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.

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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.

Stimulus/Response

One of the things I’ve noticed on one of my walks is how often I’m running from things. Not literal things. God no. If that was true, I’d be in way better shape than I currently am. For me, it’s sensations.

Feel tired? Immediately respond with caffeine.
Feel anxious? Immediately react by vegging out to video games for hours.
Feel depressed? Go out and get some form of carby, sugary junk food.

These responses have become so ingrained that I barely even think about them anymore. It’s like a little “click-whirr” motor in my head that goes off like a Rube-Goldberg machine and sets it in motion. Half the time, I’m three quarters of the way to the corner store before I even ask myself whether or not I’m actually hungry, or whether I can actually afford to eat out again for a while (spoiler: the answer to both is mostly no).

But I continue to do it, and so I had to ask myself why exactly that is. The conclusion I’ve drawn is that I’ve developed such a strong… aversion to any kind of internal unpleasantness that the MOMENT one of the aforementioned feelings arises, the subconscious first response system kicks in and I go into one of my coping mechanisms.

I’ve tried to replace them with more healthy coping mechanisms, with little success. What I think now is that I’ve skipped a step; namely, addressing that frantic, almost animal-like need I have to flee, run, hide from whatever I’m feeling in that moment by whatever chemical means necessary. Whatever I’m doing (or wanting to do in that moment) immediately gets pushed to the back of the list when this emotional fight-or-flight mechanism takes precedent.

As you can imagine, it makes it very difficult to do any work when I feel at the whims of my sympathetic nervous system. Medications help, but they’re only part of the solution. I think another component, the one I’m trying to address now, is the ability to not only be present and mindful (something I’ve been trying to do for a very long time), but also to… endure when being in that present moment forces you to have to share space with something unpleasant, uncomfortable, or even scary. It’s like being stuck with a smelly, hairy, oversized commuter on a bus who is constantly twitching and murmuring abusive things at you. Add the fact that there’s not even any guarantee that being willing to sit next to your very own Hobo of Self-Destruction will make him go away, and it doesn’t sound like a very appealing sentiment.

However, what I’m just starting to understand is that while those feelings may not abate entirely, being willing to endure them in that moment at the very least provides me (I don’t want to speak for anyone else) with the powerful knowledge that you can weather the storm. That if you decide to not hit that oh-so-tempting eject button and go hurtling towards your coping mechanism of choice, you won’t fall to pieces. And once you withstand the hurricane and find you’re still standing, it can take a lot of the wind out of its sails the next time it tries to pay you a visit.

Day One without Facebook.

Got a good chunk of things done yesterday. Not as much as I would have liked to, but… a big one was finally working up the nerve to delete my FB account. I still have two weeks to reactivate it before all of my data is deleted permanently. So, I just have to hold out for that long and I won’t be able to go back on my decision. I’m currently fighting a war with an increasing number of thoughts in my head that are telling me how I can’t hope to live socially without Facebook. Birthday parties, event planning, learning about OTHER people’s event plans so I can spend time with my friends, promoting stuff that I create…

But then I think, honestly, how much did I actually do that this past semester? I attended maybe 2 or 3 events out of countless ones, many of which I could’ve learned through posters and actually, y’know, TALKING to people. Most of the time, it just let me know about stuff other people were planning and letting me know that I couldn’t have attended. Actually having to put effort into finding out what people are doing for ONE semester isn’t going to kill me, as much as my information withdrawal right now is telling me the opposite.

I’ve been having the most random, mundane nightmares lately. Stuff like my printer running out of ink or not working, the hinge for my laptop screen breaking, or my aforementioned ex hitting me with a peace bond (like a restraining order) so that I’m unable to hang out with any of my friends when she’s nearby. As someone in the psychiatric discipline, I’m a proponent of activation-synthesis theory, but it’s hard to discount any sort of cognitive-emotional component to dreams sometimes.

I did my first bit of Rogues’ Gallery related work this morning, which felt really good to do. I edited a review of Hitman: Absolution. I just need to edit in a bumper at the beginning and end of it and it’ll be ready to post. I also booked my tickets back home to Kingston for the holidays… which I’m not looking forward to, especially considering that I’m just starting to try and clean up my diet again. Oh well. New challenges are new chances for solutions.

Goodbye, Facebook.

Another day, another sleep-in. Jeez… moving my sunrise clock back next to my bed does seem to have helped with the abruptness of waking up, but I think I’m still going to need to set alarms on my phone to mitigate the very real possibility of me turning down the brightness enough to fall back to sleep. I’m currently fighting the urge to just sit back and let today be yet another day where I don’t do anything. Luckily, a friend of mine whom I haven’t been in contact with in a while chatted with me yesterday, and sent me a couple of articles which really gave me a kick in the ass.

