2023: The Reflection Post

“[L]eave the thought that you are ‘behind’ in 2023.”[link]

This has always been difficult for me to do. But it’s getting easier.

My 2023 started weird, as I wasn’t employed until April. Since then, I’ve been playing with different speeds and intensities of life; some have worked, some haven’t, and others told me I have a lot more to learn.

It’s been freeing to release myself from some expectations, but I’ve also spent time in therapy to determine why some of those expectations were difficult to move past. Who set those expectations? What happened to me to make them seem so essential?

Sadly, some sessions feel like wastes of time, and others feel like I’m slowly chipping away at barriers with varying levels of success. Some weeks I’m absolutely dreading therapy because it feels like I’m speaking in circles without much resolution or action; this isn’t so much a critique of my therapist and more a reminder that “I know what I have to do, I just need to start.”

I’ve had multiple people come up to me and tell me that sharing my journey with therapy has been inspiring to them to take up their own; that means a lot to me. At times I can be a bit disappointed in myself because I’d like to be more “fixed” than I feel. I’ve done a lot of going back to painful places this year, but the missing piece is the healing that comes with compassion, patience and forgiveness.

The other day I decided to be a bit vulnerable and talk to my dad about how exactly my ADHD, depression and anxiety interfaces with my motivation. At times it feels like I’m giving excuses for myself giving up or moving on from things, but I’ve done a lot of reading in terms of neurology, dopamine and how it all interfaces together.

Being able to say “my brain is different, and things don’t work like normal” feels like a cop out, but at the same time, I’m testing out just doing things differently and seeing how it affects things.

I’ve been (unnecessarily) hard on myself, and most people I know closely will corroborate that; lately, I’ve been trying to bite the bullet and trust that “you’ve tried it [this way] for so long, and it hasn’t helped. Maybe it’s time to try something new.”

And try I shall.

I kind of took a break from a lot of what I thought I wanted this year as a result. But the more I’m sitting in this space, the more I’m realizing I wasn’t waiting for some hypothetical “okay” from my therapist or parents or friends to just stop wanting what I (think I) want. I’ve said many times that if I was just faking wanting things for a social reason (without actually wanting it) I would’ve given myself permission to move on a long time ago.

But that longing is still there.

That sentence feels like a retread of past blogs.

I guess what’s different is that there’s a (measured) tough-love component this time: if I want something specific, I need to actually pursue it. While we can preach to ourselves about self-love and compassion and patience, there’s certain (healthy) points where we need to push ourselves to actually do. If I want to learn how to make prints, I actually have to make prints.

The question becomes “can I pursue without the self-sabotage?”, which I guess is the key to all of this. The idea of “I’m not achieving on the timeline I wanted, I must not be good enough,” is both an overly-harsh way of judging myself, but maybe a little selfish as well; it allows me to wallow and ruminate without actually conquering the challenge. Start, bug out, quit, telling myself that I need to “get myself right mentally” before trying again.

I don’t think that’s working, either. Eventually, I have to act. So act I must.

More reading, more streaming, more writing, more discussions, more creating without judgment or fear or expectation.

Less doomscrolling, phone time, endless refreshing, numbing content. Less FOMO, less fear of lost progress, less fear of “being behind.”

Something giving me confidence is that I’ve already started to put this in effect. In July I started working out at a gym, and a large part of that was the psychological exercise of self-compassion. I’ve also picked up Street Fighter 6 with the same ideas, and they’ve both grown positively in parallel. Some things I’m trying:

  • Can I forgive myself for not playing for gaps at a time?
  • Can I forgive myself for imperfect knowledge leading to sub-optimal results?
  • Can I celebrate small progress and victories? Can I not cut my legs out by thinking “well, this is hardly anything, there’s still [challenge] in the future?”
  • Can I forgive myself for not sticking to a schedule if I’m sick, depressed, anxious, or low in dopamine? Can I forgive myself for “not being normal” without exploiting that forgiveness?
  • Can I look positively at the time being spent, regardless of whether I’m hitting my goals or not? Can I avoid looking at these activities as specific fixes for other anxieties in my life (for example, “if I’m hot because of the gym, I’ll find a partner” or “if I’m a god at Street Fighter, I can stream!”)?

The answer seems to be yes. So far.

Which I’m taking as a win.

I’m turning 35 this year, and until maybe a decade ago, the concept of “not making the most out of my life” dominated my anxiety. It quieted for a bit, but now it seems to be roaring back from different angles.

But I know that if I can influence even just one facet of my life, I can fix others. I’m going to continue to try. I’m going to continue to fight. I’m going to continue to want (reasonable, healthy) things for myself.

I’ll update you on my birthday, but things don’t look too bad, for now.

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