keep writing here. Because I know no one reads these, which means I can say anything I want… Joey was the best friend, the Star Wars sequel trilogy is awesome, and pumpkin pie SUCKS!

But let me set the pessimism aside for just a minute. Not all of 2022 was a total loss. I spent some amazing time with my best friend, my little pup Egoom. He’s my reason, as his big sister and namesake, Mooge also was. I spoke about purpose before, and without them, I literally would have none. And even though I finished much fewer projects on the toy and character design side of my life, what I did produce was some of my best work ever. And my brother Joe and I, who is my best human friend, got to spend more time together at his comic book shop than we have in years. And through that, I’ve made a whole slew of new friends. But most importantly, I learned. If you’re one of those people that say they have their “shit together”, you don’t. And you probably never will, but no one will tell you otherwise, so you’ll keep thinking that. And good for you, because most of those people can afford to visit their family at Christmas, even though they come back home and complain about how horrible that time was. To those people, I say good luck. Because you’ve stopped learning. And that is one thing I hope to never stop doing. Which I guess means I’ll never have my shit together. That tracks.

For the rest of us, I hope 2023 makes sense. I hope it looks different from the past few years and very different from 2022. I’m not going to cheerlead and say that “this is our year!” I just don’t have it in me right now. But I do hope that it is. I hope that people’s sense of community comes back. I hope that I find a good job so that I can be good for the people around me again, instead of a burden. I hope that Hall and Oates put out a new album and that it’s really 80s. And I hope that I can come back on January 1, 2024, and say that I gave pumpkin pie a try again, but it still sucks. Fingers crossed, right?

You can find my art at AC Toy Design on Instagram and YouTube.

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