Middling

This probably won’t be the best thing I’ve ever written. And that’s okay.

I mean, it probably won’t be the worst either, but something about comign to terms with that is extremely freeing. A friend of mine, a PhD student and super duper smart lady, retweeted something that said along the lines of “Your next job probably won’t be your last job. In fact, it probably won’t. And that’s okay”, as mostly a message towards academics not to worry about being locked down into a singular research/teaching oriented job their whole lives.

Now, as the eleventy-hundred other posts about the topic might have alerted you, I struggle a lot with anxiety and procrastination. It makes me dread doing the things that give me joy as well as the typical drudgery stuff (in fact, in a lot of cases, the drudgery stuff ends up feeling EASIER to do). I’ve wracked my brain to figure out why I have so much trouble, and I think a piece of the puzzle lies in the above frame of thinking.

Thinking of the next thing I create (the next video, the next blog article, the next test) as the thing I’ll be defined by, it turns into this BEHEMOTH of a thing that will make or break me, and, like someone avoiding the final quest in a game because they don’t want it to end, I find some way to put it off or force myself to momentarily forget that it exists.

But the reality is that, for better or worse, I’m not going to know whether or not this is The One, or just another of the thousands of iterations on my way to it, until well after the fact. Hindsight is 20/20, but I would add the addendum that forecasting is fantasy. No one knows the impact or irrelevancy of anything that they do until after they do it (beyond a certain point anyways), least of all with art.

So basically, my fellow lovelies, my passionate artists and headcases of every stripe, I would say: Make mediocre shit until you make something that isn’t. There’s a good chance you won’t know the difference until you’re finished anyways.

Getting There

When I leave for work or class, I tend to leave pretty early ahead of time. Some might say earlier than I really have to. We’re talking early enough that I arrive 20-30 minutes early. Now, it might sound reasonable to do this to avoid the possibility of being late and experiencing the consequences thereof… but that’s not why I do it.

I mean… maybe it SHOULD be, but that’s besides the point.

The reason I leave so early is that being on my way somewhere but not in a hurry is one of my FAVORITE things in the world. Just being able to take everything in, enjoy the however many minutes I spend walking somewhere, maybe while reading a book or even just being alone and able to process my thoughts in absence of video games, TV, internet, or what have you. On top of that, the lack of stress over “oh my gawd did I leave early enough, am I gonna be there on time, oh what happens if the traffic is slightly heavier than usual aaaaaaah” is absolutely fantastic. It gets to the point where I actually fear the stress of being late over the ACTUAL consequences of being late (which is interesting in and of itself).

As I was heading to campus to do some work tonight, I was thinking about this whole thing, and how it might be useful to apply it in a more abstract way to my writing, creative projects, or whatever it is I happen to be working on at the moment. It’s kind of a more complicated version of the whole maxim of “it’s the journey, not the destination”, but I think that going at least one layer deeper helps grant a deeper understanding of why thinking in such a way is so valuable. For instance, with respect to procrastinating.

In the “leaving for class/wotk” example, if I leave earlier, it alleviates that worry that I won’t get some place when I’m expected or “supposed” to be there. When I procrastinate, it’s like the existential dread version of the same fear. The later I leave something, the more I get anxious that I won’t be where I’m supposed to be (a certain skill level, a career goal, whatever yardstick you want to use for successful adulthood) when I’m supposed to be. By the same token, if I “leave earlier” (get started working right away), it’s valuable not simply because I’ll arrive to my adulting destination “on time” (whatever that means), but because when I decide to leave early, it frees me up to not be thinking about that whole endgame in the first place. Instead, I can take my time, free up my mind to process and appreciate the whole progression of whatever it is I’m doing. Therefore, it’s almost as an accidental side effect that I end up enjoying the consequences of starting early and often.

So, by ceasing to care about the outcome enough to just start whenever, you actually end up getting the outcome you want HAD you cared about it in the first place.

Brains are weird, you guys. Well. At least mine is.

Panic.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I pissed away an entire day yesterday. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get started. I woke up at noon, and spent all day doing whatever possible to avoid actually doing studying or work of ANY KIND to do with school. I have an essay due tomorrow, an exam tomorrow, another exam the next day, and an exam the day after that. All three of them are psychology classes, which ALSO happens to be the faculty which I am currently on academic probation for, and if I don’t bring my average back up, will be forced to withdraw from the program.

I don’t know why I keep self-sabotaging myself like this. No matter how bad things get and how many life signals I get sent to shape the fuck up, I manage to continue to make the same mistakes I did before. I guess the only thing to do now is to use the time given to me in the best possible way I can. So, priority list:

1) Need to come up with three chapters worth of Study Q’s for Evolutionary Psychology, and then answer them. Then go back over any Study Q & A’s I already made from Chapters 8 onward and do those. I’ll aim to do that in three hours.

2) Need to write my philosophy essay. I doubt I’ll get it done by the due date tomorrow, but the penalty is essentially 5% a day, so I guess I’ll have to live with that. I’ll aim to get the outline, thesis paragraph, and first body paragraph written before the end of the day. Three hours.

