Zach's PEN #25: The Unsegmented Self

2021, Week 2: On not trying to niche myself

One of the things that I've struggled the most with in "trying to get started" making things has been this notion of niching myself or putting my interests in a neat little internally-consistent box.

The market economy, along with demanding that we justify and frame so much of our lives around "productivity," also demands that we develop a consistent Brand Message for ourselves. It's a really unhelpful way to think about yourself, particularly when trying to be creative.

"Who am I?" is a fine psychological or metaphysical question, but "How do I consistently present my unique voice to the world?" is a sure way to stop you from saying anything.

I'm very interested in the following things:

  • Storytelling (Filmmaking/Radio/Writing)

  • Tools and Tool Design (Hardware/Software/Systems)

  • Politics and Power Structures

  • Food and Cooking

  • Spirituality and Meditation Practice

And I'm also interested in a lot more than that.

To me, these things are all perfectly related and aren't separate from one another in any real way in my mind. I'm interested in writing about and pursuing all of them, and that's just who I am.

So anywhere that I am, as me (at my social media handles, this newsletter, and on, I don't ever want to develop a single, nichified, carefully curated, consistent Zach Brand. It's in these locations, that are me as myself, that I'll talk about whatever the hell I'm interested in. From there may emerge specific things I want to pursue artistically or as commercial enterprises, at which point those can all become their own Products or Brands.

I'm never, myself, going to be a Product or Brand. Because I'm not. And any attempt at a definition only limits what I'm able to discover and what I'm comfortable sharing and what possible ways I can contribute.

Anyway, it feels good to not need to think that way anymore. The stuff I make should probably make some sense, some day, in some way, but I, myself, don't need to make sense. Ever.

Here's this week's threads. Yes, seven more of them. I’m still writing every day (and still working out every day too, which is crazy for me). I'll be rethinking my nerd-o-meter as I go, but again, the more emoji attached to thread, the more broadly relevant I think it is:

Transcendental Meditation as Beginner Meditation 🧘🧘🧘🧘🧘

The Filmmaking Feedback Loop πŸŽ₯πŸŽ₯πŸŽ₯

The (Surprising) Utility of Pen and Paper πŸ–‹οΈπŸ–‹οΈπŸ–‹οΈπŸ–‹οΈπŸ–‹οΈ

Design Accessibility Applied to Ideas πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

Being Willing to be Earnestly Wrong πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

My Sister Liz’s Amazing Pattern Design Gift πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘ΆπŸ‘ΆπŸ‘ΆπŸ‘Ά

The Political β€œGame” πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Next week will likely feature YouTube videos of me filmmaking in virtual reality (excited about that) and I hope to have some cool news about a politics podcast I’ll be cohosting with some really awesome people soon.

All the best, PENpals,