Still having issues with distraction though. Probably the reason why I’m getting rid of Facebook.  Being someone with social anxiety, it makes me blood pressure spike to think of cutting off a point of contact with a large portion of my friends, but the ones who are actually making the attempt to keep in contact with me when I asked for their contact info are probably the ones I should be caring most about keeping in the first place, and not worrying about the other ones I barely talk to.

It’s funny, even though I’m still trolling sites like IGN, the less time I spend on FB, the more time I spend thinking about the comments left on various articles in a constructive way. Ie. in a way that actually inspires me to write something worthwhile for either the Rogues’ Gallery or for my HubPages blog. I still need to edit and post the Hitman: Absolution review that myself and my friend Cameron recorded the other day. I want to get that done by the end of today. Honestly, there are several things that fall into that category, so it might ACTUALLY be helpful to list them:

  1. Fast for 16 hours
  2. Make grocery list
  3. Edit Hitman Absolution review (PRIORITY)
  4. Edit cover letter for Goodlife Fitness application (PRIORITY)
  5. Go to Goodlife Pergola Commons, Upper Body training + drop off resume to Morgan Mitchell (PRIORITY)
  6. Get groceries from No Frills
  7. No junk food today

Okay, that seems like a reasonable list of to-do’s and goals. Let’s get to it.

 

Getting My Life Back in Order

So I got through three days straight worth of exams. So the hardest part is over. I’ve still got an essay that I need to get done ASAP (it’s already late and late marks are being deducted from it as we speak), and one more exam next Friday, so I’m not quite out of the woods yet. However, I do have a little extra energy to parse off and start putting into getting my life back in order. Just about everything has gone into disarray aside from my anxiety (which the Zoloft IS helping). Well, and I suppose my gym schedule. The latter has been alright, but not amazing. I usually get to the gym 4-5 days a week, which is good, but I’m not feeling beat down afterwards so I feel like I could go for more days per week. And I’d LIKE to do just that, because there are days that I don’t get to do everything I’d like to. I’m going to try my best over the next month to go flat-out 7 days per week, with some days just being lighter than others. Thinking of a distribution something like this:

Day 1: Upper Body

Day 2:  Lower Body + Arms

Day 3:  Cardio (Heavy Bag)

Day 4: Core

Day 5: Upper Body

Day 6: Lower Body + Arms

Day 7: Cardio (Body weight circuit)

I have it spread out so that I cycle through areas so that, so long as I do the appropriate thorough warm-up and deep fascia stretching afterwards, I shouldn’t get beaten up too badly. It’ll still be taxing, but I know I can do it. I have a pretty awesome housemate for inspiration. It’s rare she actually DOESN’T go to the gym or do some form of exercise every day. Granted, she has a much lighter school schedule than I do, but I’m trying these days not to focus on the advantages people have over me, but the commonalities which speak to the fact that if I want something badly enough, and am willing to put in the effort, I can get it.

Second, I blocked my ex on Facebook. This may not seem like a big step, but there’s been a lot of hmming and hawwing about whether I should. She’s the president of the geek-centric club on campus, which I and most of my friends are a part of. So I was afraid that to cut her out would limit my ability to know about events and opportunities to spend time with my friends. She also hosts a good portion of the parties surrounding that friend group at her house, which she’s said she doesn’t feel comfortable with me being in. So I guess my main reason for holding on so long is the foolish hope that one day we’d be friends again, and that I could hang with everyone as easily as before. But recent interactions have shown that to be an impossibility. We will not be friends, now or ever. Furthermore, and only after blocking her out totally do I feel this… even her presence or the awareness of her life updates makes me doubt myself. Makes it easier for me to direct self-negative thoughts towards myself about my capabilities, my intelligence, my looks, whatever. It’s just… a toxic influence on my mindset. I’m glad that it’s gone. I’ll find ways to hang out with my friends and spend time with those I care about some other way, but this was absolutely necessary.

Third, I’ve been staying up, and consequently waking up, later and later everyday for the last while. I’m going to harken back to last fall (when I was most productive) and set multiple alarms in short, one-minute intervals on my phone. I also have my sunrise clock, so I can use the latter as negative reinforcement if I choose to turn it off. It’ll be worth putting in the effort.

Fourth, I’ve been spending too much, and on stupid things like poor food choices while I’m out. In response, I’m going back to leaving my credit/debit cards at home when I go to work, to campus, or anywhere that I don’t explicitly need them for something I’m buying which has been decided on ahead of time. Cut down on the impulse buying that way.

Y’know, I have more in mind, but I think spreading myself too thin at this point would be counter-productive, so I’ll just work on this stuff today, and then come back tomorrow with some more. 😛

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.