To Do in 2022

I think that even if I wasn’t born in the same month that people usually set their yearly goals I would still choose to do so in whatever my birth month was. Beginning my own personal next trip around the sun just feels like a good time to set intentions for myself, which is why I always wait until the end of January, closer to my actual birthday, and have a god long think about what I want (and need) to achieve instead of rushing to decide the first week of the month.

When I look back at what I wanted to get out of 2021 the results are pretty mixed. I carried over some goals from 2020 and those in particular went especially poorly, but I’d like to focus on successes instead because there are good reasons for (most of) my failures. For instance, while I still have games in my backlog, I did in fact play games there were not Red Dead Online. I did clear the backlog of physical books I owned and even (shocker) started getting books from my local library again after several years of not doing so. I managed a whole year of bullet journaling (which you can read about here). The various weekly online game nights that started during the pandemic are still going pretty strong and are some of the highlights of each of my weeks.

This year is my “golden birthday” (turning 31 on the 31st) and while part of me wants to declare grand intentions re: my job, my living situation, or my love life, the ongoing pandemic has me hesitant to reach out in those areas. I know I shouldn’t let it hold me back because covid is probably going to be part of the rest of our lives, but somehow the situation still feels too precarious. I somehow don’t feel too bothered by the idea of getting sick myself, but I am terrified of the idea of being the one to infect my loved ones. I will likely slowly, casually try making some progress in these areas (especially on the job front because WHOO BOY it’s been rough there lately), but I’m not formally declaring them major goals.

So what am I hoping to accomplish in 2022? Well, there are two really significant bad habits I’ve been grappling with, especially over the last several months, and there’s no time like the present for squaring my shoulders and starting to deal with them.

The first thing I need to do is divorce myself from my fucking cell phone. I don’t even want to think about how many nights I’ve lost to tapping back and forth between Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube and I feel really awful about myself when I realize I have yet again wasted an entire evening to that nonsense. I could be using that time to pursue my hobbies instead, and yet I’m not! My idea for accomplishing this is simple: when I go up to my room after dinner, my phone goes into my pajama drawer until I take it out at bedtime to charge. This way, I should be able to hear it if it rings or if my messages start blowing up, but if it doesn’t then it is basically out of sight, out of mind and that is what I need.

The second thing I need to do is to stop revenge procrastinating everything. You may have heard of the concept of revenge bedtime procrastination, which is basically staying up way too late to do more of the things you don’t get to do during the day. My issue is that I do not just revenge procrastinate at bedtime. Sleep is probably the most significant thing I procrastinate, but I am messing up my own life all day long by just not doing things when I am supposed to do them. Turning up a few minutes late for work is a less consequential one because we don’t clock in/out and my bosses don’t seem to notice or care, but I’ll put off cooking myself dinner until I’m so hungry I forget to put butter in the pan before I crack an egg in it (a real thing I did this week and it was a minor disaster, fml). Dealing with my phone issue will help immensely with this, because my phone is my number one accomplice in this procrastination.

If I can just get these two bad habits under control, I should be able to more successfully do some of the other things I want to this year, because I will simply have more time on my hands. Keeping up with both my daily journal and the one where I write little notes about the books, shows, and games I’m consuming is relatively simple. I did it last year and I’m confident I can do it again. But I want to write more, and try getting better at art, and maybe get back to playing music. I want to play more with photography as well. I did a couple of photoshoots of myself 2021 where I played around with different lighting setups (the photos in this post are from one of them) and it was pretty fun!

I also want to actually post 12 blog posts again. I only got 10 done in 2021, although one of them was a video so it took more time to put together than writing and editing a normal post. It was the first video I’ve made since quietly quitting YouTube a few years ago and I’m quite proud of it. I’d like to make more videos in the future if I have ideas, but I’m not putting pressure on myself. And speaking of proud, I’m actually especially proud of some of the writing I did in 2021. The first one that comes to mind when I think back to my favorite posts of last year is the post I did in June about my biological father, but if I were to call out two other favorites they would be the one I wrote in February about being touch-starved and the one from the beginning of May about how lonely and isolated I’d been feeling that winter/spring. I reread my 2021 posts while writing this one and I can honestly say I still like all of them, which is its own accomplishment.

