january, week one

So it’s officially been one full week of 2016. How did I spend my first seven days? Spending time with my college roommate who visited for New Years Day, seeing Star Wars yet again (no shame here), going wedding dress shopping with one of my best friends, and doing a fun project at work for my favorite actor’s birthday. All in all, not a bad way to start the year, even if there were some early morning wake-ups and mental setbacks (thanks, anxiety.)

It’s also been one full week of starting fresh (or trying to), attempting to follow through on resolutions, and get myself on track for a better and healthier life in all aspects, so I thought I’d take a brief look at the efforts I’ve made so far.

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passion planner mantra of the day/week/month/year: What Would Laura Barton Do? Also, yay for arrow stickers!

  • Organization: I’m still trying to figure out how to properly use and decorate my Passion Planner in a way that’s beneficial to me, but I already feel like by making it by Bible, I’m seeing a difference. I look at it every morning, I look at it during the day, and I’ve made a commitment to plan out my week ahead every Sunday, blocking off times for writing, social events, etc, so I can have a clear idea of the week ahead (I know I’m not going to be able to plan EVERYTHING, a lot of plans happen last minute, which I have to get used to.) It’s a little frustrating when I get ahead of myself (for example, I planned to post a piece of fic this weekend, had it all written out in my planner and ended up finishing and posting it early) but that’s something I’ll work on: the reminder that not everything is set in stone. The important thing is that I’m blocking out the time needed to accomplish things. (But seriously, guys. This Passion Planner thing has been a godsend. I’m so grateful for Shelly’s recommendation.)
  • Reading: I already finished one book! Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for having a short (and hilarious) biography. I’m currently in the middle of my second book, The Night Circus, which is a little more dense. Am I reading every day? Not quite. But I’m definitely making an effort to spend less time online once it gets late, and trying to use that time to read as long as I’m not tired.
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a good friend recommended I start 2016 with simple pleasures: a good book and tea/coffee. So I did.

  • Internet: I’ve been in bed mostly by 10:30 or so every night, which is a huge change for me — even if I’m not reading, it means I’m also not staying up to blindly scroll through Tumblr, or staying up and pushing myself to write when my brain is too exhausted. So while I haven’t mastered the strict “Internet time” rules that I wanted to start to implement, I feel this is at least a step in the right direction.
  • Writing: So far, I’ve been managing to write every day, even on days where I go to bed early or get up late or am out late. I’m still working out an actual routine for that, too, but I’ve been mostly writing after work — and if I can get up early enough, in the mornings for a little bit. I moved my list of WIPs from my computer to my Passion Planner, and each week I plan to map out exactly what parts of my ongoing fic I want to work on, to keep myself on schedule.
  • Misc: I started wearing my FitBit regularly again! (I’ve had the thing forever but fell out of habit after I left grad school.) And when I say “regularly,” I mean that I don’t take it off except to shower, and I’ve been using the silent alarms to wake up and trying to hit all my steps. I’m now religiously using the app and trying to figure out how to challenge people, so go me for being healthy! I even bought a nifty little designer band for it, which, yes, I am that person that is more inclined to use/wear practical things if I can make it cute.
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do your worst, Fitbit

Obviously, I can’t say that in seven days I’ve turned my life around. I know some of the routines and some of the monthly goals I’ve set for myself will take time and effort to fully implement. But I’m really proud about how deeply I’m already committing to a lot of resolutions that I’ve made. It’s not just about trying to be a “better person.” It’s about shaping up so I can make myself the happiest I can be, dissatisfied parts that I can’t change be damned.

that would be enough

Along with a number of other resolutions (some of which I didn’t include in my recent posts), one thing I made a promise to do in 2016 is to blog more — at least once a week, if not twice. I didn’t have specific things in mind that I wanted to write about other than a few entries pegged to certain events or end-of-the-month reflections, but the point was, I wanted to make an effort to write something somewhat regularly.

All that to say I didn’t really have a precise topic to blog about today, and then I went to work and found out that the annual Forbes 30 Under 30 list came out (obviously important because I had to write up all the Hollywood people on it. YAY DAISY RIDLEY AND JOHN BOYEGA.)

