I’m writing a Training Manual

I’m writing a Training Manual

…and I’ve never felt dumber.

My current job was more or less created for me – in the sense that I interviewed for an entry internship just to manage basic content and social media platforms for my company, and have slowly evolved into a part time overall media resources manager, website content creator, basic user-end SEO, social media manager, and just dabbling in online marketing. I’m not saying that I don’t love the challenge, but it is decidedly outside of my skill-set as bestowed upon me by my education. There were a lot, and I mean a lot, that I learned on the job, testing and failing and trying again.

Now, I’m writing a Training Manual for the next lucky person to work with my amazing company. No, I’m not brown-nosing; these are folks who took a graduate as face value and didn’t beat around the bush about what they expected, but also understood that I had to slowly build my way up. They paid me for my work, rather than take advantage of an unemployed intern. They continuously give me support and inquire if there is more than can do to help me. I am writing this Training Manual not because I’m about to be out of a job, but because I also want to reflect upon the progress I’ve made so far. And also because eventually, someone will need to pick up where I’ll be leaving off.

And, yeah, I’ve never felt dumber.

There is something finite about putting down everything your job entails as a list of steps and suggestions. I’m writing the training manual as if it was for the intern me, but it’s becoming obvious that all these months of accumulated knowledge are stacking up to less than a few dozen screen shots and several three-step instructions. Many of them, I feel, are complete common sense. Of course, I feel like they’re common sense because I’ve been doing it for the last year and half – one time when I was away, someone in the office effectively deleted an entire page’s gallery of images while trying to upload just one extra photo. It turns out that I am the only one who is familiar enough with our website’s content system to upload photos. So I’m writing a manual so that I don’t have to tell them how easy it is to drag and drop an image into an upload dialogue box.

But I digress.

The first problem I encountered was the issue of how. How the hell do I write a manual? Every instruction I’d been given when I started, and every skill I learned along the way, were either delivered verbally, via an outdated and heavily erroneous instruction booklet (yep, there is one already, but it has so many scribbles and corrections that I might as well start from scratch), or by trial-and-error. I’m not really the type to be able to neatly organize a lot of jumbled information into a coherent and useful structure. I’m much more the creative type who comes up with small bursts of prose and ingenious hashtags. I had to Google the solution.

So then I encountered a training manual for writing training manuals. It was horrific. It began with something about ‘identifying your audience’, ‘knowing your goals’, and ‘creating a structure that builds towards the goal’. I thought, “dear God, do I have to be this condescending on my manual? Do I have to use this many Clip Arts?”

After several more minutes trying to find a template that spells out how I should structure my thoughts, I realized, “What I want in a training manual is the goddamn answer. I just want a piece of reassurance for even the simplest of problems I might encounter, like forgetting a password, or how big I should be making an image. Who cares what order it’s in, as long as it’s grouped together properly? There’s always Ctrl+F, right?”

I’m sure I’ll come to regret that decision in the near future, but for now, I’m writing a manual that includes everything from the company’s Instagram account password, to how big the photo for a blog post’s main image needs to be. I’ll be sure to include exactly which buttons will add images to a gallery, and which ones will delete the whole page.

The best part? I’m doing it all with puppy photos as placeholders – because eventually, some poor sucker is going to have to read this.

Maybe someone should write that lady a training manual for writing training manuals for training manuals.

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Smash the Rose Tinted Lenses

Smash the Rose Tinted Lenses

Why did we stay in bad relationships for as long as we did? Could we not tell how bad it was? Were we not in tune with our own misery at all?

When we are feeling miserable, we look back into our past for positive moments to lift us up. When we sift through the memories, it’s the heartwarming gems that rise to the top. We pick those up, put them in our pocket, and reassure ourselves that it is all worth it.

But it’s the sludge and waste that falls onto the ground, splashing on your shoes and staining your legs. If you don’t change, if you don’t try to change, you’ll feel its cold, squelching presence, every step of the way.

And the next time that you sift through the memory, there will be less gems, and more sludge. It will creep further up your legs, stealing its cold fingers into your very being. It will even stain the gems that are in your pockets. It will keep rising until you drown in it.