So that’s what I’ve got cooking for 2022. Is there anything you’re trying to accomplish this year? I hope you can get it done! And I hope I can succeed with mine as well.

A Year of Bullet Journaling

(The journal pictures in this post are of my fresh, start of the month pages because I didn’t want to share all my little notes.)

Way back in January I wrote that one of my goals for 2021 was to keep a bullet journal. I usually wait to reflect on my goals for the previous year in a post at the end of January, but have enough to say about this one that I felt like it needed its own space.

Part of the benefit of doing a bullet journal is that you can set it up how you like and don’t have space taken up by habit trackers or goal boxes that are irrelevant to you. I knew from the outset I wanted to do just a few simple layouts. Every month naturally starts with a title page. Obviously, a monthly calendar grid was absolutely necessary, as was a spread for each week. It took me a couple of months of experimentation to find a weekly set up that I liked, and once I settled on one I saw no reason to change it. I didn’t keep a traditional habit tracker per se, but I did round out each month of pages with a color coded list of whatever books I’d finished, shows/movies I’d watched, or games I’d beaten that month, along with little notes of what I thought of them. All of the pages were decorated as much or as little as I had the energy for at the time.

(My vast array of bullet journal supplies, lol.)

Energy is a lot of what bullet journaling comes down to for me, to be honest. Some months I was totally gung ho and happy to spend the time drawing out my layouts each month. There were many months where it felt peaceful and meditative in a way. However, other months, especially towards the end of the year, I had trouble getting myself to take the time for it, feeling like it was a tedious chore that I didn’t really want to do, but had to so I could write my little notes in it.

I’ll be honest, there isn’t really enough going on in my life that I feel like I need a planner to keep track of it, especially since ye olde plague sees me spending even more time at home than I did before. I did of course mark in appointments and events as they came up, but I got a lot more use out of my bullet journal as an actual journal to write a little bit about what happened every day. I don’t know why this had never occurred to me with the planners I’ve owned in the past, but I ultimately found that having a size limited box made it easier for me to keep up with regular journaling more than the intimidatingly expansive pages of the blank lined notebooks I’ve tried to journal in before. I’ve kind of fallen off of journaling for the past couple of months, but I’m glad that at least for a large part of the year I have a record of the things I’ve done and things I’ve felt.

So, to sum up, did I successfully complete a year of bullet journaling? Yes. But will I be doing it again? No. By the end of the year I found it kind of annoying. I’d rather just buy a new planner for 2022 and use it as a journal. However, I do intend to fill up the remaining empty pages of my bullet journal with more notes about what I’ve watched, read, etc. I’m not making a goal to read a certain number of books or anything like that, but I like that I have a record of not only the media I consumed, but also my general impressions of it.

Even though in the end I’ve decided not to continue bullet journaling, I’m glad I tried it. I’ve satisfied my curiosity about whether I was capable, but I’ve found out that it isn’t for me and that’s fine! That’s just how life is sometimes.

Thoughts On the Cusp of 30

If you’re reading this then that means I am officially 30 years old. The past few years have disillusioned me in some ways. I no longer believe that the arcing arm of a clock or the crossing off of calendar squares will create a new chance for miraculous change, and, in fact, given the results of the hellish series of world events that comprised my 29th year all I can see stretching ahead right now is more of the same.

I never thought that this time last year when I was introducing my friends to the wonders of the Street Fighter movie that it would be the last of our birthdays that we would spend together until who knows when and it makes me wish that I had chosen something more cooler or more special.

Not once last spring in the two months I spent working from home, watching the trees burst to life outside my window while I withered from loneliness did I think that when everything slumbered again I would still be separate and alone, that I would be anticipating still being in solitude when the leaves grow in again in a few months. I do live with my mother, but it isn’t the same as being with my friends. The way the salt used to de-ice the roads and clear the way bleaches all color from the road forward isn’t a new sight, but this winter it makes me feel particularly hopeless.