3) I need to start reviewing Stats. I’m going to start with lecture notes and work my way backward through all of the assignments that we had to do, hand calculations and all. Once I get done with that, I’ll make additional notes on the more conceptual information I need to know for the exam. Three hours on this too.

Somewhere in between that I’ll eat and work out. Alright, time to get to work. Wish me luck.

Lost Days

Man, ASTRONOMICALLY late start today. Woke up super late, and I’ve been kind of spinning my wheel all afternoon. Getting caught in the gravitational pull of various things on the internet and really having a lot of trouble concentrating. I originally planned to go to the gym today, but decided against it given that I have a considerable amount to cover today. I have exams on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and an essay due on Wednesday that I haven’t started yet. Hoo boy, have I ever made some poor choices this weekend.

I’m not going to lie, I was sorely tempted to skip writing in this blog today, but I realized that I need this perspective. Just to kind of reframe everything, good and bad, to re-orient my brain what’s going on around me, rather than just kind of floating on from one internet link to another like I often do. So let’s see, I have… roughly three chapters of Evolutionary Psychology to get through, an outline of my philosophy essay to write, and several papers for Health Psychology to read through and summarize. Gawds, it’s been so long since I did any actual reading for Health Psychology (or gone to class for it) that it seems almost entirely unfamiliar. When I start thinking about how I’ve missed so many classes, it really makes it easier to star in on insulting myself and questioning my ability to do anything productive from now until forever. But I suppose that’s precisely what I have this blog for. I can at least identify and call out those bullshit voices in my head that tell me I’m a piece of shit that’ll never amount to anything because of whatever poor choices I’ve made in the past. But I know that’s not true, and when I see the words written on the screen, I can see just how overexaggerated and untrue they really are.

So, okay: Priority List.

  • Chapters 13, 14, 15 of Evo Psych: Read, write review Q and A’s for
  • Read three weeks worth of Health Psych Lecture Notes and Papers, organize accordingly with Q and A’s
  • Outline essay for Contemporary British and American Philosophy.

I aim to be in bed by 11pm tonight, so that gives me three and a half hours to do this. I can do this.

Thrown for a Loop

Man it’s been a while. AGAIN. Longer than possibly ever before. I’ve been avoiding this (or excusing it) because initially, I was ashamed for not keeping up with it. Then I rationalized it away as, “It probably won’t help anyways, and it’s just a waste of time, which I don’t have.” I’m beginning to notice this pattern of Shame—>Rationalization in many areas of my life, leading to a perennial tendency of aversion to effortful tasks. So for the next week, I am going to focus on using those same rationalization skills to remind myself why it IS important that I keep doing this.

Because if I’m honest, even if no one is reading this, I need this decompression. To spit out my thoughts, feelings, troubles on a page to look at them. To dig my way through the rubble of my own cognition, trying to find a loose thread of flawed logic that I might be able to pull on so that my neuroses can begin to unravel into nothingness.

Part of the issue is that I’m feeling like I’ve been knocked off kilter as of late. There’s a woman (of course there is, says one of the many members of the peanut gallery in my head). We have tons of chemistry, she’s geeky, analytical, as into weightlifting and fitness as I am, driven, creative, independent, all that good stuff. Unfortunately, we’re hosuemates. Unfortunately, she just broke up with her first-ever boyfriend not long ago and doesn’t want to see herself in a relationship-type context right now. I know, because I attempted to ask her out, and that was the response almost word for word.

Now I’m in this weird pattern of behaviour when I have feelings for someone, where I’m trying to be on my “best behaviour” to try and show that I’m someone she’d want to date later on when she IS wanting to date. But this leads to the only areas of my life that receive nourishment are the ones she is also privy to. I devote more energy into acting “good” than a lot of things I should otherwise be focusing on (ie. going to class, maintaining my diet, getting my various writing and reading works done on cammpus or on my own). It’s like the sniper reticle of my willpower and focus is firmly placed somewhere OTHER than it should be. The rest of my life isn’t in TATTERS, YET, but I’ve noticed this pattern before back when I was dating Jay, and I can’t let my concern for how she may or may not feel about me motivate my decisions during the day. I realize this is just a basic human reaction and I shouldn’t beat myself up for it. But it also doesn’t make it okay to let myself off the hook and coninue with it.

The point: she’s awesome, we get along great, and she’s my friend. But she is just one person. I can’t let the guiding light of her emotions guide my life. I have too many balls in the air right now to afford to do that. Besides, remember that when she first met me, she was interested before I started FOCUSING on flirtatiousness and whatnot.

On another note, I’m going to start writing not as a “sit-down big project”, but as a nervous energy reduction method. Also drawing. I need outlets, because frequently getting stuck stewing in my own thoughts is not doing me any favours. It paralyzes me, I get nothing done, and I feel worse about myself both because of the self-destructive thoughts AND the lack of productivity.  I need to acknowledge the present of my talent, and not just my duty to use it. Not to use it out of duty, but just cuz, y’know, I fucking FEEL LIKE IT. Not everything needs to be planned. Hell, on my desktop background, I have the word “START” in giant white letters. So here’s my first attempt at doing so.

