Should I become a Vampire?

You’d be surprised how often I get asked this question*. And it’s a hard question to answer, because the choice to become a Vampire is so personal, and irreversible.

You can ask a Vampire how they like being a vampire (which can be a dangerous process) and perhaps even shadow one (no pun intended, but not edited out) but there’s a lot that, as a mortal person, you just can’t partake in fully. You can hang out with a Vampire at night, see if you like the hours and such, but your brain will be on human’ll get sleepy the later is gets and don’t fear the coming sunset as your vampire companion would.

You can try to drink blood (or maybe you like blood already, which is why you’re thinking of the transition) but you’ll be tasting with a human mouth. Vampires stay out at night and drink blood because that’s what they have to do. It’s what they’re all about.

There’s no half-measures when it comes to becoming a vampire. You can only be a half-vampire if your mom and dad are a mixed-mortality couple. If you think immortal life is for you, it’s one of your best options. Becoming a Lich requires a lot more training, and Zombies and Draugrs get a bit messy and don’t seem as together, stylish and cool as Vampires.

But is it really immortality you’re after? If it’s flight or shapeshifting you’re after, there are plenty of other options, including jetpacks and lycanthropy (werewolves).

Many Whys and Many Hows

I think it’s good to go wide, and ask what other ways are there to achieve a transformation. Deciding WHY you want to transform is absolutely imperative. Asking why five times never hurt anyone.

Using abstraction laddering can help you ask why and to think through the hows that could make it possible. The video below is very silly, but it’s worth actually trying this process for whatever transformation you might be considering.

I get asked this question, in one form or another, every few weeks.

I teach design, design thinking and UX to adults, usually through 1-day bootcamps. Often, students come and ask: Should I take an intensive, or full-time UX class? Should I go to Grad School for Design?

A similar class of vampire questions include: Should I get married? should I have a kid? Should I move to ____?

Transformation Design: Seeing Black and White

Frank Jackson, an Australian Philosopher, considered a thought experiment: Mary in the Black and White Room. She is raised in a black and white room, and learns to be a scientist over the years, all the time in her special room that makes everything black and white. She learns about light, and wavelengths, and even the way brains react to colors…but she’s never seen them herself. This is, in the extreme, the difference between knowledge and experience.

The proof is not in the pudding…everyone misquotes that one.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Mary has never tasted the world of color.

Should Mary choose to stay in her Black and White room or go into the world of color? She’s read about color and studied color…but she’s never seen color. So it’s very, very hard for her to decide. It’s basically a guess.

It’s hard to plan or design a transition…since who you are going to become is not the person who is asking and planning. And once you start seeing color, that’s it…you’re seeing color. There are no steps.

But there are some reasonable things to consider when pondering a transition. Abstraction Laddering is a good place to start. Then:

Ask a lot of questions, but be careful who you listen to.

These choices (schooling, moving, marriage if you’re not catholic) seem more reversible than becoming a vampire, but they’re not. The time spent is irretrievable. (no pressure!)

If you ask a vampire if they *like* being a vampire, you’re going to get a vampire opinion, not a human opinion. If you haven’t see What we Do in the Shadows, you should. It’s an extremely, extremely dry, funny movie.

I don’t think it spoils anything to mention that a character who becomes a vampire in the movie freaks out when he discovers that french fries make him puke…blood. A lot.

That’s a pretty subtle consequence of his transformation…maybe he could have asked more deeply, and done some scenario planning to help him think through the process and empathize with his future self. There are downsides to every choice. The freshly minted vampire is really into flying and loves being a vampire, until he realized he can’t eat french fries.

Deciding to *not* become a vampire because french fries are your favorite food actually seems pretty stupid to me. But we do this all the time.

“Oh, programmers work crazy hours! I don’t know if I could deal with that.”

“Grad school is *so* expensive and long!”

This is not vampire thinking. This is human thinking.

While you should ask lots and lots of questions and dig into many details and scenarios using abstraction laddering and interviews, you have to be careful who’s opinion you take to heart. A freshly minted, and somewhat miserable vampire, in 100 years, could be quite content. And 100 years is nothing to a vampire! Similarly, talking to someone who dropped out of grad school, or decided to not go at all…you have to take it with a grain of salt. As many as it takes to make it salty. Asking people on all sides of the spectrum can make you feel as if you’ve mapped out the possible ways to respond to the experience, and you’ll empathize or harmonize with one or more of your interviewees than others.

But remember that you are in a black and white room asking about color.

Lateral Thinking

In the classic career book what color is your parachute the author tells the story of an accountant who is passionate about film making. They’re weighing a career change, even thinking about going back to school to learn cinematography. But rather than a divergent shift, the author suggests a lateral shift. Becoming an accountant for a film company might provide a scratch to the itch, and certainly would help build contacts and connections in the industry, maybe even faster than going back to school. I actually know someone who’s a film accountant. She loves the creative environment and gets to do something she’s good at already. I see so many people come to my UX classes with solid jobs in print media, screenwriting, business, and so on say that they want to be UX designers. I try to point out that many people would *kill* for their skillset…and that they shouldn’t just discard it so readily. The lateral approach respects your current capabilities, and I think that’s important. If you want to do something “more creative” there are lot’s of other ways to make that possible. Think laterally.

Don’t Weigh too many Options

Abstraction laddering can leave you feeling overwhelmed with possibilities. And I’ve seen how stressful it can be to people to wonder about part-time versus full-time courses, versus taking a bootcamp or one-off class.

Lich, Vampire, Zombie?! UX, Web Design or Programming?! Business School or Law School?! Full or Part time? Certificate or One-off class?!

Giving yourself a set time to decide can help…and make yourself accountable to someone, so you can get appropriately shamed by your dithering inaction.

Start. And don’t let anyone stop you.

Last week a saw a story pop up on my Medium feed:

I thought it was a hilarious title, and an even better punchline. So yes, if you’ve been thinking a lot about being a vampire, love black, staying up and night and have been meaning to try blood…maybe being a vampire is totally right for you and you’ve been bitten already.

*The question of “should I become a Vampire?” is metaphorical, of course. (I hope) Also, a tip of the hat to L.A. Paul’s Transformative Experience for the metaphor.

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