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Me at 31: more reflections

Last year I wrote something on my birthday for turning 30, and today I turn 31. Looking back at that post, I’m happy that I haven’t made any huge changes, but I figured I should at least update how things have been going.

Since that blog post, I left my job at Evil Geniuses, found a new one at Chillhop.com, and made some strides in my mental health that have really changed my life for the better. I realized that certain things were really unhealthy for me, and I was also exacerbating that by putting an inordinate amount of my self-value and identity into my work.

I’ve made a lot of effort to fix my sleep, wean myself off of caffeine, and generally keep myself from making the same mistakes that let my health get that bad in the first place.

If you asked someone who knew me well, they’d tell you that I’m very self-critical, to the point of negativity and self-sabotage; this year I’ve become more comfortable with being kinder to myself, or at least standing up for what I need to be happy.

I’ve come to terms with the love and connection that I’ve been lacking in my life, how it’s okay to realize disappointment, and how to forgive people who may have failed me, both growing up and in adulthood. I’ve realized that despite my parents not being abusive or neglectful, I still took it upon myself to self-parent myself in an effort to “not be a burden,” and this kind of behavior has shaped how I handle relationships and my needs.

This is all just stuff that didn’t come out of nowhere, but in getting older, I feel more inclined to try to figure it out definitively. It’s taken a lot of introspection and help from people I trust, and learning to stand up for myself has been a constant process.

I’ve also just shed a lot of guilt and frustration that I have for myself, and continue to try to break the conditioning that tells me I have a certain time limit to achieve my goals.

I’ve started a podcast with someone who I respect very highly. I’ve lost a bit of the anxiety that came with streaming, and I’ve started to realize just how exactly I express myself. I’ve gotten a bit better at writing, and I’ve found myself communicating with people more effectively.

That almost feels like I’m writing a resume, but at the same time, that kind of development probably feels the most important to me. I feel like progress that I make towards being a better human is what I focus on most; I think the difference is that I’m shifting the standard of what a good person is from other peoples’ definitions to my own.

I’ve still struggled a lot, especially with eating, and my weight; I’ve put on maybe 20-30lbs in the past two years, and really have come to terms with a really unhealthy relationship with food. Binge eating and stress/comfort eating is something I’ve done all my life, but as I get older, the consequences are coming harder and are less forgiving.

Basically, I need to continue to be more mindful, but also realize that I’m trying to make a lot of changes in my life at once. I’m trying to mend neglected relationships, let go of unhealthy ones, and form better, newer ones to replace them. I’m trying to embrace exercise and diet, even though they aren’t what I want in a moment where I’m depressed or sad. I’m trying to work more effectively, and form better boundaries for my life away from it.

All of those could easily be their own multi-month project, and I feel like I’m tackling them all at once. And that means some will fall by the wayside, and some might not get all the attention they need all at once. That can make me feel like I’m just outright failing at them, and I obviously don’t like that feeling.

But it’s something to work on, and keeping in mind all those things has helped me forgive myself for not being perfect all the time. It’s also helped to quiet that recursive “am I just acting like a perfectionist outwardly to mask being really lazy, and liking to do nothing?” thinking, that just makes you think you’re tricking other people and yourself.

There are people reading this that have probably followed my work for a long time, and when I try to put myself in your shoes, the dumb part of my brain thinks “damn, they must be frustrated.” So many starts and stops of projects; so many proclamations of changes that haven’t taken, or aren’t as obvious.

However, I’m beginning to correct that thinking, and I’m starting to believe that most of you (the ones that are still here) don’t really care; you’re happy to see me just keep going. Thank you for this support. It means the world to me, and I want to be better about accepting that kindness.

Usually I’m a depressive wreck on my birthday, but a lot of things this year have made it a lot more positive. Thanks for reading, as always, and in six months, we’ll see how things work out around New Year’s.

Cheers for now.

-M.


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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.