Update 14-06-2012: Significance in the Mundane

A riveting title, I know. I haven’t been posting for a while, and while I’m waiting for my housemates to finish in the washroom so I can take out my contacts, I figure now is as good a time as any.I think the thing which keeps me from blogging on a regular basis is the excuse that nothing exciting happened today, or that I don’t have anything important to say. But I think I need to remember that this is a life blog, and not every day is an extraordinary one (are you listening, producers of 24?). But they do all matter. Both in terms of the actions that I choose to undertake in each of them, and the ability to reflect on them later on. Maybe I’ll learn something.

-Recorded the first Rogues’ Gallery podcast in a WHILE with my friends on Sunday. It ended up being our “talk about stuff that’s been out for months/years that we just got around to trying and loving” episode, but it was great to get the gang (or most of it) back together. It was really fun, and I’m hoping pretty entertaining for listeners. If any of you reading this are into movies, tv, comic books, video games or geeky stuff in general, give us a listen or check out some of the written content by me and the gents over at the site and maybe you’ll dig it. 🙂

-Had a couple soul-draining days at work. Was goaded into a screaming match that I shouldn’t have let myself get into with one of my co-workers. Just exhausted me, between the yelling itself and being told everyone hated me, I had nothing going on in my life, I’m pathetic, etc. It seems like playground stuff, but when you’re dealing with anxiety, comments like that still eat at you, regardless of the source. I just found out today he’s either been fired or moved to another department though, which made my day.

-My faithful iPod died. It served me well through the trials of Vancouver, through thorough and repeated abuse, good times and bad. But now it’s time has passed. It has joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-iPod. As such, I bought a new one on eBay. Not a 200 bucks I was looking to spend, but given how often I use it, worth the purchase. It’s a current-gen iPod touch, too, so it has the wi-fi browser, HD video and camera recording features and built-in mic, as well. Hopefully I can make some creative use out of it as well as it being my media companion.

-Picked up a bunch more hours at work (one of the reasons for the lack of updates). I work part-time in a grocery store, and asked around in other departments if other managers needed some shifts picked up. One did, and I managed to grab about 10 extra hours than my usual. So hey, one less thing on my mind financially.

-However, that’s much more to work around for schoolwork and writing. I’ve been behind in a good chunk of my schoolwork and missed a couple important due dates, which really freaked me out for a while.  There’s a growing part of me that just doesn’t want to do academia any more. I’m happy when I’m writing and talking to inform, help, and entertain people. Not memorizing bits of minutia. I need to find a way to use the internet and the local resources to try and make connections to bring myself closer to an actual career in writing. The question is how.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Vince

Victoria Day/Hurt Heart Spiel

It’s Victoria Day in this neck of the woods. Most stores are closed, and lots of people are getting together for various acts of barbecuing and ample drinkery. I, however, am buckling down for a long session of writing, reading, and coding. A bunch of friends of mine are getting together for a BBQ of their own and invited me, but I kind of made my bed with the amount of procrastinating I’ve done with my schoolwork. It’s difficult to make the decision to stay in, especially since one of my goals earlier in the year was to get out more to try and overcome my social anxiety.

Admittedly, part of that difficulty was wondering whether or not I was making the decision to opt out based on my academic needs, or based off of the fact that my most recent ex, whom I’ll call Enth* here, would be there. Normally, getting along with exes isn’t that big of a deal for me, but following several months of back and forth either trying to reconnect with me or push me away, Enth* gave our social media connections the snip and asked for me not to contact her by any means. Harsh, but fair enough. Thing is, she’s a fairly main pillar of our mutual friend group, and hosts a grand majority of the parties we all get together at (not to mention she’ll be the President of the university cluib we’re all a part of next year. Yay.). As such, the “cutting-off” has made it more and more difficult for me to spend time with my friends, who are all busy of their own accord. I teeter between two mindsets:

1) Getting along as best as possible while in the same space, while giving her the appropriate space, so that even if we’re not friends again we can at least interact amiably.

2) The other part of me wants to tell her, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck herself, make sure she knows she’s not welcome in my life in any respect, let her know all the most unsavoury things I think about her emotional instability, arrogance, and inconsideration, and how difficult she’s made it to come out of my shell to go out with my friends, and generally overcome emotional challenges I ALREADY have difficulty with, in the past months.

I’m generally someone who wants to go along to get-along, and assertiveness and the ability to say no to someone when they ask something of me that goes against my best interest is something I’ve had to work on. As such, I WANT just… everyone to get along and be okay and even just for both of us to pretend we DON’T have any history, relationship or otherwise, and just start over as friends. But at the same time I feel genuinely hurt by things she’s done and feel like I’m owed an apology. Because despite expressing the sentiment that she still wants to be friends someday, Enth* has done anything but treat me in a way that is in any way reminiscent of the way you’d treat a friend, or even a potential friend, or an acquaintance you had the slightest hint of consideration for.

Wow, didn’t think that post was going to go the direction that it did. Well, I guess that’s what a journal is for.