I have an increasingly distinct awareness that by the time this is “over” I will probably wind up losing nearly two years of my life, but even then there’s a chance that it probably will not ever be properly “over” because of all of the currently unknown variables. It’s weird to think that my life now has a very dramatic before and after in it, a sharp fracture between two distinct ways of life.

I know I am lucky to have my job, but I am increasingly resentful about working in an office where some of the attorneys haven’t come into the office since March, but us staff are required to come in like everything is normal, except we’re all wearing masks and using hand sanitizer now. It’s nice to talk to people who aren’t my mom, but I would give it all up for the return of the Saturday nights with my friends, spent the way we used to spend them in the Before Times — dinner out and doing dumb nerd stuff. I do get to do different nerd stuff on Saturday nights now, D&D with a different group of friends, and it’s a nice replacement, but I keenly feel the lack of the people who know me best.

I feel bad for thinking about the things I miss, because it feels trivial to miss them when people are literally dying. Lipstick. Diner food (especially gyros). Walking aimlessly around public places. Having a reason to wear cute outfits. My friend’s cats. And I must be getting really desperate because I even miss taking daytrips to NYC, even though I find the city exhausting and don’t care for it that much overall.

All this said, it will probably come as no surprise that I hardly accomplished any of my goals for 2020. I did wind up with 12 blog posts like I wanted to, but that was only after cramming November and December with extras to make up for the months I didn’t get a post up. My gaming backlog remains mostly unchanged, although I did give my permission to quit World of Final Fantasy because I realized I was dragging myself through something I wasn’t enjoying at all. There’s a cute little adage that goes “last one hired, first one fired” and that combined with the economic instability kept me in my current office, despite my frustrations there. I did not carve out specific time for creative hobbies, but I found myself doing creative writing and doing art more than I have in the past couple of years. Which, well, anything is more than zero, but the fact that I managed to do anything is a victory.

In the face of this largely unaccomplished year it feels a little pointless to consider new/renewed goals, but I feel compelled to for some reason. They fall into two categories: things I’m already making a habit of and want to continue, and things I want to be doing.

Continuations:

  • About a year ago I started taking walks on my lunch breaks (or after work before driving home when it was really hot out in the summer), and I want to continue doing that at least three days a week as weather permits.
  • Please for the love of god let this decade of my life begin with a new job. (As embarrassed as I feel to bring this one back again, I’d like to reaffirm it for myself anyway.)
  • Post one blog each month. I considered making this number larger, but thinking back on how this year went in that regard, 12 posts for the year is what feels the most manageable and consistent.

New Things:

  • I really ought to play more video games that aren’t Red Dead Online (aka my favorite way to escape this hell year for hours on end, just wandering the countryside).
  • Read more of the physical books I own, not just my Kindle at lunchtime.
  • Do my creative hobbies more.
  • Ages of watching Christy Lou’s (now ended) bullet journal YouTube videos made me feel like I could do one despite having little artistic ability, so I’ve made one and I want to see it through to the end of year.
  • Do a better job at keeping in touch with people, a thing which I am historically really shit at. If I don’t see someone, I often reach out, sometimes because I don’t want to be a bother, but often just because I’m awful and get caught up in my dumb little life and just forget to talk to people, and then so much time passes that I’m like “well now it would be weird to try talking to them.” But because of this bad habit, I’ve have spent huge chunks of quarantine feeling desperately lonely. The series of video calls and voice chats I’ve been on this year has reminded me how good it feels to connect with the people I care about and I don’t want to fuck up and go back to dropping the ball on that.

It feels like easy mode to have made so many low ball goals and goals that are continuations of what I’m already doing. But it does feel good in a way to sit down and formally commit myself to these things. I am far better at keeping bad habits than I am at sticking to productive ones, so we’ll see how all of this goes. It’s not exactly turning over a new leaf for my new decade, but it’s something!

Happy birthday to me!

Goals for 2020

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My first selfie of the year!

I typically don’t like to set annual goals/resolutions for myself because I have a tendency to not complete them and then a tendency to really beat myself up about that. It’s not like I was in the habit of setting crazy goals — for the most part I picked things that I thought were attainable. And…then…still managed to not make them happen either through the universe conspiring against me (hello, years of saying “I’m gonna get a new job this year” and sending out resumes that no one responded to) or via my own lack of discipline (see: any time I said “I’m gonna do creative thing X more!”). 

