Disclaimer: Most of this is written for me. I’m not trying to change the world, or change anyone’s life, it’s about completing a goal I set for myself and letting things out. It’s about holding myself accountable, and taking stock of where I am. I doubt anyone reads this, but if you do, I hope it helps you in some way.
I’ve spent most of this year not writing. I’ve spent most of it not doing anything. Normally I would attribute that to my own laziness, to lack of ambition, to the fact that I rarely ever believe in my ability to achieve things even though I’ve seen myself overcome a lot. This year, 2020, it’s been because I’ve felt hopeless.
It has always been a firmly held belief in my life that things would get better. I’ve overcome abuse. I’ve overcome abandonment and the PTSD that followed. I’ve overcome loss, illness, depression at the level that I felt my existence was the leading cause of pain in the lives of everyone around me. I’ve overcome a lot, and always, always, believed that things would get better. This year I haven’t had that. This year, I’ve felt so lost, and so helpless that I let that hopelessness lead me to inaction. 2020 stopped all of my forward progress, and while no one would blame me for that, I’m still accountable.
As a person, I struggle to move forward of my own accord. I’ve placed limits on myself that I really shouldn’t, but they were learned. I was told that unless I was always doing good, I had no value. That if I’m not the best, it’s not good enough but that if I am the best it’s because other people have less value. I’m nowhere near as successful as I could be, and I own that. That’s on me because I’ve let these beliefs, these “teachings” from others, hold me back in ways that I never should. Instead of seeing my successes as just that, mine, I saw them as a way to put others down. I’m acerbic, sarcastic, and frequently stand offish, but it’s not because I don’t value others or I want them to feel like they don’t matter; largely I am the way that I am because I want people not to see my flaws.
This year has served as a reminder that we make our own destiny. I spent months without work, I’m a server and bartender at the moment, and with shutdowns and restrictions and everything I’ve had ample free time to build myself… I just didn’t. I signed up to go back to school, started more courses for the work I want to pursue, and made commitments to better myself and then didn’t follow through on any of them. I could blame that on Covid, on how absolutely shitty this year has been in so many ways, but I chose inaction. I’ve so long been paralyzed by how I thought other people saw me that I never learned to see myself in a way that means something. Fortunately, that is something I have worked on this year.
I have this deep and abiding belief in hope, and in change. Largely, it’s been external, it’s been about seeing friends and family succeed, it’s been about seeing how others grow and how others can inspire and change the world around them. I never really stop and take stock of myself though, and that’s a crippling thing. If I was where I was when I was 20, I would be spending every moment, of every day, praying to the God I believe in to remove every trace of who I am from existence because I believed I brought nothing but pain into the world. If I was where I was when I was 25, I’d have big plans to move on with my life and leave everything I ever knew behind because the easiest way to solve problems is to run away. I’m not though, I’m not even where I was at the beginning of this year. The changes have been small, but I’m in a better headspace, I’m more independent and willing to stand up for myself, I’m stronger because I can see that valuing myself doesn’t mean valuing others less, and I’m willing to do things that I don’t want to because the results are worth the cost.
Taking the time to figure out why I felt so hopeless this year, in spite of all the times I could have but didn’t feel helpless before has led me to some interesting discoveries.
- I am at my best when I’m actively engaged in things, specifically in learning things. I have a lot of interests that I’ve let just stagnate because putting effort into myself felt like wasted effort and yet the happiest times in my life are when I’m putting that effort in.
- The way I value myself is usually reflected in what I’m consuming, both in terms of food and in terms of stimulus. When I’m consuming positive, uplifting and encouraging content I’m more at peace, I’m more able to establish what is me and what isn’t. When I’m consuming healthy food and drinking enough water, I’m happier and more able to invest time into what I want to do.
- Friends are a good reflection of where we are in life. If you have people reaching out to and talking to you, you have value in their life. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean that that friendship will be forever, but it does mean that whatever version of you you are it has significance in the lives of others. I spent a long time not valuing myself and believing that no one else did either, but in retrospect, people have valued me every step of the way for who I was in that moment.
- People are going to dislike you regardless of what you’re doing, so if it makes you happy and it doesn’t hurt people, do it.
- You don’t have to help everyone, and a lot of people will be upset with you if you try. I know many people that are more upset at me for trying to help them than they would be if I walked up and hit them, and usually that’s because people want to stay stuck until they don’t. Your best way to help someone move forward is to move forward yourself and someday they’ll figure out how to do it, and if they ask for your help then you can step in.
- Whether something is good or bad is really in how you choose to perceive it. Tony Robbins said that “the facts mean nothing, your perception of the facts means everything.” It turns out that it’s remarkably true. If you view all results as just good or bad, not as information on how you can improve your life, then your life is always going to be at the mercy of people that have learned to control perceptions. You have a responsibility to educate yourself, to learn from your life, and to impart that wisdom where you can in an unobtrusive way.
- Loving yourself is just as much about loving others as it is about loving who you are. You cannot give people better than you give yourself, because you’ll break.
This year has been a challenge, but it’s one that has led to reflection. We’ve all lost a lot, we’ve all disagreed on things, and we’ve all been told we’re wrong, but we’re all still here. That means we can move forward and find a better way to be, and find a better way to treat each other. There will always be problems, problems with ideologies, with rationalizations, and with beliefs, but we can move past those if we choose to. We just have to choose action, and choose to assess where we’re at and where we might be wrong.
If you’ve read this, thank you. I’m sorry it’s a bunch of ramblings, but I haven’t had a reason to structure thoughts in a long time, and this is the first step on getting back to structure.