I’m still not really sure what is compelling me to write these advice of the day posts that I’m sure no one really enjoys reading. At this point it’s clear that I’m writing them more for myself than anyone else. The advice is all things I’m still struggling to live by, and I’m not really done learning it. I guess no one ever is though. Hopefully someone will find this advice to be as useful to them as it has so far been for me.
Some of my 1.5 readers may be surprised by today’s advice, as I’ve never really said anything about this one out loud. It really only came to me a couple of weeks ago. After being dumped almost half a year ago (wow it doesn’t feel that long) I was pretty depressed, perhaps understandably. A lot of the advice I was given was to find someone else and move on. Even my ex herself gave me this advice. One person told me to become infatuated with any girl, as soon as possible, no matter how little I know about her.
I do not go into relationships for some ulterior motive. If I am interested someone romantically it is because something about that person appeals to me, not because I want a rebound. I will admit that I did try to move on, find someone new, etc. for quite a while. But I eventually realized that this entire outlook was causing most of my problems.
There are many reasons that being dumped is depressing, and it shouldn’t be simplified: The loss of a person who was once important to your life, the sense of rejection that they no longer want you to be a part of theirs, the sense of loneliness now that you have no one to share that special connection with, and more. But believing that you need to seek out a new relationship as soon as possible is not a solution. The feeling that I was a failure for being single caused way more depression and made me feel more isolated than ever.
Knowing that outlook and state of mind are 90% of success I eventually pulled myself together enough to realize what the real problem was. Looking for a solution, I looked to other people who were single and happy, to figure out what their secret was. But then I stopped myself again and realized something else; there are people who are single and happy. There are a lot of them too. Really that’s all I needed to know, I just never stopped to look at it.
It’s ok to be single, it won’t stop you from being happy.
Something else has also occurred to me, and this was the more recent revelation that occurred only a couple of weeks ago, that it’s not fair to be in a relationship if I’m afraid of being single.
My relationship with my ex had gone downhill, I still loved her and I wanted it to work, but the whole things was already falling apart. I actually realized this before she did, and I realized that the best thing to do would be to break up. But I didn’t, instead I told her about the problems we were having and how hard we would have to work to get things working again. And she dumped me.
She did the right thing.
She did it because she would be happier single, or with someone else, than in our failing relationship. This should have been true for me as well. The difference was my perceived inability to be happy while single. I would have worked hard to make the relationship work not because it was the best thing to do but because I was too afraid of being alone. There is more to this of course, but it was a bigger factor than I’d allowed myself to realize until recently.
Before I enter another relationship, I want to know that I can be happy being single. If I start dating someone, I want to feel like I’m giving up the single life, not escaping loneliness. That way I know that I’m really in the relationship because of how I feel about her, not my personal fears.
So now I am setting this down as a rule for myself. I will not date until I enjoy being single. I’m not quite there yet, to be honest. I still find myself wishing that I was in a couple, rather often.
But I am making progress. My ex made me afraid of expressing myself, because I knew that she would put down my opinions. I realize now how much she was restricting me from doing what I really wanted. Now I write poetry, and I don’t care who knows it. It sucks, of course, but I enjoy it and I don’t need to answer to anyone. I can do whatever I want and I only need to answer to myself. If I keep exploring and discovering myself, and learning what I love to do and doing it, maybe I can find someone who loves me for who I really am.
Maybe I won’t, that’s ok too.
It occurred to me that Secret World probably had an Alternate Reality Game (look it up if you don’t know what that is, they’re really neat) associated with it. In fact I’d have been incredibly disappointed if it didn’t. So I decided to investigate it when I suddenly realized I had just spent several hours reading details on the last few year’s puzzles and twitter feeds from Kingsmouth (which doesn’t actually exist of course). For the record NEVER live in a town that ends in ‘mouth. At first I was disappointed that I had missed out on so many great puzzles, but then I discovered that the ARG is not just a fancy ad campaign as per usual, but is intended to be an actual part of the game! An MMO without levels or classes, set in modern day, filled with homages to Lovecraft and every conspiracy ever, great voice acting and focus on plot, and now it has ARG’s mixed right into the gameplay! I want this game to be good so much it hurts, especially because MMO’s are consistently the most disappointing genre at release. At this point though I think I’ll be satisfied just taking inspiration from this game and throwing it into a Call of Cthulhu campaign. Oh by the way, I’m currently running a Call of Cthulhu game for the first time and loving it. I’ll rant more about that later, probably when my campaign is over.