I hate that damn list. I really hate that damn list.

Look, it’s great that there are so many cool people who have done so many cool things at a young age. But when you’re constantly filled with anxiety like I am — and when your main instigator for said anxiety is centered on “I will never be good enough / there will always be someone more popular or better” in all aspects of your life (work, relationships, writing, whatever) — it’s literally the worst list you can look at. Because you’re basically looking something that’s saying, “hey! Here’s a great reminder of the fact you’re definitely not where you want to be, because you’re definitely over 30 and still struggling. But here are people who have made better choices in life or who have been luckier and are doing GREAT things, and everyone is probably so proud of them!”

(I know that is absolutely not what this list means, but that’s what my brain tells me.)

And that’s not really logical at all. These are a teeny, tiny handful of randomly chosen people in each field that have been spotlighted. There are people who are more successful. There are people who are less successful. There are people who are just in the middle and who are happy no matter what they do with their lives, or what they’ve accomplished. Not everyone’s boyfriend is a wealthy financial banker. Not everyone’s best friend is the CEO of their own company.

I’ve been struggling a lot with how to be happy by just being, which has never been easy for me. One of my goals in 2016 is to regret less and focus on my happiness rather than what the world thinks I need in order to be happy. Unfortunately, then you realize things like the simple fact that you NEED money to be well off and have any semblance of a good life, even if that doesn’t involve jetting overseas every year. (Hell, you need money just to have a child. Or a dog.) And having that knowledge makes it hard for me to convince myself that I can be satisfied with not being the best, the most successful, the most accomplished.

Going back to graduate school represented something huge for me. I knew journalism was the right thing for me to do, because I waffled for at least three years on filling out applications/pursuing options when I was looking at business or non profit administration programs. Journalism was what made me push myself to write essays, look at schools, take the GREs. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that by going back for my Master’s, I’ve accomplished a dream I’ve had for years because my job is working for a huge publication that I grew up idolizing. And I know I’m not where I need to be in the company, and that’s something I’m dealing with on my own — figuring out what my next steps are. Believing everything happens for a reason.

I’m happy with where I ended up, but I still find myself wondering what’s enough. I’m working at my dream job, but I’m not exactly where I want to be in the industry. I have a wonderful boyfriend who would give me the world, but he doesn’t have a graduate degree, or a job that will make a lot of money. I live in the greatest city in the world, the place I’ve wanted to live since college, but I’m still not financially stable enough to really live here without help. I have amazing and wonderfully supportive parents, but they’re not as understanding as I’d like them to be about some important things in my life. I’ve realized that so much of my life is, “I have this, but I don’t have THIS.” Whether that’s not having a published novel, enough hits on a piece of writing, a lawyer boyfriend, a house and a kid…it doesn’t matter. The thought is still something I deal with.

But I guess this is something everyone deals with, even the people who seem to have set lives and love what they do and seem happy. Am I enough? My goal for 2016 is to spend a lot of time asking myself this question — to myself, in therapy, with friends — and figuring out how to say yes.

goals, part one

In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of setting goals and resolutions for myself at the end of the year. It used to make me feel excited, because New Year! New Things! New Beginnings! But I never followed through on anything that I set for myself, unless it was a big long-term thing like “get a relationship” or “go to grad school.” Which aren’t BAD things, really, but the small, day-to-day life improvements? Nope, never really happened. Or, well, I tried to make them happen and that lasted less than 24 hours.

Eventually, I got lazy and stopped trying to essentially better my life. I also stopped making short-term goals because it sort of became, why bother if I’m not going to do anything, anyway? But in my ongoing quest of realizing how important certain things are to keeping my mental health in check, and in my renewed passion to take charge of those realizations rather than just pushing them to the side, I’m looking at 2016 as a change in organization, commitment and responsibility, in all ways.

