My Pronoia Success Story

I have a confession to make: I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. Writing, for me, has always been a tool; a release of sorts, a way to be articulate, some sappy poems that impressed past partners, an A on a paper. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Um, Milo, a blogger is a writer.’ Sure, but hear me out.

The winter before I completed my degree, I was a satoriteller intern. I like to think of myself as the satoriteller intern, but as my grandma would say, “I’m getting a little too big for my britches.” (Side note: currently petitioning to bring “britches” back into our vocabulary. Classic.)  I knew a job offer was on the line, so I tried to work hard and impress the team. But I must admit, I didn’t really know where I would fit in. You see, satoriteller is a group of brilliant individuals. They’re great at what they do: technology, art, and ideas. Where would I fit in those categories?

I was eager to prove myself, and when discussing what satoriteller stands for, I explained pronoia to the group. This is the idea that the universe is conspiring for you, rather than against you. Work hard, surround yourself with good people, and somehow life seems to work out. It’s applied to my life since I discovered the term, and this is just one of many examples:

Before hiring me as an intern, our Chief Dreamer asked me what my dream job was. She asked me to write about it. This became my first blog and, until now, it’s gone unposted. I’ve included it at the end here because it provides insight to what I’m discussing now. Alright, fine, I’m also just really proud of it.

Later, in my final semester in college, I took an art class. I’m not very crafty, so my final consisted of several poetry pieces that told a story about my life perspective. I was nervous and was reading them to my friends for practice. I had just finished reading my third one, and looked up at Chandler—a musician—who had his head down. “That bad?” I asked him.

“Milo… you’ve been holding out, dude. I wish I could write music the way you write your poems. I hope you really hear me when I say that this is your art,” he said. His compliment made me uncomfortable; I could feel the blood rising to my face as I laughed and tried to brush it off. “Whatever, I’m just trying to pass this class!”

Chan got really serious with me, and replied, “You know, it’s okay to say thanks. It’s okay to say that you’re actually trying to do a good job, that you’ve put in effort to be this good.” Can you tell that he’s a psychology major? Nevertheless, his words stuck with me, and he was one of the first people to give me the opportunity to think of myself as a writer.

Hard work and good people, that’s what cultivates pronoia. I like to think I’ve worked hard so far, and I’ve definitely surrounded myself with incredible individuals. I think the universe is on my side, as cheesy as that sounds.

I also think pronoia is something satoriteller tries to gift our audiences. If our audience can leave one of our shows feeling a connection, a feeling like they may have been there for a reason, that’s a quiet pronoia. I view that as a success for satoriteller.

The truth is, this blog—writing—has become a passion that I didn’t know I had. I believe that it’s a reflection of pronoia in my life. This is blog post #2, and I know I’m just getting started, but I’m ready to embrace what the universe is giving me. I’m ready to give some of it back, too.

Escapism

I always have an escape plan ready. It’s true: partly because I’m not a big fan of commitment, but also because I’m a sucker for a good adventure. When looking up “escape,” these are the synonyms that appear alongside: to elude, dodge, bolt, flee, avoid or evade, and a diversion or distraction. All of these terms seem negative or, at the very least, there must be something negative that we are trying to escape from. Let’s adjust that connotation. Rather than fleeing our lives, what if instead an escape provided an alternate version of life—not better or worse—just different? What if instead escape became a creative lens in which we could view the world—even if only for a moment. Call it a form of self-preservation: a time in which we allow ourselves to be reminded of the parts of life worth savoring. An escape where instead of running, we faced life head on. Can you imagine? People gathering together with child-like minds and thinking about what could be. If we all pretended to put on our work hats and delved into what it would take to change our reality—what the world could be.

 Right now, I’m an intern for this rad company—satoriteller. I know many people tend to think of people my age as naïve; we have lofty ideas and we all envision the world being better. Is that so bad, though? What I’m describing is what satoriteller is all about. It’s kind of hard to not be hopeful, isn’t it?

 A few months ago, I sat in my Communication Theory class—talk about needing an escape. It’s kind of bizarre to realize that my professor was right—I would use this information in my life. Here I am, at my first ‘big kid job’ and I am talking about theory from college. We were discussing Self Determination Theory (SDT) an idea that explores the connection between our psychological needs and our intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, is having the desire within you to do something. Things we usually do because we are intrinsically motivated are activities like hobbies, travelling, dating. These are things that we do because they are fun and enjoyable. According to SDT, there are three innate psychological needs and when these needs are fulfilled, our intrinsic motivation spikes. When you have high levels of intrinsic motivation, not only are you probably enjoying yourself, but you are more likely to be be creative, and exhibit passion for what you do.

 I know you must be on the edge of your seat wondering what these three keys to unlocking our intrinsic motivation must be, so who am I to withhold such valuable information?

  • When we feel completely confident in our competence—be it a proposal, an artistic work, or what have you— our output increases exponentially. Makes sense, right? Most of us would like to do things that we are good at doing.
  • Autonomy, or the releasing of control to allow choice. It can also be thought of as self-direction. This is a value that can be illustrated across genders, cultures, and age.

Think about it in terms of hobbies for a moment. I play piano. Nobody makes me; my mom never even had me take lessons when I was younger. I don’t want to be a professional pianist, so what’s the point? I do it because I like it, it’s fun, and getting better at it is satisfying. I am developing mastery and am exemplifying autonomy. Now imagine if our careers were comparable to a hobby—hopefully one that pays well. For many of us, this is a stretch to think about. In fact, the top antonym for work is fun. With that way of thinking, it’s no wonder so many people hate their jobs.

 I’m not forgetting the last component, I promise. I’ll come back to it a little later. For now, I’d like to tell you more about satoriteller. I’m not above promoting who they are, but satoriteller is genuinely big—that’s the best way to say it. Big ideas, big hopes, big plans. They—er, we produce experiential events that allow our audiences an escape. Continuing the trend of looking up synonyms, words similar to “experience” are: awareness of, insight into, exposure to, and to feel emotion. As I said before, an escape is a lens that we can view life through. We want our audiences to step outside of day-to-day and be present in this moment of escape. Part of our namesake is the word satori: the “ahhh” moment of unique and surprising insight born of deep understanding and constraint-free creativity.

 Draw some parallels with me. Deep understanding seems to be the same thing as mastery. If there’s autonomy, that means there could be constraint-free creativity. Yes, I did have a point with my theory mumbo-jumbo. This brings me to the last component, the final key:

  • As humans, we thrive when we share a feeling of connectedness with one another. This one does not require much explaining. It’s the reason we join clubs, go to concerts, and seek religion. As humans, we spend our lives searching for immersion, for sharedness, for community.

 I suppose “big kid job” is an apt way to describe what I’m doing. Everyone has always told me that I need to stop romanticizing the future, that I need to quit yearning for things that aren’t there, that I need to just grow up. With finality, no. I will not stand by and fall in line. I want to remain inspired, see the good in the world and the better it could be. I have a hunger that satoriteller encourages. We’ve all created our own dream jobs—I mean; my actual job title is Apprentice Escapist. I’m becoming a satoriteller, what more could a millennial intern with lofty ideas want?

I guess what I’m saying is rather than fleeing, dare to be unabashedly here. Experience satori. You only have to escape first.

I know I’ve made this about me, but pronoia can be seen in many instances, in many lives, in many perspectives. This is mine, what’s your satori?

Milo.