A few weeks ago, I bumped into a guy I used to know years ago. I'm finding that's happening more and more since moving back to my old area, and it's obvious why, but like people just turning up at my door because they happen to be in the area it still just feels weird. I spent too long living out of the way, I guess.
Anyhoo, it was about 8am, I'm walking the dog and dreading the occurrence of 9am and the inevitability of email and we saw each other across the road. We caught up a little, he's doing really well, but that's not what shone through. It was his happiness.
I've bumped into him a couple of times over the years, and it's always the same. The wide, genuine smile. Content with where he is; wife and kid, good job, great shape. Full of energy and enthusiasm and yet super chill.
Naturally, I envied him in comparison. Dragging myself sleepily along the road, struggling to achieve anything, in a job I was desperate for some time off from, bogging myself down with worries about the house and chores and money and long term scenarios and...
The envy never turned to ill-will; the dude absolutely deserves what he's got, and I'm super happy for him. But it led to the same questions I'd been asking myself for years in different ways: what could I do to capture that? Do I need to get extreme about my weight loss? Do I need to micromanage every single minute? Study to a post-graduate level? Earn six figures? Have super intense weekly performance therapy sessions?
Or do I just need to do it?
I've always struggled with the concept of Just Do It. Whether that's the concept of faith in a being that doesn't talk to you, or lowering calories without a grand plan, or just writing every day, it just never makes sense to me. There always seems to be a mystical trick behind it, something for me to figure out over hours of coffee and should searching interspersed with Reddit and Facebook distractions.
After all, if it were that obvious and that easy, why isn't everyone doing it?
One of the things I'm learning through this process though is how much time I spend focusing on the negative. It's a bad habit I picked up from years of mental health relapses. My default was to hide everything, put it in a dark room, and most of all, never talk about it with anyone. Then I learned talking might actually help, but I was so full of dark that it started to feel like I left the tap on all day. It was all that's in my head, and I don't have a better way to process or deal with it, so here you go good listener, hope that's ok?
Then of course it became not ok, because no-one needs a constantly on tap of severe depression, and so the pressure built up again. On and off, and no idea how to get it just right.
The other part of the problem is my need to lay myself bare. This is who I truly am, accept it or not. This is what you'll be getting yourself into. All the dark, all the anger, all of my past, everything. Eventually, it became the other half of how I define myself: the can-do, completely capable, high functioning strong man, and the constantly struggling, toxic and barely stable weakling.
But I've noticed a switch has flipped recently when writing some of these posts. Gratitude being the obvious candidate, but my optimism and more relaxed attitude to myself improvement in Thursday's Morning Routine post and yesterday's Best Week Off Ever. I've noticed it in how I talk and what I talk about more recently, how I sign off to emails from readers, just little bits here and there, but still. Nothing miraculous has happened, I've not actively made any grand changes or put into place any major plans.
Instead of overthinking how to react or say something, I'm just going with the easier, happier path. And it is easier, despite my initial misgivings. Easier for me mentally, with means it's easier for me in terms of energy levels (not having to fight to maintain composure is a godsend). It creates a better image of myself that I'm projecting, and that better image helps uplift their moods too (and makes me less of an energy sink).
There is still the doubter in my head that this could primarily be down to not having to work all week, but I'm labelling that as unproven for now. I also still have my moments, the alluring pull of good old fashioned British sarcasm and cynicism being a bit too much at times. But that's just what it is to be a work in progress, and ultimately imperfect. It shouldn't put me off continuing to try.
And that right there is a shining example of what I'm talking about. Before, I'd have had those concerns and immediately abandonened the course of action, going right back to the status quo until I had adequate time and space to sit down and hash it out. Again, exhausting. Is that really how I want to live?
Today was a great example.
I'm a natural introvert. Social situations are usually pretty draining, and I tend to overcompensate in social situations, so it usually turns out rough after a few hours. Throw alcohol in the mix, and I normally hit a point where I feel like I'm right on the edge and need to come down so get a ton of water and a quiet corner outside, knocking me out for the rest of the night.
Today was the wife's best friend's birthday, and him and his partner are some of my favourite people. The plan was bowling with dinner afterwards, but we couldn't get a dog sitter for that long, so bowling it was. There were three others, so a group of seven, but I don't really know and haven't spent a lot of time with them, so it can get a bit awkward.
Yet, new me was undeterred. More than that, I've been looking forward to it all week. And I didn't crash! I was actually social, got to know the new guy to the group, and actually held my own. I might have been a bit too competitive, but didn't take it badly when I lost in the second game, so it's all good!
I am pretty tired, partly because I walked back then did the groceries, but instead of letting it spoil my view of the day I am home, I'm fed, and I am almost fully relaxed. Ted's currently making that difficult by barking at the pidgeons, And the crazy next door neighbours are being, you know, crazy. But that's ok. Nothing's perfect.
The downside is I had a better way to end this post this morning, but didn't have the time to write it. So now I'm here at my iPad, belly full of Chinese and cheese, and not a lot of motivation to scrap out another few hundred words. That's also ok, both because I've built up a healthy lead on my target, and because I don't have to let it ruin anything. I can just get up, tidy up, take the dog out for a bit, and relax into a blissful evening waiting for the wife to get back.
That's the thing I'm just trying to hold on to. It's difficult. Against my instincts. But those instincts haven't served me very well so far.
Time to move on.
Words - 1,281
Running total - 25,801 (51.6% , 796 words ahead of target)
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