It’s kind of crazy how 8 months can pass and I can still be in the same state I was when I last posted, let alone that I’ve been in this rut since forever times. Something will change eventually, right?
I’ve spent the better part of this century so far chasing my tail in circles. The exact metaphor changes periodically, but essentially the tail is happiness. Sometimes that happiness manifests as career goals, or social hopes, or a large bowl of Panera Mac and Cheese.
It’s easy to say “the better part of this century” and ignore that when the century changed, I had only been 9 for 8 days. Before then I’d dealt with my fair share of troubles, many of which I’m not going to go into at this point, but which all culminated in me being 9, spending the holidays at my grandmother’s, staying up to watch the New Year’s ball drop on a folded out mattress sofa that we unfurled to mark special occasions.
By that point, I’d had my share of traumas, lost a few dads, moved a few times. But happiness was easy to find: all I needed was to lift the sofa cushions and fold out the creaking metal frame and stay up to midnight.
I’ve spent a lot of time with that Mac and Cheese, but I still haven’t found that level of happiness. Being a kid is great. Everything is new, and the world hasn’t ruined the concept of “new” for you yet. As an adult, new usually means a new bill, a new breakup. New is scary, even when it’s a new job or a new town. I didn’t use to be anxious about those things. Then again, I was 9. Somewhere after that the fear creeped in. Probably all that trauma.
Most of my life is spent avoiding that feeling. I fear a lot of things: failure, mostly. I fear not being happy, so I don’t chase the things that make me happy. It’s nonsensical and weird and kinda dumb.
I watched that Marie Kondo show on Netflix, Tidying Up, and felt a bit inspired. One of those chasing tails in circle things for me has always been how a space feels. I love designing a space, I love quality textiles and pretty objects. I hate mess and the anxiety it gives, yet I wallow in it.
Marie talks about sparking joy. A lot. Like, in every scene. After a while it was drilled into my head: the thing I was searching for this whole time. I became obsessed with the difference between happiness and joy, and the way that they manifest. I’ve spent so much time wanting to just be happy, but it was always fleeting. Joy is more spiritual, it lingers.
I took Marie’s words and mannerisms and felt so suddenly inspired, as I think many of us who watched her show were, and I began to tidy up. I got rid of the trash, both literal and figurative, that I’d built around me. I asked myself what sparked joy and removed the ones that didn’t.
I ask myself now, is this giving me joy? I go through more than just my things, examining my actions, my habits. It’s only been a few days, but the shift has improved my mood pretty ecstatically. I started making lunch at home, because paying for shitty food was not sparking joy. I stopped going to Starbucks and have been drinking more water daily than I honestly ever have. I’m taking my multivitamin like a good vegetarian and even drinking a healthy superfood powder concoction. Who am I?!
When I was earlier in my twenties I lost a good amount of weight, because that weight wasn’t sparking joy – it wasn’t something that I consciously thought, but I felt it. I later gained it back, and then more, and then more, each time gaining because of an addiction to that rush of happiness. I quit smoking for non-joyous reasons (thanks, peer shame, debt, and eco-conscious guilt!) and ballooned even more, replacing my immediate-happiness-harm-stick breaks with immediate-happiness-calorie-bomb lunch breaks. But were either of these things even making me happy, let alone joyous?
This week I’ve found joy in being conscious and aware, in taking care of myself. When I lazily place something on a surface I’d spent time cleaning, I’ve been asking myself – is leaving this here going to spark joy? When I want to go all food-addiction on a plate of fried foods, is this really helping me?
I hope this lasts. This is the best I’ve felt in a while. I have further to go, better to do. I have goals that I’ve been chasing for almost two decades now, more joy to have sparked. I’m allowing myself to ease into it, because anxiety is still a real thing, and I’m tired of succumbing to it. I’m tired of chasing my tail.
There’s something about starting blogs that still feels reassuring after all these years. I’ve been blogging (on and off, but mostly off) for longer than I ever hadn’t. I started when I was 11. It was something that took me out of the world and gave me something to do back when the internet had two modes: civil and discrete. We used to believe that the internet would give us all this immense access to knowledge and to each other, that we’d all grow and learn together.
That hasn’t really worked out. Also not working out: blogging. It’s the kind of thing one with massive anxiety doesn’t do because they have to terms with their own weaknesses. It also just gets incredibly repetitive. Another day or week, another anxious mess.
The first steps in starting a new blog are always very, very defining. Not in that they’re always definite, though the successful ones always are, but that they’re descriptive. Most people know what they’re in for: they know what category they’re going into, whether it’s investigative journalism or a baking mom blog or anti-Semitic tirades. Blogs aren’t like social media, word vomit with character limits or universal selfies. They’re specific. Blogs are about who the author is, even if they’re not a personal diary style exhibition.
That’s always been my problem. Who am I? Anxious, poor, and unhealthy. Nobody wants to read about that. Nobody wants to write about it. So I end up successfully writing about the same three topics until I’m bored of the realities. Because I’m weak to it, nothing improves. Nothing changes.
Every WordPress starts with a default post. Wether you trash it or leave it, it’s there, a reminder of what came first, or what didn’t. Sometimes you just have to clear out the defaults for something better. Sometimes you have to change the narrative.
This isn’t a sad boy blog about sad boy things. Let’s change the narrative, here and now. Because I’m better than my default post. Those things aren’t who I am, they’re what I suffer with; I’m a creative adult with responsibilities, and goals, and yes, there’s some emotional baggage and firewalls and shit. But those aren’t who I am. So the goal is simple: write about positive things and the ways I’m leaving those defaults behind. Because adulting is hard but rewarding, and I don’t want to turn 30 and still be on my bullshit.
Starting this blog is one of those things that I’ve been working on today over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve been simplifying, both physically and virtually: why do I need two cloud services?? I don’t! Bye, Dropbox. Sorry. Does my sensitive-skin ass really need all this skincare? Toss the ones I’m not even. fucking. using.
I’m in the process of transitioning blog hosts. I had one of those serious moments with my inner dialogue that, now that my hosting plan was ending, I needed something cheaper and more realistic. Yeah, it means no more migos Ipsum generator, but it also means I’m dedicating space (literal, emotional, mental, virtual) in my life to actual projects as opposed to pretending I’m ever going to be one of those internet developer personalities with all the side projects and shit. That’s… just not realistic. Maybe a blog. But a blog doesn’t need to be $70+ a year with a series of domains. Hell, it didn’t even need to be the one, but I needed a blog that wasn’t going to be a distraction of other posts every time I logged on to catalogue my adulting, and could still be personal. Tumblr and Medium were out for those reasons.
As I mentioned in the A-Side, the main three problems I’m constantly dealing with are anxiety, money, and unhealthiness. Those are the things I’m working this week on tackling, getting down to the 6 W’s of that trio. My plan is to consider how to frame the big fight as goals, instead of problems: positive thinking and all that. I also want to quantify what my goals are, how to recognize their success and failures, and the steps to achieving them. I guess that’s my next post.