Saturday, December 3, 2016

Attitude Adjustment

It is now December, and to reflect on a thing mentioned a few posts ago, I cut communications with two friends for the month of November to force me to focus on developing healthy outlets for internal negativity. Part of me is well aware that that in itself was not the healthiest decision, but to a large degree it worked.

As Kylie Jenner (voice of a generation) says, "I feel like this year is really about, like, the year of just realizing stuff."

Realize stuff I did.

To begin, I realized am insufferable. When a friend first told me this in high school, I reveled in it. I wanted to believe that I was better than other people, and I didn't mind that other people saw this about me. Of course, that was a result of an incredibly warped worldview wrought by my childhood, the reality of only getting validation when I was quantitatively better than other people. I held, and still do, hold onto unnecessary little grudges as a leftover coping mechanism, or rather, survival technique. The only way to fight against parents who would bring up every shortcoming of mine from as far back as I could remember was to do the same to them. Thus continues the journey of unlearning toxicity.

In response to the above realization, I realized that I need to chill. The little petty things in life that ruin my day, the things that other people mess up on, the things I mess up on — it's all water under the bridge. Once a thing happens, I can't change that it's happened, but I can change how I react to it. I can either dwell on the negative, or I can put it all beneath me and move on.

Part of this realization comes from doing archery. As mentioned in another post, I've decided to keep archery as my zen self improvement project. It's too cold to go to weeknight club practices anymore, but Sunday mornings when the field is fresh and the sun starts to peek out, I find myself wrapped in the tranquility of deliberate focus. Every arrow is a clean slate. Dwelling on a bad arrow only crowds out the mental space of setting up the next shot.

Speaking of being deliberate, another thing I often forget is that I must accept that I am a human being who is not capable of doing things all the time. As silly as it sounds, sometimes I forget that I need to eat and otherwise take care of myself. I'm working on being aware of myself when I'm eating, to think about eating; when I work, to dedicate time to working (and failing at both right now as I write this post while eating dinner). I assume that I can fit in these little human maintenance things between classes or homework problems, but when those things invariably take longer than expected, I skip over eating proper meals and such.

What ends up happening is that I get so tired that I become incapable of functioning, which makes me feel guilty about taking any breaks when I need to work, and this spirals into an awful cycle. Similarly, on a macro level, I need to remember that during a long term break (Thanksgiving, dead week, etc.), it's important not to schedule things to work on every day. That only causes guilt when it inevitably doesn't happen, and it's painful to force yourself to want to do something that you've been putting off. Instead, the first thing to do during a break is to rest, and work when you're ready. Especially now as the days get shorter and the sun sets earlier, it's been harder to get things done. I'm worried that I'm falling into a spell of depression again, trapped in the comfort of passive self care — sleeping all day — when I should be investing in active self care.

Despite the fact that I know it's important to take breaks, there remains the unshakeable feeling of not being good enough (again, this stems from my parents, and is therefore something I need to change). This mindset is easily amplified by being surrounded by so many incredible people at Berkeley. Lately, in response to a scholarship rejection, I've realized that I've been pushing myself too hard, and all for what? Yes, it's important to accomplish things, but a resume only makes sense if you believe society is a meritocracy, which to some degree it isn't. I've had to scrutinize why I'm doing what I'm doing, trying to figure out if I'm doing it because I want to, or because I believe it is correct. Doing so has helped me reach the conclusion that when life goes wrong, I'm going to be my own happiness. I don't need to react so negatively (at this point I realize that this is a very circular post, so I'm going to stop). ◊

This is a really messy post & I'm not sure if I understand what I wrote; I'm going to publish anyway.

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