  • Internet/Tumblr

This is a big one. This year, I fell into the black hole of letting social media consume my life in an overwhelming way. (Okay, let’s be real, it wasn’t all bad. Fandom brought me some amazing, important friends that I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t so involved, and I’m forever grateful for that.) Some of this “immersion” was due to anxiety, in that to keep my mind off of real life things, I fully threw myself in denial and Internet life instead. Some of it was due to work, and the fact that because of the job I have, I need to be connected 24/7 or at least keep up appearances on Twitter and such. It’s tiring. But even after staring at news websites and tweets all day, the first thing I do when I get home? Get on Tumblr and do the “fandom, fun, relaxation things” that I don’t get to do at work. And instead of giving myself limits, I let that consume me, to the point where I’d bypass dinner or forget to call my parents or forget something else important in favor of sitting on the computer. (Living alone can kind of suck sometimes.)

I’ve realized that personal relaxation time is important to me, and it’s important for me to HAVE that time to dick around on the Internet and flail about fandom things. But I’m going to try to improve the way I integrate all of that into my life: an hour or two of online time, maybe, and then doing real world stuff. Getting myself into the mindset I don’t NEED to be connected all the time, that the world won’t end if I don’t see my entire Tumblr dash, etc. Curating the amount of time I spend will (hopefully) help make me more productive in the long run.

  • Reading

I wrote about this in another entry, but I miss how I’ve fallen out of reading regularly due to being busy, or just not being in the right mental state. Reading is not only so much of who I am (I wasn’t an English major for nothing) but as a writer, it’s so important to keep my brain active with other people’s words. Good fic is a nice substitute, but I miss real stories. So I’m hoping to read more this year, and even if I can’t get through a lot of books, I at least want to regularly read each night or each weekend. I have a pile of stories on my list and I’m trying to get recs from friends, and hopefully that’ll help.

  • Time Management

Probably my biggest self-improvement goal for 2016. I’m currently waiting on my newly ordered passion planner (thanks, Shelly) which I plan to use religiously. I’ve become so dependent on technology, especially since my Mac syncs everything from my phone to my iPad to my computer, that I haven’t used an actual paper planner for far too long. A lot of my friends started bullet journals this year thanks to the fabulous advice of Kelly Sue (glow little shark, glow) and that’s hopefully going to be something that I start doing, also. But I’m hoping to use my planner to chronicle everything from commitments to writing time to life events. And hopefully relying on that will help me put order back into my life.

  • Money

Oh, the big one. I’ve been struggling with debt for years, thanks to bad choices in my past, and that hasn’t been helped by the fact that going back to grad school 2 years ago meant taking on student loans, which I hadn’t had before. While I’ve gotten better at being aware of how to handle money, I’m nowhere near satisfied with my financial state, and there are multiple “life” things I need to face in 2016 that hinge on money. I can’t even remember the last time I kept a checkbook, because I stopped writing checks when everything became electronic, but I’m making an effort to make notes when my bills are due (so I don’t miss deadlines), and sign up for programs that will help me budget correctly so I’m constantly aware of what I’m spending.

  • Writing

Allocating writing time! In addition to blocking off specific Internet time, I want to block of writing time, too, for both blogging and fic and original personal writing. I’d like to at least get into the habit of blogging once or twice a week, no matter what I’m writing about, with set times to work on fic or just write in general. (This will go out the window when it’s NaNo time but whatever.) In the same way I plan to set limits for myself with Internet usage, I want to give myself time for writing: an hour or two each day, but at the very least, regular writing time each day no matter what so I’m constantly working my brain…and then not feeling guilty for not having time.

A lo of the things I want to do this year are going to be challenging — not because of how big the changes are. But I’m not “settled.” I’m still going out every so often and messing up my routine some nights by not getting home til 10 or 11 at night, I’m not living somewhere that’s a real home or that I know will be a real home where I can feel settled as much as I love my apartment. I’m a little worried that I’ll be thrown off if I miss a few days of not being able to do things with the regimen I’m trying to put into place, but that also feeds into my efforts to be better about my mental health. Just because I don’t do something every day, that’s no reason to fall off the wagon. Just because I don’t do something every day, it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed at anything.

It should be enough.