This is another mantra I’ve picked up, although it’s much more recent and has less broad applications than “Ah feel great!” For those who don’t know (probably meaning you’re a total stranger) I have some issues with anxiety. I have general anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive tendencies, and more phobias than I can name. One of the best ways I’ve learned to deal with all of this anxiety is to embrace it. The easiest application of this is with phobias. In my case that means fear of heights, spiders, germs, crowds, feet, chain-link fences, everything, etc. So to deal with, let’s say fear of heights, the best thing I can do is climb a tree. In the past I would have done my best to convince myself that I’m safe in the tree, or pretend that I’m somewhere else. Now I know that the best way to handle it is to look at the ground, hang over it, climb higher and repeat. While doing this I let my body experience all the anxiety it needs to. My chest tightens up, my heartbeat rises, I start visualizing myself falling and getting injured or worse. While doing this I occasionally stop and remind myself that the reality of the situation is that my anxiety can’t hurt me. I’m not falling, nothing is hurting me, and I’m totally fine. Eventually the body realizes that all of the adrenaline it is pumping through my body is totally pointless, and it just stops. Suddenly I’m not afraid of heights, I’m just a guy in a tree. All of the anxiety has gone. This isn’t a permanent solution, and next time I climb a tree the anxiety will be back, but there might be just a bit less. More importantly, I know what it feels like to be in a tree and not be scared. I know that I can do it, so it doesn’t bother me. This applies to all anxieties, phobias, social anxiety, and that feeling that something is if I don’t follow a compulsive ritual. I know that I can fight it, and I know that if there is something that is hard for me, the best thing to do is force myself to do it as much as possible. The only real danger is forgetting that my anxiety can’t hurt me.
Yup, my friend thought it would be interesting to see what I would do with a tumblr and convinced me to try it. So far I’m mostly posting a bunch of stuff from stumbleupon, and I’m also thinking about posting near-daily advice, and writing brief reviews of games/books/movies. What would you suggest I do with this? I’m new to blogging.
I did not think I’d post this many things in the first couple hours of having a Tumblr. Nor did I think I’d post long text blog-posts at all. Not sure how this happened.
The most important advice I have ever received or given came from my junior high cross country teacher. He told us a story about a friend he ran with in college; sometimes my coach would be tired or “just not feeling it” and ask his friend how he felt, and if he wanted to take it easy that day. His friend (who had an accent) always replied “Ah Feel Great!” and began running. They always had great workouts. My coach made that phrase the slogan for our team, and even printed it on our shirts. He would ask us how we felt and demand that we answer “Ah feel great!” Many kids thought this was stupid and obnoxious, and everyone completely stopped using it when they went to high school, including me. One day we were doing a particularly tough workout and I said “I’m just not feeling it today”. This turned out to be a horrible mistake, because people started agreeing with me. Even people who I was sure had been having perfectly fine workouts insisted that they too were having a bad day and began to run poorly. It was a horrible workout. The next week in the same workout I tried something new. Or rather, something old. When anyone asked how I felt, I responded that “Ah feel great!” I yelled it after every set. Then something miraculous happened, I believed myself. I felt better than I ever had before. My body was pumped full of endorphins and I ran as hard as I could and it felt amazing. It was the best workout of my life (at the time at least). From that day on I always insisted on declaring “Ah feel great!” in workouts, and spreading the message of positive thinking to my teammates. I still believe this is the entire reason I was one of the best runners on the team for quite a while, until I had to deal with some injuries that I’ve never managed to fully recover from. I haven’t been running lately, but I recently bought some new shoes, and I’m not planning on quitting just yet. I didn’t realize it for a long time, but “Ah feel great!” is an important tool for me in all of life, not just running. Positive thinking makes all of the difference, and although I’ve been guilty of more than my fair share of negative thinking, it’s my ability to remind myself of what is great about life that has kept me going. Sometime in the next week I am going to go for a run, and I’m going to yell “Ah feel great!” at the top of my lungs.
The bottom of the ocean, in a deep sea submarine. Seeing deep sea vents first hand would be so amazing. At pressures and temperatures where nothing should be able to live, there is an entire ecosystem that doesn’t even require the heat of the sun to flourish.