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2020: The Reflection Post

Reflections on this terrible year, and the small amounts of (personal) hope that follows.

Starting this piece feels a bit weird because I’m sure that many of you are going to read plenty of “wow, 2020 sucked” takes.

The COVID-19 pandemic took a lot from us, both in people and a general state of being — things felt very awkward and different, and it’s been very difficult thinking about when that will change for the better.

It’s been hard to admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit me hard, but it has; most of the things that I did outside of my apartment are inaccessible, and most of the friends and human connections I have went along with them.

I feel my loneliness has compounded a lot, and while I’ve never considered myself an extrovert (maybe an introverted extrovert), I miss people. I miss events. I miss meeting new people, energy, going to my therapist in-person, and playing volleyball.

What I’m going to say, though, is that 2020 was a period of good growth for me, and after five of these year-end pieces (and another five on my birthday) I can see something concrete building.

I’ve been seeing my current therapist for eight years. I started seeing her towards the end of my first full-time job after graduation, and she’s been with me the entire time since. It took a little bit to build some very deep trust, and I’ll say that I’m really comfortable in our relationship, and it’s helped me build confidence that I can develop something close with someone else.

With her, I’ve come to realize a couple things about myself that I was maybe a bit more hesitant to admit before. They involve qualities about my character that I didn’t think I’d “earned”, and more serious things about my needs that I didn’t give credit to.

While I don’t think I’m a particularly fucked up person, I’m starting to give myself a little more compassion. People who know me know that I struggle with both “earning” credit and giving myself compassion every day.

In my head, giving myself too much credit means I’m going to become an asshole about my strengths. Also in my head, giving myself too much compassion means I’m going to become too lazy and complacent to fix my problems.

In my heart, I know that both of these bad possibilities aren’t really going to happen. I’ve probably known for years. However, the application of that kind of confidence and assuredness (at least alone) is difficult.

I’ve always struggled with that “too comfortable” zone, while not necessarily having all the negatives associated with it. My therapist (and well, others I’ve talked to about some stuff) are quicker to acknowledge all the things I am doing to improve myself, both content-wise and not.

As you can see above, I decided to do a count of what exactly I produced this year. It wasn’t supposed to make anyone feel bad, but more to reconcile that yeah, I’ve actually done a lot more in terms of published content than even people I would respect as more successful than myself.

However, something still feels missing, and I’m probably at my most uncomfortable when it feels like there isn’t a concrete path in front of me. I’m working to be okay with that.

I started reading a book at the beginning of November called The Mindful Way through Depression with the aim of introducing more meditation into my life. I think that it wasn’t quite because I was interested in meditation, but more that I’m looking for something specific to try that I feel could change the way my brain processes things.

I don’t mean for that to sound too drastic; like I said, I don’t think I’m “that bad” a person that I want a whole mental re-write. I think I just look at things like how I choose to spend my spare time, or how I cope with stress, and think that there’s a potential to just… not be how I am right now.

That possibility gives me hope. Hope for a happier tomorrow is kind of the fuel I’ve been burning through these days.

Currently I’m going through a bit of a weird patch. Since the end of my last job, I’ve been told by a lot of people that I deserve “reset time” or “a break”, and I can definitely feel the burnout that needs to be addressed.

I guess the problem is that the pressure to fix the issue is leading to more anxiety. The desire to “learn to relax” makes it hard to relax in the first place. Despite having over a month off, I still feel like the rest hasn’t come, and there has to be a time where you say “okay, enough is enough, back to work.”

The worst feeling is thinking that “well, I’ve taken this time, why aren’t I feeling better?”, and again, giving myself the compassion to say “that’s okay. You’re allowed to take more.”

I think the main difference from last year (and years prior) is that I’m starting to make that decision for myself, rather than needing someone I trust to have my best interests in mind to validate it for me. Instead of thinking “well, I want this, but I’m worried I’ll end up a lazy slob” and needing someone to say “no, you’re allowed to do that”, I’m doing it for myself.

And I mean, that’s a huge thing in itself.

I don’t want to drag this on for much longer, because I know I’m going to get circular. I also have this weird voice in the back of my head saying “shut up dude, you’ve been giving the ‘this is the year where I turn it around!’ speech forever.”

While I don’t feel any closer to “being happy” as a large finish line to be crossed (if that’s even possible), I can at least be confident I’ve taken some steps.

And for now, that’s all that matters.


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By Matt Demers

Matt Demers writes about media, esports, life, and mental health. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram. You can watch him stream on Twitch. You can listen to his podcast at Good Morning, Good Night.