So generally, I’ve found that it’s better for my relationship with myself to not even bother, even though I know that setting goals and making efforts to reach them is a way of growth, even if I do not ultimately succeed. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve never been able to set my mind on any big concrete lifetime goals. I have multiple friends that want to be published authors and others that want to improve at art while maybe getting to make money from it. I have two friends that aimed to be teachers, and now they’re doing it, which is awesome! 

I have two goals in life, neither of which are particularly concrete:

  • to be able to fully support myself financially; and
  • to be at least mostly content in my day to day life (because I know it is horrifically unrealistic to expect 100% happiness).

The second one I tend to do reasonably well at usually, which I am thankful for. The first one? Well, I’m currently typing this from my bedroom in my mother’s house, so, uh, there’s that. I can say, however, that even though I can’t afford to put a roof over my head, I don’t have to ask my family for money with help with my personal bills. And I will get closer to having the finances to move out when I finish off my college loans later this year!!!

But lately I’ve been thinking that having such vague goals is probably to my detriment. I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis where it occasionally hits me that I do the same set of things every day and will probably be doing them over and over with slight variations until I die. My life feels really really pointless to me. The closest analogy I can think of is when you reach the endgame in an MMO, you’ve maxed out your level, and you’re stuck doing the same few dungeons over and over, just because you’ve put so much time in that you can’t give up on playing.

I am a person who loves having a routine and finds comfort in it. But I feel I am getting to a point where the repetition is starting to drive me a little mad. The path I’m on leads nowhere and in some ways I wish I didn’t have to continue on it. (But don’t worry, I will continue because there are good things in my life!)

So I’ve set myself two goals for this year, which I feel are highly, highly doable.:

  • Write at least one blog post a month. (I enjoy writing, but my lack of discipline the real challenge.)
  • Finally clear up some of my gaming backlog, starting with World of Final Fantasy, which I’ve been chipping away at for two years or more. (Too many games that I want to play have been coming out in the past few years and I tend to dip in and out of them, and not get around to finishing any of them, which is what keeps happening with WoFF. It’s cute and I’ll play it in long spurts and then abandon it for equally long spurts. I thiiink I’m reasonably close to the end, but I don’t want spoilers so I haven’t looked at a guide.)

There is a third goal I have in mind for the second half of the year, which is to get a new job (for real this time, I swear, guys). I’m holding off because I have some travel coming up in the spring and don’t want to start off a new job with “sorry, but I need to take these 7 days off scattered across the next few months” especially when many jobs do not start you off with any paid leave. My sixth anniversary at my current job is in May and I have once and for all finally fully come to terms with the fact that they will never pay me a living wage for our area there, despite telling me repeatedly what an asset I am to the office. That coupled with a ton of bullshit that happened in 2019 (not to me personally for the most part, but just things I witnessed) has me feeling very “fuck you guys, I’m done.” 

Besides all of that I think I really do need to get some kind of hobby that I need to work at and set time for me to do it on a regular basis. Because I enjoy video games, but at the end of the day they don’t go anywhere once the story is done. I’m not putting huge pressure on this for myself, but maybe I would feel better about myself if I could say “okay, maybe no one is willing to hire me, but look how much better I’ve gotten at watercolors.” Or maybe I could take up the guitar again. Or even if I just would read more books, and not only just cram in reading on my Kindle during lunch, I would feel like I was making progress at something. Doing more reading would also give a bit of a break to my hands, which have been feeling increasingly terrible since I was promoted to a position where I type a lot of dicatations a year and a half ago. 

Is this stupid? I don’t know. All I know is that this is the last year of my 20s (my 29th birthday is 1/31) and ever since the tenth anniversary of my high school graduation in June a part of my mind has been fixated on the notion of “ten years have gone by and I have nothing to show for it.” Which logically I know is very wrong, and I also know I’m not alone in this feeling, but I find it difficult to quiet the part of my brain that feels like I hasn’t lived up to my potential so here we are.