The In-Betweens

As many of you know, I do a fair bit of freelance writing work, as well as putting together some audio/video content of my own in my spare time. Last week, I had the rare experience of having all of the various projects I’d been working on come to a conclusion at about roughly the same time (among them my first paid, feature article for a major site).

I should feel proud, and I suppose for a very brief glimmer of a moment, I did. But the feeling of accomplishment was quickly replaced by an all-too-familiar sense of dread: the feeling of “…what now?”

And I mean… it kinda sucks, right? The conventional wisdom is supposed to be that if you put everything of yourself into a project, push through and have it come to fruition, one of the benefits you’re supposed to be able to reap is the feeling that you brought something into the world that otherwise might not have been, that you expressed yourself in a way true to you, etc. I almost feel kind of pissed, like I’ve robbed myself of something I should be feeling but aren’t.

I suppose that’s kind of the point. Like… for a while now I’ve found there’s a lot of merit in the idea of being a process oriented person. Of practicing mindfulness. Of making conscious effort to “be where you are” rather than worrying about where you’re going next. And I guess to an extent I’ve made progress along those lines. I’ve lost a little weight (only like 5-6lbs, but it’s not water weight and it’s STAYING OFF DAMMIT), and the exercise that led to that wouldn’t have been possible without me being able to center myself when I began to overthink myself into paralysis regarding what I was going to do at the gym, if I had enough time or energy, if that workout would impede my ability to accomplish OTHER stuff that day… you name it.

So I guess, like most things, it’s a process. I’ve made some headway in the practical application of being present, but I’ve yet to integrate it to where I can enjoy that moment, but let it go without worrying about whether another one is in my future. Even if I’m trying to stop predicting my future, maybe the perspective of where I’ve been will help me remain rooted to where I am. I hope so.
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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.

October 12th, 2015

I couldn’t come up with a title for this post. But I realized that isn’t a good enough reason not to write.

Neither is the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in about a year.

Neither is the fact that I’m not even sure if I want to keep this blog around, or move the content over to a new one I’m sowing the seeds of an idea for.

It’s not a good enough reason not to write that I have a bunch of other projects that I’m working on, nor is it that my work makes me tired and feels unfulfilling compared to what I want to be doing. It’s not a good enough reason that I don’t know if my latest project will come out worth anything, or look anything like the vision I have in my head.

I’ve had a couple of kicks in the existential arse in the last couple days. The idea that the job I have right now, even though it’s full-time, wouldn’t be enough to start paying back my student loans and keep a roof over my head once I graduate being one of them. As is my beginning to follow the Writing About Writing Blog, and in particular my reading of the article 20 Guaranteed Ways to Sabotage Your Reading (of which I currently subscribe to at least a solid dozen). As well, the reading of Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception, and the unceremonious writing of a book that I began in the middle of the night last Wednesday when I couldn’t sleep.

Basically, this confluence of events and actions have combined to help me realize that despite my being terrified of my future economically, existentially, artistically, career-wise, relationship wise, and even health-wise, is insufficient reason for me to not only not create art, but not create art EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

If anything, it’s the best reason in the world to start.

Insomnia and Grad Anxiety

So in what I’m considering the king of ironies, after spending all day feeling exhausted for no apparent reason, I can’t sleep. Started trying to think about what could be the cause, and figured, hey: might be a good opportunity to write a little.

All things going well, I’m graduating from the University of Guelph in June. I was absolutely terrified of not graduating and having to take yet ANOTHER semester here, already being in my sixth year. Now I realize the only thing that scares me more than not graduating is ACTUALLY graduating. I know this is something a lot of soon-to-be grads go through, but it doesn’t make it any less nerve-wracking. I feel like I’m JUST starting to get a handle on my mental health issues this semester, and taking positive steps toward being able to live healthily day to day. I’m afraid it’s too soon. I’m afraid I’m not ready to enter the real world. I wish I had another four months to just focus on re-wiring my brain using CBT, talk therapy, and support groups.

But I guess that’s kind of a wake-up call to what life is. Many, many people balance their day-to-day responsibilities with the need to seek out and maintain practices that help them deal with their demons. I guess it’s just this feeling of being taken out of the oven before I’m fully cooked… or something. I kind of lost the metaphor there. You probably know what I mean.

I’ve contacted someone at The United Way about working as a social worker once I graduate, but haven’t heard back. I also procrastinated in following up with a CV as well. I’m worried that by doing so I’ve torpedoed the only “In” I’ve come across so far insofar as doing social work, and thus making it even hard to remedy the situation and send one in. The nice thing about doing CBT (and I’ll probably be filling out a thought record when I’m done this post) though, is that I have a little bit more awareness of the circular and unrealistic thinking around that. I may have screwed up, sure. It may have cost me the opportunity, sure, but I don’t know that. And sending in a CV late and following up is better than not doing it at all.

Here’s hoping I can catch some ZZZ’s before my alarm goes off at 6. Thanks again for reading, everyone. 🙂

NOW. NOW. NOW.

So I’m really fucking impatient. With just about everything, including myself. My therapist mentioned this at my last appointment, and I’m more and more realizing just how correct he is.

When I make a mistake, I immediately go to work identifying the cause of what went wrong. And if I correct it, and things don’t IMMEDIATELY improve, I get frustrated, down on myself. I ask “WHY ISN’T THIS WORKING? I DID THE REQUIRED STEPS!!” I call myself weak-willed, incompetent, lazy… because clearly if I’m not getting results, I’m not trying hard enough.

When I’m not making progress in my workouts, I feel like shit about my body AND my efforts. Things feel pointless, and it feels like biology is forever laughing in my face. But I’vel earned lately the credo  that results both take time AND consistency. Making little adjustments every week is continually robbing me of the latter, and just… I need that. Part of the problem, I think, is the self-consciousness that comes from the fact that Shauna 9the woman from the previous post) is now coming with me to the gym. It was nice to get the extra motivation from someone to actually GO, but 1) Now I feel more self-conscious and unable to just focus on THE WORK while I’m there, and 2) I need a place I can be alone without anyone I know, and where I’m not doing schoolwork or whatever. Someone to meditate, to be totally self-focused, alone with my thoughts, the whole deal. With her with me on the bike-ride, timing her workout to end with mine, I’m not getting that. I’ve awked her to go on ahead this morning for precisely that reason. I need space and time to myself. To reflect, to gather myself, to be as selfish and self-oriented as possible. I need this place of meditation. I like being in a place where it’s just me and the iron.

Well, I’m going to head off now. Going to try being a bit more forgiving of myself. I need to do SOMETHING, because this just… isn’t working. Or who knows. Maybe I’m just not giving it enough time.

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.