Yet, for whatever reason, when we put on those rose-tinted lenses, we fail to notice the sludge at all. All we see are the brightly shining gems.

Take those rose-tinted lenses from your eyes. Smash them. See your misery for what it is.

Then act. Change. Make it so when you sift, there are more gems and less sludge. You’ll never be rid of sludge entirely, but you’ll have lovely bright gems to pay for new shoes. The happy memories will boost you to work through the bad.

One day, you’ll look back on the path you took. You’ll wonder why you let yourself trudge through the misery for so long when the road to happiness is right nearby.

“You do you; the rest doesn’t matter”

Before I begin, let me address the elephant in the room.

The last time I published anything, I had just celebrated my 22nd birthday. I was in my cushy hotel room in Langkawi, Malaysia, trying to find the energy to finish off a long blog post about a long day. Across the room from me, my then girlfriend was reading something off of her phone. I told myself, it’s your birthday. You don’t have to post this until tomorrow, so just take a break.

The funny thing about breaks, they have a habit of disguising themselves as temporary visitors. In my case, they didn’t even need to don the mask; I was feeling tired, not just from a long day, but from the expectations I had placed on myself. I’d set out to document my entire holiday trip, and told myself I had to be articulate, funny, and engaging. You want to write more, don’t you? Well, then, write!

But what I really wanted to do was to blog, not publish; I wanted the catharsis of taming my thoughts and feelings into consumable chunks. Yes, but who will consume it? I remember haphazardly (sloppily, even) trying to ‘market’ myself everywhere, to anyone who might feel empathetic enough to read. Your writing has always been good, so that should be your selling point. Yes, but the moment I started writing to publish, my writing stopped being mine. The moment I began to put on a show for the sake of appearances, it had already failed.

Earlier this year, my relationship ended. It was a four year relationship that had, during its course, been a relationship that the people around us had heralded as the epitome of what relationships should be. It wasn’t. After the break up, I thought back, and realized that the last moment I was truly me in that relationship, had been when we holidayed together in Malaysia. Somehow, somewhere and sometime after that, I began to stop putting myself into the relationship, and instead installed the version that everyone had expected me to be.

Like I said, the moment I began to put on a show…

So give that big elephant a wave. Yes, hello, I’m back again. There are quite a lot of you who may suddenly see my name in your inbox or feeds again, and think, oh, I thought she died in Malaysia. If we’re being melodramatic, maybe a part of me did die there. But the truth is, I had given up.

Pat that elephant on the trunk. Yes, I’ve removed every previous post from this site. I didn’t want to read them, and hear the echoes of a person trying to be something “ideal”. To me, those previous posts felt like the ghosts of my memories, resurfacing from every oily-skinned, shaggy haired, awkward teenager photo that ever existed of me. Those posts felt cold and reeked of the antiseptic of edits and re-edits.

Finally, look the elephant in the eye, and remember that it will remember you. Life isn’t going to give me redoes after redoes. I can’t select a handful of memories, and disappear them from memory. I’ve addressed the elephant in the room, and it is addressing me.

“You do you, the rest doesn’t matter.” The things I will do here on this blog, they’ll be for me. From the photos, to the captions, and each and every single joke – they’ll be for me. This was the advice given to me by a close friend during my breakup. I was so consumed with trying to do the right thing, and abide by the right people, I had failed to see that the only person I should answer to is me. It’s advice that I had given to others, without heeding myself: once you have figured out who you are, the people whose existence complements yours will naturally follow suit.

So let’s end this on a more positive note:

Why the wolf? I’ve always liked wolves. Ever since reading a children’s abridged version of Jack London’s White Fang, I have felt a closeness with wolves. I enjoyed their pack mentality, but I also felt drawn to their tenacity when forced to survive alone. I like wolves so much, I had one placed permanently on me last year.

Finished! 2 hours later… Much thanks to @smel_wink! #ink #tattoo #wolf

A post shared by Alex (@smuggypuggy) on

I thought about changing this blog’s name, and the tagline. But for some reason (perhaps laziness), I felt that what it used to be oddly still applied. I will still do things, and tell you about it here – maybe you, too, should do that (elsewhere. I welcome comments, but not necessarily your entire life story).

Alright elephant, alright wolf, let’s do this.

Alex.